Ep #70: How to Lose Weight without Counting Calories

Strong as a Working Mom with Carrie Holland | How to Lose Weight without Counting Calories
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The topic of losing weight without counting calories comes up frequently in my coaching sessions with clients, and I’ve been asked about it often enough in general that it’s time to address it on the podcast.

Using tracking apps to count your calorie intake can definitely be eye-opening if you’ve never done it before. However, you don’t have to count calories to lose weight. Some of you have said it just doesn’t work for you, while others find it makes them obsessive and leads to unhealthy behaviors. The truth is, people have always been able to lose weight without tracking apps, so if you resonate with either of these sentiments, you’re in the right place.

Listen in this week to discover how to lose weight without counting calories. I’m sharing two main ideas that will guide you in stopping overeating, as well as some small and subtle but impactful shifts you can make as part of your daily routine so you can begin losing weight.

Are you ready to eat, move, and think in a way that gets you strong both physically and mentally? You deserve to have both no matter how busy you are, and I can help. I’m opening up my one-on-one coaching program for new clients, and I would love to work with you. Click here to learn more about working with me.

What You Will Discover:

  • Why tracking apps aren’t required for losing weight.
  • What might be happening if you’re counting calories and not losing weight.
  • 2 tools you can use if you want to lose weight but don’t want to track calories.
  • How to use your hunger to guide your eating.
  • Why it’s worth deciding ahead of time the number of meals and snacks you’re going to have.
  • Small but impactful adjustments you can make to lose weight.

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Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast, Episode #70. If you want to lose weight but you don’t want to count calories, try some of these ideas instead.

Welcome to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. If you’re balancing career, family, wellness, and some days sanity, you are in the right place. This is where high-achieving, busy, working moms get the tools they need to eat, move, and think. I’m your host, physician, personal trainer, and Certified Life Coach, Carrie Holland. Let’s do this.

Hey, how are you? What’s new, what’s good? So, what’s good here, aside from what we’re going to talk about today, what else is good here is that I just had an awesome weekend where I got to talk with 150 professional women from around southwest Michigan about the intersection of my three most favorite things: Eating, moving, and of course, thinking.

So, I walked away from the conference feeling totally empowered and inspired. It was just really fun to talk with so many amazing women who share the same struggles as I do; managing career, family, wellness and sanity.

The women I met; they work hard. They value having a career that gives them purpose. Many of them are parents and their families are also a priority. The story I heard over and over again is that these women spend so much time and energy on both their careers and their families, that it comes at the cost of their wellness. They aren’t taking care of either their bodies or their minds in the way they want to, and they are exhausted.

But there’s a way to change that, it starts with your thinking. Because it always goes back to your thoughts. So, I had the privilege of sharing some of my most favorite tools and concepts to help these women make their juggling act just a little easier.

It was super uplifting, and I walked away from that conference feeling totally filled up. It was such a great way to start that weekend. I had no idea how much I love public speaking. But I’m just going to put it out there, I do. Then, to make a good thing even better, I got to spend the next two days at another conference talking with loads of physicians about what I do as a coach, and why I think I have the most amazing job.

I got to share how life coaching helps you reconnect with your emotional authority and put you back in charge of your life, instead of living at the effect of it. It was so energizing.

It’s events like these and experiences, speaking and talking to so many people, that reaffirms for me that taking care of our minds and our bodies, it matters. Because when you are so bold as to take care of yourself, everyone around you wins. I truly believe that to my core. I will share that message and these tools with anyone who will listen.

So, I’m coming off this weekend feeling super pumped and extremely grateful for the work I get to do. Today, the other thing that’s good, is that we are going to talk about ways to lose weight without counting calories. This has come up enough times in coaching sessions with clients, I’ve been asked about it numerous times, and we haven’t addressed it yet on the podcast. So, let’s do that today.

To make it clear from the get-go, you absolutely do not have to track your calories in order to lose weight. Some of you have told me that it just does not work for you, and it makes you obsessive or it leads to unhealthy behaviors.

Some of you have told me that you just straight up don’t want to track. That’s totally fine. I’m never going to tell you that you must do something in order to lose weight. That is not my role. There is no one right way to do this. There is no one right way to lose weight. And, I would be leery of anyone who says otherwise. I would never try to convince you that you have to track your calories in order to be successful, because that is simply not true.

