Oh hi there. Thanks for coming back. If you haven’t read part one of this post, why don’t you go ahead and do that first? All caught up? K, great. As well, all the asterisks from last week still apply (***long post, not a health professional here, and no one else holds blame or responsibility in this whole deal but me***).
Back to business. I ended off last week with a bit of a cliffhanger, promising to return to tell you how I pulled the trigger on ditching macros and what I’m doing to try and find balance and heal my relationship with food and my body. Well, ask (literally I got a text from a friend saying she couldn’t wait to hear more) and you shall receive! Two posts two weeks in a row (you can thank the long weekend/extra writing time)…and I’m here
to solve all your problems/answer all your questions to tell you what I’m doing about this and where I’m at now.
So – first up. How did I pull the trigger? I knew for months that I had to. I took a couple breaks. But as I eluded to last week, I was totally scared, trapped and freaked out. I decided the only way to let go was to do what I have done so many other times in my life when I am scared and know I have to change something – just take a deep breath and do it.
I also knew that I couldn’t trust myself. I can’t tell you how many times I told myself I was going to “quit macros” and then found myself logging back into my app. So I told someone. My trusted BFF who probably knows me better than just about anyone else on this earth outside of my own family. The one with whom I have shared all of my deepest darkest craziest anxiety struggles. The one who’s not afraid to call me out.
So when we were together the first Friday in March, I told her that it was day one of not counting. I immediately had her 1000% support, and she agreed with all my qualms about counting macros for someone of my personality, weaknesses and inclinations. She also told me she was going to make me delete the app. I’ll be honest, this idea scared the sh*t out of me – as that app represented so much, and all the “hard work” I had done, inputting favourite foods, recipes and such; and I just wasn’t ready to let that go (still haven’t done so – and in my defence, I have needed to login to look at a recipe whose ingredients I logged in there). So she relented. But did agree to keep me accountable and ask me about it when I saw her in two weeks time.
So accountability and support: step one, and something I highly HIGHLY encourage for anything you are struggling with. This doesn’t have to mean broadcasting over your social networks (although there is a place and time for that too). But seeking out even one trusted ally who has your back (preferably someone who knows you inside and out) and will be there both to support you and check in is huge.
Step two is to revisit a book that I read several years ago and would recommend to anyone struggling with their relationship with food: Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. I even bought the accompanying journal and workbook this time around.
I can’t say enough about this book. It just makes so much sense. If I could sum up the basic premise it’s that we have seriously messed with our bodies and minds through years of diets, deprivation and overeating, and many of us have become so out of touch with our body’s needs and the concept of eating for pleasure. There are ten principles (which I have written out and posted on my fridge):
- Reject the diet mentality.
- Honour your hunger.
- Make peace with food.
- Challenge the food police.
- Respect your fullness.
- Discover the satisfaction factor.
- Honour your feelings without using food.
- Respect your body.
- Exercise – feel the difference.
- Honour your health with gentle nutrition.
Another key concept to the approach, which I will admit has been hard for me, is to put weight loss on the back burner. This has been challenging for a few reasons. Firstly, when you’ve been heavy for more of your adult life than not, it’s hard to shelve that image of yourself needing to lose weight. Also, it becomes in a way oddly addictive. It’s hard work, but it’s a quest, something to strive for. It becomes part of your identity in a way. And as I mentioned before, the feedback that comes with weight loss also becomes addictive.
As well, I chose to stop with counting macros at a time when I was not at my lowest weight. Through a combination of circumstances, while not coming at this from my heaviest at any means, I’d packed on a few extra pounds (not that I know this from the scale, which has been under my bed for almost 4 months now. I can just tell in the way some pants fit).
I’ve come to realize that for the past decade and a half, I’ve basically always been trying to lose weight, even when I’m not. What I mean is, even if I swore I wasn’t on a diet, I would be “secretly hoping” to drop a few pounds. I would make a change ostensibly for some other reason (health or otherwise) but on the inside be crossing my fingers that something would “click” and I’d magically come out the other side a few pounds lighter.
