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Why did you choose to participate in this challenge? At the end of this week, what do you hope to accomplish? What do you want to feel like? What do you want to learn? What would have to happen for you to feel successful? What would it look like if you participated in the challenge all the way through? How do you think it would help you? How are you going to stay accountable? What has happened over the course of the holidays in the past? What makes this time different? How are you going to set yourself up for success?

At the end of the week, I want to know what to do!

Ok,I think I need to rewind a bit here.

For the past 3 weeks, I’ve been on a different kind of eating plan loosely based on “100 Days of Real Food.” It’s pretty simple. While I’m at home, I’ve been avoiding foods with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, MSG, BHA, BHT, nitrates, nitrites, white flour, etc. I’ll admit, I’ve become more relaxed when it comes to certain things. I’ve been eating some foods that have more ingredients than I should (including myย favorite chips which have returned to grocery store shelves and Talenti Sea Salt Caramel gelato…) I’ve also been eating more things with added sugar, and fewer veggies.

But even with my downfalls, I’m down a little more than 8 pounds since the beginning of the month. Which is incredible considering I haven’t counted a single calorie.

I’m getting a little nervous about this, however. I think I’ve always had this deep fear that doing something like this would result in a little weight loss, but it would eventually stall. I think, deep down, I think that calorie counting is inevitable if I want to continue to lose weight.

I definitely think that I am leaning towards a TDEE-20% method for weight loss. In short, TDEE is basically the number of calories you burn in a day. So, if your TDEE is 2,000 then if you eat 2,000 calories, you’ll maintain your weight. If you eat more, you will gain. If you eat less, you will lose weight. Pretty simple concept.

It’s recommended to only eat a 20% reduction at most (unless you are very obese) so you don’t risk eating too little, and losing muscle mass along with fat.

It’s not an impossible calorie goal to reach, although I do have issues with being a bit too obsessive. I tend to weigh and measure EVERYTHING even though I know that it wouldn’t be horrible if I estimated fruit and veggie portions. I think it’s a fear that if my calculated BMR is too high, and I overestimate my calories burned, I’ll end up gaining weight. a 20% calorie reduction is not as forgiving as a 1,000+ calorie reduction!

Now, I don’t plan on starting anything until next week at the earliest. I’m going to do Leslie Sansone’sย Walk it Off in 30 Days program, but I’m really not sure about the whole calorie counting thing. Even just tracking calories to build awareness isn’t always the best option for me. I do have a few select events that may not be ideal for calorie counting: buffet meal on the 21st, Christmas Eve celebration, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve. If I don’t count calories, then these things are simpler. I just eat clean when I’m at home, and enjoy those few meals. Calorie counting throws a different loop in there. What if I spend my entire day’s calorie allowance at either one of those meals? I can definitely plan for Chinese, but the other meals are a little more difficult. I suppose taking those meals off can be an option, but it’s so easy for me to go from not tracking one meal to not tracking.. period.

I do know that, based on being sedentary, I’ll have around 1,400-1,600 calories a day to start. The exact amount really depends on my body fat percentage and/or the formula I use to calculate my BMR and TDEE. Ideally, I’ll use the formula that allows me to use body fat percentage. However, I also plan on using my Fibtit and Polar H7 to calculate my activity. If I exercise, I’ll earn more calories. I’m not completely sure if using the body fat percentage BMR calculation will work with the Fitbit adjustment since two different formulas are being used.

I suppose I do have almost a month to worry about Christmas and such, so I don’t really need to worry about that at this moment. I think focusing on figuring out what I’m going to do all those days in between might be more important.

I just wish there was a way to count calories without second-guessing my decision to wash down a PB&J with extra peanut butter (on homemade bread) with a nice, tall glass of whole milk. I’ve tried making the low-fat switch. It’s not happening. I love my whole milk too much.

At least the pumpkin muffins with cream cheese filling I’m making are only around 144 calories each. They’re 96 calories without the filling! Not shabby. Now, about the apple crisp…