Nutrition: Not a Diet pt. 2

One day I will learn to either quit promising deadlines and accept the fact that I don’t work that way, or get over my issues and just stick to what I say I’m going to do!

Did you have an opportunity to play around with your TDEE since last we spoke? What did you find out? Did anything surprise you? Comment below whatever you’re comfortable with sharing!

I wanted to start this follow-up post by responding to questions from the last post, but my following is so small right now that my wonderful mom, sister, and niece are the most involved and we just chat! LOL At any rate, I’d really love to get some interaction going through the site as well!

Shall we just pick up right where we left off? I vote yes. . .

Untitled-Artwork


Say it with me, “Consistency is key!”.

Let’s first address the elephant in the room, so to speak – all of the information that I gathered up for you in the last post is fairly simple, yes? BUT simple should not be confused with easy; it isn’t. It’s extremely difficult, especially if you have a history of some pretty (or even just slightly) disordered eating habits like I do. (That, again, is not the focus of today’s discussion, but I will likely cover this at a later date.)

The best way to combat that difficulty and those cravings that are, frankly, little jerks, is consistencyDon’t you roll your eyes at me! It’s true. It doesn’t have to be boring either. My fridge and pantry generally (maybe not so much now since it’s somewhat difficult to find certain things at the store. Covid-19. . .) have the same ingredients stocked each week, so the food profile is very similar, but you can make all kinds of different meals from just a handful of ingredients by simply changing ratios or maybe adding just one or two frills.

A while back when I was convinced I was going to start a bikini competition prep (yes, laughable, I know, seeing as how I’m sincerely out of shape and not in the best place to just jump into something like that) my brother and I were talking about meal prepping and he had expressed that he hates eating the same meals over and over. I’m the opposite. I like and can thrive off of that kind of consistency. Yet I’m such a foodie, I rarely eat that way and I really don’t think my dude would tolerate eating the same thing every night for too long.

You don’t have to be that consistent though. You can simply set your goals and make your habits reflect them. Do you want to be the kind of person that eats oatmeal every morning? Then just do it. Then you’re that person. Remember, it’s simple, not easy.

Another thing for me is sugar. I’m crazy addicted to it. When I dropped a bunch of weight before in my life, I simply trained myself to want broccoli by eating broccoli whenever I craved sugar. It takes some effort, but if I can do it, so can you. In fact, I have to start that over because I completely let it go and fell right back into a sugar addiction. ಥ_ಥ

Along with consistency needs to be forgiveness. You’re going to mess up and that’s okay. You’re human and you’re allowed to do that. Just promise yourself that you’re not going to let one small mistake derail everything you’re working so hard for! Honor the fact that you have worked hard for a while and that cookie is okay. Remember in the previous post when I was talking about birthday cake at the office? Just account for it later. Don’t punish yourself, just make adjustments. Even if you don’t make the adjustment, accept that you had a treat and now it’s time to get back on track. EVEN if the “cookie” was actually an entire of Samoas. (Those tricky Girl Scouts are probably secretly a cult of diet crashers anyway.) Take solace in knowing that you won’t even be able to get your hands on a box of Girl Scout Cookies again for another year. In all seriousness, though, it’s okay if you broke down and at a whole box of cookies. Up your fiber and move on. In five years will you really remember that? Don’t dwell, it does literally zero good. 🙂 You got this.

So you know what? RIGHT NOW let’s take that power away from those trickster foods! Comment below and tell me what your trigger food – or type of food – is. Call it out, admit that it’s going to happen and you’re not going to let that stop you, and move on!!! Mine is definitely pastry and cheese. I will wake up at 3 in the morning to go eat a piece of cheese out of the fridge. . .

It’s easy for me to say “be consistent,” and then make a bunch of jokes, but really, follow those guidelines you’ve created with the Total Daily Energy Expenditure tracking and plan some meals around it. Once you’ve got the hang of that. Explore a little further with nutrition and habits.

And remember – there are SO many reasons to drink a lot of water every day, but if you have a hunger gremlin living in your tummy, drink a big glass of water and wait ten minutes. If you’re still hungry, then you’re hungry. If not, you were probably just thirsty. I learned in college that the majority of Americans are chronically mildly dehydrated; I wish I could find the actual scientific paper I read to reference this, but go ahead and read that article and do some of your own research.


