10 Simple Calorie Cuts You Can Make Now to Make A Big Impact

Losing weight is hard. Unfortunately, we often make it harder than it needs to be. We read about the latest diet trend and flip our whole lifestyle upside down.

Sure, this may work for some – but let’s be honest, it doesn’t work for many.

Going from a standard American diet to the latest green smoothie, gluten free, dairy free trend is like trying to go from 0 to 100 in your grandmas Oldsmobile. It’s going to be a struggle, and that much change at once is hard to stick with.

To lose body fat, you need to be eating fewer calories than you burn – and here are 10 simple swaps you can make to save you calories over the course of the day. If you currently eat these foods, you don’t need to stop, just make these small adjustments and you will be golden.

1 – Bread – are you a sandwich person? There is nothing inherently bad about sandwiches, they really get a bad rep. Look at your bread. How many calories per slice? How many grams of carbs and fiber per slice? I really like to keep it in the 15 carbs per slice and 2+ grams of fiber per slice range. 50 calories.

2 – Milk – if you can handle milk, lucky you. Switching from 2% to skim, or even from whole to 2% can shave off some calories over the course of a day. 40 calories.

3- Soda – yes, in a perfect world we would all drink water. But even by switching from regular to diet, you can REALLY cut off some calories especially if you are a big soda drinker. And no, you don’t need to worry about the artificial sweeteners unless you are drinking over 23 cans per day…then we should talk. 150+ calories.

4 – Cheese – do you REALLY taste the cheese on your sandwich or burger? If not, cut it out. That alone can save you 80-120 calories.

5 – Breading – breaded chicken or fish may taste great, but between the breading and the grease that is trapped in the breading, there can be a whole lot of calories that can be cut. Go with baked or broiled and you will still get all the protein and none of the grease. 200 calories.

6 – Mixers – just like the soda, switching from regular soda or tonic water in cocktails to water or club soda (different than tonic) will cut out unnecessary calories from your drinks. Or just relive your glory days and rip some shots (kidding, sort of) 150+ calories

7 – Lean meats – switching from 80/20 beef to 93/7 or leaner is a big calorie saver. And be aware of ground turkey. Just because it is turkey, it can still be 80/20 – so leaner red meats are still fewer calories. One of my favorites is using 99% lean ground chicken for tacos – because once all the seasonings and other stuff is added, you can’t tell the difference. 200 calories.

8 – Eggs – if you are big egg eater, try switching out even one egg per day for some whites. You can still get all the protein but cut calories from the yolk (fat). Yolks are not as bad as once thought, but even cutting back from 3 to 2 eggs will shave off 80 cals.

9 – Carb swap – if 1/3 or 1/2 of your plate is usually carbs (rice, pasta, potato) – try dropping it to 1/4th of your plate and fill the void with more veggies. This will make sure that you are still getting enough volume in your meal, without as many calories. 150 calories

10 – Coffee dessert drinks – switching a latte for a cafe Americano will save you 200 calories. If you still need creamer at home, I suggest Walden Farm’s creamers. They are zero cals and still taste awesome. 200+ calories

There you have it! 1340 calories of savings – without much of a change!

10 swaps you can make right now, without completely revamping your diet.

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3 Reasons You Aren’t Losing Fat

1)You’re eating too much

2)You’re eating too much

3)You’re eating too much

…really.

In all seriousness, this is the cause of weight gain. Too many calories in over time, with the body not able to expend them, leads to fat gain. Notice that I say “losing fat” vs. “losing weight”.

Weight loss is dumb. Weight loss is frustrating, confusing, and random. Unfortunately, so many people only focus on weight loss, instead of really focussing on fat loss.

If you lose weight, here’s what could be lost:

  • Water
  • Muscle
  • Poop
  • Urine
  • A limb

If you lose body fat, here is what could be lost:

  • Bodyfat

The goal should never be to lose water weight, lose muscle, or most definitely not a limb. So how can you determine if you are losing fat?

Many options, but my favorites include:

  • Belly button measurement – if it goes down or up, this MAY be from water retention, but over the long term, it is a good basic measurement of body fatness.
  • Skinfold measurements – make sure you get them down by someone who actually knows what they are doing. Still plenty of room for error.
  • DEXA Scan – the gold standard of body fat analysis, but it will cost you $75-$100.
  • The clothes test – do your clothes fit better? Down a size?
  • The naked mirror test – how do you look to yourself?

Back to the topic of this post, you need to focus on the “why”, not the what.

Just stepping on the scale or measuring your waist makes you aware of body fat, but it doesn’t change anything. This is the desired result, not the desired process.