Think about it. People lost weight before MyFitnessPal existed. People have been able to successfully lose weight without the use of a tracking app. What this tells me is that it’s not the app itself that is causing you to lose the weight, it’s your behaviors. A calorie tracking app is simply there as a tool for you to record your behavior related to food consumption. But it’s not required in order for you to lose weight.

Tracking, as I’ve said before, while it can be helpful, it is a best guesstimate. Tracking calories is not a perfect science, at all. Meaning, even if you swear up and down that you’ve been spot on with recording everything you’ve eaten, it’s still an estimate.

That’s because serving sizes are difficult to estimate, and humans are terrible at estimating. So, unless you’re weighing your food down to the gram with a food scale, and nickel and dimming yourself for every bite and taste and every morsel of food you’re putting in your mouth, your tracking is an estimate at best.

I share this because so many of you have told me that you’ve been super consistent with your tracking, but you’re not losing weight and you’re frustrated. That tells me that even though you’re tracking, and you swear that you’re only taking in 1,400 calories a day, because that’s what your tracker says, you’re not losing weight.

That tells me that something is not matching up. Something does not make sense here. What it tells me, is that it really doesn’t matter what your MyFitnessPal says, because if you are not losing weight it means you’re eating more calories than your body needs, and you are not in a calorie deficit.

That is where tracking can get super frustrating. It is an estimate, nothing more. But as I share this, please don’t get me wrong. Tracking most definitely can be helpful. If you have never tracked your food before, it can be entirely eye opening to see how many calories your plate of Fettuccine Alfredo has.

Tracking a day in the life of the food you eat, can show you just how much you’re eating. Especially if your diet is largely processed food, or if you eat a lot of restaurant or takeout food, which tends to be more calorically dense than things like veggies and protein.

So, when you make the decision to track for a few weeks to collect data, then you can see where there’s room for improvement. If you want to know more about the pros and cons of tracking calories, I get into all of this, in detail, in Episode 31. Feel free to check that out and get more information on that.

But for today, I want to give you a couple of tools and concepts to put into practice if you want to lose weight but you don’t want to track calories. Because it is absolutely possible to do that. My goal is to give you tools that can become part of your normal routine. It doesn’t do you any good if I give you tools and you try them for a few weeks, and then you abort because they don’t work for your life.

As I’m talking through these, consider which of these tools and concepts are things you can implement into your daily rhythm and make part of your new normal. All right? So, let’s go.

The first thing you can do to help you lose weight without counting calories is to use your hunger scale. All this means is to simply reconnect your hunger to your eating. I’ve said this before, and it bears repeating here, but for most people, eating and hunger have become entirely disconnected.

We eat when we’re happy, we eat when we’re sad, we eat cupcakes in the middle of the workday when it’s someone’s birthday, we eat ice cream after a soccer game, we have appetizers because everyone else is doing it.

The sum total of this is that we end up eating for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with hunger. This has become the norm. Instead, I’m encouraging you to use your hunger to guide your eating. Your hunger should be the cue that drives your eating.

This is not to say that you don’t ever eat for fun or joyful events, like a cake on your kid’s birthday, or your grandma’s famous Thanksgiving stuffing. But the problem we have is that eating for reasons other than hunger has become the norm rather than the exception. We do it all the time. If you want to stop overeating, one of the most essential tools to do this is use your hunger to guide your eating.

You can do that by implementing a hunger scale. In order to use your hunger scale, it’s really simple, you ask yourself two key questions. You ask: How hungry am I? Before you choose to eat. Then you ask yourself: How full am I? As you’re eating, and especially when you’re nearly finished and considering going for more food.

You can get as fancy as you want on this. You can give yourself a rating, using a Likert scale of -10 to +10. Minus 10 is, I am insanely hungry. Plus 10 is where you are overstuffed and uncomfortable.

In my coach training, we were taught to eat from -4 to +4, if you’re eating three meals a day. With a number that’s getting closer together, like -2 to +2 if you eat snacks. To be perfectly honest, those numbers really don’t matter all that much to me.

