Losing weight without tracking food is a recipe for failure.
Now…don’t get me wrong – losing weight without tracking is absolutely possible!
But the sad truth is that so many of us, myself included, spend most of our much more forgiving years (teens, 20s, 30s, etc) caught up in the fantasy of what’s possible short term – rather than the long term effect of that possibility.
We focus more on what we wish our bodies could look like, and how fast we can get there – rather than the honest reality of how we can achieve it, what it takes to sustain it, and the amount of hard work it takes to rewire the Diet Addict mindset.
[The Diet Addict tends to avoid, ignore, or dismiss essential pieces to the puzzle like eating enough, building muscle, or …tracking food intake – simply because they “have been able to lose weight before” without doing it.]
But here’s something you should know: maintaining weight loss is MORE important than losing it, and more indicative of “success” in the eyes of science. And when it comes down to it, refusing to track food intake is one of the number one reasons someone fails when trying maintain a healthy lifestyle and lasting weight loss!
So…does this mean that you need to be chained to a food tracking app for the rest of your life? 🥺
The Problem with Tracking Food
First things first… the elephant in the room.
There are SO many reasons why some women over 40 may not want to track food for weight loss. Here are a handful that have come up repeatedly over the years with my 1:1 clients, and the clients of the PTs I coach:
(Take note: they’re all completely VALID)
- They find it time-consuming and tedious to track everything they eat and drink.
- They may feel overwhelmed by the process of tracking food and find it difficult to incorporate into their daily routine.
- They may feel embarrassed or ashamed of their current eating habits and don’t want to face the reality of what they are consuming.
- They may believe that tracking food is restrictive and takes away the pleasure of eating.
- They may not have access to the technology or tools needed to track their food.
- They may believe that they already have a good understanding of what they should be eating and don’t feel that tracking their food will provide additional benefit.
- They may feel that tracking food is too scientific and prefer to rely on their intuition or common sense when it comes to eating.
- They may not have the discipline to consistently track their food and worry that they will fail if they start.
- They may feel that they have too many other responsibilities and priorities in their lives and don’t want to add another task to their to-do list.
- They may have had negative experiences with tracking food in the past, such as feeling guilty or obsessing over calorie counts.
So with all of these completely valid reasons NOT to log, why even bother placing any emphasis on it?
Well, put frankly… it (always) comes down to YOUR goals. What exactly are you trying to accomplish?
Navigating Successful Fat Loss after 40
Dieting (for many 20-30 somethings) is a lot like hopping in your car to take a road trip with no directions – and no responsibilities. You just let the road take you wherever it goes, because you have nowhere to be, and no one to answer to. As you drive around aimlessly, you may find some extremely cool destinations without even trying. You may also come across some not-so-cool, or even dangerous destinations – but even those may provide a secret thrill…or at very least, a cool story to tell. ☠️
Aimlessness and intuition is fine if you have no goal or specific place you’re trying to get to. There is absolutely a time and place for being carefree, letting your hair down, and exploring your surroundings.
But when you want to get somewhere specific, you need specific instructions and you need accountability for whether you’re following them. Knowing where you are on the map helps prevent you from blaming the route when you haven’t actually started the car. Even if the direction is “wrong” or you decide to go somewhere else – if you have a map, you can backtrack to where you took the wrong turn, instead of continuing on until you’re 100s of miles off-track.
It’s true that some people don’t require tracking after a certain point. Going to places that you’ve gone to HUNDREDS of times before, typically don’t require GPS (unless someone else was driving and you weren’t paying attention!)
But when you’re doing it for the first time – you do (intuitive doesn’t work unless you’ve done the “structure” first to know when to keep going/when to stop, what works and why not).
This can be both a pro and con when it comes to tracking your food and knowing how to eat for fat loss. If you’ve been “winging it,” blind-logging, or following for fad diets for years, that’s what you’ll do intuitively.
Going to the wrong destination. Over. and. over. and. over.
On the other hand… If you’ve been using logging as a tool to hold yourself accountable, build essential habits, and carefully studying what works and why…you’ll be more equipped to intuitively keep the weight off – without logging.
