How To Stop Counting Calories With Habits

You know it sucks. Admit it.

Counting calories is associated with dysfunctional eating behaviors (1). It’s less effective at managing weight long term compared to more intrinsic regulation strategies (2). Not to mention the emotional and psychological stress. But how does one actually cease counting calories if it’s an ingrained habit? If you are a detailed calorie tracker, weighing and measuring everything you consume, the logistics of going separate ways with Myfitnesspal or Myplate can be a transition of complexity on par with a Brady bunch divorce. timthumb.php

If you want to stop counting calories but still are, I know you probably feel some fear. No one ever started counting calorie counting for fun. I sure didn’t. I counted calories diligently for more than a decade. I did it for control, reassurance and for vanity. I thought it was essential to protect me from gaining weight. Turns out, stopping calorie counting was one of the best things I ever did. In addition to the immense feelings of relief, freedom and trust in my body, I became significantly leaner after ditching the chronic math. I’m not superhuman, I was scared too. Which is why I know you can do this, not being superhuman either.

What other option is there to know how much to eat?

Your body came equipped with sensitive hunger and appetite regulation systems. Calorie counting skews it, making us want more food all the time, but with some practice tuning in again, you’ll discover you body will guide you more accurately than calorie labels and predictive equations (3). The end goal is to feel genuine hunger for 30-60 minutes before each meal, eat until satisfied, and then go several hours before hunger returns. It won’t happen overnight if you’ve been ignoring hunger cues for years, but with practice anyone can do it.

Tips to know before you start:

  • Think of hunger as an empty-hollow sensation, which may be accompanied by muscle contractions in the upper abdomen. (While often confused, hunger is not feeling tired, slowed down, a headache, or wanting to put off work)(4).
  • While there’s a range of satisfaction, don’t stop eating when you are still hungry, but notice once you are satisfied and get some practice finishing eating with that signal. Between those two endpoints, eating somewhat more or less will work itself out in the number of hours until you get hungry again. If you eat to a “looser fill”, you’ll be hungry earlier than if you eat to more fullness. Some trial and error is usually needed to learn how long different meals hold you. Once you notice know how long your typical meals keep hunger at bay, you can plan accordingly to be hungry for your desired meal times, and don’t have to exist in an unscheduled limbo of “Am I hungry yet? How bout now?”
  • For the most appetite satisfaction per calorie, get all of your calories into 3 or 4 meals per day. Eating only twice tends to favor higher energy intake, as does eating 5 or more times in a day. If you graze or snack between meals, you’ll add a lot of calories without additional satisfaction, favoring higher calorie intake and higher bodyweight (5-8).
  • Processed foods, sugars, and alcohol provide minimal satiety, so the less of these in your diet, the better. That doesn’t mean you can never have cookies again, but if your diet is 90% or more unprocessed whole foods, your appetite and hunger cues will be much more accurate than if you choose Poptarts and Pepsi for lunch. If your current diet is more than 10% processed foods, work first on consuming more vegetables, fruit, beans, meat, whole grains and dairy products, while paring back on baked goods, chocolate, candy, sugar containing drinks, protein/energy bars and cereal.
  • Calorie awareness is good, and if you’ve counted calories for a long time, you’ve gained a lot of awareness about foods which are naturally more or less calorie dense. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – consuming mostly low calorie density foods is always a good idea! Ample servings of vegetables and fruit, for example, are great habits to keep up to stay lean for life.

Let’s get started

Loosening your grip on calorie counting is a bit unnerving for most people, and there’s no rush. If you fear gaining weight, reassure yourself by weighing yourself once a week to see how it’s going. It can be a big relief to see that you are not gaining weight as you go through this process, and can help you trust your body more and more. Take as long as you need with each step.

Stage 1: Practice only eating when hungry, and getting all your calories into 3 or 4 eating episodes per day.

Get acquainted with hunger, what it feels like, and that it’s not an emergency. It’s a normal sensation like having to use the restroom or feeling sleepy at the end of the day, it’s not a sign of anything being wrong or that you have to snap into action immediately, it’s a signal that your body is ready for food sometime soon. Practicing feeling hunger for 30-60 minutes before eating each time will help you deflate fear or anxiety regarding hunger, and see that it is your ally in regulating food intake, not a “bad” sensation that must be avoided and prevented.

If you eat small meals and snacks throughout the day, boost your intake at meals so that you can get more hours between meals comfortably. Adding more food to lunch can get food off your mind for the afternoon and help you omit an afternoon snack.

At this point, it’s no problem at all if you keep weighing, measuring, and logging everything you eat for reassurance.

Stage 2. Stop weighing/counting fruits and vegetables

You probably are aware that fresh vegetables and fruits don’t contribute large sums of calories to your meals. In fact, I hope you’re in the habit of eating lots of these foods to help get full, even while limiting calories. If the idea of weighing out spinach seems slightly odd to you, being that spinach is overwhelmingly healthy and hardly a weight gain culprit, I agree with you. If calorie counting is limiting your vegetables, it’s probably holding back your diet quality and potentially increasing your total calorie intake as a ripple effect (because if you cut back the salad with your lunch – not too many tomatoes now – or limit yourself to just one cup of vegetable soup, what else are you eating when you do get hungry? Likely, more calorie dense items like nut butter, meat, grains, etc.)

