By: SWEAT Trainer Julie Recker
So now what? How many of you gave up certain foods that you love and now wondering if you can ever eat them again and still continue making progress? I have been there and felt that I was at a stand-still, afraid that all of my hard work would be ruined with one piece of pizza. I was then introduced to a new way (for me) to measure my nutrition and fitness, through macro nutrition.
A few years ago, a close friend asked if I wanted to participate in a nutrition and fitness challenge. I needed the motivation to refocus right after the holidays, so my answer was "ABSOLUTELY, when does it start?!" without even knowing the details. Then, I was introduced to Bryce Wood, owner of BTY Training Lab, who was going to create a macro nutrition plan for me based on my weight, fitness regimen, nutrition and fitness goals and we were to begin in February. I was a skeptic. I mean, I was already eating a pretty clean diet and working out frequently, I just needed to tweak a few things, dump the holiday treats and I'd be fine. And, I honestly had never taken the time to educate myself on macro nutrition so didn't quite know what I was getting myself into.
As I mentioned, I was skeptical. So skeptical that when Bryce asked me what my goals were, I was completely vague and just said what every woman would say 'to be skinny of course'. After a brief meeting, I surrendered and decided to have faith in the process and just see where this would take me. So, I was provided my macro plan which included the total amount of calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates and fiber to consume throughout the day, including suggested foods/meals to meet my plan. At the beginning, it was much of a game to see how close I could get to my goals based on the foods that I CHOSE to eat. I realized just how uneducated I was in determining the best foods to eat to compliment my workouts.
All of you have been through enough intense workouts to know you need to properly fuel your body. I have always loved intense workouts and steered away from carbohydrates and always thought it was a good thing to limit the amount that I ate. I stayed clear of potatoes, rice, oatmeal, pastas, etc. All because they were the dreaded carbs. Today, I can barely go a day without having a sweet potato for lunch. I caught on pretty quickly and was feeling and seeing results right away. I will admit that I was the most disciplined that I've been in a long while. I stuck to my plan and it showed. I dropped 7lbs of fat, gained 3lbs of muscle and dropped 5% body fat. I felt amazing!!! And truth be told, I was able to enjoy the occasional cocktail or two so I didn't have to give up my social life!
Don't get me wrong, it's not easy (as I sit here munching on pumpkin pie flavored m&ms while I type) but it does teach you to be more aware of how you are fueling your body. The easiest thing that you can do is set realistic goals for yourself. The hardest and most fun part is following through and reaching those goals. Knowing that your goals may be completely different than those of you spouse, best friend, co-worker, macro nutrition fits everyone's lifestyle. I always thought macro nutrition was for those intense, body building types who spent three hours a day in the gym. I mean I was committed to a healthy lifestyle but that was just too much for me. In other words, I did not know what the hell they were talking about when they said 'it fits in your macros'. So, I just played along as if I knew what they were talking about because I knew what eating healthy was all about. I had a clean diet, eating what I thought was the right amount of protein, the healthy fats and loads of fruits and vegetables. I believed (more like little did I know) that ALL carbohydrates needed to be a small portion of my diet. Avoided carbs like the plague unless I was having a cheat meal (Lou Malnati's anyone?). Let me tell you how my perception of the dreaded carbs and every other food group changed just by becoming more aware of what I was putting into my body on a day-to-day basis.
I tracked all of my nutrition (anything consumed) through the myfitnesspal app (yes, even the m&ms), as many of you may already or have used. It has been the most effective way for me to track EVERYTHING. I plan my meals for the week, food prep on the weekends, plug in my meals for the week and then tweak as needed should I have an unexpected dinner with friends, catch a sporting event or even end up working later than planned.
All the meantime, I discovered a fitness family that was right alongside of me throughout this journey. And since, I continue to track my meals, snacks, cocktails, even on days where I may not be as 'on point' as I wanted. Now I am teaching myself to make certain adjustments to my macros to see how my body reacts from a performance level. I never thought that I wanted or would ever squat over 200 lbs and bench press more than my body weight. It's not just from my nutrition, many other factors come into play, but, this fitness journey wouldn't have progressed as quickly if I didn't agree to participate in that challenge. Sound familiar?! I encourage you to continue educating yourself in health and fitness. There is not one end all be all diet and fitness regimen for everyone. Choose what's right for you and makes YOU feel great!