Top 5 Tips for Tracking Macros

As many of you probably know, I currently track macros (and have been for about 7-8 months now). I started after my first visit with a sports nutritionist and have continued on ever since. While some days I give myself a break from it (it can get tough at stressful/busy times), I ultimately want to continue doing so because 1) it helps me reach my goals 2) it gives me consistency and 3) I can track my progress. For more of the truth behind macros, check out this post.

Now for you, whether or not you count macros I want to provide you with a list of my top 5 tips for tracking that you can then use and customize to fit your needs, lifestyle, goals, etc. These are just my opinion of the most important ones, the tips that really will help you start counting and continue doing so in a way that best fits your life. So without further ado here is tip #1….

#1: Read the nutrition labels

If you’re going to be tracking what you eat, then you probably should know what’s actually going into your bodies to make up those macro numbers. Not only that but it’s important to realize how a food is going to affect your macros and eating for the day. Maybe you didn’t realize a food was so high in fat-now would be a good time to see if it could realistically fit into your macros for the day or what kinds of switches you may need to make. For example, I only buy fat-free yogurt because I would rather spend my fats on other things such as nut butters, oils, avocado, etc. However, when my fats got higher, I tended to buy fattier meats such as 93/7 ground turkey (rather than 99/1) in order to better fit my macros in for the day.

#2: Get a Scale

First and foremost let me just say that a scale is not 100% necessary, but it is a big step in guaranteeing as much as accuracy as possible–which can be very important in most cases of tracking macros. This is especially crucial in the beginning, when you’re first getting started with weighing, measuring, counting, etc. Now that I’ve been doing it for a few months, there are some things I can decently eyeball (such as avocado, veggies, or cheese) when I have to (i.e. eating out or in a rush), but even now I aim to use my scale as much as possible to ensure that I am accurate in my food tracking.

#3: Plan/Prepare Ahead

This tip can be especially helpful to those with very busy lives like myself. I know some people that put their food into their trackers as they go, but for me, it is much easier to ensure that I hit my macros and don’t stress at the end of the day, if I plan my meals out the night before. Also, going off this tip is to find a way to track your macros whether that be through an app, excel, paper, etc. I suggest using myFitnessPal (MFP) app, but there are other options as well. To plan, I just add everything that I am going to eat the next day into MFP and then if need be I can easily rearrange or add/take away foods to hit my macros rather than stuffing random foods in or going over at the end of the day. Preparing your meals also helps so that you can have meals and snacks prepared to bring do that you know you have foods to keep you on track instead of worrying about finding something macro-friendly while out and about. (**But if on occasion you have to get something out and it isn’t perfect, don’t stress!)

#4: Find foods that work for you

This one is killer! I used to always try new foods and add random foods in each week and then stress about hitting my macros each time. Instead find the foods that works for your lifestyle, your preferences, your body, and your macros and stick to them! This does NOT mean you have to eat the same old boring chicken, rice and veggies for every meal like some people think–you can still enjoy foods, eating what you like and switching things up. But, it is much easier when you stick to the foods that you know are easy to fit into your macros and then change stuff up once your macros decrease, increase or change. For example, I love oatmeal and sweet potatoes, but when my carbs got very high, I had to eat less of these. Otherwise my fiber would be in the 45-55g range–which was way too high and was causing me issues! I still incorporate sweet potatoes and oatmeal into my diet; however, I use less amounts and instead eat more white rice, cream of rice, white bagels/english muffins, etc.

#5: Be patient

Patience is key! You cannot track macros for 2 days and expect instant results–like anything in life! It may take a few weeks of experimenting, trying different splits out, until you find what works best for your body, your activity level, your lifestyle, and your goals–the answer isn’t always easily found! But don’t get discouraged because over time you will find what works for you and it will be smooth sailing (for the most part) from there. Be determined to reach your goals, be patient, and be consistent–and I promise you macros will work for you just like they do for everybody!