If you feel ready, let go of logging the calories in your fruits and vegetables. This will mean that the calorie total you see is slightly less than what you are eating, but you’re not going to be using a certain number to eat up to anymore, you’re going to use your appetite cues, so it’s okay if that number is slightly off. Having a ballpark number can help keep you from getting too far out of your comfort zone. (And as a bonus, eating at a salad bar is much much less complicated when you don’t have to enter 32 different ingredients afterwards).

favorite-veggies

Stage 3. Lose the log after each meal.

You can keep measuring or tracking other foods, just don’t keep any permanent record. Get rid of your data at the end of the day. It often isn’t helping you in any way to have months of food intake data recorded.

What matters is here and now. I recommend setting a minimum protein and fat intake to aim for at each meal, which helps with consuming balanced meals and staying satisfied. For most people, getting at least 30 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat per meal is a good place to start for 3-4 meals a day, but for most people that will be the minimum. Then, add other nutritious foods you enjoy to round out the meal and get satisfied. Pile on the broccoli, crunch an apple, and have some quinoa if that’s what you like.

But don’t get caught up in keeping score and trying to eat less or skip meals to make up for a prior high calorie meal or yesterday’s slip up, just start at the next meal with a clean slate, reaching those minimums and adding other foods to reach satisfaction. This helps your mindset become more oriented to the present (as opposed to stressing about the past and/or worrying about the future) and gives the guilt-slinging diet mentality monster a swift kick in the teeth.

You do not need to compensate for anything. You do not need to restrict after a high calorie day. Your appetite will often do some natural adjusting so you may need to add less to your protein and fat minimums, but the intention to diet in the future often leads to compulsive decision making and overeating in the present.

Stage 4. Practice eyeballing protein portions.

After a couple weeks of planning meals to hit a target protein level, you’ll be accustomed to what foods and portions you’re commonly eating to reach it. You probably can do it in your head, and eyeball the number of ounces of meat on your plate with reasonable accuracy. If you feel ready, let yourself estimate portions to hit your protein target without using the scale to weigh it every time. Some things will naturally be portioned for you anyway (eggs, for example, or individual Greek yogurt cups).

To reiterate, if you’re using hunger and satiety as your primary guide, whether you have 4 ounces of 5 ounces of chicken breast at lunch today won’t matter in the long run because your body will adjust appetite and satisfaction to your changing energy intake and needs. For most people a “palm” of meat works just fine.

chicken_and_card_deck

Stage 5. Practice estimating fat content of your meal.

Compared to protein, it’s a bit trickier to eyeball fat. You can see the piece of chicken or steak on your plate, but oil into a pan, or drizzled over a salad can be hard to quantify. Using measuring spoons for oil is a fine habit to stick with, many people do for life and if you feel comfortable estimating, do that. A history of calorie counting will help you because you probably know which foods are high in fat when dining out. Take a stab at guessing and moving on. Because fat is so calorie dense, staying aware of how much fat is in your meal can help prevent calories from getting out of hand (a meal with steak, eggs, bacon and avocado is probably higher than your calorie needs), and most people are quite satisfied within a range of 15-25 grams of fat per meal. Going on the higher end of this range means more calories, but you will also be satisfied for more hours before hunger returns. Just be sure to not go too low on fat or you’ll be hungry rapidly afterwards.

Stage 6. Get flexible and just… eat.

At this point you might have already stopped using tracking software at all. If not, consider at this point if it’s really doing anything for you. You’re using your noggin to make sure you’re in the optimal ballpark for protein and fat to be satisfied, and you’re using whole foods to get satisfied. You’re letting hunger cue you that it’s time to eat. You don’t have much need to log now.

Let yourself have flexibility meal by meal and day by day, even week to week. Flexible eating works far better than rigidity (9-12). Allow for highs and lows that will balance out. If you have a special event or treat dessert, look at it in the overall scope of your diet – rare exceptions in energy intake do not make a person gain or lose weight if your habits are sound most of the time: eat only when you’ve been hungry for 30-60 minutes, choose almost all whole foods, and stick to 3-4 eating occasions per day with each one having some protein and fat in there.

What do I do if I start to see it’s not working (I’m gaining weight, losing strength, etc)?

Manipulating the calorie density of your food choices can steer you back in the right direction if you notice you are gaining weight (13).  First, don’t panic at small fluctuations in the scale, as the average person varies day to day within a range of about 4 pounds. But if the trend is going up over time, instead of racing back to counting calories, consider dialing down the calorie density of your meals by decreasing portions of added fats (not dropping below about 10 g per meal needed for satiety) and choosing more vegetables and fruits instead of grain products or starches like potatoes. Also, do a double check to see if you can reduce liquid calories, sugars or processed foods, as these are typically the least satiating for their calories.

Go enjoy your life more now that you’ve got more time, energy and mental resources for other things!

Can I get some more detail and help? Lean Habits Cover

You sure can! My book Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss will be out in just over a month, and in it you’ll get more than a dozen specific habits I use with my clients. It’s an exact roadmap to getting lean without dieting. Kinda like a little Coach Georgie for your bookshelf. :)

Lean Habits is carried by Amazon as hardcover or Kindle. Preorder from Barnes and Noble as hardcover or for your Nook. You can find it at Oxford Books, too. Live overseas? Don’t worry. Oakleaf books, Mighty Ape or Book Depository also carry it. Ask for it in your local bookstore or anywhere books are sold.

