6 Habits to Master Before You Count Calories


6 Habits to Master Before You Count Calories

Does this sound like you? You want to lose weight and get serious about improving your health and fitness but as of right now you eat and drink whatever. 

You eat out pretty regularly, order food in.. you have no idea how many calories you’re consuming. Fast food, chips, snacks, desserts, alcohol… Nothing is off limits.

And you decide it’s time to get your act together. So you plan to go all in with counting your calories and follow a pretty strict meal plan. You plan to avoid a certain list of foods, weigh and measure everything you consume. 

You do pretty well for a few days and then the weekend hits… or you go out to eat for a work function or social event and it makes it really hard to track your calories. 

No big deal. You’ll get back to it tomorrow. But then the next thing happens and you failed to track your calories at another meal.

One hiccup turns into another one… after a few short weeks, you call it quits on the strict calorie counting and go back to just doing whatever. 

You gain all the weight back, maybe even more than when you started. You eventually feel frustrated with yourself about your lack of discipline so you try it again in another few weeks.

You go from one extreme to the next. You’re either on a strict diet or you’re not employing a shred of discipline. 

This is called yo-yo dieting or the diet cycle.

I want to help you stop doing this.

So before you attempt to dive into calorie counting or tracking your macros, I think everyone needs to establish these 6 habits.

If you consistently apply these 6 habits, I guarantee you will start to lose weight, feel great and improve your health.

Many people will fight me on this because they think it’s not extreme enough to “see results” that they want to see.

Yet these same people have been stuck on an on again off again, yo-yo cycle for years… and they’ve failed to achieve AND maintain their desired physique, health and performance for a long period of time.

To that I say, prove to me that you can handle doing these 6 habits every day for 30 days and then we’ll talk about calories or macros.

Here we go…

Habit 1: Increase your steps and non-exercise activity.

Make 10,000-15,000 steps per day a target you build up to.

If you’re only currently getting 3,000-5,000 steps per day, make your first target an additional 3,000 steps. Then after mastering that for a few days or short weeks, bump your target up another 3,000 steps. 

Yes, this means you need to track your steps somehow. This can be done by buying a cheap, clip -on pedometer, wearing a tracker like an apple watch or a fitbit or using an app on your phone.

Make a conscious effort to walk more everywhere you go. Take the stairs. Get outside with your kids and pets. Become more of an active person. Do more manual labor. Ride your bike.

Get a stand up workstation and stop sitting so much. Set reminders and alarms to get yourself out of your chair and move.

Habit 2: Cook your food at home.

You should develop the habit of shopping at the grocery store and cooking your own food.

Yes, this takes time but it’s one of the most important things to your health. It’s a skill that is worth investing in.

And when the time comes for you to start tracking your calories and macros, it’s always easier when you’re in the habit of cooking your own food. 

Find a few simple recipes and start building up a menu for yourself. You just need a few go-to options that you enjoy. 

Start with 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners that you enjoy and look forward to eating. 

You don’t have to get fancy or overwhelmed with the idea of exploring your kitchen. Cooking is a step by step process. Recipes tell you exactly what to do – just follow the instructions. 

If you can learn to drive a car, you can learn to cook.

Habit 3: Add more fruits and vegetables to every single meal.

Get more produce in your life. Aim to have either a portion of fruit or vegetables at all of your meals.

You need to find a way to prepare vegetables so that you look forward to them in your meals… experiment with different spices and seasonings.

You can bake them, grill them, saute them, put them in the air fryer. Texture is an important part of cooking – so explore different cooking methods to find what you like most.

Habit 4: Sleep more

I know this isn’t always easy to do with every lifestyle or schedule but you have to try your best to prioritize 7-8 hours of uninterrupted. 

I know there are various seasons of your life when it’s just not possible.. But if you have the ability to make 7-8 hours happen then you should.

Get off your screens at night, set a reverse alarm (this tells you when to GO to bed), find something that relaxes you at night (read, do puzzles, take a bath, etc) and get to sleep.

Sleep is restorative. Sleep is how we manage stress. Sleep is where we produce and regulate hormone production. Sleep is how we manage our emotions and cognitive function. Sleep is how we manage our hunger and appetite.

Make sleep a priority – it’s the fountain of youth 😉 

Habit 5: Stop snacking and focus on complete meals.

This one is simple… eat foods in combination to make a complete meal (protein, carb and fat) and stop snacking/grazing.

Commit to 3-4 complete meals per day. Eat a full meal when you get hungry, slowly consume your meal and stop when you’re satisfied. Repeat a few times in a day.

People are always concerned about what snacks they should buy or consume… I say don’t worry about snacks. Eat a complete meal that keeps you energized and full for a few hours and then eat another one.

Habit 6: Drink more water and calorie free beverages. 

Water should be priority number one. Buy a refillable water bottle and keep it with you at all times. 

But just by swapping calorie dense drinks (sodas, teas, alcohol, coffee loaded with creamers/sugars, etc), you’ll dramatically lower your calorie intake.

Drink more water and minimize everything else.

There you have it folks! 6 Habits that you should master before you worry about tracking your calories or macros.

You can choose to apply all of these at once or slowly integrate these habits a few at a time. 

Maintaining a healthy body composition all year round is all about consistency and sustainability.

And weight loss isn’t all about SUBTRACTION… it can be about the things you add to your lifestyle like the habits above.

  • – Nicole Race, owner Elevate St. Pete