Counting Calories- The Easiest Way Possible

What if you could track 3/4 of your daily calories in a single entry?

You can, if you eat the same thing everyday, or at least a rotating menu.

All you have to do is figure out the nutritional values for that days menu. Then you add up all those calories and nutrients, and make them a single entry in your food-tracking app of choice.

That sounds like a lot of work, but don’t worry, there’s a fast and easy way.

Counting Calories The Easy Way

In this article, I’ll show you how to quickly determine Nutritional Information with a handy website (even for your homemade recipes), how to add it all up quickly, and what the final result looks like.

Skip to The Process if you want to get right into it.

Example of Counting Calories Spreadsheet

This is my calorie tracking for the day.

My Story

Two weeks in a row and I hadn’t lost a pound.

I was doing all the right things:

I gave up processed sugar. I was getting a lot of exercise. I was fasting intermittently.

How the hell did the scale actually go up half a pound?

After three days of tracking my food, MyFitnessPal gave me the answer:

I was eating too much. Around 3200 calories a day, which (surprise) amounted to about half a pound of weight gain per week.

Like a teenager jumping on the latest fad, I suddenly loved the idea of counting calories.

Except there was one problem:

I really, really sucked at counting calories.

Life Gets In The Way

Five days. That’s my record for making entries in MyFitnessPal.

Nothing bounces out of my orbit like non-routine effort. If it doesn’t have a set time and place, it’s not happening.

If I make my entries at 7:30PM each night, I forget what I ate.

If I try to fit in the cracks of my day, I’m vulnerable to forgetting to actually do it.

So is this it? Am I doomed to fly by the seat of my pants forever?

Not at all. Check this out.

Eating the Same Thing Everyday

I recently read this article on Medium where this guy eats the same thing every day.

At first, I thought, “Who would want to do that???”.

But then I got to thinking… I really do eat mostly the same foods.

I start everyday with a soup, I eat one of three raw vegetables for a snack, I use a lot of nuts. It really wouldn’t be much of a stretch for me to eat the same thing daily.

I shouted to my wife, “Hey Dina, this guy eats the same thing every day!”

She said, “Yea, that’s pretty much what I do, too.”

And with that, an idea was born.

The Process

Here’s the thing:

A lot of what I eat is my own recipes.

I eat mostly whole foods, splicing them together in various combinations. Good for your health, not so fun when you’re tracking calories.

For example, my smoothie takes 8 ingredients. I have to look up the Nutrition Info for 8 products, adjust the serving sizes, and then add it all up. It takes a long time (it took me 30 minutes to do my smoothie in Excel).

But luckily, there are smart people out there, working hard to make my life easy.

Behold, a site that does all the heavy lifting for you:

Recipe Calorie and Nutrition Calculator from Very Well Fit

This website is absurdly handy.

I found one of my favorite recipes on for Keto bread, copied it to Very Well Fit’s calculator, worked out the errors, and I got this:

Keto bread nutritional facts

I lifted a couple more recipes from a Budget Bytes, added some of my own recipes, and within minutes, I had all the nutritional info I wanted.

Adding it All Up

Here’s a really simple spreadsheet on Google Docs to help you out.

The first thing you want to do is go to File in the top left, and click Make a copy. You won’t be able to edit if you don’t do that.

Give your menu a memorable name (just for fun) and start entering those bits of nutritional info into the rows.

The spreadsheet will tally the columns automatically.

Here’s one I did for an example:

Example of Counting Calories Spreadsheet
I was kind of lazy and added the pistachios, apple, and bell pepper together in Very Well Fit’s calculator.

Each meal plan has space for 15 entries. If that’s not enough, let me know and I’ll make a sheet with more!

After this, all you have to do is create a new food in your food-tracking app.

Here’s what mine looks like:

Martha's Secret calorie count

Dinner is up to you

This is the only meal of the day you should be tracking. The rest is covered under your daily menu.

Treat your food as fuel during the day, and let dinner be the meal where you get to have whatever you want.

I actually found myself staring into the fridge, longing for a left-over piece of steak. Then I realized I could just eat it with my dinner.

The goal of this method is to wipe our 3/4 of your tracking. You don’t want to spend your day pecking away at your phone, trying to remember what you ate, what the name of that package was, how much…

If all you’re tracking is dinner, you can actually pick a quiet time in the evening to write down what you ate.