References

  1. Pelletier LG, Dion SC, Slovinec-D’Angelo M, Reid R. Why Do You Regulate What You Eat? Relationships Between Forms of Regulation, Eating Behaviors, Sustained Dietary Behavior Change, and Psychological Adjustment. Motiv Emot. 2004;28(3):245–277. doi:10.1023/B:MOEM.0000040154.40922.14.
  2. Leong SL, Madden C, Gray A, Horwath C. Self-determined, autonomous regulation of eating behavior is related to lower body mass index in a nationwide survey of middle-aged women. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112(9):1337–46. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2012.04.018.
  3. Madden CEL, Leong SL, Gray A, Horwath CC. Eating in response to hunger and satiety signals is related to BMI in a nationwide sample of 1601 mid-age New Zealand women. Public Health Nutr. 2012;15(12):2272–9. doi:10.1017/S1368980012000882.
  4. Ciampolini M, Lovell-Smith HD, Kenealy T, Bianchi R. Hunger can be taught: Hunger Recognition regulates eating and improves energy balance. Int J Gen Med. 2013;6:465–78. doi:10.2147/IJGM.S40655.
  5. Marmonier C, Chapelot D, Fantino M, Louis-sylvestre J. Snacks consumed in a nonhungry state have poor satiating efficiency : influence of snack composition on substrate utilization. 2002:518–528.
  6. Bertéus Forslund H, Torgerson JS, Sjöström L, Lindroos a K. Snacking frequency in relation to energy intake and food choices in obese men and women compared to a reference population. Int J Obes (Lond). 2005;29(6):711–9. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802950.
  7. Solomon TPJ, Chambers ES, Jeukendrup AE, Toogood A a, Blannin AK. The effect of feeding frequency on insulin and ghrelin responses in human subjects. Br J Nutr. 2008;100(4):810–9. doi:10.1017/S000711450896757X.
  8. Munsters MJM, Saris WHM. Effects of Meal Frequency on Metabolic Profiles and Substrate Partitioning in Lean Healthy Males. Hennige AM, ed. PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e38632. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038632.
  9. Meule A, Westenhöfer J, Kübler A. Food cravings mediate the relationship between rigid, but not flexible control of eating behavior and dieting success. Appetite. 2011;57(3):582–4. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2011.07.013.
  10. Westenhoefer J. validation of the flexible and rigid control dimensions of dietary restraint .pdf. Int J …. 1999. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/(SICI)1098-108X(199907)26:1%3C53::AID-EAT7%3E3.0.CO;2-N/abstract. Accessed February 1, 2014.
  11. Smith CF, Williamson D a, Bray G a, Ryan DH. Flexible vs. Rigid dieting strategies: relationship with adverse behavioral outcomes. Appetite. 1999;32(3):295–305. doi:10.1006/appe.1998.0204.
  12. Alix Timko C. Norms for the rigid and flexible control over eating scales in a United States population. Appetite. 2007;49(2):525–8. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2007.03.008.
  13. Savage JS, Marini M, Birch LL. Dietary energy density predicts women ’ s weight change over 6 y 1 – 3. 2008.
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Georgie, why do people like Zuzka say that you should only eat complex carbs after a workout or within that 2 hour time period? She has a nutrition certification so I feel like there’s some credibility to what she says, but I would love to know where they came up with that. I guess I wonder how people like her can say these things unless there is some shred of truth to it? Or is it all totally bogus??  I ask you because I trust your expertise and opinion more than anyone else’s.

Thanks for the trust!  I have to level with you; people can say anything. It doesn’t have to be true. Especially when it comes to nutrition; especially when its on the internet. And most of all when it comes from a fitness celebrity with a “nutrition certification” and not an actual degree in nutrition. Many nutrition certifications can be obtained in a number of hours by paying money. The material they teach can be influenced by politics, religion, pseudoscience, or conflicts of interest. It can be alternative medicine, holistic woo woo, homeopathic hoopla or worse, cleverly disguised multi-level marketing.

And the certification she has is obviously drawing from some not-solid scientific claims.

healthy-carbs

The first thing I should say is that while I am about to dismantle the logic of Starchy Carbs Only Post Workout, I used to be an avid believer. I recommended it, I practiced it, and at the time I thought it made sense. It is only with continued professional growth and research that I have moved away from it. That’s what people do. There’s nothing wrong with finding out you were wrong, if you ask me.

Like other fringe nutrition strategies (paleo, LCHF, raw food, etc), the idea that starchy carbohydrates should only be eaten immediately post workout started with some true biological data and then extrapolated it beyond what is actually responsible to conclude from the evidence. It was a neat idea. I’m sure the originators believed it was sound. It just didn’t work out to be. Kind of like Thomas Edison spent 30 years breeding sheep with six nipples (instead of the normal two), thinking they would reproduce faster and be more profitable for farmers. Cool idea, but it didn’t end up being true. Post-workout-only carbs is turning out to be a similar tale.

No evidence indicates that timing one’s carbohydrates to post workout only produces greater fat loss than consuming an equivalent diet without the timing rule.

The idea started with the fact that after exercise, our cells are more insulin sensitive. Any diabetic knows this – they need less insulin after a workout for the same amount of carbs. It is also true that eating carbs and protein after a workout is a great idea for maximizing recovery, muscle protein synthesis and restoring glycogen. It’s not absolutely urgent to drop everything and race to get carbs and protein in as soon as possible (the idea of a rapidly closing window is largely exaggerated) but within 1-2 hours seems totally fine. In my experience, withholding carbs after a hard workout leads to feeling more tired and fatigued the rest of the day, and it seems to increase the likelihood of mega food cravings and sugar cravings in the day if your workout + food intake has created a too-large negative calorie balance. For people who are workout out twice in a day, getting carbohydrates in right away after a workout is important – since they only have a limited number of hours to restock glycogen. For the rest of us who train once per day, eating some carbohydrates and protein in the next meal is fine, whether that’s soon after your workout or in the next 1-2 hours.

