Calories in and calories out! We’ve been told that all we need to do in order to reach our weight loss goals is to create a calorie deficit. That sounds so simple, but obviously there is more to it or most of us would already have permanently achieved our weight loss goals. With more than two thirds of the United States Population overweight, and a large percentage obese, clearly there is more to the story!
How many of you have lost weight only to gain it back? How many of you seem to start a diet every Monday only to have fallen off or become frustrated before the end of the first week? How many of you seem to find it impossible to lose weight?
I know because I have had all of those experiences! I felt as though every time I tried to “cut a calorie” here my body seemed to find it somewhere else. In fact, over time I continued to GAIN weight instead of losing weight, even through I was making pretty healthy food choices and exercising. What the heck? Since my education was in Exercise Physiology, I was really beating myself up because I believed I was supposed to have the answers and be healthy and fit. What I needed to know I had not been taught in college – even at the Masters level. Ironically, when I finally DID learn how to fuel my body correctly I recalled that one of the basic principles I’d learned in 7th Grade. I’ll tell you what that was later. For now, I’m going to help you understand WHY many of the diets you may have tried have not worked.
Here is the biggest Weight Loss Myth: A Calorie is Just a Calorie
We have heard for years that a calorie is just a calorie; that all calories are created equally and that if you want to lose weight all you need to do is just burn more calories than you take in. Anyone who has struggled with their weight for very long will certainly agree that they have discovered that it is just not that simple. If it were, we would not have the obesity problem that we have today. Our hormones have a LOT to do with how we metabolize our food! What else matters? When we eat, how much we eat at a time, how long we go between eating, and the type and quality of the calories we are consuming all make a difference in how our bodies respond to the calories we consume. Often people trying to lose weight inadvertently keep their bodies in “fat storage mode” by going too long between meals, then eating too many calories at once, and of then the wrong kind of calories. This ultimately prevents weight loss success and slows metabolism.
Here are a few common dieting mistakes:
- Not eating breakfast. Yes, your mother was right – you need to start your day with breakfast. You should eat within an hour upon waking up. When you haven’t eaten all night your blood sugar will be on the low side. Eating a balanced breakfast will give your body the fuel it needs and jump start your metabolism for the day.
- Popular Low Carb Diets. Diets that put your body into ketosis by avoiding carbohydrates give you quick results in the beginning, but are not a long-term solution to losing body fat. The quick results in the beginning come, in part, from losing water weight. This method of losing weight also causes your body to work harder to make fuel and you will begin to break down lean body mass as well as losing fat. Your goal is to lose fat, not lean body (or muscle) mass. In addition, you can not eat this way permanently and when you resume eating carbohydrates most people gain the weight back.
- Going too long between meals. When you wait too long between meals you will become over hungry. Starving all day sets you up to over eat, or eat the wrong things when you do finally eat. When you eat this way it messes up your metabolism and large meals eaten infrequently encourage fat storage. Eating small frequent meals during the day will help sustain your energy level, improve metabolism, and encourage fat burning.
- Not drinking enough water. It is not uncommon to mistake thirst for hunger. When you don’t drink enough water your body actually starts holding onto water. Seems like the opposite should be true but it is not. You should drink a MINIMUM of 64 ounces of water per day or half your body weight in ounces. For example a 150 pound person should drink at least 75 ounces of water per day.
- Not having a plan. We don’t plan to fail we fail to plan. When you are trying to reach a new weight or level of fitness you need a plan to follow. It takes some advance preparation to make certain you stay on the plan. Carry food with you and have a backup plan for emergencies.
- Binging after you have eaten off your plan. Don’t wait until tomorrow to get back on track. We all fall off of our plan from time to time. What matters most is how fast you get back on track. Make it your goal to lengthen the amount of time between the times you fall track and shorten the time you jump back on after you have fallen off.
- Believing you are genetically destined to be overweight. Some of us are more predisposed to gain weight, but the major factor in whether you are carrying around excess weight is how you you’re your life. Your lifestyle choices have more to do with how much you weigh than your genetic make up.
