Sound familiar? Is this something you struggle with yourself? This same statement is one that stands out continuously as I work with weight loss challenge participants. Challengers report their daily food journals to me daily and 9 times out of 10 they are not eating enough calories or the right kind of calories in a day.
Lets use “Amanda” who is a busy working mom of 2 young kids. She wakes up to her normal morning routine and skips breakfast because she doesn’t think she has time for it. Drives through Starbucks and grabs a high fat, calorie laden latte after taking her kids to daycare. Work is busy so she doesn’t get lunch until 12:30 p.m. and when she does get lunch it’s fast food. After kids are asleep she finally has time to eat again around 8:30 p.m. Her body is starved for some quality nutrition, so she gets hungry right before bed – which is why she then eats a large bowl of cereal.
Amanda has been trying to lose weight but her efforts are stagnant.
“I don’t eat that much. Why am I not losing weight?”
Can you relate to Amanda’s situation? Before I get to the reason WHY she isn’t losing weight lets quickly talk about an important concept.
A simple analogy that I have learned from celebrity trainer Chalene Johnson is to think of your body as a fire. How do you make a fire burn fast and produce lots of heat? You fuel it! If you let a fire burn for 5 straight hours and never add any wood to it the fire dies down considerably. If you wait until the fire has dwindled it is very difficult to get that strong burn going again too. Your body acts very similar to this fire when working to burn calories and fat. If you give your body fuel (healthy foods) every 2-3 hours you create a little inferno within. Don’t eat enough and your body starts to save the fat and NO one wants that, right?
Lets to back to the choices that Amanda made then I’ll share some tips on how she can make better choices to “fuel her inner fire.”
- Amanda forgot to EAT BREAKFAST. Do not skip it as it truly is the most important meal of the day. It plays a very active role in kick-starting your metabolism. Does eating breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated? No. It can simply be some mixed berries and some Greek yogurt, a healthy breakfast bar or fruit smoothie/shake but skip the drive thru on your way to work.
- Preparation is key to success. If you don’t plan then plan to fail. Sit down one day a week and plan your meals. Doing this will ensure that you have healthy meals and snacks ready to go saving you a lot of time and frustration.
- Eat a small nutritious snack every 2-3 hours to “fuel your inner fire” but don’t go any longer than that before you eat again. It can be a challenge to do this but keep snacks handy. Incorporate snacks that are high in protein with a complex carbohydrate. One of my favorites is the Banana Boat. Take a banana, slice in half (lengthwise) and smear on some natural nut (almond, peanut) butter in between and put it back together. Keep snacks on hand in the car or in your office drawer so that you are not temped to hit the snack machine or convenience store.
- Use a “You Bite It, You Write it.” philosophy. Track your food intake but don’t just count calories. Knowing what you are eating is just as important, if not more, than how much you are eating. One of my favorite applications to use is MyFitnessPal.com a free tracking system that we use for my weight loss challenges. It even has a smartphone app that is very user friendly. Enter your information and it will help you determine a baseline to get you started. Invite your friends for increased accountability!
- All calories are NOT created equally. Eat a well balanced diet. Don’t just count calories. 1800 calories of junk is not the same as 1800 calories of nutrient dense, non-processed foods. Not only is Amanda’s calorie intake low but the calories she did consume are low quality limiting her energy levels and success! Think of the analogy I used above because 1800 calories of junk is not fuel for your fire.
The concept of eating more calories to lose weight is a tough one to swallow for most, I get that. It’s something I struggle getting through to my customers. Even as a fitness coach I struggle as I have had my fair share of difficulty losing baby weight after two kids in less than two years. The calories I burn nursing, working out and chasing around after a 21-month-old is a lot. After tracking and paying attention to what and how much I was eating, I learned that I simply wasn’t eating enough and started to gain weight. Once I increased, I started seeing results.
You have to find out what works for you and YOUR body not what others are doing. Losing weight and getting healthy is not easy but with some simple modifications and consistency in doing them over time you can and WILL do it!