Where to Go From Here

I know that I like this system of counting calories enough to keep it going, but the lack of variety does bother me a bit.

I’ve been reading about hunter-gatherer tribes and our ancestors used to consume up to 150 different plant species and many more sources of meat (including reptiles and insects).

Ultimately, I want to make up to 8 daily menus, and have them follow the  seasons more closely.

If you have ideas on how to make this technique better, let me know on Facebook!

 

The ‘No Excuses’ Doctrine is Sabotaging Your Goals. Here’s What to Do Instead

Everyone is hustling to the No Excuses rhythm.

Folks are posting about how they were working hard until 2 AM and rising at 6 AM to do it all over again.

People are working out at midnight, because apparently that’s the only time they have.

The question is: has the world gone mad?

Actually, yea, it has.

It has become normal for people to break themselves in pursuit of success. The gurus tell us that’s the new way. Their mantra:

“No excuses. If I can do it, so can you.”

That’s a pithy message and it’s usually delivered by admittedly accomplished people.

But I believe it sucks. Here’s why:

It’s incredibly reductive. It shut me down in the moment that I had to be observant. Instead, I got down on myself.

Closed flower - You can't learn if you don't look at where you failed

Take my experiences with working out.

Usually I’d be following the “No Excuses” method.

Rain, shine, early, late, sick, prior commitments… that workout was happening. It sounds bad-ass to just plow through everything that stands in your way and achieve your goals, no matter the odds.

But then it would happen: I’d miss one workout.

Just like that, I was a failure. I would never scrub that loss off my record.

I’d get a similar sentiment from those I talked to about it.

Missing a workout because you’re sick? You’d better feel ashamed over that one.

I would inevitably peter out. I’d become one of those people slowly faded away from the gym.

Why is Change So Hard? Pic of daisy

 

This is my guiding belief in in life:

I am not wired for this world. In fact, the human brain has remained virtually unchanged for the past 40,000 years. Much of the suffering I experience in my relatively comfortable life comes from a mismatch between what I’m evolved for and the world I live in.

With that in mind, it becomes obvious why change is so hard. Here are just a few of the hidden influences that have knocked me off track:

a) homeostasis – my body, right down to the cellular level, wants to stay the same. When I try to change something, whether I want to practice a new skill or quit sugar, my body actively resists my efforts.

b) consumer culture – marketers are spending billions, if not trillions, of dollars a year, trying to overcome my willpower to get me to buy. See Robert Cialdini’s “Influence” for more.

c) willpower –  The Marshmallow Test has proven that willpower is a finite resource. If I try to brute force my way through too many obstacles, I’m going to burn up my supply.

Thankfully, there’s a better way.

Excuses Tell Us Where We Need To Improve - pic of daisy

 

For several months at the start of 2016, I did an experiment where I wrote down all my mistakes. I also wrote down possible solutions.

I noticed a couple interesting things:

First of all, the explanations as to why it happened strongly resembled excuses.

I honestly considered shutting down the whole thing because I felt like a whiner.

But then something else happened: I started to develop an intuition for when things were about to go wrong.

Quite often, my folly would begin earlier in the day or even earlier in the week. A small misjudgment on Tuesday cost me big on Friday.

If something felt unsustainable, I set it aside and tried something new.

When I found something sustainable, I tried to improve it.

I consider this experiment to be a turning point in my life because from here on, whenever I’ve applied it, I’ve seen drastic improvement.

 

Where as No Excuses condemned failure, writing down mistakes made me stronger.

When I’d get down on myself for that missed workout or because I cheated on my diet, it would be the beginning of the end. I would dwell until I quit.

I needed to be the scientist in my life. The mission: document the problems I would encounter. The more identifiable problems, the better.

When I started working out seriously in January 2014, I had one goal in mind: don’t miss a single workout for six months. Despite my determination, I lasted three months before I just stopped doing it.

When I started working out seriously in February 2018, I had a different goal in mind: find a way to make exercise sustainable.

I missed a full 50% of my workouts in February. It wasn’t until April that I hit all my workouts for the month. It’s now July, and even with a new baby in the picture, I’m still hitting my three weekly workouts.