So following a hard workout with some carbohydrates, whether they been sugary or starchy, is a good practice for sports nutrition.

Where things go wrong is when people say that you should ONLY have starchy carbs during that time. Usually they back this up with a rationale that at other times, your muscles don’t need the carbohydrates so it all goes to fat.

Except it’s not true. If you are in calorie balance, energy will be moving in and out of your fat cells all the time, but there will be no net storage of fat whether you have starchy carbs or not. If you eat too many calories, you will have a net storage of fat, whether you had starchy carbs or not.  The overly simplistic compartmentalization of the body into muscle and fat further ignore the fact that you have a liver, and a brain, and red blood cells, and kidneys, and lots of other tissues that use glucose! Muscles as well will take up glucose after a meal and switch back to burning fatty acids when the glucose run out. It doesn’t just “all turn to fat.” Your brain alone needs 120 grams of glucose a day, even if you slept through BodyPump.

There is an impact of insulin – eating more carbohydrates causes a greater rise in insulin. But without a calorie excess – any energy stored during the exposure to insulin will come back out of the fat cell later in the day. It’s not a black hole. It’s a cell. Stuff goes in and comes out. Calorie excess plus high levels of insulin from a high glycemic diet cause the problems we all want to avoid: increases in bodyfat, increased risk for diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

So as you can see, ignoring the calorie piece of the equation is where starchy-carb-timing-logic missed the boat.

Having said all that, reducing starchy carbohydrates in the diet is STILL helpful and effective in some ways. It’s not because they are an evil insulin-spiking nutrient, but because they don’t typically provide the highest satiety per calorie AND because they are often highly palatable and easy to consume to excess. Eating 250 extra calories of pasta is far easier for most of us than eating 250 calories of extra broccoli. For hedonic reasons, most of us can see eating 4 oreos even after we’re full, where we might be less apt to eat an extra quarter pound of grilled chicken for the same calories. So where limiting carbs overall or restricting them to certain windows can help is because it helps reduce overall calories and create that all important energy deficit.

Where carb timing can be perfectly executed and still fail is when people dodge the starchy carbs but eat too many calories anyway. “Can’t” have toast with your eggs because you didn’t “earn it with a workout”? Throw in a bunch of bacon and cheese; you have avoided starchy carbs for sure but are no closer to the body you want if you didn’t cut any calories. You don’t even have to go crazy on the fat. Having a pile of roasted brussels sprouts can be more carbohydrates than the dinner roll you wanted to eat but wouldn’t let yourself because you skipped the gym.

The nastiest piece of the carb timing fad is how it impacts people psychologically. Having to “earn” food via exercise sets up a transactional mindset where food is the desirable currency (especially starchy carbs) and our jobs are to work or suffer through exercise to get it. Shouldn’t exercise be fun? What happened to moving our bodies for the joy it brings or the intrinsic rewards of pride and self-care? Carb timing has blinded thousands of people to the joys that they can experience from using their bodies to play – because they’re too busy sweating out the minutes so that they can have the elusive bowl of Cheerios, which without a workout, they would not deserve.
Stepping away from carb timing is a move I made as a professional based on the complete lack of scientific evidence supporting it, as well as my own experience trying to help people undo the mental and emotional carnage that it caused for them. And just as carb timing can in some cases assist people with creating a calorie deficit, so can abandoning carb timing.

If you find yourself trying to keep starchy carbs to postworkout only, but you are overeating at night, having too many desserts, or feeling no self-control around chocolate, you might have an easier time if earlier in the day you had just let yourself have the piece of toast you wanted. If you weren’t squandering willpower on restricting carbs for most of your waking hours, (can’t have those crackers, better get the croutons off my salad, oh no there’s corn in this soup I have to pick it all out…) you might have more calm sensibility about you to handle the more important food decisions, like stopping eating when you’re satisfied. If you had enjoyed your meals more, maybe the whole day would have been less distressing, and the pleasure would have helped balance out a day of nonstop working with too little recreation.It’s remarkable to see my clients when they finally “free” themselves to have a whole wheat roll with lunch, or a portion of roasted sweet potato wedges with dinner, how much their enjoyment of their diet skyrockets. The emotional eating and rebellion eating reduces. Food is enjoyable again, and exercise isn’t part of an ethical question over whether they deserved to eat the same food their family is eating. Being able to eat a cookie, instead of a sugar free low carb protein bar, is often a big calorie savings and a step closer to weight loss.

The bottom line: You can eat starchy carbs at every meal of the day. If you are in a calorie deficit, you’ll lose fat. I watch my clients prove this every day.

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Why “No excuses” memes need to die

I personally find it unhelpful and brusque to see a fit body captioned with some variant of “No excuses.”

You’re not helping people feel like this:

inspired woman

You’re probably making most people feel like this:

ashamed
As someone who lives day in and day out in one of those fit-looking bodies, I shudder to think that people might assume I would actually think along those lines. I can only imagine what it sounds like to some one who is trying to get fit. I bet it would feel like a slap in the face. I can liken it to what it would feel like if I sought financial advising, and it consisted of a millionaire saying to me, “You’re not wealthy? I am. No excuses!”

Well shit, that’s not helpful.

I have medical bills. I have a mortgage and rent to pay. I have other expenses I am a bit ashamed of to even write on the internet. The implication that none of my struggles are legit makes me want to hang my head.

