On Counting Calories

 

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Calories don’t count if you eat standing up.

I don’t take a strict “calories in-calories out” approach to weight loss or maintenance. Still – your overall caloric intake is important. Very important. Perhaps the most important factor in determining your overall body composition.

Even so, you don’t have to count calories to lose or maintain your weight. It just depends on the circumstances.

Full Disclosure: I Can’t NOT Count Calories.

dont count calories anymore. But I did spend my entire life doing it. So now, at the tender age of 28, I can’t NOT count calories.

Sadly, I’ve become such an expert that I just do it subconsciously.

I can very accurately predict the calories in basically any food. And without thinking about it, I just always know how many calories I’ve had to eat on a given day.

Businessman Trying To Solve math Equivalents
I’m like a Calorie Rain Main.

 

The reason I tell you this?
..So that you take my advice on calories with a grain of salt.

Because after all, even though I DON’T count calories, I actually DO count calories. It’s like the 10,000 hour rule for fat people.

Sometimes, Counting Calories is Good.

Counting calories can be very helpful under the right circumstances. Specifically, counting calories might be a good idea if:

  1. You’re a noob.
  2. You eat lots of processed foods and carbs.

“Noobs” are people who don’t know much about nutrition. Being a noob is a good thing. It means you’ve actually enjoyed your life, instead of focusing on what you eat all day.

Still, Noobs might be a little confused. And not through any fault of their own. The basic nutrition facts we learned in school – well, they were wrong. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat, eating cereal for breakfast is probably a terrible idea, and yes – you can eat the egg yolk. Even if you have high cholesterol.

If you’re a noob, counting calories can help you become more mindful of what you are eating. This might lead to a greater awareness of how your diet might be less than ideal.

But be careful, noobs, lest you fall under the impression that caloric intake is all that matters. It’s part of a bigger picture.

…which brings us to processed foods.

People who eat lots of processed foods might also do well to count calories.

Two reasons:
1. Processed foods are less filling than whole foods, so your body might not be cueing you properly on when to stop eating;
2. Processed foods are often designed to be addictive, making it more likely you’ll overeat

Similarly, for some people, carbs have a tendency to increase your appetite and cause cravings. This is certainly my experience.

A Way Out

Read my blog post on how I eat, in general.  I believe that for most people, a diet similar to mine will allow them to lose weight – even without exercise.

And yes, without counting calories!! 

The keys are –
1. Crowding out poor choices with MANY veggies; and
2. Listening to your appetite

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Seven Reasons Why You Should Hike for Fitness

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I love hiking more than anything else in the whole world. I just want to be one with nature. And then I want to come home to all of my modern amenities and never look at nature again.

Don’t Do it to Lose Weight.

When it comes to weight loss, physical activity is secondary to food intake.  And not everything has to be about weight loss. Sometimes it’s just about hugging a tree.

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I hike because I desperately enjoy sitting on unfamiliar rocks.

But, seriously. Do it to lose weight. 

But realistically speaking – who cares about nature? I, for one, haven’t stopped celebrating global warming since the moment Al Gore invented the internet.

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Just look how sweaty my back is. I am definitely losing weight!

Hiking and the Deep Burn.

Hiking is fantastic because…

1.   God gave you muscles. God gave you a variety of muscles. He wants you to roam this earth in sorrow and longing, constantly questioning his existence as well the purpose of your own. And he wants you to do this at various elevations.

Scrambling up and down hills engages a variety of muscle groups. This makes hiking a dynamic activity which brings you closer to God. Just ask a Rabbi and he will confirm that he has no idea what you’re talking about.

2.   You can take pictures. Hiking is scenic. When hiking, take a picture and post it on social media. This will accomplish two things. First, it will let everyone else know how much better you are than them. And second, it will create a cherished memory of a time when you let everyone else know how much better you were than them.

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Just check out this this glorious view.

 

3.   It takes a while. When you hike, the time flies because you are among friends, invariably talking shit about all of your other friends. A weekly hike gives me the extended workout I need to allow me to eat as many french fries as I can find under my couch cushion.

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Friends who hike together, talk shit together.

 

4.   It’s Conducive to Planning. At the gym, it’s easy to fall behind. One bad day at work, and suddenly you’re six tacos deep instead of six squats deep. Hiking, on the other hand, is conducive to planning.

Plan to hike EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY beginning on March 1. Compile a list of hikes, and actually schedule them out with friends. You will be accountable because these specific hikes are now in your calendar.

5.   It gives you something to talk about with fit people. Fit people love expending energy in various extraneous ways.  So if you want to talk to a fit person, try bringing up the hike you did last week. If the person is truly fit, then he or she was probably doing the very same hike as you, and at the same exact time.  Now the fit person is more likely to have sex with you.

6.   It’s good for your physical and mental health. With the exception of that scary thing from The Little Shop of Horrors, being around plants is good for your mental and physical health.

And since most of the plants on earth will be dead soon, you should take in as much nature as you can, while you still can.

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All of these plants will soon be dead.


