We are going to Cancun in July, which means three things:
- First vacation in ~2 years!
- Luna will finally get to meet more of her mom’s side.
- Pandemic Body needs to transform into Summer Body.
We booked our flights on February 20th and dialed in our nutrition on March 1st.
I’m down 10 lbs in the past 9 weeks and feel more like my former self.
Here’s exactly how I did it.
- Calculating my TDEE & Macros
- Tracking Calories / Macros
- Cornerstone Meals
- Building in a Margin of Error
- Getting Back on Track
- Consistently Workout Out
?Calculating My TDEE & Macros
TDEE stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure. TDEE answers the question, “How many calories are you burning on average on any given day?”
This is my favorite online calculator to determine TDEE & Macros.
Using an online calculator is an imperfect science. However, it serves as a good starting point. Be prepared to make downward changes if you’re not making progress.
I define progress as 1lb of weight loss every 2 weeks. It may not seem like much, but that’s the point.
Too often we overestimate what we can accomplish in a week and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year. Patience, my friends.
Here are my results from my favorite TDEE calculator.
What are Macros (short for macro-nutrients)?
There are 3:
- Protein: 4 calories / gram
- Carbs: 4 calories / gram
- Fats: 9 calories / gram
- Protein: 160g * 4Kcal/g = 640 Kcal
- Carbs: 182g * 4Kcal/g = 728 Kcal
- Fats: 38g * 9Kcal/g = 342 Kcal
- 640 + 728 + 342 = 1,710
Each Macros Function:
Proteins are muscle sparing, which is especially important when trying to cut weight. You want to lose fat weight, not muscle weight.
Carbohydrates are for energy. Although it’s a popular approach, cutting out carbs is a great way to feel like shit and ultimately abandon your diet.
Fats are for hormonal balance. Cutting out fats is a sure-fire way to exasperate your body’s natural response to basic bodily functions like sleep (melatonin), stress management (cortisol), happiness (dopamine), etc.
Staying Well Rounded:
I don’t believe in cutting out any macro-nutrient. I believe diets that promote macro-nutrient elimination are sub-optimal because they’re difficult to adhere to.
- Vegan: eliminates protein
- Keto: eliminates carbs and suppresses protein
- Paleo: eliminates carbs
- Atkins: eliminates carbs
When trying to lose or gain weight, you need to optimize for adherence. The “perfect” plan doesn’t work if you’re not willing to follow through with it for the long term.
Prioritize long-term sustainability above all else.
?Tracking Calories / Macros
You don’t have to count your calories, but every calorie counts!
There are a million calorie-tracking apps out there, but I’ve been using the tried and true, MyFitnessPal.
If you want to use the same, here’s how to set it up:
- After downloading the app, click on “More” on the bottom right.
- Then click “Goals”.
- Fill out the top portion or don’t. It doesn’t matter.
- Click “Calorie, Carbs, Protein, & Fat Goals”
- Enter your Calories, Carbs, Protein & Fat provided by the TDEE Calculator.
- Start tracking everything you eat in the “Diary” tab.
FYI: MyFitnessPal is going to suggest calories and macros for you. Overwrite them. Their suggestions are typically so far off.
Abs are made in the kitchen.
Having control over what goes into your recipes is crucial. Small amounts of a few ingredients can entirely throw you off track: oil, butter, sauce, honey, to name a few.
I have a few cornerstone meals. I eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dessert every day. The only variance in my week is dinner.
Here’s what a regular day of breakfast, lunch, and dessert looks like for me:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday dinners are usually one of the following 3 options:
On Thursdays, we feast. Continue reading to find out why.
??Building in a Margin of Error
I’m a big believer in “positive constraints”. I like putting artificial limits on myself to yield positive results.
Here are some of the positive constraints I use in dieting.
I don’t drink alcohol. I gave up drinking on December 28, 2014. You can read more about that decision by clicking here.
I fast until 5 pm on Thursdays. My dad fasted on Thursdays for ~30 years and stopped in 2018. I picked up where he left off. This October will be 3 years strong. Fasting is a big thing in Hinduism. I’m not religious, but the benefits are real.
I only eat 2 meals on Saturdays and Sundays. I’m a “weekend warrior” when it comes to food. We make most of our meals at home during the week and eat most of our meals outside our home on the weekends. Since restaurant food is typically much higher in calories, I try to only eat twice on Sat and Sun.
??♂️Getting Back on Track
I am my own worst critic.
I used to feel like succumbing to an unplanned slice of cake during a dieting phase ruined my progress.
That feeling of guilt inevitably led to a binge-eating session over the next few days.
That binge ultimately led to feeling sorry for myself and giving up on the effort altogether.
Recently, I’ve been a lot more forgiving towards myself.
Now when I get off track, I accept the feeling of “guilt”, push it aside, and get back on track the very next meal.
??♂️Consistently Working Out
The second half of 2020 was a wash in terms of exercise.
I tried doing some CrossFit-style workouts at home on Zoom for a couple of weeks. Using a gallon of water as a weight didn’t last long.
Then I bought a doorway pull-up bar and attempted doing the non-running portion of Murph 3x per week: 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, 300 air squats. That didn’t last long either.
Then the gym in our building finally reopened and no one was using it. So on Jan 1, 2021, Dia and I started lifting weights.
I’ve hit at least 3 workouts every week since. We use Andy Morgan’s Novice Bodybuilding Program.
I like this program because we can get it done in 30-45 minutes. We have to squeeze in the workout after dropping Luna off at school and before Dia has to log on to work.
Our current morning routine:
- 6:30 – Wake up, get ready, change Luna, give her milk
- 7:00 – Feed Luna breakfast then brush her teeth, pack her school bag
- 7:30 – Leave to drop off Luna
- 8:00 – Coffee from Panera
- 8:15 – Get home, bathroom, change, workout
- 9:00 – Dia logs on to work, I make breakfast
?Find What Works For You
The intention behind sharing my latest diet journey is to help you figure out what might work for you.
Maybe you don’t want to track calories, fast until 5pm one day per week, or pare down to 2 meals per day on the weekends.
However, you might find solace in finding out there’s no “right way” to lose weight. My strategies may seem abnormal, but they work for me and that’s kind of all that matters.
Adherence is so much more important than which tactic you apply.
I hope by reading this, you feel free to get creative and find what works for you.
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