How refusing to track impedes progress
When people refuse to track food for weight loss, they may face several problems that can impede their progress and make it difficult to achieve their goals.
Some potential problems include:
- Lack of awareness: Without tracking food, it can be difficult to accurately assess how much and what type of food you are consuming, which can make it harder to identify areas for improvement.
- Inability to identify trigger foods or patterns: Without tracking food, it can be difficult to identify specific foods or situations that trigger overeating or unhealthy food choices.
- Lack of accountability: Without tracking food, it can be hard to hold yourself accountable for your eating habits, which can make it easier to slip back into old habits or make poor food choices.
- Plateauing: Without tracking food, it can be difficult to assess whether you are making progress towards your weight loss goals, which can lead to frustration and plateaus in weight loss.
- Inability to make adjustments: Without tracking food, it can be challenging to make adjustments to your eating habits or dietary intake, which can prevent you from achieving optimal results.
- Difficulty maintaining consistency: Without tracking food, it can be difficult to maintain consistency in your eating habits, which can make it harder to achieve long-term weight loss success.
Overall, refusing to track food for weight loss can make it more challenging to achieve weight loss goals and maintain them long term.
Only YOU Can Decide
As unnatural and tedious as it may feel, tracking food intake at *some point* in the journey is the key to LONG TERM successful weight loss – it gives you the data needed to set realistic goals, identify trigger foods or patterns, hold yourself accountable for your actions and make necessary adjustments along the way.
With the knowledge you gain during periods of tracking, you’ll finally be able to break through plateaus, achieve lasting success that you can ultimately maintain INTUITIVELY!
So if you’ve been avoiding FULL accountability around logging your food it’s time to decide…
Do you want to keep working really hard (intuitively) and possibly have nothing to show for it? Or would you rather focus on embracing the temporary discomfort/annoyance of tracking your eats, while learning from the data that it’s providing – so you not only lose fat, but also (intuitively and permanently!) keep it off?
If so, here a couple of suggested tools to help you put this into action:
Level 1 – Download the Quick Start Guide (Free), get a free MFP/Lose it account (or log in if you already have one), or pen/paper, etc… and start tracking again!*
Level 2 – Already tracking? Grab the EM2WL Starter Kit Bundle – and develop a more strategic game plan for incorporating the eating phases that most women over 40 have been avoiding for decades.
Level 3 – Join the Workout Vault – track your workouts (not just your food!), match the eating phases to the workouts, and take your results to the next level.
*Our site calculator gives starting points for where your calories should be for maintenance, fat loss, or muscle gain – but I always suggest logging AS IS first to see where you already are in comparison to those numbers.
This EM2WL Client is down 20 lbs! Here’s how!
Are you curious about how our EM2WL clients are doing? In this video series, we’ll be highlighting one of our amazing success stories! This particular client has lost an impressive 20 lbs! Watch the youtube videos above to learn more about her journey and find out the tips and tricks she used to achieve such great results! We hope you find this information helpful and inspiring. Congratulations, Athena, on your incredible accomplishment! You should be very proud of yourself! Way to go!!! :)
Part 1: How to Cut For Fat Loss (Without Losing Muscle) – Kiki Reacts
Part 2: How to Accurately Measure Your Progress – Kiki Reacts
Listen to the FULL video in the Youtube video above.
Part 3: The Truth About Consistency – Kiki Reacts
Listen to the FULL video in the Youtube video above.
Part 4: DIETING: How It Can Make You GAIN WEIGHT – Kiki Reacts
Listen to the FULL video in the Youtube video above.
Download Your FREE Quick Start Guide
Sign Up For The FREE Women’s Fat Loss Webinar
SUBSCRIBE To Our Youtube Channel
Download our Workout App
Progress pictures are usually the gold standard when it comes to seeing fat loss results. However if you are taking crappy pictures, this can skew your real results and make you believe you aren’t progressing at all. Somehow progress pics have been relegated to what we see on Instagram. Obvious results in your before and after shots and no mention of what happened during the “in between” time of your photos. Over time, this has caused people to have a warped sense of what true progress pictures should look like. Let’s take a look at the reasons why we may not be seeing any progress in our photos.
