A (NOT SO BRIEF) LOVE LETTER TO TRACKING MACROS
Sarah was one of my very first nutrition clients when I began coaching. To be very honest, I was nervous to take her on because she was already 6 months into her weight-loss journey and had some BIG goals and I didn't want to let her down. When I started working with Sarah, I could sense her wavering self-confidence in her check-ins and her uncertainty in decision-making. But working with Sarah has been the best, because it has showed me how much I love coaching; I get the opportunity to take a step back and witness my clients' progress and I can't tell you how rewarding that is. 6 months later, Sarah is crushing her goals and she's uncovered a whole new side of Sarah that I didn't know when we first started working together. She's lost pounds and inches but she's gained so much more. She now has a bolder sense of self and more confidence in her decisions, and she's truly learned how to make Flexible Nutrition work for her. Sarah has been a dream to work and I'm so proud of the progress she's made in just 6 months! I asked her for a quick testimonial and she wrote this masterpiece.
One of my favorite recent on-screen moments is from GLOW, a Netflix series featuring a handful of misfit, women wrestlers. One of the show’s leads is talking to her No Good Husband—your average, entitled Dad-Bod with a Beamer—and she raises a brow at his making a salad for dinner.
“I’m on a diet,” he says, shrugging superciliously. “I’ve been on it for three weeks.”
“Great,” she says. “I’ve been on one since I was fourteen.”
My inaugural diet came around when I was about nine, a hand-typed and deeply creased ballbuster of an eating regimen that came courtesy of the Mayo Clinic and was—according to my mother—a privilege to endure. Perfectly appropriate for your average fifth grader, the clinic’s eponymous diet required one start the day with half a grapefruit and four ounces of black coffee, round off lunch with a plate of raw spinach, and, most importantly, strictly limit one’s water intake.
Despite my mother’s best intentions, I waddled into middle school with portly enthusiasm, and though the diet failed, it did serve as an early and appropriate introduction for what was to come. Since that day, I’ve become what I like to think of as a connoisseur of dieting. I’ve done Atkins, Paleo, and Whole30. Low fat, low carb, vegetarian and primal. I’ve gone through manic obsessions with yoga, hot yoga, weight training, running, P90X, BeachBody, CrossFit and one bizarre housewiferific plan that ensured me I could get ripped by doing squats while stirring soup and brushing my teeth. (Buzzkill: I did not) The result of all this manic obsession? Rippling abs, you say? A startling vision of wellness? That’s a negative. Try gaining and losing the same ten to fifteen pounds for ten to fifteen years, and the curated inability to eat anything outside of spinach without feeling guilty.
Until, that is, now.
Enter KLN and Flexible Nutrition, which—just so you’re prepared—it’s hard for me to talk about without sounding hyperbolic. Maybe I found it at a time in my life when I was ready to embrace real change. Maybe it’s just another fad that we’ll all dive into and emerge from, bleary eyed and unshorn, in a year or two. Or maybe—just maybe—it’s the answer we’ve all been looking for.
I’ve always imagined that all I had to do to lose weight was to focus. Like, really focus. Give up sugar and drinking and chicken wings. Work out four or so days a week, drink tons of water, and stretch a lot. Unfortunately, I am also a woman of extremes, and that means that every time I undertake the goal of really knuckling down, I tend to take it a bit far (fat is good for you, you say? Then a 1500 calorie diet made up of nothing but chia seeds and coconut oil must be awesome). And so, despite all of my manic focus and drive and drill, I somehow found myself a thirty-four year old who ate clean and worked out consistently, and who woke up one day weighing over 200 pounds.
Sarah’s progress, July 2018 to December 2018: -20 pounds || -14 total inches
Despite my proclivity towards diet trends, I was surprisingly hesitant to try macro counting. Skeptical. Willfully obtuse, even. I knew it involved carbs, and I lived in deathly fear of carbs. That, and I assumed macro counting would be a natural extension of the food-neurosis I was trying to combat, and—to be honest—I thought that working with a nutrition coach sounded like cheating. Like I wasn’t disciplined enough or tough enough to cut it on my own. And, take it from the ten-year-old surreptitiously eating spinach leaves from a ziplock hidden under the cafeteria table, I’m tough as shit.
But here’s the funny thing. While on the outside, macro counting does look a little neurotic and intense—Yes, you weigh everything. No, you don’t get a Cheat Day—it’s a thousand times easier than anything I’ve ever done. You want a cupcake? Eat a cupcake. You want a glass of wine? Drink a glass of wine. Hell. Drink the bottle. Drink it at midnight, finish it off with a gas station taquito, go straight to bed, and sleep like a freaking baby.
Stay with me.
I’m not saying that you can go that hard every day, or that I’m advocating for such a shit-show diet (although I totally just closed out my 35th with a lemon Bundtini in bed, and I have to say, it’s the most glamorous I’ve ever felt), but the point is, if you’re counting your macros, you totally could, and that word makes all the difference in the world.
It changes your internal narrative from foods that you Can and Can’t Have into foods that you Do and Don’t Want.
It’s about balance—which I know we’ve all been saying all along—but let’s face it, all of us out there carrying around fifty extra pounds? We’re shit at balance.
But macro counting makes balance quantifiable. Taquitos and moscato are fine, so long as your macros balance at the end of the day. And what that means is that you totally end up investing in things that you really want, not because it’s Friday and you always have cocktails on Friday, or cake because #birthdays. Some days I want to be able to eat and be satiated all day. Other days it’s totally worth it for me to go a little light for breakfast and lunch so that I can face plant into a burger, beer and fries when I get off work.
Last, but certainly not least, working with a nutrition coach soothes the savage dieter within me. The heaving mass of conflicting nutritional mandates that I carry around is, for once, quiet. Know why? Because it’s not my job to worry about it. The scale didn’t move this week? I know that Diana’s got a plan. I don’t have to wonder if I should start doing two-a-day workouts or quit drinking for thirty days or do a six hour Google-deep-dive to dissect the definition of “healthy fats.” I know that there is a trained, objective, civilized professional at the wheel. All I have to do is track. Work out. Weigh in. It’s the simplest thing I’ve ever done.