Kim: Welcome to episode 85 of the Fitness Simplified podcast. I'm your host, Kim Schlag. On this episode, I give you my number one strategy to get the most out of calorie tracking. So if you are calorie tracking and thinking, "I am not losing weight," this episode is for you. Let's go.
[00:00:26] Now that we're heading into the end of the third week of January, a lot of people who started working on weight loss on January 1st are starting to feel frustrated because they're not seeing results yet. If that's you, I want to one, share a bit of perspective and two, give you my number one strategy to get the most out of calorie tracking.
[00:00:48] First, the perspective. Let me share a little story with you. Yesterday I was speaking with a one-on-one online client. I left her a message after she had left me a message. Now this client has been with me a year and a half. She looks like an entirely different person. She has absolutely crushed weight loss. She still has a little bit more she would like to lose.
[00:01:10] Over the last few weeks, like a lot of people, she's been trying to dial things back in after the holidays. She left me a message telling me how frustrated she was with what the scale was saying. And I'm going to quote this next part, she said, "it's hard to be motivated to stay with a calorie deficit when it appears to not be working. I've been pretty consistent, not 100%, but a lot of days I've even been under."
[00:01:34] Okay, that's the end of the quote. Now, it was time for a monthly progress review and when I ran the numbers, it turns out she had been over her top-end calories 50% of the last four weeks. 50% of the days, over half the days, she was over her top-end of her calories.
[00:01:53] Now, lovely listener, I know Christmas feels like it was far away, right? That feels like a lifetime ago. We have been through all a lot recently. That feels like a really long time ago. It was only four weeks ago. Not even, it was not even four weeks ago. New Year's Eve, that was only 21 days ago. 21 days. The scale right now is still reflecting what you did then. It is.
[00:02:17] This is not a reason to feel guilty or regretful. Hopefully you enjoyed every second of your holiday season. But this is a wake-up call that you do not have a legitimate cause for feeling frustrated yet. The time has just not passed. You are still in the thick of this work. Do not get demotivated when you're just having a little amnesia here about what you did three weeks ago, right? 21 days ago.
[00:02:45] I know you're working hard now. Staying in a deficit for even a few days can be challenging. A few weeks feels like a really long time. Give yourself more time with your consistency. Give yourself the time you need to make the changes you want. You're not necessarily doing anything wrong just because the scale isn't moving yet, or it's not moving fast enough.
[00:03:07] Stay the course and you will see results.
[00:03:12] Okay, on to my number one strategy for calorie tracking success. If you're sleeping on this tip, you are leaving results on the table. Are you ready?
[00:03:24] Pre-log your food in your calorie tracker the night before.
[00:03:28] Get it out, open myfitnesspal or Lose It or whatever you use and pre-log it.
[00:03:35] This is so dang effective. Winging it can never be as effective consistently as pre-logging your food is.
[00:03:46] So, have you ever built Ikea furniture? Imagine looking at the picture of the end result, okay? You know you have all the pieces, you look around and you're like, "yep, I checked out my pieces. I have all the pieces," You glance at the step-by-step directions once. So you're like, "Oh, here's some steps." And then you don't refer to them again. So, you have no direct plan to get to your finished product.
[00:04:16] So you know what the finished product is going to be. Just like with your nutrition, you know that the product, at the end of the day, is "I have hit my calories. I've hit my protein. I have stayed in my calorie deficit," right? That's the finished product. And you have all the pieces there.
[00:04:31] Now, you might think in your mind, "I'm building this Ikea furniture. I have built so many Billy bookcases and Ektorp sofas. I can figure this out. I got this." How smoothly is that going to go? Even though you look at the picture and you're like, "Oh, I've never built this particular piece," or, maybe you even have maybe like, you know what, this is your second Billy bookcase or your third Billy bookcase and you're like, "I've built this before. I know how to do this. This is what it's supposed to look like. Here's all the pieces. I'm just going to start putting stuff together."
[00:05:01] How smoothly is that going to go? It's the same thing with your calorie tracking. You have that end result, you want to hit your calorie target, you want to hit your protein target, you have all the pieces. You grocery shopped, maybe you even did a little meal prep of protein and chopped some veggies, but then you just wing it, right? You wake up and you start putting things into your log and you kind of see where it takes you.
[00:05:23] That's like taking your nuts and bolts and sofa parts and that little Allen wrench and putting all the pieces where you think they're going to go. And maybe in the end, you're left with some extra pieces or you don't have enough screws.
[00:05:35] Maybe you'll hit your calories, but you'll be under your protein. Maybe you'll be over in your calories. Maybe by dinner you realize you only have 200 calories left for the day, and now you have to decide, "stay in my target and be hungry the rest of the night or go over?"
[00:05:48] And all of that is preventable. That is all preventable.
[00:05:52] So I'm going to give you the template that I give my one-on-one clients to log their food. I want you to write this down, okay?
