I’ve struggled with my weight for many years, 20 to be exact. I’ve tried to do dieting and it just didn’t work for me. It seems that when I went on a “diet” all I would think about is eating. It’s like the energy of a diet created a vortex of wanting to eat, eat, and eat.
One time I did participate in a shake and cleanse routine where I would have a shake for breakfast, a 600-calorie lunch, and a shake for dinner for six days. On the seventh day I would do a cleanse. This cleanse was drinking a special drink all day long and not eating any food. Although this was not a sustainable way to eat, I did lose 30+ pounds in a three-month period. And I processed a whole lot of emotional crap around food. It was a valuable experience for me, allowing me to move through some tough stuff, but it was not something I could continue on with. Within 6 months I gained all the weight back. I tried multiple times to go back to it, but I couldn’t catch any momentum with it. The fact that my stomach turned every time I got near the cleanse drink wasn’t helpful either.
In late December 2018, I was introduced to a new way of looking at food. There are a few names for it, Counting Your Macros or Flexible Eating. I learned a great deal about good and what our body needs to function at its best. Many athletes follow this method of eating as it has a dramatic effect not just on your body, but on your strength, endurance, and energy levels.
Each of us has a set allotment of macronutrients that our body needs to function properly. They are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. In the simplest terms, it about chemistry. Depending on your goals is how you calculate what you need. For me, I’m on what is called a calorie deficit so I can drop the weight. Once I reach my goal weight, I would go on what is called maintenance. Basically, keeping my weight where it is while supporting my body properly. Cross fitters may want to move into what is called bulking, where they want to build muscle, which means they will eat more macronutrients to support muscle growth.
Each day I follow what my calculated carbs, protein, and fats are using by an app on my phone. I plan my meals to get as close as possible to the numbers I need. The goal is to not go over the allotted amount, although it happens sometimes. When I first heard about this, my first thought was “this is too hard.” However, what I have found is that it all begins with your mindset. If you think it’s too hard, it is. But if you decide that it’s simple, which it is by the way, it will be simple for you. So here is how I make it work for me.
In the first month I hired a nutritionist to calculate my macronutrients based on my goal of weight loss. She also created my meal plans. This was incredibly helpful for me because it showed me how simple it really is. In the spirit of transparency, the nutritionist and I didn’t gel very well for long. There are several reasons why it didn’t work out.
The first is that I’m a super picky vegetarian. She had no experience with someone who didn’t eat meat or fish.. This created a bit of a weird thing when she didn’t realize that certain products where off limits because they contained something I didn’t eat. I went in knowing that this could be an issue and I was upfront with her. The other issue I ran into is that I don’t eat fat-free products or sucralose (AKA Splenda). She was giving me meals that included these items although I was clear that they were off limit for me. And to top it off, she was giving me meals that repeated for 3 to 4 days in a row. I like variety and this was not working for me.
And finally, I want to be in control. Once I figured out how counting your macros works, I wanted to manage my own meals. It was a win-win for both me and her.. I am sure I was a pain in her hiney so I know she was relieved when I said let’s stop working together.
I’ve wanted to write this article since my first week of counting macros. But I am usually one that falls of the wagon quickly, so I wanted to be sure that I could stick with it and that I had some actual results to share with you. And mentally I wanted to see how I managed this new way of eating. My results after 30 days are:
- 9.2 lbs weight loss
- 3 inches gone from my chest (measure under your boobs)
- 4.5 inches gone from my waist
- My arms are down .75 inches and my thighs down over an inch on both
- I’m stronger, have more endurance, and am highly motivated to show up for Crossfit. I’ve crossed multiple barriers that I had previously (running, lifting, movement)
- I’m not hungry – ever
- I don’t obsess over food because I am eating “normal” food
- I haven’t any cravings at all ( I used to crave food all day long)
- Empowered eating – I feel incredible freedom over food for the first time in 20 years
If this is something you may want to pursue, I’ve listed a few tips that have helped me and a few articles that go in to more details around macronutrients. Be sure to do your own research too.
Helpful Tips for Success:
Get an App to do the heavy lifting – https://www.myfitnesspal.com
This app has over 6 million foods in its database and you can scan bar codes to have the info instantly show up. I have the paid version (but the free version should work great for you to start) because I can build out recipes to have on hand.
Make a list of all the foods you like to eat. Once you do this, you can look at them and see how you can modify them (if needed) to fit your daily needs. I found that portion control was huge. I was shocked to see how much I overate. And the overeating sneaks up on you. Just because a food is healthy, doesn’t mean you should blow out the portions.
Read labels – it was frustrating to read the labels and realize the crap that was in something. Or the realization of the amount of fat and/or sugar.
Find a nutritionist who can support you for the first month – it was well worth the money spent.
Weigh yourself every Monday. This will let you know if you’re on the right track (losing weight).
Stay the course – the more you do it, the more you want to do it.
Here’s a few articles to help you understand this process better:
Includes a calculator to determine what’s best for you based on your goals
I hope you found this be helpful. I wish you all the best at finding what works for you for the long term. This is not a diet. It is a lifestyle to support your body to be the best it can be.