I recently deleted my food diary app; MyFitnessPal. This is obviously a personal decision and far from controversial, but I wanted to share my reasoning, as well as reflect on what has changed for me since saying goodbye.
I downloaded the app not to count calories, but to track my macronutrient intake. There are a lot of resources on this type of lifestyle (google flexible dieting or iifym) but I’ll give you the short version. In order to perform at its best, your body requires a certain ratio of protein, carbs, & fat. These percentages depend on your body type, metabolism and fitness goals. There are online calculators that do this, but I recommend speaking with a certified individual. When I received my breakdown, I began using MyFitnessPal to track my daily intake and aimed for x-grams of protein, carbohydrates and fats. To be honest, I was eating more than I ever had before. Basically, my metabolism had slowed from years of dieting the only way I knew how – eating 1000 or so calories a day. Once I began to eat the amount that my body truly needed, it responded quickly. I continued to use MyFitnessPal & followed flexible dieting for a little over a year.
I read an article a few days ago called “The Cost of Getting Lean” that really spoke to me. When I began my fitness journey, I had one goal in mind: get fit. I didn’t spend much time reflecting on what that meant exactly. I imagined myself with a lean bod and a six pack. I didn’t take the social anxiety that comes with a lifestyle change into consideration. Fitness was an obsession at that point and I held myself to unnecessary high standards. I thought I was on the right path because I avoided eating at restaurants that didn’t disclose nutrition information. I basically brought my whole kitchen when I traveled anywhere, telling myself “fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” I stopped eating foods I genuinely loved because their macronutrient breakdown “wasn’t worth it.” I ate based on convenience rather than what I craved, and my diet was far from varied. I’m type A and “guesstimating” isn’t in my nature, so I weighed all of my food at home and avoided eating out. Every now and then I told myself I wanted to start “eating intuitively” but would end up binging and then jumping back on the tracking train come Monday. As a disclaimer, I do not argue that flexible dieting works. The thought is to focus on the nutrients you get from the foods you eat and to stop thinking of certain foods as “healthy” or “unhealthy”. But at the end of the day, I don’t want to depend on numbers for security, especially for something I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. I struggled to be spontaneous and spent an embarrassing amount of time staring at my phone.
I decided to delete the app while in Brazil. I never track on vacation and I also don’t stress about food as much. I go with the flow and trust myself to make the right choices, whether that means grilled chicken or chocolate cake. I’ve tried to apply the same mindset at home. While I’m still trying to find a happy medium, I know I’m on the right path. There is so much more to life than food, but I simply can’t classify myself as a “eat to live” type. I’m undoubtedly a foodie. I even make sure to document my eating experiences via Instagram. You certainly can be a macro-tracker and a foodie. But that just ain’t me anymore. I’m a rebel now.
When I stopped putting rules on my workout regimen, I subsequently stopped dreading my workouts. My hope is that I’ll have a similar realization from lifting my nutrition rules. It’s time to fall back in love with food!