If you haven't been reading my blog, the very first steps to a new you is to make a Dr. appointment (CLICK HERE) and a Dentist appointment (CLICK HERE.) Know your numbers and take care of underlying health issues first and foremost. Not only will it open your eyes to the inner workings of your body, but a good tune up can mean performing optimally in the gym (or on the trail, mat, court, etc.) Sure, you can have a ripped body on the outside and be rotting on the inside if you want. However, it's not pretty, and it doesn't last.
Next, I would like you to do a two-week experiment that will not ask you to change a single thing. That's right, live life like normal. Eat what you usually eat, chug along with the same level of activity (or inactivity) as always. There's just one catch: You must record everything you eat. From the first bite of breakfast, to that handful of popcorn you mindlessly stuff in your mouth as you pass through the kitchen, to the afternoon iced coffee.... right down to the ounce of wine or beer you have with dinner. You will record all input and weigh yourself three times: Before you begin, at the end of week one and the end of week two.
WHAT YOU NEED:
- a good digital body scale
-a digital food scale
-measuring cups and spoons
-an app, like myfitnesspal, to record your food
- weigh yourself first thing in the morning, before you start.
- record everything you eat, precisely, every single day. If you eat some rice, measure it by the cup or ounce. Every teaspoon of sugar, tablespoon of peanut butter. Be honest. Eat as much as you want, but don't lie or cheat - no one is looking but you. Don't try to get your calories in a specific range, don't even set goals yet. Simply plug it all into your app, and stay calm. Two weeks of the same old will not make or break you.
- weigh yourself first thing in the morning on the seventh day, then, once more on the fourteenth day.
WHY TWO WEEKS?
Two weeks will give you enough time to get it right. There will be a few bumps, a few mis-measurements, and a slight learning curve. If you have a few days that are out of the norm, like parties or weekend picnics, there is still enough data to track your normal diet to counter-balance any off days. Also, two weeks isn't so long we can't be on our way asap.
WHAT IS THE POINT?
I'm not asking you to do this to shame your food choices or make you feel guilty about all those calories. I want you to start understanding the true value of what you are putting into your body, what is being expended versus stored, and what it is costing you.
You may think, "Yeah, yeah - I know I eat like crap, I don't need to do this step. Just tell me how to eat right, instead." To you, I say - you may know you don't eat right, but you don't understand. And since "eating right" isn't a one-size fits all equation, understanding your diet is the key factor to success.
You will start to learn: portion sizes, what foods are higher in calories and lower in calories, What foods are worth their calorie load and what aren't, what your dietary weaknesses are, when you binge, and... holy crap, an apple is HOW many carbs??
Once you weigh yourself and compare it to your calorie input, you can also see if the calories you are consuming are causing you to lose weight (a deficit), gain weight (a surplus), or maintain (equilibrium.) This will give you a better understanding of how you, specifically, will increase or decrease your calories. I can give you a blanket number, but it will be more precise if you figure it out for yourself.
I recommend myfitnesspal for the tracking app because it has a huge database of food, so you rarely have to manually enter something. It also tracks macros (which we'll get to later.) Almost every fast food and chain restaurant item is in there, too, and it syncs up to a fitbit, if you happen to have one. The scales don't have to be expensive, but they should be digital and of decent quality. These tools aren't an investment for this experiment alone, you will be using them a lot over the next few months and into the future.
Don't short-change yourself by guessing. Be a nerd with your scale and tools. Treat these two weeks as a serious science experiment, not a brow-beating or a guilt trip. Learn how many calories one exact 6oz pour of chardonnay is. What does a cup of cooked rice look like on your plate? Learn the difference between a 4oz filet versus a 10oz filet. Marvel how some foods you thought were "bad" are better nutritionally than some of the foods you considered "good." Maybe you know some of this stuff, but again, you need to understand.
We'll follow up in two weeks to make sense of it all. Good luck - and learn!