- Eating processed or substitute foods. Real food is always better than fake food. Eating foods as close to the way they were grown as possible is the best way to support optimal health. Processed foods often contain ingredients that you don’t need or are unhealthy for your body. Often “substitute” foods contain unhealthy chemicals and toxins your body would be healthier without. As for those diet sodas … even artificial sweeteners can cause an insulin reaction in your body and they contain a lot of unhealthy chemicals. Eat local and fresh fruits and vegetables in season whenever possible.
- Being too attached to your scales. I’ve said it a million times, “The scales are not your friend!” Weigh at the same time of day with the same amount of clothing. The scales aren’t always the most accurate measure of whether you are consistently losing fat. Some experts recommend weighting only once a week. I like to weigh daily, first thing in the morning when I’m working toward a new goal. Your scales are not the only measurement of results. One month, when I began resistance training, I lost an entire size in my jeans without losing a pound on the scales. What did that mean? I lost body fat and gained lean body mass (muscle)! If I had gone entirely by the scale I’d have felt frustrated, while in reality my body changed in a very positive way that month.
- Not eating enough food. Eating a lot less or going on a crash diet will not achieve the results you want. This strategy results in lowering metabolism and losing both muscle and fat. Total calories are important, but so are the amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fats in the diet, and the frequency of your meals.
Never go on any diet that is not a manner of eating that you can adhere to for the rest of your life. In addition to losing excess body fat you want to develop healthy habits that will promote your optimal weight and health for the rest of your life! Don’t think that going on a temporary “diet” will give you lasting weight loss results. If you want to change you life your will need to change some habits so you can sustain your results long term! Trust the process. Once you begin to eat in a more healthful way you will not only see but feel the results, and you will likely choose to continue more healthy lifestyle habits! It won’t be a matter of forcing yourself into what you “should” be doing—you will genuinely want and enjoy your new choices!
I love Trader Joe’s! The nearest one is an hour away so when I go I stock up! A picture is worth 1,000 words, so I headed over to take some photos of some of the foods that I stock up on. Everything listed below is grain, legume, dairy, sugar & artificial additive free. That means no peanuts, no soy or soybeans, no gluten, and no sneaky sugars! Some folks ask, well if you are going to cut all of that out, what’s left? As you will see there is plenty!
Download the pdf version of my Trader Joe’s Shopping Guide Here
Trader Joe’s has so many delicious options in their produce department that are not typically available in my traditional grocery store. The variety of organic produce is always great, and if you need some time saving prepared veggies they are available! Here are a few examples. Certainly there are more options and they will vary from season to season and store to store. Yesterday I picked up some of the Kohlrabi Salad Blend (which is new), Peeled Garlic, ORGANIC Sweet Potatoes (I brought home TWO bags of those!), a bag of potato medley, and if you hate dicing vegetables for salads and recipes grab a container of the Healthy 8 Vegetable Mix. This list is certainly not exhaustive! I regularly pick up a bag of avocados from this department and local tomatoes, lemons, oranges, and seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Prepared Food: Meats & More
Of course prepared meats may cost a little more than if you cook everything yourself. However, I find that it is a great thing to have some of these on hand for meals in a hurry or when I just don’t want to cook something. One of my “new favorites” is the Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage. It is rare to find sausage that has no sugar. This sausage is already cooked. I like to remove the casing and crumble it into a skillet with egg and let it heat as the egg cooks. Fast and delicious breakfast! I’ve tried ALL of these, and have most of them in my refrigerator right now! That Sauerkraut is the best, and I enjoy it with the Applegate Organic Beef Hot Dogs.
I pick up Raw California Walnut Pieces, Pecan Pieces, Hazelnuts, Raw Almonds &/or Almond Slivers, Pinenuts, Whatever you need they have it. I generally purchase walnut and pecan pieces (rather than halves) because they are less expensive, and most likely I’m going to chop them, anyway. You’ll also find some packages of snack sized portions of nuts, such as raw almonds. Remember, on the first 30 Days of our challenge, no peanuts (they are actually a legume and not a nut, anyway).
