Tag Archives: metabolism

How to Enter Your Specific Macro Goals into My Fitness Pal For IIFYM

I know the world of IIFYM (if it fits your macros) aka Flexible Dieting can be information overload for someone who is just starting out.  It was for me, and I have been working in nutrition for years.  There is no getting around the steep learning curve, but I thought I’d try and write a few posts detailing the “hows” of IIFYM.

I want to tackle how to track your macros in My Fitness Pal (MFP) and my first post in this series will detail how to set your particular macros in MFP so you can more accurately track them.  How you do this will differ depending upon which level of MFP you have; the free version or Premium ($49.99/year).  I personally have Premium because I wanted the ease of use, the extra features, and because it is an app I am in multiple times a day.

In an attempt to give my clients more options when it comes to tracking I did recently download My Macros+ (it’s only $2.99) and plan on posting tutorials for that app as well in the future.


9.1 Home Screen and More MFP

The image (above left) is of the MFP homescreen.  At the bottom you will see where I arrowed in red to the “MORE” area.  Click on that and it will take you to the “More” screen (above right).  Once in the More screen click on the “Goals” section.

9.3 Goals to Cals and Macros

Once in the “Goals” section click on the “Calories & Macronutrient Goals” area which will take you to the “Calories & Macros” screen (above right).  You will see that MFP provides you with a “Default Goal” based on the questions it asked you when you first logged in.

9.4 Change Calories MFP

When you work with me (Click HERE to learn more) I provide you with prescribed macros.  If you would like to attempt to set your own macros you can go to sites like BodyBuilding.com for their Macro Calculator.

Once you have your macros you will need to amend the calories (above left).  Click on the calories (1) and a number screen will pop-up.  (2) Delete the “Default Goal” calories and (3) enter in the calories you should be eating.  This is literally the ONLY time you should ever worry about calories because from here on out all you need to do is hit those daily carb, protein, and fat macros regardless of whether that puts you OVER or UNDER your calorie goal…it does not matter…MACROS, MACROS, MACROS.

9.5 Calories changed MFP

Once you have entered the appropriate calories hit the “check mark” to save them.  Now click on either “Carbohydrates 203 g”, “Protein 81 g”, or “Fat 54 g” and the screen below left will pop-up.

9.6 Get Macros Close MFP 140C130P60F

Scroll through the “Carbs” percentages until it is NEAR what your prescribed carbs should be.  Remember, this is not Premium, so you can’t get exact on the grams.  Do that for “Protein” and “Fat” as well and remember that the “% Total” (bottom right of the screen) must equal 100%.

In this example, my client has prescribed macros of 1620 calories 140C/130P/60F.  This means that our “Close Enough” ended-up being 1623 calories 142C/122P/63F.  Does that mean my client will eat the “Close Enough” macros???  NO.  She will just have to remember what the macros that I gave her are…this is the downfall of the Free MFP service, but you all are more than smart enough to remember your macros.


10.1 Home Screen and More MFP

For the Premium version of MFP, to set your macros go to the Homescreen, click the “More” button on the bottom right (left screen above) and then click on the “Premium” button (top right screen above).

10.2 Premiun to Macros by Gram MFP

Once you are in the “Premium” screen (left screen above) click on the “Premium Features” tab and it will bring you to the “Premium Features” page (right screen above).  Once there click on the “Macronutrients by Gram” tab.

10.3 Cals Macros gram or percentage MFP

This will bring you to the “Calories & Macros” page.  Set your calories as described above in the FREE MFP Tutorial.  Then, click on (1) “Carbohydrates 32%” tab which will pop-up the image in the above right screen.  (2) Make sure to click the “Grams” button so you are able to set your macros in specific grams.  Once you have clicked the grams button (3) scroll through each macro and set your particular macros exactly as they were prescribed.  Remember to (4) click the check mark to save your macros.

