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Body Fat & Calories – Part 2

Do you know that 1kg of fat is equal to 8750 calories?

To put that number in perspective, an active 20-something man needs to eat roughly 2200 calories per day simply to survive.

The first time that I heard this figure, it literally blew me away.

It also allowed me to make the most significant change to my lifestyle and wellbeing; immediately.

However we need to go back in the story first…. If you would like to read Part 1 of this post; from a very different angle; you can here.

From January 2012 until December 2012, I ate 1500 calories for 5 out of 7 days. On the other 2 days I consumed between 2500 – 3000 calories.

It is very important to mention at this point, that calories only make up part of the story. Splashed all over social media I see quotes like, “count nutrients, not calories.” I partly agree with the sentiment though I feel understanding the calorific value; and thus portions; of what we eat is absolutely crucial. My belief is to first count your nutrients and then your calories.

First and foremost "what" you nourish your body with is important

First and foremost “what” you nourish your body with is important

From that point and to the present day, my first consideration is always how to best nourish my body and mind with clean food. Unprocessed and in the closest form to its natural state; if not raw! The quality of the food that I eat is most crucial as well as a basic understanding of the hormonal response that varying foods provide us all. As maintainable fitness, lean muscle and low body fat are all a part of my goals, these considerations are key!

However after these choices have been made, I then count each and every morsel/sip/bite/gulp/chew that I consume and track the relevant calories. More on this below…

During those 12 months, the idea was to maintain a fairly low calorie diet for 5 of 7 days and enjoy 2 “cheat” meals at some stage during those other 2 days.

Each week I enjoyed 3 targeted weights sessions, 1 boxing/sprints session,  2 cardio workouts and 1 rest day.

The scales in January of 2012 showed the highest number that I had ever seen (and we can blame an extravagant holiday in NYC for that…) at 64kg, roughly with 25% body fat.

I was not impressed with myself.

In July of 2012 my DEXA scan showed 61.85kg and 21.9% body fat. You can read about DEXA scans and how many calories we need in Part 1 of this post here.

Much happier this time around and I had fought tooth and nail for those results.

During those 7 months; and the above plan; I felt great. Enjoying food; the occasional indulgence; and focusing intensely on my fitness. The latter is something that I was, and am immensely proud of. You can read about that training here.

Between July 2012 and December 2012, my weight & body fat plateaued. It happens to us all.

At this point a few adjustments were made… a recovery supplement was introduced post high-intensity training sessions, upping my training intensity all around and later in the year – dropping a high intensity session all together.

These were all great and helped me progress further, though I was still not satisfied and felt that my body could do more.

Upon researching & discussing options with trusted professionals at the end of 2012, a few key points came up:

  • My body was constantly in a state of fatigue
  • “Cheat” meals were no longer enjoyable, the premise was something that I began to doubt
  • I had been under-eating for quite some time

These factors combined; and some much needed time-out travelling through Vietnam; provided me with a clear insight and plan.

I was over-training, under-eating and often not consciously eating; that is being present and making the best nutritional decision for my body. The idea of eating, and enjoying 100% clean and wholefoods at every meal, every day was brilliant. However to then go and indulge unnecessarily in sugar-laden and high-calorie/low-nutrient foods seemed crazy! Worse still I realised that mostly I did not even want these foods, I more so felt “trained” to desire them after years of being immersed in the fitness industry. My body had absolutely adjusted after 12 months of 95% unprocessed, whole and clean foods, though I think my mind needed a little longer to catch up…

My boyfriend and I discussed this during our time in South-East Asia and also about a lifestyle change in general. Less going out and more time spent in our home, a focus on our health and wellbeing and trying our hand at new and varied cooking.

Within 1 month of arriving back home some fairly dramatic decisions were made.

I quit my corporate job (with no fall-back), started this blog with Mum, played around with clean recipes constantly and really started to let myself shine. I guess my mind had caught up….

Now able to really give myself the time that I had craved for so long, I focused on the areas where improvements could be made to my health and wellbeing. Taking everything I had learnt into account, listening to my intuition and really pushing myself to the next level; this is what I did.

For 4 months I ate less than my body needed for 6 days out of 7 and on the 7th day I ate exactly what my body needed; a reset of sorts.

At the top of this post I mention how many calories are in 1kg of fat. With that figure in mind, if you were to eat 250 calories less than your body requires each day, it would take 35 days to lose 1kg of fat (give or take).

I am neither a scientist nor a nutritionist, though I do know there are many factors at play here. External contributors and our own genetics are relevant here. However what I can confirm is that the science; and age-old debate; of calories in vs calories out is 100% the truth. For the average person who wants to feel fit, healthy and strong; this is important information. It was not until I focused on my nutrition in a real way that I saw the results that I had wanted for so long. If you want to be a figure model, an athlete or something else that requires particular attention then there are other factors to consider also.

There are quotes out there that say diet is 80% and exercise 20% in the fat loss game. This wouldn’t be far from the truth.

I talk above about tracking my calories and all of this is the why. Years after commencing this journey, I am fairly good at “guesstimating” my food portions and calories though that took time.

For anyone wanting to drop some body fat or focus on their health and wellbeing, you may be thinking that you can simply under-eat and you will have the desired result? Ah but see the body is far smarter than that and will see you coming! Re-read the above if you need to and look at where I mention “maintainable” and also “plateau.” I don’t need to write that under-eating means you are not giving your body what it needs to survive; let alone train, live, laugh, love and burn fat! Or do I??? Under-eat for  an extended period of time and no good will come of it. That I can assure you. Besides who on Earth wants to live their life on a diet?!! BORING!! Food is nourishment and is wonderful! By no means is it the enemy..

During this period (February-April 2013) my training consisted of 2 strength training sessions per week + a boxing/sprint session + 3 recovery sessions + 1 recovery day of absolute rest.

My goal in each of the intense sessions was to annihilate myself and having recovery days allowed me to do so. I credit my incredible trainer with this little gem of advice each and every time that I go to train and I can REALLY train!

Training with all I have!

Training with all I have!

Let’s look at this broken down before I tell you about the changes in my body during this time…

Eating more, training less (time per week), sleeping more and feeling good.

DEXA results from April 2013 showed 19.7% body fat, lean muscle mass of 44.5kg and body weight of 58.5kg – HOLY COW was I happy!!!

I could see the change in my body and I could certainly feel it.

Since April I have undertaken a new program as well as focus and am really happy with my continued progress and attitude.

This journey has spanned close to a decade for me now and I would like to think that I learn something new each day. By no means am I done with progress inside or outside though I feel proud of my achievements to date.

So should you!!

Nadia xxx

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