Instead, the larger point here is to become familiar with what true physical hunger feels like for you. The goal of asking yourself these questions is to check in with yourself. Get into your brain and your body and pay attention to your stomach. Ask yourself the question to determine how hungry you are. Then let your hunger guide how much you eat.

At the same time, let your satiety guide when you stop eating. So, this is in contrast to being in the “clean plate club,” or letting the bottom of the bowl tell you ‘hey, I’m all done.’ If you’re someone who grew up in a family where you had to clean your plate, this may be a challenge.

But it is absolutely worth the work of coming off autopilot and paying attention to your fullness cues. Because when you do this, you’ll be better equipped to know when to stop eating, and you can use your fullness to determine when you’re done.

To take this a little further, remember that it takes time for your stomach and your brain to communicate. There’s generally a 20-30 minute delay between the time your gut is full and the time your brain senses satiety. So, if you finish your meal and your M.O. is to go back for seconds, one, check in with yourself and ask: How full am I? Practice giving yourself time for your stomach to register the signal of fullness to your brain.

Often, if you wait 20 or more minutes, you will find your stomach happily full, without the need for seconds or thirds. I know this concept is not complicated. It is not fancy, right? Sometimes, when I suggest this to clients, there’s resistance because it’s not as tangible as eating more veggies, or eating less processed foods; which I’ll get to in a few minutes.

But even though it’s not tangible in that way, it is essential because it means you’re paying attention. You’re practicing awareness. That’s just it, I’m asking you to become aware of what hunger looks and feels like for you. Then base your decisions on that.

If you think it’s a soft tool, or if you feel resistance to it, I would encourage you to get into your brain and ask yourself why. When I’ve done exactly this with clients, when they’ve shown resistance to it, often what comes up is that they want the “how.”

They want to know the exact actions to take, like what proportion of broccoli to pasta, or what kind of snacks, or what variety of protein will help them lose weight. And yes, that’s important, I can give that to you. But that’s all secondary. If you want to stop overeating, you have to go inside yourself.

Using your hunger scale is most definitely an inside job. It means paying attention to your mind and your body. That can be a tall order for someone who is used to eating whatever, whenever, without checking in with their hunger first. But honestly, it is one of the most essential pieces to stopping overeating and losing weight. I’m asking you to practice being aware of yourself.

I know the hunger scale is not rocket science. When you boil it down, all you’re doing is asking how hungry you are and how full you are, and then eating based on that. But I’m making a big hairy deal out of it and listing it at first because while it’s simple, you may find that it’s more challenging than you think to put into practice.

Because it means coming off autopilot. It means changing your default. It means that you don’t automatically eat cake at 2:30 in the afternoon for your coworker’s birthday, because you’re not hungry. It may mean skipping dessert while all of your friends are having cheesecake, because you’re not hungry.

It may mean leaving food on your plate, when normally you will be part of the “clean plate club” because you’re full. That may feel weird and new and different to you, at first. That’s what happens when you change your habits. But the more you do this, the more you use your hunger to guide your eating, instead of eating for reasons other than hunger, the more you are reconnecting eating and hunger.

When you do this, you practice awareness of your hunger cues, and your primary goal is to eat based on hunger, you will find that you eat less. As I’m talking about satiety, this leads me to the second concept to consider, which is the concept of “hara hachi bu.”

I learned about this concept when I read the book Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. If you haven’t read it, add it to your list. It’s all about places around the world with high concentrations of centenarians, or people that have lived to be 100 years or older.

These people are not only living a long time, they are living healthy, with a good quality of life, and are largely disease free, or the disease onset is much later than the average person.

These are 100-year old people still riding their bikes, tending their goats, dancing at weddings, getting out into their communities, and living a quality life. It’s a really interesting book, and now there’s even a Netflix documentary about the Blue Zones. So, please check it out.

One of the concepts that the author describes, is the practice of hara hachi bu, which comes from Okinawa, Japan. All it is, is a reminder to stop eating when you’re 80% full. That’s it, stop eating when you’re 80% full. Again, a very simple concept. This is not astrophysics we’re talking about here. But in order to stop at 80% fullness, that’s going to take some practice coming off autopilot to change your habits.

