Paleolithic man was characterized by the use of tools. It is one of the key things that helped us rule over our surroundings. It started off with rudimentary things like axes and hammers, but eventually gave way to the humanity changing inventions like electricity, the internet and twerking videos (NSFW but lol).
Today I wanted to bring you six virtual and physical tools that I used to help me lose and maintain my weight. Four of them are virtual (and free) and 2 of them are physical tools. I will also include a widget with some of my other favorite kitchen tools if you’re interested in more kitchen gadgets.
One of the first things I will ask someone to do when they come to me for weight loss advice is to start keeping a food journal of some sort. Whether it’s analog (notebook) or digital is really up to them, but I love MyFitnessPal for this purpose.
MyFitnessPal allows you to enter your height, weight and age into a website (or app) and using your level of activity and desired fitness goals, it will give you an approximate number of calories to consume. I’m not completely sold on calorie counting as the perfect weight loss method, but for individuals who don’t really have a great concept of how much protein, carbohydrates and fat they are consuming as well as how many calories, MyFitnessPal can be a real wake up call for their health.
Moreover, there’s something about the accountability of having to “tell” a computer program that you just consumed a 32 ounce Strawberry Cheesequake Blizzard that might make you second guess that decision.
Of course this only works if you’re honest with yourself and willing to document everything you put into your mouth, but then again, if you’re not serious about weight loss, you probably wouldn’t do it at all.
And finally, this helps me even today because I will typically enter my food around mid-day and then I know where my deficits are based on my macronutrient goals which currently are:
- Workout days: 2296 calories, 252g Protein, 133g Carbohydrates, 84g Fats.
- Non Workout days: 1690 calories, 170g Protein, 59g Carbohydrates, 86g Fats.
These of course will vary on your age, height, weight, activity level and personal goals.
MyFitnessPal also lets you enter in your exercise program which will in turn ratchet up your calories for the day. I feel like their system is better designed for people who focus on chronic cardio sessions as opposed to lifting and I always question the way it calculates how many calories such activities burn. Fitness monitoring is a key component though to progression, so we will come back to a different tool for that :).
2) Food Scale (one that can zero itself out like this one I have)
Again, if you’re anything like me (God help you), then you probably have no concept of how many ounces of anything you consume on a given day. I mean, doesn’t the butcher already portion out my steak? So for at least the first 60 days, I’d recommend weighing all your food to determine just how much your eating.
How did this help me? Well now, I can pretty much eyeball a piece of chicken, fish, or steak and have a general idea how many ounces I’m eating, which in turn I can turn into MyFitnessPal. But even today, I will pull out the scale from time to time to get an idea of what I’m eating to enter into my food diary.
The other thing that is really useful with a food scale is I love to buy huge pieces of Salmon or Beef and then I can butcher it into ziploc bags with equal portion sizes.
So we are committed to tracking our food and doing it accurately. Now how do we figure out what to make?
3) Recipe Storage (Really Simple Way, Simple Way and Detailed Way)
The Really Simple Way would be to buy some cookbooks. If I could suggest three:
- Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook: Sarah Fragoso puts out some of the first paleo recipes I felt bold enough to try. I was a beginner cook at best and I was churning out gourmet stuff with her simple but delicious recipes.
- The 4 Hour Chef by Tim Feiriss: This book is actually about a lot more about cooking. It’s about learning how to learn effectively and it provides cooking as the framework. It’s filled with some amazing and mostly paleo style recipes.
- Paleo Slow Cooking: Gluten Free Recipes Made Simple : I am in love with my crock pot and this book will have you loving it even more.
The Simple Way to store recipes would be to start googling and create a folder in your internet browser to start storing recipes. This works, but it isn’t nearly as high tech. Let me teach you a higher tech way.
What if I told you that you could subscribe to a ton of recipe blogs and just star the ones you like and have a magical app you could access everywhere that would do your taxes, send you on tropical vacations and store your favorite recipes?
What if it just did recipes? Oh good, because it really can’t do that other stuff.
I’ll get you started down the path today:
- Create an account at Feedly. Feedly is a newsreader that will let us save our favorite recipes. They also have an iPhone, iPad and an Android app.
- Click +Add Content in the top left corner and search for recipe sites using whatever searches you want: paleo, gluten free, recipes, weight loss, etc.. Here are some sites I’d recommend:
- Mark’s Daily Apple
- Everyday Paleo
- TinierTim (obvi)
Any time you see a recipe that you want to keep in your new electronic recipe box, simply click the save for later button at the top of the article and you have started your electronic recipe box.