Why your photos suck and what you can do about them
Weird times of day/month. Whenever you take pics, pick a consistent time where they will be taken in. You’re always gonna look leaner in the morning than you do in the evening with a belly full of food, and body full of sodium. Comparing photos taken at different times might have just enough bloat happening to hide the tiniest bit of change.
Camera positioning. A higher placed camera angle will always make you look leaner than a lower one. Don’t ever compare the two. Pick your position: put the camera there every time and walk to the exact same spot every time. Taking close up pics will always make you look bigger than further away, and headless body shots zoomed in will give you grounds for crying!
Focusing only on “problem areas.” When you do this you’re not paying attention to whether you have progress elsewhere. Problem areas are called that for a reason. Expect them to be the LAST to go and stop studying them and allowing what appears to be lack of progress dictate that ALL progress is nonexistent.
Not understanding juxtaposition. If one area is shrinking faster than another, the slower shrinking area will look BIGGER. If all areas are shrinking at the same rate, it typically means pics appear EXACTLY the same.
You don’t have “the eye” (or you’re annoyed by it). Sometimes the oddest things will indicate progress. Maybe your bra strap isn’t digging in anymore. Maybe your swimsuit bottoms cover more bottom than before, or maybe a tattoo has “moved” a little on your body.
If you’re gonna look, look for PROGRESS – don’t just snap a pic to “prove” your negative thoughts of “nothing is changing!” Take pics to prove yourself WRONG, and use ANY progress as a sign that you’re still on the right track to LONG LASTING progress. (The longer it takes, the longer it’ll last, because the habits required to maintain it will be rock solid)
For the large majority of women, we have all been on a diet of some sort of another in our lives. Most of us who have a dieting past, have been on countless programs or attempts and have spent more money on diet programs or books or fitness products than we care to admit. We lived our lives under the scrutiny of whatever diet plan we were trying that month. Whether that was counting points, living the “Clean Eating” or Paleo life, drinking nothing but shakes and processed, overpriced “diet” products to somehow quickly shed pounds fast and fit into smaller sized clothing. At the very heart of any diet program is the relationship your body has with the scale. That number means more than anything in the world to a dieter.
I’m sure many of us have experienced the euphoria that comes when you jump on the scale and see your number go down. We internally throw ourselves a party and celebrate how proud we are that our sacrifice for that week paid off and it was “worth it.” Some of us could continue this charade for a few weeks, or months even before the Diet Breakdown begins and we either plateau or fall off our programs. As a dieter, you berate yourself, call yourself all kinds of names, get depressed that the weight came back on and more. But yet, no one ever gets rid of the scale. Somehow that stupid piece of machinery still holds more value to a dieter than anyone or anything could. And so the cycle continues. And the self worth plummets. All because a scale flashes a number the diet industry had shunned you to believe is horrible.
I know what you are thinking…
“I’m off the diet track. I found EM2WL and I’m healing my metabolism with a reset. I don’t play the diet games anymore!!”
If you are still stepping on a scale and letting that number dictate how you feel – You are still playing the dieting games.
I never considered myself a scale watcher. I weighed in once a week when I dieted and it never bothered me to see the number any other time than my weekly weigh in. It never occurred to me to weigh in any more than necessary for my diet plan. When I began with EM2WL a few years ago, I started off watching the scale number so I could follow the trend in weight vs. calorie intake. Somewhere along the way an obsession took over and I was weighing in daily. At first, I convinced myself I NEEDED to see the number daily so I could be accountable – I could make sure I was eating the right amount of calories, that my Reset number was accurate. Even when I began on my first cut, I watched the scale meticulously to ensure a downward trend was happening.
My obsession with the scale took over for the better part of two years during my journey, even though I wasn’t on any dieting program. I went from someone who never owned a scale to someone who couldn’t begin the day unless I knew what my number was. I can remember being asked the simple question “How are you?” And my answer would always be based on what the scale said that morning – If it was down, then I was happy. If it was up, I was angry/miserable/sad/confused etc. It didn’t matter if I was attempting a Cut, or sitting in a Reset trying to find my TDEE – That stupid scale meant more to me than anything.
