Stop Counting Calories – Part 2

Why you should stop counting calories – Part 2

This is part 2 of a 2 part series on why we should stop counting calories.  In part one found here, we talked more about the history of the calorie and where it came from, and in part two we will discuss why counting calories as the primary means to guide you towards your health goals is misleading you.  

Back in part one, we did a deep dive into the history of the calorie, and how this unit of measurement was born.  Remember the Atwater system?  This system of averages truly ignores the complexities of the human body – especially the human digestive process – and how this plays a HUGE role in actually how many calories you are actually digesting and utilizing from the food you eat.  

 

The complex world of your digestive tract

YOU are unique, and no one else digests food quite like you.  This is also known as your metabolic fingerprint – the way in which foods interact with your body is a complex process and is completely unique to you.  

The part that is overlooked here is the amount of calories you actually burn when you are digesting the food you eat.  This can be very significant!  As much as you don’t realize it, you DO burn calories just by sitting at the dinner table.  The process of digestion has an energy “cost” – the cost of chewing, swallowing, producing stomach acids and digestive enzymes to break the food down, and then shipping out all of the “metabolic waste” – this all has a metabolic cost and burns a lot of calories.  This takes us into the concept of the thermic effect of food. 


The Thermic Effect of Food

It actually costs calories to absorb calories.  Understanding this will help you understand how much energy it takes your body to break down protein, carbs and fat.  Here are the generally accepted amount of calories it takes to digest certain types of foods:

Protein:  Protein takes the most energy to digest.  With about 20-30 percent of the total calories in protein going straight to digesting it.  

Carbohydrates:  5-10 percent of the total calories in carbohydrates goes into digesting it.

Fat:  0-3 percent of the total calories in fat goes into digesting it.  

Example – You eat 100 calories of protein.  20-30 of those calories are used by your body just to digest the protein!  So, in actuality, you are only receiving 70-80 calories of the 100 calories you just ate from protein.  The reason proteins take ten to twenty times as much energy to digest than fats is because our digestive enzymes must unravel all the tightly wound strings of amino acids from which proteins are built.  

Here’s the thing though, your food label isn’t telling you “Eat more protein, because your body will burn 20-30% more calories from it!!”  You are just supposed to know this, right?  Also, have you noticed why high protein diets tend to work best for fat loss?  Well, now you have a better scientific understanding of why they do.  

Arnold knew it all along!

 

Whole foods versus processed foods – “You are what you eat!”

I think everybody’s mom said this at one time or another, especially when we weren’t making the “best” nutritional choice.  It’s funny, even as children, we know what foods are good for us, and what foods are considered “treats.”  What is important is even from a young age, we understand the difference.  We get to eat dessert after dinner.  This tradition has been ingrained into most of us for a very long time.  

Well, there is a BIG difference in how we digest whole foods versus processed foods.  In a recent study from the journal Food and Nutrition Research they set out to find the difference in calories absorbed from a meal of “whole foods” versus a meal of “processed foods” that contained the exact same amount of total calories.  The researchers gave healthy test subjects sandwiches of either multi-grain bread and cheddar cheese (this was deemed whole food) or white bread and a processed cheese product (you know, like Velveeta that we grew up with!).  The results they found were pretty shocking.  

Is this “whole food??”

By the end of the study, they found that eating the processed food sandwich led to a 50% reduction in calorie burn after the meal compared to eating the whole food sandwich!  Remember, the two different sandwiches were basically identical in the amount of protein, carbs, fat and total calories – it was merely the difference of the food being heavily processed or not that led to this dramatic difference in whether the calories were going to be stored in the body or burned.  Just think about this study the next time you open a box, can, or bag of processed goodness – there is a reason it tastes so good, and that it is hard to eat “just one!”  These processed foods have been proven to lessen your ability to utilize these calories to be burned and you will be more apt to storing these calories as fat.  

The real takeaway here is that it’s the TYPE of food that you are eating that will have the biggest impact on the net gain of calories you end up burning more than anything else.  

 

Your Gut Microbiome (“My gut what??!”)

This final piece of the puzzle on why you should not use counting calories to measure your progress is probably the most important one.  Your gut bacteria, or microbiome may play the largest role in how many calories you are actually extracting and getting out of your food.  Did you know – every human being has between 1-2 pounds of microbes living in their stomach!  Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal and we would not be alive without them.  

