All my life, I heard about how important calorie counting was to lose weight. Calories, calories! Never drop below 1200 calories because your body will go into starvation mode, but you have to cut a lot of calories to lose weight. Burn more calories by exercising!
I never heard about macros. Never. Ever.
Today, we know better. The logic is changing. You should change your mindset and NEVER focus on calories ever again. Here's why:
What is a calorie, anyway?
A calorie is the amount of heat needed to heat one gram of water by one degree celsius. It's science. Calories in the foods we eat create the energy we need to function. Calories can be burned and they can be stored. Consume too many calories and your body will store the excess. Consume too few calories and your body will not function as it should.
So, wait - I thought we shouldn't count calories anymore!
Correct. You shouldn't. You need to know that calories provide energy...but, what is way more important (and what you should keep track of) is how your body responds to the energy it's given, and that's where the scary term "macronutrients" comes into play.
What is a macronutrient, anyway?
Everything you eat is some combination of the three macronutrients...protein, carbohydrates, and fats. That's it. (There is also alcohol, but I will save that for another post.) These macronutrients have a certain number of calories per gram.
Protein = 4 calories per gram
Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram
Fat = 9 calories per gram
To understand what this means, when you consume 30 grams of protein (like a protein shake), you are consuming 120 calories (30 grams protein x 4 calories per gram = 120 calories of protein). You are also consuming some fat and probably some carbs in that protein shake as well.
Stay with me here, people. Get up, stretch, walk around, take a mental break if you need it, but let all that sink in. I'll wait.
Okay, welcome back!
So, why is counting macronutrients more important than counting calories?
When you are trying to change your body composition, either by reducing your body fat percentage or increasing muscle, macros matter. You will not suddenly wake up one day, look in the mirror, and wonder how you added on muscle, Working out with heavy weights will definitely make you STRONGER, no question, but seeing those new muscles WILL NOT HAPPEN, unless you change your body composition.
In fact, you can increase strength and lose muscle mass at the same time. How does that happen??? When you don't give your body adequate protein for muscle building and repair, your body still needs energy to keep up with your heavy lifting. So, if you don't fuel with enough protein, you can still get stronger, but you will not build muscle, and will actually lose muscle because your body has to use the reduced supply of protein you gave it for energy.
Think of it this way: your body was built to survive - not to show off a glorified six pack. Above all else, your body will do what it needs to do to be resilient and function regardless of whether you know what you're doing. It will take energy from wherever it can get it to do all the jobs it needs to do.
But, I digress. Let's get back on track, shall we?
Every food you eat, either an apple or a Twinkie, consists of protein, carbs, and/or fats. And, each macronutrient has a job...a bodily function.
Protein aids in muscle growth and repair, as well as cartilage, bones, skin, and blood.
Carbohydrates give us energy.
Fat is also used for energy, and is important to our brain and nerves, skin, hormones, and transporting vitamins - don't fear the fat people - your body needs it to survive!!!!
THIS is why macros are so important. They each serve an important function in the proper regulation of how your body works. Too little protein and you can't build lean muscle mass, too little carbs and you will not have energy, too little fat, and you will run into all sort of biological functions.
Take the example above: Two tootsie rolls are 70 calories and so is one egg. But, when you break it down, looking at the MACROS of each item, it looks like this:
Tootsie Rolls: 2
Protein: .45 grams
Carbs: 13 grams (13 x4 = 52 calories)
Fat: 2 grams (2 x 9 = 18 calories)
Protein: 6 grams (6 x 4 = 24 calories)
Carbs: .50 grams (.5 x 4 = 2 calories)
Fat: 5 grams (5 x 9 = 45 calories)
Ok, so I was off by one calorie. The point is, tootsie rolls have practically zero protein and contains nothing but simple carbs (sugar), and a tiny bit of fat. This means that you will not feel as though you've eaten anything at all. Protein and fat are satiating, sugar is not. The tootsie roll isn't "bad" for you, but how many of us limit ourselves to two? And, how many of us consider a few tootsie rolls a meal or meaningful nutrients when considering how we fuel our bodies?
On the other hand, the egg is mainly protein and fat. This means that eating one egg will help you feel more satisfied compared to the two tootsie rolls.