The 3 areas that I see most people underestimating their intakes on are:

You Drink Too Many Calories

Alcohol, soda, milk, juice, creamers, all add up to your total caloric intake. Some are obviously better options than others. If you can stick to zero-calorie drinks as much as possible – water being ideal – this will make the process so much easier.

https://www.bodysculptorsaustralia.com/diet-sabotage---dont-drinking-your-calories.html

https://www.bodysculptorsaustralia.com/diet-sabotage—dont-drinking-your-calories.html

Alcohol especially is a double whammy on the fat loss goal. When you drink, your body diverts energy to break down the alcohol – because it is toxic. Where does it divert this energy from? Your fatty acid oxidation and muscle protein synthesis pathways. When alcohol enters your body, your fat burning system slows down, AND your muscle building/repair system also slows down.

5 beers might “only” be 600 calories – but the caloric toll it takes on the body is likely closer to 1000+ because of the slowing of your other metabolic processes.

Not saying you can never drink – but I recommend a self-audit on your intake, and if you are over 3-4 drinks per week, this might be an area to address.

You Snack Too Much

A nibble here, a bite there…it all counts.

If you try to stick to 3 square meals a day with nothing in between, could you do it? This strategy has worked for many of my clients based on the pure fact that they are chronic snackers.

At the moment little bites of things don’t seem like much. But look at how it can add up – and even with “good” foods.

 

500 calories, mostly from carb and fat. This might be an okay meal (little skimpy on protein if you ask me), but these are things that most people might have here or there during a day, and even if they track their food, they forget about. These aren’t massive portions either.

Awareness is key, and sometimes cutting back on areas that you know you struggle with is what it takes.

You Are Too Impatient

Lastly – the big one. Your body is always going through changes. As stated earlier, water weight can fluctuate like crazy, and this can drive people nuts. This is why it is very important to focus on the long game, watch your progress from week to week, month to month – instead of day to day.

Observe this 2-month stretch. Between the lines is 10 pounds.

You can see the day to day ups and downs. But the overall trend is money. It’s easy to get discouraged after a few days of hard work and nothing to be seen on the scale. This is where most people say screw it and give up. You have to get past this point. This is also why DAILY weighing can be so powerful and helpful.

Can you imagine if the weight was only measured on a weekly basis? That is where all the highest peaks are! (This person always weighed the most on Mondays…as is typical 🙂 This would be tremendously frustrating and psychologically disastrous to most people.

With daily weighing, you can see the trend over the long haul, and with the right mindset approach – this can make a huge difference.

Before you toss out your scale and down a dozen doughnuts in anger, remember – you are likely eating too much over THE LONGER period of time, not day to day – and this is okay, but if you want to make change, you gotta take some action, and it starts with taking a good honest look at yourself.

 

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Never Strength Trained Before? No Problem.

Strength training is growing in popularity among average Joe’s and Jane’s, which is friggin awesome! I write about its importance all the time, and how it is literally the fountain of youth (when done correctly).

One of my client’s grandsons just signed up for a gym membership because he enjoyed training this summer. How cool is that? However, I want to make sure that even he has a credible resource that he can go to for training because there is a ton of fluff out there!

If you have absolutely no experience, are afraid, need a refresher or have zero clue where to start and what to do – this is for you.  I will try and lay it out in the post, step by step, as clear as possible. If you have any questions feel free to post or email me – mike@mgfitlife.com.

1) Focus on all the fundamental movements – push, pull, squat and hip hinge.

What the heck are these?

PUSH – think push up, or pushing AWAY from your body, like a chest press. Can’t do a push up? Try hands elevated pushups. Any pressing machine or dumbbells will work as well.

PULL – pulling weight towards you. Start with a form of horizontal pull like a dumbbell row, a body weight row, or cable row.

SQUAT – pretty much exactly how it sounds. The squat is more of a knee dominant exercise and it tends to work the quads, or front of the legs more than the hamstrings, or backs of the legs.

Start with just body weight, then add weight once you can sit down to the point where your thighs are parallel with the floor.

HINGE – this is also a lower body exercise but focuses on hinging from the hips – and works more of the backs of the legs – hamstrings and glutes (butt).

Start with a slight bend in the knees, but then push your hips back keeping your spine straight. Go to the point of feeling a stretch in the backs of your thighs then return to the top.

If using weights, keep them close to your legs, and shoulders back and tight.

If you know you have lower back issues, do not feel ready for this movement, or don’t think your form is on point, you can also use the floor glute bridge as an option.

