Reflecting on the 30-Day Calorie Cycling Challenge

I’ve officially completed Jordan Syatt’s 30-Day Calorie Cycling Challenge, and I am so grateful that I chose to do it! I didn’t lose a lot of weight, but I did learn a lot about how to count calories more effectively and I have hope that I’ve found a way to calorie-count my way back down to goal weight.

So, what are my biggest takeaways from the challenge? The best thing, I think, is that calorie cycling can be done while following one of my rules for myself: don’t do anything to lose weight that you aren’t willing to do for the rest of your life. I’ve counted calories for well over a decade of my life already, and I can easily imagine myself continuing to do it and not struggling with it. There was no restriction, and no off-limits foods. I could have whatever I wanted, I just had to budget for it.

I also learned why I wasn’t losing weight earlier this year with goals like “stay under my calorie allotment 75% of the time”. Now I see that the problem with goals like that is that I wasn’t truly eating in a calorie deficit. By eating up to 1,500 calories on a normal day, PLUS having a day or two a week where I didn’t count or I allowed myself to have as many calories as I wanted, I was eating far more than I should be to lose weight. Once it clicked for me that I needed to look at average calories per day, and that I needed to keep THAT number at 1,500, I began to understand why I wasn’t seeing more success before.

I absolutely plan to continue eating this way. My goal weight (ideally, in a perfect universe, but it’s okay if I don’t actually get back to it) is 125lbs.

Here’s how calorie cycling actually works. First, I needed to decide what my goal weight was, so that I could determine how many calories per day I needed to average in order to reach that weight. For me, in a perfect ideal universe, my goal weight is 125lbs. That was the weight I maintained from 2012-2014, and I felt great at that weight. I know it may not happen for me, as I’m older and my lifestyle is different, but I figure it’s as good as any a goal to try for.

To get the number of average daily calories I need to get to that weight, I multiply the number by 12. So, 125*12 = 1,500. Easy, right? Then I break my week out into high days and low days, giving myself three high days and four low days each week. On high days, I can have up to 1,800 calories, and on low days I can have up to 1,275.

I made up my own structure for high days and low days based on my life and schedule. For my tracking purposes, I think of a week as starting on Monday and ending on Sunday. My first high day each week is Wednesday, since Bill and I always get together with another couple that we’re close friends with for dinner and drinks. We also really enjoy going out to eat on a patio somewhere or getting takeout on Saturdays, so Saturday is a high day. For my third high day, it can be any day during the week, but I usually pick Friday or Sunday. I just have to keep in mind that if I use my high day on Friday, I have to stick to my low day on Sunday. For me, having the flexibility to choose my third high day each week based on our plans really helps keep me on track.

In order to complete the 30-Day Challenge and get a shot at winning the cash prize, I had to submit before and after photos as well as a 500-word essay about my experience with the challenge. I might share the essay in a future post after winners are announced, and hopefully I’ll be one of those winners!

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