SELF-CONTROL AND SELF-MONITORING FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Working out by itself is only going to aid in helping you lose weight. It is not the foundation that you need. You can bust your butt at the gym everyday for hours, but if you don’t have the right nutrition to go along with your exercising, you really aren’t going to make the dent that you are dreaming of. There, I said it. Nutrition accounts for 70-80% of your weight – whether you are gaining, losing, or managing. Yes, it’s the cold hard truth.
If you are trying to lose weight and you are working out heavily at the gym—that does not necessarily mean you get to eat that extra slice of pizza for dinner because “you deserve it”. Proper exercise will accent your hard work in the kitchen by giving you the muscle tones that you want. “Focusing on an area” of your body at the gym or at home will not actually get rid of the fat in that area. It’s very simply just building more muscle in that area (which is still fantastic!). Men and women all hold fat in specific areas of their bodies. You lose fat in all the same areas at which you also gain it. Keep in mind, the more muscle you build, the more calories you will be burning. It takes more calories to sustain muscle that to sustain fat, but we are talking large amounts of muscle that will not appear overnight.
Don’t get me wrong, working out and exercising is unbelievably important and poses many health benefits. This article is purely for those struggling with their nutrition habits.
The simplest way to lose fat is to be in a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit is taking in less calories than your body uses throughout the day. So figure out this number, you will want to calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate). Your BMR will give you a general idea of how many calories your body uses merely to sustain itself throughout the day. Then, you have a “daily calorie need”. The daily calorie need is the amount of calories your body needs to remain at the exact weight that you are at. Any amount of calories above this amount with constitute weight gain and any amount of calories below that amount will—you guessed it—cause you to lose weight. 100-200 daily calorie deficit is typically the safest zone to be in for a healthy weight loss. Yes, hearing this information sounds simple—however executing that information is the hard part. Self-control and self-monitoring play a crucial role in losing weight. Here is where you will learn to use self-control and self-monitoring for weight loss.
Do you have a hard time saying no to the treats your coworkers bring in?
Do indulge in most cravings that you have?
Do you keep eating a delicious meal, even after you are full?
Self-control, by far, can be the most difficult objective to overcome. We all struggle with it in one way or another. Self-control can start with self-monitoring. Figure out and keep track of your indulgences—how often and how much you do so.
Do you often find yourself going out for meals, instead of cooking for yourself?
Do you snack often throughout the day?
Do you consume a lot of sodas or alcohol?
Most often, people don’t realize how much or often they are consuming calories. This amount generally exceeds necessary amounts and tends to lead to weight gain or little progress in weight loss.
Self-monitoring starts by keeping a small notepad or a file on your smart phone. There are even apps that can help you keep track of things you do throughout the day. Each day, take note of the time, place, what you ate, and how much. Even a stick of gum or a mint. Be diligent and keep track. You may even want to put a note next to it about how you were feeling at that moment. Were you bored? Were you stressed, upset, or happy? You want to do this for a minimum of a week, preferably 2 weeks or more (set a time-frame for yourself). Do everything as you would normally. Don’t make any changes to your habits at this point. At the end of your tracking time-frame, take a look at all of your notes. Maybe even put them in an excel file. Do you see any patterns? You may be able to pick up emotions that tend to lead you to eat when otherwise you may not have. Or maybe there is a particular time of day that seems to strike your hunger. Look through your notes closely and take down any patterns that you notice.
Are you noticing any areas that you can make adjustments? Start slowly. The bigger adjustments you make at first, the more difficult it will be to implement and stick with those changes. This is where you can start setting small goals for yourself. Let’s say you usually have 3 sodas a day at work. Say, “Starting next week, I will only have 2 sodas a day.” Do that for about 2 or 3 weeks, then set yourself another goal. Continue along with these goals as you add more goals. Keep your notepad with you and continue documenting.
Keep in mind, you don’t have get out a scale and measuring cups every time you need to track a food in your notes. You want to keep your note taking quick and easy. Use your best judgement of portions by using your hand. Place your hand near the food you are going to eat and notate how large the portion is to your hand. Does the size of the food match the size of your entire hand? Your palm? Maybe only a finger or two? That’s perfectly fine.
After you are done with your beginning set time-frame of 1 or 2+ plus weeks, grab a few measuring cups (if you don’t have any, you can get a set from the dollar store, grocery store, Target, Walmart, Walgreens—pretty much anywhere). When you go to eat your dinner or if you have a few pieces of bread, make a few piles that simulate various sizes of your hand areas that you use to measure. Once you get those piles in roughly the correct sizes, place them in the cups and make a chart in your notepad. Say, 1 finger is 2 tablespoons, your palm is a 1 cup, etc. This way, you’ll have a good idea of how much you are actually eating. Again, you don’t want to do this until after you have gathered your initial notes. You want the initial data that you will be collecting to be completely and naturally your own habits. If you begin to analyze and process during your beginning, you won’t get the chance to realize your genuine behaviors.
If you have any questions about any of this information, or if you would like some help getting started or learning how to use the notes you gather, please email me! I would be more than happy to help you along your journey.
*I am not a medical doctor—if you have any medical related concerns, please consult your physician. I am a health coach, certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist here to help you with your nutrition and help you build a healthy lifestyle.