Macro Recap: Week 1

Week 1: Monday September 10th to Sunday September 16th

For those of you who don’t know, I am counting macros for the first time.*

I add an asterisk there because I haaaave tried before but without much dedication. I am someone who NEEDS accountability to stay accountable, so I decided to join Madeline Moves’ 8-Week Program. If you’ve read Gretchen Rubin’s book The Four Tendencies (which I actually reallllly recommend) I am an Obliger… but I’ll save that for another blog post!

The set-up is as follows: 8 weeks of personalized macros, which can change based on the results of the prior week based on weekly check-ins that also include her weekly feedback on my thoughts, feedback, and experiences.

I sent Madeline my height, weight, and before/after pictures to track the journey! I also took measurements in early August 2018 that I’ve been working against.

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To discuss week one, I decided to answer a few common questions I’ve gotten:

Do you actually WEIGH your food?

She recommends using a scale and being VERY precise about measurements to get appropriately familiar with how much food actually weighs. Since I’ve been a lifelong calorie counter, I actually feel that I have a pretty solid grasp on a lot of serving sizes, so I didn’t get a scale originally but I decided to get one just a few days in, because I wanted to test my knowledge. I also crave boundaries in life, so I like the white and black nature of weighing food. I still eat out too often to measure 60% of my food, but I find that at home, I am measuring more often and liking the precision.

How on earth did you eat 155g of protein?

Eek. This one was SO DIFFICULT for me this week, and I am already doing better week two on actually hitting this number. Before, I averaged about 80-100g of protein a day before this journey, so that’s a LOT of ground to make up! Thankfully, there are a lot of resources out there for new macro counters, so I googled like a mad woman! I ate more chicken in this first week than I thought possible. I also ate lunch meat if I was in a pinch (although I went VERY overboard one day on this, and I woke up the next morning THREE POUNDS UP due to sodium! So be careful, but I still am glad I picked this over blowing my fats and carbs on a snack besides lunch meat.

My protein go to’s on a daily basis:

  1. Vegan protein powder
  2. Collagen protein powder
  3. Egg whites
  4. Chicken breast + chicken thighs
  5. 0% fat greek yogurt

Where to find protein in a pinch?

  1. Walk to the nearest grocery store to pick up Greek yogurt or low sodium lunch meat
  2. Go to a sandwich or salad place and ask if you can have just a side chicken breast (they make look at you like you have 10000 heads, but I did this at the CHICKEN BISCUIT SHOP in my building, which is the last place you’d think I’d find a healthy meal, and their grilled chicken is BOMB!)
  3. Find a Jimmy John’s and order an Unwich with just meat and veggies
  4. Find a breakfast spot and order just a side of eggs (if you don’t need fats, then ask to sub egg whites)

What was the biggest surprise week one?

I found myself naturally improving my diet because I wanted to get the most BANG for my buck. I naturally started cutting out red meat and pork because I wanted to save my fat calories for nuts and eggs, which I simply enjoy more. I also realized that 9 pieces of candy corn have as many carbs as a rice cake, so I started to be way more strategic. I knew that I’d get more volume if I was smart about it, so I started reaching for more vegetables with lots of size but not too many fat or carb grams.

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Honestly, I had MUCH more fun than I expected playing the game of how-far-can-I-stretch-my-macros. There are days I lose at this game and it doesn’t go quite as far as I’d like, but overall, I feel like I’m getting the hang of it.

I realized also how many foods have sugar in them – my protein powder has much more than I realized, lunch meat has more than I thought possible, and fruit is chock-full of them! That last one is probably obvious, but when you’re tracking your foods, you start to notice “healthy” foods that tick up your numbers in areas you’re trying to save grams for the “cheats”… if I eat a whole cup of watermelon at lunch, that’s one less rice cake I could have for an afternoon snack. Not to say you shouldn’t eat fruit, but I learned it’s a balance.

What was the hardest part?

Besides hitting my protein numbers, it was alcohol. This will NO DOUBT continue to be the hardest part. Quite honestly, any time I’ve “dieted” this has been the largest struggle for me. I LOVE social drinking. It makes me happy, I think everyone is a bit happier after a single glass of wine, and I love margaritas more than you could even imagine. I know this is dramatic, but it’s the lifestyle I’ve been living and unwinding these ingrained habits will be hard. I associate weekends with alcohol, I associate celebrations with alcohol, I associate stress with alcohol, I associate brunch with alcohol, I associate football with alcohol… so you get it? While a few of you are probably like, omg this girl needs to get to AA, I think the rest of you probably relate or at least have friends (who are healthy!) with similar associations. I truly don’t believe I have a dangerous problem with alcohol, but rather that it’s ingrained in society for my age group and peer set.

