When I first started becoming more serious about working out, getting in shape, and counting macros, I knew that it would have to be a sustainable change for me to be able to do it. For me, that meant not cutting all of any specific food out of my diet, but rather finding ways to make things fit, eating in moderation, and learning to ENJOY the food I put in my body. It also meant viewing my body in a positive light, and knowing that to become stronger, I would need to view food as fuel, not the enemy.
So many times, fad diets that promise a “quick fix” take over a person’s life and they go through extreme & unsustainable changes to lose weight as fast as possible, no matter the cost. They “clean up” their diet, cut out all of _____________ (fill in the “bad” food), start eating only “clean” foods, and work out like crazy! They are able to sustain this for some time; they eat “right” and hit the gym every day, but eventually they just can’t take it anymore! Their body is underfed and exhausted. That burger/ice cream/pasta/pizza/cookie looks so good and they’re HUNGRY from all the working out and lack of food!
So they binge, feel guilty that they binged, binge some more, and just “take a little break” from that diet. They gain back any weight they might have lost (and sometimes more), start wanting a change again, and they find the next best diet. The cycle continues. We become enslaved to our food (or lack of food), and it controls us!
That sounds pretty exhausting to me.
I knew that this didn’t work (I’ve been there a few times myself!) so when I began making fitness a priority, I took the following steps:
- I stopped thinking about food in terms of “good” and “bad” and started viewing it as fuel, not only for exercise, but also for LIFE. We literally must have it to live! It nourishes us, builds our bones and muscles, and keeps our bodies running!
- I calculated my macros and began tracking my foods using a food scale and the myfitnesspal app. It took some trial and error, but I slowly began learning the best ways to “spend” my macros to make sure I was full, happy, and had energy for my workouts. Also, in the beginning, I set my calories/macros way too low because I wanted to lose weight faster, but it left me without enough energy, feeling cranky and led back to that cycle of giving up because it just was not sustainable.
- When I had enough macros to eat something that I used to deem “bad”, I ate it without feeling guilty! By re-wiring myself to view foods “fitting your macros” as the new standard, I had the freedom to enjoy things I liked! To be fair, I can’t eat a stack of pancakes for breakfast, a huge plate of pasta for dinner, some cookies, and a huge bowl of ice cream all in one day; most of the time I’m eating nutrient dense foods! But those things CAN be eaten when they fit! They will likely just be smaller portions and spread out throughout the week/month instead of all at once. This teaches you patience and moderation, which are really good habits to have.
- I got rid of the mentality of “just giving up” when I failed. So many people struggle with giving up if they don’t do it perfectly. I think it is because they know that if they keep going, they are bound to fail again, and failing doesn’t feel good! However, if you give up when you don’t do it perfectly, you will never progress! By NOT continuing to try, you are failing. Because failure is going to happen. We must come to grips with that and be ok with it. There were (and are!) days that I do NOT hit my macros. There are days when I am way over. When that happens, I allow myself the freedom and forgiveness to not beat myself up, and just keep going the next day! That’s the key: Just Keep Going. It is incredibly freeing when you begin to develop this mindset.
- Another important mental shift I made was to view working out and counting macros as a long term thing. Instead of “getting in shape as fast as possible”, I viewed it as something that would be slow and steady. Not to say that I didn’t challenge myself with good workouts and a consistent routine as best I could, but that it had to be sustainable, and that means I couldn’t “Drop 20 pounds in a month”. I can’t work out hard every single day, because my body needs rest days. I can’t cut my calories to 1,200/day to lose weight faster, because even though I technically would, my body would be undernourished and I would not be able to lift as much or grow muscle! You have to find the balance of what challenges you and gets you results, as well as what your body is capable of and can handle. And that is different for everybody! So find what works for YOU, and listen to what your body is telling you.
These are just some of the things I’ve learned. I really hope that they are helpful to you! I would love to hear your thoughts if you want to Leave a Comment!