Abs are made in the kitchen. I heard this on a podcast a while back and I didn't believe it. I thought, surely abs come from exercise. Sure you need to eat right but how can food give you abs. Boy does it ever. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, my health and fitness journey is constantly evolving. Like most CrossFitters, I was paleo for a really long time. But after having a fair amount of success (and winning my box's Paleo challenge!) I found myself stagnant or again, gaining a few pounds. Damn you 40-year old metabolism! I had been reading and hearing a ton about people who were 'counting their macros.' Including friends of mine who'd had amazing results. But like any program, the results always seem to be too good to be true, or more likely, the amount of work you need to put in is too daunting. But as I have learned, and will continue to scream from the rooftops, I'm worth the effort. You are worth the effort. And daunting doesn't scare me. It motivates me.
So what is counting your macros? You can Google it and find a ton of information but the basic gist is this: all food is comprised of three basic macronutrients - fat, protein and carbohydrates. Each one is processed differently by your body and each carries a different amount of calories. In order to count your macros, also called Flexible Dieting, you get a certain number of each of those to eat per day. So for example, you might eat 55 grams of fat, 140 grams of protein and 160 grams of carbohydrates. I worked with a nutrition coach to come up with my numbers and tracked my food in My Fitness Pal, a free app. But here's the sticking point - in order to understand how many grams are in a serving, you need to weigh and measure everything you eat and track it. Everything. To be honest, this gave me flashbacks of my Weight Watchers days when I was just a teenager and it made me really resistant. I have a good and healthy relationship with food these days and I didn't want to become obsessed or rigid with my eating. But after talking extensively with my coach, I understood the reason (to get a sense of portions) and knew it wouldn't be forever.
The beauty of macros, as opposed to Paleo or Zone or Atkins, etc. is you can eat whatever you want. For real. No cutting out dairy or carbs or sugar (although I still don't eat processed food or artificial sweetener. And I do think sugar is the devil and you should do your best to remove it from your body at all costs.) Now, you only get so many amounts of everything per day, so if you blow your wad on a slice or three of cake, you're going to be fucking starving the rest of the day. But if you plan ahead and build that cake into your day, you can portion your other meals accordingly. In other words, you become accountable for indulging and are forced to make more healthy choices. Something we should be doing anyway.
The results, as you can see, were astounding. I'm so glad I took photos and measurements because I don't think I would have believed it. I lost 10% of my body weight (an amount I didn't think I had to lose) and am probably around 17-20% body fat. My body composition completely changed. All the muscle I'd been building from CrossFit decided to finally make an appearance in a big way. My waist disappeared and so did my saddlebags. Gone is backfat and all the other things we tend to hate on ourselves for. My energy was through the roof and I started crushing workouts with my conditioning. It was like I found another level or gear.
To me this whole experience is more than just losing weight or getting lean. It's learning what my body needs. Being able to define cravings and give my body what it wants. I know when I need protein or when I need carbs or even when I don't need anything. I'm so in tune with my body in a way I never was before. And that is everything. After all, I spent most of my life not knowing what it felt to be hungry. Eating all the time and eating more than I ever needed. Now I know exactly how much I need to fuel my body, what to eat around workouts and what to avoid. Plus, the beauty of this kind of eating is when I indulge a bit too much, as I've done recently, I know exactly what I need to do to dial myself back in. And it doesn't mean dieting. It simply means tracking my meals and holding myself accountable for what I eat. I know what numbers I need to hit to lose a few pounds so there's no guesswork. A week or so of doing this and any inflammation and water weight gain is gone.
So do I recommend Macro counting for you? Yes and no. I think trying any new way of eating in order to learn more about your body is never a bad thing. But only you know if this is something you would be willing and able to try or if this is too restrictive for you and would result in unhealthy habits. Nothing is a one size fits all. My results are not anyone else's and their results aren't mine. Your best option, as with anything, is to do your research, talk to licensed nutrition coaches and get a sense of whether this might be a good fit. and if you do decide to give it a try, please let me know!!!