You might remember my Fat Loss Tips for Summer Series back in May/June of 2015.
Part I focused on how to stay on track while out to eat.
This article is going to take a step away from talking about how to “track” and instead teach you how to stay nutritionally balanced. I will give you three tricks for intuitive eating so that you can leave home, experience adventure, enjoy your meals and not think twice about losing fat loss progress or gaining any weight.
Quick note: For fat loss, please remember there is no perfect food for fat loss. There is no perfect carb for fat loss. All that matters for fat loss, fat gain, or maintenance is the amount of calories in which you consume over time. Many people who become experts in calories counting to lose weight fear that if they stop, they will automatically gain weight. This is simply not the case. However, just like calorie counting is a skill that takes time to learn, so is intuitive eating (for some people).
Read on to find three simple mindset tricks you can use to start working on intuitive eating if you are either:
- wanting to let go of calorie tracking
- want to stop worrying about tracking on vacation
- have never counted calories and never want to start, but are trying to lose fat
Before you read on, if you aren’t a big reader and prefer to listen to podcasts, head on over to MoveWith.com and check out my Teacher Profile page. There you will find #Daretoeat Diary: How to track without counting calories and get the same message. Enjoy!
Three Tips for Staying on Track Without Counting Calories
Be a five-year-old again
Take a moment and go back to your five-year-old self. Your mom dropped you off at kindergarten and most likely left you with a lunchbox. After a few hours of coloring, running around chasing boys, playing with toys or having story time it was FINALLY lunchtime, and you open up your lunchbox. What’s inside?
You see, children are great at listening to their bodies. When they are hungry, they eat. When they play little more or exert more energy, they naturally eat a little more. When they are sick they don’t want to eat. When something bothers their tummy, they avoid it naturally. They reach for things they like (if they can) and stop eating when they are decently full, right?
You wouldn’t want to go to recess on a stuffed tummy would you?
So, with that in mind, what foods would five-year-old you have seen packed in your lunchbox? Peanut butter and jelly? Turkey sandwich? Fruit on the side? Maybe a jello or pudding dessert? That’s the other thing, small portions of treats only gave us energy as kids; they didn’t make us fat because our portions were good and we ate controlled amounts.
Next time you are out to eat, away from your own kitchen or on the road, don’t grab an unhealthy snack just because it’s there, reach for something that will make you feel good digestion-wise and that you’re excited to eat.
If you’re a mom, I’m sure you know the stresses of making a lunch your child loves, right? As adults we sometimes eat things because we feel like we should indulge, or because we think it will make us leaner, or because we think a certain “superfood” has super fat loss powers… the only fat loss secret is portion control…. calories are the only thing that has majority of bearing on your fat loss progress.
So if you reach for something your five-year-old self would be EXCITED to eat in your lunch box you will:
- enjoy your meal and feel satiated pyschologically
- enjoy your meal until you feel contently full and not overstuffed
- possibly have a small treat, but nothing that will make you gain fat
- eat something that you will be able to digest without discomfort
All of the aforementioned are positive effects of intuitive eating, but sometimes we have to take on the five-year-old mindset to remember what intuitive eating feels like. #ilovedrecess
2. Eat to feel “surf-ready”
The mantra “food is fuel” is often preached in the fitness world. And I’ll admit, it isn’t always the case for me. I’m guilty of eating comfort foods, for having dessert “just because” and I’m guilty of getting carried away with eating treats for reasons other than for fuel (more than once in a row) around the holidays. You too? Good.
When I fall into that holiday whirlwind of treats, Christmas cookie eating, coffee cake indulging etc, the term “food is fuel” seems to make less and less sense. However, I’m lucky that I’ve experienced the “food is fuel” mantra a few times in my life. On my surfing trip I was reminded of that mantra, and owning the “food is fuel” mindset (which I’ve struggled with in the past due to calorie counting) helped me stay on track!
Side note: one negative of calories counting is that sometimes one can become so obsessed with the numbers that they eat just to eat to “spend calories” and they lose sight of letting hunger be the guide. If this is you, read on!
To practice “food is fuel,” my favorite mindset trick is “Stay surf-ready.”
This means that, when I woke up in Rincon, Puerto Rico, I wasn’t worried about eating 300 calories. I wasn’t concerned with delaying breakfast for __amount of hours. I was only concerned with:
- what will see me full for 2 to 3 hours of surfing?
- what will not disrupt my digestive system
- what will get me full enough but not make me feel bloated in my bikini?
When you ask yourself these questions and are truly passionate about attacking your surf day, your snowshoe hike, your morning meeting, your morning Barry’s Bootcamp workout etc, there’s no way you’re going to overindulge or go off track with the amount of calories you eat.
3. Screw perfection
Calorie counting is an inexact science. I tell my clients this all the time if they start to get nervous about tracking imprecisely. You see, the calorie counts on packaged items of whole food portions are rough estimates and the FDA allows certain margins of error because of this. So before you get worried about how many calorie you may or may not be eating while on vacation or out to eat, consider this: even if you were eating perfectly packaged tupperware containers of chicken, broccoli and rice from Bodybuilding.com there’s still a chance that your 320 calorie container of food could be 400 calories, or 295 calories.
There’s no such thing as perfect, even when you seek it.
But what does exist is feeling good and energized to enjoy your vacation and feeling confident in your own skin. If you know you’re gonna feel super bloated if you drink a mudslide alcoholic beverage by the pool in a bikini, don’t drink it! Get a vodka soda instead!
If you really want to indulge in alcohol, understand that the amount of calories you consume each day is all that matters. You don’t have to forgo alcohol completely yo lose fat, you simply have to strike a balance. Maybe you opt for a salad and a cocktail at lunch instead of a sandwich and cocktail. Saving roughly 200 calories of bread can now go toward the drink.
And just because it’s in front of you, doesn’t mean you have to eat it all! Remember your five-year-old self whose parents wanted you to eat all your dinner and you just couldn’t do it? Be that kid again!
The moment you stop seeking perfection, the moment you start to actually feel a little more perfect and less restricted in your own skin!
I was inspired to write this article while on a mother-daughter surf tip to Rincon, Puerto Rico. I was 11 weeks away from a bikini competition and took 5 full days away from my macro-tracking app. (I use Livestrong.com ‘s MyPlate app). I felt exactly the same, if not lighter when I returned home and fully enjoyed my stay, alcohol and all.
If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to reach out, my email is email@example.com. Stay tuned for Parts II, III and IV this spring 2017!