Eating Like a Body Builder to Lose Weight? Sign Me Up!

I know I’m not alone when it comes to being confused on how to put together a great “macro-friendly” meal. For years, I would throw together as many veggies and proteins as possible and wonder if I’m eating the right thing.

I used to make meals by starting out with a foundation of vegetables, and I felt like I didn’t have “room” for protein or fat. I would panic and try to make my next meals based on proteins; eventually burning myself out on what I needed to eat. There is a simple formula that helped me break down each meal by macro, without panic or hassle. This formula came from “Burn The Fat; Feed The Muscle,” which is a great book to read or listen to. In this book, Tom Venuto breaks meals down in this fashion:

  • 1 Protein
  • 1 Starchy Carb (or Whole Grain)
  • 1 Fibrous Carb (Fruit or Vegetable)

Where does fat fit in? If you’re eating a plant-based diet, the fat can come from one or more of these foods. Plants contain a combination of each macro, so you may need to mix-n-match. If you get protein from animal-based sources, the fat is already built into the protein. I’ll give examples of each type of meal.

Breakfast:

  • Scrambled tofu (Protein)
  • Potato (Starchy Carb)
  • Kale (Fibrous Carb)
  • To add fat, cook the potatoes in 1tbsp olive oil, or serve with avocado.
  • Protein powder
  • Oatmeal (Starchy carb)
  • Fruit (Fibrous carb)
  • You can add peanut butter, flax seed, chia seed, hemp seed, pretty much any nuts or seeds to increase fat content.
  • Eggs (Protein and fat)
  • Toast or potatoes (Starchy carb)
  • Fruit or any non-starchy vegetable (Fibrous carb)

French toast:

  • Egg wash (Protein and fat)
  • Bread (Starchy Carb)
  • Fruit (Fibrous carb)

Lunch/Dinner:

Seitan and broccoli:

  • Seitan (Protein)
  • Rice (Starchy carb)
  • Broccoli (Fibrous carb)
  • Add sesame seeds or oil to add fat.

Simple salad:

  • Protein (Chick’n, seitan, tempeh, tofu, edamame)
  • Leafy greens (Fibrous carb)
  • Grains, beans, lentils, legumes, potato, pasta, etc. (Starchy carb)
  • You can use salad dressing to add fat.

Taco:

  • Protein (Beefy crumbles, beefless tips, seitan, tempeh)
  • Fibrous carb (Onions, peppers, sometimes the tortilla [Mission Carb Balance Tortilla])
  • Starchy carb (Tortilla, potatoes)
  • Fat (Sour cream, avocado)

Sandwich:

  • Protein (Deli slices, temeh, facon, etc.)
  • Fibrous carb (Non-starchy veggies, sometimes the bread can be high in fiber)
  • Starchy carb (Bread)
  • Fat (Avocado, animal-based protein)

You can apply this to a majority of common dishes. Try it out with your favorite ones! This formula is super simple because it is easy to remember and you can adjust the amount of each food to perfectly fit your macro requirements! You can build almost any meal with this approach and not have to use an excessive amount of ingredients. This helps people lose weight because when keeping track of food intake, it is much easier to calculate meals with 3-5 ingredients rather than those with more than 5 ingredients. Building meals with fewer ingredients can also help people save money!

How is this related to bodybuilding?

This method of breaking down meals by macros has been practiced by bodybuilders. It’s used to ensure that they get the proper amount of each macronutrient to reach their physique goals. You’ll notice that the typical body building meal will be something like chicken, rice, and broccoli. One protein, one starchy carb, one fibrous carb. This is a very customizable approach that can help eliminate decision fatigue.

How do I calculate my macro requirements, though?

I have tried a few macro calculators, and the one by Legion Athletics is my favorite so far. If you use a macro calculator and the total number of calories looks too low, go ahead and add more. I say this because when I put in my stats (4’9″), macro calculators always tell me that I need to eat around 1200 calories, when I should be eating at least 1400-1500. You can always adjust your macros to a ratio that works best for your body and lifestyle. A simple and easy to remember approach would be to divide macros into a 40/40/20 split. 40% Carbs and protein, 20% fat. This is a good baseline to start at if you are new to tracking macros. You can always adjust these numbers based on your needs.

Quick Bite: A Basic Introduction to Behavior Change

If you have dabbled in the world of health, fitness, weight loss, etc, you’ve most likely heard of the following:

  • I haven’t worked out in ___ days, I need to push myself during next workout.
  • I ate ___ yesterday, so I need to fast/eat less today.
  • I haven’t reached ___ goal, I’m failing at this.
  • I wish I looked like them, I don’t like my ___.
  • I’ve been doing ____, why am I not ___?