I tried to convince myself that it didn’t mean anything, that it was just a number, but after a while, the scale started adding so much stress to my life, it was crushing me. I felt like an alcoholic trying to get another drink. I couldn’t function unless I knew if I was “up” or “down” If the scale said I had gained, I refused to believe people when they sent me a compliment. I refused to listen to my trainer who warned me my cortisone levels were skyrocketing and it would hinder my progress. I refused to remove myself from that crushing prison I had put myself into.
An inanimate object whose only purpose is to tell you what your relationship with gravity is
A hunk of metal that cannot distinguish between muscle, fat, water, bones, clothing, and bodily fluids.
A piece of dieting equipment that is used to make you feel like nothing matters but that number.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that the scale was slowly killing me. My obsession spilled into everyday life. I couldn’t give 100% to the Reset process because of that scale. I feared eating more calories would jump the scale number up to my heaviest – something I never wanted to see again. My self worth plummeted and I began to withdraw from my marriage. I couldn’t fathom how my husband still wanted to be with me and I began picking fights with him over the silliest of things. I withdrew from my friendships, thinking I didn’t belong with them, that I must be some charity case to them. I started thinking that my kids were embarrassed by me and my size. I even stupidly walked away from my trainer, because I couldn’t let go of my obsession.
All because a scale told me a number that the diet industry said I shouldn’t be.
I don’t remember why I finally put the scale away. I hit the wall somewhere along the line and decided I could no longer live like this. I went cold turkey and the cold sweats began shortly after. I suffered through weeks of doubt, wondering if my number went up or down. I would sit in the bathroom staring at the spot on the floor where my scale was and wish it would appear again. I felt like some caged animal pacing back and forth, waiting for purgatory to end.
And then it happened.
One morning I got up, started my day and not once did the thought of weighing myself come into my mind.
Slowly, I felt this weight being lifted from my shoulders, and my head was coming out of the fog.
My stress levels were vanishing.
I would get asked “How are you?” and I could actually answer with a true emotion.
I found myself smiling more.
I started to engage in relationships with my family and friends again.
I finally allowed myself to find my true maintenance level and begin on a true reset. This allowed me to make huge strength gains in the gym.
I slowly but surely started putting my life back together.
Over the last year, I have made some amazing steps to truly loving myself and my journey. (more on that in another blog:)) For the first time in my life, I found self love and the courage to love who I am right now. These things would not have been possible if I still allowed that scale to dictate who I am. My progress is not hindered in any way because I don’t know how much I weigh.
The world did not end because I stopped letting a scale dictate my self worth.
The scale cannot tell you how much muscle you have.
The scale cannot tell you if you lost fat or muscle.
The scale does not tell you anything but your relationship to gravity in that given moment.
The scale will not tell you how beautiful you are.
The scale will not show you how loved you are.
The scale will not make you a better wife/mother/sister/friend.
The scale cannot track how heavy your barbell has become.
The scale will not keep you warm and safe at night.
If you are still stepping on that scale, to “monitor” your progress, I urge you to step off of it. If you cannot handle seeing that number rise to a level you might not be comfortable with, then please do yourself one huge favor, and put the scale away. There is so much more to your journey than a number on a scale.
You are much more than a number.
Water Weight Gain.
Words that seem to strike fear in the hearts of dieting women across the globe. When did we start giving water so much power and authority?
Oh yes…that second word: WEIGHT. More specifically, water weight gain, has women everywhere constantly searching for solutions on how to “solve” it.
Sure, when it’s that time of month, and we can’t squeeze into our “good” clothes, it can be annoying. Or we have a sodium fest, and feel like our jewelry is cutting off our circulation…not fun.
But is water really our nemesis?
Typical concerns of Water Weight Gain
Retained water becomes contaminated because your kidneys can’t filter out contaminants properly when you’re dehydrated. The liver is then called upon to help process these waste products, which interferes with one of its main functions, breaking down body fat. So without sufficient water in your body you’re likely to end up water-logged and bloated.
