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.
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:
- Vegan protein powder
- Collagen protein powder
- Egg whites
- Chicken breast + chicken thighs
- 0% fat greek yogurt
Where to find protein in a pinch?
- Walk to the nearest grocery store to pick up Greek yogurt or low sodium lunch meat
- 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!)
- Find a Jimmy John’s and order an Unwich with just meat and veggies
- 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.
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.
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!!