One thing that has helped me during my journey so far is to forget everything I’ve learned. No, not everything I’ve learned about weight loss and getting lean – everything else I learned over the last 40 years (unknowingly) about how to GAIN weight. When I first began my journey I was absolutely lost and, honestly, didn’t know how to eat most foods without using a carb as a vessel to get food in my mouth. So, for about the first month, my main go-to meal was eggs (many different ways) with spinach and salsa. And, my 2nd go-to was salads with salsa as dressing or lemon juice as dressing. Because, after all, that’s about all you can eat without a carb vessel, right? Wrong. I’ve since learned a TON of foods I can eat in a much more lean way. I can’t really download everything I’ve learned into this post, but if you follow me on social media, I try my best to post what I eat in case it helps. Now that I’m 10 months in, I have re-taught myself how to eat and how to do so in a more lean fashion. So yeah, it’s confusing and a little scary and intimidating when you first begin, but all I can say is to open your mind back up to ANYTHING! Whatever you thought of as “meals” in the past, just forget it and explore new foods and new meals. Explore new parts of the grocery store you’re not used to visiting. Have things you used to think of as dinner, for breakfast. Have breakfast items for dinner. Explore new parts of restaurant menus that you don’t usually order from. Heck – Order (off the menu) items. Most restaurants are more than happy to customize your meal(s) to your preferences. You’ll be surprised at all the new foods you might find. I’m not going to wish you luck, because, you don’t need luck – you got this! Go and have fun re-learning your NEW favorites!
Q: Do I (have to) eat those crazy bars?
Q: Do I (have to) drink those weird shakes?
Q: Do I (have to) run?
Q: Do I (have to) work out?
A: NO to all of those!
Q: Do I have to track everything I eat?
A: YES! If not tracking what you eat isn’t currently working… you need to track what you’re consuming (food and beverage).
Over the course of my journey, I have learned that losing weight is actually much more simple than even I ever realized – I didn’t say it’s easy to lose, but it’s a “simple” concept to understand. Consume less than you burn and you’ll start to lose weight. I always thought – well, guess I gotta’ go to the gym for 4 hours a day. Or, if I want to lose weight I guess I have to eat all this bland boring stuff. And, of course, neither of those really sounded all that appealing, so I just kept moving onward… and upward. To break it down for you, a calorie is (basically) a unit of energy. And, believe it or not, you burn calories simply by living and breathing. Even if you were to sit on the couch or lay in bed all day and not do a thing, you’d probably burn somewhere in the 800 – 1200 calorie range at very minimum. Then, if you simply get up, take a shower, drive your car, go to work, maybe stop by the store – you’re somewhere in the 1200 – 1600 range. And, you haven’t lifted a single barbell or “ran” even an inch – well, you hustled a little when crossing the crosswalk, but whatever. So, In order for you to lose weight, you simply have to eat less than you burned by just living today.
Now, you can go to TDEECalculator.net (use sedentary – I don’t care how active you “think” you are, use sedentary) and figure out your actual TDEE (which is your base calories burned) and start there for a more accurate picture, or you can… dare I say… take a guess. Yep, I said it, just pick a random number out of the air, somewhere between 1600 and 2200 and STICK TO THAT NUMBER for a week or 2 and see what happens. If you use 2000 (and stick to it) for 2 weeks and you gain weight or even just plateau, then drop your calories by 100 calories to 1900 over the next week or 2. Then, evaluate and adjust each week or so. Unless you are burning crazy calories and running 5 miles a day or working out for hourS, I would also not suggest eating back any extra calories – UNLESS YOUR BODY TELLS YOU TO – LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. You don’t have to download an app, you don’t have to track macros (fat, sugar, carbs…), but you do somehow need to track (at least) your calories. Apps do make it much easier these days, but even if you start with pen and paper – at least start. And track everything, EVERYTHING you put in your mouth. But Eric, do I track this? YES!! TRACK THAT TOO! Whether you use an app or pen and paper, be VERY careful to watch portion sizes. It might amaze you at what some companies call a “portion” these days. And, get a food scale. I don’t care if you’re a baker and you’ve been measuring ingredients for 40 years – GET A SCALE and weigh everything you can. You can get a very affordable scale on Amazon or any local store these days.
Now, as for those bars and shakes – You are more than welcome to eat anything you want when you’re counting calories… you heard me ANYTHING you want. Just know that, 1 chocolate chip cookie can be 240 calories, or 3 eggs and a pinch of cheese can be 240 calories – take your pick. This, for me, is where bars and shakes come in to play. I can “fill myself up” a lot quicker and with a lot less calories when I eat those weird bars and drink those funky drinks. But, this may not be the case for YOU and that is absolutely OK. But, I would strongly advise you to carefully consider what you do consume and how it effects your hunger. Think of calories as kindling and your body as a camp fire. If you put just a couple logs on at a time, your fire will burn lean and clean. But, if you pile a bunch of wood on the fire before it’s ready, the fire will probably start to slow down and burn less efficiently (aka, your energy decreases). So, you’ll have to wait until the fire (your body) catches back up and burns off the excess. So, watch what type and how much kindling you put on your bodies fire. As long as your fire is burning more logs than your putting on it, eventually your fire will be burning lean and clean.
If you’re looking for people you can ask questions of, Reddit really can be a great site with lots of helpful members. If you’re not familiar with Reddit, think of it like every message board in the world… all in one place. If you’re “in to” something, there’s probably a Reddit for that. Reddit itself is comprised of what are called sub-reddits (subs), so all subs will be reddit.com/r/(subname). These are some of the more useful subs I browse a lot for weight loss/fitness…
And, if you’re into sports or anything else, there is probably a Reddit for your interests.