There was an amazing study by the Weizmann Institute of Science that confirmed there are specific gut bacteria that are more prevalent in people who are overweight.  When they planted these human “fat bacteria” into mice it caused the mice to gain weight, have increased blood sugar, and higher levels of body fat (as well as a big craving for Cheetos – JK!).  In all seriousness though, this is important stuff since the type of gut bacteria you have can make you more or less susceptible to weight gain.  

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity showed also that the higher diversity of gut bacteria is directly correlated with less weight gain and improved energy metabolism independent of calorie intake and other factors.  This is another perfect example, like above, of how two different people can consume the same amount of calories and how one person gains weight while the other person does not.  If you are wondering how to increase your diversity of gut bacteria, look no further than increasing your food diversity.    

 

Ending the calorie confusion

I am hopeful that all of this evidence above will serve you well in not having to focus solely on the amount of calories you are eating as a guide for fat loss.  We don’t want you to think that calories have zero significance – it still is a system that offers us some guidance – we just don’t want it to be the only way, because it is far from the only thing that matters.  The main takeaway here is that your body and its digestive process is so unique and complex that you will never truly know for sure how many calories you are eating or absorbing from a certain food.  

In addition to everything we already covered above, your ability to utilize the calories you eat is also influenced by the response of your immune system towards different types of foods (which requires different levels of energy), how much muscle mass you have (because increased muscle mass increases your overall caloric burn – yeah for strength training!). 

Maybe now you can see that counting calories is more overrated than the entire Fast and Furious franchise (no disrespect for The Rock and Vin Diesel, of course).  

You gotta love them!

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References:

How to tackle change

What’s the first thing that happens when we go to start a new routine or habit?  We want to make all the changes overnight!  We want to start that new fitness and exercise routine, start the new diet, get on that new sleep routine – all at once!  Our advice – Shrink the change.  We often bite off more than we can chew when getting started.  You’ll increase your chances of success when you merely focus on less.  How do you know what to focus on first though?  

We love to use this analogy.  Think to yourself:

 What is the ONE thing that if you change would make everything else that you want to change easier or even unnecessary?  

What if you started with drinking just ONE extra glass of water each day?  That would not only help with your hydration, but also your recovery, your sleep, and most likely your satiety.  So often, when we feel hungry, we are actually dehydrated and don’t even realize it until it is too late.  

As another example, say you want to start a new fitness routine.  Would you jump right into 6 days a week training, or would you be ok starting by scheduling 2-3 days a week that you know you could commit to and have live in your calendar as an appointment with yourself (and your coach, ideally!)   

Looking back into the past can give you a lot of insight on how you may have dealt with making bigger changes in your life.  Can you remember as far back to January 1st, 2021? This may have been the day you were going to make that massive shift in your life and start doing (fill in the blank!). 

How is that going for you now? 

In reality, only 7% of people actually stick with their resolutions over the year. The other 93% of us may have bit off more than we could chew. 

By focusing on smaller, more bite size changes over a longer period of time, you will actually see better results! 

Ask yourself, what is the ONE thing I can do successfully over the next 7 days that will get me closer to my goals? 

Can I drink ONE extra glass of water and track it?

Can I cut and slice my vegetables for the week?

Can I schedule my workouts 3 days this week?

Don’t do it all at once, just commit to ONE thing, and see how it goes.

We hope this little bite size tip helps you tackle change by shrinking it down just a little bit.  Want to learn more about how we incorporate these daily habits into a total routine for your mind and body?!  Check out our upcoming 30 day VIP Experience below, where you can get a kickstart to your fitness and your health.

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6 Techniques for a Growth Mindset

6 Techniques for a Growth Mindset

By: Ben S. Fogel

There has been so much talk lately about the “growth mindset.”  A lot of this has been due to a landmark book on the subject “Mindset” by Carol Dweck.  The author does an amazing job describing the growth mindset, the fixed mindset, and how you can re-train your brain out of one mindset and into another.  But before we start talking all about the “growth mindset” I feel it is important to define both the growth mindset and the fixed mindset.  

In the fixed mindset, you believe that your traits are “fixed.”  Therefore, no matter how hard you work at something or how much effort you give, your traits (intelligence, athleticism, fill in the blank) will not change.  

The growth mindset is believing that you can grow your abilities – that’s really the best way to put it, and the way Carol Dweck, Author of “Mindset” defines the growth mindset.  You can grow your abilities and change, adapt and get better.  Your intelligence is not fixed, and neither is your ability to learn and improve in any part of your life. 