None of these thoughts are healthy. They will not get you to the goal that you want. These ideas are toxic and are borderline disordered. If you do struggle with thoughts like the above and its affecting your quality of life, please seek a professional. These ideas are rooted in our love of instant gratification and comparing ourselves to others. It’s not intentional, it is human nature. These are two of many examples of behavior patterns that helped us survive, thus evolve. Today, humans have access to everything. Shelter, food, water, technology, anything you can think of. We no longer need to spend the majority of our time searching for these resources, we are now living comfortably with “nothing to do,” other than work, raising a family, school, hobbies, etc. We are living in an advanced world, stuck with the thought processes carved into our neural pathways by millions of years worth of successful evolution. What does any of this have to do with health? We’re in 2021???? It is helpful to identify the thoughts and behavior patterns of the primitive brain and use the modern brain to overcome these barriers.

What is this *~secret~*?? It all boils down to switching our mindset to that of self-love before making changes to our behavior. Take the phrases from above and ask or say them to the next person you see. It is not what people say to those they love. We can change our behavior, which stem from our thoughts, once we love every inch of ourselves. Our aspirations are the end result, it takes behavior changes that turn into habit to “set them in stone.” When it comes to implementing a new behavior, motivation is a flake and most of the time there are no “overnight” results.

Before implementing a new behavior, keep these concepts in mind:

  • Bodily processes move much slower than psychological processes; You can think about what your health goals are while not seeing results over time. Change takes time. Pay attention to more subtle changes within the body and mind.
  • The human body is not a machine. The body is a living, breathing entity to house the soul. It cannot push through workouts every day, it cannot function without sleep, it won’t malfunction after two or three “unhealthy” meals in a row, and it won’t follow through with what you want it do to without showing it love and respect.
  • A healthy life is not a sentencing. Most people turn their health around because they would like to have a better quality and quantity of life. It is a permanent lifestyle change. It is not a punishment. It should be sustainable and fun. Thinking of it as a punishment or restriction will not make someone want to do it. Make it fun. Eat plants you like, move in ways you enjoy. Do these things because you love your body and want to take good care of it.
  • Cancel out negative thoughts. It may feel awkward at first. You may need to “fake it till you make it.” Any negative thought that comes up, say the opposite back.
    • “What if it doesn’t work out?” What if it does?
    • “____ is unhealthy.” ____ is a treat.

When you start to think of healthy habits as self-care, it makes them less daunting. Feels less like chores. It’s easier to change our behavior when we are happy! Now that we’re aware that our goals will take some time, let’s change our behavior. A behavior occurs when Motivation, Ability, and Prompt converge at the same time! Motivation refers to how much we want to reach our goals and prompts refers to “setting the stage” to complete the desired behavior. We need to make sure that we can easily access the tools needed to complete the behavior, are physically capable of completing it, and want to complete it. If someone has a goal of working out, but the nearest gym is 30 miles away from home, this person may consider getting some home equipment. Going to the gym in this case will lack ability and prompt. If the same person works in close proximity to this gym that’s 30 miles from home, they may consider going to the gym before or after work. In this scenario, going to the gym will have all three requirements to go through with a behavior. The ability to go to the gym comes from being close by. The prompt is the fact that this person already has a daily habit of going to work. This is a very basic example, I recommend reading “Tiny Habits” by Bj Fogg. He is great at breaking down this process.

Did you enjoy this snack-sized chat? Would you like to see more in the future? Let me know if you want to know more about psychology!

2021 Vegetable Garden!

I may have given up on taking care of my health back in 2013-2014, but I never gave up on gardening. It started as a way to save money. If I eat ____ every day, I’ll save money if I grow it! Now that I’m older, wiser and plant based, it has turned into much more! Gardening has been one of my favorite activities, it is very therapeutic and I can get some much needed sun in. I can really connect with my food because I know exactly where its coming from, what kind of creatures come in contact with it, and what is and isn’t being sprayed on it. You’re creating a little plant life to fuel your own. The great thing about plants is that they reproduce themselves (sometimes with the help of external pollinators like bees, bugs, animals and wind) in the form of seeds or parts that can be grown (example: green onion). It is a magical experience, not to mention the flavor! You may never buy a tomato from a grocery store again after eating one you’ve grown. I personally don’t, I will wait all winter to eat tomatoes.

I always look forward to starting my annual garden, its what takes me “out of hibernation”.

February 21st, I planted kale, spinach, zucchini (I’m very early), bell pepper, tomato and cucumber!

February 27, 2021.

