Need to Lose a Few Pounds this Spring? Busy Life? Learn to Do the Math in Your Head!

George Castanza’s got nothing on us! If he can use cold as an excuse for shrinkage–so can we!

Every winter our shorts shrink. Why is that? We can blame it on the cold like George did in one famous Seinfeld episode, or we can be honest with ourselves. We need to lose a few pounds. So if you’re busting seams and pulling stomach muscles while trying on those shorts for the first time this year, then it’s time to let the four-letter words fly! Diet, walk, lift, swim, bike…..

This year, Athletchic is letting you in on our time-saving secret. We know that even with a myriad of calorie-counting options literally at your fingertips, you still aren’t going to punch those numbers into your iPhone everyday. We women are swamped.  So we have a tip for you.

You can do the math in your head!

Don’t have a good memory? Trust me. You don’t need one. You’re going to memorize everything by 100’s, then estimate. If you have one hour to read this article and jot a few calories down on your iPhone once, you’ll be in those shorts in a few weeks!

This is strictly for Athletchics who only need to lose a few pounds or want to maintain their weight. If you have more than five or six pounds to lose, read

Here’s the steps to doing the math:

Step 1: Visit your doctor:

As always, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Step 2:  Determine how many calories you can eat per day:

Weight Age 18-35 Age 36-55 Age >55
100-110 lbs 1860 1660 1500
111-121 lbs 1950 1760 1550
122-132 lbs 2050 1860 1600
133-143 lbs 2150 1960 1630
144-154 lbs 2250 2050 1660
155-165 lbs 2400 2150 1720

Step 3:  Memorize how long it takes an exercise to burn 100 calories: 

Pick your top five exercises and compute how long it takes each to burn 100 calories. Write those five in your iPhone. (You’ll have them memorized in no time.) For example, you’ll burn 103 calories by exercising 10 minutes on an elliptical machine. For ease, estimate 100 calories for 10 minutes.            

Activity                                           Min   Cal     Est   Activity                                          Min Cal Est
Elliptical Machine 10 103 100 Zumba 15 108 100
Jumping Rope 10 91 100 Aerobics (low impact) 20 110 100
Running (10 minute pace) 10 91 100 Hiking 20 108 100
Hot Yoga 15 95 100 Swimming (moderate) 20 110 100
Step Machine 15 95 100 Walking 25 99 100
Stationary Bike(moderate) 15 95 100 Pilates (beginner) 30 101 100
Cycling (12-14mph) 15 119 100 Golf (with a cart) 35 109 100

These numbers are based on a 5’5, 35-year-old woman that weighs 120 lbs. If you weigh more or are younger, you’ll burn slightly more. Error to your advantage. Use the above estimates.

If estimating is not in your blood, find exact amounts by entering your age, height and weight at . But again, round numbers to 100s.

Step 4:  Jot down the calories for your 20 most-eaten foods in your iPhone notepad:

A few places to search  for the calories in your favorite foods are or

Estimate in the 100s again.  And you can estimate in bulk. For example, five days out of the week I have an egg scrambled in no-fat milk (80 calories) with mozzarella cheese (85 calories). I count that as 200 calories. Here’s an example. I rounded off 10 of my foods:

Egg and cheese 165 200
Low calorie Yogurt 90 100
Slice of American cheese 81 100
Kale salad(15) with raisins(60), 2 cheeses(170),  low-cal dressing(135) 380 400
Grapes(2 cups) 66 100
Apple 80 100
Chocolate (4 ounces of my favorite local chocolate) 525 500
Lean broiled chicken (4 ounces) 283 300
Baked potato (155) with 3TB low-cal margarine(120) 275 300
Popcorn(2 cups) 174 200

The actual total is 2114, but I would count 2300 from the amounts I’ve rounded off in memory.

(My calories were taken from my little cheat book Count Your Calories.)

Step 5: Do the math in your head:  

Recall your calories burned. For example, today (1550 daily intake), I ran 5 miles (500) and rode the stationary bike for 30 minutes (200) so I burned a total of 2250 calories.

Recall your calories consumed. Think meals and snacks.  In the example from step four, I had 200 calories for breakfast, 100 calories for a snack at 11AM, 600 calories for lunch, 100 calories for a snack at 4PM, 1100 calories for dinner (which includes calories for my dreaded chocolate addiction) and 200 calories for my popcorn while watching TV for a grand total of 2300 calories!

Ok, I would call this an even day (2250 vs 2300). The math was simple.

Lose a few pounds:

But in my example, I’m not going to lose any weight.

Some days will be estimated a little high and some a little low, but in order to lose weight, you know we have to burn 3500 more calories than we eat.

Hence, tomorrow I better cut out that chunk of chocolate if I want to fit into those shorts anytime soon. And think about it. Eating 500 calories worth of chocolate less per day for seven days is 3500 calories or 1 lb per week of weight loss! (If this is hard to understand, refer back to

Now get to it Athletchics. Start four-letter wording it! And let us know if we’ve helped out!


Cyndie Zahner is a free lance writer. Follow her on Twitter at @tweetyz or on Instagram as athletchicz.

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