Make a Plan

Okay – I think the best way to get you started is to just show you what I would do:

First, using the cutting macro split from the previous post, let’s figure out what we need daily, and then break it down by meal.

TDEE Cut
I chose cutting for this example because my focus is on fat loss.

I’m going to choose the first category, which is Moderate Carb, and plan from there. So you see that I need 163g protein, 85g fat, 190g carbs. Theoretically this will equal the listed 2,175 calories per day because, explained by the little cheat at the bottom of the image, 4 calories per gram protein x 163g = 652 calories + 4 calories per gram carb x 190g = 760 calories + 9 calories per gram fat x 85g = 765 for a grand total of (652+760+765) 2,177. I promise you that those two extra calories will do you more good than harm, especially if you’re going to choose to stress over them. So don’t.

Now we can break this down a couple of different ways – I want to eat 6 small meals a day because I know myself well enough that if I go without eating for too long I will just eat everything in site and snack too much while I’m preparing a meal, so to take preventative measures, I will be eating 6 smalls meals a day instead of 3 larger meals.

Option 1: 

Meal Split 1
You will notice that the math varies slightly by .xx of a gram or a calorie or two here and there, that’s because I refuse to get that crazy about the splits.

This is fine for getting started, but I find that it can be too much food at times and not enough at others, or my body needs different things at different times of the day.

Option 2:

This tends to be a bit more complicated due to the “free” nature, so let me try to explain how I would approach, and basically do approach, meals by the day:

Start with breakfast. After I’ve been up for a bit and had my water, and yes my coffee (even though I’m working on phasing that out) I’ve been really trying to listen to my body and eat a mindful breakfast – usually eggs and something or oatmeal. Then I log that.

Next I plan my biggest meal of the day, and what I really mean is I plan dinner because that’s the one meal that my dude and I eat together and is typically our biggest meal. If yours is lunch, or afternoon snack, plan that meal. (I don’t like that our biggest meal is dinner, but that’s going to take some major changes to implement, so for now, I accept my fate.)

THEN plan the other four smaller meals. Basically what I  do is plan my lunch to have significant girth (based on the macros that are left) and then my morning and afternoon snacks are a bit smaller, but satiating; cheese and tuna, celery and peanut butter, et cetera. Then I let the last meal generally be something sweeter, or maybe a little more fatty if I’m feeling crummy, or even protein packed if I’ve been struggling to get enough protein in during the day. You may think that sounds funny or ridiculous about not getting enough protein, but trust me, once you start tracking, planning, and even working out, getting enough protein in can be tricky.

Once you get the hang of it you will begin to understand how you feel after eating certain things at certain times and through trial and error you will eventually become quite in tune with knowing what your body needs at different times or based on different activities and events.

Are you lost yet? Really, don’t feel intimidated, just follow the formula in option 1! Eventually you’ll learn how to mix and match. Do you already meal plan? If so what do you do differently? Comment and tell us!

Yes, yes I know that I said in part 1 that I think the better option is to base these numbers off of a weekly total, and I agree with that. The concept would be the same, just on a larger scale, but don’t overwhelm yourself! Truly – going day by day, meal by meal to start out with is just fine.


Protein Pack:

Get some protein in at every meal!

Protein is almost a buzz word in the “diet industry” anymore, but for good reason. You need protein to help maintain lean muscle mass.

Think about it this way: you’re made out of protein. Most organic matter is made out of some kind of protein at the base of it, and while we covered in the previous post that dietary fat does not turn into fat on the body, dietary protein does nurture the protein already found in your body.

Proteins make up your muscles, tendons, organs. . . Hormones are proteins. . . Your body is one big conglomeration of protein. And what makes up protein? Amino acids and peptides. So when you eat a protein source, your body is effectively breaking down those chains from the steak you just ate or the lentils in your soup and fitting them into the missing puzzle piece space wherever your body has been depleted of that particular amino acid or peptide. This, of course, is a very simplified explanation. If you go here, you will find a much more scientific explanation.

Allegedly protein even boosts your metabolic rate and reduces appetite, effectively aiding in weight loss. 

I have heard that you should eat a gram of protein per pound of mass (body weight) per day, but I can’t find anything to truly back that up. I did find a few things relating that statement to body building, but I don’t want to promote that practice without further researching it. I would say stick to your TDEE recommendations and go from there.