Good vs. Bad Food

Let me just start this off with there is NO. SUCH. THING. I just feel like I had to get that out there first to all readers whether you clicked on this because you were interested in learning more, you think there are good and bad foods, or you thought to yourself what does this *&#$ know,  I’mma prove her wrong. No matter how you got here, I’m glad you did. I have a very important message–one that is very personal to me and my experiences–that I want to share with everyone. I have a lot of jumbled thoughts that I’m going to attempt to neatly pack together so stick with me, you won’t be disappointed you did.

As I’m sitting down to write this, I’m actually eating a giant salad–what most people in the health/fitness industry would call health and #micros. Me included. There is no doubt that salads full of veggies have plenty of micronutrients as well as many healthy ingredients. But that does not mean that it is a “good” food nor that you are better than someone eating pizza, a “bad” food. During my ED, this was mentally a big obstacle I struggled facing and living. I would feel superior for eating “clean foods” and look down upon those who didn’t. I would see someone who was skinnier than me eating a burger and fries, or a slice of pie, and think ugh they eat whatever they want (“aka bad”) and still look like that, why can’t I. I’m not kidding–they were horrible thoughts (so was wanting to be as skinny as possible) and they were centered around thinking there was such thing as good and bad food.

Food is food, made up of different amounts of calories and macronutrients. And while yes some foods/meals/ingredients have more nutrition or health or benefit than others, food itself cannot make you fat or cause you to lose weight or be good/bad. Amounts and quantity does this. You could eat nothing but fruits and veggies all day, go over your caloric expenditure for the day and still gain weight (and vice versa with eating nothing but junk food but eating less and losing weight). Specific foods do not cause this therefore they have done nothing to get the label of “good” and “bad”. This is entirely something come up with by society, the diet culture/industry, etc. and it’s wrong! It leads to disordered thoughts, restriction, and overall an unhealthy and unbalanced  lifestyle. Heck this thinking even led me to staying away from white rice and white potatoes for THE longest time (even though I love white rice) because some idiot in society had deemed it “bad” or less than brown rice and sweet potatoes. It’s not bad; it has less fiber, it’s different, but it’s not bad, good, better or worse.

So now that we have established that, let’s see why people think this way. Mostly it’s because people who lost weight cut out all carbs and ate nothing but boring salads all day so we think we should follow that. Especially because that one guy ate pizza and cookies and gained weight, so we must stay away from those foods, they’re BAD. Well let me tell you the person lose the weight because cutting carbs cuts water weight and b) salads and healthier foods tend to have less calories therefore allowing person to lose weight. And the person who ate junk, ate too much of it. Again it’s the amount not the actual foods. Of course there are foods that are more or less nutritious, but that doesn’t correlate to good and bad. Everything in moderation is okay. Make sure you hear me loud and clear and understand: MODERATION IS KEY!!! Get the good vs. bad food thinking out of your mind and focus on finding a balance that is sustainable.

So here’s my suggestion when it comes to this thinking. Whether it be an 80/20, 70/30, 90/10…use this balance. Fill most of your diet with lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, rice, potatoes, fruits, veggies, etc. AKA foods that have more healthy ingredients, benefits, and overall may be healthier for you.  But still find room for those items that are less nutritious too. Maybe that’s ice cream or a burger for you. For me, for the most part, it’s sugary cereal in my dessert bowls, Halo Top ice cream, and granola/granola bars; occasionally it’ll be pizza, froyo, burgers, etc. But no matter what I eat, it is not good nor is it bad. It’s food, it’s fueling my body and it’s making me happy.

Day in the Life

A week into season now and I’m loving it, but let me tell you: it has been a blur! Last week was filled with 3-a-days, meetings, conditioning challenges, practice, scrimmages, and team bonding and now that school has started things have died down as far as the amount of practice goes. But the added business of school gets counted in as well so basically, I’m still gonna be busy. But I love the grind, the time and effort put in so that hopefully at the end of season we have some bling on our hands from winning a national championship.