Transferring the analogy from finances to an infinitely more personal subject, a person’s body (how much more personal can you get?) and the categorical invalidation of someone’s obstacles is even more hurtful.

No Excuses strikes me as a twitterized way to say, “No matter what you feel like makes this hard for you, whatever challenges you’ve had in the past which have impacted your decisions, and whatever shaky sense of hope you have now that you can change for the better, let me stomp on it for you. None of that exists. It’s not real. No, I don’t want to actually hear them, they aren’t real because I don’t have them. You’re welcome.”

I think the folks repeating the #noexcuses message mean zero harm. I think they want to help people and not deter them from pursuing the very challenging task of becoming healthier and fitter. So if you are a trainer, other fitness professional, blogger, or simple a meme-sharer on social media, I offer an alternative message which may work better for you.

In whatever language you choose, try communicating this to the people you wish to uplift or inspire and I bet your impact will be much more favorable:

“Whatever is in your way, we can get around it. I have had challenges too and still do. Look what I did. What so and so did. You can too. Your challenges ARE real, but they don’t have to stop you.”

And then, whether you’re sporting a dream body or not, offer something useful about HOW to overcome one of the challenges this world gives us. That’s truly helping someone up.

Yes, it takes more keystrokes.

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The Easiest Way To Get More Support

Any advice on how to tell people (family, friends) about my leanness / diet goals? I am lean to begin with, by most people’s standards. When I talk about my health and physique goals with other people, they always balk at my wanting to be even more lean. It is a major stopping point for me. The result is that I feel alone and that I go secret with my goals, which doesn’t help me.

I would like to be better at having these types of conversations with people because I don’t want to have to “hide” major goals in my life from the people I love and spend time with. -Kate

My gut suggestion is to leave outcome goals out of it – out of your conversations and even more out of your mind, so you can focus on behaviors. If you have people who support your behaviors, it helps a ton, and if you have people who oppose your desired behaviors, it’s an added challenge.

So to get people on board with supporting your behaviors, the most helpful strategy I can recommend is to frame them positively. This is a different verbal tactic from the typical way people mention their diet or fitness goals.

feeling good
Example: Many women would say “I want to go to the gym regularly or order something healthy TO LOSE WEIGHT or TO GET LEANER or something along those lines. (Heaven forbid you say “because I am fat” – you’re really asking for resistance then!) These statements imply you want to do the desired behavior because something is wrong with the current state, and the person hearing it instinctively thinks 1. She must think she’s fat now (and what a cow she thinks I am!) and 2. I don’t want her to feel that way about herself – let me oppose her because she’s wonderful and lovely at this very moment and she needs to know it!

So no one wins. They oppose you by voicing “oh yes you can have some!” or “you don’t need to lose weight!” not because they want to make your life harder, but because they care. If they feel your motive is dissatisfaction with yourself, any loving person will instinctively oppose you.

So, back to the stating it differently tactic.

“I’ve been eating less sugar lately and I feel amazing!”
“I’m working with a nutrition coach and following her advice makes me feel like a million bucks!”
“I sleep so much better when I’m not too full”
“Oh thanks, but I’ve had enough, I’m at the *perfect* level of satisfied now and just loving it.”

All of those statements frame your actions as being taken because they make you feel GREAT – people who love you want you to feel great, so there’s no instinctive push back. Try it out and let me know how it works for you!

Want all the latest advice, coaching news, and recipes from AskGeorgie PLUS a free book of tasty recipes? Enter your email address below and hit Sign Me Up!

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Our New Years Group Coaching cohort is open for registration, and starts January 5th.

What is the difference between two twins that lose weight, but only one keeps it off? One focused on a diet, one focused on habits. It’s as simple as that.

Ours is the only program that is all of the following:

  • Habit based. This is critical.
  • Evidence based. No gimmicks.
  • Proven to work. Hundreds have succeeded with this.
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  • Suitable for everyone. Since we are behavior based it works for Moms, doctors, and even some Olympians.
  • Easy. It has to be easy to last.
  • Empowering. We teach you to not need a coach.
  • Specific to your needs. Each habit is scaled to your level.
  • Supportive. Body transformation contests are competitive, and only work for marketing, not for success.
  • Intuitive. You learn to work with your body.
  • Satiating. You can’t be hungry all the time, that won’t last.

Click the button to get started January 5th! Registration is open for a few days and it is first come, first serve until we are full.

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What others are saying:

“Hi Georgie and Roland,

It was a difficult day at the salt mines, but a couple of things stood out at school today that made me think of the two of you, and made me feel really grateful for having you in my life.  The first was leading group exercise in PE, and trying to manage a herd of teenagers who were either 1) Competing to see who could do the most biomechanically unsound lunges, 2) Creatively counting their lack of lunges 3) Ignoring the sweating old guy leading the lunges, (me), to focus on how bad their classmates smell, or 4) some combination of #1-3.

I REALLY appreciate how well you two stick with your clients, love us every step of the way, but still continue to nudge us towards our goals.  I have never heard either of you shout “JUST STOP DRINKING WINE ALREADY!!!” even though it *might* be clear to *everybody* that drinking wine is getting in the way of *somebody’s* goals.  Several times this afternoon I really wanted to shout “JUST DO SOME FUCKING LUNGES ALREADY!!!” and instantly thought of my coaches loving me while encouraging me to lower my treat totals.  You guys can talk about applying a motivational interview framework or quote behavioral change research, but when the rubber hits the road, you’re singularly skilled at motivating change while improving your clients’ perceptions of the relationship.  Like, world-class skilled.  The teacher in me is both in awe of this, as well as happy to remain a client as much for the professional development as for the coaching aspect.