Choosing What and When to Eat:

So we’ve covered how to figure out how much to eat and how to split that up, but remember the Oreos? The same principles apply to any foods you put in your body. You can eat 70 calories of white bread with your lunch, or you can eat 70 calories of a whole grain bread (comparing bread to bread here for the sake of simplicity rather than bread to sweet potato. Baby steps my friends). They may have a similar carbohydrate profile, but what about the micro nutrients, fiber, et cetera? I encourage you to read labels and make decisions based on that. And you know what? If you want to eat a Kraft Single instead of a slice of cheddar, then do it, and don’t feel bad about it!

You don’t have to be perfect, or fancy, or expensive. You don’t need that lovely instagram post. The goal here is to be more conscientious of your nutrition! One day you may find that the idea of eating a Kraft Single gives you the willies, but if today is not that day, who cares? If that day never comes – who cares?

There is a lot of information out there on when to eat and how many meals a day to eat. I don’t honestly know what the right answer is. I’m not a huge fan of intermittent fasting but there are people out there who have experienced tremendous results! This link I’m providing you is full of diet buzz words and it’s only because it’s the best article I could find to explain why I chose to eat 6 meals a day instead of 3.  Some people do well with “3 Square” meals a day and a lot of fat loss focused dietitians I listen to on podcasts, et cetera do promote only eating 3 meals.

So! What works best for you? I suggest sticking to the amount of times you’re used to, assessing how you function and making changes from there. Do you traditionally just eat breakfast lunch and dinner? Plan that way. If you feel like when you follow a plan in a caloric deficit that you’re really hungry all of the time while eating 3 meals a day, try 3 and a snack or 6 small meals. Remember that just because the amount of meals increases or decreases does not mean that your daily limits increase or decrease.

I am really very happy with my 6 meals a day and I have been that way for many years.

Are you noticing a pattern here? I can’t tell you what’s best because I’m not you. You need to make those decisions for yourself, I’m just giving you some tools to work with!

Again, please remember that I am not a doctor or certified health professional of any kind and I am simply sharing with you the research I have done and what has typically worked for me in the past! Be sure to do your own research and fact checking! 


I know that the focus of these posts have been “March Nutrition Month” but, that doesn’t mean we are going to stop at the end of March! I think we will just keep on trucking and build on what we learn!

Stay tuned for part 3, as again I have barely cracked the surface on the multitude of information I have for you!

Thanks for sticking around and joining me!

See you soon!

xoxo

-S

Nutrition: Not a Diet pt. 1

Hello friends!

Today I’d like to talk to you about nutrition, but first I want to be very clear in stating that I am not a doctor of any kind. I am not a nutritionist. I am not a dietitian. I am not certified to make a plan for you. I am just going to share with you what information I have gathered over the past twenty years of enthusiastically trying to figure this all out in my spare time (I should have a nutrition certification, but I don’t) and I’m going to share with you the approach to nutrition that I will be taking during our National Nutrition Month Challenge!

I strongly encourage you to fact check me and do your own research before simply subscribing to my plan and what I’ll be doing. 🙂

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Ah, those PESKY calories. . .

Bottom line is that weight loss, or fat loss which is the better way to put it, is calories in versus calories out – it’s just a matter of how we approach that. The mindset that accompanies your caloric intake is where you get those calories from – You can set your calories at 2,000 a day and get those calories from a nutritionally balanced diet, or you can get those calories from Oreo cookies. What do you think is better?

Take a look at the Nutrition Facts on a box of Oreo’s:

Oreo Nuts

Now that you’ve had a minute to let that sink in, let’s do the math here: a serving size is 2 cookies, which equals 140 calories. (Remember, right now we are simply discussing calories in versus calories out). There’s 15 servings in this container. That’s 2,100 calories total. Now, I don’t know about you, but it would be extremely easy for me to sit down and eat this whole entire box. That’s slightly more than my daily calorie intake (if I’m aiming at 2,000 calories per day). Let’s say I sat down at 1 in the afternoon to watch some Netflix and ate this whole box of Oreo’s. I’m already at my caloric intake limit. Especially since I most likely had at least one BIG cup of coffee when I got up and probably already ate breakfast, and possibly lunch.