 

So these are the 4 basic movement patterns that will cover most muscles of the body, now what do we do with them?

Start with ONE workout, because one is infinitely more than zero.

First – warm up. This can be as simple as a 5-10 minute brisk walk followed by 20 forward and 20 backward arm circles to warm up your shoulders.

Do 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions (reps) of the first exercise before moving to the next. Give yourself about 1 minute rest in between sets.

What weight should I use??? Use a weight that allows you to get all 8-10 reps, but it somewhat challenging by the final rep. If you know you have some natural strength, you may have to start with some ramp up sets. This means you wouldnt jump to a max effort set on set one, but rather build up to it. Say your working weight is 100 pounds.

You might start with 1×10 @ 50 (ramp 1), then 1×10 @75 (ramp 2), then 3×10 @ 100

You still shouldn’t go to failure on your working sets, and you shouldn’t force sloppy reps.

I often use the cue – leave a few reps in the tank. Meaning, if you absolutely HAD to do 12 or 13 reps you could.

How does this look?

Example:

  • 10 push ups or dumbbell presses – rest for 1 minute
  • 10 push ups or dumbbell presses – rest for 1 minute
  • 10 push ups or dumbbell presses – rest for 1 minute
  • 10 rows – rest for 1 minute
  • 10 rows – rest for 1 minute
  • 10 rows – rest for 1 minute
  • 10 squats – rest for 1 minute
  • 10 squats – rest for 1 minute
  • 10 squats – rest for 1 minute
  • 10 hinges – rest for 1 minute
  • 10 hinges – rest for 1 minute
  • 10 hinges – rest for 1 minute

That’s it!

See how you feel 2 days later, and if you feel up to it, repeat the same exact workout once or twice in the week,

Then what?

The most simple way to progress is to add reps until you get to about 20. Then go back to 10 reps and add weight. This will cover you for a decent amount of weeks and if you are truly new to lifting weights you will be good to go.

Example:

  • Week 1 – 10 chest presses with 10 pounds
  • Week 2 – 12 chest presses with 10 pounds
  • Week 3 – 15 chest presses with 10 pounds
  • Week 4 – 18 chest presses with 10 pounds
  • Week 5 – 20 chest presses with 10 pounds
  • Week 6 – 10 chest presses with 12 pounds
  • Week 7 – 12 chest presses with 12 pounds
  • And so on and so on…

That is literally the most basic form of weight training you can do, and if you are totally new to it this will be a great place to start!

Don’t try to get ahead of yourself and add weight every workout. It takes time for muscles to grow, and slow and steady is always the way to go!

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Reach Your Goals Faster By Adding THIS to Your Plan

“I’m going to get healthy”

“I’m going to save more money for ____”

“I’m going to spend more time with my family”

All reasonable goals that people might say. However, what is the one common trend among them? They are all about “I”. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do things for yourself, and go at it like a lone wolf, the power that other people can have to help accelerate your progress can be tremendous.

Three Ways to Use Others to Accelerate Your Progress

Use sounds so harsh, but know that this is not in a bad way like manipulating or taking advantage of, but rather using the power of others to progress quicker, stick to plans, and boost results.

1 – Make a Promise

Studies have shown that when you make a promise to someone, you are more likely to do it. If you make a promise to a group of people, you are even more likely to do it. If you make a promise to a large audience – like your social media circle, a crowd of people, etc. you are even MORE likely to follow through (tell that to the politicians though… 🙂

It is our human nature to not want to let other people down, and not disappoint social expectations.

When it comes to these promises, make sure that they are centered around your process goals (actions to reach the goal), and not your result goals (actual goal).

If your goal is to lose 10 pounds by Jan 1, write out the things that you need to do to reach this goal, then choose 1 or 2 to focus on, and make that promise to someone, or a bunch of people. Write it out, make a contract, etc. The more “intense” you make it the better.

2 – Band Together with a Tribe

We want to fit in. We want to be accepted. Again – it’s human nature – actually it’s nature. Even animals show interesting traits of wanting to fit in when they are in groups.

You are much more likely to achieve your goals if you spend time with like minded people. Saving money for a house? Maybe you shouldn’t be trying to keep up with your friends who want to party every weekend and don’t have the same goal as you. I’m not saying you need to abandon your friends, but pick and choose when you hang out with them based on the influence that it might have on your ultimate goal.

Joining a group that has the same interest or goal as you makes it easier to continue to do those things because it’s seen as the norm when you are with that group. It’s what these people do, so I should to it to! Peer pressure isn’t always a negative.

Even more powerful is joining a group with the same goal as you that also has a current shared interest/commonality.