The other event that happened was getting some rather difficult feedback from our Regional Supervisor that didn’t seem very rooted in evidence.  You two are really good at pointing out where improvements can be made without making me feel bad about it.  Again, I know you can quote research and theory, but you’re very skilled at implementing theory in places where I’ve seen other therapists, teachers and coaches fall short.  You’re awesome!

I’m rambling.  I hope you’re both doing well.  I was just struck by how much I learn on a daily basis from you two that has nothing to do with nutrition and training.  I really appreciate having both of you as coaches/mentors/counselors/friends!”

Cheers,
Cliff Geis-Poage

“Good morning!!!

I am under 120 pounds!  I have lost 40 pounds since starting with you and 53 pounds altogether!  I don’t feel deprived in the least!  I feel happier and healthier and more alive and more confident and more sexy and more energetic and just wonderful!!!  Thank you, thank you, and thank you for everything you do!!!!

Have a great day!!!!!!!
:)))))”

Julie Dubé

“What a totally different experience getting ready to go down south this winter compared to last (35 pounds ago). Last year, it was like – let’s see what few things I own that I can squeeze into that don’t look too horrible on me – oh and go buy some extra large tops and dresses since I don’t have enough things that fit me to get me through the week without doing laundry.

This year – search through my clothes and realize there’s only maybe 3 things that are a tiny bit too small. I can get them done up but they’re too tight to be flattering. Otherwise, I can pick and choose my favourites because basically everything fits – and looks good!!  Oh – and go out and find three fabulous dresses to wear down south on sale for 75% off and feel terrific in them!!!!  You’d mentioned a long time ago about not focusing on the weight I want to be in Cuba but on how I want to FEEL when I’m there. I get it now. Totally.

:)))))))))))

Thank you (in no small part) to you.”

Julie Dubé

“For the first time ever in my life I feel like I have easy control over my weight and I know how to manage it without getting wound-up and tied up and stressed out. Besides the nutrition aspect, I also know what patterns of thinking to watch out for both. It’s truly remarkable. Miraculously, I’ve been able to maintain my maintain my weight in spite of my reduced exercise routine: I weighed myself last night and I’m *still* 149lbs – amazing – the lowest I’ve weighed that I can remember and this is without much exercise and without feeling starved or deprived or like I’m on a diet.
The habits are sticking.
I’m feeling healthy.
I’m feeling in control.
My weight is no longer something I need to monitor and measure daily.”
Barry Danilowitz

“HI Brandice and Georgie,
A quick note to say Happy New Year and to let you know that I continue to follow the guidelines we developed and I continue to see great results. I’ve kept the weight off, it’s easy, I’m fitter than ever, leaner than ever and I feel much more in control. My willingness to do the work was a direct result of your thoughtful guidance and its practicality. Great system, great coaching. Thanks again and all the best for 2014.”
Barry Danilowitz

“I couldn’t fit into my clothes anymore.  I was larger than I had ever been and I didn’t feel good.  I felt lethargic, bloated, and chubby.  I would eat way too much in the evenings and that would make me feel even worse.  I wouldn’t want to get off the couch, and in the morning I dreaded trying to squeeze into my clothes.  The coaching I received from the team at One By One Nutrition Habits changed all that.  They helped me attend to my problems one by one with new habits to change the way I felt and looked.  Within a few weeks, the weight and inches started to drop and I began to feel like me again.  I still stick to the plan designed for me and I continue to see progress every day.  I am so happy to feel great again!
I am still following my plan and have lost some inches, weight is about the same.  I am feeling really good about my body these days.  I will probably see a gastroenterologist sometime in the next several months to see about m digestion issues in the afternoons, but other than that, I feel great.  I will probably buy a bike trainer for the house soon to train for the Iron Horse Classic.”
Liz

“Thank you for being so open and vulnerable with us.  That is what I truly love about you.  You seem to understand us all—no matter our food issues, body issues, mental hurdles.   You work magic for many of us—offer us hope, promise us that a lean body is not elusive, craft clever strategies to overcome mental hurdles, and create mouthwatering recipes with completely unexpected ingredients.  What’s more, you do all this with the positive outlook, energy and enthusiasm.”
Maya

I wanted to write to you and thank you for your extraordinary coaching. I had only one solid month of coaching (so far) due to my personal circumstances, but I have consistently kept up the habits you prescribed and I’m down 10lbs!!!! The best part is that I’m not suffering or feeling deprived. I’ve been able enjoy more of the foods I was depriving myself of and still dropping weight. I cannot believe how powerful your coaching has been. I have been struggling so long knowing all the “right” things I “should” do but not losing any weight, only gaining. Here I am about 6-8wks since my first coaching call with you and I am ridiculously thrilled and speechless at the magic of Georgie Fear’s advice. I thank you so much and intend to work with you ongoing, possibly referring our clients whom we know will benefit from what you offer. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!