10.4 Diff Goals by Day MFP Premium

Premium MFP has another neat feature which is great if you are carb-cycling.  Carb cycling means that your macros are different on different days usually in relation to the level of training you will be doing that day.  For example, my highest carb day is on my heaviest leg day (weight lifting).  The “Different Goals by Day” feature above allows me to pre-set those macros for those days that are different than my normal days and I do not have to remember to switch them in MFP on those days because they automatically pop-up (nice run-on sentence, huh?).

To set the macros for those days that do not fit your default days, click the “Add Daily Goal” button (above right  screen).

10.5 Diff Goals By Day Detail MFP Premium

And that my friends is how you set your daily macro goals in My Fitness Pal.

My next tutorial will detail how I go about planning my macros for the day food-wise and how I am able to hit them usually dead-on or within 2 grams either way.

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Filed under Education, IIFYM and Macros, My Fitness Pal, Nutrition

8 Weeks to 40 – Week 4 Recap

Day 28 Collage A Blog 10.05.15

Date:  10/5/15

Height: 5’8 3/4″

Weight: 137.1 (down 2.1 from last week; 1.4lbs. from the week before)

Last Week’s Macros:

Monday -Thursday & Saturday 1555 calories 125C / 140P / 55F

Friday 1792 calories 190C / 150P / 48F (heaviest weight lifting day)

Sunday 1562 calories 106C / 145P / 62F (rest day)

This Week’s Macros (Staying the same):

I am keeping them the same macros as last week….Why mess with something if it is working???


Confession time…I broke and used the rest of the Coffeemate in my fridge.  I couldn’t waste it, right?  So how do I explain the fact that I bought more?  By telling you that I am human.

I have been chewing gum crazy for years (like more than a pack a day) and gave it up a few weeks before I began my 8 Weeks to 40 plan and I have managed to NOT chew ANY gum since then which I consider a victory!  I have also managed to stay away from frozen yogurt for the last 4 weeks and if you look through my Instagram feed you will see plainly that it was a weekly habit and one that was overflowing with candy toppings.  I have decided that I can give myself some grace and break my Coffeemate habit at a later date.

I did experience some hunger again this week, however that is to be expected and will be rectified soon when I begin my Reverse Diet in a few weeks.  I was also a little sluggish on some days, but that seemed to coincide with the days when we had grey Fall weather (that ALWAYS gets me).  I’m a girl of the sun…I don’t care if it is cold as long as the sun is out.

As I mentioned above I am planning on keeping the same macros this week.  Oftentimes people have this odd itch to switch-up their macros and speed-up the weight loss.  I want to preserve my muscle and keep any fat loss nice and slow so I do not dip in to that muscle I have been working so hard to build.

I’m half way through my planned cut and excited to see what the next 4 weeks bring.


Click HERE for the Day 1 Recap

Click HERE for the Week 1 Recap

Click HERE for the Week 2 Recap

Click HERE for the Week 3 Recap

Click HERE for the Week 5 Recap


Filed under 8 Weeks to 40, Education, Exercise, Fat, IIFYM and Macros, Nutrition, Weight Issues, Weight Lifting

8 Weeks to 40 – Week 3 Recap

Day 21 fitquestmom Gretchen Tseng 9.28.15

Date:  9/28/15

Height: 5’9″

Weight: 139.2 (up from last week…see below)

Last Week’s Macros:

Monday -Thursday & Saturday 1555 calories 125C / 140P / 55F

Friday 1792 calories 190C / 150P / 48F (heaviest weight lifting day)

Sunday 1562 calories 106C / 145P / 62F (rest day)

This Week’s Macros (Staying the same):

I am keeping them the same as last week’s.