[00:05:59] Open up your notes on your phone or get out, if your pen and paper kind of gal, get your pen and paper out. Write this down. You don't have to write down all the commentary I give, but I want you to write these steps down. I think there's five steps.
[00:06:10] All right, first, you're going to log your protein. That is the first thing you're going to do.
[00:06:15] And remember, this is the night before. At the very latest, you could do it right when you wake up in the morning before you eat anything. You can do that. That would feel too rushed for me. I got a lot going on when I get out of bed. I prefer the night before, minimum, before you eat anything the morning of, okay?
[00:06:32] So let's say it's the night before, the first thing you're going to do is log your protein. You're going to divide your total protein target. Let me take just a minute here -- if you are not 100% clear on how many calories and how much protein you should be eating to lose weight, I walk you through all of that in my free five day fat loss crash course. It's totally free, you sign up for it on my website.
[00:06:55] So go to kimschlagfitness.com. If you don't know how to spell Schlag, it's S-C-H-L-A-G. Kimschlagfitness.com. Look for "free five day fat loss crash course," pop your name and email in there, you'll start getting a series of emails from me, and over the course of five days, I will walk you through your calories and your protein and how exactly to set your nutrition up.
[00:07:13] Once you have that information, you're going to sit down the night before, you're going to know what total protein should be each day. You're going to take that total number of grams of protein and you're going to divide it by the number of meals and/or snacks you prefer to eat.
[00:07:30] So, let's say your target is 120 grams of protein and you're going to eat three meals and one snack. Okay, that's 120. You're going to divide it by 4. That's 30 grams. That's how much protein you would need at each of those four meals or snacks.
[00:07:44] Now, remember, I'm just giving you an example here. The numbers I'm giving here are not for you. This is just for us to kind of talk through it.
[00:07:50] All right, so what you're going to do with that number, so now you know it's 30 grams at each meal or snack, you decide, "what am I going to eat to get 30 grams of protein at each meal?" And you log it in.
[00:08:02] So here, I'm going to do this along with you.
[00:08:04] So, let's say I need to get 30 grams of protein. I have my log open, at breakfast I'm gonna have half a cup of egg whites and I'm going to have three eggs. That gets me the 30 grams protein.
[00:08:14] Okay, at lunch I'm going to have 4.5 ounces of chicken breast and I'm going to have some feta cheese. Now I've got my 30 grams of protein in my lunch.
[00:08:25] Dinner, I got this amazing pork loin, I'm going to make my pork loin. Okay, how much pork loin do I need to get 30 grams of protein? I can look here in myfitnesspal, pork loin, I need 5.5 ounces to get the 30 grams. Boom.
[00:08:38] So, my snack, I'm going to do one of my pre-made protein shakes. It's 30 grams of protein. There. Boom.
[00:08:45] You now know you will hit your protein target. There's no ambiguity. You're not going to get to the end of the day and be like, "Oh wait, I was 20 grams short." No, because you've already exactly figured it out. Not just like, "Oh, I'm going to have pork at dinner," "How much pork do I need to have to hit my 30 grams?"
[00:08:59] Not just chicken with my lunch, "how many ounces of chicken do I need to hit 30 grams? I'm gonna need 4.5 ounces if I pair it with a little bit, maybe 20 grams, of feta cheese."
[00:09:08] Now I've got it. You do all that here. You don't have to figure that out while you're rushing at your lunchtime, trying to put your salad together so you can eat and get back to work.
[00:09:17] So that's step one: log your protein. Do it exactly like I just showed you.
[00:09:21] All right, step two: log some vegetables. At least at two meals.
[00:09:26] You don't have to eat vegetables at breakfast, but you could. Get some veggies in there somewhere. Now, if you don't like vegetables -- believe me, I get it. I don't either.
[00:09:37] At age 44, I decided, "you know what? I'm a frigging grownup and I know this is good for me. And I'm just going to learn to like them. I'm going to do it. I'm going to learn to like them." And I did.
[00:09:47] I really should do a whole episode on that sometime, about exactly how I taught myself to eat vegetables, what process I went through. It was not easy. It's not like I just woke up. I'm like, "now I like 'em!" I had to really work to learn to like vegetables. And now I do like them.
[00:09:59] Okay, look, I have a handful of vegetables I won't eat. I do not eat peas, I do not eat green beans, I do not eat Lima beans. I don't like that stuff. I won't eat it, but that's okay because there's so many other vegetables that I have learned to like, and so I give myself permission to not have to eat any particular vegetable, but I have to eat some vegetables. You can do that too.
[00:10:20] And, like I said, I'll record another episode exactly how I did that.
[00:10:23] For now, just remind yourself, "I'm a grownup, so I eat the dang vegetables." Log them. Log some vegetables. Figure out which vegetables you like the most and put them in, at least at two meals, okay?
