For the past 10 weeks I have been participating in an online fitness challenge run through Oxygen Magazine, #Oxychallenge, with Kaisa Keranen as my "coach". The challenge ends next week, so I've been tightening up my diet in hopes of being selected as one of the top 20 transformations. So far I have lost 3 lbs which may not sound like much, but when you're going from 12% body fat to 10%, I promise that does take a lot of work and sacrifice.
|June 26th vs August 26th|
|June 26th vs August 26th|
When I'm not cutting, my calories usually range between 2,300 - 2,600, comprising of 50% carbs, 30% fats, and 20% protein. Those are guesstimates only, as I don't count calories or macros usually.... only numbers of servings (another blog post on that someday). Through years of trial and monitoring, I have learned that I'm a Mixed Metabolic Type, meaning I do best with a mid-range distribution of all the macronutrients. When I'm trying to lose fat I increase my protein and drop the carbs, though still trying to stay in that mid-range, mind you. If you don't already know what kind of macronutrient profile works best for you, I would suggest tracking your food for a few weeks, making note of how you feel a couple hours after every meal, and day-to-day. Consider things like your digestion, energy level, mood, bowel movements, mental clarity, libido, exercise recovery, appetite, cravings, weight, etc. You can also take a metabolic typing quiz to help guide you at the onset.
I need to mention now that I am still breastfeeding several times per day. I have always waited until my babies are six months old and eating some solids before doing any kind of caloric manipulation because I figure if my milk supply does take a momentary dip, I can compensate with a bit more food. It's just what I'm comfortable with. Although I have never been a high milk producer, I have also never had any problems with milk production while I'm dieting. I breastfeed on-demand, which I believe helps keep my supply up (when baby is hungry, she drinks. And the more baby drinks, the more Mommy makes), and I cut my calories gradually. So my very first step before cutting any calories is always to simply clean up my nutrition; not eating as much junk, reducing condiments, drinking more water, and getting into the habit of cooking more often. Kaisa's meal plan for this challenge worked perfectly here, as she's big on eating whole foods and incorporating fruits and vegetables in every meal. Cleaning up the diet inevitably reduces my calories slightly, and I would say when I'm eating freely but eating clean my calories are closer to 2,100 - 2,300. Again, just a guess as I'm still not counting at that point. When my body stops responding to that, then it's time to start eliminating calories, tracking and playing with macros. This is where I pull out the MFP app. Because I've been eating well for a couple months at this point, my actual food doesn't change much - just the quantities. It's amazing how simply measuring and tracking your food makes you eat less! I stick to a modest 500 calories per day, bringing me down to 1,800 calories per day and doing some carb cycling, which means I alternate between eating high carbs, low carbs, and moderate carbs.
High carb days: 60/20/20
Moderate carb days: 40/30/30
Low carb days: 20/45/35
My next step after another plateau would/will be to increase cardio and play with my macros a little bit more, maybe decreasing carbs on low-moderate days, or only doing one high carb day per week. I'd rather play with those elements than reduce calories further so I have the energy for breastfeeding! If that doesn't get me to my goal, I'll drop another 200 calories and see what that does. Not sure I'm willing to eat less than 1,600 calories, lol. I have a great goal, but at this point there's not enough on the line for me to make those kinds of sacrifices. I need to also add that I'm not super duper anal about counting every single gram of every food item that passes my lips. The way I see it is this: every day looks different for me. I'm more active on some days, and less on others. Some days I need more than 1,800 calories and some days I need less. Some days my baby eats a lot of milk, other days she eats less. Some days my kids eat half my lunch, so then I pick at theirs. Why should I be so fixated on a number when my body is so variable? If I were doing a figure competition where it was crucial for me to be ripped, then yes, I would get very serious with it. But again, at this point there's just not enough on the line for me to drive myself crazy with those kinds of details.
So I hope that gives some insight into my approach, or "strategy". If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me! And please wish me luck on the final few weeks of my fitness challenge :D
Yours in health, Tess