If you know me personally, you’ll know that 2019 did not kick off the way we expected. Long story very short, one daughter had a major skiing accident and my other daughter decided to completely change her extracurricular activities. Our world was upended. We went from both girls going to gymnastics practice several days a week to school, doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, still gymnastics, new dance classes and soccer practice. It seems like everyone is going a different direction every day and the initial phase of getting Sarah’s recovery on track was STRESSFUL.
In the background, we were surviving. I was exercising, but not training. I was still cooking and tracking my food, but a little all over the place with consumption as the days were so out of kilter and there was just less time for thinking about it. My husband has also been managing a very stressful work stretch, so he’s been consumed with that and less than on point with some of his eating as well. Mostly we’ve been trying to get from one week to the next and hoping each week will be a little bit better. And it has, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy.
Surviving is important, but it also has consequences. I’ve long had a sensitive stomach, and I know this. I also know that when my body is stressed it shows. I get inflamed, my cycles get irregular, my sleep quality tanks and my stomach feels like garbage. As things are starting to stabilize and our new schedule becomes routine, I’m trying to regroup. This means going back to the basics.
My habits of cooking food each week never left, but eating consistently throughout the day has been wonky. And while I’ve been tracking my food all along in MyFitnessPal, it’s obvious I haven’t been hitting my macros. Some days are way under because I missed dinner or they are low for a couple of days, which sets me up for one hungry day, where I over do it. My weight is relatively stable when I’m not obviously extra inflammed, but I don’t feel as good as I do when I’m consistent and dialed into the details. I want to look good, but I also want to feel good. Feeling good is my biggest motivation because when I feel good, I can do more. I sleep better. I’m a better mom and wife. I can workout harder. The details matter for making my busy, full life one that I can sustain happily.
Here’s what I’ve been doing differently this week:
- I started the week on Sunday by cooking in bulk as always, but this time I pre-packed my lunches for the week.
- I wrote on our kitchen whiteboard the breakfasts and dinners I’m going to make throughout the week for our family.
- Each evening, I’m planning out my next day of food exactly and pre-entering it in MyFitnessPal. I’m planning based on what I already have cooked in the fridge and have on the whiteboard, so it isn’t time intensive, but it gives me a daily roadmap.
- I’m making sure I’m eating an RxBar before all my early AM workouts as a pre-workout snack (12g of protein to start the day).
- I’m making sure I’m getting in my protein shake post workout (20g of protein to jumpstart recovery).
- I am weighing every single thing I eat, so if I’d planned 100g of grilled chicken and serve myself 103g, I’m updating my entry. It’s not a big deal to update it, but I want to know what I’m eating, even if it means I decide to eat something that throws my macros off.
I’m literally eating almost the exact same foods I’ve been eating for weeks, but actually taking the time to plan my portions and meals is making the days go much more smoothly. I’m eating regular meals roughly at meal times, so portions are even. My stomach feels tons better. Sleep has been good. AND the scale is leveling out instead of being super volatile. I’m also actually spending a lot less time thinking about food because when it’s time to eat, I know exactly what to do. There’s no worry or guesswork. I’d forgotten what that feels like, but it’s a very good thing.
I work with people all day every day to teach them how to plan and manage food throughout their days, and I have been a macro tracking pro myself, but when life hits that is something that goes out the window. Acknowledging that and pausing to regroup is sometimes needed and appropriate. And it’s OK to realize you’re no longer at ninja status and need to focus on the basics for a while, whatever basic is for you. For some people that just means going to the grocery store and cooking at least once, or refocusing on drinking water or getting out gym clothes at night.
Does everyone need to track macros to the gram? Definitely not. That should only be the focus after you’ve built the foundation for eating whole, real food from your kitchen for 80 percent of your meals and if you’re focused on performance or are trying to achieve a very specific body composition. My basics are different because I’ve honed my habits and routines for years, not weeks.
Does everyone need a plan for the day going into it? I’d argue they do. If you’re winging it all day every day, you’re actually adding stress on top of the stress of life and not setting yourself up for success.
I don’t ever expect perfect, but aiming for better when possible is a good thing and taking the time to build a plan is always a good first step whether you’re on the 4th or 400th day of your efforts to be your best you.
Have you ever had to revisit and rebuild a habit that you once thought was firmly grounded? I’d love to know what steps you took to regroup!