GET THE BEST WEIGHT LOSS RESULTS FROM STRONGER U WITH MY TOP TIPS!
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THE WAKE UP CALL THAT LED ME TO STRONGER U
Inhale, suck in, shimmy, hold my breath. As I force the button through the hole I jump as a loud POP! cracks the silence. Was that a car backfiring? A balloon popping? The cool air wafts across my bottom and I realize I had blown out the seat of my leather pants. I didn’t break the seams, I busted the leather open like a microwavable popcorn bag.
I was cleaning out my closet, trying things on, looking for something that fit. Clearly, these were in the Don’t Fit category, and now the garbage category. I couldn’t help laughing about it, but it was also a wakeup call.
In that moment I admitted it wasn’t that ALL of my clothes had magically shrunk, my weight had slowly crept up. I literally could not button my shorts, and my pants could no longer contain my bottom. My choices were to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe in a larger size or lose the weight. My closet is a thoughtfully curated collection and I wanted to get back into it, not replace it.
After several years of major dietary restrictions by my doctors trying to resolve my health problems (which it didn’t), I had completely lost touch with what I should eat. Do I eat low fat, low carb, keto, grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, high carb, paleo, or what? The various doctors had put me on all of them, and as a result I have yo-yoed with this same 15 pounds several times the last five years, and I had 2 clothing sizes in my wardrobe to prove it. Now I was headed into a third clothing size. *record scratch*
STRONGER U TO THE RESCUE!
That’s when I decided to work with a coach through Stronger U, a nutrition coaching program that educates about nutrition and how to create sustainable eating practices and long-term habit changes so you’ll never diet again.
I needed someone who knew all about nutrition to help me get back in touch with what my body needed. I didn’t want to do the latest craze, or a bizarre cleanse, or eliminate an entire food group. I wanted balance, and I wanted to realign with what would best nourish my body and keep it healthy. And to be honest, my body’s needs have changed. I’m not 20 anymore, my metabolism has changed, and adjustments have to be made.
In 12 weeks working with my Stronger U coach, I lost 13 pounds, and my smallest clothes fit again! Now I’m working on getting to my maintenance macro levels and lifestyle mode so I know what to eat ongoing and I don’t have anymore clothing casualties
[UPDATE]: A year after I started and four months into lifestyle mode I shared an update on my Stronger U results and experience.
How does it work?
After signing up, you fill out a brief questionnaire. Stronger U uses that information to pair you with a coach who builds a set of nutritional targets to shoot for on a daily basis, tracks your progress, and is always available by text, email, or phone. All coaches are certified nutrition specialists, and Stronger U also has several registered dietitians on staff.
Your coach sends you a customized plan with a macronutrient goal to hit each day, which entails eating specific amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Your daily macro goal is based on the information provided in the questionnaire, and is adjusted weekly to fit your goals.
Today I’m partnering with Stronger U to share the top tips I learned to succeed with and maintain weight loss during my sessions with them. Stronger U is generously offering $40 off for my readers! All the details are at the end of this post.
TOP TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL WEIGHT LOSS WITH STRONGER U
Don’t forget to check out my before and after photos at the end of this post!
TRACK YOUR FOOD
Did you love Tetris, and making all of those blocks fit? Tracking your food and planning your meals around your macros can be a fun game as you shuffle them across your meals to make everything fit. Soon you get into a routine and it becomes faster, easier, and a habit.
It’s truly eye opening to see how much you are eating in a day, and where you are getting more calories than you realized. The more you log your food, the easier it is because you repeat foods. I use My Fitness Pal, but there are a lot of other programs out there. My favorite feature of MFP is that you can now scan barcodes on food packages (which for me is usually frozen veggies, cheese, and sauces), and it will import the nutrition info *like magic*.
As a bonus tip, when you search for a food without a bar code, like chicken breasts, don’t assume the macros are correct. Always, always check. These are all entries from users, not the app, so look and see if it matches your expectations.
Plain chicken doesn’t have carbs or a lot of fat, so if the entry you find does, it’s wrong. Some people enter net carbs in their entries, and that would skew my macros for the day. When in doubt, double check on the USDA website, manufacturers websites, and other reputable sources if an entry looks weird. I used the wrong chicken breast entry for a month before my husband pointed it out.