Not a whole lot to see here. But, if you’re thinking of beginning your journey to living lean today, all I can say is – do it! I can’t thank myself enough 9 months ago from starting my journey. 9/12/2016, 297 lbs. 6/12/2017 202 lbs – and “running” 8 miles.
I’ve seen people question why they are still overweight, even though they have a labor intensive job. The thing is, you really can’t outrun or outwork your fork. If you’ve gone to TDEE Calculator.net and figured out your basic daily expenditure, you’re probably in the 1500 – 2000 calorie range (give or take). So, for the sake of this article, I’m going to go with a 2000 calorie basic daily expenditure. What that means is, simply by walking the earth and breathing, you burn 2000 calories – and you haven’t done a thing. Now, if we look at a hard pressed 1 hour run might burn 600 calories, we can imagine that someone who works manual labor doesn’t do it ALL DAY, maybe a portion here and there. So, with that, let’s say you push at work and burn 1000 calories just by working. So, you’re now at 3000 calories burned. OK. So, you woke up and had 2 breakfast tacos and a Coke from the food truck (2 x 250 + 140 = 640 calories for breakfast). Then, for lunch you had a quarter pounder with cheese, a large fry and a Coke from Mc Donalds (530 + 510 + 290 = 1330 calories for lunch). Now, you’ve had a long day and you head home to have another Coke with dinner, which is pasta with chicken and alfredo sauce, garlic bread and 2 glasses of wine (or beer) and 2 cookies. (140 + 1400 + 300 + 260 = 2100 calories for dinner). Add up 640 + 1330 + 2100 and you’ve consumed 4070 calories that day. And, this could easily be someone’s daily intake. So, you’re 1070 calories OVER your TDEE + Work Burn. This is just 1 example of how you really can’t outrun your fork – even if you have a physical job. You still have to make lean choices to live a Lean Life.
If you walk out to your car one morning and have a flat tire, you’re not going to go and slash the other 3 tires because 1 is flat. You’re going to fix the flat and get moving. If you have a “bad” day, it’s not the end of the world and it’s definitely not a reason to throw in the towel. Just get back on track and live lean. And yes, we ALL have flat tire days. Even the world’s most elite athletes have flat tire days – they just fix it and move on.
Paraphrased from a post I read on Reddit (source).
A family friend suggested I try the Fit Crunch bar, and I’m glad she did, it was good! It has a real good blend of flavors. No one flavor over powers the others. And, it’s the first “crunch” labeled protein bar I’ve tried that actually has a true crunch to it.
When I began my journey in September, I decided I would weigh-in once a week and I was not tracking calories at the time, I was just eating leaner. I didn’t skip tracking because I didn’t want to, I simply didn’t know to. However, I was losing, and I was losing quickly. Since then though, I’ve began tracking, and then I’ve began weighing in more than once a week… even more than once a day! I’ve noticed I haven’t been dropping as fast since then though. Now, I understand, as I lose, it gets harder TO lose simply because I don’t need as many calories to push around less and less (and less) weight than I used to push around. BUT, I’ve began to wonder if my slow(er) loss is not also a mental game. A couple of weeks ago, I went on a 5 day trip where I did not have a scale, so I was “flying blind”. I was absolutely sure I had gained weight on the trip. I got home and stepped on the scale… I had lost 7 pounds!! What?! Again, I know there were factors which led to this. But, I (think) seeing the ups and downs of daily (multiple times) effected my food intake. I would come back from a run sometimes and see I had lost 2 pounds, or so, and think “YAY! I can eat… the kitchen!!”, when really that was mostly all water weight. So, I have decided to put the scale up and only weigh-in once a week again and see if that makes any difference. I don’t know that I would ever go back to not logging, simply because I like to know where I stand. But again, when I didn’t log, I tended to eat more conservatively, because I didn’t know where I stood. And, now that I do log, even though I may be full some days, I will see a caloric deficit and think “I guess that means I can (and need to) eat more.” When, in reality, if I’m satiated, I should be OK with the slight extra deficit.
It’s not always about the wins, sometimes it’s about the failures as well. I broke down and had 2… yep, 2… candy bars this weekend. Those were the first true candy bars I’ve had since last September. You know what though, after almost 6 months of not having a candy bar – while it was good – it wasn’t as good as my mind made it out to be. So, the next time I feel I want a candy bar, I can at least remember – this won’t be as good as you might think it is, and it’s not worth the calories, so put it down and step away.
Don’t want to log calories? Don’t want to track every little thing? Don’t really even want to change what you eat? Try a simple divided diet. I would suggest getting your TDEE from https://tdeecalculator.net/ and using that number. But, even if you don’t want to do that, just make up a number. Yep, make up a number and start from there. So, we’re going to start with 2000 calories a day. Lets say your target is 2000 calories a day. Just break that up in to 3/6/9/3. When you eat breakfast, eat no more than 300 calories. When you eat lunch, eat no more than 600 calories. When you eat dinner, eat no more than 900 calories. AND, I even threw in 3 – 100 calorie snacks for you. Still want cereal for breakfast? Just make sure it’s under 300 calories. Want a burger for lunch? Make sure it’s under 600 calories… and so on. Try something like this for a week and see how your progress goes after the week. If you gain, just drop each meal by 50 calories. Still gaining next week, drop it 50 more for each meal. Me personally, I’m around 200/400/600/200 for 1400 calories. This could be a pretty easy way to simply take a look at each meal and make sure THAT meal is on target, without keeping track of everything.