Saturday, January 9, 2016

Flexible Dieting Basics

So, it's a new year, you want to lose weight. You are tired of your standard weight loss programs. But you don't know what to do, or you are not satisfied with the plan you've chosen.

Best Tip of 2016: Don't diet! Diets don't work. They set you up to go off the diet, they don't promote long term success, and most people gain back all the weight they lost AND then some. So strike the word "diet" from your vocabulary. 

The most successful way to address your food is to think about it in terms of "nutrition." You eat to live, for survival. Food is nutrition.  

If weight loss is your goal, start thinking in terms of how what you eat affects your goal.  I follow flexible dieting, which basically recommends tracking your calories, and looking at how the food is comprised of "macronutrients" (macros).  Macros are the amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat in the food you eat.  You want to have a fair balance of each type of food group in your nutrition.
This has been the key to my success in losing weight and keeping it off.

I know people who try low (to no) carb diets and lose weight.  But when they go off that diet, they gain the weight back.  I know people who go on Weight Watchers and lose the weight, make it to their goal and then gain it back.  Whatever nutritional plan you follow, you have to keep in mind that it may help you to lose weight, but sustaining the weight loss can prove to be difficult.  With flexible dieting, I adjust my calories and macros depending on my needs.

Right now, my goal is to maintain my weight, which means eating more calories than when I was trying to lose weight.  I still count them and I still try to hit my target with the macronutrients.  Sometimes I'm off.  There are days when I'm over with carbs and fat and under with protein, but on the whole, it has been very successful for me.  The nice thing about tracking your macros is that if you are eating enough food, it's easy to adjust your macros, depending on what your individual needs and goals are.  For example, when I was riding my bike every other day, I ate a lot more carbs than I do now.  My body needed them for fuel.

So, where do you begin? If you're not used to tracking calories, the thought of it can be daunting and completely overwhelming. It takes a little getting used to, but it's easy as pie once you do.

Step One: download a calorie tracker such as MyFitnessPal. 

Step Two: set up your account and input your vital statistics (age, height, weight and goals).

Step Three: start tracking ALL of your food and drinks. If it has calories, add it. If you drink coffee with cream, add it. If you drink a glass of wine or have a beer, add it.  

Step Four:  Pay attention to portion sizes. A cup is a cup, not "I think this is about a cup."  Measure!!!  A pork chop is probably 3-4 ounces, so MEASURE to get the right quantity.

I use MyFitnessPal (MFP) and am familiar with it and the settings. MFP has you add your food by meal. So you add your foods under each meal.  The nice thing is you can scan the bar code on almost every thing, which makes it easy to add.
Say you want to have Raisin Bran (or something else) for breakfast, click on "add food", then click on the bar code scanner image to the right of where it says, "Search for a food", then aim it at the bar code of the food you want to eat.  It will search for your food.  Click on the check and add it to your food journal.
For in-between meals, add them under snacks.  For non-scannable items, like meats and fresh fruits and vegetables, enter the name of the food to add it.  If you eat out, MFP has a large number of menu items from lots of different restaurants. 

There are more features to MyFitnessPal, which make it super user friendly. I will add another post on this over the weekend.  I am including links to previous posts where I have discussed nutrition.  They are worth a second view if you are serious about flexible dieting as an option.

Nutrition 101:   I talk about meal prep and give examples of the food I eat on a daily basis.

Wonder Woman:  I explain how I got the nickname "Wonder Woman" by tracking all my calories and macronutrients.  I give a brief explanation of macros here.

Protein:  Getting enough protein was probably the biggest challenge I had when I started this.  This post gives examples of my "go to" protein sources.

A Calorie is Not a Calorie:  This post talks about the different effect foods have on you.

You might be thinking to yourself, "Why bother keeping track?" I get it!

I spent 11 out of 12 months in 2014 trying to lose weight by doing things my own way.  I didn't use MFP, my gym has its own calorie tracker and my trainer tried to get me to use it. I hated it. I couldn't be bothered. So for 7 months I did what I wanted and lost a whopping 15 lbs.  that's pretty pathetic.  
I was losing weight in 2014.  But it was slow in coming off.  I did what I wanted nutritionally because I thought I knew best.
When I started training with Mike, I told him point blank, "I hate that thing. I can't figure it out and I'm not going to use it. I'm a 'Lifetime Member of Weight Watchers' and I know how to eat."  While training with Mike, I did lose weight, but it was very slow in coming off.  What was better for me at the time than losing weight, was the self-confidence I gained. Mike really helped me to believe in myself.  And I needed that.

It wasn't until I started training with Dmitriy and he had "the talk" with me, that I started to track what I was eating and really learned how different foods affect my calories and macros and how I feel.  When I started to do that, the weight came off so fast that my wardrobe could not keep up. I went from a size 16 to a size 14 to a size 12 in one month. Two months later I was a size 8. It was crazy. By the end of August I was a size 4, and that's where I remain today.
January, 2015
March, 2015
August, 2015
You don't have to believe me. You can doubt. You can do things your own way. I do understand. I've been there. But I guarantee, if you try it, stick with it and work through the kinks, it will work.

Tracking Calories with MFP:  Some features of MyFitnessPal (MFP) explained.  This post has some tricks of the trade.

Nutrition 101, I talk about meal prep and provided you with several recipes and meal suggestions to get you started.  Check it out!

Nutrition Hot Topic:  Is it bad?:  Thinking about food choices.  What's good?  What's not?

Carbs and Carbs 2:  Two posts about carbohydrates.  Make sure you read these!!!

Fabulous Fiber:  A brief discussion about the benefits of a high fiber diet.

Protein: Lean protein is key to weight loss.

Successful Secrets:  Two simple strategies I practice every day which helped me to lose weight and to now keep it off.

Successful Secrets: Part Two:  How planning my week's meals helps me to stay on track.  Menu and recipe ideas.

Foods to Try:  These are foods I try to always keep on hand and a couple recipes too.

Cravings:  Some tips on how to stave off and handle cravings when they hit.  

Wonder Woman:  I explain how I got the nickname "Wonder Woman" by tracking all my calories and macronutrients.  I give a brief explanation of macros here.

A Calorie is Not a Calorie:  This post talks about the different effect foods have on you.

Challenge for today:
Create your MFP account and log your food all day!  See how you do!

Question for you: 
(Answer in the comment section below.)
What nutritional program(s) are you following or have you followed in the past?

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