Calculating Your Macros

In order to properly calculate your macros for weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance, you need to know how many calories you’re currently eating.

There are ways to estimate this, but people get the best results when tracking their calorie intake for a consecutive seven days. It is extremely important to make sure that you track an average week and weekend (i.e. no special events that alter your diet).

I recommend downloading the free app Carb Manager for iOS and Android to track your macros. Carb Manager is advertised as an app for keto diets, but it has functionality for all macro choices! When you install the app, it will have you create an account and select how you want to balance your macros. As you enter foods during the day, it will show you exactly how you are doing!

It is extremely important that you do not change the way you eat during this week. Why? You want to be shocked. Maybe the way you’ve been eating isn’t so bad. In that case, slight tweaks may be all that you need. Maybe your general diet is atrocious. You need to see how that looks in order to jumpstart your brain into making better decisions for your new lifestyle.

Using a food scale or actual measurement tools are also extremely beneficial for this phase. Many people are surprised to see what 5oz of chicken or 1tbsp of peanut butter actually looks like. Remember to track all of the little licks, tastes, and bites that you consume throughout the day, as these can sneak up on you and add up quickly!

When setting up your tracking app, it will have you enter your height, weight, daily activity level, and goals, and it will provide you with a recommended daily caloric intake from this. Take this figure, and use the chart below to figure out your recommended macros from that figure.

I generally consume 1200 retained calories per day, and I typically live in a weight-loss macro. This means that I should aim for 420-600 calories from protein, 300-540 calories from carbs, and 240-420 calories from fats.

Wait? What did I mean by retained calories? Your workouts burn calories, and you get to subtract those calories! If my workout will burn 300 calories, I actually should aim to eat 1500 total calories in a day, which will leave me with my 1200 recommended retained calories.

If I ate only 1200 total calories and then worked out, I would only have 900 retained calories for that day, which is far too low a deficit. This can trigger your body’s starvation mode reflex, which will actually cause your body to store fat instead of burning it normally!

Crime & Tea | Elisa Lam

When 21-year-old Canadian college tourist Elisa Lam disappears after embarking on her “West Coast Tour”, frazzled family and feds hurry to locate her and accidentally stumble upon one of the most baffling disappearance mysteries of all time.

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What’s In A Macro?

Knowing your macros is one of the keys to success with any health endeavour. “Macros” stands for macronutrients which are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They make up the calories in our food. Most foods are made up of multiple macronutrients.

By knowing the macronutrient breakdown of food, you also know how many calories it has!

For example: If something has 20 grams of carbs, it will have 80 calories because 20g x 4cal/gram = 80 calories

Tracking my macros helped me to understand that there are truly no good foods or bad foods. While it’s certainly beneficial for most of your calories to come from whole foods, there is most certainly still room for treasures in your life like FroYo and waffles 🙂

This is why learning about macros is powerful. It teaches you that you have the ability to include the foods that you love into your diet and still reach your goals. Balancing your macros can also help you to build muscle and lose fat, which will have you looking leaner and more defined.

Tracking macros is a strategy that allows you to gain better insight into the foods that you are eating. It is suitable for any diet, including vegetarianism, Mediterranean, and Paleo.

There is no “best” diet. I learned this the hard way. People are most successful when their approach to eating is sustainable and is something that they can adhere to long-term. In my opinion, if you can’t stick to your current diet long term, then it’s time to find a different approach.

Even if you can’t imagine tracking macros for the rest of your life, you will definitely use what you learn from tracking to make informed decisions about your food moving forward. It has helped me so much!

12 Days Of NaNoWriMo: What’s In A Setting?

Welcome back to day four of the 12 Days Of NaNoWriMo! If you’ve been doing your homework, your characters now have some weight to them, and they are helping to drive the direction of your plot. The outline of my prose really begins to come to fruition as my characters develop more and more depth in their descriptions.

So, now, it’s time to write your outline right?

Wrong.

Official outlining begins tomorrow, gentle reader. Today is all about your setting.

Where does your story take place? What time period is it? Keep in mind that a story set in 2019 differs in terms of technology and pop-culture from a story set in 2009…and those both differ greatly from a story set in either 1999 or 1909…or 1009.

This is where your first bit of research comes to play. You need knowledge of the what’s what during your specific time and place. To forgo this is to do irreparable damage to your story.