So, how much of each macronutrient do we need?
Ahhh, that is the real question, isn't it. Our bodies are tricky little creatures and each person needs to find the right combination of macronutrients to perform his or her best. This question also depends on your goals. Are you looking to reduce body fat percentage, simply maintain, or are you looking to bulk up? A different combination is needed depending on your goals.
There are some general guidelines you can follow, but to narrow it more quickly and get a customized combination just for you, I highly recommend hiring a nutritionist or an RD (Registered Dietician).
If you aren't ready for that, here are some VERY general guidelines you can follow. Track your intake for a week and see what happens. If there are ZERO changes, then play around with your carb and fat numbers and track for another week. Like I said, our bodies are tricky and it takes time, and a whole mess of patience, to zero in on the right combination for you. If, like me, you are not a patient person, then hire someone to help you and let him or her take the lead.
The below guidelines are taken straight from the "Thinner, Leaner, Stronger" book by Michael Matthews.
To lose 0.5 - 1 pound per week and still preserve most of your muscle, start with these numbers:
1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day
1 gram of carbs per pound of body weight per day
0.2 grams of fat per pound of body weight per day
For a 140 pound woman, it would look like this:
170 grams of protein per day
140 grams of carbs per day
30 grams of fat per day
This comes to about 1,510 calories per day.
If you are looking to add muscle, get ready to see the scale increase. You MUST be in a calorie surplus to add muscle. To keep from gaining to much body FAT while on a bulk, look for 0.25 - 0.5 pounds per week. If you see much more than that, you may be consuming too many calories. Michael Matthews recommends starting with the following numbers:
1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day
2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight per day
0.4 grams of fat per pound of body weight per day
For a 110 pound woman, it would look like this:
110 grams of protein per day
220 grams of carbs per day
45 grams of fat per day
This comes to about 1,725 calories per day.
As you can see, a bulking phase is NOT an excuse to consume all the food things. It's really only about a 200 calorie difference. That's not a whole heck of a lot! It's not some free-for-all reason to hit up the Golden Corral buffet every night!
Again, this only provides a starting point. We are very unique individuals with very different needs. Start here, track your food, and make adjustments on a weekly basis.
TRACK AND WEIGH EVERY SINGLE THING.
This is a scientific process (but not one that lasts forever) and needs to be treated as such. Grabbing a few bites off your kids plate WILL make a difference. You can't make the necessary adjustments if you are not committed to the process.
And, like I said, if you want to see results quicker, hire someone to help you. In my honest opinion, it's hard enough to meal prep, weigh everything down to the gram, and meet your numbers everyday. If you can take the guesswork out of the equation and just do as your told by a PROFESSIONAL FOOD EXPERT PERSON, then why not do that??!!
Let me let you in on a little secret - no one likes hearing the alarm go off. No one. If you actually find someone that enjoys a 4:30 AM buzz, buzz, buzz, let me know.
So, why is it, that some people NEVER miss a morning workout and others can't seem to find consistency any more than my dog can find the meowing cat inside our TV set?
Let's take a look at what those "morning people" are doing to stay so consistent. Incorporate these tips into your everyday life and you will never miss again!
Tip #1: Lay everything out the night before
There's nothing worse than fumbling around in the dark trying to find your left shoe. This starts your day off on the wrong foot (see what I did there?). So, fix the problem and start everything off in your favor by putting everything you need in a nice, neat pile the night before. Clothes, shoes, keys, favorite coffee mug...whatever you need to get things started in the right direction, figure it out the evening before, and get it together.
Bonus Tip: Sleep in your workout clothes. No one will ever know.
Tip #2: Prep your breakfast/lunch the night before
Again, being organized is a win! The more you can prepare for your day, and save valuable time in the process, the better you will feel. Try this and tell me you don't feel like you have finally figured out the art to adulting.
Tip #3: Set multiple alarms...across the room
If you really struggle with the Snooze game, this will fix it. Set your first alarm on your phone or watch and give yourself the benefit of the doubt that you will actually wake up and get up the first time. But, also set another alarm on the other side of the room so you have to get up and walk several steps to reach it. Personally, I get up at 3:45 every morning, and 3:55, and 4:00. Three alarms set and I've never overslept - not once.
