If you are anything like me, the transition around New Years brings up a lot of issues around food shame and guilt. Diet culture teaches us that each new year we should resolve to be smaller, take up less space and finally meet our goal of being skinny. It’s so frustrating to constantly be in and out of the cycle of dieting. A few years ago, I started using macro tracking as a way to manage my own brain around food guilt, and to meet some of the gym goals I had. What I discovered through that process is that the consistency and repeatability of macro tracking was a very efficient way for me to feel like an active participant in how I was eating, while removing all of the guilt and shame.
There are lots of reasons people come to macro tracking, but the primary reason people stick with it is because there are no “good” or “bad” foods in the world of macros. The process is more about understanding how to build meals that will fill you and fuel you, and make you feel like you have tons of energy. It’s also about knowing how each piece (carbs, fat and protein) play a role in how your body processes food. It’s about using those tools to shape your own outcomes, whether that be to get stronger, gain muscle, feel more energized, sleep better or something else. Macro tracking is about understanding your body and it’s cues so you don’t feel as disconnected and out of sorts with the rollercoaster ups and downs of restrictive dieting.
I have tracked my macros for years now, and had different goals I was trying to meet in different times of my life. In 2016, I decided to cut a weight class to be a more competitive olympic weightlifter (read more about that here). In 2018 I used macro tracking to purposely add 5 lbs of bodyweight so it would be easier to get pregnant. In 2019 immediately after giving birth I used macro tracking to help me reach a 2500-3000 calorie goal so I could increase my milk supply and manage dizziness. Recently, I have been using macro tracking to slowly and carefully cut some body fat so I can do the gymnastics skills I like to do more easily.
Of all of these times I have used macro tracking to meet my goals, I have learned a lot of different things, but there are some main takeaways that I think are really important:
>> It’s sustainable. Rather than restricting what types of food I can eat, tracking my macros just helps me understand how much and when. Before, I had the habit of doing something like Whole 30 and then binging on chocolate and pizza afterward until I felt sick. Macro tracking means I eat pizza and chocolate whenever I want, I just also write down how much so I know what other choices to make for the day.
>> It’s shame-free. No foods are off the table. Though I tend to eat more fiber and veggies when I am macro tracking as a natural byproduct of the process, it’s not because I think those foods are inherently good or bad. It’s simply because I can eat a ton of them and still have lots of macros left for the day (so I can have hot chocolate later and stay on target). If you do go wild one day, there is no punishment. I still track when I go over my macros and it’s like…. no big deal. It’s just informative and it frequently shows me that actually I didn’t “binge” like I thought I did.
>> It’s easy. Once you get started, tracking macros is pretty easy. I personally eat a lot of the same things from day to day, so I end up finding it pretty easy to just copy-paste. Even going out to a restaurant isn’t bad, because once you track for a while you will be able to eyeball portion sizes pretty quickly. And, if you don’t know how much, the waiter will usually tell you about how much goes into each portion, because it’s explicitly done that way in the kitchen.
>> You can meet your goals, then level out. I usually set myself a goal of 12 weeks of consistent tracking, then for 12 weeks I will eyeball and not track, or track very loosely. This gives me a mental break and also makes it a totally sustainable way of continuing to eat, because again it’s not based on WHAT you eat it’s more about how much and if you are getting a balanced amount of each macro.
So basically, I love macro tracking because it is the easiest thing I have ever done in terms of nutrition, and makes me feel a lot less crazy about food. We’ve decided to partner with Registered Dietitian and macro-tracking expert Emily Field for a 5-week challenge that will teach the fundamentals of macros and how to apply the skill longer term. As an online-based nutritionist, Emily has applied a macros-based approach with hundreds of clients as they get strong by eating more and stressing less about nonsense diet rules. With all sorts of unique health, body composition and athletic performance goals, she’s become known for her expertise in tracking macros.
Here’s what Solcanauts said about their experience working with Emily and her macros approach:
Before tracking, I felt like certain foods were off limits and that only certain foods were acceptable. This lead to a seemingly endless cycle of restricting and binging.
Tracking has encouraged me to me more mindful of the treats and alcohol I consume. I used to constantly skip meals because I’d get busy with my kids, and then try to “make up for it” by eating a bunch of random snacks or a large dinner. I couldn’t figure out why I was exhausted and cranky in the afternoons, and it’s because I wasn’t eating enough to support my activity level or fitness goals!
Tracking macros is more freeing than I ever anticipated. Prior to trying this, I was sure I was eating too much, but clearly the reverse was true. This is the first time in my life that I’ve attempted to change my eating pattern and I’m actually encouraged to eat MORE, not less!
Just knowing there are no diet restrictions and I can pretty much eat whatever I want so long as I track it within my prescription absolutely creates a healthy attitude toward eating. No, I’m not eating cake and ice cream every day, but simply knowing those foods are not “off limits” makes me not even want it!
If you’ve been curious about tracking your macros but had NO IDEA where to start — this challenge is for you. During this 5-week challenge, Emily will walk you through macro-tracking basics, like which apps to use, how to log food accurately, estimating serving sizes with ease and meal planning around your macros. Coach Kristina will also be helping you throughout the challenge, so if you need someone to talk to in person or want to brainstorm how to make the challenge work best for you, she will be there.
Cost is $170, Solcana members get a 15% discount until Dec 20th with code PETEY (total $145)
Your investment includes:
>> Personalized macro goals set by Emily and her experienced team of Registered Dietitians. You’ll use the 5 weeks of the challenge to get better and better at hitting these macro targets!
>> LIVE virtual training hosted by Emily Field RD to kick off the Macro Challenge, “Intro to Tracking Macros: How to Create the Perfect Diet for You”. Replay posted for those who are unable to attend live!
>> Access to private Facebook group with other Macro Challenge participants to serve as a place for daily motivation, inspiration, discussion and accountability.
>> Weekly lessons that build on the foundational challenge concepts and keep you progressing towards better and better macro adherence.
>> Weekly Group Coaching Calls hosted in the private Facebook group because everyone learns differently. Emily will color in the details of the weekly lessons with video and answer participant submitted questions each week.
>> Unlimited access to a Registered Dietitian via private Facebook group discussion. Really, ask anything you want, Emily’s there to help!
>> Pre- and post-challenge assessment measures in athletic performance and body composition as well as other lifestyle factors like overall energy, sleep, craving management, hunger and fullness which can ALL be influenced by your macronutrient ratios.
The Macro Challenge runs from January 6th through February 14th and is completely virtual. Reserve your spot in the Challenge by clicking here!