I don't know how many times women have told me that they refuse to track because they've done it before and it caused them to get obsessive about their food and what they ate. It's an all-too-common reason why women aren't seeing the progress they want - they don't know where they're at because they won't track. And they won't track because they've been programmed to approach it the wrong way.
The average age of women that BODZii works with is 38. And what does that mean? It means that we're the women who have grown up in the world of Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Cosmopolitan and SHAPE Magazine, if it fits your macros (IIFYM), and My Fitness Pal along with every other diet plan out there. 130lbs is the magic healthy number and a size 2 is apparently the gold standard that we should all be aiming for.
With these numbers being shoved in our face for our entire lives, it's no wonder a lot of us are afraid of tracking our food for the sake of our mental health.
But we need to get one thing straight - tracking your food and negative diet culture is not inherently linked. Throughout the years we have been programmed to believe that the only way we can see results is through restrictive and precise dieting. And because of that, there is a very ugly light that is shining on tracking food - an incredibly important tool to gain knowledge, understanding and guidance on our journey.
So let's dive into the complete guide for us women who hate tracking - for very good reason.
1. Understand The Benefits Of Tracking
If you don't understand and actually believe the benefits, you won't do it. So here are a few reasons why tracking food is so important.
1 - An increase in protein daily which will lead to better body composition, increased muscle retention and growth, and a increase in hormone regulation
2 - The ability to understand portions when dining out. Imagine yourself at dinner and being able to order off a menu with the understanding of what's in a particular food. You can now make an educated choice without having to track - you just know. And now you can dine out without it hindering your progress
3 - Confidence in your progress. You now have months of data that you can work off of, tweak and adjust to hit any goal you want. So next time you scoff at the thought of tracking your food, ask yourself this question - do you know for certain that you're eating a well balanced diet that is optimized for your personal goals and body?
For a much more detailed breakdown on why we should track our food, read this article here on our blog.
2. Choosing the right path
I talk SO often about how women don't know how to set goals properly for their lifestyle. We do it all the time! We're dreamers, optimists, high achievers. We want it all and then some. And although this is a fantastic trait in so many ways, it can be the reason why we get so down on ourselves in our weight loss journey. We just don't know how to set realistic goals based on everything else we have going on in our lives.
The next step to tracking your food is figuring our what you're tracking for.
As we look through the chart above, a few things are made clear. It’s clear to see that depending on what your goals are, your lifestyle can and will change. It’s also clear that regardless of what your goals are, a few things will always be a top priority.
It’s important to know and accept that goals will change regularly resulting in your day to day life to change. Clearly, not all of these lifestyles are sustainable for extra long periods of time. They all have a time and place so long as we maintain being happy and motivated to reach these goals.
As a quick exercise, sit down with yourself for a few minutes and look at your goals. Write them down and ask yourself if the type of lifestyle needed to reach them is something you can commit to. There is a cost to being lean and performing at high levels in the gym - there’s no doubt about that. There is a lesser cost to living a healthy, balanced lifestyle but also requires an amount of dedication. Are you up for the challenge of changing your lifestyle to meet your goals?
If so (hopefully the answer is YES!), having someone to hold you accountable during this time can shave off a tremendous amount of time and stress while reaching these goals. Work with a coach and:
- discuss and refine your goals
- talk about your current lifestyle and how it might be preventing you from getting to these goals
- make small changes and steps towards aligning your lifestyle with your goals
- check in with your coach once a week to make sure things are staying in line
- asses progress and make adjustments based on your ever-changing goals
3. Find your protein target
First, go ahead and watch this video here on how to calculate your macronutrient and calorie needs in under 1 minute
Once you're done all these three things, you should have a pretty good (if not, exact) idea on how much protein you should be eating a day.
If you're looking to keep it simple, just track your protein! This is one thing that a lot of us are missing out on anyway, and it's one of the most important tools to keeping ourselves on track.
4. Fill the rest with carbs and fats
If you want to take it a step further, great!
A lot of us get a bit obsessive about carbs and fat. One of them is usually the devil and the other one usually the fountain of youth. It really can go both ways.
Once you have your daily calorie target and your protein target, then you can decide how you fill the rest. And that is where the flexibility comes from! Now don't get me wrong, I wouldn't go filling the rest of your day with bagels and peanut butter. So to prevent that from happening, here's a guide on some of the best foods to fill your macros with. Aim to fill your My Fitness Pal (or any other tracking app) with these foods and you'll begin to find yourself focusing on the quality of the food vs. the numbers in front of you. And that's what matters most!