7.    Trail Mix. 

Hiking is the only time when you are allowed to feel good about eating M&M’s. Don’t let this moment pass you by.

Downsides of Hiking

If you go hiking, you will probably get lost or worse – eaten by a bear. In either event, it won’t be a particularly pleasant way to go.

But in case you’re still interested, I find many of my hikes here. You can also check out Meetup.com for hiking groups near you.

Happy Hiking 😀

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What’s More Important – Diet or Exercise?

I’m going with diet.

Yes, they’re both important. Blah blah blah. But I firmly believe that when it comes to weight loss, physical activity is secondary to food intake.

While it’s true that some people don’t move enough, it seems to me that many more people are reasonably active, and still experiencing issues with their weight.  Perhaps I am biased because this was my personal experience – always overweight, and yet always quite active. But in any event, I’m not the only person who feels this way.

The typical Western diet is calorie dense.

In general, food is primary because while we are designed to want to eat until we’re full, we are also designed to eat foods that had a much lower caloric density than the foods we typically encounter today. Admittedly, we were also designed to work a bit harder for those foods (a factor in favor of exercise, I suppose).

Still, typical Western foods are so calorific that even a large amount of exercise won’t offset poor eating habits. And to make things worse, the caloric density of these foods  is probably magnified by our general over-reliance on carbohydrates – the consumption of which tends to affect our metabolic state in favor of storage.

For some, exercise can increase appetite.

My advice to anyone, simply based on my own experience, would be to avoid starting caloric restriction and a workout regimen at the same time.

Of course, you have to know yourself. But in my experience, exercise increases my appetite noticeably. In fact, exercise has been shown to both increase or decrease your appetite depending on a number of factors.

In life, we expect clean and predictable answers. People will say “Oh you can never lose weight without exercising.” But that’s simply untrue, because the truth is much so much more complex than what some person put in a single news headline.

You can look at what scientific studies tell you, or you can sit down and mindfully examine your own life experience, incorporating what you pick up from the news as well. Our bodies and brains are unique, and in the end, what works for you depends on more factors than a scientific study can possible consider. You need to know yourself.

Consider – how did you get where you are now?

If you have a lot of weight to lose, maybe it’s time to consider this – what caused you to put on the weight in the first place? And be honest with yourself.

If you overeat often, you should probably deal with your eating habits before dealing with your physical activity. If you find it’s difficult to get full, then you want to begin opting for more veggies with every meal. Simply adding veggies may cause you to eat less of other more calorie dense foods. This was the case for me. Of course – I still exercise regularly for the health benefits.

On the other hand, if you’ve put on a pound or two each year slowly throughout the years with age – maybe you’ll do fine just adding enough activity to compensate for your slowing metabolism. Try it out, and see how it works for you.

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To Lose 30 Pounds, Aim for Eight.

 

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“Yes! I ate a whole slice of pizza and only gained seven pounds”

So you want to lose 30 pounds, am I right? Or 40 or 50?

Well you can do that. And probably in time for Spring, too. Definitely in time for Summer. Wouldn’t that be the most incredible thing? Just stop for a moment and imagine how sassy you’ll feel. Just imagine how quickly you’ll abandon your loser husband and kids.

Losing enough weight to abandon your entire family is well within your reach. In fact, I wish I could just burst through this computer screen right now and squeeze your face until you feel within your soul just how possible this is for you.

All you need to do is forget your ultimate goal. Wipe it completely from your mind. Instead, just “aim for eight.”

It’s not magic, it’s logic.

Losing 30 pounds is hard. Losing 40 pounds is the absolute worst.  You just don’t need to embark on that kind of journey, because you’re probably not a murderer and therefore deserve some modicum of happiness in your life.

Losing 50 pounds is basically impossible. It’s so difficult that I’d rather get eaten by a shark. And yet I have lost 50 pounds, and more.

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I would rather be inside this thing

But losing 8 pounds?  That’s cake.  Most people can do it in less than a month just by making small changes.

Here is the idea.

This is important. You can’t “aim for eight” in order to lose 30. You need to forget the 30 completely. Forget it at a cellular level. It is NOT your goal. Not now, not ever. Your goal is eight.  It is always eight.

I can’t emphasize this enough. Because it’s not enough to simply forget your larger goal. You must actively banish it completely from your mind. It’s just not your goal, because your goal is to lose just eight pounds. Eight Eight Eight Eight Eight.  Lose 8 pounds and then reevaluate.  Chant it with me now “Eight Eight! Eight Eight! Eight and reevaluate!”

So – What is your sole mission on this earth?

To lose 8 pounds. And not starting tomorrow, not starting on Monday, starting right now. If you want to lose weight, then you start RIGHT NOW – the second you read this paragraph.

Your goal is now to lose 8 pounds. As quickly as you can, but in a healthy way.

What’s Next?

Once you lose eight pounds you have two rules:
1. You are PROHIBITED from losing more for a minimum of 1 or 2 weeks; and
2. You are PROHIBITED from gaining any weight back during this time. You hear me?

Not an an ounce. You are spending a minimum of one or two weeks maintaining your new sexy self.  But it’s even better if you spend more time maintaining. You can maintain your 8 pound loss for a month or more if you want.

