Weight Loss FAQs
Disclaimer ** I am not a dietitian or nutritionist and am speaking from my own personal experiences **
BACKGROUND ON MARYKATE:
If you’ve read my story by now you know weight has been a struggle for me my whole life. I’ve said it before but I was never the naturally small or a skinny girl. Growing up I was chubbier and I can remember always wanting to find a way to lose weight, but I just didn’t know how. Honestly, looking back I tried everything. I would see girls who were fit doing Pilates, Jillian Michaels, hot yoga, running, etc. so I would try it for some time then give up. It wasn’t until I focused on my eating that I saw true changes in my body.
The first time I lost weight I was around 14-15 years old going into high school. I started a meal plan that was basically egg whites, fruit, vegetables, rice, potatoes, and any form of protein. The weight drastically fell off! I lost 45 lbs in about 3 month’s time. Not only did my diet completely change, but I was also still growing and practicing volleyball/basketball about 5-6x a week! To be honest the changes were insane. It was at this point that I became more comfortable in my own skin, more confident, and really happy with myself. Over time though, the weight loss became unrealistic to maintain. I got to a point where my cravings were out of control and I developed a very YOYO relationship with food. I was eating “too clean” where it would cause me to binge and then feel terrible after. I would have so much guilt and “start again on Monday.” It happened once but then before I knew it, it was happening all the time for years and into college.
In college my mind set was very eat clean M-F and “eat whatever I wanted on the weekends.” Little did I know that this was only causing me to have a worse relationship with food and creating the unhealthiest habits! Why work so hard during the week to only throw it away on the weekends? Looking back, it makes no sense to me. Don’t get me wrong I am for balance, but that’s just not a way to live. You should be able to go out to dinner during the week or have ice cream if you want on a Wednesday – why does it have to be Friday or Sunday to do it? Exactly.
After college, I kept up the same mindset until I started Kayla Itsines BBG in 2016. I started her guide on a whim and honestly got addicted. The workouts were so hard for me and brought me back to my glory days of training for D1 volleyball! For once, I felt like I had something to look forward to! I was training so hard that I started eating healthier because I didn’t want to my training to go to waste. I started researching more and more online about nutrition and decided that I would start using Myfitnesspal as a tool to understand my nutrition. To me, it was SO cool to see what I was eating because before I would just cut out all foods when I wanted to lose weight, but this time around I was actually able to analyze what was working.
At first, I didn’t pay attention to the calories/macros etc at all. I just wanted to be aware of what I was consuming. I felt like the best thing for me was to shop the perimeter of the grocery store and have my diet consist of protein, fruits, veggies, healthy carbs/grains, lean fats, protein powders, bars, etc. FIND MY GROCERY LIST HERE!
I started making fun meals without thinking of what I was eating and combined with Kayla’s killer workouts I yet again lost about 30+lbs. Of course, it’s not like I snapped my fingers and this happened. It took time, practice, discipline, failures, and learning to get to this point. My whole goal though was to overhaul my habits and with that I completely changed my life. I no longer hated the gym, lived to “eat” on the weekends, or even was desperate for sweets. For the first time I wasn’t STRICT, but AWARE!
I learned that if I fueled my body properly, sweat 4-6 days a week, and overall took care of myself that amazing things can happen. My point is, this has been A JOURNEY! I have been all across the board to “too skinny,” underweight, to “the fat girl,” who was desperately waiting for her next meal. The girl who felt disgusting in a bikini to the girl who never thought she’d wear just a bra to the gym. I know how you feel and I’m here to tell you, you can change without SUFFERING! It will be a challenge at first, because change is UNCOMFORTABLE, but you are more than capable of overhauling your life with mind, body, and soul!
Today I am here to answer all your questions regarding my journey, especially surrounding my weight loss. I’ve compiled a list of questions I received from Instagram, so I’ll be answering them below!
Q: Do you count macros?
