I love a good challenge. Seriously, the competitive side of me comes out and I want to win anything. Who can jump the highest – I’m lacing up my shoes. Who makes the best omelet – I’ll crack the eggs. Who has the worst breath….seriously, I even want to win that.
* Caveat Before You Read On…..My goals are different from some other Strongman competitor goals. I want to lift a lot and still maintain a certain body weight. Other people have different goals that are right for them. IF weight management is one of you goals, then the saying really is true — abs are made in the kitchen (and I really like abs.) 🙂
The challenge we’re talking about today is a bit different. My lifting group often comes up with “challenges” to help us keep our eating on track (and to keep it fun.) So, since we’re all carrying a few extra holiday pounds (I think I’m carrying three pounds of Christmas cookies alone….) we decided to do a little calorie challenge.
All of us set up an account on Loseit (it’s an awesome calorie counting app that tracks activity and calories.) We set our weight goal and it gives you an allotted amount of net calories to eat each week to reach your goal. Our challenge: keep your weekly calorie total at/under your allotted calories for the week. This is NET calories, not GROSS (meaning if I eat 1,500 calories but exercise off 300 calories, my net is only 1,200.) The reason this challenge is so awesome is it is a WEEKLY total, not daily. So, you can be over your calorie allotment for the day, as long as you offset it by being under another day.
We all tossed $50 in a pot. Anyone that goes over their calories for the week loses their money. Winner(s) split the pot. The challenge runs for five weeks. I strategically stopped the challenge the week of my next Strongman Competition (Strongest Southern Belle) because after a competition, I just want to crush a burger, fries and beer, or two, or three… After all, if you don’t deserve a burger after you deadlift a car, when do you deserve one?
All of my friends attack this challenge a little differently. I have one friend that is super tight on her calories Monday – Friday. She eats almost the same things every day. She’s an oatmeal, omelet, salad kinda’ girl during the week. Then on Saturday mornings, she’s at the local greasy spoon crushing some bacon, toast and a pancake (yep, slathered in syrup.) But, since it’s a weekly total, her weekly calories are good and she’s still in the competition.
Another friend is Steady Eddie. She’s going to be slightly under her calories every day. She eats a lot of varied foods each day – mixing up her breakfasts, lunches and dinners. She never has a crazy day of eating, but instead keeps it steady every day.
Now for me – I’m all over the board. Some days I’m WAY under my calories and others I’m WAY over my calories. It really depends on my workout schedule, travel schedule (I’m on the road for work a lot) and how many goldfish and leftover grilled cheese crusts I eat off my daughter’s plate. But I’m always under my weekly calories and still in the competition.
There are so many things I love about this challenge:
- This gives you built in accountability partners – Everyone can see how many calories I ate that day. So, it makes you aware of what you’re eating. Also, if my friends are close to their calorie limit, they’ll text to see if I want to take a walk or go for a jog. Also, I get texts like, “I just opened a jar of Nutella. Meet me at the treadmill” or “I was going to go for a run but don’t want to” —- to which my response was, no joke, “Go run anyway, girl.” My friends truly are awesome.
- It makes you aware of what you’re eating – Everyone eats more than they think they do. If you’re not counting calories, I guarantee you’re eating more than you estimate. I log every single Cheerio and left over chicken fingers that I eat off my daughter’s plate. Most people don’t think about the handful of chocolate chips or few fries out of your son’s Happy Meal, but it all adds up. Be honest with yourself on what you eat. It’s hard at first. But seeing what you eat helps you make smarter decisions on food you eat.
- Weekly Totals – This allows you to go out to drinks with friends, eat out at a restaurant or have a piece of birthday cake, as long as you think about it in the context of your weekly totals.
- Net Calories – On days where I get a lot of exercise (i.e. a spinning class and a hard weight lifting session) I can burn over 1,000 calories for the day. So, I can eat 2,000 calories for the day and still be under my allotted NET calories for the week.
So much of weight loss is finding what works for you. Loseit and calorie counting may not work for you. Heck, losing body weight may not even be your goal. But, I can tell you that over years of monitoring my weight, trying different weight loss/eating techniques, counting calories works for me.
Grab a group of friends and find a challenge that helps you work towards a goal. You’ll have fun and (most likely) make progress.
Have fun, lift big and eat well!