Diabetes Walk Fitquestmom

As you can see from the above stats, my weight actually went up 0.7lbs., but I don’t think that is actually an accurate number for the following reasons:

  1. I went out of town this past weekend (for my niece’s Juvenile Diabetes Walk).
  2. I did not sleep as much as usual (raises cortisol).
  3. I was able to still hit my macros while out of town.
  4. The majority of my protein this past weekend came from my husband’s amazing pulled pork, which also happens to be pretty salty.
  5. I drank 3 diet sodas yesterday (I am NOT a soda drinker) because I was getting tired while driving home from our road trip and I needed the caffeine…that’s the only time I ever drink soda…super rare.
  6. Since I was in the car for 7 hours yesterday I did NOT drink my gallon of water.
  7. Lastly, um…how do I put this?…My bathroom habits weren’t normal this weekend.

FitQuestMom Abs 9.28.15

I took above ab progress picture this morning after my workout and despite the number on the scale I SEE the progress.

I think it is important for everyone to remember that we lead busy lives and we need to LIVE them and enjoy them.  It would never cross my mind to not eat my hubby’s amazing pulled pork (it’s soooo good!) because it might affect the number on the scale, or to not allow myself the freedom to have a soda (or three) on a rare occasion, etc.  It all evens out in the end.  Consistency is what really matters over the long term.


Click HERE for the Day 1 Recap

Click HERE for the Week 1 Recap

Click HERE for the Week 2 Recap

Click HERE for the Week 4 Recap



Filed under 8 Weeks to 40, Education, Exercise, Fat, IIFYM and Macros, Nutrition, Weight Issues, Weight Lifting

8 Weeks to 40 – Week 2 Recap

Day 15 Collage Blog

Date:  9/14/15

Height: 5’9″ (Um…apparently I shrank.  I just went to the Dr. last week and I am no longer 5’9 1/2″)

Weight: 138.5 (down 1.9lbs. since last week / 5.3lbs TOTAL)

Last Week’s Macros:

Monday -Thursday & Saturday 1515 calories 120C / 135P / 55F

Friday 1736 calories 180C / 146P / 48F (heaviest weight lifting day)

Sunday 1562 calories 106C / 145P / 62F (rest day)

This Week’s Macros:

Monday -Thursday & Saturday 1555 calories 125C / 140P / 55F

Friday 1792 calories 190C / 150P / 48F (heaviest weight lifting day)

Sunday 1562 calories 106C / 145P / 62F (rest day)


This past week was a good one, though it was the first week I experienced some hunger.  My goal during this 8 week “cut” is not to lose a ton of weight.  My weight loss has been a bit ahead of schedule, so I am actually adding in a little more food this week and will see how my body responds to that.

If by Friday I am still losing weight at a more rapid rate than I would like, I will make my refeed larger than planned.

Have an awesome week everyone!


Click HERE for the Day 1 Recap

Click HERE for the Week 1 Recap

Click HERE for the Week 3 Recap


Filed under 8 Weeks to 40, Education, Exercise, IIFYM and Macros, Nutrition, Weight Issues, Weight Lifting

8 Weeks to 40 – Week 1 Recap

Day 8 Collage 9.14.15

Date:  9/14/15

Height: 5’9 1/2″

Weight: 140.4 (down 3.4lbs)


Monday -Thursday & Saturday 1515 calories 120C / 135P / 55F

Friday 1736 calories 180C / 146P / 48F (heaviest weight lifting day)

Sunday 1562 calories 106C / 145P / 62F (rest day)


This past week went very well.  I am feeling great, wasn’t hungry, and plan on keeping the same macros this week.

I lost 3.4 pounds which was awesome, but it is important to keep in mind that a good portion of the weight lost was water since I indulged the weekend before and was retaining water from all of the extra carbohydrates I consumed.

I do not anticipate that I will lose the same amount of weight (nor do I want to) this week and if I do I will need to increase my macros because I want to ensure that the weight lost is not hard-earned muscle.

I have seven weeks left in my planned cut and I am thinking that I want to end-up somewhere between 132-135 pounds.  I may allow myself to get slightly more lean in anticipation of the Reverse Diet I plan on doing after this cut…time will tell.  I am not stuck on any set-number because I want to focus more on how I look versus a number on the scale.

Have an awesome week everyone!

