Many folks who we coach initially have confused ideas about how easy or hard it will be to lose weight. They sometimes believe they can transform themselves into bikini fitness models or bodybuilders by lifting a couple of times each week. Others mistakenly believe that to lose any substantial weight they’ll need to do extreme workouts and starve themselves on some sort of lettuce-soup diet.

Teddy fell more into the former of the two when we first began. After training that way for a few months without moving the needle on his weight loss, he grew frustrated and was on the verge of giving up. It would have been just another discouraging experience for him in his efforts to get back to his “playing weight”.

Few people understand the value non-exercise activity plays in boosting our efforts to get in shape. Perhaps more than anything we can do in the gym, by being just a little more active every day, we can burn substantial calories that over time make a massive impact on our weight loss and health. 

Far too many of us, even those who exercise regularly, live a kind of binary existence in which we exercise for 30-60 minutes about 2-3 times per week, but are almost completely sedentary the remainder of the week. Take a moment to reflect on how many hours we remain seated and immobile on a typical day. Even on days that feel busy, we might walk from our car to the office or maybe around a store for a bit, then head home or to work and sit for hours on end.

Thought leaders in the exercise science departments at universities came up with a fancy term they coined, NEAT – Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. I believe those academics in the exercise science field have an inferiority complex and come up with sciencey terminology to impress folks with how smart they are.

For us regular folks, NEAT simply describes how much we move around apart from the time we are actually exercising. It can include modest activity such as taking a flight of stairs rather than the escalator or parking a little farther from the store. Or it could be something more substantial such as gardening or woodworking as hobbies.

Suffice to say that the more we move and use our bodies each day, the more that non-exercise activity will contribute to getting and staying in shape.

My good friend, the eminent Dr. Wayne Phillips, describes this approach with a “neat” term that he coined, JAMM. It stands for Just A Mite More. Dr. Phillips, who is from the UK, has a charming accent which we can hear in his use of the under-utilized word “mite”.

He recently published a wonderfully refreshing book he titled, Thought Moves – An inner guide to active living. He describes how doing anything “just a mite more” vigorously can add up to substantial energy expenditure and fitness gains over time.

We applied this approach to Teddy’s plan. He purchased a wearable fitness tracker and has been using that to add 5000 steps per day to what had been his average of around 5000. For him, 5000 steps equates to roughly two miles.

But, we didn’t plan for him to set out on a two mile walk every day. Instead, we programmed about 40 total minutes of walking, what it would take him to cover two miles at a modest pace, over the course of the entire day. From 6 AM, when he wakes up, to 10 PM, his current bedtime, he is typically awake 16 hours. He only needed to be moving a “mite more” each hour of the day, just 2.5 minutes of every hour. With only that small additional movement/walking, Teddy would be JAMM-ing!

How many additional calories burned do you think that might add up to in a month?

Granted that calorie calculation can be an inexact science, we can estimate that a 200 lb man, walking at a slow to moderate pace for two miles on level ground might burn as much as 400 calories from that exertion.

By doing “just a mite more”, just 2.5 minutes of activity per hour, every day, Teddy could burn as much as 12,000 additional calories per month. Now, assuming that he doesn’t replace all of those calories with more food, he can burn off almost 3.5 lbs in a month. Over the span of a year that adds up to 42 lbs of weight loss.

By only moving 2.5 minutes per hour more than he had been he could lose as much as 42 lbs! 

I’ll acknowledge that these figures are estimates and that there are numerous other factors in play that could change these outcomes. But, for our purposes of understanding the profound impact that JAMM can have on our efforts to get and stay in shape, it serves as an apt illustration.

Well, I am exceedingly pleased to report that Teddy has not only met but surpassed his targeted weight loss and weighed in last week at 190 lbs. He’s lost 25 total lbs in a little over six months. Teddy hasn’t weighed under 200 lbs in over 20 years and was in high school the last time he weighed 190! Life is good for Teddy and Jess!

And so, that wraps up our series of posts detailing Teddy’s experience. I am indebted to him for his willingness to allow me to share his story. I am equally indebted to Dr. Phillips for his mentorship over the past several years and for the gift of his most excellent book, Thought Moves. I included a link above if you’re interested in purchasing it. And there are a couple of helpful links below that can help you tabulate your own JAMM.

My mention of our online training platform has brought up a number of questions about what it’s all about. I will introduce you to another client in my next post. Carla got started with me in the fall of last year and has been a good sport agreeing to allow me to share her story. Look for that titled, How Can You Train Me Remotely? What About My Form? 

Until then, Julies has four spots remaining out of the eight allotted for her next Small Group Coaching Session, starting July 22nd. You can register using the button below.

Be strong and have fun!
Here are a couple of useful links to help you calculate your own JAMM numbers:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-leisure-and-routine-activities

https://caloriesburnedhq.com/calories-burned-walking/

Paul Reilly

Paul is the Owner and Founder of MidStrong. He created MidStrong in 2017 to train men and women in midlife who are busy with work and family to build muscle and burn fat so they can look and feel better than they did in their 20’s. MidStrong is making Functional Fitness training safe and fun, and inclusive. He and his wife, Julie also own and operate MidStrong locally, their bricks and mortar business, previously called ACCELERATED Strength & Balance. It is a boutique fitness center specializing in training folks in and around Westborough through the challenges of midlife for more than five years.