I really want to help clients get away from using handbooks, websites, databases, spreadsheets, and math when planning meals.
You see, while we know that total food (calorie) intake matters, I’m just not fan of counting calories.
To begin with, calorie counting does nothing to help us tune into our own powerful hunger and appetite cues. By learning how to listen to our own bodies, we have better long-term success in healthy eating!
(Of course, not everyone knows how to do this from the start. It takes a little coaching and some practice.)
Nor does calorie counting help us balance our health goals with our natural human enjoyment of food. In the short term, anyone can turn eating into a numerical and robotic exercise. But, in the long run, this strategy falls apart.
(Just ask anyone who “used to” count calories. You shouldn’t have a hard time finding them.)
There’s another problem with calorie counting: It’s just not all that accurate.
Because of incorrect labeling, laboratory errors, and differences in food quality and preparation, calorie counts recorded on food labels and websites – even those within the USDA’s nutrient databases – can be off by as much as 25%!!!
Bottom line: even if you’re the worlds best calorie counter (and you don’t mind the soul-sucking boredom that comes along with it) the math just doesn’t add up.
Try this different approach to calorie control, using your own hand as the ultimate, portable measurement tool.
For example, men might begin by eating:
- 2 palms of protein dense foods at each meal;
- 2 fists of vegetables at each meal;
- 2 cupped handfuls of carb dense foods at most meals; and
- 2 thumbs of fat dense foods at most meals.
And women might begin by eating:
- 1 palm of protein dense foods at each meal;
- 1 fist of vegetables at each meal;
- 1 cupped handful of carb dense foods at most meals; and
- 1 thumb of fat dense foods at most meals.
First, it helps to see what this looks like. Like, in real life. On a plate.
Then, adjust actual portion sizes up or down, depending on each person’s unique body and goals.
Of course, just like any other form of nutrition planning – including detailed calorie counting – this meal template is just a starting point.
You can’t know exactly how your body will respond in advance. So stay flexible and “steer dynamically”.
Adjust your portions based on your hunger, fullness, overall activity level, and progress towards your goals.
Start with the basic template and then adjust your portions at any time using outcome-based decision-making, aka: “How’s that working for you?”
Remember, if you have any questions or just want further explanation please don’t hesitate to call or email me!
Lose weight the easier way
Here’s a familiar scenario. In January, Jane and Bob agree to lose weight – together. Jane watches what she eats, counts every calorie, and spends hours on the treadmill every day. After a month, she’s down by a pound.
Meanwhile, Bob decides to drink less soda and manages to cut down to one can a week from his usual four. He gets to the gym when he can – maybe three times a week – but half the time, he ends up cutting his workout short. One month of this, and he is ten pounds lighter!
What the heck? Why does this happen? (I can hear women around the world gnashing their teeth from here.)
There are many physiological reasons, but the difference in their muscle mass is one of the biggies.
Let’s compare two women. Jane and Mary both have the same amount of fat, but Mary has an extra 15lb of muscle.
If, for one year, Jane did exactly what Mary did to maintain her weight– snowboarding, sleeping, swearing in six languages, whatever – Jane would actually gain 18lbs of fat, increasing her body fat percentage to 35%. Just because of the differences in their resting muscle mass.
The other thing you might notice is that since Mary has more muscle and weighs more overall, despite having the same amount of fat, she actually has a lower percentage of body fat.
Weight versus size
Since muscle is more dense than fat, 1lb of muscle will take less space than 1lb of fat.
If you gained 10lb of muscle at the same time you lost 10lb of fat, you would be smaller. About 1/4th a gallon smaller. On the scale you would weigh the same. But your pants would be looser.
Let’s say you and your friend decide to start two different weight loss programs at the same time. After 6 months, you’ve lost 10lb by working out and eating right, while your friend has lost 11lb by lying in bed drinking coffee and watching TV.
Your 10lb scale weight loss might equal a 10lb muscle gain with a 20lb fat loss. If so, you’d be 3 gallons smaller.
On the scale, it would look like your friend who lost 11lb (9lb of muscle and 2lb of fat) was doing better, but in fact, she’d only be 2.5 gallons smaller, making her change bigger than you. Ha!
Meanwhile, going forward, who will maintain her new weight more effectively? It sure won’t be your friend.
Of course, this is an oversimplification, because muscle and fat are not the only things at play. But the message is the same – losing weight is very different from losing fat.
|Size matters. Five pounds of fat takes up more space than 5 pounds of muscle.|
Two Problems I have been running into lately when speaking with potential clients…
1. They’re not being as consistent with exercise and eating as they’d like and are having a hard time sticking to things.
