What I’m Doing With Counting Macros

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about what I’m doing now for food and fitness, and how I’ve gotten all my recent results. So I think it is time for a full post about it. I’ve now been following a Macro-Counting program for 11 weeks (I began Oct 1). My transformation really began in August, when I started the Whole30 in order to clean up my diet and kick my bad habits. Whole30 was awesome and I actually did it for six weeks. It was during that time that I was able to break my sugar addiction (I say “addiction” because I really felt addicted). It was also during that time when I realized I was not taking in near enough protein, or fuel in general. The first 3-4 weeks of Whole30 I felt HORRIBLE in the gym, weak, tired and dizzy often. When my coach suggested that I up my protein I started feeling better.

Increasing my protein to try to get 1 gram per pound of body weight brought my calories up from 1200 to anywhere between 1500-1700. At the end of my six weeks I had only lost a couple of pounds of fat, and actually LOST some muscle mass. This to me was upsetting because I thought I was doing everything right. Heck, I was eating as clean as possible, kept my carbs down to about 50-75g, and was getting enough protein. BUT, really, most of my calories were fat. My performance in the gym was better but not great.

Considering my less than stellar body composition results with Whole30 I knew I needed to do something different. I remembered the books I bought back in May, that I never did anything with and figured that was as good a plan as any since I kept seeing people on FB talk about their great results. So October 1 I began my plan to EAT MORE FOOD!!! Since I was already eating 1700-1900 calories I went ahead and jumped in to the 2,000 calories on workout days (not suggested if you’ve been eating really low carb for a long time).

Immediately I noticed a difference in the gym – that was my first sign my macro-counting was working! I felt AMAZING and began hitting some new PRs. The PRs continue now and are pretty much every time I visit the gym. My energy level is way more balanced. I don’t need afternoon naps anymore. My moods are stable (my depression is GONE). I can handle stress now without sabotaging myself by diving into sodas, candy and fast food. I don’t feel like I am deprived and starving anymore, in fact some days I struggle to get all the food I’m alloted after working out. Every day I wake up feeling lean and ready to go.

The second sign I had that my program was working was a feeling of “tightness” in my legs, and cutting my shins while shaving my legs. That sounds weird, but it was because my shins were suddenly more “bony” and not so covered with fat anymore so I had to re-learn how to shave that area to not cut them. The third sign was my panties and jeans being baggy, and needing to pull my belt tighter – I definitely wasn’t complaining about that. Within about 5 weeks I started to see signs of some upper abdominal muscles poking through, along with my “love handles” starting to get smaller. I didn’t feel so much like a stuffed sausage in my sweaters (YAY!)! I also stopped being sore after every workout.

At the end of two months I increased performance on all of my fitness metrics except for Shoulder Press (which I haven’t increased in 4 years), and I also lost 5 pounds of fat but gained 2.5 pounds of MUSCLE! Below are the exact results

BodyFat (using Dunk Tank)
10/1/14 – 132.6lbs, 105.35lbs Lean Mass, 20.5% BF
12/1/14 – 130.2lbs, 107.9lbs Lean Mass, 17.1% BF, 5lbs Fat Lost, 2.5lbs Muscle Gained

Measurements – October 7 to December 5
Bicep – Right 11.25 to 11
Bicep – Left 11.5 to 11
Chest – 33 to 33
Abs/Waist – 30 to 28
Hips – 38 to 37
Thigh – Right – 22.5 to 22
Thigh – Left – 22.5 to 22

Workouts – October 7 to December 5
800m – 4:32 to 3:48
Back Squat – 180 to 190
Deadlift – 220 to 240
Sh. Press – 75 stayed the same

The scale only showed a 2.5 pound loss, but I looked and felt WAY leaner! So I have continued counting macros, and plan to continue without a time limit. This is a lifestyle that I am really enjoying and see no reason to change. The only things I no longer “allow” in my diet are sodas. I have replaced them with Kombucha if I feel like I want something somewhat carbonated. Sodas derail me and since I no longer crave that amount of sugar I don’t miss it and don’t mind not having them. I don’t do fast food because it is unhealthy junk and it makes me want sodas (the habit is worse than the craving at times).