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I don’t have an answer for this one today in terms of this challenge… I think I’ll continue to add alcohol into my macros where I feel that I need to, but perhaps the sacrifice of this action will begin to dissuade me from drinking as often. I already feel that this journey has challenged my social reliance on alcohol and made me question the extra calories, which – although a nuisance – has been very good for me.

Overall outcome: I felt leaner and my body “looked” more toned to me in mirrors at the gym. That said I was exactly the same weight at the end of the first week!!

What other questions do you have?!

Fool’s Gold

I’ll preface this with a couple things:

  1. I usually HATE betting.
  2. I’m uber-competitive.
  3. I love the Irish.
  4. I wrote this in September 2017 and never published it.

On Saturday, my favorite college football team, Notre Dame Irish (#biased #alum), took on the UGA Bulldogs. I’m from Atlanta, so this was a big game for my family and me. Both my parents came in town for the game and we had a ton of family friends in South Bend, IN, as well. It was my first home game this season and it was amazing. There is a magic to Notre Dame on game day that is unmatched to anything else I’ve experienced.

So back to point #1 up there… I have a friend who LOVES betting. On anything. He is one of the most painfully rational people I know and yet, the kid loves to bet. So naturally, I find myself in a discussion on Saturday afternoon while tailgating about whether ND or UGA will win. As an ND fan, I have to pull for the Irish but I ended up doing something I never do: putting my money where my mouth is. Blame is on the umpteenth beer, but I found myself agreeing that I’d owe him $50 if the Irish didn’t win by 5+. There are few things I’ll stake a claim on, but the Irish has always been one of them. The unbridled passion I have for my school awakened the competitive spirit inside me and a bet was born.

If anyone knows the end of this story, the Irish lost by 1. There’s not much to tell, except that we led for a large part of the first half and I was feeling reallllllly good about my off the cuff bet. Instead, we let it all go by the end of the game, and we handed the Dawgs a victory. It was heartbreaking. First of all, because I love the Irish and wanted to see a victory. Secondly, because now I’m poorer… although I have vast plans of finagling my way out of it….

Why do I bring this up? As the game marched on, my friend kept sharing that he was highly conflicted that if he rooted for UGA, he was simultaneously wishing that I would have a less fun day with my friends. Which led of course to an existential debate by me about how I didn’t need to win to have fun. Though I found myself reflecting on my own points as I fell asleep last night and I couldn’t decide if I was being the ultimate contrarian or if I meant it…

Do I really believe that this bet made the loss any worse? Logically speaking, it did, I suppose, but yet, as I watched my team place, I was having more fun because I had skin in the game. I was cheering harder for the Irish because I wanted to show my friend that I meant it when I said the Irish were my team. Not to mention, even when we loss, I still had endless memories of all the people I spent time with yesterday, drinking beers, cheers-ing to football season… so really, win or lose, the day was perfect.

What’s my point? This all left me with a lot of questions: Why am I competitive? Why is winning something that we all fixate on? In the cheesiest way, yesterday’s bet was an illustration to me that winning isn’t everything. I realize I made a point of this to my friend to be a contrarian, yes. My life was no better or worse because I lost… him fighting for the other team couldn’t take away from my joy. So in reflection, this ripples into every other part of my life.

Maybe this is the point: the definition of winning surely isn’t black and white. Not that I don’t have to remind myself this allllll the time, because it’s hard to remember! But I’ve challenged myself to we stop acting as though winning is black and white, because . How on earth can winning be objective when there are countless elements and opinions on what makes something good versus bad. What value does winning for winning’s sake give us?

Where does this leave you? I challenge you to spend this week reflecting on how many times you want to define yourself or your success by a black and white definition of winning. Let’s remind ourselves that a shiny gold medal does nothing to illustrate the blood, sweat, and tears that taught whoever came in second place a lot, too. Sure, we are players in a world where there is usually a clear winner and a clear definition of victory. But that doesn’t mean that we have to subscribe to the way this is supposed to make us feel. We have to define for ourselves what winning is and how we can win in more ways than just “won” (pun intended 🙂 ).

HAPPY HUMPDAY!