Click HERE for the Day 1 Recap

Click HERE for the Week 2 Recap




Filed under 8 Weeks to 40, Education, Exercise, IIFYM and Macros, Nutrition, Weight Issues, Weight Lifting

8 Weeks to 40

Gretchen Tseng FitQuestMom muscle buildingI am a person who thrives on goals and loves something to work toward.  In fact, when I don’t have a goal I feel like I am just treading water.

Recently I have found myself feeling a little ho hum when it comes to my fitness and nutrition routine.  A quick look at the calendar last week made me realize that in a few days I would be 8 weeks away from 40 years old.  Bingo…new goal.

I have spent the last year working hard to add muscle to my frame (see picture comparison above).  As you saw in my last post about Reverse Dieting, when I originally began IIFYM/Flexible Dieting and got back into lifting weights (really heavy for the first time) I was able to achieve a very lean look, but there wasn’t a lot of muscle under there and I had very little “shape” to my body.  Now that I have put a lot of effort into trying to build the muscle and my metabolic capacity I am pumped to do an 8 week cut to reveal that hard-earned muscle.

Thus, my 8 Weeks to 40 plan.  Who doesn’t want to feel their best on their 40th B-Day???

I began my plan last Monday (after letting myself eat like an idiot over the Labor Day weekend…it was fun) and plan on updating all of you every Monday with progress pictures and how the last week went for me.  I know there is a lot of curiosity around macros and weight, so I will be fully open with you and share those with you.  Please understand that everyone is very different and it would not make sense for anyone to jump right in and eat my macros thinking they will get the same results.  We all start in different places metabolically, so there is no way my macros are right for anyone or everyone.

I make no judgement when it comes to what other people choose to eat (that is why flexible dieting is so great), but for the next 8 weeks I am going to be a bit more strict for myself than usual because I want to FEEL my best too.  I suffer from multiple auto-immune issues (one of which is hypothyroid) and really want to focus on eating those foods that make me feel my best…yep, that means no froyo for me.

So here are my rules for myself:

  • I will stick to my macros every day
    • Will reevaluate weekly based on results
      • Don’t want to lose weight too fast
  • I will post my results weekly
  • No candy, processed treats (unless I make a healthy version myself at home), artificial sweeteners (yep, coffee creamer is out…I’ve been meaning to break that habit anyway)
  • Will complete my planned workouts (I workout M-Sat and rest Sundays)

Now something I feel like I want to make perfectly clear is that fact that I am NOT unhappy with how I look now.  I feel like I am in pretty darn good shape for an almost 40 year old and I do not place my value in how my body looks.  I have a lot of fun with fitness and nutrition and enjoy taking care of myself.  There are worse hobbies out there.

Am I going to be any happier when I am leaner?  Nope.  Happiness does not come from how your body looks.  Sure it is fun to fit into your clothes, etc., but I have finally come to the place where I understand that my family and friends don’t love me any more or less when I am a different size.

When I am done with my 8 week plan I have every intention of Reverse Dieting again for at least 20 weeks.  It will be awesome timing (if I do say so myself) with the holidays coming up and I will make sure I take you along for the ride with weekly updates on that as well.  Like Hana DeVore mentioned in my article on Reverse Dieting, that process can actually be harder than trying to lean out since systematically increasing food actually ramps up your hunger in a major way.  I will be counting on you guys to keep me motivated and accountable throughout my Reverse Diet.

With that being said, let project 8 Weeks to 40 begin.  Below you will find my baseline pictures and stats from Day 1 (Ignore the paint samples on the wall…they’re killing me…we have decided to redo our bathroom and won’t be painting it before then).  I’ll update you on this week’s progress this coming Monday 9/14/15.

Gretchen Tseng FitQuestMom 8 Weeks to 40 years oldDate:  9/7/15

Height: 5’9 1/2″

Weight: 143.8 (A lot of that is water weight from my weekend of indulgence)


Monday -Thursday & Saturday 1515 calories 120C / 135P / 55F

Friday 1736 calories 180C / 146P / 48F (heaviest weight lifting day)

Sunday 1562 calories 106C / 145P / 62F (rest day)


Click HERE to see how week 1 went for me.

