The first time I started tracking meals, it took me two hours to plan the next day. I was stressed.
The whole process of weighing food, accounting for everything I ate was brand new. It took time, it took my full attention, and it made me cranky. My hands were shaking.
I wanted to be perfect. I did not want to screw it up.
That was 2019. Now, more than two years and almost 1,000 planned and tracked days later… it’s actually a stress relief to plan and track my meals.
So you’re probably thinking, that’s great Mel, how does it work?
Basically I’m tracking macronutrients – the amount of protein, carbs and fat I eat in a day. Protein stays pretty much the same, but the carbs and fat will adjust depending on where I am in my training. For example, in a ‘build’ – where the goal is to build muscle, I will eat a lot more carbs. In a ‘cut’ – where I am trying to lean out for a photo shoot (yes, I’m a woman in her late-40s who does photo shoots, it’s awesome), the amount of carbs will drop.
Some people calculate their own macros, but I have an amazing coach, and each week I send her my weight, measurements – chest, waist, hips and thigh – and progress pics. From there, Coach Alana will send me macros goals for weight training days and ‘rest’ days.
I use the MyMacros app, some people use MyFitnessPal, but I’ll enter my macros targets into the app, and then enter the food in for each meal. It was a lot to enter my food at first, but now my fave foods pop up. (And it’s not a big deal to enter new meals). The app allows me to copy days and plan in advance. It’s sooooo reassuring going to bed knowing that I had the following day all planned out and will hit my macros!
Planning and tracking allows me the flexibility of eating whatever I want, as long as it fits those goals. This week I went for burgers. No biggie. I just adjusted the rest of my day to make it fit.
Want a blizzard? Okay. Track it. Tracking it also makes you recognize things like: ‘hey wow, that SMALL peanut butter cups blizzard has 79g of carbs, 23g of fat, and 15g of protein… and I’m not that full after I eat it.’
Personally, when I start thinking like that, I’d rather had a plate of veggies and a small treat (a piece of dark chocolate, 20g of chocolate chips) because I know I won’t be hungry for awhile.
Also… macros makes me think about the kinds of food I’m eating. When I started tracking, I realized I really wasn’t eating enough protein in a day for the things I’m asking my body to do. And of course, way to much fat.
I actually plan the day ahead so 97% of the time hit my macros. Planning ahead is key. Trying to enter your macros at the end of the day rarely means you will hit your target.
Imagine getting to 6 p.m. and realizing you are way over in fat intake for the day. There’s nothing you can do about it. By planning ahead, I know exactly how much fat I have at each meal (on rest days my fat intake is slightly higher, so I like to spread it out over five meals).