Tip #4: Go to bed at a decent hour the night before
Set yourself up for success by getting a good night's rest. To help with this, prepare your body for peaceful slumber...no caffeine and no screen time 15-30 minutes before you want to be asleep. Get in the bed, read a book (like the dictionary, not Stephen King), and allow yourself to get sleepy. Having laid out everything you need, knowing your multiple alarms are already set, you can drift off to sleep knowing you've got this.
Tip #5: Find an accountability partner
If you workout in a class with someone, ask him or her to be your accountability partner. Text each other in the morning to make sure you are both up and headed to your workout. Give each other some serious crap if either of you miss.
Tip #6: Reward yourself
Waking up and getting to your workout is hard - there's no denying that. So, set a goal to make your morning workout and then reward yourself for not missing. Start small, if necessary, and commit to make it for one week. Then 2 weeks, a month, 3 months, however many goals and rewards you need to keep you motivated and engaged.
Do not, however, get in the habit of rewarding yourself with food. "I made my workout this morning, so a quick stop by Dunkin Donuts is going to be awesome!!!' No. Just no.
Instead, reward yourself with cute workout clothes, new lifting gloves, a new mat, something that will keep you wanting to make those workouts!
Tip #7: Think about how you will feel when it's done
To me, this is the best motivation of all! When I workout in the morning, I just feel better the rest of the day. Sure, I may get tired and need a little pick-me-up around 2PM, but I feel better that I'm not stressing about trying to fit in my workout in the evening around kid's activities, cooking dinner, feeling full and bloated from that big lunch I ate, etc. Walking around all day long guilt free because I.AM.DONE. is the best feeling in the world.
Tip #8: Find a class of people just as crazy as you.
Working out at home is not for me. I don't hold myself accountable. At all. If you do, that's dynamite. If not, stop fooling yourself and find a class you enjoy with other like-minded people that don't enjoy getting up early to workout, but do enjoy the feeling they get after it's over. Bond with your new tribe and never miss another morning workout.
Tip #9: Accept that things will always go bump in the night
Good intentions will only get you so far. Inevitably, the kids will puke, the dogs will bark, and the thunderstorms will come. That's life...it's not an excuse. Resolve to workout in spite of these things happening. Accept this as fact. You will not have blissful sleep every single night for the rest of your life. So, if you do rest peacefully for a full eight hours - great! If not, get up and workout anyway. On a positive note, you should have an easier time falling asleep the next night. Win-win.
Tip #10: Just Do IT!!!
Lastly, just do it. Just commit already. Do not allow yourself to accept less. Do you go to work when you're tired? Yes. Do you still get up and get your kids ready for school when you don't sleep well the night before? Yes. Do you still stick to your daily routine and obligations when you don't get a solid eight hours of sack time? I'm guessing you do. Because, you are an adult. You have responsibilities and you don't ignore them. Why should your health become the sacrifice? Don't lie to yourself that you will "just do it later" because you know you won't. Just get up and get your sweat on! You'll be glad you did!
So, you're dieting. Or, as I like to say, "Eating According to Your Goals."
But, lemme guess - your friends and family may not be 100% on board with you whipping out the food scale, asking for just a salad and dipping your fork into the dressing (that you had served on the side) before taking three bites and calling it quits.
Am I right???
Look - most of us are social creatures. You don't have to be a buzz kill going out to eat with your friends. Granted, you don't have to attend every single social outing on the planet, but you can rest assured that going out from time to time is perfectly acceptable - even when you are on a diet...err, I mean eating according to your goals.
Here are some useful tips to get you through those restaurant outings. Incorporate these simple tips and you will definitely set yourself up to succeed!
Tip #1: You choose the restaurant
Why not be the person that arranges the big night out or the seemingly "impromptu" lunch date? Most major chain restaurants have their nutrition online these days, so go ahead and research it before you suggest an outing. It's hard to be a buzz kill when you're the one suggesting the get together.