Satiety is important. If you aren’t satiated from your meals, it’s going to be pretty impossible to stick to your calorie limits, right? Also – if you only eat Oreo’s, you’re going to be significantly deficient in several areas! If you’re intending to do any kind of exercise regimen while trying to lose weight (fat), you’re going to want proper, balanced nutrition in order to perform your best during your workouts.

That’s the hardest part, in my opinion. So my theory is that as an absolute beginner, just focus on calories in/calories out. That’s tricky enough.

Calories In: A good place to start is to track everything you eat, and that includes portions, and being honest about what you eat and what those portions are. Lying to yourself doesn’t help, right? It’s important to be diligent about tracking and weighing or measuring everything because there is a ton of leeway on what a company can claim for amounts in the nutrition facts. (But don’t let that discourage you! Just take the amounts listed at face value and go off of that, just be accurate with your weights and measures, unless you have a scientist kitchen.)

Calories Out: How do we know this? Well – My best suggestion is to use something like a FitBit or your smart watch. Even the Walmart store has a cheap little version that will track your activity and the related caloric expenditure. 

Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE): Okay. Now we are going to start to add facets to our calorie endeavor. I have talked about TDEE a little bit before. (I’m not going to link those posts because while some of it is good information, some of it I don’t agree with anymore. I’m not taking anything down because I want to show growth, transparency, et cetera. . . So I’ll just reteach the good information.) There are many calculators out there, but right now I invite you to go to https://tdeecalculator.net/. Here they are going to do the math for you and use several factors to determine what your baseline caloric usage is each day. Mine looks like this:

TDEE 1

Okay – this is the first half of the information generated, but it’s already a lot to digest – so let’s break that down and then I’ll get into the second half (macros) later.

First of all – I don’t have a way to calculate my body fat percentage, and as much as I honestly don’t want to know that, I probably should figure that out at some point; but I left that blank because I truly don’t know what it is. I’m not too sure how that affects the rest of these results or what other information we would see. If you do have a way to measure that, add it in and see what’s different!

Next – we see the Maintenance Calories broken down by day and week. Let’s look at day first – because this will be the most simple. What this is saying is that for me, personally, to stay at this same body weight and not gain or lose, I need to consume 2,675 calories per day. Easy enough. There’s not much a person has to do to maintain a body weight if they are not very physically active and are not some sort of athlete or towards the end of a fat-loss/weight-loss journey.

Then we see ideal weight and BMI. Oi. . . okay. Right there in the description of ideal weight it states that these are not to be taken too seriously especially if you lift weights; and while I definitely am on the obese end of the BMI scale – I was obese when I weighed 170 pounds because I have giant boobs and muscular legs. So I definitely see a flaw there. That being said, these are both good tools. They give us a goal to reach towards. I personally think that 170 pounds is a really good weight for me, especially if I am lifting weights regularly and working on building muscle mass.

Alright! Now that we have looked at all the information provided regarding where we are at with our maintenance calories, it’s time to determine how to safely operate in a deficit.

Losing a pound a week is a good goal, I personally believe, because the caloric deficit you will have to live in in order to lose more than that is unsafe! You need to be able to function throughout the day as well as have enough energy to make it through your workouts and for your hormones and organs to function properly.

A pound of fat is roughly 3,500 calories. Basically. What’s the simple math on that if we are aiming to lose one pound a week? 3,500 (calories) divided by 7 (days) = 500 calories per day. So if I’m applying that deficit to my maintenance calories that is 2,675 (maintenance calories) minus 500 (calories) = 2,175 calories to function in a deficit.

What does that all mean?

That means that if I keep my activity level the same (which for me I probably will since I already go to the gym almost every day, and that was factored in when calculating my TDEE) I will be spending 2,675 calories by just living, breathing, and going to the gym and everything else I do in my daily life. I will be taking back in 2,175 calories by fueling my body. The ONLY way I am getting those calories back in is by what I am putting in my mouth – food or drink. Rubbing coconut oil on your skin does not add to your calorie intake. It just doesn’t. You don’t metabolize that way. You’re not an amoeba. 

