Over the past 5 or so years, I’ve come a long way in terms of letting go of the “all or nothing” mindset I struggled with for so long. For me, early on in my pregnancy something just switched. I started to eat foods that I actually liked, instead of eating what I thought would get me lean. I ate when I was hungry, opposed to basing my meal times on the clock. I stopped feeling guilty for indulging in things that I deemed “bad” and stopped “starting over” on Mondays.
My goal was no longer to get as small as possible, and it was amazing. I felt so much less stress around food and exercise and I realized that I could actually get results – GREAT results, doing SO MUCH less exercise and not stressing over food 24/7.
Over the past few years I’ve learned a lot more about the hormonal aspects of food and exercise on fat loss, and have a pretty good handle on what foods and types of exercise work for me and my lifestyle. But most importantly, I’ve come to realize the importance of my thoughts and my mindset. I’ve practiced being compassionate with myself instead of punishing myself when I don’t exercise or eat poorly and to practice gratitude for my health in a way that I never have before.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m older, or I’m a mom now – but I’m in a really good place, a much different place than I was 5 or 6 years ago.
Early this year I decided to train to get my SFG Kettlebell Instructor certification. This was a pretty big goal on my part because since the boys were about 7 months old and I started exercising again, my main goal was to just squeeze in workouts when I could. 24 minutes while they watched a show or napped a couple times per week was all I wanted to commit to, and it worked out great, but I was ready for something a little more structured and I thought setting a goal would help me stay focused.
I started training with Iron Body Studios back in April. I would follow their online program at home and workout with Artemis and Eric at their studio on Saturdays.
The training consisted of 5 days per week and usually took me at least 45 minutes to complete with Saturdays being about an hour and a half.
Needless to say this was NOT what I was used to and I was definitely not used to eating to fuel that type of workout.
Also, I should mention that there is a body weight component to the certification. For females weighing in over 56kg (123.5lbs) you have to use a 16kg (35.2lbs) size bell, and if you are under, you use a 12kg (26.4lbs) size bell for all of your testing. It’s a big difference.
I maintain about 128lbs. or so effortlessly, so I felt as though it was worth it for me to try to get under the 123.5 lbs..to use the lighter bells while training to pass with the heavier one.
I hired a coach (Jordan Syatt) to help me come up with a nutrition plan that would help me lose a few pounds without losing my strength along the way. Jordan made a few suggestions, and keeping track of calories was one of them.
Honestly I wasn’t a huge fan of doing this at first. I never did enjoy it in the past, and it wasn’t something I was ever consistent with, but I was doing it for completely different reasons and my perspective has shifted so much in the past 6 or 7 years that I decided to give it an honest shot. I knew I needed to change something. I wasn’t feeling great during my workouts and what I was doing nutrition wise wasn’t giving me the results I wanted. If all he wanted me to do was to track a few things – I decided I could do that.
It was extremely eye-opening to say the least.
Now do I think that everyone should count calories? Of course not. Not one of my clients shown in the picture below counted calories and they still got amazing results.
But I do think that in certain cases it can be hugely beneficial. I know for me, for my current goals, it was exactly what I needed…that doesn’t mean that I’ll continue to do it, but I gotta say, I did find it helpful.
Not surprisingly, I grossly underestimated the amount of calories I was consuming (especially on the weekends), my protein intake was lower than I thought it was, my fat was WAY higher than I thought it was, and I absolutely was not eating enough carbs to fuel my workouts.
Eating for fat loss while working out a couple times per week for 20 minutes when I could squeeze it in, is very different than eating for fat loss while exercising intensely 5 times per week for at least 45 minutes…..and scooping out what I “eyeballed” to be a tablespoon of almond butter was quite different than when I scooped it out with an actual tablespoon!
So much for being good at “eyeballing” my portions. Talk about depressing.
This experience was actually not as bad as I thought it would be. Mostly because I didn’t stress if I wasn’t “perfect”. I quit the “good” and “bad” labels for my food choices and the choices I made, and if I did go over my suggested caloric range (which I did quite often…I definitely wasn’t an A+ client when it comes to adherence – sorry J!), I didn’t feel the need to over-exercise or under-eat the next day, I owned my choices without judgement and moved on. WAY different than how I’ve reacted those those situations in the past.
During this process I continued to fuel my body with the foods I enjoyed eating, just in different portions and ratios. It wasn’t like I was eating Cheetos and drinking beer all while trying to stay within my calorie range. Not the case at all. My food choices actually didn’t change all that much because I’m such a boring creature of habit. I ate clean carb sources, high protein, lots of veggies and good fats. I didn’t eliminate any food groups or do anything crazy – but I was much more diligent about measuring and tracking. And for me the difference in my performance was well worth the effort it took to pay attention to my intake for a few weeks.
Like I said above, I wasn’t the most compliant client in the world, so I’ll let you know how my test goes and what bell size I’ll have to use. But regardless of the size of the bell, the weight on the scale, the fact that my body fat % age has dropped, my measurements are all a bit lower, and my strength has increased, I know that NONE of those things determine my self-worth and that is something that I didn’t quite believe 6 or 7 years ago.
Bottom line is you need to do something that works for you. If it’s counting macros and calories, awesome. If it’s practicing moderation, great. If it’s going Paleo, Primal, Vegan, or whatever – as long as it’s not stressing you out, taking away from your quality of life, you’re getting the results you want, and most importantly, you can do it CONSISTENTLY – I say go for it 🙂
PS: For those of you who aren’t training for a performance event and have no interest in plugging everything you eat into an app, but want to tighten up a bit after the summer – click here to get on the wait list for my next 15 Day Challenge starting September 9th! Details coming soon!