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.