Ever since training for my marathon, I’ve really felt the need to fuel my body for my goals. In the past, I’ve focused on the scale and on points (weight watchers). This left me pretty much obsessed with food — when will I eat next? How much can I eat? What recipes/foods/products let me eat the most for the fewest points? Basically, food was all I thought about. I started gaming the system — tweaking the serving size until my points looked about right… regardless of what my hunger said. The weight came off, but only for the moment.
While running 60-70 mile weeks, I was just hungry! I wanted all the foods and so I ate them! I convinced myself that I was working off the extra calories on my 6 hour runs. But this wasn’t the case — and the scale crept back up. If you’ve followed my blog since last year, you’ve probably witness first hand my back and forth with weight watchers (or other diets like 21 day fix that have “worked” in the past). It’s a cycle that I’ve tried to break by focusing on my goals. Physical goals, like doing a pull up or handstand, help keep me focused on my body. Listening to my body’s needs and what my body wants is a way of honoring all the hard work I do. When I’m in “diet mode” — I earnestly try to ignore my body in hopes that I can will away pounds by ignoring cravings and hunger.
Enter the nutritionist. She’s laid out the number of calories I need per day to meet my performance and health goals. She’s also reminded me not to be crazy strict (within 10% on either side is the goal) and to allow myself to learn how to make habits that’ll provide long term success.
At first, the plan was to eat 20 grams of protein at each meal — making a daily protein goal of 60-80 calories or so. This seemed hard at first, but once I figured out which foods would make a 20g protein meal, I just got into the habit of eating them. The next level, for me, was to hit macro goals for Protein, Fat, and Carbs — as well as limiting my added sugars to 24g per day. This has been a bit more of a challenge — and some days are better than others — but I find myself making healthier choices (more veggies instead of chips, etc…) to both feel full and hit my macro targets.
I’m also finding that I need to eat more — to get my macros in! This is a win – win.
Currently, my nutritionist has me at 1700 calories per day with macro goals at 40% carbs, 30% Protein, and 30% fats. This breaks down to around 129g protein, 172g carbs, and 58g fat per day. Again, limiting my added sugars to 24 (meaning I can subtract sugars in fruit, dairy, veggies, etc…).
My strategy for this Macro balancing (or flexible dieting, as I’ve discovered it’s called — or If It Fits Your Macros IIFYM) — is to plan what I really want first. If I’m craving pasta for dinner or an ice cream treat, I’ll put those in first. Then I’ll try to plan around it, swapping and balancing other meals and snacks as I go to use up the 129g protein, 172g carbs, and 58g fat.
In the past week, I’ve also tried to plan meals in advance — breakfasts mostly — to help with long term planning. This makes me think less about what I’m eating. It’s all planned out prior to grocery shopping, so I just eat what’s on the plan. Done. And when I’m hungry, I eat what’s next. In a way, it’s like intuitive eating with a purpose!
So far I’ve learned a TON about foods and macros. In the past, I’ve thought about foods as singular macros (chicken is a protein, rice is a carb, avocado is a fat, etc…). Throughout the last few weeks, I’ve really noticed how that’s such a flawed way of thinking. Most foods have a combo of many or all macros (chicken has protein as well as fat (how much depends on white/dark, skinless/skin on, etc…). I’ve also noticed how there’s a TON of added sugars in foods.
I’ve also found a few breakfast/snack combos that work well for me. They’ll keep me full but not too full. I also noticed how eating out made it harder during workouts — an upset stomach is NO FUN during a hard WOD…