Reverse Dieting & How many Calories do you actually need?

I’m doing this blog post, NOT to put attention of calories, because I’m very much against counting calories and very pro counting nutrition in your foods! But almost 90% of my nutrition clients are not eating enough calories and are gaining weight because of it. Eating lots of nutritious foods will have you feeling energetic and amazing and I want everyone to experience the feeling of actually eating enough! Being hungry is no fun at all.

So take this little calculation:

Men: BMR=66.47+ (13.75 x W in kg) + (5.0 x H) – (6.75 x Age in years)
Women: BMR=665.09 + (9.56 x Weight in kg) + (1.84 x Height in CM) – (4.67 x Age in years)

Here is mine as an example!
665.09 + (608) + (301) – 121.42
= 1453 calories per day.

This is the absolute bare minimum you need if you laid in bed all day and didn’t even blink an eye! This just keeps your body and organs functioning. This doesn’t include any other daily activities or workouts.

Take that number and multiply it by the following to see how many you actually need to support your daily activities.

BMR x 1.2 for low intensity activities and leisure activities (primarily sedentary)

BMR x 1.375 for light exercise (leisurely walking for 30-50 minutes 3-4 days/week, golfing, house chores)

BMR x 1.55 for moderate exercise 3-5 days per week (60-70% MHR for 30-60 minutes/session)

BMR x 1.725 for active individuals (exercising 6-7 days/week at moderate to high intensity (70-85% MHR) for 45-60 minutes/session)

BMR x 1.9 for the extremely active individuals (engaged in heavy/intense exercise like heavy manual labor, heavy lifting, endurance athletes, and competitive team sports athletes 6-7 days/week for 90 + minutes/session)

Since I work out and teach 6-7 days a week and also walk a lot, I use 1.725 (which actually correlates perfectly to how much my fitbit tells me I burn (if you do where a fitbit- and wear in consistently all the time *this is important* then try checking your average calorie burn over the month or week. This is your basic metabolic rate and what you would mostly likely need for maintenance).
I get:
1453 x 1.725 = 2506 calories!! Most people are shocked at the number of calories they actually need.

If you are stuck in a plateau, feeling tired or hungry- try slowly building up to this number (adding 100 calories a week in the form of carbs and fat, keeping your protein stable) and THEN after eating at this number for a month; you could try to subtract 300-500 from this number for weight loss. Getting your metabolism up and functioning properly is the first step to feeling amazing!! It can be very helpful to actually INCREASE calories when you want to lose weight. Don’t panic if you gain a few lbs at first, this is nothing to be afraid of (it’s water weight: ie muscle glycogen). You’ll then be able to eat MORE and lose weight once you eat at your maintenance for awhile. (I would try even a month if you can). I try to do this with a lot of my nutrition clients in order for them to see results. Less calories is 90% of the time, not the answer. I hardly ever lower my clients calories and they all see results!

Have you ever heard of reverse dieting? This is a method that many fitness competitors use to maximize their metabolic capacity (ie: eat more, stay the same weight) and allow their body to recover and gain muscle after a fitness competition. They slowly increase their calories each week- allowing it to adapt each time to the caloric increase- and can usually manage to eat double or more what they were eating pre-show with barely any weight gain. Anyone can use this method and I’ve used in on some clients who were in a very low caloric deficit with great results.
Here is a great article to check out that explains it a little more eloquently, but still in simple terms:

Its sounds a lot more fun to lose weight at the same rate on 1800-2,000 calories a day rather than 1200 doesn’t it? Starvation and deprivation is NEVER the answer. There is a better way.

So- how many calories do you need to be eating? Try entering what you eat today in a calorie counting app like myfitnesspal and see how many you are currently eating. Are you eating enough? PLEASE ensure that you are not putting your body in deprivation mode because that is a sure-fire way to get stuck in a plateau and never see results again.



WillPOWER!? Do you have it? Do you want more?

Will power is a very interesting thing. It’s cited as the number on reason that people seem to “fail” on diets and exercises programs. I definitely disagree with this statement and I’ll tell you why! And then I’m going to give you some interesting tips I’ve picked up on the science of willpower and how to use it to your healthy advantage!

First of all- those saying that they don’t have enough willpower to eat healthy or exercise are doing it ALL WRONG. It shouldn’t TAKE willpower in the first place! Willpower is defined as “control deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one’s own impulses.”
It’s important to know that willpower is viewed as a limited resource. Basically think of it as this “pool” of willpower that you start off each day with. Then you spend ALL day fighting with your environment if it is not set up properly for your goals.
For example: your fridge and pantry are filled up with junk food- say goodbye to a little bit of your willpower first thing as you attempt to make the healthy choice for breakfast. Then you get to work and you didn’t pack a healthy lunch and you are starving…It takes an extreme amount of that willpower to drive around looking for a healthy choice past Mcdonalds, and junk food everywhere you look.
Then you come home and your are exhausted. You know you have to work out. You’re tired and you sit on the couch and turn the TV on. Guess how much willpower its going to take your to get your butt up again and get a workout in?? A LOT more than if you had all your gym stuff ready in the car and went on your way home.
So my point is, that first in order to really use your willpower to your advantage; You need to make it EASY ON YOURSELF. Stop utilizingĀ all your willpower reserves and then feeling like shit at the end of the day because it was so hard to make healthy choices. You start wondering why its so easy for someone else. You feel angry and resentful against those people that seem to have no problem turning down a plate of fries so easily.

