The Most Important Lesson I've Learned for Fat Loss

 

In this post you will learn:

  1. My story

  2. The lesson I learned

  3. How you can apply this lesson to your own fitness journey.

  4. Why people aren't doing this.

*Warning* You're about to see some weird photos of me.


my story

I didn't worry too much about my weight growing up. I was pudgy when I was little but then I grew a few inches and slimmed out. I played tennis, I danced, and I ate decent meals, so my weight was not something I had issue with in high school. To be honest, my mind was taken up by other classic teenage things, like boyfriends, getting good grades, "fitting in", and applying to 14 different colleges.

In college, I suffered from spurts of anxiety that led me to lose my appetite. When the anxiety got really bad, I'd have a stomach ache all of the time, so I just couldn't eat. I didn't realize how skinny I looked until I look back at photos of it now. (Sorry, I know these photos aren't the best examples but I don't have many that show my body back then.)

 
 September 2013

September 2013

 April 2014

April 2014

 

When I graduated college, I moved back home, my anxiety was under control, and I had 24-hour access to a fully stocked kitchen. I didn't cook and got take-out for dinner almost every night. Tacos, tortilla chips, guacamole, margaritas, cacao banana protein shakes, chocolate peanut butter ice cream with M&Ms and hot fudge (I went to Sunny Daes ice cream shop so frequently that they had memorized my order.)

Fast forward 4 months and, hang on a second... Why were my jeans really tight on the thighs? My shirts were tight too! I stepped on the scale and I weighed 10 pounds more than I thought I did!

 
 This is a screenshot of me doing a cool music video that never got released because it ended up being the opposite of cool. (Exhibit A: The bra I hot-glued gemstones on.) Dec 2015

This is a screenshot of me doing a cool music video that never got released because it ended up being the opposite of cool. (Exhibit A: The bra I hot-glued gemstones on.) Dec 2015

 Me: "I love Tenerife so much!" Feb 2016. 147 lbs (67 kg)

Me: "I love Tenerife so much!" Feb 2016. 147 lbs (67 kg)

 

the truth fairy

I pointed a finger wherever I could to explain my weight gain. First, I blamed the anti-anxiety medication and then I blamed horseback riding lessons as if I had gained 10 pounds of muscle in my legs. Finally, I "accepted" that it was just my body-type and starting buying clothes in a bigger size... Despite looking in the mirror and being thoroughly upset with the way I looked.

One day I admitted to my friend who was in good shape and enjoyed lifting weights, in a stereotypical exasperated sigh: "Ugh I want to lose weight but I don't know how!"

My friend sent me some killer resources, like Kinobody's Goddess Toning Program and Thinner Leaner Stronger. He also taught me the basics of lifting and tracking my calories. 

Within 6 months of implementing what I'd learned, I had lost over 10 pounds! 

 
 September 2016. 132 lbs (60 kg).

September 2016. 132 lbs (60 kg).

 

okay, so What's the secret?

I promised you I would tell you the most important lesson I learned when it comes to losing weight.

Do you want to know it...?

Disclaimer: It is not a quick fix. Not by a long-shot. But it's a lifestyle shift, and making that shift 3 years ago has completely transformed my life for the better.

Okay, here it is....

The most important lesson:
Tracking Your caloric intake. 

Once I understood the science behind energy in verses energy out, I swapped the $150 per session personal trainers, $25 spin classes, 21-day challenges, special running shoes, and avocado toast for a grocery store points card and a basic student gym membership.

The result? I'm 20 pounds lighter and stronger. 

 May 2017. 130 lbs (59 kg)

May 2017. 130 lbs (59 kg)

 August 2018 (doing the best fitspo pose I can muster up). 125 lbs (57 kg)

August 2018 (doing the best fitspo pose I can muster up). 125 lbs (57 kg)

Let me break it down 

If you want to lose weight, you need to eat less calories than you burn daily, exercise to burn more calories than you consume daily, or, ideally, a combination of both

Every day, I calculate the calories I eat, I walk at least 10,000 steps, and I lift weights 4x a week for 50-70 minutes. 

By lifting weights, my muscles are put under stress and must repair themselves to get stronger, using energy in my body to do that. Therefore, by consuming less calories than I burn, my body needs to use stored energy as fuel. This causes fat loss. 


Where do you start?

Here's how you can get started by understanding how much you need to eat per day to lose weight, how to calculate that, and how to track your calories:

Step 1:

You need to figure out how many calories you burn per day. This is your maintenance calories (how many calories you can eat per day to maintain the weight you currently have.) This is called your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). If you exercise on a regular basis, your TDEE will be much higher. 

Calculate TDEE here

For the sake of example, I'll use my own stats. My TDEE is 1,711 calories. If I ate 1,711 calories per day, I would neither gain weight nor lose weight. 

Next you need to calculate how many calories you should eat per day to lose weight. We call this the calorie deficit. This number will be about 20% less than your maintenance. 

Calculate Caloric Intake for Fat Loss

Example: I am 25 years old, I weigh roughly 57.5 kilograms (127 lbs) and I am moderately active. My caloric intake for fat-loss is: 1,369 calories. 

Step 2:

Download a macro app. I highly recommend Mike's Macros. If you've read my blog before or follow me on Instagram, you know that I swear by this app.

Mike's app will give you estimated macros based on your stats or you can use a calculator like this. You can adjust your macros (I've noticed some apps give you a lot of protein and it's difficult to fit that much protein in.) Mike's calculator is pretty spot on, though. 

Step 3:

Start tracking what you eat every day and hit that many calories.


I have 4 rules:

Rule #1

Stick to these numbers, don't try to go below it to "speed up" the fat-loss process. You still need to fuel your body, especially when trying to lose fat. 

Rule #2

Eat a good balance of the three macronutrients every day. Yes, you could technically eat all your calories in carbs but you'd be depriving your body of the nutrients it needs. Carbs, protein, and fats are all important!

Rule #3

Give yourself refeed days. You can't be in a deficit forever. Your body and mind will thank you profusely when you eat at maintenance at least once per 2 weeks. 

Rule #4

Allow yourself to fuck up. One day you're not going to hit your calories. You're going to eat out, you're going to binge eat, you're going to eat birthday cake. Do it. Enjoy it. Be happy about it, and tomorrow, get back on your schedule. Don't try to eat less the next day, just get back to your calories and continue. 


why isn't everyone doing this?

Because it's hard. It takes time to lose weight. You can speed up the process by adding strength training and cardio to your routine, but it still takes time. It's tedious to track calories. When you're in a calorie deficit, you get tired, irritable, and hungry. You need to be smart about what you eat. You can't eat out all the time. You can't smother everything in oil and butter. You have to read the nutrition labels. This turns a lot of people off. 

(I have a lot of tips for that and if you want me to write a post on how to make the most of eating in a deficit, comment below and let me know!)

If you truly want to lose weight, you'll suck it up and do the work. It took me awhile to get into the practice of counting calories but now it's become part of my daily routine and I don't even have to think about it.

One final note

It's not going to be forever! Once you get the hang of it, you'll become a pro at eyeing foods and understanding what your body needs. I'm sure you already understand when you've had too much carbs or fat, but this basic practice will help you form a habit and one day it'll become second nature for you to give your body exactly what it needs every day to stay healthy and fit. 


Read these three blog posts
to help you learn more. 

What Are Macronutrients?
How to Track Macros
How to Track Macros When Eating Out