It all begins and ends with your diet. Don’t get me wrong – I passionately believe in exercise and working out. It’s an essential part of my program (and my sanity). However, if you want to lose weight, and have a truly lean body, 90% is about your diet. Any time I am injured or fatigued and cannot work out, I get really tight when it comes to my diet, and the results tend to be the same.
Everyone is different. Everyone has different motivations, and systems that make them successful. I will share what works for me, and has worked for many of my clients. My plan starts with just that, a plan. You have to prepare and plan ahead for success. My favorite tool for planning and tracking my progress is the app, My Fitness Pal. Create an account, and set your current weight and your goal weight. It will ask you a few more questions pertaining to age and activity level, and then it will recommend an amount of calories for you. Every day you go to your diary to add everything you eat. You can search the extensive database for the food you eat. You can go into “recipes” and type in a recipe and the serving/portion amount, and easily add it as an entry to your diary. This is such an amazing tool (it’s free!), and it sets you on the path to success. Here’s why:
- TRACKING – it’s so important to track what you eat. I have been cooking and living through clean eating for a long time, but I still need to measure and track. Ultimately, your success is in the details. Download the app and track what you eat for a few days. You will be shocked at how much the little things add up. At certain moments throughout your day, you might think, “just a couple of squares of dark chocolate”….”just a few almonds”….. “just one latte, it’s a skinny one”… It adds up, people! If you really want that chocolate, or latte – go ahead and have it – but add it to your diary, and you will have to subtract something later. Another method is to wait. Get through your day, and if you have extra calories to spend, have some dark chocolate after dinner.
- IT KEEPS YOU ON TRACK FOR ULTIMATE HEALTH – Not only does this app track your calories, but it also sets daily goals for your protein, fat, and carb intake, and more. It will tell you if something you are adding into your diary is high in fat, or if you have met or exceeded your goal for your daily fat intake.
- RECIPE TRACKER – This is an amazing tool within the amazing tool that My Fitness Pal is. I have added recipes that I thought were clean and low calorie, and I was surprised to see how high the calorie count was when I typed it all in – which goes back to one of my themes – It adds up, people. You need to track and measure everything. Maybe you can only have half a portion of that recipe, and add in some more veggies.
- EXERCISE TRACKER – You can add in your daily exercise. I love tracking my progress to see where I am every day. Also, it shows how many calories you burn doing the exercise you do. It takes a lot more exercise to burn off a little bit of calories, which leads me back to the main theme of this post – It begins and ends with the diet. There’s one aspect in this category that I do not like about the app. It subtracts your exercise calories. DO NOT eat back the calories you burn with exercise. You will not be successful. If you work out for four hours one day, okay, maybe you will need to eat a little more. Do not, however, spend half of your morning Zumba or spinning away, see that you’ve burned 500 calories, and head straight to Starbucks and suck down a “Beast Mode Frappucino.” No joke – that’s what it’s called.
So now that I know what to shoot for daily (1200 calories), here’s how I break it down. I try and eat a small meal or snack every two and a half to three hours. If I eat breakfast at 7am, my morning snack is at 10, lunch at 1, afternoon snack at 4, and dinner at 7. Now, I know that life happens, and we need a bit of wiggle room in our lives. I give myself half an hour before or after those targets. If I am starving, and I simply cannot wait, I will eat a bit early. If I am doing that yoga class that I really like, I need to wait until after class to eat my morning snack. The idea is that if you keep feeding your metabolism every few hours, it ramps it up. I am serious when I say that this works! Try eating this way for a week, and you will get on the “train.” I know when I am on the train because I am hungry when it’s time for me to eat, but I get full easily. I also know when I am on the train because I am bounding out of bed in the morning. It gives you lots of energy, and makes you feel great. A note here, (forgive me if this is common sense to you) you need to eat the right kinds of foods to feel good. You can’t substitute in a coffee drink, some chocolate, or potato chips, and expect to feel good. This paragraph describes clean eating plain and simple.
For breakfast I like to eat a bit more, since it’s the first meal of the day, and I usually exercise during the morning hours. After breakfast, no matter what my plans are for the day, I pack my snacks and lunch. This way, I can take my food with me all day. I will eat when it’s time to eat, and I will eat my pre-portioned, healthy food.
Here’s what I ate yesterday:
Breakfast (256 calories):
2 teaspoons coconut oil (I put it in my coffee)
1 teaspoon olive oil
Morning Snack (218 calories):
½ cup nonfat greek yogurt
½ cup frozen blueberries
Lunch (245 calories):
Tomato Soup with Chicken and Barley
½ cup homemade tomato soup (see recipe here)
½ cup cooked chicken breast
½ cup cooked barley
Afternoon Snack (139 calories):
½ Ezekiel Sprouted Wheat English Muffin
2 teaspoons homemade almond nutella (see recipe here)
Dinner (253 calories):
1 Portion homemade Mexican Chicken and Spaghetti Squash Casserole
(I will post this recipe in the next day or two)
Total Calories for the Day = 1,111. That’s 89 below my goal. That means that I will have some berries with almond milk and stevia for dessert after dinner.
TIPS AND TRICKS
A Few Notes:
- VEGETABLES – You might have noticed in my diary above, there weren’t any vegetables. That’s because I don’t count them. I like to follow the 80/20 rule = 80% of what I eat comes from vegetables, and 20% is everything else (proteins, grains, dairy, fruit). I like to think of vegetables as free, so I eat more of them. There are a couple of points to make here. You have to count what you cook the vegetables in. If you sauté or roast veggies, you usually use oil, right? Measure it and add it to your diary. Secondly, all vegetables aren’t the same. Butternut squash and sweet potatoes, while delicious and very healthy, pack a lot of calories. Here’s a list of veggies I count, and veggies I don’t…
VEGGIES I DON’T COUNT
All leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, collards, etc), broccoli, green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, cauliflower, asparagus, bell peppers, celery, onions, tomatoes (I know – it’s technically a fruit)
VEGGIES I DO COUNT
Winter Squashes (pumpkin, butternut, acorn, spaghetti, delicatta, kombucha), sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, corn, beets
- WHAT IF YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY STARVING? – If I am starving, and it’s not time to eat, first, I wait 5-10 minutes to see if it passes. Next, I drink something. Tea, black coffee, water, and seltzer, are all calorie free and they fill your belly. Third, if I still am feeling like I am going to eat my hand, I just eat. I eat my meal or snack early, or I add in an extra snack that is low in calories. It’s okay to add – some days you are just hungrier than others, just don’t make a habit of it.
- TREATS AND CHEATS – I am going to devote a whole post to this in a few days. If you don’t ever enjoy the food and treats you love, you will set yourself up for crash and burn failure. We are in post-holiday boot camp mode right now though. If I am feeling LARGE, I will put myself on a 21 day plan of the above diet. After that, if I feel it’s necessary to keep going, I will. If I want to lose more weight, but I am dying for some wine and greasy food, I will have a cheat meal, and get back on track.
MY SERVICES – I have made a career out of cooking healthy food for others. Many of my clients know how to lose weight, they just don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking. You can hire me by the hour to come over and cook foods specific to your needs. I also offer a 21 Day Program of the above method, tailored to your specific needs. I will prepare, portion, package, and deliver breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks to your door for 21 days. It’s a great way to lose weight. It’s a great way to get started, and get yourself in the habit of clean eating. Lastly, I offer workshops that will teach you how to prepare, cook, and set yourself up for your own clean eating plan. My cooking expertise follows a program with the emphasis on taste and satisfaction, so you hardly realize how healthy you are eating, but reap the benefits of truly eating clean. firstname.lastname@example.org. (828)707-3166.