I’ve always guesstimated how much food I ate, and my guesses got more and more distorted. In my favorite smoothie recipe, I guessed I was using about a tablespoon of Sunbutter, but when I actually measured, I was using more like 3. My eye for food portions was WAY OFF. When I weighed my protein powder, the scoop that came with it actually held more like 1.3 servings.
Were those two incorrect measurements going to destroy me? No, but being off that much on everything I eat all day, every day, every week, every year has a compound effect, and makes a big difference. I was eating 1.5 to 2 times as much food as I thought I was, and that will fill up your pants FAST.
I use this food scale to portion my food, and it helps me be precise. It’s inexpensive, and my husband and I ended up getting his and hers (mine is the shiny silver one!) because we both use them at the same time.
Fudging your numbers on paper won’t trick your body, or your coach, so be honest and as precise as possible to get the best results.
PLAN YOUR FOOD AT LEAST A DAY AHEAD
In the beginning I tracked my food as I ate it, and then at dinner I realized that I didn’t have many macros, or that I had a weird proportion like only proteins or fats left. Eating a lot of plain chicken breast at the end of the day to get my macros in is not my favorite.
By planning my day before I eat, I can make adjustments and spread my macros out across all my meals. This also allows me to eat more things I want by shuffling things throughout the day before I eat them.
We actually like to plan out our food for the whole week. On Sunday night we plan our meals for the week, enter the macros, and it’s done. It makes those busy days and grocery shopping so much easier. No stopping to figure out what to eat during the week.
If I know I’m going out to eat that night, or have a special meal, I will go light on the macros early in the day so I can indulge later.
GET AS MANY OF YOUR CARBS AS POSSIBLE FROM VEGETABLES
When you start cutting calories, your body panics. “We’re hungry! Feed us! WHAT IF WE DIE?????” I went to bed hungry sometimes because I sacrificed a few cups of veggies (satisfying and filling) for half a slice of bread (not satisfying or filling).
Especially in the beginning, go for volume with non-starchy vegetables while your body adjusts and the panic mode subsides. Pickles have zero macros if you find yourself feeling munchy. Bubbies brand dill pickles are my favorite. Have a ton of spinach in your salad, or sauté it with garlic. I try to have 3 servings of veggies per meal to fill me up AND to feed my body what it needs.
EAT MOSTLY NUTRIENT-DENSE FOODS
Don’t sacrifice satiety for a bag of Doritos. Yes, you can hit your macros eating them, but you will starve if that is where you get most of your calories. Have a few Doritos on the side, but fill up on foods that will…fill you up. Allowing yourself to get hangry is setting yourself up for failure.
SAve the best for last
I like to fill up on veggies first and save my favorite part of the meal for my final bites so I end on that satisfying note. An example of that might be, I eat my veggies first, then my protein, then my carbs (because carbs are always my favorite). I eat my salad BEFORE the pizza arrives so I don’t scarf down 6 slices. Eat the most filling parts first so you are less likely to eat more than you planned of the indulgent part of the meal (which for me is always salty carbs).
TAKE BEFORE PICTURES
I didn’t take an official one because I was embarrassed. I regret it. Taking updated pictures every three weeks is a great way to see progress (see my before and after down below!), and it keeps you motivated to continue.
REPEAT MEALS. OFTEN.
As a society we have more options available to us everywhere we go. This has never happened in the history of humanity, and many of us, myself included, suffer from decision fatigue. If I have to make one.more.decision my brain will combust! One way to help with that and make this as easy as possible is to repeat meals. In fact, repeat whole days or weeks!
I have had a variation of the same thing for breakfast just about every day since college, and honestly I don’t feel normal if I don’t have it. I love my protein smoothie. It’s filling, fast, lasts until lunch, I can take it on the go, I can prep it ahead of time, and it’s tasty. Anything that simplifies my life sets me up for success.
Many weeks I will eat the same thing for lunch every day because I like it, it’s one less decision I have to make, and I can make it in advance. It also removes the challenge of figuring out and entering all new macros every day. Copy. Copy. Copy. Done.
I’m a foodie, but I’ve reached a point in my life that planning and executing elaborate meals is one thing too many most days. I repeat my favorites in favor of simplicity. I usually eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and snack all week, and the only variation each day is dinner. I’m so fine with that. Keeping things simple makes this so much easier to do.