Let’s say that your story is set in a fictional town in 1830. Take some time to research what life was like in the 1830s. Is your town in a developed, developing, or impoverished area? Do your characters live in the good part of town or the bad part of town? Are your characters rich, poor, or somewhere in-between?

Your research should reflect these attributes. If Annamarie lives in on the bad side of a developing town with a middle-class family in 1830, her life is going to differ from Raphael’s life in the good side of an impoverished town with an upper-class family in 1830.

What are the politics like in the town? Are things strict or laidback? Is religion a big deal or an afterthought? How do people react to death? Crime? Education? Health?

Do you see how all of the factors impact the way your outline is formed and how your characters behave?

Let’s use my series the Belle Âme Chronicles series. If the Washington’s home was set in a populated part of the city where the police force was always watching, this storyline would be very different. Not impossible. But extremely different from the advantages the Washingtons receive by living in near-solitude on the outskirts of a lax town.

Would you write a story different when set in Denver versus Detroit? Of course, you would.

So, here we go with tonight’s homework. Write a one-page summary of your story’s setting. What is the environment like? What is the average income level? How is the authority? Do religion and/or politics play a huge role? How does this impact your characters, and do they have it better or worse than most of their neighbours and other townsfolk?

Tomorrow, we will finally be working on your outline! Are you excited? I’m excited! Let’s get this show on the road 🙂

For a sense of camaraderie (whether for NaNoWriMo or for writing in general…or to learn about other indie authors), I encourage you to join my Reader’s Nook on Facebook! It’s free and FUN 🙂

12 Days Of NaNoWriMo: Relating Your Characters To The Plot

Welcome to day three, guys! Yesterday, we created some of your main characters. Remember, they should all have a first name and a distinction. This is important. For today’s work, it’s imperative to know whether you’re dealing with an antihero or an antagonist.

It’s time to start building your plot, and that’s going to happen via character development. Remember how you wrote down a super simple plotline on day one? It’s time to grab that document.

Each character plays a role in the success of your plot, or else they are a worthless character to have in your story. The way to determine the significance of each character to your plot is to draft a short synopsis for them.

Let’s take a look at my character Blythe Washington from the Belle Âme Chronicles series. This is the character description I wrote for her before writing even so much as the first chapter of Down The River:

Blythe Washington – A homeschooling mother who is trying to keep her family unit together while dealing with a barrage of threatening messages from an unknown source. Blythe is an online fitness instructor who mentors her clients via webcam. She was responsible for [redacted for the blog due to spoilers]. Blythe feels like her youngest daughter Jaxyn just “gets” her. Unwilling to put Edwin through the stress, Blythe tries to sleuth down the identity of whoever is sending the anonymous messages to her family.

For those who have read Down The River, this is a pretty accurate representation of how Blythe behaves, not only in the first book, but throughout the entire series. From this one-paragraph description, I was able to create multiple plot points involving Blythe, her behaviour, and her relationships.

These plot points come from Blythe’s character description alone:

  • As a homeschooling mother, Blythe must run “classes” for her children.
  • The Washingtons are receiving threatening messages. Blythe is the one trying to keep things under control.
  • Blythe runs fitness classes while dealing with the above two issues.
  • While she loves all of her children, she is closest to the youngest and gives Jaxyn special treatment and leniency.
  • Blythe decides to go Nancy Drewing for the sake of her family’s stress.

Now, remember that similar descriptions were also written for Nathalian, Edwin, Sevii, Ramona, Jaxyn, and Skats. Each character description permits several plot points, and these plot points all make it easy to pull a prose outline together. See why it’s important to develop the main characters first?

So, that brings us to tonight’s homework: Write a description for each of your characters with 3-5 plot points included for each character. Feel free to bounce ideas from one character to another. If you write a plot point for Character C that could easily impact Character A, add another plot point to Character A’s description.

Tomorrow, we’re going to focus on selecting a setting for your prose, so you may also want to keep in mind what sort of settings each character thrives in and which settings “weaken” them.

For help developing these main characters, take a look at my guide on how to quickly create believable characters.

For a sense of camaraderie (whether for NaNoWriMo or for writing in general…or to learn about other indie authors), I encourage you to join my Reader’s Nook on Facebook! It’s free and FUN 🙂