The Food Part

Since I started blogging, I’ve heard a lot of the following:
“Uh huh, that’s great about the motivation and the working out and everything, but what about your diet? Can you tell me what you eat and don’t eat? What should I eat and not eat?”

The truth is, I don’t feel particularly confident blogging about my diet, because I don’t have any silver bullets. If anything, the process of losing and keeping off 100 lbs has forced me to realize that there are no silver bullets. There’s only hard work, and who wants to hear that?? Nobody.

I can’t provide you with a food plan. I don’t have a list of what should be served for breakfast, lunch and dinner, even for myself! But, I have guidelines that I follow and rules that I abide by, and of course I’m happy to share.

Step One: Calculate Your Baseline

Take a minute to figure out your resting metabolic rate. Online calculators are readily available. These calculators are not precisely accurate (you’d have to get medical testing for that) but, they are handy tools for figuring out your ballpark. Once you know what your resting metabolic rate is, you will know how many calories you can afford to consume each day.

I, for example, have a resting metabolic rate in the neighborhood of 1500 calories/day. So, if I want to maintain my weight, I need to eat and drink 1500 calories/day. If I eat more than that, I gain weight. If I eat less, I lose weight. And, of course, working out earns you some wiggle room.

Not that I ever grit my way through a workout in the name of earning enough wiggle room to enjoy a glass of wine or anything…

Step Two: Food Journaling

When people ask my advice on diet, I always recommend starting a food journal. Write down every single thing that you put in your mouth. EVERYTHING. Every bite, every sip, all of it. If you’ve never tracked your food before, you’ll be astonished by how quickly those little nibbles add up.

Food journaling helps you to learn what 1500 calories (or whatever your target may be) really looks and feels like. When I first began my food journal, I was knocked entirely sideways by how little 1500 calories really is! Holy SMOKES! No WONDER I gained so much weight in the past. 1500 calories is a mere fraction of past norms.

Your food journal doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a scrap of paper will do. All that matters is that you have somewhere to track your consumption, so you know where you stand at any time during the day. Here’s a sample of what mine looked like when I was staying in a daily calorie deficit:

Weight Loss Journaling

See? Nothing fancy, but worth it’s weight in gold. It would be really easy to forget that random stick of string cheese if I didn’t write it down and add it to my totals.

(Sidebar: My food journal reflects my personal preferences. As you can see, I’d rather eat as little as possible through the day in the name of the sensation of indulgence in a big, delicious dinner. This won’t feel good for everyone. If you would rather space out your calories, then do what works for you. This is only meant to demonstrate the tracking of it all.)

Step Three: Don’t Eat or Drink Anything That Isn’t Labeled.

It’s awfully hard to keep track of your calories if you don’t know how many of those little buggers are in the foods you’re eating and the drinks you’re sipping. So, if the object of your desire doesn’t provide nutritional information, don’t eat or drink it.

This means a lot of home cooking. It means careful inspection of what a serving size really is. When I track 110 calories on pretzels, it’s because the label says that a serving contains 110 calories, and that a serving is 18 pretzels. Think I’m that crazy person counting out 18 pretzels, one by one? You bet your ass I am.

When I make dinner for my family at night, I track the calories in my ingredients as I go. Then, when I have a full-meal total, I know what percentage of it I can afford to take for myself.

And that’s about it. Hope it helps!

It’s not easy, but it’s certainly not impossible. It’s just a long string of little choices, all made in the right direction.

#VeggiesAreGood #SugarIsBad

Debunktion Junction. Lesson 1: You Can’t Outrun Your Fork

My husband, Scott is a personal trainer. A really good one.

Once, he trained a senior citizen to climb to an Everest base camp. So, yeah… He’s legit.

Think I take advantage of my in-house trainer? Free super-trainer services for me?

Not on your life. Never, not ever.

It’s not such a good idea for a trainer to train their spouse. Can you think of a quicker way for a man to land on the couch than to yell at his wife to move her ass?

Me neither.

I don’t even like for him to watch me work out. There is only one man on this earth who has to find me attractive, and I prefer that he not see me as gross as I get when I sweat my face off.

I reap all sorts of personal trainer benefits, though. My man brings the Fitness Wisdom. Thanks to Scott, I have been deprogrammed. All of the BS fitness myths that are oddly pervasive in American society have been banished.

Want to be deprogrammed, too? Scott and I can help.

Enter: Debunktion Junction. In the weeks to come, I’ll be using Happy Exhaustion to do battle with the myths that get in the way of attaining our healthiest selves.

First on deck (because it’s the one that makes me the most crazy):
You Cannot Outrun Your Fork.


Ladies and Gentlemen – Lend me your ears! If you don’t regulate your food, no amount of busting your ass at the gym is going to slim you down. I promise.

When Scott explained that you can’t just exercise yourself thin, it was like he was speaking Swahili. What’s the point of working out if it doesn’t allow you to eat a pint of ice cream whenever it strikes your fancy? I’m supposed to work out just for health and strength?? Bummer.

But even if you hit the gym – even if you hit the gym every single day – even if you hit the gym HARD – it won’t make you skinny if you’re eating all sorts of things you shouldn’t.

Working out is essential to fitness and strength, but it’s not the key to weight loss. The key to weight loss is your food. Exercise can aid your diet, but it cannot BE your diet.

Trainers are constantly being blamed when their clients don’t lose weight despite all the workouts. But, if the client walks out the front door and heads to the pizza place for a slice and a beer, there will be no weight loss and there’s nothing your trainer can do about it. You’ll build some rockin’ muscles… you just won’t be able to see them under the fat you picked up from your food.

When I work out hard for an hour, I burn somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 calories. That’s roughly the same number of calories in my favorite blended vanilla Frappuccino.

It’s just math, but it’s hard to accept.

If you want to maintain your weight AND you want to eat a piece of chocolate cake, you have to go to the gym. But don’t fool yourself into believing your trip to the gym earned you anything more than a single piece of cake. That second slice is gonna get ya.

If you want to lose weight? You have to go to the gym and not have any cake. At all.

I know. I’m sorry. I wish it wasn’t true, too.

It’s sad, but if you eat more than you should, you won’t be physically capable of working out enough to burn it all off. You can’t outrun your fork.

Don’t quit the gym! Keep burning those calories and strengthening your body. Just don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. The gym can make you fit, but only your diet can make you thin.