You’ll find about the largest assortment of dried fruit at Trader Joe’s that you will find anywhere. I like to keep stocked up on dried cranberries, berry blend, and I just picked up the Dried Berry Medley for the first time to try. These dried fruits make a delightful addition to all salads, but also chicken salad in particular. If you want to make your own trail mix, you can do it with an assortment of dried fruit, coconut flakes and nuts from TJ’s. Remember when you are purchasing dried fruits to check the nutrition labels. Some dried fruits will have added sugars. Fruit juice is okay as a sweetener, but during your first 30 days on this plan, our goal is to eliminate ALL added sugars and sweeteners.
Here’s where I really stock up when I go to TJ’s, especially since it’s an hour away and generally I don’t go but once every 4-6 weeks. Not pictured here is TJ’s Marinara Sauce. There are only a few that do not have sugar in them. The last time I went, the only one I could find with no sugar was the Marinara Sauce sold in the green can. I’ve seen a couple of others with no sugar, but they weren’t available at either the store in Georgia nor the one in Virginia when I shopped recently. Always read the labels to be sure! I shop for coconut oil, ghee, olive oil & avocado oil at TJ’s. They have a variety of sugar & additive free salsas which I use in recipes rather than on chips. TJ’s Fire Roasted diced tomatoes and their tomato paste in a tube are items I keep in my pantry all the time. For my emergency food stash I picked up cashew cookie Larabars, single serving pouches of olives and some Sacha Inchi Seeds, a super-food I discovered when I was living in Peru. Organic Coconut Amino’s are a great gluten, soy and sugar free alternative to soy sauce. I also keep almond & coconut flour on hand.
I can find some of the best frozen meats & seafood in TJ’s frozen department. From organic chicken breasts, grass fed angus beef, fresh caught tuna & salmon to a variety of perfectly portioned burgers.
Frozen Fruits & Vegetables:
I always pick up an assortment of fruits & vegetables in the frozen section. They have the best variety of frozen organic fruits and vegetables I’ve seen anywhere, and at good prices. I didn’t picture everything here, for sure! In addition to what is below I always pick up a several bags of frozen organic chopped spinach, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and whatever else catches my eye. I can find mashed sweet potatoes all the time at the TJ’s in Georgia, but here in Virginia I am told it is seasonal. Also, I know they have frozen Hatch Valley Chilies at some stores, but not at the one where I shopped today.
Cut flowers are food for my soul and I love having them in my home. Flavored soda waters are great to have on hand, for something fresh and sparkly, and I generally pick up some Kombucha when I’m at TJ’s since it is about 30 cents a bottle less expensive here. Sun dried tomatoes are another item nice to have on hand for salads and recipes.
Coffee with Kay
Here we go … my sugar free sausage recipe along with some scrambled eggs & some unsweetened organic applesauce on the side! Easy peasy!
Macro-Nutrients: Protein: Egg Whites & Sausage; Fat: Sausage & Egg Yolk; Carbohydrate: Organic, Unsweetened Applesauce.
Now this was pretty delicious and I could eat it again and again. Chicken Salad Starter (4 oz roasted chicken breast, diced & 1 T Primal Kitchen’s Avocado Mayo), on top of a bed of Organic Field Greens topped with 1/2 diced apple, blueberries and some dried mixed berries.
Where are the Macrco-Nutrients? Protein: Chicken Breast; Fat: Avocado May; Carbohydrate: Apples, Blueberries, mixed dried berries.
Seared Scallops with sauted spinach, kale, beets & broccoli slaw on the side (I used TJ’s Artichoke Pesto for searing the veggies). I dipped each of the scallops in a little bit of coconut flour which I seasoned with Old Bay and then seared them in a skillet with ghee. Then I followed by sauteing these veggies in the same pan, using the artichoke pesto for flavoring and for the additional oil needed.
Where are those macro-nutrients in this meal? Protein: Scallops; Fat: Ghee & the olive oil in the Artichoke Pesto; Carbohydrate: Sauted Veggies.
Coffee With Kay
Day 18: This was a day spent at the library so I could have better internet access for conference calls and other on-line work. I’m having some frustrations with my website and the current theme I’m running and it has prevented me from sharing my 90 Day Challenge resources quite yet. I had thought I would have it up by now—however, such is life, and I still plan to have it up in time to do a fall challenge. That means 90 Days to get in your best shape ever before the holidays … and then some follow up for strategies to use during the holidays!