This is also said to lead to a problem with sodium. When you’re dehydrated, sodium can’t be adequately flushed from the body, causing further water retention, and any additional sodium ingested in your diet simply aggravates the problem.
Water and your muscles
Sometimes it feels as if water is working against us when we develop that “soft” look to our muscles. This is because diets or activities that cause excessive fluid loss have a significant effect on muscle size. Without sufficient water you become dehydrated. Your body begins to retain water to protect itself, and much of this water is stored subcutaneously, which smooths out muscle definition dramatically. This is why you hear of bodybuilders drinking up to a gallon or more each day to offset their higher sodium diets and intense workouts, in attempt to keep their muscles “hard” and visible.
Water weight gain during new workout phases
Gaining weight (~5 lbs) when starting a new exercise program is completely normal. If you are changing up your program every 4-6 weeks, then expect a jumpy scale. Period. It’s all good. Just let your body do it’s thing and stop depending on the scale ONLY for progress reports.
This is important to remember if you are in a program that uses “phases” that change regularly (such as LU app, STS, CLX, P90X, etc). You may experience a jump with every phase, and the scale could take up to three weeks to “equalize.” This means that you may only see the scale weight drop ONE week out of the four, then see it shoot back up again when you change something up. Don’t stress about it. What’s the alternative? Doing the exact same regimen (in attempt to avoid water weight gain) and seeing NO results because your body has adapted?
Not the wisest choice.
That water retention/scale increase/DOMS combo is your sign that your body is still being challenged by the current workout, which means that changes are on the way. We just need to learn not to shun it (water retention) so much.
Constant water retention from strength training
Many ladies get so caught up in that scale number that they feel like “Why bother lifting? I don’t want to carry extra water all the time”…but we are SUPPOSED to carry that water.
Blood = 92% water, the brain & muscles = 75% water, and bones = 22% water. Yet, on the flip side, obesity decreases the water in the body, to as low as 45% (as fat weight is only about 20-25% water).
You do the water math.
Women typically have less water than men (as a percentage), because they carry more fat. But think about it, men typically have an easier time with fat loss because they have more muscle.
The more muscle you carry, the higher your percentage of water will be. All. the. time.
To put it plainly, HEALTHY, and FIT bodies SHOULD carry water!
Coming to terms with a jumpy scale
Sometimes I feel like my weight only ever goes UP. But…when I focused on staying a number on the scale, I NEVER progressed, and actually started looking WORSE. Once I let it go, the floodgates opened and my body begin to FINALLY transform. It really is a hindrance to put so much emphasis on scale weight.
If you know that a jumpy scale will depress you, stay OFF. Let the mirror, pics, the way your clothes fit, and the constant compliments dictate your progress.
And while you’re at it, give poor water a break.
The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding
3 weeks progress – (recent on left)
I started out my weight loss journey eating a very low calorie diet and not doing much outside of my normal activity for exercise. While the pounds were dropping off at a great pace at that time my body started telling me something different. I started losing my hair, was exhausted constantly and even lost TOM (time of month). I knew something was wrong and started with a personal trainer and researching. Finding the EM2WL group helped immensely and my whole thought process around this has changed. It is no longer a weight loss journey, but a fat loss journey focusing on strength.
My weight has stabilized for now, but the inches are slowly going down. I gained a pound and lost an inch in my waist over the past few months. My smaller clothes are fitting better. My back is better. I had forgotten how strong I was when I was younger, but am now rediscovering my muscles.
I now have new goals in mind. My main goal is to be able to do a pull up and a dip unassisted by the end of the year.
Weight is not as much of a concern anymore. Yes, it is hard when I occasionally weigh in and don’t see progress, but that is when I just need to pull out my phone and look at all of the progress pictures to see that my hard work is paying off. Keep eating and your body will transform. I am constantly amazed at what my approaching 40 year old body can do.
7 months progress – Only 8lbs lost! The scale does NOT tell the whole story!
Follow Sandi’s Journey here.
Share your success, no matter how large or small. You never know who you may inspire to hang on just a bit longer. We love featuring results and journey stories in REAL time, not just before/afters. If you have a victory (scale or not) let us know and allow us to share with the fam, by submitting to success@EM2WL.com