I’m not an automaton and I can’t go from zero to 100 instantly. What I can do is improve 1% everyday. That’s what I get from this practice.


If you want to read more about mistakes, check out:

Black Box Thinking – Matthew Syed

Brilliant Mistakes – Paul J.H. Schoemaker

For a book that brings it all together, check out:

Simple Rules – Kathleen M. Eisenhardt


I believe that if we don’t choose to live life a certain way, someone is going to choose for us.
I’m building a community of people who choose for themselves how they want to live.
Drop a Like down below and let’s connect. I look forward to speaking with you.

Want to Quit Sugar? Don’t Be Dainty, Get Angry

On September 4, 2016, I decided to quit sugar for 30 days.

First I cut all refined sugars. I ate mostly whole foods or foods with less than five ingredients (that doesn’t leave much).

I created meal plans, set a target cheat day, the works. Engineering success became my goal.

But there was one technique I hadn’t thought of that I believe carried me through the whole experiment (and a full 15 extra days):

Sticking it to the man.

Sugar execs became the villain in my story.

In my view, they were no better than drug dealers. I was addicted to their product. They didn’t care about my health. Plus they were investing billions into what I considered unethical marketing.

Sugar was my cruel overseer and I was a slave. But the time was ripe for a rebellion.

Want to quit sugar? Time to get fired up (pic of burning lightbulb)

Here’s the thing:

Your emotions are powerful. Marketers know it and they seek to make advertisements that play on them.

Coca-Cola is all about feeling good and having a great time.

Snickers has positioned itself as an energy bar; the answer to your hunger.

Nutella somehow managed to make itself seem like a healthy choice.

These ideas stick because they play on our emotions.

If you’re a sugar addict like I was, this should make you angry. You’re being taken for a ride.

You need to channel that anger into a emotional punch, delivered directly into the face of the sugar industry.

Here are two rage-inducing realizations I used to drive sugar out of my life for 45 days in 2016, and a full four months in 2018.

 

Sugar is Making Us Fat

In 1971, the Roald Dahl classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was brought to film.

Anyone who has seen it remembers Augustus Gloop, the simply can’t get enough sweets and falls into the chocolate river.

Naturally, he’s the fat kid of the movie.

But compared to the 2005 version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he’s fairly normal.

The Augustus Gloop of 1971, once a the picture of childhood obesity, is not fat enough for today’s standards.

1971 Augustus vs 2005 Augustus

Something changed in the last forty or so years.

Could it be that the Sugar Association misled the public about the health impacts of sugar?

Perhaps it was the rise of high-fructose corn syrup, which hit markets in the 1970’s?

More importantly, why is it so damn hard to get a straight out answer?

We’ll blame caloric intake, a lack of exercise, a lack of willpower, and failure to take personal responsibility way before we pin the blame on sugar.

And yet we all  know sugar is contributing to weight gain.

Kids are the most active segment of our population and they’re getting fat, too. That is simultaneously embarrassing and alarming.

It’s time to get angry and quit sugar for good.

 

Sugar is more addictive than cocaine

Don’t believe me? Trying quitting.

In 2007, students from the University of Bordeaux performed a study on the addictive nature of sugar, using cocaine-addicted rats.

They found that a full 94% of the rats preferred sugar to cocaine.

Now keep in mind that these rats had been purposely addicted to cocaine in advance, and they still preferred the sugar.

Sugar withdrawals began within 30 minutes of the rodents being denied their high.

So why do we recognize shopping, porn, and even exercise addiction, but sugar addiction is a nowhere to be found? Why isn’t it listed on addiction.com?

As I mentioned previously, the Sugar Association has had a part in shaping decades of dietary recommendations. That’s not hyperbole- that actually happened.

Just as the tobacco industry swore up and down that their products were not addictive, the sugar industry is also covering their collective asses.

Addiction is like being in an invisible cage, where you only see the bars when you try to stop the behavior. We don’t need to wait for science to tell us sugar is addictive. All you need to do is quit sugar for a week.

You’ll see what I mean. And when you do, it’s time to rage.

 

About 300 years ago, it was nearly impossible to become addicted to sugar. The average person consumed about a pound a year. Unless you were filthy rich, sugar was a garnish at best.