2. They’re not getting the results they should based on how much they know about working out and eating healthy.
Most of these people admit when things get busy they find themselves inconsistent. They get off track with eating and tend to skip workouts. They also have tried many different workout programs and diets so they have a background of knowledge but for some reason they are not getting results. Because of this they get frustrated and actually a bit embarrassed. They feel like based on the knowledge they have they should be in “better shape” than they currently are.
Almost all of my current clients:
Read articles on working out and nutrition. They exercise. They eat healthy, or at least try to. Most are the go-to “fitness expert” for their family and friends.
Are people who should be in great shape — and maybe at one point, they were in great shape — but are now having a tough time. They have become frustrated with a body that’s not as lean, strong, fit or healthy as they know it could be.
Once you reach a certain level of knowledge and experience, the missing link is no longer a new exercise program, the perfect nutrition plan, or a new supplement to try.
The one thing you’re missing is this: being accountable — to someone or something — for your workouts and nutrition.
“Accountability is the acknowledgment of responsibility for your actions with the obligation to report, explain, and be responsible for the resulting consequences.”
In other words, accountability keeps you consistent because you have to report back what you’re doing — or not doing — in the gym and in the kitchen to someone else.
In fact, accountability is more important than personal motivation for this simple reason:
But if we have someone who’s checking up on us to see how things are going, we’ll get our butt in gear.
Even if we don’t feel motivated in the moment.
We actually do the exercise — and eat the food — needed to look and feel great. And we do it over and over again, even when the going gets tough.
That’s why you can know exactly what to do. And you can even do it — exercise, eat good food, get 8 hours of sleep — for short bursts. But you can still end up struggling.
Simply put: if you can’t be consistent, you can’t make progress.
And that’s why accountability – not the perfect exercise or eating program – is the thing that turns everything around
Below is pretty much sums it up perfectly!
“It’s completely possible to know exactly what you’re doing … but still struggle to improve your body. And that’s totally OK. In fact, it happens to a lot of people and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
“But there’s a simple fix, and it has nothing to do with a new workout or diet plan. All you have to do is commit a little differently and make yourself accountable to at least one other person.” Nate Green PN Coach
So if you’re reading this and you’ve struggled with fitness in the past, or are struggling with it right now, I encourage you to do the same: change the way you commit and become accountable to someone else. If hiring a personal fitness coach is an appealing option to help hold you accountable please feel free to contact me at your convenience!
Over the past year I have had to answer this question more than any other time in my 10 years of training. “What diet do you teach?” Ahhhhhhhhh! This question is maddening! On so many levels… First off, the word “diet”. Everyone has a diet, and you either have a good diet or a bad one! This whole question in general implies that I have to teach ONE certain way. As if what I teach can only be put into a simple, tidy little box with a bow, and you can just open this little nutritional box and - “poof” - all your health/fitness wishes have come true. I don’t belong to one “nutritional camp”. If I believe too strongly in any particular “nutritional religion”, I fixate on the food itself, or my own personal way of looking at food. When I do this I lose focus on what’s most important as a coach: my clients and their individual physiological and psychological needs. This is the whole point…MY CLIENTS SUCCESS!
Sure, if a particular nutrition idea like Paleo or vegetarianism worked for you personally, that’s great. You should be happy you found something that helped you reach your health/fitness goals.
“But to suggest that because it worked for you, at one point in your life, under a particular set of circumstances, now everyone else should follow the same program isn’t just narcissistic. It’s the antithesis of good coaching.” John Berardi, Ph.D.
There’s no such thing as THE BEST DIET. There’s no one absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt best diet for everyone. Physiologically, the body can succeed under many different nutritional conditions. That’s why I’m happy to help people find the best one for them, no matter their dietary preferences. Of course, this is a big win for my clients: They get in shape doing more of the things they actually like. It's also a win for me: I get to help more people.
Most popular diets actually have a lot in common. Most popular diet plans help control appetite, improve food quality, promote exercise, and raise nutritional awareness.
Coaches should NEVER lock into a single philosophy. Over the past 10 years I have worked with clients to help them lose body fat and develop a new relationship with food. I have done this without forcing a specific diet philosophy on them. Vegans can stay vegan. Paleos can stay Paleo, and they have all had success. Don’t waste energy bullying people into a particular way of eating.
So, the best diet to follow is …… the one that’s best for you.
Let me listen to your needs. What you want to accomplish. How you live. What’s really important to you. Then let me help you create the right dietary approach for you; one that’s specific to your goals and your lifestyle.
Because that’s what coaching really is.