Here are some of my favorite recipes:
Nothing will derail you like hunger and lack of preparation. We grill some chicken on Saturdays and use that for lunches all week in salads, in veggie bowls (I make an awesome Greek souvlaki bowl), etc. In the freezer we do have a few store-bought easy-to-grab foods if we are in a pinch, like pre-grilled and sliced chicken, etc., but those can get pricy if you rely on them for every meal. They also have more ingredients than just chicken. I prefer to stick to chicken I’ve grilled myself as often as possible, but in a pinch I’m glad I have them.
Our freezer is stocked with some marinated frozen fish filets I really love to eat with Trader Joe’s cauliflower rice stir fry and sautéed garlic spinach for days when my lunch plan doesn’t work out.
If I’m planning to have leftovers for lunch (I love leftovers!), I will prep my plate that night and just reheat it the next day. That way I don’t have to pull everything out, measure, weigh, etc. There have been a few times when one of my preteen boys comes along and sees this perfectly prepped plate and helps himself, and when I go to get my lunch, it’s gone! That’s when some freezer chicken and fish come in handy.
DON’T MAKE 2 SEPARATE MEALS
Nothing will complicate this faster than making separate food for yourself and another meal for your family. I make one meal for everyone. Last night we had spaghetti, and I used ground turkey instead of beef, but the kids don’t know the difference. I made a big salad for all of us, and I used a lower fat dressing on mine. The kids had pasta and rosemary olive oil bread, and my husband and I had zucchini noodles (Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi is also a great substitute).
If we have chicken tikka masala, I use fat free yogurt instead of regular yogurt. The kids eat rice and we eat cauliflower rice. The main dish is the same for everyone, and we tweak the main recipe as needed, and adjust the sides or toppings for us.
HAVE A COUPLE OF GO-TO RESTAURANT OPTIONS
We eat out sometimes as a couple, with friends, or on a frantic day on the go. I have a local fast food meal that I love and is easy on the macros. It’s the Buffalo Chicken salad (I usually double the chicken) at Cubby’s, and it’s so, so good. I have a few dine-in restaurant meals I can choose as well.
My favorite sushi rolls at my favorite sushi bar? Yes. I’ve got those macros down. Grilled meat and veggies just about anywhere. If you can’t choose one of your go-tos, check out the menu before and pick your meal and enter it into your food tracking program. Some restaurants have their nutrition info online, which is really helpful.
DON’T DENY YOURSELF
Denying yourself leads to feeling deprived, left out, picked on, and sad, which leads to bingeing later. Have a little of the things you like. We went to a great steak house for a company dinner, and I had planned ahead to have the asparagus, a petite filet, and steamed veggies.
Because of our large group, when we got there we found out it was a fixed menu. The only two sides being served were lobster mac and cheese at 900 calories a serving, cheesy garlic mashed potatoes at 500 calories a serving, and the only salad was a wedge salad at 500 calories. My petite filet was a jumbo filet at 9 ounces instead of 4.
Not a problem! I ate half my steak, and I had a 1/4 serving of each of the sides. I removed as much of the cheese and dressing from my wedge salad as possible (and it still had plenty of flavor), and passed on the bread because I can eat that anytime, anywhere.
I ate my meal slowly, in small bites, really savored the deliciousness. I had one bite of the chocolate tarte, and at the end, I really enjoyed all the flavors of my meal and felt satisfied while staying within my plan! I also didn’t feel weird or out of place at a party by pushing food around my plate and not eating anything, or pitifully munching lettuce.
DON’T LET YOURSELF GET RAVENOUS
I get seriously, truly hangry. If I’m being grouchy, my husband has been known to say, “Why don’t we get you something to eat first…” #smartman. When I’m that hungry, I don’t care what my goals are, what my macros are, what my plans were, I JUST WANT SOME FOOD. It’s best if I don’t let myself reach that unreasonable, ravenous state, and all the more reason to follow the above advice and plan and prep.
DO IT AS A COUPLE OR WITH A FRIEND
My husband started his health journey first, and I didn’t want to play along. I was so stressed and busy with other things. It wasn’t a priority for me, and I was convinced I could do this on my own when I was ready. But when he finally convinced me to sign up (or rather, when the hole in my leather pants convinced me), it was so amazing to have his support.
And honestly, it’s a bonding experience that we share the same goals, we’re building the same habits, cheering each other on, and being a support system. It’s totally romantic, and I’ve really enjoyed doing it together. This has strengthened our relationship because we are both on the same page. You can easily drag each other down, too, so make sure it’s a positive thing and you are both committed.