While I was recently on my 12 week cut, Mother's Day was right smack dab in the middle of it. Rather than wondering what my mom would want to do or what my brother and sister-in-law might plan, I texted everyone and suggested we meet at Rio Bravo Sunday, 12:30, Northpoint Mall area. Was-lah! I went online, planned my day around that meal, and everyone "oohed and awed" how I could eat all that and still lose weight.
Tip #2: Be first one to order
Regardless of the restaurant, do your best to be the first person to place your order. This way, you don't have to focus on what everyone else is doing and watch as your willpower scurries off and hides in the corner. Order first (with confidence, I might add), and be proud of your smart decision making. It may even set the tone for how others order as well.
Tip #3: Enter what you plan to eat in your mobile app BEFORE you arrive
If you are tracking your food, and you certainly should be if you have goals, this is absolutely critical! Seeing those seemingly good choices glaring back at you in your app is akin to wearing a WWJD bracelet in the midst of stealing a candy bar from the line in Targe (did you enjoy that dated reference?). Nothing like a good ol' guilt ridden entry on My Fitness Pal to get your decisions going in the right direction. That 1200 calorie appetizer has a funny way of suddenly losing its appeal when you see it BEFORE you eat it.
Tip #4: Whatever you order, remember KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)
Order your meats baked, broiled, or grilled. Order your veggies steamed. Watch out for sauces, stay away from the condiments, breads, chips, etc. and other free crap that makes its way to your table. If you didn't order it, probably best to stay away from it. Remember, waiters don't bring out items to try and fill you up before you order. What would be the point in that?? They bring out all the simple carbs! Foods that you can eat gobs and gobs of and still have plenty of room for the main course. In fact, the free foods they bring entice you into ordering more. Think about that.
Lemme guess - grilled chicken with a side of steamed veggies sounds boring, right? I mean, look at what so-and-so gets to eat! But, remember this - you can't have your cake and eat it too (just wanted to use a pun there). Seriously, though, remember that the whole POINT of getting together with friends is to....dare I say...get together with friends. Don't make it about the food - make it about the atmosphere, the music, the laughs, the company, the fact that the kids are home with the sitter, the fact you aren't doing the cooking...or the cleanup - these are the things you should focus on! This is about mindset. Don't focus on what you don't get to eat - focus on who you get to eat with.
Tip #5: Don't be afraid to ask questions
Again, if you are tracking, this is critical. There's nothing embarrassing about wanting to know how many ounces of chicken is served in the grilled chicken salad. This is a restaurant and they are keeping track of how much food is going out the door. They know how much chicken goes on a salad - so just ask. They also know how their foods are prepared. With all the food allergies these days, that's a no-brianer. So, just ask them. And, be ready to ask for substitutions if needed.
If you are trying to stay low carb, for example, and your steak comes with a potato, ask to substitute broccoli instead. If they have it, they will do it. Ask for real butter, none of that imitation crap. Or, ask that they use very little olive oil, or whatever. The point here is to just ask.
If you don't feel comfortable asking all of this in front of people, then call ahead.
Tip #6: Drink your water
Water makes you feel full so drink a glass before you walk out the door and another glass at the table. If you're like me and don't find water all that exciting, take along some Mio drops and use a quick squirt when your water arrives. Tons of flavor and makes drinking your "medicine" easy-peasy. Bonus: there are so many flavors of this stuff, you might even feel like a kid choosing a Kool-Aid flavor again.
Tip #7: Save your fruit for dessert or share your dessert with the table
Fruit is carbs (so log it), but fruit is healthy and packed with all sorts of awesome nutrients (so enjoy it). And, typically, restaurants don't willingly hand out huge portions of it. Save it for a guilt free dessert !
IF you must order a dessert, get input from your compadres, and order something you will share with everyone at the table. A few bites is typically rich and satisfying. You get to savor it - you're sharing the love - it's what I like to call a win-win.
There's absolutely no reason why you can't be successful at cutting calories, tracking your food, AND enjoying a meal out with friends. Live your life and do the best you can. It's really all about consistency, not perfection. You will continue to see results if you are staying aware, making smart decisions, and hitting your numbers more days than not.
