Why I will never count macros or calories ever again...

This article is written from the perspective of my own experience and from working with thousands of clients. Your perspective may be different and that’s ok. Please read every word, as it's very important!



Let me start off with a caveat. Nutrition is not black and white. It is nuanced, and there are many factors that play into “being healthy.”

There are MANY different nutrition approaches that can work. There’s not one “perfect” way of eating. Everyone is different and has different nutritional needs.

There is lots of information and noise out there, so when it comes down to it… Find a nutrition approach that works for your body, your mind, and your long term health.

That being said...

If you have ever felt stressed, anxious, or frustrated by the process of counting macros and/or calories…

This is for you.

If you have found counting macros and/or calories is too time consuming…

This is for you.

If you find nutrition overall confusing and just want something simple that gets real results…

This is for you.

So… Let’s get to it.

Why don’t I count macros?

I don’t count macros because of how it messed with my mind and health.

It infuriates me that it has been instilled into people’s minds that counting, weighing and measuring food is the best and only way to get fit.

I have cried after talking with readers about their own journeys and how they go to bed hungry because they “couldn’t go over their allotted calories or macros for the day.”

It breaks my heart to hear the stories of those who feel overwhelmed and defeated if they go over their fat or carb allotment percentage by 2% for the day.

It seems criminal for people to feel like they have failed by not meeting a macro percentage by 2%. It’s absolutely insane.

Counting, measuring, and weighing food literally almost killed me after it spiraled, so it simply isn’t something that I can get behind as a nutrition strategy.

That is why I don’t count macros.


A Fast-Forward Past [This is IMPORTANT]

I’m the kind of person who gets things done. I follow the rules and want to “check off” boxes on a list. Yes, I add things to lists even if I already finished it, just to check it off. I like doing things right and doing them well.

Flashback to 2008…

Health and fitness was no different for me. I had goals, I wanted to accomplish them. I set nutrition rules that I thought would get me where I wanted to go.

The problem was, quickly, those “nutrition rules” morphed in my mind into unbreakable life and death scenarios. My mind even made the rules even more strict than they had already been, so that I could “get in better shape, faster.”

I obsessed over every gram, every bite… Every morsel of food that I even looked at felt like an ultimate sin.

My anxiety was through the roof and because of my anxiety, I felt physically unable to eat certain types of foods and portions so small, an infant would still be starving.

I hated myself. I hated how I looked. I was never good enough. I was horribly depressed. I was on pins and needles with anxiety. I isolated myself from friends and family. I didn’t think it could get better.

My goals to “get fit” quickly spiraled into a full disorder. How did that happen to me? And so quickly?

I had ALWAYS been able to trust myself and my instincts. Now, I couldn’t tell the difference between my true voice and this lying voice in my head that was telling me I was worthless if I ate one more gram than I was “allowed.”

Not only was my body wasted away, but my mind was what felt even more painful. I looked sickly and gaunt, but I felt like my thoughts were crushing me from the inside out.

You can’t “see” the pain in someone’s mind as you sometimes can in their physical state, but in my experience, it was the most painful part.

I spiraled so much, so quickly that I needed treatment - stat.

I’m eternally grateful to my husband, Dennis and my parents who worked together to find me the help that I needed. The healing process was hard. Actually, it was terrible at first. I would start crying uncontrollably and have fits of rage when they tried to re-feed me and normalize eating again. They were patient, kind, and never gave up on me.

The Present and Purpose

Fast forward to present day…

My sickness was the absolute worst experience of my life, yet I wouldn’t change it. I am beyond blessed and lucky to have fully made it out of that, because many people don’t. 

Now, I have a platform to be able to share my experience so that others don’t have to go through what I went through or provide the hope that healing is actually possible.

With lots of hard work, accountability, Grace, love, and lots of food, I have fully made it past that chapter of my life. Food and exercise no longer consume me, and I have learned a truly balanced and enjoyable approach to both.

I believe that I was brought to this place of healing for a purpose. Not just as a story of a recovered eating disorder, but on an even bigger level to help all people with fitness and nutrition.

Many people do suffer with eating disorders and need to be professionally treated for that.

However, most people in the world don’t technically have “eating disorders” but still struggle immensely with body image, shame around food, and simply struggle with how to fuel their body’s properly.