Mom’s Reading Book Club – Goal: To Read More, Commonality: Mom’s

Ladies Lifting Group – Goal: Lift weights and get jacked, Commonality: Ladies Only

Young Entrepreneurs Networking Group – Goal: Increase Network, Commonality: Young Entrepreneurs

You get the idea. Find a tribe or group, and hang with them more – and the challenging actions from outside of the group will magically become the social norm for you.

When you constantly hang out with people who don’t align with your goals, you are much less likely to achieve them. Sure, willpower can work for some time, but eventually you hanging out with the group of friends that wants to crush beers, pig out, and sleep in until 11 AM will pull your further and further from your goal of losing fat.

3 – Use a Friend to Increase Your “Risk”

Give a friend $500 and tell them that for every day you go to the gym with them, they have to give you $5 back. Every time you back out, they get to keep $5.

Seems outrageous, but it’s actually more likely to get you to the gym frequently. This gives you 100 money making opportunities to get to the gym. That is a pretty damn good goal, wouldn’t you say?

Even one step further – tell them that every time you back out, they get to donate your $5 to the political party that you DON’T align with. Classic reward/punishment system here.

Whatever you choose to do, the more you put on the line as far as potential rewards or punishments, you are more likely to have that extra kick in the pants when it comes time to do your action.

The key here is involving someone else. When you make promises and set up reward systems for yourself, you are more likely to make excuses, and justify half assed promises. It can really be anything – someone will pay for dinner, will buy tickets to _____, will take you ____, – anything that gives you that extra kick to push towards your goal.

Even if you are more of a lone wolf, finding one person to align with, make a promise to, or setup a reward system with will increase your odds at winning. Link ALL 3 techniques together, and I think you would be pretty much unstoppable!

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Eating While on the Road

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I got so much feedback on this one that I figured I would post it here as well, but this is rare, and might never happen again 🙂

If you travel a lot for work or find yourself in the car a large portion of the day, it can seem like the food choices are stacked against you if you are trying to maintain some sort of healthy diet, or even tougher if you are trying to actually lose some weight.

Truth is, it is “harder” but not impossible – and it is actually rather simple if you follow these simple rules.

Rule #1: Are you actually hungry? 

If you just ate breakfast or lunch, you shouldn’t be hungry. Driving long days in the car can be stressful, boring and tiring. However, using food to cope with these three emotions is never a good idea, especially when you are stuck in a small confined space of a vehicle.

If you find yourself mindlessly stress snacking in the car, the first thing to address is the question of “how did this snack food get in here in the first place?” – you. It all starts with you. If you know you are prone to this, don’t buy that stuff. You are only exposing yourself to an opportunity to mindlessly eat.

It’s like a recovering alcoholic popping in the liquor store to buy a water…not the best idea.

Rule #2 – Protein First

I like the rule of “20 grams or bust” – anything I eat in the car, when I am actually hungry, has to contain 20 grams of protein or more per serving. This will help keep you full, minimize the possibility that it is a junk food, and should hold you over until you reach your destination.

It doesn’t have to be all from one food, or even at one time either, but keeping it to 20 or more grams of protein is key.

Some examples might be:

  • Quest Protein Bar
  • Fairlife (Core Power) High Protein Milkshake
  • Jack Links Tender Bites
  • Hard-boiled eggs

These are all things that you can buy at most well stocked, larger gas stations.

Just like avoiding the snacky, mindless food takes the preparation of not buying them, making sure you are stocked up on quality protein foods also takes preparation.

Rule #3 – If Eating Fast Food…

Let’s be real. You’re going to stop for fast food at some point. While it may not be ideal, it is still possible to do some form of damage control. Applying the protein rule again – this should be your first focus. Luckily, most fast food places have the calories listed on their menus now, so you should be able to figure out what the better choices are.

Stick to these basics and you should be covered:

  • Don’t drink your calories – water, or diet soda ALWAYS
  • Non-breaded chicken is the leanest option
  • Minimize the extra fat – cheese, bacon, mayo, all can be skipped
  • You might be better off getting 2 sandwiches than 1 sandwich and fries…
  • 6″ subs with double meat are always a good choice
  • You don’t need dessert with your fatty lunch…ever.
  • It is already high in calories, so no, you don’t want to supersize it.

While it may not be the most convenient, eating on the road and sticking to your goals is possible. Like accomplishing anything else, it takes a little planning, and little prep, and a little bit of willpower.

In the end, it comes down to keeping your target goal in mind, and reminding yourself what this is all worth, and where you are trying to get to in your health journey.

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Stay healthy my friends,