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I Tried Macro Dieting and My Body Loved Me for It

Photograph by Twenty20

As women, our bodies go through enough changes as it is. Throw having a baby into the mix and talk about feeling like you’re living in a body that isn’t even yours.

Luckily after my first baby, I was able to bounce back pretty quickly. After my fourth baby? Not so much.

Postpartum played a part in keeping me from the gym, shoving my face in the ice cream bowl and hating my body. That's a bad combination for someone whose been active her whole life. It almost felt as though I didn’t have a choice. I was tired of saying “I used to” when it came to activities like running marathons or rock climbing. I was tired of feeling sluggish and wanted to break away from the baby blues that had been lingering. It was time to make a change.

I started researching macro dieting—eating/meal planning around your macronutrients—because I liked the idea of feeding my body the food it needed to be strong instead of starving it to be skinny. I reached out to a friend who has been coaching people in the world of macros and signed up for her services, determined to feel fit and find more confidence. I figured I had nothing to lose.

To my great surprise, what she taught me will stay with me throughout my life.

Proteins, carbs, fats: Those are your macros. Every body needs a certain number of each category to function, thrive, lose fat and gain muscle. While I do have a degree in health education, this idea of focusing on those three macronutrients was new to me. That being said, it totally made sense.

It was a commitment, but it felt good to commit to myself.

Everyone knows our muscles need protein to build. Everyone knows we need carbohydrates for energy. Most people know we need fat for energy stores, vitamin absorption and other key reasons. But most people don’t know how MUCH we need. There's a sweet spot when it comes to getting the appropriate amount of macros and those numbers can change depending on your goals—to trim down or bulk up—and they can change depending on our activity level.

So, what did it look like?

For breakfast, I'd eat two whole eggs, two egg whites and a slice of sprouted wheat bread with an ounce of avocado. For a mid-morning snack, I’d have Greek yogurt with fruit. Lunchtime was typically a turkey sandwich, and I even got to have some baked potato chips. I would usually have a protein shake as an afternoon snack. Dinner looked something like pork tenderloin with sweet potatoes, ghee, and green beans or broccoli.

The best part was that I ate dessert almost every night! My coach worked my fats throughout the day so that I could have a small bowl of slow-churned ice cream and fruit. I lifted weights daily and got at least 20 minutes of cardio in at least five days a week. It was a commitment, but it felt good to commit to myself.

I didn’t like calling it a “diet” because that word carries so many negative connotations. I did anything but starve myself. As you can see, I was eating SO MUCH food. While this felt like going in the opposite direction, I trusted my coach and kept going. People teased me or thought I was crazy for weighing my food, but after a while I got the hang of things and it wasn’t so bad. I would dare say it isn’t a diet but more of a lifestyle. In fact, I was still able to eat the things I loved as long as they fit into my macros.

While I didn’t see a big change on the scale, I did see a change in my body. I dropped six pant sizes (yes, six!) and had a lot more energy. My baby blues dissipated and I felt more like I had a body again and not just a post-baby body.

My coach recently showed me a picture of how I have transformed. For me, seeing the comparison of my body before I started this journey and again after 16 weeks of being consistent with eating well, lifting weights and getting my cardio in, proved that it was working. I saw that I had gained muscle and lost inches all over. Most importantly, macro dieting showed me that I can make myself and my health a priority.

That's a lifelong lesson I hope I never forget.

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