Can someone please reassure me that it is hard to stick with this whole healthy lifestyle thing some days? Because lord almighty, most days I just feel like I need a nap.
Part of the problem, if I’m being honest, is that my diet has been less than great for the past couple weeks. Certainly not as bad as in the past, but I could do with a bit less vodka on the weekends. And maybe no fries (except what is the point in even living if you can’t have french fries). My performance and resolve to work hard take a huge hit when I’m not on my game nutritionally. I know it’s super obvious that if you’re eating crap, you’ll feel like crap, but man… that cheese, it gets me every time.
Nutrition is a tough one. There are so, so many different opinions on what you should/should not be doing. Keeping in mind that I’m not a doctor, personal trainer, dietitian or prophet sent to distill some sort of miraculous truth to you here.What has worked for me? Figuring out my macros. I will tell anyone and everyone that, at least initially, you need to have some idea of what you should be and are currently taking in from a nutrient perspective.
Keeping in mind that I’m absolutely not an expert in any way and you should probably talk to a doctor about this stuff… the basic idea behind macro-nutrient ratios is pretty simple. All foods are composed of three macro-nutrients: carbohydrates, fats (or lipids), and protein. Not all foods will have all three, but to be a source of energy for your body, it’s going to have at least one. (A good source of information, if you’re looking for the science behind this, is a free course from Coursera. I took it and it’s definitely cool to understand exactly how your body uses these sources of energy.) These all do different things for your body, so it’s important to get some of all three, but not necessarily in equal amounts.
This is where you and your body are important. The official recommendations for macro-nutrient consumption are very carbohydrate focused. What I found works best for me to is to focus on getting at least 1 gram of protein for every pound of lean body mass (muscles+skeleton+organs). For me personally, this means hitting over 100 grams of protein every day, within a certain calorie range. I use the calculator at IIFYM.com (linked above) to figure out what range of calories I need to be in, then just take it from there.
The best way to make sure you’re on track to hit your targets is to track your food intake, at least initially. MyFitnessPal is a great resource for this, as there’s a giant database with fairly accurate macro and calorie counts. As a quick note, when you’re setting up your account, enter in your macro split from IIFYM – don’t use the default settings. I have found that if I remember to track my food for a couple days in a row, I can generally guess at what kind of calories and macros I’m taking in without logging for all of eternity. I do go back every now and then and track for a few days if I feel like I’m going off the rails.
I’ve noticed that when I focus on protein first, fresh vegetables and fruits second, and whatever else I feel like third, I tend to eat a healthful diet. And I feel a hell of a lot better on top of all that. Best of all, I have the energy to get in a solid workout, day after day, and I put on muscle like you wouldn’t believe. I lift heavy, and no, I don’t look bulky. I have definition in my arms, shoulders and legs – I never had that before. It’s still a work in progress, and yes, I need to be vigilant about it sometimes, but nothing worth having is ever going to be easy.