Pallavi

“While I had success losing weight in the past, I still struggled with feeling deprived by my “diet” and binging on sugary foods in secret. I would adhere with “100% compliance” to my self-imposed restrictions for a month or so, and then rebel and eat tons of “forbidden” foods in secret. Even though on the outside it appeared that I was successfully managing my weight, I spent all day thinking about it and knew that I wasn’t going about things in a healthy, sustainable way.
I started working with Georgie at One By One Nutrition Habits, and we slowly started getting to the bottom of my binging behavior. We implemented one habit at a time, so the changes were so small that I never felt deprived. She was able to listen to my problems about binging and work WITH me to find strategies to deal with the issue – I was never TOLD how to respond. Her coaching was totally individualized to my specific issues.
Week by week, it gets easier and easier. Of course, I still take steps backwards sometimes. The difference now is that after working with One By One, I feel like I am fully equipped with strategies and habits to work through those tough times, pick myself up, and keep choosing health every day.
I finally feel free of counting calories, pounds, grams, and macros. I am living a normal, healthy life. And I owe it all to the One By One team :)”
Shannon Schriver

HI Georgie,
Wow, I cannot BEGIN to thank you for “giving” me Brandice! Through much patience, trial-and-error, communication and sheer, unadulterated love and caring, I have arrived at a place where I am healthy, happy and strong. The overtraining? Gone. The bingeing outta control? WAY gone. The under eating? Gone. The Underweight? Gone. The exhaustion? Bloat? Digestive issues? Soreness? Sleeplessness? Gone. Gone. Gone AND…..you guessed it. Gone

I have had the most amazing experience working here with you all. The level of expertise and efficiency with which you serve us is incomparable. I told Brandice that I have lived a life of personal training certification, group exercise certification, health and wellness journal reading, magazine scouring, internet googling and I came to the coaching experience in better shape, health and with better eating habits than most people on the planet.
But something wasn’t right. I wasn’t “free” somehow. Some kind of way I needed help, and I didn’t even know WHAT kind of help.

Your demeanor and presence on Happy Eaters led me here. And I got what NO magazine, NO forum, blog, internet, one-on-training, class, group, or therapy (or GROUP THERAPY, for that matter..haha) ever gave me. And I’ve had copious quantities in one form or the other of all of the above!
It was the final one-two punch that I needed to figure out the mainstream “answers” (intervals, lowfat, etc) weren’t the medicine for me. They, in fact, were the “disease”. I found what did work and as a result, I have nothing but check marks on my tracker. We had a check in call last week and there was nothing to say. Nothing EXCEPT thank you for giving me my life back

That is no exaggeration.

And with that, wise one, I will be finished  with coaching for a stretch here again after my payment is up (the 11th or whenever that is?). Thank you for keeping your doors open to me and I assure you that I will come a-callin’ the minute anything goes awry. But if I keep on what we’ve discovered works for me, it should be a long time! I feel beyond amazing.

You have my permission to paste any/all of this email on any website or testimonial you wish, at any time. If you would like a new one for that, let me know

THANK YOU to you and Roland and I’ve already lavished all over Brandice but think I’ll continue to do so til the payment is up, cuz it’s fun to me! :) I hope this email conveys the depth of my gratitude and wonder. YOU. ARE. LOVED
Janice Garrigan

“Since working with you I feel like a different person. It’s so hard to explain but I think I have finally lost my fear of eating. When I find out the office is ordering pizza for us next week I don’t panic. When my husband offers to pick up a bottle of wine for tonight I don’t worry that I should have restricted to compensate for a couple drinks. I haven’t felt that in years it seems like. I’ve ALWAYS been pining for my next meal.  Honestly my husband has been much happier and less anxious and I know it’s because of me. It just goes to show what a negative affect I used to have on him.
Plus now that I’m not logging my calories or really counting I probably eat less on a lot of days. I used to eat more “because I need to make sure I am eating enough and not restricting” even if I wasn’t hungry
And I have you to thank for it! It sounds dramatic but you probably saved my life.
And my marriage.
And my daughter from a future eating disorder.”
Anonymous

“Here’s what I have to say about Ask Georgie coaching:
I wanted to lose about 10 pounds and have had some success in the past with tracking food and counting calories. That kind of weight loss was relatively quick, but I found it difficult.  I was hungry between meals and at bedtime. Weight loss is all about habits, and Georgie designed simple eating habits just for me. I shed pounds slowly, over about 6 months. As a bonus, there are lots of delicious, easy to prepare recipes AskGeorgie.com that keep food interesting and healthy. Georgie offers more than a weight loss plan.  She gives lots of TLC and guides you to make healthy food choices that give results.
Thanks so much, Georgie”
Julie Driscoll

“My coaching experience with One by One has been an incredible journey.  I was fairly lean and I felt I was in a good place with my nutrition habits when I started working with Georgie.  I decided to work with Georgie because I wanted to advance my nutrition skills and get a bit leaner without driving myself nuts.  Not only did Georgie help me identify some root causes to some bothersome bloating I was having she helped mature my healthy eating habits in general.  The part that surprised me is that she also helped me grow emotionally in ways I didn’t expect when engaging a fitness/nutrition coach.  I made a major career change while working with Georgie and she helped me learn to manage and release stress in an effort to positively influence my overall wellbeing.  Turns out that by improving my overall life habits, I made carrying out a lean and healthy lifestyle much easier on myself.   And I learned habits that work for ME, not simply rules all healthy people are “supposed” to follow.  Because of Georgie’s very personal coaching, I learned to do what works for me and build my specific healthy habit framework.  And when I hit the inevitable bumps in the road, I never felt judged or ridiculed….I just felt acceptance that I’m human and received a helping hand to lift me up.

Thanks Coach for all you do and continue to do to help me, inspire me, and make me want to be my best self!