It’s hard work getting it through this thick skull of mine that WEIGHT LOSS. IS NOT. THE GOAL. In short, overcoming mental programming that’s been running on a loop for 15 years is no small feat. And don’t even get me started on my rant against insta-culture, fit-spo, transformation Tuesday and all that other garbage floating around these days that make me and so many women like me feel “less than” because we don’t look like someone else or follow the same diet that they do.
So accountability and Intuitive Eating are steps one and two. Step 3? This one makes me laugh and roll my eyes a bit, so feel free to do the same to me: I’m eating a paleo-ish diet (emphasis on the ish, which I will explain in a minute) as part of a 6 week wellness challenge I’m currently in the middle of.
Ok ok wait you’re saying. I know you. You’re not about quick fixes or challenges or fads. And is it really smart to replace one rigid set of rules (counting macros) with another (eating paleo)?
My answers. Yes you’re 100% correct. And no it’s probably not. So what’s my deal?
I told you last week that I wasn’t really happy with the amount of processed “fake” food I’d been putting into my body. I’m looking at a month or so of eating a paleo-based diet as kind of a reset. A good chance to re-introduce my body to a diet based around whole foods, and pay attention to what I want/need, but not obsess over weighing, measuring or counting.
Do I think I’ll eat paleo for the rest of my life? Absolutely not. Am I eating 100% Paleo now? Absolutely not. “Paleo-ish” for me, means the following right now:
- I’m still putting dairy milk/cream in my coffee or tea.
- I’m still having my morning iced coffee/protein shake after the gym.
- I’m eating peanut butter because I like it and it’s way cheaper than almond or other “paleo-approved” nut butters.
- I’m using the sriracha and other condiments I have, without worrying if they are 100% sugar-free.
- Most importantly, if I have an invitation to go out, a family gathering, or social event, I’ll go, and eat whatever is on offer. I am refusing to be “that person” avoiding food, asking a million questions, or worse still, hiding at home. I’ve done that for waaaaay too long.
Let’s take this long weekend for example: When my mom was visiting Friday, she wanted to go for a drive in my new car and grab something to eat. We ended up at one of my favourite coffee/ice cream/chocolate stores. I hadn’t planned to eat ice cream. I hadn’t “factored it into my day” (aka ate a ridiculously small breakfast and lunch). I was sweating internally. I was going to try and make a “smart” choice and get a small treat and a coffee. But my mom suggested we share ice cream. So guess what? I took her up on the offer. And it was amazing (newsflash: ice cream isn’t paleo). And the world didn’t end. And I went home and I still ate dinner. And everything was ok (I can’t tell you how much of a victory this felt like for me – #intuitiveeatingforthewin).
Saturday I had brunch with a friend – I ordered sausage, eggs, tomato sauce and BREAD. Sunday was family Easter dinner – yeah, not skipping the chocolate there. Whole lotta sugar-filled no.
So the way I’m looking at Paleo-ish is a reset, see how you feel, but don’t limit yourself to a sad little isolating caveman box approach. Instead let’s celebrate how awesome you feel when you eat mostly whole foods (and how delicious they are), and don’t be afraid to let your hair down and celebrate with family, friends and whatever food is available at the time. Balance my friends, balance.
And so ends the chapter of macro counting. To be honest with you, putting weight loss on the back burner scares the living daylights out of me. Because doesn’t that mean I’m on the fast track to gaining weight? To being fat again?
No. Heck to the no. It means I’m at a different place. It means that I’m smart. It means that my body is smart. It means I need different things, and I’m doing what I think I need to to get them. It means that I’m nourishing not only my physical body, but my spirit and mindset as well. It means that I don’t ever need to go on or off another diet (because WTF does that even mean anyway?!?!) because I’m better than that. I’m smarter than that. I deserve better than that (and so do you, my friend).
I don’t need to count anything, avoid anything (*unless I choose to for health reasons*), or fix anything. I need to listen and be kind to myself, and to cut myself some slack. Join me?
PS: thanks for the feedback, whether via text/in person conversation/likes/comments/emojis…. it all means the world to me. I love starting conversations around kinda scary things that are really important to me. So I’ll keep being honest, vulnerable and spilling my guts, and you keep the conversation going, ‘kay? If we all take small steps, we are all girls (or guys) who dare.