i started counting macros in march of 2017. i was hooked. the numbers, the math, the exactness. it seemed like a perfect formula for a better life. counting macros gave me the fantasy of having more energy, lifting more at the gym, attaining a ~flawless~ physique, and of course, macro counting's favorite tagline: food freedom. 210C 125P 45F. i lived and breathed those numbers. i got a nerdy high every sunday night when i would sit down, meal plan, and figure out every bite that would go into my mouth for the next seven days. i loved it. i truly did! i fit in treats, peanut butter, and cold cereal. i even changed my major from psychology to nutrition and made an instagram profile for macro coaching. i thought that this was *it*.
as march turned into april and april turned into june, i began to save my macros-- my food, my calories-- for the end of the day. it started with my pre-workout snack. brandtly and i went to the gym first thing in the morning and i was used to eating a banana on the way for some tasty and quick-digesting carbs. logging every calorie into the my fitness pal app quickly revealed that i could save those carbs i had from the banana in the morning (about 27-34 grams, depending on the size) and choose to direct my carbs towards a yummy dessert after dinner. i soon began pushing back breakfast. i eventually pushed lunch back. by the end of the summer, i was fasting all day and then eating my entire day's worth of calories in one sitting.
"but it's FINE!!!" i would think to myself. "i can eat so many yummy things and plus isn't this just intermittent fasting?" i truly didn't see anything unhealthy or disordered about my eating habits.
we lived in texas over the summer for brandtly's temporary sales job. in the middle of august, we moved back to utah. i had plans to go to lunch with some friends to celebrate being back. as usual, i looked up the restaurant's menu and went to find the nutrition facts for the meal i was planning on getting. it was one of my favorites: a kale and wild rice salad with goat cheese (!!!!!!), avocado, and grapes.
i couldn't find the nutrition facts on my fitness pal. i searched high and low, but could not access the macro information anywhere. frustrated, i went back to my fitness pal and simply searched the name of the restaurant. one meal came up and the macros looked fairly accurate: a chicken sandwich with some sweet potato fries. i plugged it into my phone, changed what i would be eating for lunch so my dinner would "fit", and went on with my day.
that was a turning point for me.
i wasn't planning on ordering a kale and wild rice salad because it had kale in it. i wasn't trying to be "healthy" or trendy by getting something with kale. i wasn't trying to impress my friends by not getting fries. i truly just loved the salad. and YET, i settled on ordering something i didn't want as much, something without as much nutritional value, simply because i knew how many grams of FAT it had in it?
how was this "food freedom"?
after that day, i knew i had to make a change.
i didn't want to make food choices based off of whether or not an app had nutritional information or not. i didn't want to buy a portable food scale to use if i was ever in a situation where i had to eat something but didn't know exactly how much grams of salsa i was eating (i already had a food scale at my house and at my mom's). i didn't want to eat only egg whites and spinach for the entire day if i wanted to enjoy birthday cake for my brother. i was just over it. i felt frustrated that all the "macro people" claimed, "you can eat WHATEvEr yOu WAnT!!!!!!!" with pictures of pizza, donuts, milkshakes, and french fries and i was like "hmm, really? because if i want to eat just one tablespoon of peanut butter with my apple slices for my afternoon snack i can't put cheese on my eggs". i was sick of trading "this for that" and i was sick of counting and measuring my food. i weighed my food for a long time, so it's not like i wasn't fast at it, i just didn't want to do it anymore.
so, i stopped.
my six pack went away.
i didn't care.
here's the thing. if counting macros works for you, great. it truly can be a powerful tool for people wanting to dial in on their nutrition. but if you have any sort of disordered habits with your eating or your body, i believe counting macros will make it worse. it will make you be hyper-aware of every bite that you put in your mouth, and that isn't healthy. you have other things to think about. think about your kids, think about your goals, think about how to help people that you love. think about how cute your boyfriend's butt is. eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. eat foods that make both your stomach AND your mind happy. for me, that is kale and wild rice salad AND dark chocolate. grow foods and play foods, if you will.
most of us do not need a specified mathematic formula to tell you what to eat. you don't need a macro coach. if you want to move towards a healthier relationship with food AND a healthier body image, turn inward instead of outward. your body is an amazing thing and will tell you what it needs if you listen to it! from counting macros for so long, i have an uncanny ability to estimate how many calories is in anything that i eat (if i want to. usually i try not to think about it). i still eat around 210C 125P 45F every day. the only element missing is the s t r e s s. there's no guilt if i go over my carbs and no anxiety if i am under on proteins. you deserve to live your life and not completely plan it around your meals! when i stopped planning my life around the food that i ate, i became so much happier. i know you can be, too!
please feel free to email me with any questions you may have on this subject. as always, i love hearing your thoughts and opinions! thank you for reading and have an amazing week. xo