Part 1 - Consistency isn't sexy...
Ladies and Gentlebots,
Over the next few weeks we are going to explore the many and sundry reasons that weight loss stalls and what to do about it. One thing that has always pissed me off is seeing people really working hard and kicking ass, but not getting the results they deserve. Unfortunately this is all too common and there is a lot of information out there, most of it conflicting, on how to make the changes necessary to drop those unwanted pounds. To be clear, "toning up" is weight loss, just a more friendly name - we are going to give you some of the tools to start this process.
The very first thing we need to consider is consistency. Not the sexiest topic, but it is the basis for a large part of our lifestyles. Rituals become habits, habits become lifestyle - not just in regards to fitness but finances, relationships etc. Lifestyle is hard to change, but replacing/modifying rituals is usually the best way to start. We will look at an example below.
Let's pretend your bodyfat level is actually your bank account so that we can remove some of the emotion surrounding the topic. Your bank account (or that stash under your mattress) is a way to store money. Your stores of bodyfat are a way to store energy. The only difference is most people would prefer to have more money and less bodyfat (a good chunk of our online clients actually SAVE money once we start meal prepping).
Now if you spend very little cash Mon - Fri and then let loose, went drinking all weekend, woke up under a bridge with a pocketful of receipts and a sore head, we could probably all take a reasonable guess that your bank account just got the shit kicked out of it, right? You wouldn't be surprised on Monday if you hadn't reached your savings goals that week? Good. You are a rational human being.
Same principles apply to weight loss. If you eat "clean" and within your calorie budget for the week Mon - Fri, then go batshit crazy at the weekend on either a "cheat day" or just a messy weekend, someone's wedding/birthday or whatever social event your significant other drags you to, can you reasonably expect to continue to lose weight? Afraid not - you might have taken the weekend off, but mathematics did not.
Lets examine the numbers:
(Don't worry if you don't know what your calories needs are for the day, we will get to that soon)
We are going to use simplified numbers and examples for illustrative purposes and ridiculous names, just for fun.
Rudiger is a 200lb man that trains 3 times a week, works at a desk and is 20% bodyfat.
His maintenance calories (calculated on Lean Body Mass - more on this later and why calculating via LBM can be a good idea for some people) are roughly 2300kcals. Old Ruddy eats a solid 2000 kcals a day. Congrats Ruddy! Thats a 2100kcal per week deficit or roughly two thirds of a pound. But most weekends Ruddy watches the game (Local Sports Team A vs Bitter Rivals in the regionalcupmatchfinaltournamentdivision). When he watches the game he typically has a few beers, after all - he has worked hard and eaten right all week.
His 2100 kcal deficit disappear pretty quick. He drinks 5 bottles of IPA at 200kcals each over the weekend and also slays a delicious 1/4 pounder w/cheese and fries 900 - 1400 kcals. So his little reward adds up to 1900 - 2400kcal. No more deficit. Rudiger is sad.
It is even tougher for women because, apart from a whole host of hormonal issues that complicate things, serving sizes are more geared towards mens caloric needs and women tend to have a smaller deficit to play with from the get go.
So what are we to do? It is not realistic or more importantly - sustainable to have a nutrition plan that doesn't allow a certain degree of flexibility, especially as we approach the holidays. So as you would budget money, we can budget calories to an extent. A simple approach is to try and plan ahead and cut out, over the course of the week, the excess calories that you may consume at social events so that your nutrition doesn't leave you sitting at home on a Saturday night, crying to your cat about how you wish you could go out and have fun.
Before we hit the nuts and bolts of suggested numbers for deficits it is very important to remember that a caloric deficit should be modest and sustainable, about 10% of total caloric need works for most people. Maintainable fat loss has a "Goldilocks" level. Too small a deficit is not ideal, nor is too large. We often hear the reductionist maxim "eat less, move more", but that is a lot simpler than the reality.
The next post will talk more about calculating rough number for calorie needs and simple ways to estimate bodyfat % and track progress.
In the mean time, I challenge you to identify ONE HABIT where you could budget calories to be more successful with your weight loss.
I'll go first - I have a terrible sweet tooth, so sometimes when I know I'm going to crack, I swap my post workout rice for an equivalent amount of Skittles. They taste like happiness. Is it perfect? No. Is it better than having both? Damn right! Small changes like this can really add up over weeks and months so get started today!
You have your homework - identify one event or day that you need to budget for!