These days, the average American eats almost 152lbs of sugar annually. It should come as no surprise that the average American is also overweight or even obese.

We have to be tough on sugar. We have to attack this problem with aggression.

It’s not enough to take a brisk walk on lunch hour or down an extra 500 half liter of water. You have to break this addiction, just one time. Even if you get addicted again in a month. You have to see what’s beyond that veil. Then you’ll know.

I will leave you with my Quit Sugar mantra:

You have no right to be here. You have no power over me. You are unnecessary in my diet, therefore you can go. I will weather the storm that follows, and I will still be here when you are gone. 


I believe that if we don’t choose to live life a certain way, someone is going to choose for us.
I’m building a community of people who choose for themselves how they want to live.
Drop a Like down below and let’s connect. I look forward to speaking with you.

Here’s Why You Can’t Trust Nutritional Science About Sugar

On September 12, 2016, a bombshell fell on the sugar industry.

The New York Times reported that historic documents from the sugar industry had surfaced, which indicated that the sugar industry had been responsible for shaping dietary recommendations we’ve been going by for decades.

Three Harvard scientists had been paid to cherry-pick studies and write an article that would be favorable to sugar and damning to fat.

The result: the fat-free era, in which consumers were led to believe that consuming fats actually made you fat.

This was an absolute scandal:

  • Harvard scientists being paid to make sugar seem benign (aside from tooth decay)
  • the swaying of public opinion on fat
  • the knowledge that sugar was a contributor to heart disease.Despite being fifty years ago, this was a wake-up call to anyone who cared about their health.

Except it wasn’t.

Man in suit - the food industry is lying to you

The scandal that should’ve rocked the nation fizzled out. Sugary treats and cereals are still being marketed to our children. Food makers keep funding studies that coincidentally return favorable results for their product.

The Sugar Association more or less got away with it. Their response was that the industry “should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities,”, a ‘sorry-not sorry’ response. The question becomes, has the food and sugar industry found its moral compass in the past 50 years?

Let’s take a look.

City line - More corporations behaving badly

 

As late as the year 2000, Nestle was selling baby snacks that were 50% sugar.

 In defense of food manufacturers, the now defunct Infant Dietetic Foods Association made this statement:

“All baby foods are strictly controlled by law and sugar content is kept to a minimum but babies have a very high requirement for carbohydrates and sugars.”

Does that sound right to you? How about this one?

In 2011, CBS ran the following headline: Does Candy Keep Kids From Getting Fat?

The study, funded by a trade association representing a major confectioner, found that –surprise! – kids who ate candy were less likely to be overweight than kids who avoided it.

Even one of the coauthors for this paper lacked confidence in it, saying, “We’re hoping they can do something with it — it’s thin and clearly padded,”.

And finally, in 2015, Coca Cola came under fire for funding a campaign that tried to pin obesity on a lack of exercise, not soft drinks.

Coke wanted consumers to seek ‘balance’, doing enough exercise to burn off those calories gained from their soft drinks.

You can’t make this shit up.

Here’s the thing:

Corporations are funding studies that muddy the water. Websites like sugar.ca and sugar.org are making it sound as if added sweeteners are a requirement for a healthy life.

It’s becoming impossible to search the web and get confident answers on the health effects of sugar. We just don’t know for sure.

What we do know is that refined sugar was an unaffordable luxury until the 1800’s. That means that for the majority of human existence, we didn’t have it and we didn’t evolve to eat it.

The sugar and food industries want to make sugar seem benign at worst, beneficial at best. They want to put the attention on excess calories. They want the attention on exercise.

They want us addicted, just as the tobacco industry did.

City line - It's time to get angry about sugar

 

The question for you is…

How many times are you going to witness the sugar industry behaving badly before you make a change?

How much irreversible damage has to be done to your body before you become angry?

Nutritional science is compromised by the sheer fact that any wealthy corporation can fund a study and have it published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Money walks, bullshit talks.

You have to decide now if you’re going to make a change. You don’t have time for some authority to tell you just how hard sugar is on your body. You don’t have time to wait for science.


I believe that if we don’t choose to live life a certain way, someone is going to choose for us.

I’m building a community of people who choose for themselves how they want to live.

Drop a Like down below and let’s connect. I look forward to speaking with you.