NOW – to maybe kick that up a notch, or personally, I think it’s easier – especially when factoring in weekend diets and how they derail all of your hard work, is to, yes, pay attention daily, but focus on what you’re taking in in a week. That number for me was 18,722 in maintenance calories, so subtract the full 3,500 calories from that and I’m looking at 15,222 calories. Okay cool. Why does this help? Because on Tuesday at the office there is birthday cake, and you can bet your bippy I’m not going to be torturing myself while everyone else eats cake and I have carrots. I’m going to have cake. Well, that sky rockets my calories for the day. Instead of giving up on my “diet” because I’ve “messed up”, ultimately I can make up for it by eating veggies instead of pasta at dinner on Friday. On the flip side Monday and Wednesday maybe I want to lift a lot more, or run longer at the gym. Most likely on Tuesday and Thursday I’m going to be super hungry in response to that, so those days I’ll eat a few more calories, but maybe I don’t have time to hit the gym on Saturday at all, I’m not spending as many calories and I’m likely going to be able to make the choice to eat less, calorically, because I won’t be as hungry.

Any questions so far? Have I lost you? Comment your questions below.

WTF is a Macros?

A popular anime show from the 80s? A programmed formula in excel? Not quite. At least not in this scenario.

macrodef

Okay – we are not plants, so what do we take from this definition? A type of food required in large amounts in the diet. Fat. Protein. Carbohydrate.

Fat, protein, carbohydrate. The big three. Ultimately these are the most important focus when talking about balanced nutrition. We were taught in school an antiquated food pyramid that put fats in a tiny little spot at the top and cascaded down from there, over the years things like fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, and dairy changed places in amounts and priority.

The truth of the matter is that if you can just balance those macros, you’re doing good. Marcos are especially important if you’re on a specific diet or targeting something. For example, the Keto diet macros are heavy on fat, medium on protein, and light on carbohydrate. I’m not going to go into specifics of Keto here, because that’s not what we are talking about today and it’s not an area I feel well versed enough in to educate someone else.

Referring back to our TDEE calculator, the second half of the page gives you a Macro Breakdown Chart. Mine is as follows:

Tdee maint
Maintenance Macros
TDEE Cut
Cutting Macros (Fat Loss)
TDEE Bulk
Bulking Macros (Muscle Gain)

Here you see three different options in each category for how to map out your daily Macros: maintenance, cutting, and bulking.

Macros can be really confusing when you start out so I really love that this site breaks down what you specifically need for each, depending on what you are trying to do and what sort of diet you are focusing on.

I personally feel that these charts take all the guess work out of what you need for your Macros without much explanation, if you disagree and/or still have questions please PLEASE comment below so we can talk about them as a group!

Before we move on, I would like to address some very basic information that is important to keep in mind when considering macros.

Protein it’s very hard to store protein as fat; therefore you feel fuller for longer if you get a good source of protein with each meal. This is why a high protein diet is touted so often. It took me years of research to realize and understand the actual why when discussing high protein. Remember protein does NOT necessarily mean meat. Meat is a complete source of Amino Acids and that’s why everyone immediately thinks “meat”, but there are many many sources of protein found outside of meat, a lot of the time those sources are also less calorically dense. Again, try to get some protein in with every meal and snack. This will help with energy and satiety.

(Dietary) Fat – Fat in terms of Macros is not the same thing as the fat (adipose tissue) stored inside your body. Dietary fat does not store in your body as adipose tissue. Dietary fat is what helps you process hormones and regulate bodily function. You need dietary fat. Low fat and non-fat options are okay as long as you don’t completely eliminate fat from your diet! Yes, go for the low-fat sour cream if you want, but put some olive oil on your salad! Just keep in mind what the calories are when you do this. Your dietary fats will always be the most calorically dense foods.

Carbohydrates – You can use things such as the fore mentioned Oreo Cookies for your carbs, but if you instead use whole grains, oats, sweet potatoes, et cetera, you will, again, feel more satiated and benefit from micro-nutrients and fiber. Carbohydrates are what your body stores as adipose tissue after they are converted to sugars. Do not take this to mean carbohydrates are bad, because this is your primary energy source as well. Fibrous vegetables are also a carbohydrate. Fiber is important for your gut health – your body doesn’t actually use fiber, but your gut flora flourishes with fiber. Sugars effectively poison your gut flora, fiber combats that. Tip: If you over do it on sugars don’t beat yourself up! Just eat a healthy serving of oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow!