If you are new to your diet, and these tips sound awful, and you don't trust yourself to refrain from eating and drinking all the things, then Just Say No. Sit a few outings...out. Don't go. It won't be forever. If you know you aren't strong enough, and the temptation is too great, then know it, realize it, and simply don't go until you get a handle on your diet. You will get stronger in your determination every day, and soon enough, you will find your place at the table.
Motivation is not ongoing. We lose it a little. This is normal. We simply can't be motivated to always do our best 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year.
Sometimes, we just find ourselves going through the motions and not giving it our all. And, that's ok.
Sometimes, though, we completely fall off the rails, and can't even show up. We think we need more sleep, we've got too much going on, and before you know it, your coaches are texting you with a "We Miss You!" text.
When you need a little boost to get through it, or you need some reminders to get back on track, because, clearly, the track seems to be covered in weeds, here are my top 10 quotes that I love to tell myself.
I love this quote! I've said this to myself many times and it's even been posted on my website. Sometimes, we get caught up living in the "now" and we lose sight of our future goals, plans, hopes, and dreams. This is a great reminder that we need to be doing something TODAY to make us better in the future.
This is a great reminder when you think things are moving too slow. We live in a world of instant gratification, but let's face it, the world of fitness and nutrition obviously didn't get the memo! It takes T.I.M.E. to see results and patience is vital. Remind yourself that any progress at all is STILL progress! And, it also helps to think about what would happen if you just stopped completely....YIKES.
This one hurts, doesn't it? Oh...you're too busy to workout? Too busy to do a 20 minute HIIT circuit? Too much going on today to get up early? Puh-leeze!!!! This quote has been known to get me off my arse and get to the freakin gym. I know that someone who has a lot more going on in their life is finding time to make themselves a priority, to put their health first, disciplined enough to stay committed....and if they can do it.....yeah, off I go too.
This quote is all about mindset. We can think about all the things we are missing out on when on a cut. Orrrrr, we can simply change our mindset. You have goals, and yes, there will probably be a little sacrifice and a little bit of uncomfortable-ness to get you there. Ok. But, keeping a positive frame of mind is so incredibly important!
Diet = negative mindset.
Goals = positive mindset.
So, think good thoughts. It's not a diet...it's eating how you need to eat to meet your goals.
Ahhh, the fitness version of the quote above regarding the word "diet." Again, it's all about mindset here, folks.
If you're injured and can't run, focus on your lifting.
If your shoulder hurts and you can't do a push press as heavy as the people around you, kick butt at deadlifts.
If you have bad knees, knock your upper body workouts out of the park.
If you can't do a correct push-up, but you are better than you used to be, keep working on it and don't give up!
Focus on what you CAN do and learn to accept what you can't do... and then LET-IT-GO. Reflect on how much you've improved rather than how far you still have to go. Goals are GREAT, but if you only focus on all the things you can't do...you will burnout and lose your motivation.
EveryONE doesn't do everyTHING well. We all have weaknesses and we all have struggles. Change your mindset and focus on the positive.
In other words, discipline.
Outside the comfort zone is where the magic happens. This is true for just about everything life has to offer. Of course, when we are talking about fitness, don't always lift the same weight. Don't always run the same speed. Don't always grab the same wall ball, the same, barbell weight, the same slam ball, the same kettlebell. To get better, we must get outside our comfort zone. What is that other quote? "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result." If you want to improve your physique, it's time to get uncomfortable!
Seriously. Until it becomes a habit, tattoo this to your forehead.
Such a loaded concept, isn't it??? I love this one!!! How often do we self-sabatoge our own goals, hopes, and dreams? How often do we let self-doubt creep into our decisions to stay home, not give it a chance, or not go for it 100%?! How often do we limit ourselves by our thoughts? How often do we tell ourselves we're not good enough? How often is the biggest obstacle to our success...ourselves? Get out of your own way! You've got this!!!
Start today, and everyday hereafter, by giving yourself a compliment. Look in the mirror and remind yourself how awesome you are. Give yourself permission to be great...because you ARE great! You ARE awesome! When you love yourself, respect yourself, give yourself your best, you won't tolerate any less than the best.
Sure, it's hard to stay motivated ALL THE TIME. And, it's perfectly ok to just go through the motions once in a while. It's ok to take a mental break. It's ok to take a physical break.