I find it absolutely AMAZING that at 45 I am working out less than HALF of what I used to do 3 & 4 years ago, and I eat MORE, yet I look and feel better than I did then. CRAZY! But the truth is, I’m eating smarter and I workout smarter, and I finally am giving my body the rest, and the fuel, it needs to recover from my intense workouts.

So, what do I actually do now that I am counting macros? I CrossFit 3 days a week (Monday/Wednesday/Friday). My workouts start with a strength focus (or some days skill work), and then a MetCon that is typically 10 minutes or less but sometimes up to 15 minutes with rests built in. I eat around 2100 calories on workout days, taking in 250g Carbs, 130g Protein, and 65-75g Fat. About 75g carbs are complex/slow-digesting carbs taken in between breakfast and Pre-Workout (about 2pm). I workout at 3:30, then immediately begin carb-loading with 50g carbs (usually bananas) and 25g protein. Dinner includes starchy/fast-digesting carbs like maybe pasta/rice/bread/potatoes/cereal. I usually end the night with another 25g protein and some more starchy/fast-digesting carbs (cereal usually).

On Rest Days (Tues/Thurs and usually Saturday and/or Sunday) I keep my fat and protein levels the same as workout days, and cut the carbs in half (this lowers my overall calories, but not too drastically). I try to focus more on veggies on Rest Days, as I know this is “cleaner” than pasta/rice/cereal. I also try to save the majority of my Rest Day carbs for the evening since I know I will usually want to go out to dinner and that way I can have more freedom with it. On the weekends I will usually run Saturdays and Heavy Lift on Sundays, depending on what free time I have. But these are not set in stone and are only if I’m feeling really good.

There have been rest days where I continued to eat Training Day carbs because I felt tired or unwell. This has happened if I didn’t get more than 4-5 hours of sleep or if I had a competition in the days before. I try hard to really pay attention to my body and how I feel in my workouts. My measurement of success is NOT the numbers on my scale, and it isn’t even just the developing six pack. If my workouts are awesome and I feel good overall, then I know I’m doing things right for me. If my workouts are not good, and I’m tired or sore, then I need to tweak something. It is for this reason that I keep tracking all of my food in MyFitnessPal. I want to be able to pinpoint problems and see how I can fix them. Without the food tracking I can’t know what I did in the days previous to know what to adjust.

For common questions I’ve been asked about my experience, go to my Macro Counting FAQ.

If you are interested in joining a similar program, check out the BITE Nutrition website at: http://bite-nutrition.com/. The forum is great and jam-packed with tons of information, helpful advice, and others stories! There are also amazing moderators who are constantly available to help you get started, stay motivated, and tweak things for you to have the most success you can. The forum alone is well worth the $$$ you spend to join in!

UPDATE – 12/29/14: I had my December BodyFat test done again (dunk tank). These results show that I gained an overall total of .6 lbs on the scale. This is comprised of a gain of 3.75 lbs of muscle, and a loss of 3.15 lbs of fat. For an all new % of BodyFat at 14.6%!!!!! These results were with adding an extra 25g of Carbs each day. From 225g to 250g on workout days. And from 100g to 125g on Rest/Control days. Not to mention this was the most personally stressful month I’ve had in a very long time, and it was Christmas so there were some days I didn’t stick exactly to the nutrition plan, and I couldn’t workout much last week. Even so, my results were stellar (for me)!

Here are some Before and After pictures. The first is October 1 through December 1 – just two months of progress. Ignore the bags under my eyes in the After picture – it was early morning! ha ha ha
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This second picture is FAR MORE EMBARRASING, but highlights the differences even more. The before picture in the pink bikini was around late July just before I began Whole30. The after picture was December 21 – 4 months after this all began.
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