People Who Track Daily Food Intake Have a Better Chance of Losing Weight

If I could pick one eating habit to consistently stick with, it would be tracking food intake. No, not counting calories. When someone tracks their intake, they are looking at the bigger picture. Macronutrients, micronutrients, fiber, water, where the calories come from (not how many). When you start a fitness journey, one of the first steps is to log everything you eat. Portions have increased over the years, so what we think is one serving, might be two or three servings. “If you’re not counting calories, why does it matter? Wouldn’t it be a good thing to eat two or three servings of fruits or vegetables at once?” If you have specific body composition goals, you need to take the “calories in vs. calories out” equation into consideration, but what I have in mind is volume of food. This is what I have learned about myself while trying to “deal with” over eating.

“Eat more, lose weight!” They said. Cool, I’ll make my meals from mostly calorie-dilute foods. For me, eating large volumes of food with not enough calories led me to eat more food because I can’t trick my body into thinking I’m eating more nutrients than I’m giving it. Even though more servings of healthy foods can be a good thing, make sure you are feeding yourself vitamins, minerals, fiber, and not just water. After failing my attempt at learning how to eat calorie-dilute foods, I started tracking what I ate on a normal day. By serving size and weight, I was eating way too much. I was eating twice or three times the serving size of everything. I practiced portion control while tracking what I was eating – I hit my daily nutrient goals with less food. I’m not saying you need to eat less, I’m saying you need to look at what nutrients you’re putting in because you might not be lacking the vitamins that you *think* you are. For me, one example was Vitamin C. I took a vitamin C supplement daily until I learned, through tracking my food intake, that bell pepper has the daily amount of vitamin C! When you see what’s going in, you can adjust your food intake to the almost perfect amount your body needs to do what you need it to. Tracking what you eat can help you lose weight because you can see how much food it really takes to feel full. It helps you be more mindful about what goes in your body.

I have a printable weekly planner template that is perfect for getting started with tracking food. I have been using it for several weeks and it has helped me immensely! It has a weekly agenda to write down foods, a grocery shopping page that breaks down different food groups. It does have items like “meat” and “dairy,” I just write in my fake meats and dairy alternatives. It even comes with a recipe template, so you can have a reference for an awesome dish you made! The best part? You can print out as many copies of each page as you want!

Have you tried tracking food intake? Let me know!

Defining Health

I throw around the word “health” often. It’s in my title and the foundation of my content. What does it mean, though? There are many different facets of health; physical, mental, spiritual, financial, etc. It is very different for everyone. I won’t go too much into mental and spiritual health. With that being said, mental health is one of the higher priority items and is very individualized. If your mental health is not where it should be, or you suffer from a condition or illness, please seek professional help and treatment. Once mental health is in line, the other types of health will be more achievable. Nothing is impossible, but we must fill our own cup. Filling our cup without taking care of mental health is kind of like filling our “strainer.”

Now, when I’m talking about “health,” I’m mostly referring to physical and financial. These aspects of health are easier to cut and paste into your daily routine. One of the most important topics in physical health is sleep. Your body needs sleep to get all of the “behind the scenes” work done. Muscle repair, digestion, memory building, and many other processes occur during sleep. Professionals will recommend 7-8 hours of sleep. Getting the same amount of sleep every night is a great starting point. Physical health means to eat foods you love to nourish yourself with in the quantities you like it in. Using food for self-love (not emotional eating.) Using food to power through your workouts and work days. Physical health is also being able to move your body to the best of its ability and working on improving. Its not being able to run x miles, or lift x pounds for y reps. Its putting effort into yourself to enhance your abilities. Its believing in yourself and your future. Beginner-level nutrition and fitness are much healthier than continuing negative thought and behavior patterns and doing nothing about them.

Health is putting yourself first. Performing every action as an act of self-love. That’s what I think of when I think of health. Its fertilizing and growing your potential to be able to give yourself the best quality of life. Obviously it gets much more complex when you think about mental, spiritual and financial health, but its easier to break them down and master bits and pieces of them at a time.

What about you? What comes to mind when you think about health? Do you measure health based on statistics or more abstract ideas?

3 Habits That Don’t Help Weight Loss; and Smaller Habits to Break Them

A lot of people struggle with aligning their actions with their ideal thoughts or words. The struggle between how a person believes they should act versus how they truly act can cause internal discomfort, which does not help the external body at all. Mental and physical health go hand-in-hand; conquering both are daily battles. I have struggled with mental health, especially when it comes to thinking about my physical health. One of my main issues is that I posses cognitive dissonance when it comes to my physical health. I was eating healthy and exercising, so why didn’t I feel any better? Despite being familiar with the logistics of losing weight, I make unfavorable decisions almost daily. I thought I was eating healthy, but in reality I would have had a veggie burger and fries for lunch, and a frozen microwave dinner. I thought I was working out, but in reality I was at the gym once a week. I had to take a look at the smaller, daily pictures. The daily habits and the decisions that required cognition. I realized that I will see results if I break a few of my bad habits. I will be outlining these bad habits and ways to break them, if I have not already.