Again, going inside yourself and using your internal cues of hunger and satiety versus any external cues like your empty plate. According to the book, Okinawan elders start their meals by stating “Hara hachi bu” before they begin eating. It’s a way of life for them. It is most definitely habit.

It’s really interesting, and I just want to share this sentence from an article I read about hara hachi bu, because it was just that good. It said there is a significant calorie gap between when an American says “I’m full” and an Okinawan says “I’m no longer hungry.” Yes. So good. Think about that. The difference between “I’m full” versus “I am no longer hungry.” Absolutely.

So, now that we’ve gone over those two key concepts, let’s get into the how. Once you start paying closer attention to your hunger scale, and you start practicing awareness around your hunger, then you can also incorporate some of these tools into your daily rhythm and see how they help stop you overeating.

First, I would encourage you to decide on how many meals and snacks you’re going to have, and then eat only at those times. That means that if you decide you’re going to stick to three meals a day, like breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that is what you do, and you don’t snack in between meals. Or if you decide that you do better with snacks during the day, then decide how many snacks you’re going to have and eat them.

There’s a number of reasons that deciding this in advance is helpful. First, it trains your brain. Have you ever noticed that your stomach starts to growl at noon, if that’s when you normally eat lunch? It’s because your body has been trained to be ready for food then.

So, sticking to a set number of meals and snacks, especially if you eat at the same time every day, it becomes habit. It’s training your brain. It’s telling your brain, “Hey, we eat at noon.”

Two, it means that your meals and snacks should be adequately satiating to keep you full until your next meal. If you decide that you’re going to eat three meals a day, then I would encourage you to look closely at those meals to ensure that they’re adequately filling, so you don’t get hangry and feel the need to snack.

Do not be afraid to eat a legitimately substantial lunch. So many of you have shared that you’re banking or saving up your calories for dinner, so you skimp on lunch and eat hardly anything. Time and again, that has proven to backfire, and it just make you hangry.

If you decide on three meals, or whatever number of meals and snacks you decide, the next task is to ensure that those meals are filling enough so you don’t feel the need to snack or graze in between. Because it’s the mindless, unplanned grazing, with a random handfuls and bites of things throughout the day, that can really throw you off and add to your total daily caloric intake.

Instead, decide how many meals you’re going to have, how many snacks you’re going to have, ensure that all of those are satiating enough to keep you from grazing, and eat only at those meal and snack times. Get rid of the grazing, because that grazing is totally shooting you in the foot. All right?

Next, pay attention to portion sizes. I know this seems fairly obvious, but I want to spell it out for you here. We are a supersized society, as a result we have the waist lines to go with it. Dinner plates, they have increased in size since the 1950s. Soft drinks sizes, oh my goodness, they have gotten enormous. Restaurant meals are getting bigger and bigger.

All of this is resulting in really easy opportunities to overeat. So, if you aren’t paying attention to your hunger cues, and you combine that with a very large portions that are simply the norm in our world, you can see why we’ve got a problem.

Instead, pay attention. Stick to one plate, and consider just how much you’re putting on it. If you normally take two heaping scoopfuls of spaghetti at dinner, how about starting with one? If you normally have two pieces of bread with dinner, how about one or none? How many pieces of pizza do you have on pizza night? Maybe two instead of three, with a salad to go with it.

Is a supersize coke all you fill up your car with gas, is that absolutely necessary? How about the next smaller size. These are just a few small, subtle but impactful shifts that you can make. None of these suggestions are wild, right? I’m not asking you to give up anything.

I’m not asking you to stop drinking Coke if you don’t want to. I’m not asking you to give up spaghetti or bread. But the plain truth is that portion sizes, containers, cups, plates, they are all growing, and that is not helping us. So, if you want to stop overeating, I’m asking you to be very aware and conscientious of the portion sizes you’re serving yourself.

Pay attention to your dinner plate each night and look at your portion sizes. Just ask yourself if the portion sizes are appropriate for your level of hunger. That’s it, it does not have to be any more complicated than that.

The next way to lose weight without counting calories is to consider your plate or your meals as fractions. I really liked this concept because one, I am a math nerd. Two, I’m a very visual person. And three, my meals are pretty simple and I can apply this concept very easily to my plate.