Easy breakfast, my favorite sugar free sausage recipe combined with scrambled eggs on the side. Yep, I like mustard on my sausage, so that is what you see slathered on top. Still regretting not shopping for much fresh fruit this past weekend, I grabbed a pear from the refrigerator and that was my carbohydrate for this meal.
Where are the Macro Nutrients in this meal: Protein: Sausage Patty and Egg Whites; Fat: One whole egg yolk & sausage; Carbohydrate: Fresh Pear
Lunch was in a hurry between phone calls, and I grabbed one of those servings from my Yellow Squash Frittata, heated it in the microwave, and there was a complete lunch.
Where are the Macro Nutrients? Protein: Egg Whites, 4 in each serving; Fat: Egg Yolk (one per serving) and a little bit of ghee that was used to saute the vegetables; Carbohydrates: All those veggies! Yellow squash, onions and some diced potatoes (about 1/4 cup diced potatoes per serving, along with a gracious plenty squash & onion).
Technically, this meal wasn’t balanced and I didn’t have all the macro-nutrients at this meal. Clams are basically just protein, and I didn’t dip them in butter (which I could have to add fat). This is sort of a traditional meal around here, and a local brought me a dozen clams from the bushel he dug for over the weekend. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity for this delicious delicacy. So I steamed them on the grill on my back porch and had a bowl full, dipping each little clam in just a bit of Old Bay Seasoning, just like the locals showed me how to do!
Stay tuned … I hear the crab pots are out, and some of the crabs that are being hauled in are big beautiful ones. If I’m lucky, like I was last year, I just might get a few steamed crabs brought to me. After learning how to pick the meat from them, and learning what goes into clamming, crabbing & oystering, I have a new appreciation for those foods and the cost! It’s no wonder that REAL crab meat costs what it does. Getting the meat out of those little buggers is a challenge. (I think I need more practice. 😉 ) The meat is delicious!
Coffee with Kay
Day 17: I realized that I’m really missing my Sunday prep day this week. I don’t have as much foods prepared in advance and since I also missed shopping over the weekend, I didn’t plan as well as I normally do. Breakfast has been fairly easy, although I am missing having fresh fruit around the house. I’ll be sure to pick up another one of those delicious cantaloupes this weekend at the Farmer’s Market! However, it did encourage me to try a few new things. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, right? I am finding that I am trying a lot of new things and eating a larger diversity of nutritious foods. I’m sure that you will, too when you take on the 90 Day Challenge to put yourself, your health, and self-care your priority! I suggest you take the challenge to make this program a commitment, just as you would if you took on a part-time job for the next few weeks. I know most of you would show up every day and do what was required. Simple and easy steps, one meal and one day at a time!
Okay, I promised, and I will deliver some breakfast meal ideas that don’t include eggs. This one was easy and delicious. It kinda reminds me of fall, which is right around the corner. This is a 2 ounce sugar free sausage patty (click here for my sugar free sausage recipe.) and some sauteed diced apple & raisins with cinnamon. I saved half the apple recipe for later and ate half with my meal. If you need a little extra liquid, squeeze the juice from a slice of lemon or orange into the pan. After realizing how easy and delicious this is, I decided to head to the grocery store and pick up a few canned fruits packed in water. I found some unsweetened organic applesauce and pineapple tidbits. I discovered something, too! Along with all the fruits packed in syrup (with tons of added sugar), there are some packed in natural juices, and then some are now being packed with the added sweetener, Stevia. Hmmmm … I’m going to avoid those, too, and I suggest you do as well. It does seem that food manufacturers are paying attention to consumers who want healthier alternatives and products with less added sugars. When we “vote” by purchasing truly healthy food options with NO additives, then we will get more of those choices.
Again, meal prep day makes putting together a fast easy lunch a snap! I grabbed one of my little mason jars with chicken and mayo in it (already portioned out) and dumped it out on a bed of organic field greens with a chopped organic heirloom tomato. I was in a hurry and didn’t add anything else, but this was perfect!