1.Eating too much.
One cause for my over eating is the fact that I was not familiar with proper portion sizes to begin with. So, if I’m eating too much to begin with, then my body would most likely be used to those quantities of foods. I started tracking my food intake and realized I was eating way more than the recommended servings of… everything. I could eat a whole avocado, when I only needed 1/2; I would use way more than 2 tablespoons of oil to cook my food; I would snack on my food while cooking it, and still eat a “full” helping of that dish; I would eat while watching TV or playing on my phone and forget that I ate, I would go back for seconds because I didn’t remember thoroughly enjoying my food. This one bad habit had many faces, but it all stemmed from my own ignorance. A lot of the foods I would eat too much of are calorie dense, which only compounded the issue. I learned about proper portion control when I started logging my daily intake. When I saw how many nutrients the food I was eating gave me, it really put into perspective how much I was over eating. I would also binge out of habit and comfort.
I have recently turned my eating habits around after gathering information from reading books and articles, and watching professionals in the field on YouTube. These worked for me. I started with increasing my water intake. When I’m hungry and under stimulated, I’m probably thirsty. Water also makes me feel “full.” I have started drinking water before and after meals to prevent additional eating. I don’t need more food when the meal I just ate had enough macros, micros and made me feel good. I recently traded in calorie-dense foods for nutrient-dense ones. I’ll have spinach instead of lettuce, I’ll make my own burrito bowl instead of buying a pre-made or frozen one. I also try to make half of my plate veggies. A good habit that I’ve also started to practice is making only enough food for one portion. If there is only one serving available, I won’t be able to grab seconds. If there is any food left over, I will put it in Tupperware before I start eating. If I am still absolutely hungry after eating and drinking some water, I will find a high-fiber and/or water snack (apple, banana, something with oats, celery and peanut butter, popcorn, etc.) I will either meal or ingredient prep to prevent supersized portions. I’m also getting into the habit of planning out my meals and snacks ahead of time, so I don’t stray away from the good stuff.

2. Not Exercising Enough.
I a.) underestimate how much exercise I really need (“If weight loss is 80% food, I don’t need to work out that often.” No. Wrong. Fake news.) and b.) overestimate how much work is being put in. Based on my stats, I should be active for 3 hours per week, and have at least two sessions of strength-building activities. In reality, I’m only active for 1.5 hours per week, which is my weekly gym session.
I have been working on these bad habits by trying to get in some power yoga in addition to my weekly gym session. I have also signed up to participate in my first cycle class. My goal is attending two cardio classes per week, and two sessions of strength training per week. It will be easier for me to come in half an hour before the cardio class to do my strength sessions than to go to the gym 4 times a week. When it gets warmer, I will be taking my dog out for a daily walk. I will also start incorporating at-home workouts in my new routine.

3. Focusing on the goals from the wrong angle.
My main goal is to lose weight. It used to be my only one. I used to think that losing the weight would solve all of my problems. My health would instantly be better! Little did I know, I also needed to take care of myself in the process. I started out with meal prepping bland lunches and would get sick of them by the second day. I would follow YouTube workouts that made me so sore, I ended up falling off the wagon after a day of rest.
For my body to be able to do what I need it to, I had to nurture it. All other bodily processes will fall into line. I switched my goal from weight loss to health gain. I tend to think of food as fuel, not entertainment; exercise as medicine, not a punishment; rest as necessary, not as “laziness”. I base my goals on health by finding healthy habits I enjoy. I will seek out physical activities I like (yoga, walking, lifting, stair climbing, running), and healthy meals that taste good. I have started to use recipes that require foods I like, not something I bought because it was stamped with the superfood/weight loss seal of approval.

I also focus more on health related goals:

❤ How are my bowel movements changing as I eat better? ❤

❤ How am I sleeping when I don’t binge before bed? ❤

❤ How amazing do I feel after cardio? ❤

❤ This shirt fits better! ❤

❤ I can do 5 pushups consecutively! ❤

These behavioral changes may not work for everyone. These are changes I have made and am in the process of making to reach my health goals. I did not implement them all overnight, I have collected the good habits over the last two months.

Let me know what you think of these changes! Don’t be afraid to let me know if they are unclear, or veer off topic; I’m new to writing!


Do you have any bad habits you indulge in? What are some ways you can break those bad habits?