The idea here is to look at the makeup of your plate. For so many of us dinner tends to be carb heavy, as in a bowl of spaghetti or a plate of mac-n-cheese, period. I know growing up that is what we did. I would have a plate full of pasta with meat sauce and bread on the side. Every now and then there was broccoli, but most pasta nights were pasta and bread. That’s it.

We’re going to shake that up, and I’m asking you to shift the proportions on your plate. So, aim for half of your plate full of vegetables. When I say veggies, I mean above ground veggies, like broccoli, cauliflower, beans, peppers, cucumber, lettuce, etc. Above ground veggies are largely water based and do not pack as many calories for the most part, as their below ground counterparts.

So, half of your plate in above ground veggies. You get loads of vitamins and minerals, and the fiber will help to keep you full. Fiber is highly underrated, and most Americans, we just don’t get enough. So, veggies and fruit will help you get there and your colon will thank you, too. Okay?

Then one quarter of your plate consists of whole grains and/or below ground veggies. So, things like quinoa, farro, potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables. The reason I lump below ground vegetables and grains together is that they both tend to be heavier in carbs than the above ground vegetables that have a higher concentration of water.

Last, aim for one quarter of your plate to consist of lean protein. So, things like chicken, tofu, lean beef, tempeh, fish. If you’re wondering where fats fall in, they most often come with your proteins unless you’re eating pure proteins, like egg whites or fish. Or if you put things like cheese or avocado on your salad, or if you cook with olive oil.

So, fat usually comes as an adjunct to your carbs or your proteins, and that’s totally fine. You need fat, don’t avoid it. But pay attention to it because it is the most calorically dense of the macronutrients, and it’s really easy to overdo it.

The fractions that I just suggested, they’re guidelines, of course, but your starting point could be one half above ground veggies, one quarter grains or potatoes, one quarter lean protein. I like this as a starting point, because for most people the balance is shifted, with a heavy emphasis on carbs.

Most people have no problem taking in plenty of carbs and fat. But when you create your plate in fractions, you’re aiming for at least one quarter of your plate to be protein and at least one half of your plate to be veggies. Again, you can mess around with the fractions here, you don’t have to do it exactly this way.

The larger point here, is to shift that balance towards more vegetables, and less towards calorie-dense food loaded with carbs and or fat. Again, I’m not telling you to give up carbs, I’m not telling you to give up fat, that is not my goal here. Instead, I’m just asking you to shift the balance and focus on more veggies and protein.

All right, next. As I’m talking about the makeup of your plate, another way to lose weight without counting calories is to look at the makeup of your proteins. You know I am a huge fan of protein, for a number of reasons. It keeps you full and satisfied. It takes the most calories to digest compared to carbs or fat. It helps you maintain and build muscle. It helps regulate your hunger hormones.

I could go on, but suffice it to say that protein is an important part of your diet, especially if you’re looking to lose weight. So, the general recommendation is to aim for at least 20%, and ideally increase to 30%, of your calories from protein.

If you’re aiming to lose weight and build muscle, the makeup of your protein matters. It’s another place where you can make some subtle adjustments to help you lose weight without counting calories. Here’s what I mean by this. If you normally eat chicken thighs or chicken wings, for example, those tend to have more calories per serving than the same size serving of a chicken breast.

Or if you eat red meat, particularly steak, pay attention to the cuts of steak you’re getting. The more marbling or the more white you see within the steak, the more fat there is, and the more calories the meat will have in general. There are all kinds of arguments as to which is the fattiest cut of steak, but ribeye came up over and over again. So, a leaner steak would be something like a sirloin strip.

Or if you eat eggs, consider how many whole eggs you have. The yolk is where all the fat is, and that’s where you’ll be adding on extra calories. Egg whites, they have less calories per serving. So, if you like eggs, how about having one whole egg, and then adding egg whites to it to give you more volume but with less calories, than if you had two or three whole eggs.

Or if you get your protein from things like beans or lentils, just pay attention. If you have a plate full of lentils and potatoes and beans for dinner, yes, you’re most definitely going to get some protein. However, you’re also going to get a lot more carbs than if you’re eating something like a chicken breast, or with fish.

