Tracking My Calories

Ever since I started weight lifting at 16, I wanted abs. I built up the muscle, I became much stronger but I still struggled to achieve this goal. For me, abs were the pinnacle of fitness, and after years of trying, it seemed like an unattainable goal.

But this was because I never educated myself on how to get abs. So I hit the books. I learned what the steps were. And I learned that fundamentally if I wanted abs I needed to:

  1. Eliminate the layer of fat over my abs [1].
  2. Overload my abs so they become larger and more defined.

The fat over the abdominal muscles is stubborn and hard to eliminate. I learned I had to be in a calorie deficit in order to burn it off. I calculated my maintenance at 2200 calories [2]. And set my goal of consuming 1800 calories a day.

I was always intimidated by tracking calories but it’s a lot easier than I thought [3]. At first it takes some getting used to. But eventually it became a positive feedback loop. I became mindful of what I was putting into my body and it lead to better habits and healthier choices.

I now preferred cooking to eating out. When I cook I knew exactly how many calories and nutrients I was putting into my body.

I eliminated processed foods and sugar from my diet.

I reduced my intake of rice and bread. Both these foods were high in calories and I was consuming way too many carbs.

I reduced my alcohol intake. Beer is just empty calories anyways.

I became aware of my lack of protein in my diet. I needed to maintain my protein intake at a certain level or else I would start losing muscle.

I’ll admit I got a bit obsessive when it came to calorie tracking. I was meal prepping, always asking servers for calorie counts, and eating more salads rather than my usual choices. It became a bit of a running joke with my friends and family when they’d always see me eating the same meal of brown rice, chicken breast and broccoli.

But my hard work paid off, my body started to transform. I saw my weight consistently dropping by around 1.5 lbs a week. I was getting stronger, my body was getting leaner, and after five years since I first picked up a dumbbell, I finally achieved my goal of getting abs.


[1] Everyone has abs — we wouldn’t be able to stand straight without them — but we have a layer of fat right over it.

[2] You can easily calculate your maintenance level, or the amount of calories to consume to maintain your weight and body fat percentage with calculators online.

[3] I used MyFitnessPal to track my calories.

August 21, 2020

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