This is probably the most controversial post I have written thus far. But my hope is that someone will relate to it and just maybe I'll write the article I wish I would have read one year ago. So before you leave your negative comments and tell me that my lifestyle is unhealthy, please read this in it's entirety and understand that everybody's health and fitness journey is unique.
To start off, if you’re unfamiliar with terms such as "flexible dieting" and “counting macros,” it’s basically just tracking your food solely in terms of how many grams of protein, carbs, and fat it contains. An algorithm is used to calculate how many calories you need in a day, how many you likely burn based on your activity level, and how many calories you need to consume in order to achieve your goals. For example, a caloric deficit means you are eating less calories than you burn (not including those burned during exercise). Whereas a caloric surplus means eating more calories than you burn. For me, my goal was body recomposition - meaning I wanted to lose fat, but also gain lean muscle. In order to do this, I had to eat in a slight caloric deficit.
Now that we have the basic info out of the way, I’m going to share with you my story. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of flack for it, but before you get all judgey, I need you to understand THIS: Just like healthy looks different on everyone, having a healthy relationship with food looks different to everyone. I struggled for SO LONG to find a balance. And yes, seeking out a macro consultant has helped me to find that balance. But that doesn’t mean that this will work for everyone. As always, I’m only here to share what’s worked for ME.
Enter Lindsey, end of 2014 - I graduated college, moved home, stopped working out, suffered a bad break-up, used food as a crutch, developed a binge eating disorder, and gained 25+ pounds (to be honest ti could have been more but I refused to step on a scale). Now I’m not talking about one bad night of splurging on pizza and ice cream. That's not disordered eating. That's called being a normal human being. I’m talking drinking 3+ nights out of the week, eating out all the time, ordering enough fast food for a group of people, and devouring cookies, ice cream, brownies in one sitting until I felt sick. It’s hard for me to put into words, but I was not in a healthy place. I was sad and uncomfortable in my skin and I felt that I was too far gone. It wasn't until I started looking at pictures of myself that I realized just how bad it had gotten.
Enter Lindsey, end of 2015 - I understood that I had disordered eating. I understood that I needed help. I started getting back to the gym and working out occasionally. I started eating healthier foods and eating less. In the fall of 2015, I began doing BeachBody programs and counting those little tupperware that help you with “portion size.” OY. I lost nearly all the weight I had gained the previous year. I was ecstatic, yet still so unfulfilled when it came to food. I hardly ever allowed myself to eat a treat meal because I was terrified to ruin my progress. And when I did eat a treat meal? It was all downhill from there. So sure I was eating all the healthy foods, but I was constantly in a state of craving and when I finally let myself cave, I REALLY caved. Eventually, I fell off the wagon completely and found myself gaining another 10-15 pounds back. Talk about yo-yo dieting.
Enter Lindsey, end of 2016 and into 2017 - I started incorporating weight lifting into my routine, stopped doing the BeachBody workouts, stopped following the meal plan (like I said, I’m not saying this way of eating doesn’t work for some, but it most certainly did not help me). I found Paola Marquez and was immediately intrigued by counting macros as well as her client testimonials. I remember seeing one of my friends Claire (@cguentz.gofit) on instagram and thinking to myself: that girl doesn’t deprive herself of ice cream and she looks fabulous AF [Hi Claire if you’re reading this hehe]. I did endless amounts of research and figured out the science behind this whole "counting macros" biz. So at the start of the year, I gave it my all. I had my macros calculated and I followed Paola’s guide, S2BM, to a T. I like to think my results speak for themselves. The crazy part? I hardly lost any weight. It was just that I had lost body fat and gained lean muscle and FINALLY found a way of eating that allowed me to have the best relationship with food I’ve ever had. I still ate out occasionally, I still had a couple drinks when I felt like it. I wasn’t depriving myself of things that I love (*cough* donuts *cough* ice cream). Therefore, I wasn’t tempted to sit down and eat an entire carton or an entire box of Timbits in one sitting.
Enter Lindsey, present day - following the twelve weeks of Paola's guide, I still track macros, just not as strict. I allow myself a couple untracked meals a week for my sanity and I don’t fret over hitting exact numbers when I eat out. I’VE FOUND A BALANCE THAT WORKS FOR ME. I’ve completely broken my binge eating habits. I have found freedom with food that I’ve been trying to achieve for three years; there is nothing more liberating than that. There are so many negative thoughts surrounding counting macros and to be honest I can see why. I can see how it can get out of hand if you become obsessive with numbers. In that case, a different style of eating would most likely be best for you.
That’s the beauty of health and fitness and nutrition, though. There are so many different ways to achieve a healthy body and a healthy mind. All that matters is that YOU are happy and taking care of yourself. Counting macros, for me, has allowed me to not view food as “good” or “bad,” but simply as fuel. Is it sustainable long-term? No. I'm not going to be 30 years old, out to dinner with my kids, tracking my meal in My Fitness Pal. But I now have a better understanding of what I need to be eating in a day to allow me to feel my absolute best. And I do. I feel the best I ever have.
I will be doing another blog post on macros and how I track them and some of my favorite sources of protein, carbs, and fat. For right now, however, I needed to get this off my chest before one more person tells me that macro counting is for lazy people who just don't want to "eat clean." Tracking macros isn't an excuse to eat donuts. (Although it can be if you're doing it without caring about health). It's what helped me to overcome my extremely unhealthy relationship with food. And I'm so thankful for that.