A: Yes, I am currently counting macros, which means I break down my calories into 3 different buckets; protein, carbs, and fat. I personally do high carb and low fat because it’s what personally works best for me and my energy levels, but also because I love carbs! Additionally, I always keep my protein the same as my weight. Specifically, I weigh 145lbs so I eat 145 grams. I’ve found that is crucial for me to maintain my muscle mass.
Currently I am aiming to lose fat so my intake is roughly 1750 calories – 145g P, 170g C, 47F … keep in mind this is specific to my goals, height, weight, activity level and changes with my goals. I usually eat around 2,000-2,200 calories to maintain. Click here to listen in about Macros an Myfitnesspal
Q: When you had the biggest fat loss change did you feel uncomfortable or hungry?
A: During my most recent weight loss it was the first time I didn’t drastically cut calories so I was not hungry. I decreased my calories about 350 calories from 2,000. Of course, the first week or so I was hungrier because my body wasn’t used to eating less, but after about 7-10 days it adapted to the decrease, so I was never starving like before when I would eat 1,200 calories ughhh WOOF! I consistently kept my intake around 1750 for 12 weeks while I completed a workout plan and saw amazing results, but this time I was able to actually sustain my weight loss because I did it properly and gave it time. TIME AND CONSISTENCY ARE EVERYTHING!
Q: How do you beat cravings?
A: To be honest, when I was depriving my CRAVINGS WE’RE OUT OF CONTROL!!! I would go to bed with a list in mind of everything I wanted to eat. I craved it all; ice cream, pizza, chips, frappucinos, you name it I wanted it. Since drastically changing my eating habits I really can say I don’t have cravings, please don’t hate me! Are there days I am a bottomless pit? Yes, but I found my fueling my body every 2-3 hours my cravings really stay in line, plus I don’t cut out any foods so nothing really is off limit. Here are some “sanity items” that keep me on track
- Dark chocolate – favorite brands are Enjoy Life, Hu, Ghirdadelli 90% cacao, Lily’s
- Lesser Evil popcorn – I love the Himalayan sea salt and the sweet one
- Fruit – I LOVE fresh fruit … ugh it’s just so good!
- HaloTop/Tj’s ice cream – so good
- Nice cream – I blend frozen bananas up with almond milk and protein powder
- Apples with almond butter
- Fage Greek yogurt with hemp granola and berries
Once you stop depriving, I promise the cravings significantly decrease!
Q: Does it really matter what macros are eaten at different times of the day?
A: In regards to losing weight at the end of the day you need to be in a deficit regardless of how you do it. Yes, there’s research and science between meal timing, but to lose weight I obliged by the rule “the caloric deficit is key.” You can eat 5 doughnuts and if you’re in a caloric deficit you will lose weight. Of course, I think people should get their food from more nutritional sources, but at the end of the day a deficit is the way to lose weight. That’s why there are so many methods like “macros, keto, weight watchers, low carb, whole 30” because there is not one way, but all those forms have one common thing a CALORIE DEFICIT. For instance, the other day I met a girl and she goes “I lost 15lbs doing KETO!!!” and in the nicest way possible I wanted to respond “so you mean a calorie deficit?!?” The thing is you have to eat in way that WORKS FOR YOU, FOR YOUR SCHEDULE, THAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD, and is SUSTAINABLE long term! Lastly, I do not time my meals, but I aim to eat 30g of protein within 30-60 minutes of waking up and post work out!
Q: Is there a way to lose weight without calorie tracking
A: Similar to above, in order to lose weight you must be in a calorie deficit. In order to be in a calorie deficit, you must have knowledge of your baseline or your BMR, basically how many calories do you need to do basic daily functions. Without knowing this there is no way to calculate a deficit and in order to lose remember that is key!!! You’re probably wondering “well how do I calculate my BMR???”
BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years)
Next you would have to look at your TDEE, or total daily expenditure, or how many calories you burn in a day. I use the following formula:
TDEE = BMR x ACTIVITY LEVEL
Sedentary – little to no exercise TDEE = BMR x 1.2
Lightly Active - TDEE = BMR x 1.375
Moderately Active – exercise 3-5x/week - TDEE = BMR x 1.55
Very Active – exercise 6-7x/week - TDEE = BMR x 1.725 – 1.9
Once you know both of these it the general recommendation I’ve found and used is 250-500 calories less than your TDEE in order to create a deficit.
MY BMR is around 1,650 and my TDEE is around 2,200 so to be in a deficit it would be around 1,750 calories. I have more about calculating your numbers HERE!
Q: What do you eat in a day?
A: Although my days fluctuate aka eating on the go vs having the ability to eat at home I pretty much eat similar meals, just because I’m a creature of habit, but here’s a good example:
Something to note:
- I eat every 2-3 hours
- I always ask myself “am I getting my protein?”
- When in doubt fill your plate with a protein, carb, and fat
Breakfast – Protein shake using Garden of Life Sport, Vega Sport, or PE Science Snickerdoodle protein powder with a banana, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Snack 1 – Fage 0% Greek yogurt with 1TBS of TJ’s unsalted almond butter and berries
Lunch – usually a protein bowl of some sort aka chicken and all the veggies with fruit
Snack 2 – Protein bar usually Quest, Thinkthin, or Soleil
Dinner – Cauliflower Stir Fry with all the veggies and chicken, ground turkey, or shrimp or some sort of protein with lots of veggies
Snack 3 – 9/10 times it’s Lesser Evil popcorn and 1 serving of dark chocolate or strawberries
Q: When do you calorie track vs. intuitive eating and how did you not get obsessed?
A: A lot of people interpret calorie tracking or macros as obsessive because you are logging and sometimes even weighing your food. To me, I’m a big fan of data and if you want to see results you need data in order to develop a strategy and see results. I am all for fueling your body in a way that is healthy, sustainable, and effective. When people have goals, I think it is important to have data so that’s why tracking is key in the beginning. Since I’ve been using Myfitnesspal for so long I honestly don’t really need to track my food anymore and can intuitively eat, because I am so aware of what’s in specific foods where if I never tracked I would never know! You would be surprised how many times you think you are eating something “healthy, or lower calorie” and it turns out to be equal to almost a whole meal! For instance, Perfect Bars. I eat them and started eating them because I saw them all over Instagram and assumed they are healthy, which from an ingredient stand point they are very natural, but from a caloric stand point they are almost a meal. Not only a meal, but also do not fill me up at all! I’m not knocking them because I eat them, but more so educating you on that you could eat a Perfect Bar OR you could eat a grilled chicken breast, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and probably a side of fruit, which sounds A LOT more filling to me! Also, if I wasn’t taking into account what is in a Perfect Bar I could easily be over my intake of 400+ calories! In short, if you want to lose weight I think tracking is a tool to be most successful because it allows you to analyze you’re intake, but overtime I think it instills habits that allow you to be flexible and intuitively eat because you will be more aware in general.
Q: What are your tips for creating healthy habits
A: Take a step back. Access where you can make change. Take action.
I know this sounds silly, but for years I was doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. I was eating clean M-F, bingeing on the weekends, only to repeat the cycle. I never once made a plan, tried a workout guide, or even stuck to a class. I never made change. I also didn’t realize there were so many things I could minorly change to SEE HUGE RESULTS! For example:
- Drink every weekend – do you have to? Or are you just doing it because that’s what people do?
- Workout on a Saturday or Sunday – I thought weekend workouts were for losers .. I always was too hungover or slept in but now I live for weekend workouts
- Do you need to order out the amount you do? When I worked downtown Chicago I was eating out ALL the time …. Could you cook more?
- Read labels – can you become more aware with what you’re eating
- Lose the restrictive attitude – could you eat with a more balanced approach instead of drastically cutting calories?
- Could you make a healthier choice? More times than none I didn’t realize I could make a better choice … I used to drink a vanilla latte every single day which is a whopping 320 calories vs. a misto I drink now which is about 100+
Q: What do you mean by “eating high volume?”