Click HERE for Week 2



Filed under 8 Weeks to 40, Education, Exercise, Fat, IIFYM and Macros, Nutrition, Weight Issues, Weight Lifting

What is a Reverse Diet?

There is a great deal of confusion when it comes to Reverse Dieting.  What is it and why do people do it?

Reverse Dieting can be done for a few different reasons:

  1.  To increase the amount of calories someone is able to maintain weight on so they can diet down at a later date
  2. To increase the amount of calories someone is able to eat while keeping their current body weight and composition
  3. To increase the amount of calories someone eats in order to gain muscle

Let’s go into detail about number 1 above:

Oftentimes clients come to me wanting to lose weight and once they turn in their introductory questionnaire and food logs to me (this happens prior to my creating their nutrition program) I see that they have been maintaining their weight on very few calories. If they are consuming on the low end (1200 or below in my opinion) and not able to lose weight, I do not want to reduce their calories any further because it will damage their metabolism (and let’s face it…eating that little is too hard to maintain and usually results in a cycle of restriction followed by overeating).  At this point I am forced to discuss Reverse Dieting with my client.  There are times when a client does not want to go through the process of Reverse Dieting and I let them know that their health and well being are more important to me than the income I would get from coaching them through a metabolically damaging diet.  If they decide to pursue nutrition coaching with someone else, I understand.

Once a client grasps the importance of Reverse Dieting we begin.  From their food logs I am able to establish a starting point and from there we slowly work their calories up week by week which generally allows them to maintain their current weight.  No two bodies are the same, so it is important to understand that there are times when a client will actually LOSE weight during this process (these clients are referred to as hyper-responders and this is not the body’s usual response), and also times when a client will gain some weight throughout the process.  It is important to always keep in mind the fact that the Reverse Diet is being done with one main goal in mind; to increase metabolic capacity so that once you are done you can lose weight while eating more calories.  For example, a client might come to me eating 1100 calories and then take 5 to 6 months increasing their calories to 2200 at which point they are able to diet on 1800 calories and lose weight.

In this situation and in most situations it’s worthwhile to take the time to try and repair your metabolism and increase the amount of calories you’re able to eat on a daily basis. How long someone has to Reverse Diet depends upon how long they have been dieting.  It is generally thought that the time spent Reverse Dieting should equal the amount of time the client has spent living life in a caloric deficit.  Someone who has spent YEARS yoyo dieting may have to invest more time Reverse Dieting.

I also have clients who come to me wanting to lose weight and we diet them down until their calories get down to the 1200 mark at which point we Reverse Diet their calories back up for 20 weeks and then begin the process all over again.  Some clients have a lot of weight to lose and prefer to lose as much weight as they can prior to beginning their Reverse Diet.  For example, a client may come to me with 50 pounds to lose and eating 1600 calories a day.  We may begin their weight loss on a diet / macros totaling 1400 calories, they will lose 15 pounds and then hit a plateau, so we reduce their calories / macros to 1200 calories where they will lose another 10 pounds.  Once they hit another plateau we will begin the Reverse Diet and bring their calories back up before beginning another weight loss phase.

Let’s go into detail about number 2 above:  

Then there are the people who have achieved the look that they want and have the body percent fat percentage that they are happy with, so they choose to Reverse Diet slowly in order to maintain their current look on more calories.  Who doesn’t want to be able to eat more on a daily basis?

I have personally gone through the Reverse Dieting process twice.  The first time was when I dieted down for a High School Reunion (the ultimate motivator, right?).  In the picture below you will see my starting point at the top and where I was 13 weeks into the Reverse Diet on the bottom.

Gretchen Tseng fitquestmom Reverse Diet wk 1 vs. 13

At the time I shared my progress on my Instagram account:

“I am 13 weeks in now and am so glad I am investing in my metabolism this way.  

