Fit Food(ie)

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How to Calculate "Calorie Deficit"

You've probably heard by now that if you want to lose weight, you have to eat in a calorie deficit. But what does that mean? Does it mean eating 1200 or less a day? That's what calorie trackers like MyFitnessPal told me. Does it mean restricting certain foods or entire categories of foods? That's what a low fat diet, or Keto diet, and many other types of diets do. 

I don't follow any specific diet, and only use a calorie tracker app every once in a while to calculate the calories in any new foods or recipes I'm eating. Following a moderation approach, eating nutritious foods I enjoy and treats, in a slight calorie deficit, has worked for me and my clients to lose weight. 

To calculate a true calorie deficit, most dietitians will use the Harris-Benedict Equation calculate BMR (basal metabolic rate), and then TEE (total energy expenditure), adjusting for PAL (physical activity level), and then subtract anywhere from 200 to 500 calories. It's a complicated equation, which is why I use this online Harris-Benedict Equation Calculator to determine my clients and my own Basal Metabolic Rate, Total Energy Expenditure, and adjust for Physical Activity Level. 

If you really want the exact equation, I'll write it out at the end of this post. 

In the meantime, this is how I use the online Harris Benedict Calculator

First, I plug in my numbers: 

You'll notice that my TEE (total energy expenditure) is 1,783 calories per day. 

This is how many calories I need to maintain my weight if I sat around and did nothing all day, but breathe and think. 

That is far more than 1,200 calories, and this isn't even adjusted, yet, for my PAL (physical activity level). 

PAL is how much I move during the day, AND any workouts I do. My job requires me to stand much of the day and do lots of walking on campus. I also take clients through fitness routines, in addition to my own workouts. So, let's adjust for PAL. 

Second, click the "Advanced Mode" to add in PAL: 

I strength train three to four days per week, and do cardio on the others days. This is in addition to all the activity in my job. 

Now my total calories per day necessary to maintain 135 pounds is 2,237! If you've dieted frequently, this may seem like a lot of calories. It's not. Our body needs energy and is hard-wired to fight calorie restriction. 

From this final number of 2,237, if I want to lose weight, I would subtract anywhere from 200-500 calories per day. Most of my clients want to start right away subtracting 500, the maximum amount, but remember, the body is hard-wired to resist calorie restriction, intentional or not, which is why diets don't work. 

I usually suggest starting by subtracting 250 calories per day. So, for me, that would mean I would eat 1,987 calories per day. The goal is to aim for consistent, steady weight loss, without binging because we've restricted too much. 

Will you calculate your TEE? Let me know how you do! 

Equation as promised: 


Stop tying weight loss with happiness.

Are you waiting to lose 10, 20, 30 or more pounds? Waiting to fit into that special dress, bathing suit, or pair of jeans? Waiting to be "happy" with your weight, that ever elusive specific number you've set in your mind? 

If your health and fitness goal is weight loss, and you are unhappy now with yourself/your body, my question to you is this: 

Why aren't you allowed to be happy right now, instead of when you've lost weight?
Acceptance of ourselves, and allowing ourselves to be happy NOW is necessary to make any progress. 

I struggled for years on diets, calorie counting, and excessive exercise. I tried every diet out there, reduced my food intake to 1200 calories or less a day, and lived my life by a long list of food rules. Then, I would binge on all my restricted foods, feel sick, guilty, and berate myself for being "weak." Obviously, nothing worked, which just made me feel completely hopeless as I gained more and more weight. 

I had to learn to respect my body and be content in my skin. This process began when I read

the book Within: A spiritual awakening to love and weight loss, and then therapy. I am happy with the way I am now. I know that sometimes I have to make healthier lifestyle choices, but also allow myself to enjoy delicious foods, without guilt or berating myself. 

If this sounds familiar to you, get professional help. You are not lazy; you are not alone. You have a mental health issue that needs treatment. It was like a weight lighten from my shoulders that I felt had been there my whole life. 

We put so much pressure on ourselves to lose weight - like everything is riding on it.
Be happy NOW, content in your skin. 

Think of your very best friend. Do you love her for her abs? Do you love her for the amount she weighs? We don't love people for their abs, because they have long legs, or for the amount shown on a scale. We love them because of who they are, their kindness, their love, the way they treat others; the fun and laughter we have when they are around us! 

Might we need to make healthier lifestyle choices? Maybe. Let's let go of tying weight loss with happiness. 

Who's with me?

Skinny Weightloss Veggie Soup

A big bowl of vegetable loaded soup that is delicious, warm, comforting and oh, so nutritious,  is one of my favorite Instant Pot meals. I love making it in the winter and store it in the fridge for my lunch. 

I call this my skinny weight loss soup because it's filling, and contains a bowlful of nutrients that reduce bloating, inflammation, and aid in overall health. 

I'm saving time by making this in the Instant Pot, which takes 25 minutes instead of letting it simmer all day, and f I want an even bigger time saver, I buy as many pre-chopped veggies as I can.

The star veggies in this soup are cabbage and leeks. Cabbage is a nutritious and filling leafy green. Leeks, and all of the veggies in this soup are nutrient-dense, meaning that they’re low in calories yet high in vitamins and minerals. However, leeks specifically are a good source of manganese, which may help reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms and promote thyroid health. Leeks are also great for the skin, and may help with inflammation, bloating, and heart health.

