I lied!!!! I said I was going to review just week two right now and be one week behind schedule, BUT, that feels hard since my mind is wanting to discuss week three right now since it just ended! As such, this review is going to be a TWO FOR ONE DEAL! And if you haven’t read Week One yet, find that here!!
Week two: September 17th – September 23rd, 2018
Week three: September 24th – September 30th, 2018
Heeeey and look at me dancing this week at Glossier + A Sweat Life’s event at Morgan’s on Fulton – staying active has made macro counting a lot easier too!!
And more importantly, I made it 21 days! And I didn’t even realize that until I started writing this post. Then I did some research on if this whole it-takes-21-days-to-form-a-new-habit thing is ACTUALLY legitimate. It kind of is… and it kind of isn’t… apparently this study thinks that it takes 66 days on average, so I’m not there yet!! But making progress. Progress > perfection.
Macros by Percentages
I also like numbers and details to make me feel better about what progress really looks like, so I did a little experiment. I ran the numbers to see how FAR off my macros I was each week ON AVERAGE – this will also enlighten you to how hard it is for me to actually NAIL my macros on a daily basis. In the table below, the percentages are how far away from my target number I was (over or under, so the percentage is simply how off, no matter the direction). This shows progress! Madeline also gave me better guidelines during week three for how to handle the need for additional hunger on days I did TWO workouts, and this orderly way of adding calories was HUGELY impactful.
To interpret this, you could say the following – for example – “During Week Three, Julia over-ate or under-ate her carbohydrate target of 176 grams by 6.1% on average.”
I’ll also add that my protein goal is a range, so I’m least worried about missing that target.
Overall, this illustrates that as I’ve practiced counting, I’ve gotten better at it. My margin of error is DECREASING. That is how I’ll be counting success as I learn the ropes.
5 Tips to Making It 21 Days
In light of the above, I pulled together my thoughts on how to keep on keeping on. I am NOT an expert (obviously), but this is just my two cents.
- Admit to yourself your current triggers.
- Make it non-negotiable and realize that compromise is key.
- Eat protein, eat protein, and then eat protein.
- Think about benefits outside the scale.
- Drink your body weight in water.
#1 – Admit to yourself your current triggers.
I have both a social job and a social group of friends. Chicago has a great bar and food scene (and doughnut scene!). What does this mean? I am HAUNTED by temptation.
The first week of counting macros, I had countless meals out and multiple nights that I tried to include alcohol in my macros. I would feel confident that because I pre-logged my macros, that I would stick to them. This was ineffective for a few reasons. Here is what pre-logging DOES NOT do for you:
- make cravings easier to avoid
- make “cheat foods” less appealing
- make alcohol more filling
When you include alcohol or sweets or “cheats” in your macros, they COUNT towards your day’s calories. Which means that if cookies or a beer is LESS FILLING than a cup of quinoa, you may be hungry. And when you’re having hunger pangs while trying to avoid things that you love to indulge in, this is a recipe for disaster!
My solution to this issue: Admit to myself when I couldn’t trust myself just yet. Say no to a few extra social outings. Eat SUPER clean, filling, nutritious foods for the rest of the days when I knew I wanted to use 50g of carbohydrates for alcohol/sweets/etc.
*I know that for some, the obvious answer may be to give up these things. I cannot exist in a world that makes me sacrifice things I enjoy because it’s bad for my mental state, so this is just my take on how I did it!
#2 – Make it non-negotiable and realize that compromise is key.
This one kiiiiind of is just an extension of #1 but I wanted to give it its own light too. In my first few weeks, I would willfully go over my macros in situations that I hadn’t pre-planned and tell myself I tried my best. While giving yourself grace is SERIOUSLY VITAL, I was still not really giving it my all in these situations.
Here’s an example: This week I had the chance to have brunch with my friend – and I really wanted to! But I knew that the food she’d prepare at her place would be eggs, sauces, avocado, etc. I mean first of all, yum, and that would TOTALLY be okay, BUT I knew I wanted to eat a MASSIVE cookie from my favorite bakery to celebrate my final marathon training run and I needed at least 20g of fats set aside.
So what did I do? I compromised with myself. She had eggs and bagels, I had half a bagel and one egg, plain. And I brought a big thing of non-fat Greek yogurt and added just a bit of natural peanut butter. That way, I was getting much more protein than if I just ate a two egg bagel sandwich, PLUS I saved myself fats and carbs through being strategic.
I told myself that hitting my macros that day was non-negotiable, brunch WAS NOT an excuse, BUT I could compromise and I still spent a fantastic 3 hours with my friend eating brunch and catching up!!
#3 – Eat protein, eat protein, and then eat protein.
This one is pretty complicated. JK. Find protein, include protein, prioritize it. It will KEEP YOU FULLER and it will force you to create balanced meals (in my opinion…)! I am lucky to be a carnivore and I see where a vegan – for instance – would struggle here for hitting protein but if you’re like me, animal products (especially lean meats) are crucial.
I honest-to-goodness brought chicken jerky to a sports bar on Saturday to snack on if I got hungry (I also ate a big complex, nutritionally dense meal beforehand!!). The entire bag of this jerky had 2g fat, 18g carbs, and 30g protein!! That was 100x healthier and more filling than anything I could have ordered off the menu, even the salads!
Protein is filling and is KEY for athletes or individuals trying to gain muscle mass, so prioritize it and it will keep cravings at bay!
#4 – Think about benefits outside the scale.
Since starting on this journey, my average weight has fallen about 2 lbs. Not bad, I think to myself, and then the doubt creeps in.
Is this worth the mind space? Is this worth the effort? Is this diet actually more balanced? Is this going to be worth it?
THEN – I remind myself how much more in control I’ve felt the past few weeks. Not in a ED sort of way (thankfully!! though I entirely see how macros could be HUGELY triggering for those with an ED past), but more so, I am being CONSCIENTIOUS about what goes in my mouth and how I fuel my life.
I am CHOOSING when I drink alcohol. I am CHOOSING to eat doughnuts when I want them. THIS IS EMPOWERING. I am not a victim to my cravings or to “bad behavior”. I am electing to act with intention when I want those things. That part of macro counting rocks.
So, focus on this part when macro counting gets tough. This element of it makes me believe it is truly sustainable and THAT is thrilling. Not to mention, 2 lbs is exciting and I DO feel leaner than I have in a long time!
FINALLY, my IBS symptoms have been WAY less intense lately. Say what!! It could be a number of reasons: more Greek yogurt, higher protein, less fats, you name it. But I will not leave this out of a list of benefits macro counting has brought me.
#5 – Drink your body weight in water.
Sigh, this advice probably gets so old! Like why do fitness people always say it? I annoy even myself…. but it’s so true. Ugh. When I find myself unusually hungry any day of the week, I usually start to think to myself – damn it, have I had even 20 ounces of water today yet?!
Water is key, it makes everything inside your body work better, so just do it, just drink water. Put lemon in it, put limes in it, drink some sparkling water, add a bit of Crystal Light if you must, but just drink it, kay??