So my number #1 tip is FIRST: Make your environment work for you. This is how I barely exert any willpower throughout the day making healthy choices. Before you know it these things become habit and thats when it’s completely automatic. Doesn’t take willpower to brush your teeth does it?
1.) I plan all my workouts in advance and schedule them in to when I KNOW I can do it. If you aren’t a morning person, for gods sake don’t schedule your workouts in at 6am when its going to take every ounce of your energy to get out of bed and workout. I NEVER schedule my workouts for evening because thats when I know I don’t want to; and it’s going to be really tough for me to force myself. Obviously I have it a lot easier than most and I work at a gym. I have an hour a half break on M/W/F that I schedule in workouts and then I fit it in Tues/Thurs morning cardio after I sleep in, etc.

2.) GET GROCERIES AND MEAL PREP! If your house is filled with junk and chocolate you are going to be using up willpower everyday just resisting those treats (not that I don’t think you should keep treats in the house, I think if you want to have them just keep them out of sight in a drawer or something that you don’t look in etc. I have other blog posts on this topic!). Sometimes I know its super hard to cook an elaborate meal and much easier to eat a bowl of cereal or get take out for dinner. That’s why I always have chicken cooked, quinoa cooked, and veggies and fruit stocked up in my fridge. When I’m feeling tired its easier for me to heat up some chicken and quinoa than it is for me to drive somewhere and get junk food. No willpower needed!

3.) Are the people you hang out with constantly eating junk food, or engaging in drugs/alcohol/bad habits? It’s time to start thinking about surrounding yourself with people that support your goals! I’m not saying you need to ditch all your friends, but find a buddy that enjoys healthy eating and working out and when you see them loving going to the gym and enjoying cooking healthy meals, that can inspire you to keep on going! So basically just become friends with meeeee! šŸ˜‰

4.) Coming back to the definition of willpower:Ā “control deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one’s own impulses.” Why is healthy eating and exercise viewed as something that needs to be forced/controlled? Restraining impulses? I find it very interesting that the natural way to view health is that it’s hard. That’s when you need an attitude shift. If you think healthy eating + exercise = deprivation, hunger, fatigue, and missing out then that is why it’s hard!
Society has completely created this view with stupid diets and punishing workouts that have you running back to your comfort zone of ice-cream with relief.
Change your attitude. The reason why some people find fitness so easy and healthy eating is because its ENJOYABLE to them. And maybe it will take you some time to find what is enjoyable to you and that’s okay! Life is meant to be full of joy and happiness and fun. And health should be viewed as something that brings joy and energy to your life. It’s an amazing stress reliever, natural way to feel amazing and energetic through good nutrition, and I guarantee if you are doing it right- you are going to be a heck of a lot happier, confident, and loving in every aspect of your life.
Are you really happy being sedentary? Does TV actually make you feel good? Does the chocolate binge or McDonalds burger actually make you feel Ā BETTER? Be honest with yourself.
I get that SOMETIMES indulging in chocolate/sugar is totally enjoyable and lovely!
As someone that is recovering from binge eating I can tell you without a doubt that there are very few times food as ever made me happy and these were the times:
1.) when I’m enjoying a delicious dessert with all my closest friends at restaurant, sharing it and savouring it.
2.) when I’m filling myself with delicious nutritious foods, experimenting in the kitchen, and feeling energetic and amazing through the foods I’m choosing to eat.
3.) when I’m having a glass of wine with my family or out on a patio in the sunshine etc.

Food does NOT make me happy when I’m eating it alone, in excess, while watching TV and dealing with overwhelm and anxiety.

I encourage you to find things that genuinely make you happy. Like reading, bubble baths, friends, sunshine, nature, writing, playing an instrument, writing a blog post, journalling, cuddling with a puppy, snuggling up with your significant other, hosting a dinner party.

So change your beliefs about health and wellness, change your environment. Set clear, defined goals so you know what you are even trying to “use” your willpower for!

Some more little tips to increase willpower:
-If it takes less than 5 minutes, just DO IT. Don’t even debate. This really helped me to stop letting a whole bunch of tiny e-mails or dishes or clothes pile up into one big anxiety inducing mess that makes me exert willpower to clean everything all at once. Keeping everything organized and put away keeps your mind free to worry about other things and keeps that willpower reserve intact!
-Get sleep! It’s very hard to resist things when you are dead tired, can’t think straight and have to use up all your willpower just to keep your eyes open. 7-9 hours. PLEASE!
-Be realistic.Ā Sometimes I get mad at myself when I don’t work for like 14 hours in a day and I’m like “why don’t I have any willpower!!! I’m such a failure”. Don’t set yourself up for failure in the first place. Have realistic expectations of yourself. Set a goal and then cut it IN HALF. Feel accomplished when you reach it. The next week you can add a little more. Bask in accomplishment. Rinse and Repeat for success in reaching your goals.
Today I have a of work to get done. At first I was like “I’m going to get up at 6am (willpower) and work constantly till 5pm (willpower) and then go teach 4 classes and come home and work more (ummm… sorry but I don’t have that kind of willpower).
Instead I set a timer for ONE hour this morning. I’m already 2 hours in and I just ignored the timer when it went off because I was on a roll. I slept in, had a great breakfast, and went for a walk this morning in order to increase productivity. Then I kept saying to myself “I can do this. One small thing at a time”. I started with the easy things and crossed them off my to do list.
I don’t feel like I’ve exerted any willpower because I just started with the easy stuff, and accomplishing things gives me energy to keep going. Try it!

So save your willpower for the big things and set yourself up for success. Remember: health is FUN and brings happiness and wellness. When that finally clicks in you are going to be one of those “crazy” people like me who can’t wait to get to the gym everyday and smiles through every workout!