John Wooden, long time UCLA basketball coach was known to have very much a growth mindset.  He actually came up with the idea of the “holy grail” of the growth mindset being the culmination of these 2 things: 

Full preparation and full effort  

As John Wooden once famously said:

”You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better.  By applying yourself to the task of being a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will become a lot better.”  

With this idea in mind of getting just “a little bit better” each and every day, if you take this into action and get 1% better each day on anything in your life, by the end of the year you will become 37 times better!  There are 6 techniques to cultivating a growth mindset I want to share below that I truly feel will help you get 1% better every day! 

1. Stop Failing and Start Learning – You didn’t “fail”, you merely figured out a path that did not work this time around.  Instead of looking at failure as a dead end, look at it as a clue that will lead you to a different path on how to do something.  

As an inventor, Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”  When you start to look at failure as another step into the right direction, you will start to make some positive progress.  

2. You don’t need others’ approval, you need their criticism – Don’t put praise ahead of the ability for you to learn from criticism.  One of the best ways to do this is to actually ask for feedback.  This is a skill we never learned in school, but that is so valuable in the workplace, or in your relationship.  An example I will give as a business owner is after a meeting, I will often ask my employees, “what could I have done better in this meeting?”  If you are not asking for feedback, it is really hard to cultivate an environment of learning and growth.  

3. Track your progress with a journal – Vividly describing your goals on paper is one of the best ways to really know if you are making any progress at all.  A Harvard Business Study found that the 3% of graduates from their MBA who had their goals written down, ended up earning ten times as much as the other 97% put together, just ten years after graduation.  

In fact, you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down on a regular basis. It has to do with how our brains work. When you write things down, you’re activating both parts of your brain, the imaginative right hemisphere, and the logic-based left hemisphere.  When is the last time you wrote your goals down?  If the evidence says you are almost 50% more likely to achieve your goals by merely writing them down, I would start there!  

4. Focus Inwardly and not on your image – The last thing you need is other peoples validation to achieve your goals.  Don’t wait for others to validate your success, just start taking one step at a time on all the things you can control.  Albert Einstein himself insisted that, “he had not been born with any special gift.” All children are “gifted” for nothing in particular; they are gifted for “everything.” Children who believe that talent and intelligence are made, not born, get better results in every part of life, and this starts at a young age realizing that your traits are not “fixed.”  

5. Learn from the mistakes of others
– There is an old saying that “success leaves clues” – it is also true that mistakes leave clues as well!  These mistakes are what kept the successful to continue to learn and grow.  Learning from the mistakes that other people make before you will fast track your success by not making the same mistakes.  Oftentimes though, we sometimes only look at the success of people, and not the mistakes or failures.  Remember, mistakes leave clues, too!  

6. Practice Gratitude – I know this may be one of the most cliche terms over the past few years, but practicing gratitude daily can give you some of the most rewarding, positive energy for a very small investment of your time and energy.  By merely writing down one thing you are grateful for each day, you are delivering a positive thought into your mind and starting your day with positivity, not negativity.  Negativity leads to the fixed mindset, while positivity leads to the growth mindset.  Here is a little something I started to write every day:

Today can be better than yesterday.  I have the power to make it so.  From positivity and attitude grows perseverance.  Perseverance by definition makes me unstoppable!

Start with just one of these 6 techniques that will help you cultivate a growth mindset.  Want to join us for the next 3 weeks to cultivate a growth mindset in all the things you can control with your health, wellness and happiness?  Check out our next round of our Epic 21 Day Experience here:

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TIME – How to make the most of it

By: Ben S. Fogel

Time is our most valuable non-renewable resource.  Why does it feel like time melts away most days? 

Most people fail with time management because they don’t know or frankly realize how much time they waste.  

A typical smartphone user checks his or her phone 2,617 times every day, according to a study by the research firm D Scout.  

Yes, you heard that right!  That eats up 90 minutes per day wasted on your phone, or 23 days per year.  

What about Television usage?  The average American watches an average of 33 hours per week watching TV!  According to Neilsen, the average American spends 11 hours per day watching or interacting with media.  If you are wasting a majority of your waking hours on external media, and you are having a hard time “finding time” for other things, like taking time to take care of yourself – it may be time to audit your day.  

Bill Gates is never late to a meeting.  When asked, he said:

“Because time is THE ONE finite resource I can’t buy more of.”

The old proverb “time is money” isn’t really true.  Time is worth so much more than money.  Time is, literally your life.  What you do with your time directly correlates with your quality of life.  