If you’re someone who tends to eat more fatty fish like salmon or mackerel, just know that there’s more fat in those types of fish than a white fish, like cod or tilapia. I bring up all of these examples, because it’s subtle. Any of the options I just listed will put protein on your plate. But those proteins all come with wildly variable amounts of fat and/or carbs that are going to affect your bottom line, as far as the total number of calories you’re taking in.

So, if you eat salmon multiple times a week, or if you tend to go for fattier cuts of steak, or your breakfast tends to be a three egg omelet, you can choose to adjust and go for less calorically dense options, or choose to have them less often. Maybe you have steak once a week instead of twice. Or you have salmon once a week and tilapia another, instead of having salmon twice in a week.

Again, these are small shifts and you’re not giving up anything. You’re just changing things up in order to take in less calories. It doesn’t necessarily mean less food either, it’s just less calories. And that’s a key takeaway, okay?

While I’m talking about less food, the next thing you can do to lose weight without counting calories, is crowd out the processed stuff. I’ve mentioned the concept of crowding out before. I think it’s worthwhile to bring it up again here, because it’s not a diet and it’s not fancy, it’s just changing up the priority order of the foods you eat.

So, “crowding out” means that you prioritize eating real, whole, unprocessed, and minimally processed foods before you reach for the ultra-processed stuff. As an example, if you’re hungry for a snack, instead of grabbing a bag of pretzels, you start with an apple and stringy cheese. That’s it.

The idea here is simple, it’s harder to eat an entire bag of apples than it is to eat an entire bag of snack cookies, right? So, fill yourself up with the apples first, and you’ll be leaving yourself less room for the processed stuff. Highly processed food is designed to be eaten in large quantities because it is so highly palatable, and because of the reward it gives your brain. Apples don’t do it to that degree. So, start with the apples first.

It’s no secret that ultra-processed foods are contributing to the obesity problem we have in our world. So, anything you can do to cut down on your ultra-processed food intake, like cake, cookies, or chips will make a huge difference. Just a few more here. Next, don’t skip meals. I know this may seem counterintuitive, because if you’re skipping meals then theoretically you would be taking in less calories, right? But for most every client I’ve worked with, this backfires. I cannot think of a single person I’ve worked with, where skipping meals has worked to her advantage.

To be clear, I’m not talking about intermittent fasting here. What happens most often, especially for those of you who are extremely busy at work, is that you end up skipping lunch, and that does you a huge disservice. Because inevitably, what happens is that you get to the mid- or late afternoon, and you are hangry.

Then you start grazing on some cheese and crackers here, a donut from the break room there, a couple of pieces from the candy dish at work. Often you rationalize it by saying, “Well, I haven’t eaten lunch today, so there’s room for this cookie. And there’s room for this piece of pizza, too. And maybe just a little piece of my coworker’s birthday cake is no big deal, because hey, I didn’t eat lunch today.”

No, what usually ends up happening is that you overdo it with all of the grazing. You let yourself get so hungry that you eat things you normally wouldn’t, in quantities that you wouldn’t, and then you end up overeating. Instead, do everything in your power to not skip meals. I’ve had clients set alarms as a reminder. I’ve had clients keep a ‘just in case’ snack pack at their work, that they can eat in a pinch. Some of my clients have a case of protein shakes in their office. I don’t care what it is, but have a backup plan so that you don’t let yourself get overly hungry.

Don’t try to see how long you can hold out; I’ve seen people do that. Don’t see if you can stretch it all the way to dinner. Generally, that does not go well. It nearly always results in overdoing it and overeating.

Here’s the other thing I will add about skipping meals, especially lunch. Often, you tell me that you just do not have the time to eat lunch. That you are running between patients or clients or classes or cases or whatever it is, and you just don’t have time to eat lunch.

My response to that would be, you get to decide what it’s worth to you. You get to decide if taking 10 minutes to eat an actual lunch, even if it means you’re late for a meeting or late for your next appointment… You get to decide if it’s worth it so that you don’t end up hungry and overeating and taking yourself farther away from your goals every time you do it.

You always have a choice. I know it may not feel like it but you really do, you always have a choice, and you can decide that skipping meals does not align with your goals. You’re changing things up so you can have an actual lunch, so you don’t end up overeating later. You can make that decision and practice putting it into action.

