Do I Track?
Tracking calories and macros in a phone app … I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love it because it taught me how to establish which macros work best for my body (in terms of performance and body recomposition), and it taught me how to select the foods that I want to eat on a daily basis. This gave me food freedom: I no longer had to rely on strict meal plans to get results.
Because I tracked my calories and macros for years, and I was willing to experiment with many different types of foods and macro combinations (I tried high carb, low carb, etc), I became very good at estimating my portions, calories and macros.
It wasn't before long that I had honed a skill. I had become an expert at intuitively eating the calories and macros that worked best for me mentally and physically. This helped me stop getting so hung up on the precise grams of macronutrients, or the exact amount of calories. I had learned a sustainable approach to practicing moderation. I no longer needed to track my calories and macros.
I wouldn’t have gotten to this level without having tracked my calories and macros. So yes, I do recommend tracking for newbies because it’s how you learn to become an expert at intuitively eating the right amount of calories and macros for your body.
I tracked for 4 years before I realized it was no longer in my best interest to do this. In hindsight, I should have stopped tracking much sooner, but I was too scared to stop doing something that had saved me from restrictive meal plans.
To walk away from something that you’ve always done is very hard to do ... and that's when narcissism comes into the equation: it's the reason why you continue doing things the way you have always done them, even when you know it's not in your best interest. The more time you invest in something, the greater the narcissism you will face when it's time to reconsider. Basically, we find comfort in our daily habits, even if they are bad for us.
Trying to follow an exact prescription of calories and macros was a lot of daily pressure. I was always tracking my food in my app, even in restaurants, even while people were trying to have conversations with me. I think we can all agree that this is not normal behaviour. I had locked myself into something that made me feel like I was either passing or failing. I had to eat an exact amount of calories, fibre, carbs, fats and protein, or else I failed for the day. I always felt like I was failing because I couldn’t nail my macros and calories perfectly, although, who the heck can? and if they can…. why are they so insistent on perfection? This makes me question what is really going on to cause this narcissistic behaviour? That’s why tracking took a toll on me … it wasn’t good for me to always perceive myself as a daily loser. The reality is that we need a daily win to succeed. That means we need to make daily decisions that will maximize our potential to win.
Time for Change
In 2016, I made the decision to quit tracking my calories and macros. I quit cold turkey! I knew this would work for me for the following reasons:
•From experience, I know that I prefer a higher carb, lower fat, mod-high protein diet, and I know what foods to eat to pull this off
•I tend to eat the same types of foods on a daily basis so I’m already familiar with the carbs/macros I typically consume in a day
•I am not depriving myself of calories or carbs, so it's not difficult for me to remain consistent. The biggest mistake I made was going on a diet in my early 20’s. I spent the majority of my 20’s and 30’s on a bloody diet! For the first time in decades, I’m no longer on a diet, and for the first time in decades, I’m maintaining my weight! Let me say that again: not being on a diet is the secret to maintaining your weight!
Good news. I am able to loosely adhere to my desired macros/calories on a daily basis. I was willing to experiment with this (which means I was willing to make mistakes and learn), and it paid off for me… it liberated me. It made me stop second guessing what I was eating, and it forced me to actually listen to my body. My body is smart: it will tells me what it needs.
I listen to my body and I make intelligent choices the majority of the time. I enjoy food and successfully practice moderation. I don’t believe we need to follow something strict or that we need to answer to someone in order succeed (because that is NOT sustainable).
Practicing moderation is a sustainable skill that we can hone from experimenting, which means being cool with making mistakes (mistakes are the only way to learn what works/doesn’t work for you). When it comes to food, I firmly believe we have to minimize temptation in order to succeed. That’s why I only purchase one tempting item at the grocery store per week. In other words, my house is not filled with tempting high calorie cheat foods. For example, this week, I bought ice cream for my freezer, but I didn’t also buy licorice and cookies because if I did, I’d end up succumbing to temptation. I think this is common sense: You can’t eat everything! And if you can’t stop yourself from eating everything, then that’s a sign that there’s something else going on emotionally/mentally that needs to be addressed. Bingeing could also be a sign that you might not be eating enough calories and carbs.
More good news: Since 2016, I’ve been able to obviously improve my body composition (more muscle and strength), I’m obviously not gaining fat, and I no longer feel like I’m either “passing” or “failing”.
I eat when I’m hungry and until I’m full. I’m never hungry in the morning, which is why I fast daily following a 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol.
So on that note: no, I will not give you personalized macros and calories to follow. If you are a newbie, I will encourage you to track your calories and macros in order to learn more about food and nutrients. But eventually, I’m going to ask you to ditch the “supervised learning” approach to your calories and macros, and replace it with “reinforcement learning”. First, I will ask you to experiment with changing your calories and macros in order to establish what your body will respond to the best. I want you to make mistakes so you can figure out what works for you/doesn't work for you. And then I will ask you to stop tracking and see what happens.
If you want to learn the principles behind intermittent fasting and flexible dieting (i.e. tracking calories and macros), or you want help adding more calories and carbs back into your diet (i.e. reverse dieting), then I'd be delighted to help you. This is my passion ... helping people restore their relationship with food. For more information about my Fat Loss Fast system, click here.