Your tomorrow actually starts the night before.  Instead of staying up late worrying about your never ending “to-do” list, putting together a plan for how you will win the day tomorrow helps you close all the open tabs in your brain.  

Here are 3 tips I have to help you shape your best tomorrow.

1. Write out your “to-do” list the night before

But instead of just writing down all the things, capture them as either “primary” projects or tasks that absolutely need to get done tomorrow, or as “secondary” tasks – these are all your things you can quickly go through and “check off” your list when done, like grabbing the groceries, dry cleaning, or sending that email.  

2. Place your primary and secondary items in your calendar

Remember, the project or task will NOT get done unless it lives in space and time.  Make sure to actually schedule a time for it to get completed during your next day.  This is SO important.  This is often overlooked and you think, “I will just get it done tomorrow at some point” then it gets missed, forgotten or overlooked.  

Make sure to place it in your schedule just like it is an important meeting with a co-worker or client.  

3. Always overestimate the amount of time you think it will get something done.  

As humans, we are horrible at estimating how much time it takes to do things.  What I like to do is overestimate the amount of time a project takes.  Then, if I finish it early, I can give myself a big pat on the back and feel good that I have completed something early!  Also, if you have a project you know that will take more than one sitting (more than 1 hr) make sure you block out that time over the course of the week or month. 

Controlling your time will lead to so much more positive things in your life.  One being having the time to take care of yourself!  Are you ready to take the time for you, and control your health?!  We would love to be in your corner.  We have 3 more spots for our May 21 Day Challenge!  Learn more and sign up below:

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Your Thoughts Shape YOU

Your Thoughts Shape YOU

By: Kourtney Cannell

Our thoughts are important!  How we talk to ourselves and how we think about things impacts how we feel. Have you ever looked in the mirror and said, “I look fat in this shirt.” How did that thought influence your mood?  I’ll bet the rest of the day you might be placing negative thoughts towards yourself based on how you talked to yourself in the mirror.  

We often will remind our members when they make a negative comment to themselves with this question:

“Would you talk to your best friend the way you are talking to yourself right now?” 

The answer is always no.  

Our thoughts play a huge role in how we feel, interact with others, and perceive the world around us.  Our thoughts are literally the seeds that form our actions and behaviors every single day.  If you start your day with negative thoughts, it is often very hard to turn that thought patterning around to positive ones.  

Oftentimes, we might focus our thoughts on what is wrong or negative. Inaccurate thinking patterns lead us to see the worst possible outcomes to a situation. These distorted thoughts cause us to feel bad about ourselves and/or others. We all experience negative thoughts, but sometimes we get stuck in them and don’t see the pattern and how it hurts our emotional health and well-being. 

This is a list of common inaccurate thinking patterns. Can you identify any of these patterns in yourself? 

Common Inaccurate Thinking Patterns:

Inaccurate Thinking Pattern

Description

All Or Nothing

Thinking only in absolutes.  Seeing someone or something as all good or all bad (Binary Thinking) or looking for “always” or “never”

Labeling

Labeling yourself or others in terms such as “lazy”, “fat”, “stupid”.  Stating these labels as facts. 

The Comparison Game

Comparing yourself to others and needing to keep up with others to feel good or better about yourself. 

“Should” Statements

Have pre-conditions on how you or others “should” be.  

My challenge for you is to recognize the pattern you use the most.  Then from there, when you catch yourself in that inaccurate thinking pattern, pause for a moment and reflect on your feelings.  Ask yourself “Does this make me feel worse or better in this moment?”  Then, say something positive to yourself (this is the MOST important part!).  

It could be as simple as you caught yourself labeling yourself as “fat” in the mirror.  Instead, you look in the mirror and say, “look at my strong body. I can do things now that I couldn’t do before I started working out.”  Try to be specific as possible on that positive attribute you want to highlight.  

One of the hardest things to do is to actually NAME the pattern you are doing.  Once you are able to identify, name and flip the switch to the positive you will feel and see the difference it will make on your day!  

Give it a try, and let us know how it goes! 

Come join us for our next round of the Epic 21 Day Challenge where we can help guide you with positive thoughts and actions and help you gain more confidence in yourself in the next 21 days than you ever have in the past!  You can get all sorts of BONUSES for signing up now!  Check it all out here:

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Stop Setting “Weight” Goals

By: Kourtney Cannell

Have you ever seen a previous picture of yourself  and thought  “I looked great back then! What I would give to look like that again!” or weighed yourself and said “Awe, there was a time when I was “X” weight, what I would do to get there again!” 