That’s usually the hardest part. But look at what happens when you do take the time to eat real lunch. Generally, it keeps you from overly grazing for the rest of the day. So, you get to decide what it’s worth to you.

And last, you can lose weight without counting calories by cutting down on the liquid calories you take in. To be honest, this is one of the easiest ways to make an impact on your bottom line. Really, the only liquid your body needs is water. Water. There are no other liquid calories your body needs in order to survive.

So, every coffee drink or regular soda or glass of wine or a bottle of juice that you drink, that’s added calories that you simply do not need. You may want them and you may like them, but your body does not need them. They are, in essence, adding extra calories to your total intake.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you can think of it this way. Do you prefer to eat more of your calories or drink more of your calories? So, me, I prefer to chew, so I’m going to stick with water.

You can also think about it this way. Imagine you’re out to dinner. You have a cocktail while you’re waiting to be seated, you have a regular soda with your entree, then you have a glass of wine after dinner. So, in the course of having those three drinks, you have just added the equivalent of a second dinner to your total calorie intake.

But you may not see it that way, because you’re drinking it. But those calories, even if they’re liquid, they most definitely add up. Even if they’re liquid, they add up fast. So, what would happen if you replaced one of your drinks with water, just one? That’s moving the needle. That’s cutting down your bottom line. Once again, you’re not giving up anything. I’m not asking you to give up soda, or your fun coffee drinks or wine, I’m asking you to cut back. So, you’ve seen a familiar thread throughout all these suggestions. Hopefully, the pattern here is to cut back without giving things up altogether, including your drinks.

There it is. We just went over a number of different ways to lose weight without counting calories. I started with the hardest one, using your hunger scale and going inside to let your own true physical hunger cues drive your eating. Now, added to that, the Okinawan concept of a hara hachi bu, or eating until you’re 80% full.

Then we got into some of the more tangible concepts, like choosing a certain number of meals and snacks that you’ll have every day and sticking to it. Paying attention to portion sizes, using fractions, aiming for 50% of your plate in veggies, looking at the type and content of your proteins, eating less ultra-processed stuff, not skipping meals, and cutting back on your liquid calories. So what do you do with all of this information? My suggestion is to pick two of these concepts. Start paying attention to your hunger cues, first and foremost.

Remember, that just means asking, how hungry am I? And how full am I? While you’re eating. That, I would argue, should be a concept anyone should practice if they want to stop overeating and lose weight.

Then choose any one of the other concepts I went over and practice that. Practice putting together a plate of half veggies, one quarter lean protein, one quarter whole grains, and get really, really good at that. So, it becomes your default, so that it becomes how you do, how you eat.

Once you’ve got that mastered, add on another one and repeat the process. This is not fancy. This is not complicated. And, that’s exactly the idea. It does not have to be a tremendous uphill climb to lose weight without counting calories.

These are small, subtle shifts that will have a huge impact once you stick with them and make them habit. Choose something and get really consistent with it. Make it your default, and let the results speak for itself. These are habit goals, and you have 100% control over each and every one of the suggestions I offered you today. If you choose one, and make it habit by being consistent, the result of weight loss will follow. All right?

If you want help practicing any of these concepts, let’s go. When you coach with me, you will design habits based on your goal, then I’ll hold you accountable and guide you towards your results.

If you want to know more about how coaching works, check out my website. Go to www.CarrieHollandMD.com/contact, send me a message, and let’s get started. So, thank you again for hanging out with me, and I’ll catch you again next week.

If you like what you’ve been hearing, please review the show. I would love to get your feedback and ideas. Your suggestions have inspired episodes and will help me make the show better for you. Share this podcast with a friend, text a show link, share a screenshot, or post a link to the show on your social media. Be sure to tag me @CarrieHollandMD on either Instagram or Facebook so I can follow along and engage with you.

This is how we get the word out to other working moms who want to feel strong, inside and out. If you know someone who wants to feel better or eat and move differently but she is too tired or too busy, it is time to change things up. You know making that change starts with how you think, and that is what we do here on the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. I’ll see you next week.

Thanks for listening to Strong as a Working Mom. If you want more information on how to eat, move, and think, so you can live in the body you want, with the mind to match, visit me at CarrieHollandMD.com.

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