After spending 35 years of your life NOT tracking a single calorie and then meticulously counting every single gram of food I put in my body for roughly one year straight, I knew one of the first things I needed to do was to get back to eating “normal” (as my husband started calling it after my clean eating and strict macro counting phases). Because I had spent so much time paying attention to my food intake (macros/calories) in order to properly build/reverse diet and then safely cut/diet down, I had literally forgotten what “normal” meant. To be honest, I felt pretty lost once my recent dieting phase/cut was finished. For 16-17 weeks straight, I literally logged into My Fitness Pal every single day, multiple times a day and inputted everything I ate. Aside from my email and Instagram, it was the only other app I pressed on my phone. My new “normal” WAS planning my food for the following day each night before I went to sleep, making sure that I first put in my must haves (like hamburgers, pizza, ice cream sundae’s, etc. lol) and then ensuring I also hit my protein, carbs, fat, and fiber. Those were the only numbers I was concerned with.
Luckily, I have always known that the ultimate goal with all the calorie tracking was learning proper portion sizes and overall nutritional information that I would apply to my life in the LONG TERM. After about 6 months, I actually got so good at eyeballing portions & sizes, I could literally hit within 1-2 grams of any nut butter and .25 ounces on any chicken/beef/turkey. Although tracking your calories does suck at times and it can get old fast (unless you are like me and look at it as one huge daily puzzle to solve), one should always remember that you do NOT have to track for the rest of your life (nor should you). It’s no way to really live long term (in my opinion). Have an event, a competition, a vacation, something special coming up in the future, or you are unsure if you are eating ENOUGH? Yes, tracking your intake WILL help bring you closer to your goals (you can eat as “clean”, paleo, vegan, pescatarian, etc. as you want but ultimately weight/fat loss will come down to calories in VS calories out) but for the average mom like myself who isn’t training for anything but “life”? Nah, no need to do that for years and years on end. Life is too short. Be mindful. Be conservative. Be flexible. Do moderation.
So, after reverse dieting back to maintenance again and having a relative idea of how much I should be eating day to day (I have a habit of underrating without knowing and its NOT intentional), I deleted my MFP app and called my tracking days goodbye (for now anyways… won’t ever say I won’t ever track again)! Scary day but it had to be done! My mind was ready for simply just eating, lifting, and living!!!
So…. after that long winded preface… the story I intended on sharing…
Last week when the kids were at school, hubby and I took the rare opportunity to go have a lunch date at one of our favorite burger places, RUBY’S!!! I get the same thing each and every time… I get the Hickory Burger. Oh my Lord, it’s SO good. I get a turkey patty (VS the beef patty), no cheese or sauce because I actually don’t care for them), bacon, extra BBQ sauce, and of course onion rings (you can see from my Instagram feed that I love me some onion rings). Usually I also get chili fries but on this particular occasion, I went with a side salad instead and then just nibbled on my husbands fries.
Anyways, since I knew we were going there for lunch AND I had a good idea of what the kind of macros I would need to eat my burger, I was mindful and deliberate when I made my breakfast that morning. Typical first meal for me is an egg scramble/omelette (whole eggs, MuscleEgg egg whites, power greens, onion, peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, avocado, lime, seasonings, and salsa), 2 slices of toast with peanut butter, and coffee with French Vanilla Creamer. I literally eat this first meal 99% of the time, each and every day. It’s nutrient dense, full of great macros, filling (SO much volume when you add all those veggies), and most importantly I LOVE it.
However, on this particular day when I knew I would be eating a HUGE portion of carbs and fat at lunch on my burger, I changed my breakfast ever so slightly. Of course, I had my usual egg scramble BUT I left out the whole eggs (less fat), increased my veggies (I knew I wouldn’t get much in for lunch haha), and chose NOT to have my slices of toast with peanut butter (for carbs & fat). Coffee with my creamer though? Always a MUST HAVE no matter what. I gave up my coffee with French Vanilla during my clean eating days and will NEVER do that again 🙂
Would the macros be a completely balanced exchange carbs for carbs and fat for fat? Maybe, maybe not BUT I know I was closer to hitting what I needed to for the day doing these simple substitutions! Thinking of things this way and planning ahead, makes life and eating so much easier when you are not actively tracking your macros every day. I don’t have to look at my burger as a “cheat meal” (I HATE this term and principle with a PASSION) OR an excuse to have an all day binge. No stress, no worrying, no fear, no guilt (again, I HATE hearing people feeling any guilt associated with food)! If I am off by a bit, no problem. Eventually, everyone will need to break free from counting and trust that everything they have learned BY TRACKING can carry them through the rest of their lives’.
Easy peasy living & eating! I know it seems like such a simple common sense concept (the food exchange), but this is honestly how my mind works now that I am “intuitively” eating. I still try to plan ahead and figure in eating out with the family or special events each day/week, always mindful of my portion sizes, and eating just to the point where I am full (sometimes slightly over since I #1 don’t want to finish an entire meal and still be hungry and #2 I’m not trying to eat in a deficit so always want to make sure I’m eating ENOUGH for my body to function, train, and build properly).
No need to overcomplicate things!!! Not tit for tat, BUT a decent way to start trusting your brain and body!
StephanieJanuary 21, 2015 at 4:33 pm
Thanks for the insight. I’m about a week into tracking macros and haven’t quite got it all figured out yet. But I’m slowly getting there. I’m finding I go over in fat and am on or slightly under on protein and carbs. My goal is to figure it out so I don’t have to track, just like you’ve done. I’m enjoying all of your recipes and the learning process.
SarahJanuary 29, 2015 at 10:41 pm
Hi Corina – love all your posts on flexible dieting and macros. Curious though about how you decide when to increase your percentages and caloric intake and how you are calculating how much to increase by.
corinaFebruary 5, 2015 at 9:15 pm
It varied each week and my coach decided on my numbers depending on how my body was responding!
ZahrahOctober 23, 2015 at 4:02 pm
Hi corina- could you please advise me. I am currently also trying to get out of the skinny fat phase. Esp around my lower belly. How can I combine good eating with my training. When do I eat and what do I eat?
corinaOctober 28, 2015 at 5:28 pm
Decide what your goals are (fat loss, building, body recomp, etc), figure out your macros, and get on a training program! Just be consistent and patient 🙂