“Oh man, you’re telling me I’ve got to give up my chicken parm?!?! But, I LOVE chicken parm! I dunno Paulie, I’m not sure I can do it…”


Such was Teddy’s response as we dove into the 3-day food journal that I had asked him to compile as part of his new Nutrition Coaching plan.


Let’s take a look at how we built one for sustainable weight loss for Ted.


If you missed either of my previous posts introducing Teddy or explaining how the mathematics of weight loss works, please click on either of these links.


When we constructed his training and nutrition plan, we calculated 2300 kcal per day as the daily total to achieve energy balance, at which he would neither gain nor lose weight. Teddy’s initial reaction was, “this is going to be a piece of cake!” I’m not sure he understood the irony of that statement, but he sure seemed confident that he’d easily be able to live within the boundaries we discussed.


And then we took a closer look at exactly what and how he had been eating, from the “journal” he’d been keeping with an app on his phone called My Fitness Pal. It helps log and calculate daily calories and has thousands of pre-programmed foods that make it fairly simple to record the foods we’re eating. While it can be tedious to accurately maintain a food journal, and most folks are not completely accurate in their recording, the data are really helpful in nutrition coaching to establish a baseline from which to start.


The Plan…


His primary objective of the renewed training and nutrition plan was to shed 20 lbs over six months.


We have established that shedding 1 lb of fat per week was both realistic and sustainable. To do that, we needed to create a daily calorie deficit of 500 kcal.


For Teddy to accomplish that, he could either restrict his daily calories to 1800 or he could exercise each day to burn an additional 500 kcal, or some combination thereof.


Knowing Teddy as I do, and his fondness for chicken parm, it’s really unlikely that we would succeed with an approach that limited him to 1800 kcal per day.


Similarly, Ted doesn’t love working out. When he does train, he works hard. But, he’s no gym rat. And he’s super busy. So, finding an additional 4-5 hours in his week to burn off those 500 kcal per day is also unrealistic.


We devised a combined approach.


He would reduce his consumption by 200 kcal/day, setting a target of 2100 kcal. We agreed to spread that reduction over the course of the day, rather than try to reduce any one meal by the full 200 kcal. Over the course of each week, he’d consume 1400 fewer kcal.


A couple additional, short workouts…


Additionally, he figured he could make time to add two short workouts each week. Each would be about 30 minutes tops. They’d be high intensity workouts that are not only super efficient given the short amount of time he has available, but also induce an “after-burn” that keeps his metabolic engine revving well after the workout. Calculating the caloric expenditure of different forms of exercise is an inexact science. But, I estimate these workouts, and the resultant after burn, would each add 500 kcal of expenditure, for 1000 total each week.


So, now we’re up to a calorie deficit of roughly 2400 kcal for the week.


Just move more…


Lastly, Teddy agreed to purchase a wearable fitness device, like a Fitbit, so he could track his steps. Based on some calculations of his height and weight, we estimated that by adding 5000 steps per day to his current baseline, he would potentially burn an additional 1000-1500 kcal per week, depending on how fast he walks and whether it’s on hills or level ground.


When we add all that up, we’re somewhere between 3400-3900 kcal of potential caloric deficit each week. Right where we want to be! Executed consistently over time, we should see Teddy start to peel off about a pound of fat each week.


His ideal bodyweight is 195 lbs, down 20 from his current 215 lbs. Theoretically, without any hiccups, false starts, or disruptions, it would take Teddy about 20 weeks to get down to his “playing weight” of 195. That’s five months. But, “the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.” Life seldom cooperates. Given what I know about our friend Teddy’s busy career and family, I think a six to nine month timeline is more realistic.


What about the Chicken Parm???


So where does Teddy’s affinity for Chicken Parm fit into this plan?


He works down the street from an Olive Garden, where he eats lunch once or twice a week. The Olive Garden’s Chicken Parm serving is listed as containing 1060 kcal. Adding the salad and breadsticks that Olive Garden is known for, the total calories for that lunch are 1450 kcal! That’s assuming he drinks water with the meal and limits himself to one breadstick and a modest portion of the salad.


Well, if we constructed a rigid plan and rigidly adhered to it, Teddy would have to give up his Chicken Parm. There’d simply be no margin for the gigantic caloric bomb of that lunch. Such rigid plans are unrealistic and probably doomed to failure.


Maybe there’s some room to splurge once and awhile…


Rather than launch this effort anticipating inevitable non-compliance and the accompanying discouragement, we built into his weekly plan some space for a “splurge day”.


I’ll explain more about this concept in my next installment. Look for that post, titled “You Mean I Get To Eat Whatever I Want?!?! – How Splurging A Little Can Help Us Stay On Track.”


Julie has put together an excellent small group Nutrition Coaching program that we are excited to introduce to you soon. We should be ready to launch in early May. If you’ve been frustrated with stubborn belly fat, flabby arms, adorable love handles, multiplying chins, or feeling skinny fat, this program is what you’ve been waiting for. It will seamlessly augment the hard work we’ve been doing with our small group training. Email her to be added to the launch list. The cost will be quite reasonable and spots are going to be limited. We anticipate a wait list. You can contact her at julie@midstrong.com.


Thanks as always for all your support and encouragement!


Be strong and have fun!


Paul Reilly

Paul is the Owner and Founder of MidStrong. He created MidStrong in 2017 to train men and women in midlife who are busy with work and family to build muscle and burn fat so they can look and feel better than they did in their 20’s. MidStrong is making Functional Fitness training safe and fun, and inclusive. He and his wife, Julie also own and operate MidStrong locally, their bricks and mortar business, previously called ACCELERATED Strength & Balance. It is a boutique fitness center specializing in training folks in and around Westborough through the challenges of midlife for more than five years.