Why? Because you reached your goal. And now you can let your body and mind rest as for as long as you need.

A Note on Natural Fluctuations During the Maintenance Period 

And now, excuse me as I contradict myself. Of course, natural fluctuations in weight happen – and for some women more than others.

And if you go from a strict eating regimen to a less strict regimen, you’ll probably gain some weight from water and glycogen.

Be reasonable, and be kind to yourself. But be mindful. You’ll know if you’re gaining ‘actual’ weight. Just try not to do it, but also not to lose. Because your body thinks it’s starving to death, and it wants a little break.

Re-evaluate 

Maintenance period over.

Congrats. You lost eight pounds, and you’ve maintained it. Or maybe you gained a pound or two back.

No big deal. It’s been one or two weeks, but maybe you want to maintain for longer.

Because what’s your new goal? You guessed it. Aim for 8. You can do it the same way you did the first 8, or maybe try something completely new. Who cares? Just do it.

Wait, hold on. I’m confused. How much weight am I trying to lose? 

Imagine a friend is curious about your diet. She asks you what your goal is. Do you say “Oh, well I just lost 8 pounds, and now I’d like to lose 20 more? ”

Hell no!

You say “Yep – I’m just trying to lose 8 pounds” And every time you lose 8, you win. Re-set. Game over.

What’s going to happen when you lose 8 pounds?

The first eight: You’re going to feel great. You’re going to feel as bright as the sun. You might go down one size. You’ll realize, “hey – it’s not so hard.” I could do this 3 more times.

The second eight: This is when you begin to feel like a new person. You’ve probably gone down one or two dress sizes.

Do this three times, and you’re down by 24 pounds. You won’t even realize how it happened so quickly.

Meanwhile, you’ll be establishing great habits. You won’t be stressing yourself. You won’t be setting insane expectations, and you won’t be simultaneously starving and working out at the gym. Instead, you’ll be giving your body what it wants and needs, because you’re only trying to lose a few pounds at most.

So aim for 8. I don’t care if you’re 20 pounds overweight, or 100 pounds overweight. Write it down today in lipstick on your bathroom mirror.

And when you reach that goal, you can re-evaluate.

Start today! Don’t wait until Monday! You can do it!!!

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Emotional eating and peanut butter banana sammies

This topic hits really close to home. I crave food the most when I am sad, stressed, nervous, made, or anxious. Basically it hits when I “just can’t deal”. For many years, emotional eating derailed me from succeeding on whatever diet plan I was on at the moment (we need to discuss the word diet at some point. I really hate that word. It’s a lifestyle change… once I realized the difference between diet and lifestyle change, my world changed).

Cortisol is a stress hormone that triggers cravings for foods that give immediate pleasure like high fat foods, foods that are salty and sweet. My go to foods were always pasta and breads and if I wasn’t home, man oh man, the most comforting food to me was Wendy’s #6- spicy chicken sandwich. Eating that food gave me such a temporary high. It reduced all my stress and made me feel like everything was ok in the world. But then I would get so mad at myself for eating those bad foods. What a vicious cycle from sadness and stress to anger and around and around we’d go.

Emotions are sometimes hard to control, BUT, we can control how we consume foods. I have my moments of weakness but not as bad as before and I definitely don’t beat myself up over it anymore because guilt is just another negative emotion.

Here are ways I’ve been able to help myself and I hope my experiences can help you too.

 Know yourself. Know what sets you off and be prepared.

Example: Work stressors. Keep healthy, satisfying snacks around. I always make sure to have something laying around like nuts (I love Emerald’s 100 cal packs of Cocoa Roast Almonds), apples, bananas, protein bars, or my recent favorite, banana peanut butter sandwiches (see recipe below).

 Find ways to cope.

Examples:

-Take your lunch break and go for a walk. Get the blood flowing, get some fresh air and relax. Enjoy the world around you.

-Keep a journal; sort out your thoughts, word vomit all over those pages!

-Take a breath! Breathing is a powerful tool that can prompt relaxation. Check this link out for some useful breathing techniques: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00521/three-breathing-exercises.html

Get a hobby!

– I’ve had an on again off again love affair with Cycling. It’s back on and we are strong as ever and determined to make it work.

-How about art? Coloring? Check out these adult coloring books: http://www.amazon.com/Adult-Coloring-Book-Relieving-Patterns/dp/1941325122

-Watch animal videos on you-tube. I promise, this helps.

Talk to someone

There are a few people in life that can make me feel better- my husband, my parents, and my besties. Thanks guys, I love you!

If you have a moment, let us know what coping techniques you’ve used.

Banana and peanut butter sandwiches to the rescue:

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What you will need:

1 Banana

2 tablespoons peanut butter

Freezer safe Tupperware

Directions:

Cut banana into dime size pieces, you should be able to make 8-10 “sandwiches”

Spread thin layer of PB on a slice and top with another slice of banana

Put your sandwiches inside a freezer safe dish and freeze at least an hour before eating

Enjoy!

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