But, it's not ok to stay there.
When you need.a little reminder, take one of these quotes, make it your mantra, and repeat it everyday. Get out of your rut, and find the reason you started. Don't give up!
"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
Ever look at your kids and say, "Man, I remember doing that!' Or, "Wow! I can't believe I used to be able to do stuff like that!"
Why do we stop playing as we get older?
I encourage you to make time for play as often as you can. If you have kids, don't just sit and watch them - join them!
We recently took a trip with our 15 year old son to Myrtle Beach, SC. All year, he and I argued about grades, study habits, forgetting assignments, poor test grades, blah, blah, blah.
When summer finally came, I got to become "Summer Mom," Summer Mom is much more fun and relaxed than "School Mom." No one likes her very much. It's true.
So, when we went to Myrtle Beach, I told my husband that I wanted to do something FUN with Gavin and we set out to conquer the local ropes course...you know....where you hook yourself onto a cable and step on tiny, thin wires, and go over wobbly obstacles while everyone looks up at you thinking you must have lost your freakin mind.
"It'll be fun," I said.
"I will bond with my son," I said.
I made it through the "training" course. Yeah, because it was one foot off the ground. Then, onward and upward to Level 1. Gavin was nice enough to let his old Mom go first, and off I went climbing the stairs to come head to head with Obstacle #1.
Ummm, this is higher up than I thought it would be wait what did she say about how to hook this thing to the cable this is so freakin high is that a breeze why is it so windy up here oh my god what the heck am I doing this was such a stupid idea where is paul maybe he will trade places with me and do this with Gavin instead of oh dear lord this is high.
Play. I had forgotten the importance of play.
Playing as adults gets us out of our comfort zone. Remember when we were gungho to try new things? Remember when we couldn't wait to be tall enough to get on the big roller coaster because we didn't know to fear it? Remember when we climbed trees and never once considered that we might fall?
We grew up. And got old.
For those of you that have ever looked at us in class like we have lost our minds....
This is why we do handstands in class. This is why we sign up for races like The Spartan and train on the rings and monkey bars. This is why we get out the tumble mat and remind you how fun (and scary) it is to do a front roll aka a somersault. This is why we play games with cards and dice and sometimes color. We want you to play!!!
At every opportunity, find reasons to make your body perform in ways that are in stark contrast to how you spend your regular day....driving...sitting at a desk starting at a computer...we know these things aren't good for us. And, yet....
We continue to do them.
Why should we play as adults? Because, one day, you might blink and find yourself on a ropes course in Myrtle Beach with your 15 year old son yelling at you to "Just go, MOM!!!"
Duly noted. Play on, my friends!
This is a tough one.
My thinking has actually changed on this one. In the past, my answer would have been no. It's not mentally healthy to weigh everyday. It's obsessive. The fluctuations will drive people crazy and will cause them to give up too easily on their goals.
My thoughts have changed.
For 12 weeks, I weighed myself everyday. At first, I hated it. No, seriously. I hated it. But, knowing I was going to do this everyday for 12 weeks, gave me some real world experience and changed my perspective on the subject.
Yes, the scale fluctuates. This happens for many reasons. The amount of sodium in your system. water weight, inflammation, muscle soreness, hormones, the list goes on and on. Your weight can actually fluctuate up to 5 lbs., although, admittedly, I have not personally experienced that much of a discrepancy.
However, weighing everyday, I was able to come to terms with the fluctuations and began to understand my body better. I knew almost immediately upon waking if the scale would be up or down depending on how much sodium was in my meal the night before, what time I ate my evening meal, and so on.
The other benefit of weighing everyday is that the "fear of the week long let-down" goes away. When I've tried to drop weight in the past, I would look forward to my weigh-in day hoping to see a 1-2 lb. loss. I would build it up in my head, so much so, that I had butterflies in my stomach on "weigh day," Inevitably, the scale would let me down, I would become frustrated, and contemplate throwing it out the window.
It would ruin my entire day.
Weighing everyday, however, you see the trend. Weight loss/gain is NEVER linear. There will be fluctuations, good days and not so good days, and if you only weigh in once a week, you may very well weigh in on a "bad" day.