With that said, because the life of a student-athlete (SA) in college is MUCH different than most other just regular students, I thought I would give a quick glimpse into a day in my life for a normal or average week. One thing is that our schedules can often change a lot week to week so flexibility is really key in keeping afloat and not drowning in stress and anxiety. Another big part of a SA’s schedule is that it is generally more structured as far as the fact that we have designated practice and lifting times each week. This is definitely nice, but it can also be difficult because this means that we have to plan our classes, social time, studying, etc. around these designated times rather than doing them as we please. We are still normal students, taking just as many classes as others and balancing duties, responsibilities, issues, social activities, etc. that comes with being in college and just simply living. One of the reasons I chose to go D3 is because there is an emphasis on being a student first (hence why we are called student-athletes and not the other way around). I like being able to focus on my studies–the real reason I am in college– while still competing at a very high level in my sport. With that here is my schedule:

Monday

We have practice from 7-9 am(but we have to be there around 6:20-6:30 to set up and warm-up which means I’m up anywhere between 5:40 and 5:50 am). Then we go lift at the weight room from 9-9:45.

I don’t have class until the afternoon so from 10-12:20 I’ll shower, get ready for the day, maybe do some homework or run an errand, etc. Then, I’ll eat lunch and head out to class from 1:00-5:15. Once back, I’ll make dinner and spend the rest of the night doing homework. Sometimes when I don’t have homework, I’ll blog or see if there is an event on campus (like a soccer game).

Around 8:00 pm I get my night snack and then get ready for bed, aiming to be in bed by 8:30 pm (doesn’t often happen, but I try!) I’ll read for about 10 minutes and then go to sleep.

Tuesday

I only have classes M&W (plus 1 online class) so Tuesdays are a day to catch up on errands, cleaning/laundry, homework, my online class, etc.

Tuesdays are normally game days. If not, we will just have practice from 7-10. If so, and it’s a home game we will have a serve and pass from 8-9 am. Then, we will be at the locker room round 5 pm (for a 7 pm game) and start getting ready, etc. If it’s away, we leave early afternoon (around 1-2 pm) to drive wherever we are playing. We will then do the same thing before the 7 pm game and drive back that night–usually arriving close to midnight.

Wednesday

Wednesday is the exact same schedule as Monday for me. Practice, weights, and classes are at the same time. Later into season, Wednesday mornings will be study hall for those who need it and then weights from 9:00-9:45 am. I don’t have to go to study hall so just weights for me (yay for sleeping in until 7:30!)

Thursday

We have morning practice from 7-10 am.

Again, no classes on Thursdays so much like Tuesdays–I can use Thursdays to catch up on things. Especially since we travel almost every weekend, I am really able to finish homework and pack for the weekend.

Friday

Game day! We usually leave around 8 am to travel to our destination to play 1-2 games that afternoon/night. Then, either Friday night after the game or Saturday morning we will travel to another destination for a second game that weekend. Then, Saturday night we drive home usually arriving anywhere between 11pm-2am Sunday morning.

If it’s a home game (we have very few), we will again do a morning serve and pass. Arrive around 4:30-5pm in the locker room and get ready for the game at 7 or 7:30.

Saturday

As mentioned above, we have a second game on Saturday, generally in another location. So we either get up Saturday morning to drive or get up and get ready to play that afternoon.

Sunday

We are off! NCAA rules say we have to have one day off a week and this is usually it. The only time it isn’t is if we fly somewhere like CA or another state and travel back Sunday (then we would get Monday off)–but this rarely happens. I use Sundays to grocery shop, meal prep, clean, do laundry, catch up on homework, and prepare for the next week to start it all again!

I hope y’all enjoyed a glimpse into a day in the life for an average week. It is busy and takes lots of time management and effort to make it all work, but I love the life I live and wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Switching Gears

Switching gears, say what? Don’t worry the essence of this blog will still stay the same: Be Beyoutifully Healthy. However, I’m entering into season this Fall which means I will be very, very busy and traveling a lot. So I thought it would be fun to document more of the season, how we’re doing, a day-in-the-life, etc.

I’ll post tips on staying healthy on the go as an athlete, as well as what my training and eating schedule looks like. Now, I know that most of you reading this probably are not athletes and therefore this will not apply. However, I thought you might be interested in learning more and seeing things from a new perspective. But on second note too, I will also try to get in as much other content that may be more relevant as I can. I want this blog to be both helpful tips as well as lifestyle. With that said, if you have any ideas or anything you want to see or read about please let me know!

I’m excited to bring y’all along to this new chapter as I continue finding balance and my healthy lifestyle.