I have a question for you. At the time of that picture or when you were at that weight, were you happy with your body? 

Hey Epic Rockstars.  Coach Kourtney here.  I just wanted to get real with you all for a few minutes here about “The goal number.” The goal weight, the goal body fat percentage, the goal pant size.  Most of us have these types of goals.  But where do they come from? 

My experience has been that they come from a place of comparison, a comparison to someone else, to how I used to be, or how I think I should be. 

My thought process would kind of go like this – and thus, the goal number is born:

“Maybe if I lose 20lbs, I’ll like what I see.” 

“She’s a size 4, maybe I’ll look like her if I’m a size 4 too, then I’ll be happy.”

“I won’t have any insecurities about my body if I have “X” body fat %.”

The “I’ll be happy/happier when I reach this number” kind of goal. 

There is nothing wrong with having and pursuing goals. The problem comes when we put our happiness and excitement on hold until we reach that goal.

Here’s my personal experience with these kinds of number goals and the two things that always happen:  

  1. The “weigh-in” doesn’t go well which leads to a  terrible mood, then I start picking apart my body. 

  2. The weigh-in does go well, but not as well as I wanted.  I find something negative about it and I am not as happy as I thought I would be. 

I have thought, and maybe so have you, that as soon as I reach this magic number, it will be like a switch is flipped and I, all of the sudden, exude confidence, have no insecurities, and am thrilled with this “new” body of mine. But does that really happen? My experience has been that it does not.

I am not saying that we should not have goals, but should we really be putting our happiness on hold because we aren’t at that “goal number” yet? 

As some of you know, I have struggled with eating disorders since I was 13. I was anorexic for a time, bulimic for a time, a binger for a time, even now I still struggle with emotional binge eating. With this comes a negative body image and toxic thinking patterns.  

We have this illusion that we will only feel better once we hit that goal. 

I would do whatever I could to get to that number, even if it meant starving myself, or working out until I burned off as many calories as I just ate. 

I would argue to myself, “But Kourtney, the whole reason I exercise is to get to that number.”

I used to think that the only way I could be happy with my body is to hit that goal number, but over the last 2 years I have learned that I can be happy in my body now. Being grateful for what my body can do right now!  

Here is what I have learned that I think can help you along your journey to reach your health and wellness goals:

  1. Do not put your happiness on hold until you reach a goal.  As the saying goes, it is about the journey and not the destination.  This is so true when it comes to health and wellness.  The journey of becoming a better version of yourself, and 1% better every day is what will bring you lasting change to your mind and body. 

  2. Don’t associate your health and wellness goal to a goal “number.”  Instead, focus on what your body will be able to DO as a result of your progress you make over time.  Focusing on outcomes that that occur as a result of your hard work that are not directly tied to a goal number is a healthy place to start.  Being able to get up and down the stairs without feeling out of breath, getting up and down off the ground to play with your kids – these are much more than merely side effects of losing weight.  These are the “why” behind what you are doing.  They are the reason you keep pushing towards improving yourself. 

  3. Reward yourself for your accomplishments.  Your health and wellness journey should be a lifelong one, and when you start to see progress it can be very motivating.  It can also be a long, sometimes boring road of eating the same (or similar) meals filled with protein, veggies and water.  Reward yourself often – go out to dinner and order the dessert –  give yourself a built-in reward for accomplishing a milestone.  It can be something as simple as buying those new clothes with the changing of the seasons.  Rewarding yourself often for your accomplishments is something that will keep you motivated as well.  

  4. Be grateful for what your body can do RIGHT NOW.  This is one of the most powerful things you can do on a daily basis.  Something as simple as writing down ONE thing you are grateful that your body can do today can change your mindset into the positive.  For example, writing “I am grateful to be able to play with my kids at the park today, and slide up and down the slide” can bring positive affirmations of what your body CAN do!  

Remember, there is so much more to be proud of than just reaching that “number” on the scale.  Once I realized I could create my happiness by being grateful for what my body can do right now, that changed my mindset for the long term progress I like to call “life”.  

Come join us for our next round of the Epic 21 Day Challenge where we can help guide you with creating your “perfect day” and help you gain more confidence in yourself in the next 21 days than you ever have in the past!  You can get all sorts of BONUSES for signing up now!  Check it all out here:

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