No matter what plan you are trying, failing, crashing or “starting Monday”, they all have their upsides and downsides. If you have participated in any of these “plans” in the past, you may and always find myself right back in that same place. I’m either totally in or totally out, on my fitness bandwagon or on my way to The Golden Corral.
Coming out of my second pregnancy last May, I was feeling all the typical feels of a mom who just gave birth at the beginning of summer. First of all, I’m already insecure about wearing shorts, much less a swimsuit in the dead of the Arizona summer, so there’s that.. Top it with a stretch-marked, postpartum belly and jiggly thighs and I felt like one big sweaty mess.
August came around, I was 3 MONTHS postpartum and we had a couples’ beach trip. *cue the anxiety* I was 165 lbs, but I was happy, confident (enough) and so proud of what my body had done in growing that second baby that body image issues just don’t seem to matter at the time. But I’m using these photos as a point of reference since they are exactly one year apart (and on the same beach!)
For the first 6 months after my second child was born, I did what I could to shed the pounds, but then.. The dreaded plateau. I was 160lbs on a 5’4″ frame and I could not get into the 150’s if I purposefully imported and ingested a tape worm from India. I could not figure out why I was no longer able to lose weight. I was eating boring salads and working out like a whiney and miserable contestant on The Bachelor and that scale would just not budge.
This is when I hired a macro coach. Here I am at 160 lbs in January 2016 (6 month postpartum) and then 5 months into consistent macro tracking
— also known as Flexible Dieting or IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)
Let me give you a quick breakdown.
MACROS (short for macronutrients) is just a non-fancy word for carbs, protein and fat—the 3 components that make up every edible item.
Here’s the downright truth: MOST diets fail because of one simple problem: they are not REALISTIC! It’s near impossible for even the STRONGEST OF WILLS to commit to an extreme plan that doesn’t account for real life moments. These real life moments are: cake at birthday parties, pizza after baseball games, cotton candy at the carnival, handfuls of goldfish and eating the remainder of your kids’ mac and cheese. If you completely deprive yourself of these “indulgences” for long periods of time, we will either end up in the crazy house OR in a cycle of binge and guilt. So where is the balance? How can I reach my goals without having to restrict and follow some no-sugar, low fat, low carb, gluten free, dairy free, non GMO plan? Can we truly avoid these things forever without becoming a little on the weirdo obsessive side?
I ALWAYS thought that if I ever wanted to see my abs and have a nice defined legs, I would have to consistently eat a perfectly clean diet and train 6 days a week, and rarely (if EVER) indulge in my love affair with sugar and baked goods. I told myself, sure.. Abs are nice, but I love donuts. And pizza. And ice cream. What if I told you that you could have abs AND donuts, pizza and ice cream. Excited? Yeah, me too. Read on.
Tracking macros basically means consuming a balanced and appropriate ratio of carbs, protein and fat everyday. An easy ratio to follow is 40% of your calories coming from carbs, 30% of your calories coming from protein and 30% of your calories coming from fat. To break it down even further, if you need 1500 calories per day, your TOTAL macro intake for the day will be 150g carbs, 113g protein and 50g fat. But before you start plugging in those numbers, everyone’s breakdown looks a little different according to your needs and goals! We will get there… Hang with me.
Using an app like My Fitness Pal (my favorite) will automatically track these numbers for you when you input your food items into the app! Easy peesy. Now, everyone has different goals, so this ratio doesn’t always translate perfectly across the board. For instance, due to my goals and my existing body type, muscle mass and damaged metabolism, my coach decided to put me on a reverse diet. So, my current ratio is 52% carbs, 28% protein and 20% fat. How did I come up with these numbers? I didn’t. I hired a macro coach!! YES, that’s a real thing. I really wanted to get this right and feel like I have a unique structure that called for more professional attention. I didn’t want to guess anymore.
So why track macros?
Tracking your macros rather than just calories alone ENSURES that the calories you are taking in go to all the right places in your body. They preserve lean muscle mass and help rid unwanted body fat. That’s the goal! We are so conditioned to jump on that scale in the morning (totally naked of course, because we need all the help we can get) and jump for joy if the scale goes down. But what if some of that weight loss was muscle mass? Your body just became slightly less efficient at burning body fat. Boooo! SO, tracking those macros and being sure that our calories are distributed appropriately can allow us to rest easy and know that weight lost is the weight we WANT to lose–that fat jiggle.
What about calories? Do I have to track those too?
NOPE! Crazy enough, 1 gram of carbs always equals 4 calories (yes, whether it’s a gram of sweet potatoes or a gram of white sugar). 1 gram of protein always equals 4 calories and 1 gram of fat always equals 9 calories. Interesting, right? So, if you are tracking your macros and hitting the same numbers everyday, you will also be reaching roughly the same calorie goal each day. If you like to have an occasional drink (wine, beer, mixed drinks, etc.) there is a specific way to track it and you can read more about that HERE.
How can I get started?
The best way to get started on your own is to input your information and goals into an online macro calculator. Then, start tracking using an app like My Fitness Pal. It will take a little while to get the hang of it, but long-lasting and true results are what we are all after, right? Here’s the kicker. Online calculators can be off and not as precisely customized as a plan that comes from a real-life macro coach. The macro coach is going to cost more than ‘free’ online calculators to get started, but it’s the BEST investment I’ve made for my health and fitness EVER. Doing things on my own have proven to have me going in circles. Having a coach has truly been life changing. If you are interested in coaching, please contact me!