Where are the macro-nutrients in this meal? Protein: Chicken Breast; Fat: Avocado Mayo from Primal Kitchen; Carbohydrate: Greens and Tomato, and I had 1/2 a Kombucha, too.
It never hurts to repeat meals, in fact you can have the SAME meal more than once during the day if you like. I like that concept. For example if I eat out and have a delicious meal, generally the portions are too large for just one sitting. I eat part of the meal at one sitting, and then finish the second portion at my next meal, or for breakfast the next morning! I had another piece of my Yellow Squash Frittata for dinner.
Some days I’m thinking … hmmm … is this getting boring? Others I’m noticing how good I feel and how satisfying each of these meals are! Generally by this time in a plan, many folks start getting into a food routine and start eating some of the same things over and over—like me and my eggs and sausage for breakfast. That’s Okay, so long as you are not getting bored and it’s working for you. However, I’m going to encourage diversity, and try to show you some different options and easy, simple recipes going forward. Foods are seasonal, and diversity will help keep you from getting bored.
Coffee With Kay
Day 16. A great start to a great day! I began reading one of the books I picked up over the weekend: May Cause Miracles by Gabrielle Bernstein. The book has come to my attention twice in the past week, so I figured that was a “clue”—and also a simple way to add something positive to my morning routine! I’m pretty sure that I met Gabrielle at an event I attended in Orlando, Florida back in 2009 when she was launching her first book—it was just about to come out at that time and she was radiating positive energy. She outlines 40 days of little positive shifts we can make to improve out lives. The assignment for today, Day 1, is to be aware of where “fear” comes up throughout our day. Fear holds us back. She suggests noticing fear and to be willing to replace fear with love. Later in the day I was on a call with someone who is helping me with my business strategies, and he challenged (and frustrated) me. He asked me to step back and look at things, suggesting I may be headed in the wrong direction and need a “bigger and more clear vision of what I want to create and what my website/s should do. For the rest of the day I pondered this, and noticed where fear was coming up and might be keeping me from my highest potential. Could it be I’ve been playing small for a long-long time and, really, I don’t have to, and it doesn’t serve anyone? Food for thought.
To start the day I tried out my new recipe for Sausage Patties along with a scrambled egg with two additional egg whites. I decided to use an apple I had on hand, diced it and added dried cranberries, the juice from 1/4 an orange and fried them in the skillet, adding cinnamon to taste. I had of the apple mix to save a second serving for tomorrow.
Where are the macros in this meal? Protein: Pork sausage & Egg Whites; Fat: Sausage & Egg Yolk; Carbohydrate: Apple, cranberries & orange juice.
Lunch came quick! I’m still missing my meal prep day and didn’t have a lot to choose from. I looked in my refrigerator to see what was quick and on hand in a hurry. I pulled out two Applegate Organic Hot Dogs, which I heated in a skillet of water. Then I added Sauerkraut, cooked green beans & potatoes, and the remainder of an heirloom tomato that I’d cut yesterday. The weather is gorgeous here, so I enjoyed it out on the porch.
Where are the macro nutrients in this meal? Protein: Hot Dogs; Fat: Hot Dogs; Carbohydrate: green beans, potatoes, tomato and sauerkraut.
I had some summer squash in the refrigerator that I wanted to use. I like to make squash casserole with them, but my usual recipe calls for some soda crackers (grains) and cheese—which are not on my plan right now. I decided I could use a variation of my frittata recipe and it would work. I used the ribbon cut on my spiralizer and diced half an onion. I then melted about 1 Tablespoonful of ghee in a skillet and added the squash, onion & about a cup of frozen diced potatoes I had left over from another recipe. I sauteed them all together until the onions were translucent and the liquid had cooked out of the squash. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl I beat 4 whole eggs and 12 egg whites together. When the squash mix was done, I added it to the eggs, mixing well and added some salt and pepper. I transferred the mix to a ceramic pie plate, sprinkled it with smoked paprika and cooked it in my toaster oven for about 40 minutes (until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean). This is a complete meal. I ate one portion for dinner and wrapped the remaining three in plastic wrap for later.
Where are the macros? Protein: Egg Whites; Fat: Egg Yolks & ghee; Carbohydrates: Squash, onions and potatoes.