Any time you are entertaining or just looking for inspiration, go to your Saved for Later folder and grab some recipes. I will oftentimes email myself the recipe from feedly if I plan on cooking it that week and add the needed items to my grocery list (I use the Reminders App on my Mac that syncs with my iPhone, but alas I worry I’m waxing too nerdy tech-y for a nutrition site!
Like tracking your calorie intake, there’s something about tracking exercise that changes the way I do it and I feel like it’s probably that way for a lot of us. It’s important to plan our work and work our plan.
Fitocracy is a ridiculously simple and free workout tracking app with a social twist, but it’s so much more than that. It’s so fast and easy to use, that I am able to input my workout in between sets (be careful doing this because you don’t want to take too long if someone is waiting on an apparatus and mess up your workout tempo). I love it for a few reasons:
- Tracking daily workouts. I actually have a free tumblr page that whenever I send a workout to Fitocracy, I upload my workouts to. This allows me to copy and paste my workout log to a trainer or friend if someone wants to give me pointers or get ideas.
- See your history. Feel like your squat hasn’t progressed lately? Well if you track all your workouts on Fitocracy, you can get a realtime glance at how you’ve progressed on any individual lift or program.
- Get encouragement from other like minded folks. The other day I was having a rough morning. This shoulder thing has been really hard on me and watching the guy next to me in the power rack doing military presses made me envious. That morning, one of my co-trainees in the Group Fitness Program I’m in commented on Fitocracy that made it all better. By the way, El Viejo aka Paul has a blog you should be following. He’s posts a lot of great links and thoughts.
- Join Groups. Are you a lady lifter? Training for a Zombie Apocalypse? A fitness geek who is really into BBC’s Sherlock? Play Dungeons & Dragons? Well there are groups of weirdos people just like you on Fitocracy that will cheer you on as you work out and talk about your weird obsessions.
- Get workout ideas from other users. Like try keeping up with one of the founders, Brian Wang (this dude is legit).
- They have challenges so you can enter a challenge with another user and see who comes out on top. I’ve never used this feature, but make sure to follow me there and feel free to become my first challenger :).
5) Veggie Spiraler
If you’re anything like me, one of the foods you could never get enough of is pasta. My mom always would make extra spaghetti and I loved the stuff so much, I would eat the leftover spaghetti cold out of the ziploc bag she’d put it in in the refrigerator. Spaghetti on Monday probably meant spaghetti on Tuesday and Wednesday too and eventually I got obese enough to tackle the entire leftover bag on Tuesday.
But I realized that I could mind hack myself to get the flavor profile in Spaghetti without the deleterious nutritional macros that came with bathing myself in pasta. How do you take your pasta? I like mine with butter and garlic with a little olive oil. All great ingredients if prepared with appropriate quantities. What if we could just cut the noodles?
Enter the veggie spiraler:
Paderno World Cuisine A4982799 Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer
This thing will take a simple zucchini and turn it into ZOODLES. Simply sauté those bad boys in some olive oil (put the garlic in for a few minutes before adding zucchini to give the olive oil the fresh garlic taste. Stir in butter as you cook and remove and drain water when al dente. Don’t overcook because nobody likes a limp noodle.
It comes with different attachments that you could make all kinds of things with this idea such as:
- Sweet Potato Shoestrings (fry in coconut oil you paleo practitioners).
- Apple Nachos
- Carrot Noodles (use a peeler for this)
- Your idea here!
I spend quite a bit of time on the road being an outside sales guy. Some would choose to take advantage of this windshield time to blast music (I do still do some of this) or make personal calls or just see it as “me time”. We only live once. Each second we spend doing anything will never come back to us and one of the best ways we can use seemingly wasted seconds is filling our minds with positive messages and learning.
One of the ways I do this is through Podcasts. This is one of the greatest ways to learn something new (like nutrition or fitness). And the internet has some of the most knowledgable and charismatic people just giving away their content for everyone to check out. If you have a smartphone, there is a great app available for sure. My recommendations would be for each platform:
- Downcast for iOS
- Doggcatcher for Android.
Both of these apps also allow you to listen at 1.5–2x speed which if you can handle it, lets you listen and gather info even faster!
There are so many great nutrition podcasts out there, but to name my five faves:
- Fat Burning Man by Abel James
- Barbell Shrugged
- Revolution Health Radio
- Robb Wolf
- The Strength of Evidence – for fitness nerds by fitness nerds, amazing show
- Tips of the Scale
So there you have it folks…
I’ll leave you at this juncture and I wish you all the success in the world. What are you struggling with? Please don’t hesitate to contact me if there’s something you can’t overcome, I’m always here and free to help anyone trying to improve themselves.
Thanks for reading :).