[00:10:33] So, on my imaginary log here, I'm going to put in, I'm going to have a salad at lunch. So, I'm going to put in some spring mix and I'm going to put it in some radish and then I can put in some cucumber. And at dinner with my pork loin, I'm going to have some brussel sprouts. Boom. Done. I have some vegetables in here.
[00:10:51] Next, step three -- you're writing this down, right? Step three: you're going to pre-log some fruit.
[00:10:56] At one or two meals or snacks, just get some fruit in there. Whatever you prefer. I dig oranges. I can't eat oranges anymore because with all of my health issues, I now have some special things and I can't eat it. But back in the day, you know, a week ago when I was allowed to eat citrus, oranges with dinner were my favorite. Orange slices at dinner, putting that in there, and I'm going to have an apple with my salad at lunch. Okay, we got some fruit in there.
[00:11:19] So you're going to put some fruit in there, whatever kind you like. One or two meals or snacks, get some fruit in there. It's good for you, it helps you stay full for very few calories, helps you get some fiber. So get some fruit in there.
[00:11:31] Step four. This is the final step. I think I thought it was five steps at the beginning... sorry, it's only four steps.
[00:11:37] Okay, step four is the final step: you can look over your pre-logged day now, right? You can see that it's high in protein. You can see it's high in minimally processed, nutrient dense food. You have your fruit, you have your veg, so with whatever calories you have left over, you can use them however you want.
[00:11:56] You're going to use nutritional compromises to decide how you want to use those calories. And it will likely be different day to day. Maybe today there's something in your mind you want and next week you're like, "I'm not so into that thing."
[00:12:08] So on my sample log, I'm going to look at my day and think, "okay, what do I want to add in? I have this chunk of calories leftover. You know what, I really like to have rice with this recipe, with the pork loin, it tastes really good, so I'm going to put in a half a cup of rice."
[00:12:20] Maybe I also told my kids I'd get them donuts tomorrow. And you know what? I want a donut. I can fit a donut in, so I'm gonna fit it in now. I'm going to know I'm going to have my donut.
[00:12:28] Okay, now I still have some calories left over, so I'm looking, I'm thinking, "you know what? I'm going to add some avocado to my salad. A little fat always helps me stay full longer and I just like avocado."
[00:12:39] "All right. A little bit more calories left over, so you know what? I think I want some toast with my eggs in the morning." Okay. Boom.
[00:12:46] I now have a complete meal plan ready to go.
[00:12:50] I know it will keep me in my calorie deficit, I know I will get in the protein I need to preserve my muscle and keep me satiated, I can see that I have plenty of micronutrients, I've used nutritional compromises to put in stuff I'm in the mood for, right? I'm thinking like, "what do I want?"
[00:13:05] And now when I wake up tomorrow, I don't have to think about food at all. I just work my plan. No stress, no end of the day, macro-Tetris, and I have the flexibility to work within the framework I set to make any changes as needed. So if I realize like, "Oh wait, the avocado is not ripe," I can swap it out and say like, "Oh, you know what? I'm going to add some chia seeds," and I know exactly how many calories I have left over that I'm going to swap out from the avocado. "Okay, so I've got like, 80 calories here from the avocado. I'm going to put in some chia seeds." Now I know how much I can afford in this calorie budget.
[00:13:39] Or maybe the kids want ice cream instead of donuts. I can make that swap knowing exactly how many calories I have to work with.
[00:13:47] Your consistency with your deficit will skyrocket by doing this. It will skyrocket. And consistency is what brings you results.
[00:13:58] I hope this has been helpful. Hit me up with questions anytime. You can DM me over on IG or you can email me, email@example.com. I am happy to help.
[00:14:08] Now, if you have a question you want answered, if you're struggling with your nutrition or training and you want to get some free coaching by me, I do that here on the podcast. Actually, these are some of the episodes I get the most feedback on, people are like, "I love that, can you do more?" "I learned so much listening to you talk to that person."
[00:14:25] Look, we all have the same types of struggles, your struggles with losing weight, with getting leaner, with getting started, they're not unique. Your particular set of circumstances are, but the general struggle? It's everybody's struggle. Somebody out there wants to know the exact answer that you want to know.
[00:14:41] And so the way it works is we get together on a call, I record the call -- it's just a Zoom call -- I record the call as I coach you, and then I publish it here as a podcast episode. And that way you get the solutions you need and everyone listening gets to learn, as well.
[00:14:57] So, if you're interested, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org, put "free coaching" in the subject line, and then let me know what your question is and we can make it happen.
[00:15:10] Thanks so much for being here and listening in to the Fitness Simplified podcast today. I hope you found it educational, motivational, inspirational, all the kinds of -ational.
[00:15:21] If you enjoyed it, if you found value in it, it would mean so much to me if you would go ahead and leave a rating and review on whatever platform you are listening to this on. It really does help to get this podcast to other people.
[00:15:36] Thanks so much.
I'm a NASM certified personal trainer who is passionate about helping women transform their bodies through strength training and sustainable nutritional habit changes.