I thought I knew what to do to shed these 15 pounds that had slowly crept on over the last 5 years. But my body has changed, my metabolism has changed, and my health has changed. What used to work to keep it in check doesn’t work now. I tried off and on to do it on my own, but I wasn’t sure what to do anymore.
Was I low carb or low fat? Or high fat? Or Paleo? Signing up with Stronger U took all the guess work out of it. My coach, Bonnie, decides my macros and figures all that out. She also helps me navigate upcoming challenges like a dinner out, a trip, a birthday party, etc.
If you can’t do this as a couple or with a friend, your coach is also your support system! Right now Stronger U is offering my readers a special offer of 10% off a 12-week coaching session, and anyone who signs up will be entered in a drawing for a free second session! I’ll put all the info down below. You can see my video about my experience with Stronger U here.
DON’T TIE YOUR MORALITY TO YOUR FOOD CHOICES
This is a biggie. How often do people say, “I was so bad and ate this. I was so good today and ate this”? You aren’t good or bad based on your food choices, and that mentality can really affect you. If you equate eating outside of your plan with being bad, you can get sucked into self-loathing, which can trigger comfort eating because you feel bad about yourself for being…bad.
It can also turn that one choice into a perpetuated mistake. “I was bad at lunch, so today is ruined. I may as well eat a whole pie tonight.” And then that ruined day becomes a ruined week because you may as well wait until Monday to “be good” again. And then you decide to wait until the first of the month. Food is not bad or good, and what you eat doesn’t make you bad or good.
You make a choice, and if it’s a choice that doesn’t get you closer to your goal, make a different choice at the next opportunity. I was just home for Christmas and requested all my favorite Southern foods from my mom. For breakfast and lunch, I went easy, and at dinner I indulged in all those memories.
Get back on track
I didn’t stick to my macros during our Christmas visit home, but I also didn’t decide to go crazy at every meal since I was being “bad” for dinner every night. I specifically chose the meals to indulge in because those foods are tied up in all the memories of home I’ve been missing. The rest of the time I ate what I normally would, my morning smoothie and a big salad with lean protein for lunch.
But I’m home now, and instead of saying, “I was so bad” and letting it go on and on, I got right back on track the day I got home. I wasn’t bad for eating those things. I chose them intentionally. And now I’m choosing to get back to my plan, which doesn’t make me good.
As an all or nothing personality, it’s easy to get sucked into that good and bad, self-loathing and punishment pattern. I’m either on or off, but there is also gray area (I hate gray areas). I lived in the gray area for 9 days, and that’s ok. I don’t have to punish myself or feel bad or continue to make choices that don’t get me closer to my goals because I “failed”. I’m a big girl. I knew what I was doing. I chose it. No one died. Prison time not required.
You can do this too!
I’ve learned so much during my experience with Stronger U Nutrition, and the best part is I didn’t have to figure it out on my own, and I got to practice it and get feedback from my coach each week. She gave me so many helpful tips that I haven’t even listed here! My only regret is not starting when my husband did. If I had, my leather pants would still be alive today.
What are your best tips for success in your weight loss journey? Share them in the comments down below so we can all achieve our goals faster!
STRONGER U BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS
Please know how hard it is to share my before and after pictures. When I took these pictures, it was for me and my coach to evaluate my progress. I had no intention of writing a post or sharing these pictures with the world. To say I feel exposed (see what I did there?) sharing this is an understatement, but I want to really show you the difference Stronger U has made in my body so you can understand the real value of their program.
My next step is to get fit! Due to health issues, I’ve worked my way up from yoga once a week last September to three times a week as of the New Year, and I’m so excited about getting strong again!
Picture 1 on the left is from a vacation early in the summer. Excuse the pasty glare. The top row was about halfway through my journey, and the bottom row was this morning.
A special Stronger U Offer!
Stronger U is generously offering $40 off for my readers! The 12-week session usually costs $449, but you get it for $409! To claim the offer, use the sign up link in the box down below. When you register, use the discount code stunningstyle2020 in the referral line to qualify for the special rate. Soon you will receive an email introducing you to your new coach!
Thank you again to Stronger U Nutrition for partnering with me for this post! I paid for my own sessions, and after having such an amazing experience, I reached out to see if they would like to work together on this. This is all based on my personal experience using Stronger U Nutrition.
We are proud to partner with Stronger U for today’s post. Sponsors are carefully selected in conjunction with our mission statement to bring you content and products we think you’ll love! All opinions and editorial decisions are solely my own.
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