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Clean Eating Challenge + No Strict Macros

Okay, okay. So I didn’t exactly eat “clean” the entire month but I definitely made some different choices than normal during the month of May. Earlier this year I had gotten into the groove of eating a lot of packaged food. With life being so busy lately and not being the type of person who loves to cook, I definitely wasn’t eating a lot of fresh foods so to speak. I was starting to feel a little “blah” and like I just needed a restart. So, I kind of went back to the basics. I told myself that I was going to focus on prepping more vegetables, eating more fruit for my carb sources (instead of just packaged items), limiting my alcohol intake to no more than 3 drinks a week, no fried foods, and to up the water intake. I obviously allowed myself some leniency 1-2x a week (I guess what you would consider a “cheat” meal to be) but otherwise I was making some “better” choices on a day to day basis. And before I go on, I’m putting the words clean, cheat, and better in quotes because I truly don’t believe any food is good or bad for you. I really do believe in everything in moderation. But it just makes it easier to know what I’m talking about with using these terms.

Also during the time, I became more lenient with my macros…sort of. For over two years I have consistently tracked and used a scale to weigh out everything. Around the time I started to do this “clean eating challenge” I also decided to put away my scale. To be honest, I know that macros work (they work really well if you follow them correctly), but I just wanted to take a break from weighing every thing out. This wasn’t because it was time consuming or stressful in anyway, I guess I just felt like I needed a mental break to be honest? I had been doing it for over two years and just wanted some time “off.” (Wow, I’m really doing a lot of “quotes” this post, sorry guys! Haha). But you get my point. During this time, I was still keeping track mentally of what I was eating and just eyeballing portion sizes. This way, I knew that I was more or less getting the right amount of each macronutrient. Obviously not as accurate as with a scale, but since I had been weighing food for so long I have a better idea of what proper portion sizes are.

So how did I feel at the end of this month? Honesty, not too different. I mean, I definitely didn’t get any leaner haha, but I didn’t really expect to given that I wasn’t working out as regularly or counting macros. However, it did feel good gravitating towards eating more whole foods. I think there is a mental component of feeling better when you eat fresher and “healthier” foods. When I am strict with my macros I see changes really quickly so I will say that macro counting definitely shows more physical results when I stick to it. But I think that there is something to be said for the mental aspect–like, it felt good to eat more fresh foods. I definitely feel like since last month I’ve still tried to overall stick with those changes. Yes, I did buy the dark chocolate PB cups from Trader Joe’s the other day BUT I also prepped a lot of veggies for this week. So hopefully moving forward I will have a little bit more of a balance and remember some of the basics aka veggies and water!

Regarding counting macros. I think it was good that I stopped weighing everything for a bit–about a month and a half to be exact. I mean to be honest, it wasn’t a comfortable feeling stopping. When you’ve been doing something for so long and you know it works, it can be difficult to stop. The first fews days I had a huge temptation to get out my scale and measure my avocado on my toast because I hated not knowing the exact amount. But after about a week I had forgotten about the scale and felt totally fine just eyeballing things and not tracking as strictly. For the last few days I’d been trying to decide if I want to go back to weighing my food or not. Yesterday I finally decided I would go back to macro counting (with a scale, not just eyeballing) for a few reasons. One being is that I’ve realize that I have the tendency to go overboard (like eat several…ahem 8…dark chocolate PB cups when I probably just need 1 or 2 haha), so macros ensures that I have some guidelines. Even with eyeballing things, I think I allowed myself more leniency because I’m like, well this COULD fit…maybe I didn’t have enough fat earlier?! haha. Also, since my workouts have been not as regular recently (like 3-4x a week), counting macros makes me feel a little more “in control.” I mean, I do notice a difference in my body with the decrease in workouts and more leniancy with my macro counting but I haven’t been as strict with myself (since January I started cutting down my workouts some and then I got more lenient with macros than in the past so I expected to see the changes. Like, I don’t feel like I had dramatic changes in one month but they did add up over time). And while I want to count macros again to help make some physical changes, I am still working on pushing aside how I physically look and focusing on overall what it best for my well being. It’s not easy for me to cut down on my workouts and allow myself more untracked days if I’m traveling, or socializing but I realize that these things are more important than how I physically look. My mental and emotional health needs to take just as much of a priority! So moving forward even though I’ll be counting macros, I am still working on finding and accepting that overall balance.

There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this. I think it’s whatever works best for you based off your lifestyle and your goals. I think I’ve realized that this fluctuates for me and that’s okay. Some weeks or months I may want to count my macros more strictly and others I may want to take a break and be more lenient. To be really honest, the fact that I’ve gained about 8 lbs since our wedding still “bothers” me in some ways. Part of me is like who cares–you’re healthy and you live a balanced life. And then the other part of me is like–should I be working as hard as I did last year? And it’s not the number on the scale that annoys me at all–what gets to me is when I go to try on clothes from last year and they literally don’t fit anymore. And yes, part of that is from muscle gain but I also can’t help but feel that part of that is from me being more lenient. So it’s that constant battle of finding that line–being confident in your own skin but also allowing yourself grace. I think it’s something that everyone struggles with to some extent, no matter how “body positive” you are. I know there are moments where I am too hard on myself and I’ve gotten much better at pushing aside those negative thoughts and showing myself love.

So yeah, it’s still a learning process for me BUT I will say that I am 100x farther and in a better place than I was about a year into my fitness journey. I accept that there are ebbs and flows, I don’t really feel stressed or anxious if I’m “off track” for a certain period of time, I have learned that health goes much beyond what I look like. Do you guys have any thoughts on this post? I would love to hear what you think!! xx C

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2 Comments

  1. Ashley
    June 14, 2018 / 12:51 am

    Thank you for this post! I love your approach to fitness and eating. We all have different seasons of life and it’s ok to not be all or nothing!! Are you changing your workouts during this time? What are your workouts like currently?

    • Claire Guentz
      Author
      June 20, 2018 / 10:42 pm

      Hi! My workouts have pretty much stayed the same! I follow the Strong and Sexy Body Method by @paosfitworld, and also do spin 1-2x a week!

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