Tips for making Instant Pot Vegetable Soup:
You can use any beans you like. I used white beans, but you can use kidney beans, navy beans, or black beans.
Don’t like cauliflower? Use broccoli instead. Use the veggies you like and enjoy. 
I use chicken stock, but you could use vegetable stock as well. I love adding turmeric to any dish I can and I used it in this soup too. If you have it on hand, add 1/2 teaspoon.


1 tablespoon olive oil
5 garlic cloves minced
4 leeks, trimmed and sliced
5 white mushrooms washed, sliced
2 cups riced cauliflower (or florets if you prefer)
2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
2 yellow summer squash, chopped
3 cups chopped cabbage
1 15 oz. can white beans drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
4 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken stock
**Option: I like to puree my beans, tomatoes and chicken stock in a blender before adding them to the Instant Pot. It thickens the broth.
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1. Press "saute" button on your Instant Pot. Add olive oil to the stainless steel insert. Wait 2 minutes for it to preheat.
2. Add garlic and leeks to Instant Pot. Saute, stirring often, until the leeks soften. Add mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes, until the mixture is fragrant.
3. Press "off/stop" button.
4. Add remaining ingredients to Instant Pot.
5. Place lid on the pressure cooker and make sure the valve is set to "sealing".
6. Press "pressure cook" setting and timer to 25 minutes.
7. The Instant Pot will beep and start cooking. It may take about 5-10 minutes for it to come to pressure and then start the timer.
8. When done, the Instant Pot will beep. Let the pressure release naturally for about 5 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure by carefully switching the valve to "venting".
9. Carefully remove the lid, away from your face, and set aside.
10. Stir the soup. Let cool slightly before serving.
11. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

This soup is loaded with vegetables: cabbage, garlic, zucchini, carrots, celery, cauliflower, leeks and beans. It will help with bloat and inflammation, keep you full. The addition of turmeric, pepper, Italian seasoning, paprika and bay leaves add a delicious flavor.

New Year Weightloss Tips

Tammy, a new client, told me she had followed the NutriSystem diet two years ago and lost 40 pounds, but when she stopped ordering and eating the plan's food, she regained all the weight. She came to me in December wanting personal training and a nutrition plan. She asked "What do I have to do? I'll do it, just tell me."

Have you felt like Tammy? I know I did. I've followed every diet, taken diet pills, and every weightloss trend since the 1980s!! I've deprived myself of food, restricted calories, and banned entire food groups. Each time I stopped the prescribed diet, I would gain back the weight. This happened through my 20s, through my 30s, and halfway through my 40s. 

Three years ago, I said "ENOUGH" to all of this. I ditched the diets. If a specific diet works for you, great. If you can continue on it, and eat the prescribed diet long-term, if it's sustainable for you and your lifestyle, then continue. You don't need to read anymore. 

However, if you're looking for a sustainable way of eating, that can support weightloss efforts, then check out these tips below. These are a beginning. I started slow, because I didn't know what I should eat, or what I should do. Here are the FIVE TIPS I started with: 

1. Drink Water: you know this. This is not magic, but I know I feel better, my digestion is better, my skin
is better when I drink water. How much? It's individual for all, but start by drinking half your weight in ounces. I weigh 135 pounds, so I drink 67.5 ounces each day. Sometimes lots more, sometimes a bit less. If half your weight in ounces seems like too much, then just start by ADDING more WATER to what you drink. Set an alarm to drink a few sips each hour; or drink a glass of water after each time you go to the bathroom; or drink a glass before eating anything. 

2. ADD a CUP OF VEGGIES (if possible make them green leafy ones) at EVERY MEAL. Yes, that means breakfast too. Add frozen cauliflower to a smoothie (you won't even taste it), add some spinach to scrambled eggs, or make a mushroom, peppers, and onions omelet. Make sure it's a vegetable you enjoy eating. Eat veggies as snacks and have a cup at lunch and dinner too. This is not about forcing down plain steamed broccoli as punishment for what you ate over the holidays. 

3. MOVE: You know this one too! But don't think of it as punishment or pummeling your body into
submission. Instead ADD movement you LOVE! Go for a one mile a day walk, dance, do some stretching or yoga. Anything that you enjoy. It doesn't have to be running, weightlifting, or a plyo workout, unless you enjoy those workouts. Stream free videos on YouTube, check out my free workout videos on my InstaGram Highlight reels or on my TikTok profile. If you want or need more help, you can hire a personal trainer. I do virtual personal training sessions with all my clients during this COVID quarantine. There are so many fitness and movement options. ADDING loving movement, treating your body to movement, benefits digestion and helps to raise energy levels. 

4. ADD patience: Whatever weight you want to lose, 10, 20, 30 pounds or more. It didn't take one day or one week to gain this weight. It's going to take more than one day or one week to lose it. Aim to lose one to two pounds a week. This allows me to enjoy my food (I LOVE food, and I don't want to be deprived), and allows me to enjoy my life.

5. Change the PERSPECTIVE: If you notice tips 1-4 above all mention ADDING to your daily routine. None mention depriving yourself. None of them mention restricting calories, restricting food groups, or any other restrictions. ADD to your life, instead of taking away. 

Please reach out if you need more help or tips. My goal is to help people feel good, and live confident, healthy lives. Love you guys!