Picture this: you’ve finally decided to commit to your weight loss and health goals. You download an online calculator or tracking app, input your age, height, weight, and activity level, and viola! You get a magic set of macro numbers to follow or calorie targets to reach to get your dream body. Perfect! But then, one month later… no results. Sound familiar? 

I’ve been there. I used those free online calculators for years with no results! I always thought the problem was me, assuming that I was just not adhering to the numbers perfectly, or I was missing some piece of the equation, or that nothing would ever work for me TBH. But as it turns out, the problem was with those calculations – it was never with me. I promise you’re not the problem, either. There’s a better way!

So happy you’re here to check out my blog! Keep reading, or if you’d rather watch/listen to me cover this topic, you can click here!

I’ve seen countless clients start a program with me or one of my coaches on Team HLB after having tried some erroneous calorie number or macro breakdown they got from an online calculator algorithm. I always ask them how it’s worked for them. Almost every time, they answer with a resounding, “Not at all!” Some of them have even gained weight following their numbers! How could these online guesses be so far off base? 

Online Calculator: Let Me Explain It

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Simply put, a website or an app can never get to know you – and knowing your individual needs is the key to losing weight. Don’t believe me? I just ran the experiment on myself. I pulled up six calorie calculators and put in my current info. For reference: I’m 5’5, 32 years old, and I weigh 121 pounds. Currently, I’m in a maintenance phase following a recent diet, now eating about 1900 calories each day, and I feel great. After inputting my current stats into these six calculators, I got six different “ideal calories/day” numbers – and not a single one of them was 1900 calories, the amount I already know works for my body, my dieting history, and my activity level. 

If I abandoned my current and correct 1900 calorie program and switched to one of those calculations, I would almost certainly have gained weight, because they were simply looking at my basic biological stats. They couldn’t apply any of the important details that have contributed to my successful weight loss. They couldn’t determine if I was in a fat loss phase, a maintenance phase, or a refeed phase… Because they don’t know me. 

An Online Calculator Misses This Crucial Piece Of Info

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Your dieting history is the most significant piece of your current plan. It affects which kinds of foods you should eat, how much you should be eating, and what your goals are:  to maintain your current physique, build muscle, or lose body fat. If you put your stats into an online calculator, it may tell you to eat 1600 calories each day to lose weight. Well, if you’ve been eating 1200 calories a day for the past year and a half trying to lose weight unsuccessfully, bumping up to 1600 is only going to make the problem worse!

Maintenance awareness is a big deal.  It is the general amount you should eat with a doable level of exercise to maintain your body as is.  If you don’t know where you can maintain, you don’t know your baseline from which to start a successful diet.

It’s important to note that coaches don’t have a secret, magic online calculator that really works, either. I have lots of science-backed equations that give me a great starting point for helping my clients, but there is no simple plug-and-play that offers a full picture. I run lots of algorithms, and I pair that information with your client intake form using the information you told me about you. There’s a reason my forms are looooong – it takes a ton of information to make an informed choice about what kind of plan is truly best for you. 

Find the Right Starting Spot

Every single successful diet starts from a place of caloric abundance. You have to have room to drop your calories while you’re dieting – and you need to work them back up after you get the body you want. Living in a 1200 calorie a day world long-term is miserable and ineffective. (You can find more on that in this blog!). 

This is another major issue with online calculators – let’s say your initial numbers work for a while, but then they suddenly stop. You’re plateauing, or worse, gaining weight. Then what? When you enter your generic information again, you’ll probably get similar numbers to your initial calculation. But you already know those aren’t working for you – so now you’re stuck, frustrated, and about to throw in the towel on your diet yet again

So What Should You Do?

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This is why I always recommend working with a professional *shameless plug.* In any diet, you’ll have to make eventual adjustments. It’s important to have someone to provide feedback, answer questions, and help you find healthy solutions that work when your initial plan stops working. When the online calculator abandons you mid-diet, it’s easy to just throw in the towel on losing weight all together. You need support! We all do. Dieting can be complicated when we try to go it alone. Let’s face it: you get what you pay for. Online calculators might be free, but zero investment could mean little or no reward. On the other hand, finding someone who can apply your lifestyle, your goals, your dieting history, and your preferences will lead to a program that ultimately works for you

Recently, a client of mine came to me, needing to change her program. We actually cut back on her training to accommodate for a busy season in life.  “Technically” her training program wasn’t at full capacity of where “it should be” for results, BUT, it was necessary… Think about it.  Isn’t it better to create a “suboptimal” program that a client can totally stick to than to create a “perfect” program that they won’t be able to keep up with for more than 2 days? “Less than ideal” will still get results with overall consistency! It may be a slower journey, but it will be a sustainable one that ultimately works. With a coach, you’re so much less likely to feel like a failure, because you can adjust your program to your needs and still find success. 

Trust your body. Learn your history. Invest in a coach. And watch the results roll in!

Thanks for reading, I’m so happy you’re here!

If you want to learn more about HOW to find the RIGHT diet for YOU, check out this blog here!! 

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