I should also mention that after my 12 weeks were up, I did take a two week break from the scale. I needed it mentally, as I didn't want to become obsessed with checking or get burned out from tracking. I paid more attention to how my clothes felt, how I looked in the mirror, and continued tracking my food. Two weeks later, my weight was right where I expected it to be....within 1-2 lbs.
My recommendation is this - do what you're comfortable with and realize that the scale is only ONE of the tools you can use to measure progress. Take photos, take measurements, and track your food. Use all the data, including the scale, but not ONLY the scale, to determine whether you are succeeding.
When you begin tracking your macros, it's probably best to start simple. An apple, for example, is pretty easy to weigh and log. Eating 4 oz of grilled chicken breast and 1 cup of broccoli is also easy to measure and log.
However, sometimes we want a little variety and a complicated recipe is calling our name! Well, maybe the recipe isn't complicated, but it has several ingredients and becomes overwhelming in the world of tracking.
Remeber, it's always best to weight ingredients as ounces and grams rather than cups and tablespoons!
So, let's say you have a recipe for a casserole dish. Begin by weighing your individual items (one head of cauliflower after you've chopped it, for example) or scanning the barcode (pre-bagged cauliflower rice). Enter the weight into MFP or whatever app you are using in either grams or ounces.
If your recipe calls for a type of meat, and you can cook it separately, then I prefer to cook and then weigh, rather than weighing it raw.
Before you place your ingredients into the casserole dish, weigh the dish by itself. Then, hit the tare button to clear it. Add all ingredients into the the dish and get your accurate weight. Enter this number (in grams) into your app. For example, let's say your entire contents within the casserole dish (not the dish itself) is 1,761 grams. ENTER THIS NUMBER AS 1 SERVING.
Now, when you go to serve yourself, weigh your plate, tare it, then scoop out the number of grams you wish to eat. Was-lah! That's it!
Myth #1: Women Will Get Bulky If They Lift Heavy Weights
I hear this on a daily basis. "I want to get strong, but I don't want to look like a man." Let's put this one to rest once and for all. Women will not look like men simply by lifting heavy. It's IMPOSSIBLE. Typically, women have less muscle tissue and much less testosterone than men so women cannot bulk the way men do. For the average woman, feel free to lift as heavy as you safely can, and let go of this fear that you will become HUGE. Besides, even IF it were to happen, it will not happen overnight...you would see it coming and could tone down the weightlifting portion of your workout.
Myth #2: Running is Bad for Your Knees
Nope. Running is not bad for your knees, but this idea isn't completely baseless. Experts say that women are 4-6 times more likely to be at risk for serious knee injuries from running than their male counterparts, but that is because women tend to have muscle imbalance between the quadriceps and hamstrings. Total body strength workouts a minimum of two times per week in addition to running will help to build up the muscles and offer your knees the support they need.
Myth #3: You Can Spot Reduce Body Fat
"I need to lose fat in my __________." Sorry, but it just doesn't work that way. You can do crunches until the cows come home and you will not lose body fat in your stomach area. Do as many arm exercises as you wish, but you will still bat wings. Why? Two reasons. First, when we lose body fat, it's because our body is in a calorie deficit. If you are not changing your nutrition and limiting calories, you will get stronger doing arm workouts and crunches, but you will not lose the body fat surrounding those strong muscles. Second, when you ARE in a calorie deficit and the body fat begins to reduce, your body will lose fat collectively...that is, from all over the body. This is why taking body measurements are super important. If you only measure your bicep, it may be a long time before you see change in that area. The body has its own way of determining how it reduces body fat.
Myth #4: Exercise is the BEST Way to Lose Weight
Sorry...if only it were that easy. Many people don't *mind* working out and you will see a lot of overweight people at the gym getting their sweat on. But, these people will look the same months, even years, down the road. Why? Because as many internet memes correctly suggest, "You can't out train a bad diet." A one hour workout is 4% of your day. That's it. It's not enough to make a dent in weight loss if you aren't also focusing on your macros. Focused nutrition is THE BEST way to lose weight.