Love to you! xoxo
Rebecca Wilson

“Years of emotional eating, restrictive dieting (followed by binging), and trying to exercise my way out of bad food choices left me with a very unhealthy relationship with food. With Georgie’s coaching, I developed habits that make it possible to eat for health and enjoyment without counting calories or weighing food.  She gave me tools & resources and taught me skills to face and deal with emotions instead of burying them with food.  I also learned a sustainable method of working out that doesn’t beat up my injury-prone body (or take 2 hours in the gym) and still enables me to make strength gains.  For the first time in my life, really, I feel like I am in control, not the food.  Georgie’s coaching style is practical, encouraging, and empowering. Working with Georgie changed my life.  She helped me believe in myself – and that is priceless!”
Yvonne Gentile

I can’t thank the coaches at One by One enough for all of the help that they gave me. In a relatively short amount of time, they were able to analyze my weight issues and then adjust gracefully as the time went along. My core issue was that I was gaining fat when I thought that I was following a diet for fat loss. As all experts can do, Georgie quickly understood what I was doing, and then put me on a plan where I could lose fat and be comfortable.  I immediately lost over 5 pounds in the first week, which made me feel great. More than that, I was glad that I didn’t have to think and research what was best for me. As a hypothyroid guy that exercises first thing in the morning, I had been trying to adopt different nutrition ideas into my routine. Instead, Georgie set me up with a few habits to follow every day.

I am very happy to say that after 3 short months I dropped over 20 pounds, and it was very easy and sustainable. Along the way, Georgie and Roland came up with some great ways to add more calories back in without fat gain. I now have the tools to adjust and maintain myself, and the habits that they instilled in me are easy to follow and adapt to. Thanks guys!
Jeff Kushmerek

“Thank you Brandice, Georgie and Roland for my recent experience with your one on one coaching.  I finished 2012 with a separate program and felt I needed a place to go to hone in on habits specific to me.  I decided that I wanted to enter a women’s power lifting competition and didn’t want to become a sumo wrestler in the process.
After speaking with Georgie I decided to sign up, my bi weekly calls with Brandice were fantastic, helpful and insightful, as we worked to find out what areas I could improve in with my eating.  I struggled with the concern of having too many carbs during this time and was quickly reassured that with my lifting style those carbs would be put to good use building some muscle and strength.
Anytime I had a question or a fear I knew that I could reach out to Brandice or Georgie and get reassurance on my progress.  Roland was a great help during this time as well as he helped me navigate some of the oddities of power lifting and what I should expect.  The ability to reach them and get answer quickly was very comforting.

I competed in my first power lifting competition in April and had the wonderful support of all the members in “The Hive” and knowing they were cheering for me made me feel part of a team environment.  I am happy to report that during my five months with them I was able to pack on 8.5 pounds of lean muscle and lost 9.5 pounds of fat. No sumo wrestler here.
Thanks Brandice, Georgie and Roland for helping me reach a goal and dream that I never really thought possible.”
Kathleen Horacek

“Hi Georgie,

Thought I would check in with a quick update. I am not tracking at all.  There are some days I eat a little more, some days I eat a little less based on appetite. I very, very rarely eat past comfortably full.   Eating healthy is natural–I love good, healthy food. The best part–my weight continues to go down. I am now at 126 and I don’t remember EVER weighing this amount. It’s just awesome how easy you’ve made this!

On a different note, I just signed up for my first stand-alone marathon. I wasn’t planning on doing anything endurance-length for the year but ended up signing up anyway. Doing the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco with Team in Training. I’m excited!!

Thanks again for everything!”

Stacey Cummings

“You’re a miracle-worker, Georgie! You have an immense amount of nutritional knowledge, which is super-helpful. But you’re also helping me connect my physical self to my mental/emotional/spiritual self. You are truly blessing my (and many others’) life!
HUGS!!!”
Emily Sullivan

“I have great respect for you, you’re my teacher and mentor for a healthy lifestyle.  My progress since I’ve known you and have been working with you has been a positive one each and every day.  It’s kind of funny but everyone in our home knows who “Georgie” is, and my little guy just LOVES your name!!  The habit/progress checker helps me so much and I feel it’s extremely important for you to know exactly how things are going for me by doing it as well, you can only help me if you know what/how I’m doing daily.  I know you’re here to help me keep growing and to be the best that I can be!

Thank you again!
Joyfully,
Erika.

“Prior to meeting Georgie I was struggling with consistently eating well and exercising.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know what to eat or how to exercise it was that I just wasn’t doing it, and I didn’t know why.  Georgie helped me understand why I was struggling and gave me strategies to help me work through it.  Now, eating well and exercising are as habitual as brushing my teeth and something I truly enjoy making part of my lifestyle.
The coaches at One by One are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to nutrition, exercise, and behavioral psychology but what separates them from others with a similar knowledge base is that they can take the pertinent information and apply it to real people.  Want to lose fat, they can help.  Not sure how to consistently cook nutritiously, they can help.  Want to train for an athletic endeavor, they can help.  Want to feel better about yourself, they can help.  You get the idea – they can help you regardless of what your desires are and if you don’t know what those are, that’s okay too; they’ll help you figure it out.
Georgie’s personality is engaging, warm, and enthusiastic.  She’s somebody after meeting the first time you feel like you’ve known her forever.  She will be your biggest cheerleader because she believes in you and knows that you will be successful.  It’s ironic that her last name is “Fear” because that’s exactly what she removes from the equation.  Georgie truly takes the fear out of becoming a better “you”.  Whether you work with her in person, over the phone, or over email she will get you moving in the right direction.  My life is so much better after working with Georgie.”
Lori Leech

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