In the top two pictures my weight was 130.6 and my macros were 1543 calories 155P / 125C / 47F and now my weight is 133 and my macros are 1844 calories 155P / 180C / 56F.

Have I been perfect along the way?  Nope.  I’ve had a cheat meal every week, went on vacation for almost two weeks (where I tried my best to track, but stopped and indulged at the end), and have had a couple of candy gone wild incidents which left me feeling disgusting, but I jumped right back in and NEVER restricted myself…I stuck to my current macros.

I plan on continuing this reverse at least through April / May (which will be a full 20 weeks).  This is seriously one of the best things I have ever done for myself.” 

That being said, Reverse Dieting is fun, but it is also a process where if you are looking to maintain your current physique you need to be very precise and follow as closely as possible (no unplanned binges) or your body will put on weight. It is a ton of fun to eat more week to week, but like I said, it required vigilance.  As you read in my Instagram caption above, I wasn’t perfect and I did put on some weight.  Had I been on track the entire time I am almost positive I would have stayed the same weight.  I actually ended-up liking the fuller look in the bottom pictures since looking back I felt a little too lean in the pictures at the top.

Let’s go into detail about number 3 above:

In order to gain muscle you need to eat in a caloric surplus and put a lot of work in at the gym lifting heavy.  When I say that I don’t mean eat gluttonously or you will likely gain a lot of fat with the muscle you are working so hard in the gym to build.  This is where a sensible and controlled Reverse Diet works best.

I follow Hana DeVore’s Instagram Account.  She is a 3 time NPC Nationally Qualified Bikini Competitor for Team FitBody Fusion and she has definitely put the work in Reverse Dieting in order to keep her metabolism healthy and to help increase her muscle mass between competitions.  It is so inspirational to watch her compete while taking care of herself.  So often bikini competitors are put on strict meal plans and extreme levels of cardio to diet down for the stage after which they go nuts with  cheat meals and put a TON of weight on post show (20 pounds in 2 weeks is not unheard of).  Hana does NOT do this because she works hard to Reverse Diet and has a coach (Jami Bernard) who has her best interests at heart.

Hana DeVore Reverse Diet

Above you see Hana’s 7 month transformation.  On the left she was 6.5 weeks out from one of her bikini competitions eating 1350 calories and on the right was 7 months later and 7.5 weeks out from another bikini competition eating over 2000 calories daily.  By eating more calories and continuing to work hard in the gym she was able to build muscle while staying relatively lean.

Below you can see her July to October glute gains thanks to Reverse Dieting (remember you have to be in a caloric surplus to add muscle) and continued training in the gym.

Hana DeVore Glute Progress

I asked Hana about her experience with Reverse Dieting and she said:

“Before I met my coach, I was only eating about 80 grams of carbs per day and doing a ton of cardio, simply because I thought that was what I needed to do to get a lean, ‘toned’ physique. Jami slowly rebuilt my metabolism to the point where in my offseason I could eat up to 300 grams of carbs a day while barely gaining any body fat. I also meticulously reverse dieted in between each competition to avoid rebounding, in order to build my strength back up, and to make the next prep that much easier. Reverse dieting can actually be a tougher process for some than prepping for a competition, since boosting your metabolism can definitely boost your hunger as well. But if you can stay in control and closely monitor your progress, you can get some really amazing results. And of course being able to eat more each week is always fun!”

Another great example of Reverse Dieting can be found on JoSandiFIT’s blog.  She documented 15 weeks of her Reverse Diet with weekly blog posts.  Click HERE to read those posts.

I hope this post has helped clear-up any confusion as to what a Reverse Diet is and why someone would want to go through the process.  As you can see, there are many reasons to Reverse Diet.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

If you are interested in working with me, click HERE for information about the nutrition coaching programs I offer.


Filed under Althletics, Education, Exercise, IIFYM and Macros, Nutrition, Weight Issues, Weight Lifting