A: For years, as I explained I was a restrictor … I thought you couldn’t eat much to see results. Hence why I always YOYO’ed I was so fricken hungry! It wasn’t until I started eating “high volume” meals that I was actually satisfied. Here are some examples:
I think you get it. Basically, you can fill your plate with foods that keep you more satisfied but don’t eat up your calorie intake!
Q: What do you order out to eat at a restaurant and how do you track it?
A: When it comes to ordering out 9/10 times the restaurant is on Myfitnesspal or you can generically track to your best of your ability. Obviously, it won’t be 100% accurate, but were aiming for a lifestyle not perfection. I have a whole FREE guide on what I order linked here! For the purposes of this blog I usually order the following:
- A lean meat or fish with veggies and a carb aka rice, sweet potato
- Sushi I’ll do sashimi or rolls that are not fried
- I always ask the waitress for no butter or oil, or if they have to use oil I say light
Things I look out for:
- Is it fried? Is it breaded? Can I lose the bun? Is it loaded with sauce? Is it loaded with cheese? Can I get the dressing on the side? Can I get double veggies?
Q: Ugh protein is so hard how much do you eat and HOW?!
A: Girl you are correct protein is fricken hard!!! I eat my weight in protein aka 145lbs = 145 grams. How do I do this?
Q: How do you still go out and have fun without drinking? Do you drink?
A: Yes, I still drink, but I want you to understand my reasoning of why I drink A LOT LESS than I used to.
A few things to mention…. similar to food I had an all or nothing mentality with drinking. I was either dead sober or I getting blacked out. There really was no in between for me. Honestly, I’m not proud of it but that’s the truth. As a former Division I athlete I drank more in high school than I did while playing in college. With practice/games all the time drinking was the last thing on my mind. When I transferred schools, quit volleyball, and joined a sorority I felt like my drinking really picked up because that was what people did. Not to mention, once I quit volleyball I had a really hard time coping with the loss of my identity and I really turned to alcohol as an outlet to deal with my depression, which is where I created a negative relationship with it. Post grad, I always went to happy hours and weekend day drinking was my MO, it’s just what I did. It wasn’t until I moved away to Scottsdale and took a job that basically required me to be on 24 hour call that I started to drink less. Weekend after weekend I discovered HOW MUCH BETTER I FELT drinking less. I wasn’t waking up hungover, I wasn’t dreading the week ahead, I wasn’t embarrassed of dumb shit I might have said or did, and I realized how LESS ANXIOUS AND DEPRESSED I WAS! When I think about it I grew up in a gym basically playing volleyball every weekend to going to bar all the time. I am a much happier human when I am devoting my time to self-care vs the latter. This is not meant to be judgey by any means, because I DO STILL DRINK, but in moderation AND I GO OUT SOBER and can truly be myself. Of course, I still hear the following things, but not as much because most of the people I hang around with have accepted I am not a big drinker any more:
· “You’re not drinking, but it’s the weekend.”
· “Oh, come on one drink won’t kill you.”
· “Why don’t you drink.”
· “MaryKate’s not fun she won’t drink”
Something to note is PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS GOING TO JUDGE when you go against the grain. Even with food. People get very uncomfortable with the way I eat, but I know it’s stemming from their own insecurities. Plus there’s plenty of things to do sober and be social or you can totally go out sober! You just gotta do you!
I get lots of messages on Instagram, so I hope this blog was helpful so you can understand my journey more and apply these tips and strategies to yours! Weight loss IS NOT EASY! FINDING AND STICKING TO A PLAN IS NOT EASY. CHANGING YOUR HABITS IS NOT EASY! Remember though … YOU ARE CAPABLE, YOU ARE POWERFUL, YOU CAN DO THIS!!!
Lastly, keep in mind we all have different bodies, needs, goals, etc. so what I do may not be right for you and vice versa! At the end of the day you need to listen to your body and fuel it in a way that makes you FEEL YOUR BEST! Thanks for reading!! XOXO!