Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Eating The Food

In my Facebook accountability group we talk a lot about tracking our food.  Most of the girls are tracking on My Fitness Pal, which is where I've also been a diligent member. I've always recommended eating BW x 11-13 which typically creates a deficit enough for fat loss to occur while also allowing you to eat.  I've always been a big proponent of eating the food.  I don't limit carbs or grains or go nuts watching my macros. That's just not something I'm in to right now. For me, it has always been about finally finding a way to make this a lifestyle after my many years of up and down weight loss.

Several months ago in one of our Food Tracking challenges I opened up my diary for the girls to see what and how much food I consume on a daily basis.  I ended up leaving the diary open well past the point of the challenge ending.  A few things occurred in this process.  I became overtly obsessive about making sure I was tracking EVERYTHING. For me, tracking has been something I can be about 80/20 with and still, I was able to lose 50 lbs. I was able to maintain 90% overall food compliance and still lose 50 lbs.  Mind you, I lost those 50 lbs eating well over 2000 calories a day, working out 5 days a week on average, getting rest, limiting booze etc.   BUT being accountable to these ladies that look to me for advice made me obsessive and crazy.  I'd feel guilty if I didn't log every.single.thing and it became something I worried too much about.  When I was in the thick of losing I rarely logged fruit and veggies because I knew that eating fruit and veggies didn't make me 240 lbs. Eating Arby's did :)  Yet, there I was, worried SO much about logging that banana in My Fitness Pal. Another realization occurred in this process. My Fitness Pal tends to give you insanely low calorie allotments if you don't adjust it manually. I ALWAYS have girls adjust MFP manually to match BW x 11-13 but what all of this time spent on MFP made me realize is that so many of my other friends on MFP were just not.eating.the.food. It made me sad. It honestly makes me a little angry too, but that's a whole other post about society and pop culture and all of that weirdness. We'll save it for another day :) My final straw happened before we left for vacation: I brought out my scale.  I haven't weighed myself in a long time. I had detached from it. I didn't need it anymore. My goal is health, not a number on the scale. I've known I was close to my body's set point and I knew I was maintaining.  I know I still have some work to do and some fat to lose. Plateaus during fat loss suck, so why did I need to see the visual number?  I will never know. Needless to say, it was time to stop the madness. 

Several months ago I found this blogger named Go Kaleo.  Her name is Amber and she's leading a revolution to encourage women to stop the madness and eat the damn food.  Her message is pretty simple.  Eat good food, eat often, eat lots of it, move more, rest well and for Pete's sake, JUST.EAT.THE.FOOD.  For so many years, food has been my enemy.  Processed laden, fast and easy; never really serving me or my body. I was sluggish, not sleeping well and depressed because of my eating habits. I was either eating too much or just plain starving myself.  Since I committed to making this a lifestyle 18 months ago my food choices have completely shifted.  Food is fuel. You see my prep posts, you see what effort I put into making sure my family eats good food. I haven't stopped at Arby's or McDonald's (or any other fast food joint) in almost 2 years.  I've learned to LOVE this lifestyle and the food/fuel that comes with it.  I have balance in my life for the first time in a long time. I work out hard and I fuel my body well. But, having my diary open gave me anxiety. It made me feel a little trapped again.  It made me feel guilty. It made me over-think that extra helping of chicken at dinner. It put me into this box of "how much" and "what" I should be consuming.  All the while, I am definitely plateaued out, probably a little over-trained and just plain tired of obsessing.

As I begin to train for my very first triathlon I decided a few weeks ago to close my diary on MFP. I'm still there, just no longer with a wide-open diary.  I want to eat mindfully. When I'm hungry, I'll eat. (what a concept!) I don't want to feel trapped by a label like "clean eating" or by logging my bananas, or by staying within a strict calorie range. I want to enjoy a damn Skinny Cow Snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich without worry (which by the way, they are awesome!)  I work damn hard 5-6 days a week at home and in the gym and my body needs fuel to operate. I'm not looking to be a stick thin Vicki's model. I am strong, my body is strong and it deserves to be fueled appropriately! I've learned how I feel when I'm under-fueled and I know when I've had too much.  These have been learned behaviors for me, but over time things are starting to click. This is just another piece in that puzzle. 

{Click here for a quick primer post from Go Kaleo on Eating The Food.}

If you eat good food and lots of it, you too can lose fat.  You might find that you aren't as cranky, you sleep better or that your cycles start to regulate again (something that happened for me when I started tracking and losing.) Having a healthy metabolism and caring for that delicate part of our bodies is SO important to long-term fat loss and maintenance.  Without it, you'll just rebound and gain all the weight back (trust me, I know from experience).  Do I ever want to go back to that old place? NO! Remember, it's got to be sustainable to be a lifestyle.

When habits are in place, goals shift and that mindset is there, it's okay to let go a little bit. Letting go doesn't mean I eat a box of Oreos or go on all out binges. It means I stick to the things I've instilled in myself to LOVE my lifestyle. It means I eat that extra helping of chicken or enjoy some ice cream with my family.  Life is to be enjoyed. Food is to be enjoyed. Instead of beating myself up for eating too much or too little, I'm just going to eat the food and be HAPPY :)

(Full disclosure: I still think tracking is vital and necessary as you begin to establish what works and what doesn't for YOUR fat loss. I also believe in making sure you are eating ENOUGH to fuel your body. Starvation isn't cute, yo. These are things I talk a lot about with my groupies. This not-tracking-as-much thing is an experiment of sorts and I plan to talk more about it as I train for my triathlon in July. I am not saying you should stop the tracking, just merely sharing with you what I am doing for ME right now :)  

1 comment:

sana ali said...

That was a great read. You articulated many fine points that I firmly believe in, thank you for sharing your thoughts!
fitness tracker.