Make sure you read The Plan Part 1 & 2 first!
My friends and family would giggle uncontrollably at the thought of me in an apron cooking a healthy meal, with lean proteins and veggies. Let's just say I've almost mastered making Ramen. So changing my lifestyle to include fresh healthy organic meals cooked from raw was just not gonna happen. Don't get me wrong, if that's something you enjoy and have the time and money to spend on it, go right ahead. I just knew that wasn't a change I could stick to and live with. So I needed to figure out a way to eat that fit with my lifestyle and didn't make fat. Sounds impossible right? Nope, all it takes is a little common sense and a little balance.
The first thing you need to know is that like most of us, your body lives on a budget. Your body works super hard every day to earn caloric credit. Everything it does, even sleeping, earns you "spending money". You are spending your calories with everything you put in your mouth. So think about it for a minute. Are you spending calories faster than your body can earn them? I did and that's why I got fat. Repeatedly. (Also how i racked up credit card debt, but that's a whole different blog)
You basically have three choices on how to run your budget based on your goal
Gain: If you run your budget like the government does, you take on weight like the nation takes on debt. Now you probably won't hit the 14 trillion mark, but your caloric spending will inflate your fat. Gaining weight and debt is the simple result of spending more calories than you've earned. Our nation's solution is to increase revenue (taxes), or slash the budget. For you that translates into Move more or Eat less. Or both.
Lose: Hopefully, if you are in debt, any extra money you earn is going to pay down your creditors. Same principle to lose weight. If you are losing weight that means you are continually earning more calories than you are spending. That surplus of caloric credit gets applied to your debt, your fat stores. Just like with money this is generally a slow and steady process that is reliable. As opposed to a lump sum payoff, or crash diet.
Balance: Once your debt is paid off and your fat stores are diminished, you can run a balanced budget. Fiscally you would then try to save your money for a rainy day. Your body can do that very short term.. Suppose you know you are going to a party tomorrow. You might want to eat less today to save your caloric spending for tomorrow. However, in the long term if you are continually "saving" your calories in a high enough amount your body will go into starvation mode and lower your metabolism, causing you to earn less calories even though your doing the same thing. So for the most part you want to spend around the same amount you earn.
The first step in any budget is to figure out what your cash flow situation is. How many calories are you earning just by being alive? That's you Base Metabolic Rate or BMR I suggest using this calculator to figure it out http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/ Super easy. Then you add in how much you earn through activity. There are countless apps and website that can calculate that for you. I like My Fitness Pal personally, but there are plenty of choices. Add that to your BMR and voila you have your daily income. It's wise to note that this is an estimate yours may vary up or down. You can adjust it based on your body's reactions to your plan.
Now that you know your income, figure out how much to spend. Most experts agree that the healthiest and safest weight loss is an average of 1-2 lbs a week. A pound is 3500 calories. So to lose 1 lb a week you need to be spending 500 calories less than your income for the day. You can do that but cutting your food intake or upping your exercise. I recommend doing both at once so you are not overtaxing your body or starving. It's worthy to note that for women, most doctors don't recommend dipping under a 1200 calorie diet.
What you spend your calories on is up to you. Play with it, experiment. Your body is unique, remember? See how you react to carbs, dairy, or fats. Everyone will process them differently. General guide is fats and carbs do not mix. So if you are eating a high carb meal like pasta, limit the sauce. Bread? Use less butter.
The rest is all common sense and simple math. Spend wisely. If you have budgeted 200 calories for a snack you can either have one cookie or an apple, granola, and yogurt parfait. Do you want to fill you tummy or satisfy your craving? On some days you will really want that cookie even though it means less food. Go for it! As long as you have budgeted correctly, your diet won't suffer. One of two things will happen. You will either be completely satisfied with the yummiest cookie ever, or, you will quickly learn that most of the time eating junk is not worth the calories they cost. No wrong answer.
I personally learned that I liked eating more lower calorie small meals throughout the day as opposed to the few days I tried spending my whole caloric income on, let's just say hypothetically, a bin of Ben and Jerry's Pumpkin cheesecake. (I won't lie, at the time it was totally worth it.) As long as you are happy, and balance your daily budget, you will stick to it and be successful no matter what foods you choose.
On Monday's blog I will give some helpful hints and common pitfalls in choosing which foods to eat.