Simplify Calorie-burn by being N.E.A.T.

I see you over there overcomplicating things. Yes, you.

I see you trying to figure out that perfect formula for weight loss or ramping up your health and fitness goals just a smidge. You’ve been at it for months. Consistent 30 minute workouts are happening at least 3 days a week, you’re meal prepping like a champ and avoiding meals out, and you haven’t gone completely insane through this change to your routine.

Why does this seem so complicated?

I would like to believe that I’ve been on this journey called “wellness” since I decided to get healthy back in the late 2000s. I dusted off the only pair of sneakers that I owned and joined some friends for a 5k where I knew there was beer at the finish line.

Over the course of the next few years and then over a decade or so later, I’ve had to shake sh** up quite often. I realized soon in the game that I couldn’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to see pounds and fat just fall off of my body. I had to TRICK my body by modifying workouts with varied intensity while also looking at how I could adjust my activity throughout the day to enhance my ‘burning ability.’

How much does it take to burn off a pound anyway?

I wasn’t a huge fan of math when I was younger, but I did enjoy that it always ended in ONE solution. In fitness and weight loss, every diet and fad and challenge has one goal in common: losing points.

3500 calories = 1 pound

In order to lose the [recommended] amount of 1-2 points AT MOST a week, one must either eat 3500 calories less a week OR burn off 3500 calories over their threshold each week.

I bet you’re thinking “Wait a second, I already workout as much as I can and eat REALLY well!” Okay, friend, odds are you could be accurate in your own right. I can save this piece for another post, as sometimes changing up the TYPES of workouts we do and shaking up our nutrition from less food to MORE nutrient-dense low-calorie foods can change the game. For now, let’s stick to HOW we can BURN off more instead of restricting what we eat. How does that sound?

Aside from workouts, what else do you do to MOVE?

What I’ve come to realize is that doing those 30-minute workouts three times a week isn’t a bad thing; it’s something to be CELEBRATED! Especially if you’re balancing tons of other to-dos in the day, it’s a huge achievement to get ANY workout in at all.

“Exercise” is essentially a way of getting the body to move. So, what else are we doing TO MOVE?

When I think back to my days as “Corporate Kat,” I can VIVIDLY remember sitting for such long hours in the day that it HURT. When I did that 5k with those friends for that beer at the finish line, it sparked a desire to do more and run farther. As I began to run more and farther, I began to hurt more and more. I realized that sitting was over-activating the muscles I needed for running and that I needed to balance out my strength training to ensure I didn’t end up on my face when at the race starting line.

After my days as “Corporate Kat” I began to see an immediate shift in my fitness journey. I was leaner, albeit happier, and didn’t make any noticeable changes to my food intake or workouts at that time. The ONE THING I could nail down was that I was MOVING MORE in general.

I was no longer sitting for hours on end at a desk all day. I was moving around more at home and away from home. I was going on more walks ‘just because.’ It got me thinking about how to incorporate this into the lives of my clients as a trainer and also with those I share with online.

How N.E.A.T.!

It’s time for our fancy training words of the day:

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

N.E.A.T. is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, undertaking agricultural tasks and fidgeting. Even trivial physical activities increase metabolic rate substantially and it is the cumulative impact of a multitude of exothermic actions that culminate in an individual’s daily NEAT.

Endocrine Research Unit, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA

What was the trick to my progress POST-Corporate life? I was MOVING MORE in general. I should have been doing this WHILE I was in my corporate setting, but that’s in the past and we can only learn from that and even write this post as a result for YOU to learn from my mistakes.

We can be very hard on ourselves when we CAN’T SIT STILL. Yet, it’s been proven that FIDGETING and being more MOBILE can not only help brain activity for many of us (tactile learners in particular) but it can also help to burn more calories each day as a result of more physical movement unrelated to exercise itself.

How can you increase your N.E.A.T.?

Here are some ways that you can increase your daily calorie burn to hit that mark each day for increased energy expenditure (remember that calories in & calories out is still the easy & essential way to lose pounds.)

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Squeeze your butt on each step to focus on my goal of “don’t let your a** fall before you’re 40.
  • Park farther in the parking lot EVERYWHERE you go. Also, grunt the whole way to the front door about how far you parked. Talking to yourself can increase energy expenditure & also guarantee people leave you alone.
  • Take breaks from your desk and get up and go for a walk or do sets of up/down stairway drills. Recruit co-workers for this if you want company and have them thank you for the free workout.
  • Try your hand at shooting clothes into the laundry basket for points. If you miss, you get more caloric burn picking up your mistake throws.
  • Walk while you read your book. Just look up every once in a while so you don’t dart in front of traffic or trip over an uneven sidewalk plank.
  • Get the kids involved in relays to pick up after themselves. When they’re not looking, place more objects out for them to pick up and it’s a win-win for both of you. Revenge is pretty sweet when you’re living the parent life.

Moral of the story:

Just move more. Alone, with company, however you can get it done. As I mentioned, we can always tweak our nutrition and workouts. Routine and consistency are key to allowing any changes to our day to stick. While working on allowing one routine to stick for any duration of time, throwing in ways to add in more N.E.A.T. can help up the ante and give us an added BOOST of motivation for moving our bodies!

MOVEMENT gives a healthy dose of serotonin and dopamine so BRING ON the HAPPY vibes!

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