Another thing I do at almost every meal, to fill me up and guarantee some micro-nutrients, is put a big handful of spinach on whatever I’m eating.

Remember that your calories have to also factor into this! Keep your Macros and calories in check and you’ll be just fine!

In a future post we will discuss more in depth about Macro-nutrients and Micro-nutrients, and what to do next, but this post is already getting long, I have much more to discuss, and I don’t want to overwhelm you! 

I probably have this much information for you again in the next post, I’ll put some effort in this weekend to get really concise with it and get it out to you soon!

Thank you for being so patient in waiting for this post! Like I said before, if any of this confuses you, or you have questions, let me know below so I can address it in an upcoming post!

xoxo

-S

 

A Little Challenge I’ve Conjured Up

dcahsmarch2020

Okay! It’s March 1st! We made it – remember a few days ago I mentioned I have this thing about starting something on the 1st, or Monday, or what-have-you. . . Also I mentioned a yoga thing. . .

SO! I have a challenge for us all! Or a few? I dunno – it’s multi-faceted.

Challenge 1

Do 30 Days of Yoga with Adrienne – I will be doing this in addition to the regular yoga I do during my night routine, because that yoga, for me, is more restorative and I need it to wind down.

Who is Adrienne? She’s a gal with a YouTube channel that I really enjoy called Yoga with Adrienne. I’ve followed her for years and years and most of the yoga videos I use daily are hers. She has a 30-day Yoga Challenge it’s just a 30-day program designed to get you doing yoga daily even if you’ve never done it before. Sometimes it’s a bit challenging, but you can always modify. Honestly, it doesn’t get challenging really until maybe day 10? Even then it never gets too difficult.

Here’s the link to day 1. It’s all on YouTube – I think I’ve talked about it before and explained that I paid the 99-Cents once to have it all on GumRoad, but you can just get it on YouTube for free.

Challenge 2

March is National Nutrition Month – so I think we should take advantage of that as motivation to clean up our diet!

Instead of picking a “diet” I’ve decided that I will do two things:

a.)

Track all of my food in some kind of food tracker. There are tons of apps out there. I am going to use the FitBit one because that’s what I’ve been using, I already have it downloaded on my phone and I’m used to how it works. Other ones I’ve heard people like are LifeSum and MyFitnessPal. There are a ton more, I’m sure! Comment below and tell me what you’re going to use!

b.) 

Make an effort to make better food choices and portion choices. Last night I did a hardcore meal prep session. Not so much with individual meals, but with ingredients. In tomorrow’s post I’ll explain what I did and how I planned what meals to make with the prepped ingredients! Not everyone can meal prep, and that’s okay – it’s not even necessary, but, it does help to control what we are eating in a day or even just a meal.

In this challenge I’m not asking you to make drastic diet changes or go spend a bunch of money, I’m just asking you to consider how nutritious your food is and how much you are eating: is it too little? too much? not often enough? balanced nutrition?

Tomorrow’s post, like I mentioned, is going to be about my meal prepping and the why associated with that as well as the “how”, I’ll talk about micro and macro nutrients and calories and such. T

hat being said I am not a doctor and I am not a nutritionist, I’m just a schmo who’s trying to figure it out as I go, too, but I maybe have put more research into it than you have. Maybe not, but I definitely have researched this more than the average Joe. That’s for sure.

Extra Credit

I’ll be going to the gym every day – except today and possibly tomorrow (due to snow days, but even so, I have enough equipment at home that we haven’t sold off that I can get a descent workout in). I’ll be using a program by Megan Gallagher that’s really cool. You should give her a follow on instagram and YouTube! She’s really motivational I think! She has a program called Stronger by the Day and you can get the free week from her without even putting in payment info, or you can pay $8/month to get the full program! I think even if you just signed up for the free week and did that, you’d be doing something good for yourself!

That’s my extra thing – post below what you’d like to add to the challenge to personally grow your nutrition and fitness this month.


So what do you think? It’s 30 days, that’s not even the entire month of March. Care to join me? We start today. Right now. If I can get some active participants, I’ll try to set up a community for us somehow – maybe an Amino? Let me know in the comments – if I can get at least. . . 5? people interested in this challenge I’ll start up community support something for us!

xoxo

-S