8 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Tracking Macros
I first came across the concept of tracking macros (also known as flexible dieting) at the end of my 2nd bikini competition prep. I was energetically drained from months of pounding skinless chicken breasts and egg whites. I’m not even exaggerating here… I ended my prep eating 11 oz of egg whites at breakfast… it was awful and, to be honest, I couldn’t hear the words ‘egg whites’ without feeling sick for a long time after.
Anyway, the idea that I could actually eat foods I loved and reach my fitness goals really appealed to me. I felt like I needed more balance and less restrictions. I was tired of having to sprint past the bakery in the grocery store to avoid looking my cravings right in the face.
When I finally took the leap and switched to flexible dieting, I achieved my best physique yet and I felt SO much better doing it. I found myself better able to manage cravings and enjoy life while reaching my physique goals.
That being said, if you’ve been curious about flexible dieting yourself, here are 8 things I wish I knew before I started tracking macros.
1. Focus on taking baby steps that you can maintain consistently
You don’t need to jump into tracking all three macros right away. In fact, I don’t recommend it for someone who is just getting started. After years of coaching clients, I can honestly say that the ones who see the most success are the ones that don’t overwhelm themselves with trying to do everything perfectly all at once. I like to take it one macro at a time. Maybe the first 2-3 weeks we will only focus on protein intake, for example.
When you take baby steps in the right direction, you give yourself the time to build consistent habits that you can keep in the long term. And if you can keep doing these habits long term, you won’t just hit your goal. You will KEEP the results.
2. You don’t need to weigh all your food.
Did I just hear you breathe a sigh of relief? Good! You don’t need to lug a food scale with you to Girls Night. You don’t need to whip out MyFitnessPal on your vacation.
I teach my clients how to use their hand to measure portion sizes and hit their macro goals. Why? Your hand is portable, convenient, and still helps you ballpark your macros. This means it is MUCH more likely you will stay consistent with your habits. The easier, the task is to complete, the more likely you are to stick with it. And that means better results.
3. Prioritize whole, nutrient dense foods.
Even though you can fit the fun foods in your macros, you should still be getting the majority of your calories from whole nutrient dense food sources. I preach the 80/20 rule to my clients. At least 80% of your calories should come from vitamin and mineral rich whole foods. 20% of your calories are there for you to enjoy the “fun foods” you love and crave. Giving your body the nutrients it needs ensures that it's fueled to support optimal internal function. Additionally, it maintains healthy energy levels so you can kill it in the gym and not feel sluggish all day.
It can be tempting with regular macro counting to just hit your macro goals with processed foods. That’s why I give my clients a specific veggie goal to hit as well. This way, we are prioritizing the nutrients you need to thrive.
4. Focus on “just a little bit better.”
This process does not require you to be perfect! My philosophy is to focus on how we can improve just a little bit. It might be too big of a jump to launch into regularly cooking your own chicken, prepping veggies, or cooking your whole grains.
Maybe we aren’t ready to do all of that but we can buy ready to eat veggies like baby carrots, celery stalks, or frozen veggies. Maybe you can buy a ready made salad from the grocery store or a whole rotisserie chicken. Maybe you know you won’t have time to cook your own brown rice but you can buy a ready made microwaveable rice packs at the grocery store.
In the grand scheme of things, this is still progress! This is improvement in that you are incorporating higher quality, more nutritious foods.
Be realistic about your expectations of yourself and ask yourself, how can I eat just a little bit better today?
5. Planning is important for your success
Keep a running list of lean protein, complex carb, and healthy fat sources you enjoy. This will make it so much easier to plan out your groceries for the week! Use Pinterest to find simple recipes to try. Schedule time each and every week to plan out your meals and head to the grocery store. The more you systematize the meal prep process, the easier it will be to stay consistent.
6. Focus on what you can control.
The way you define success is important! When you focus on your habits, which you can control, the results will come naturally. We can’t control the way the scale behaves or how fast you put muscle on. But we can control the habits that contribute to body change.
When we repeat those good habits over a long period of time, we see progress. If you go to the gym today, you will not have an immediate body transformation. If you eat enough protein each day this week, you will not all of a sudden put on an intense amount of muscle. But if you repeat these things over and over again, eventually, the transformation does happen.
Therefore, a successful week should not depend on the immediate result of that week but how consistent you were with your habits.
7. Prioritize your protein intake.
Prioritizing protein intake ensures better body composition. If you’re trying to lose fat, having a certain amount of protein in your diet will keep more muscle on your body as you lose. If you’re trying to build muscle, that protein serves as the building blocks needed for muscle to grow. Protein is key!
8. Your macro goals are unique to you!
Your energy needs are based off of your goals, age, weight, height, activity level, and overall metabolism. Not to mention your dieting history. If you’ve dieted in the past or have a tendency to under eat, that will affect your macro goals.
Your preferences are also important. Just because a certain macro goal might be ideal does not mean it’s ideal for you. When setting your macro goals, it’s important that you are confident that you can hit the goal on a daily basis. If it feels like shooting for the stars, it’s too big of a jump and you will be setting yourself up for failure.
This is where getting your macro goals from MyFitnessPal or some other macro calculator can do more harm than good. These calculators do not take into account your personal eating preferences or what is realistic for you to adhere to. To put it bluntly, if you use these tools, you’re getting very “cookie cutter” macro targets that weren’t really designed for you specifically and that can certainly hold back your results.
Are you ready to build a strong feminine physique you can keep for life?
Girl, it sounds like it’s time to apply for Emily Cramer Fitness 1:1 Coaching!
My 1:1 coaching program is for you if:
✔ You want to build lean, feminine muscle without your workout or nutrition program taking over your whole life. You want something sustainable and realistic so you don't just keep starting and stopping.
✔ You've been struggling with all or nothing thinking. You feel like you need to do everything perfectly in order to see progress.
✔ You want to radiate confidence and strength - not just look fit, but feel it too!
✔ You want to make changes surrounded by women who get you, get your goals, and make fitness fun.
Not convinced it could work for you? Take a look at my Client Success Stories.
I look forward to coaching you!
To Your Good Health & Success,