So last week was spring break, and through an experiment (I didn't even know I was conducting at the time) I learned something VERY valuable. Eating is more important in determining weight loss than exercise.
Some may fight me on this, but I believe it to be 100% true. Now don't get me wrong, I think exercise is very important, for reasons other than losing weight. And with a good combination of the two, weight loss can be pushed along more speedily. Let me lay it all out.
Like I said, last week was spring break, and in the spirit of spring break I ate. Not like a pig, but I did enjoy some things out of my norm. And splurging is OK, in moderation, but I did it every day. Thankfully, I also worked out harder than ever. So what happened to the scale?... any guesses... I maintained. Although I probably burned more calories than usual last week because I did not watch my diet, I did not lose.
No worries, not discouraged, I just knew I had to get back to eating right again. So here are 5 tips to get your eating in order.
1. Figure out how many calories per day you should be eating. Learn to stick to this. Learn to live with this. You probably are not going to like the answer you are given. It won't leave you room for pizza, nachos, and cake all in one day. Sorry. The key to losing weight is burning more than you consume, and if you always consume too much, you will NEVER lose. NEVER.
Here is a link to figure out your calories needed. I like setting my activity level on sedentary, that way if I have a lazy day, I don't overeat. After you figure out your daily calories, you now either have to add in 500 calories burned of exercise, or you need to subtract 500 calories out of eating.
For example: I burn 1965 calories per day (sedentary). So I either need to be sedentary and eat 1465 calories per day OR Go to the gym and put in a 500 calorie workout and eat 1965 that day. (I generally eat less AND add in a workout- this is what I was talking about speeding the process up. Each day I end with about a 1200 calorie deficit, and generally lose 2-3 lbs per week.) A pound of fat is 3500 calories, so if you cut 500 calories per day, you should lose 1 lb of fat per week.
2. Log your food. It's the most treacherous, time consuming thing you will have to do- at first. Then you get better. You memorize numbers like your phone number... 1 oz cheese= 90 calories, 2 slices bread= 100 calories, etc... I still believe caloriecount.about.com is the best website I have found for food logging. If you haven't tried it, you should. It also will help you figure out how many calories you should be eating from #1.
3. Get into a habit. Get into an eating habit. Take time to eat. Some people like eating every three hours. I like eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, with an occasional snack. I don't have time or patience to eat 6 times a day.
4. Treat calories like a bank. When you go on vacation, you have a budget (at least most of us do.) Treat your daily calories like that. Wake up with a plan. On a normal day I like to SPEND 300 calories for breakfast, 600 calories for lunch, and 600 calories for dinner. If I'm going to have a fancy dinner, or if I know I will want a pre-workout snack, I BUDGET differently. No matter what, stay within your budget. Now this will sound crazy but, EAT WHAT YOU WANT. WITHIN YOUR BUDGET. I say this with a smirk, because what you will find is if you are truly trying to stay within your calorie budget, you will start to eat healthier just so you can have more My best example of this is I love eating veggies with ranch dip at lunch, but the ranch dip was taking up 140 of my 600 calories (25%) (and it wasn't a heap of ranch either), so I experimented until I found a lite ranch that is only 60 calories (10%), so I get more real food for lunch, and waste less of my budget on dip.
5. Weigh your food. If you are going to be true to yourself. If you really want to see results, then go spend $30, and start weighing your food. You are kidding yourself if you just "think" you ate 1 helping of chips, or if you "eyeball" 1 oz of cheese. I promise you will see results if you start weighing your food. Because at the end of the day, you can know it, budget it, and log it, but if it wasn't really that amount of food... it was all in vain.
This was a long post. I hope I didn't lose you at the beginning, but I feel that eating is the key to weight loss, and I want you to see the results that I have seen for myself. If you have any questions, just leave them in the comment section, check back, and I will answer them there!