5 Things I Learned From Counting 5 Things

My last post touched on my experience with counting macros and utilizing the coaching services of Eat To Perform (ETP).  
ETP gave me a budget and taught me how to manage it.  The coaches didn’t give me a list of “good” vs “bad” foods – rather they reinforced the concept of “good” vs “better” as well as finding my personal sweet spot of the right mix of protein, fat, and carbs that works best for my body.
ETP essentially healed my relationship with food.  I no longer feel deprived.  If I want ice cream or a donut, then rather than do an extra 500 burpees to “make up” for the extra calories, I simply adjust my macro budget for the day and work around it.   If I have an off day, I don’t worry about compensating for it the next day.  I just pick up on the next day and move on.
“But Karen, you mentioned disordered eating!  What gives?”  Some people, myself included, fall into the trap of being a slave to their plan.  When managing your nutrition causes you undue stress, you may need to evaluate what you’re doing.   Tracking macros may not be for you in this case. 
Now most of the time, I’m good.  I’ve gotten accustomed to eating a certain way, I rarely feel deprived, I feel great and I’m satisfied with my performance in the gym.  Every now and then, though, I just want to hit the “F-it” button and not track for a few days.
This is where Precision Nutrition comes into play.  Remember I mentioned them in a previous post?  PN takes a different approach toward managing your nutrition.  Rather than counting macros or calories, PN recommends using your hand to estimate portion sizes.   This method is easy, you don’t have to weigh and measure everything and it’s personalized for you!
But PN goes beyond the basic mechanics of what you eat and how much you’re eating.  PN digs into the behavior that drives your eating habits – the “how” and the “why”, so to speak.  I found this to be incredibly important and truly believe that this is the biggest, most important piece of the puzzle for most of us mere mortals.
Ok – so getting to the last “5 Things” list:
  1. There is no ONE diet that is the best for everyone.   Find a strategy that works for you and tune out the noise that’s out there for the fad of the day.  
  2. HOW you eat is every bit as important as WHAT you eat.  Taking your time and stopping when you’re full is key to reducing the number of calories you consume.
  3. You don’t need to be a slave to a food log day in and day out, although from time to time it is useful to establish a baseline and then see where you might need to make changes.  It’s just data, after all…
  4. You don’t have to kill yourself in the gym every day to get the results you desire.  Making simple changes to your routine, such as walking every day, will have a positive impact on your overall health.  Over time, you’ll be able to do more.
  5. Swapping out real, whole food for processed junk gives you a huge bang for your buck.  So many people feel that it’s too expensive to eat real, whole food when the quick and easy, highly processed stuff is relatively cheap.  I maintain that it’s a tradeoff.  You’ll likely spend the same amount of money for less food that will keep you more satiated and better fueled than for that big box of Hot Pockets that has you wanting more an hour after you eat.  Also notice that I didn’t say “Cut out ALL junk!” or “Eat ONLY kale!”.  Make small changes, gradually over time.  You’ll find that eventually, those Little Debbie Swiss Rolls don’t seem to taste as good as you remembered.
The moral to the story is simple:  Nothing is black and white.  Find a strategy that not only helps you meet your immediate AND long term goals, but is sustainable for every day living.
Thank you for bearing with me on this series.   With so much hype out there, I felt compelled to share my experiences with you and hopefully these posts have helped you filter out some of the noise.  

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