WHY I STOPPED TRACKING MACROS
I stopped tracking macros about 3 months ago and here is why:
I tracked macros pretty consistently for about 2 years. I tracked through my last couple preps and continued to track them post. Anybody who has followed me for a long time knows that I have struggled with my relationship with food ever since I began my competition journey. I have been that girl who rebounds post show. I have dealt with BED. I have dealt with extremes on both spectrums of health and fitness.
Currently I am in a place of limbo a bit with my personal life and fitness lifestyle. Brandan and I have been trying to conceive for 8 months now and have worked with a specialist since October. When trying to do “everything right” the most important thing when trying to conceive is proper hormonal balance. I am not going to go super into detail about that part of our personal lives in this post but I am happy to say my hormones have stabilized/regulated quite a bit. Even into the fall of last year I was dealing with low progesterone levels, low DHEA, adrenal fatigue, etc. I have gained weight as it was recommended to me, I have cut out most supplementation besides the basics and I have come to believe I have found my current “set point” in weight. I do believe in the set point theory and I dont believe I have given my body a chance to get back to that in close to 5 years (According to the set-point theory, there is a control system built into every person dictating how much fat he or she should carry – a kind of thermostat for body fat. Some individuals have a high setting, others have a low one. According to this theory, body fat percentage and body weight are matters of internal controls that are set differently in different people.)
Genetically I come from a family of ectomorphs and should not be able to put on a large amount of weight as my family history and genetics prove that. Before I competed I never dieted, I ate whatever I wanted, I worked out when I wanted and never fluctuated more than 10 lbs from my high school weight. However, over my years of dieting I kind of ruined that for myself and have messed with my hormones enough to be able to reach weights over what I believe are my “set-point” weight. Basically I overshoot my set point now due to a slower metabolism. I knew in order to really balance my body back out I needed to allow it to naturally get back to its current set point and from there my hormones would be able to fully heal and recover – as long as I stayed at my current set point and didn’t do any type of extreme dieting or exercising for a sufficient duration of time.
So that is where I am at currently. And how do I know I am at my personal set point? Because I stopped tracking macros and have maintained weight within a 3 lb range for the last two months or so. Even with a drastic decrease in expenditure and with a few weeks of knowing my intake was much higher than I should have allowed it I didnt range more than +/- 2-3 lbs in either direction. I was actually shocked and very happy to see my weight down 3 lbs after not weighing myself for 3 weeks and having less than sufficient work outs (I cut my workouts back in intensity with doctors recommendations and also cut back in the amount of days I was working out drastically. Some by choice- some due to life events and travel.) Am I at a higher weight than I am comfortable with? Yes most definitely. But do I know the long term benefit of allowing my body to heal? Yes most definitely.
Do I struggle everyday with this? Absolutely.
Another reason I wanted to stop tracking macros was because I needed to not be so ‘focused’ on food. I am the type of person who in the past would think about every meal before eating it. I would obsess over “what I could fit” in my macros and feel guilty when things didn’t fit or if I didnt hit my threshold. All of these behaviors come from years of restriction and strict comp preps previous to fully knowing how to utilize flexible dieting and have a less than knowledgable coach who did not have my best interest in mind.
I know myself well enough to know that the more I focus on something the more its hard to live in balance around that particular thing. So with food, knowing it has been my struggle for many years- mentally and physically, I knew I needed to allow myself to take the focus away and start eating more intuitively.
Intuitive eating can be VERY hard. Many people stop tracking macros and use it as an excuse to over-indulge or binge eat. I have definitely been guilty of that in the past. However, knowing that I had been off of a “restricted” diet plan/calorie deficit for quite some time- I felt my mentality around food in general was at a place where I could eat intuitively and not fall into the trap of feeling “out of control”. Plus I know so much about macros and micronutrients now that I can keep a fairly accurate count of where I am at in a day without physically counting. But that is also something I wanted to give up control of. I wanted to live a truly balanced life around food and with that goal in mind I stopped tracking.
Overall I feel good about this decision for now. I am not telling anyone else this to try and promote intuitive eating if you have no food related torment or dont have an unhealthy relationship with food. Tracking macros works and most definitely will still be used in my future if and when I decide to cut or diet again. But for now, I am finding my balance in the best and most positive manner I can. Hoping to conceive and live a more all around balanced life.