Exercise has plenty of benefits including boosting your mood, improving memory, stress relief, and many more. However, thinking that exercise will cause you to lose weight if a myth. Even worse is using exercise as an excuse to eat more. Nope. Nope. Nope.
Myth #5: Strong Toned Muscles Come From Lifting Light Weight for Many Reps
False. To get the lean muscle definition we want, it simply comes from having muscle mass and low body fat. Lifting light weight for a high volume of reps will not build substantial muscle. A poor diet too high in calories will not reduce body fat. If you want to reshape your body (male or female), the key is to lift heavy weight to build muscle and then strip away the body fat by focusing on your nutrition.
You've worked out every single day this week!
Your nutrition has been on point!
Way to go!
You've tracked your macros, disciplined yourself, and met your goals this week!
You should be super proud of yourself!
And, now....It's Fri-Yay!
Time to loosen the reins, right? You've certainly earned it, right? Time to relax a little, go out with friends, have that second glass of wine, eat that big meal (and appetizer), finish it off with dessert, and then eat the donuts at Sunday School.
...You'll get back on track first thing Monday morning....
But, see, here's the thing - don't let the weekends be the time to TORCH YOUR HOUSE!
Think of a builder. He works all week hammering the wood to create an awesome foundation for his new home.. He's precise in his work, sweats all day long in the heat from 7AM - 7PM focusing on all the details to get it just right.
He steps back and looks at the progress he's made in just one short week - it's awesome and truly satisfying. Before getting in his car to head home for the weekend, he douses his new home with gasoline, lights a match....and sets his house on fire. Why would he do that??!!!
He shows back up Monday morning. Sure, the foundation is there, but it's charred. Some of the wood will have to be replaced. Granted, he doesn't have to start COMPLETELY from scratch, but he's got a long way to go to get it back to where it was.
See where this is going?
Your body is the house. You've worked hard, stayed disciplined and tracked all week, but Friday comes and we relax for THREE DAYS!!! We stop tracking, eat a little more here and there, and maybe even skip the workout. We look at the scale Monday morning and wonder where it all went wrong. Even worse, we look at the scale three months later and wonder why our progress is so slow.
If you have a goal, whether it be to reduce body fat or increase muscle, or heck - even maintain, don't let the weekends be an excuse to derail your goals. Trust me, torching the house on the weekends will not keep you in maintenance for very long. Eating poorly and not tracking 3/7 days, will lead to fat gain...it just will. We have to keep ourselves in check - especially when it comes to the portion sizes on the Standard American Diet.
Can you celebrate special occasions?
Can you enjoy the company of your friends and family?
Can you enjoy the foods you love?
Can you cut loose and live fancy free half the week and expect to see progress?
It's just that simple.
But, there is a lot of info on that label. We all know to look at ingredients. We also know that the more ingredients a product has, the more processed it is.
But, do you compare the SERVING SIZE between products? Do you look at what a serving actually is?
Take this Pam Olive Oil Cooking Spray. I know enough about olive oil to know that it is pure fat (in a good way). I also know that one tablespoon is 14g of fat, 0 protein, and 0 carbs. So, imagine my surprise when I turned the can around and saw that it was 0 calories, 0 carb, 0 protein, AND ZERO fat?!?!? How is that even possible?
Well, look at the serving size. It's comical. A serving is 1/4 of a second spray. How long is that exactly? Need more help? It's .25 grams. A paper clip is about one gram....so if you chop a paper clip into four pieces...that's the equivalent to how much olive oil cooking spray you can use to keep it zero fat. Hilarious. Who honestly uses 1/4 of a second cooking spray? And, even worse, how do you account for going over 1/4 of a second? Side note: It's also funny (to me at least) that there are 473 servings in this one can. I want to meet the person that tested that theory?
This is a mere illustration as to why labels are so important. Rarely, and I mean RARELY people, do we stick to an ACTUAL serving size. This is true of condiments like ketchup, BBQ sauce and salad dressings, mayo, etc. But, it's also true of canned items like soup. We almost always eat the whole can, but it's at least TWO servings per can, and sometimes more.
Even a 5 ounce can of tuna is considered two servings.
Moral of the story is to BE CAREFUL! If you are tracking your food (and even if you're not) it's super important to read at the label.