I finally balanced my diet… Without counting calories
My diet is better than ever, and I haven’t counted calories for over a year.
I went to log in to MyFitnessPal today to break down my meals and macros (so I could check in with some hard data), and I realized I completely forgot my password.
Believe me – this has not always been the case. I used to log in daily, constantly worrying over each calorie I logged, filling my day with anxiety over food. And here’s the problem. I began associating my own self-worth with how well I ate that day. If I didn’t meet each goal, I wasn’t good enough. Considering my perfectionist tendencies, this was a dangerous path, and one that left me feeling drained and desperate for something new – something more fulfilling.
Here’s what I did to balance out my nutrition, nixing the #steadycountingcalories mentality and in turn freeing myself from that heavy burden:
- Start with understanding your current eating habits. Get a gauge on what you are taking in, so you can build on it and create healthier habits going forward. I knew from my MFP days that my sugar intake was insane – and what I was worried about most was all that added sugar I was consuming. Did you know that the recommended amount of added sugar a woman should have a day is only 25 grams? A 16oz Pumpkin Spice Latte has 50 grams of sugar! That is insane! P.S. Don’t go overboard on this – dig into your food consumption for a couple days or a week, then move on! You could probably already name a few things you know you should do in terms of nutrition, use those as a guide.
- Determine your focus. I knew I wanted to incorporate more veggies, fruits and protein into my diet (with a heavy focus on those greens). I ate salads on occasion, but by no means was spinach a part of my daily routine. That needed to change.
- Discover what you love and what is easy. It took me a couple of months, but I was able to determine a couple of meals that were no-brainers for me. Meals that I really love (and am actually excited to eat) and can be quickly whipped up at home. This generally means: Over easy eggs, toast and coffee in the morning, followed by a smoothie (with extra greens, of course) or a big salad for lunch. Dinner is then more flexible, but I usually try to get some sort of extra protein in here. I found this to be the best option for me, because I liked to mix things up at night. Not to mention it also provides more flexibility in the foods I eat, which I really enjoy.
- Focus on your enjoyment and overall fulfillment. The hours leading up to and after each of your meals can tell you a lot! Find foods that keep you satisfied (read: comfortably full and happy) throughout the day, not starving and craving sweet or salty foods. Through simple trial and error I found that eating cashews as an afternoon snack, although I enjoy them, did not keep me as fulfilled as almonds do. And when I don’t get in a hearty breakfast in the morning, I am starving the rest of the day – leading to overeating at night. This might not be the case for you – you may actually find that a small or no breakfast at all is better for you. That is totally fine!
- Do your best and don’t be too hard on yourself! Nutrition and fitness are always a work in progress. Don’t judge anything – this is a learning process! You are a nutritional detective, figuring out what works for you. 🙂
After working through the above guidelines throughout the year, I learned a ton about myself, and have been able to finally hit my nutrition goals (effortlessly)! My entire mindset surrounding food has changed. I still eat carbs. I no longer consider myself “off the health bandwagon” because I chose to have an indulgent meal, or beat myself up about having that (big) bowl of ice cream at night. I still love a good burger and homemade mac and cheese. But being able to let go of my own inner demons has in turn allowed me to let go of those perfectionist tendencies, and figure out when I really do want those things (versus eating them because I put them on a “forbidden” list that was too tempting to ignore).
And the best part yet? I am leaner than ever, and have been able to naturally hit the macro levels suggested by MyFitnessPal for a woman of my height, age and weight. Not to mention my sugar intake is the lowest it has ever been. I feel healthy and happy – and that is what life is all about!
And with that, I want you to know that you are worthy right now. No matter your weight, your build, whether or not your thighs touch. Your body does not define you. You are so much more than that! Simply do your best, build on healthy habits each day, and repeat. 🙂
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What do you struggle with most when it comes to health and nutrition? Comment below, send me an email at [email protected], or reach out to me on social media. I want to hear from you!