After getting fully healthy and finding what truly brought long-term health, freedom and results, I knew I wanted to help others learn to eat well, reach their goals and find true freedom in their nutrition.

The Future and Freedom

Please let me reiterate: Not everyone who counts macros has an eating disorder.

That has to be said. However, in my own experience and many many others I have worked with, counting macros can become obsessive, mess with your mind, and be really time consuming.

In my personal and professional opinion, counting is a slippery slope. When it comes to counting macros and calories, more knowledge of what you’re eating does NOT equal power.

Being overly informed with minute details takes away your power to live in balance and flexibility. It takes away power to listen to how your body is feeling and performing. It takes away power to relax, rest, and go with the flow. It takes away power from the mind-body connection, which causes us to lose trust with our bodies.

It reduces our body’s needs to a calculation, when in reality, we are dynamic human beings that will have varying needs day to day. There are many other ways to learn how food fuels the body that are much more flexible for the body and mind.


Here’s the good news…

After lots of time, treatment, therapy, and practice, all of my symptoms and behaviors of anorexia and exercise bulimia went away. It is now 2019, and I have been fully recovered for nearly 10 years.

It wasn’t like there was an “off switch” one day. It was consistent practice of learning to manage the thoughts and behaviors that eventually got easier over time.

I learned to face my fears head on and the voices of anxiety, doubt, and fear slowly grew more faint until they were completely mute.

After I got healthy, I wanted to find a way to keep eating normalized AND stay healthy and fit (this was a long time after I got the professional help that I needed). I wanted something that was flexible, where I didn’t have any food rules, but was able to make healthy choices in a balanced way.

This is a tricky thing for people who are recovered, in recovery, have disordered thoughts behaviors (but not a diagnosed disorder), or people who simply struggle with body image.

How do you learn to eat so that you don’t restrict or set strict rules, but still be a healthy person?

How do you learn to eat if you have an aesthetic goal, but don’t want to develop or slip back into disordered behaviors?

A lot of people live in that space with those questions, so you’re not alone if you feel that way.

Here’s the simple outline for how I help people create a healthy balance with nutrition:

1. Eat intuitively.

I challenge you to choose one of these six tips to implement today. Choose one and be conscious to include it throughout the day.

Focus on that one thing in every interaction and moment throughout your day, whether it be body language, talking to others, getting out of your comfort zone, continually learning, developing a mantra, or simply smiling more.

Lastly, community is key for continued support, encouragement, and accountability. Confidence can skyrocket when you are in community getting the encouragement and support of others. In short, community boosts confidence.

Practicing these elements and building community will help you not only give of the air of confidence, but actually FEEL it, which will help you ultimately be more happy, healthy, productive, and balanced!

2. Eat lots of whole foods.

Eat lots of whole, one-ingredient foods as the foundation of your nutrition. This will help you feel fueled well, help your body stay healthy, and enjoy the foods that you eat.

3. Enjoy all types of foods periodically.

Food doesn’t impact your morality. No food is off limits. Eat lots of whole foods most of the time, but still enjoy ANY type of food that you want periodically without guilt or stress.

4. Give yourself grace.

There’s no “perfect” nutrition. Food doesn’t define you. Nutrition is a piece of your life, not your entire life.

Conclusion

Sometimes, you need to know that certain hard rules should not exist. It’s ok to figure out what works for you based on flexible guidelines.

The purpose of this is not to put down macro counters or anyone at all for their nutrition approaches. Rather, it is meant to shed light on the fact that there are options out there that can allow you flexibility and freedom if you have tried (and been consumed by) counting macros.

All I want is for you to be healthy and happy in your own skin. I want you to learn to how to fuel your body well, honor your body, and live in that freedom. Creating balance is possible.

Learn More

If you want more information on how to eat intuitively, check out my nutrition and lifestyle course Balance.

If you want access to the Balance course and also become a part of a supportive community with weekly live calls to go over topics like intuitive eating, join the Balance VIP!


If you or a loved one needs resources regarding eating disorders, here are some resources:

http://eatingdisorders.ucsd.edu

http://www.centerforbalancedliving.org

http://tabithafarrar.com

For Caregivers:

http://www.feast-ed.org