About ten weeks ago, I joined Working Against Gravity. The WAG team is known for their approach to nutrition coaching and work with some of CrossFit’s top athletes. Their system works. I’ve seen the real life success stories and fully support the concept of flexible dieting and nutrition coaching. I’m even working on my nutrition certification through ACE to add to my knowledge base as a personal trainer.
WAG wasn’t for me.
I “fired” my nutrition coach – “fired” in the nicest possible away, because she’s quite good at what she does.
I saw some success. My weight went up, but my measurements went down and I had a few PRs in the gym. My energy was decent and I even started to sleep better.
And I was driving myself insane.
WAG requires very precise, very consistent logging, measuring, and weighing. I’ve been logging food for ages, so the idea of putting food into MyFitnessPal wasn’t brand new. Neither was weighing my food, another practice I adopted a long time ago.
The problem for me?
Weighing myself every single day.
Scales are fickle. They go up. They go down. They stay the same. They skyrocket after a Chipotle meal. They plummet two days later. They are not a measure of success. Yet there I was, wrapped around the number of the scale each and every morning and analyzing my “average weight” chart in WAG’s check-in tool. .
Each day, I would see that number. It would go up or it would go down, but it would stick with me throughout the day. I fell into a habit of weighing myself first thing in the morning and again after training/work/teaching and taking whichever was the lowest number to report to WAG. The numbers sometimes swung as much as four pounds from morning to night.
Realistically, I knew I didn’t gain four pounds of fat between the hours of 8AM and 6PM. It was water weight, most likely, and would be gone by morning. All the same, I saw those numbers as cold, hard facts. As a reflection of my success.
The emphasis on weight tracking day in and day out was tough on me mentally, but I struggled with the food aspect of it as well. It wasn’t the hitting the macros I had a hard time with. It was the constant obsession with food. “How much protein is this?” “Should I eat this now or save my carbs for later?” “What is the fat in this?” “I guess I have to skip guacamole because I only have four grams of fat left…”
While in Chicago for work a few weeks ago, I was miserable on the food front. I knew we were having deep dish pizza for dinner the first night which would take a lot of fat and carb macros from my day. To compensate, I ate fruit and non-fat Greek Yogurt for breakfast, and then didn’t eat again until our deep dish pizza arrived on our table sometime after 7PM. I had trained before getting on the plane, and fruit and yogurt was not nearly enough. I was starving and lightheaded by dinner, but I was so concerned with my macros that I wouldn’t allow myself a snack.I couldn’t eat anything with fat in it because pizza. Fruit could be okay except carbs and, well, pizza. Beef jerky… Nope, 4g of fat in it, can’t afford to use those fat grams because pizza.
That’s not healthy.
The rest of the week, I obsessively tracked food. I spent nearly an hour searching for a restaurant “I could eat at” when I was left on my own for dinner. I skipped the free breakfast one morning because I didn’t know what they were serving and paid for a breakfast down the street from our hotel at a place that included nutritional information.
I started feeling left out. I would go out with friends and they would have glasses of wine and cheeseburgers with buns, and I would be across the table with my glass of water and a salad, dressing on the side, but hold the sliced almonds that add the texture I love, but I’m over my fat macros by two grams today, so…
Two weeks ago, I was in Minneapolis for a Junior League conference. I made the decision not to track. I was in a new city with a good friend, making new friends, exploring when we could… I wasn’t going to spend my time thinking “is there space in my macros to eat this cookie?” when cookies and milk were served during a private reception at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
It was freeing.
I realized, while eating a decadent dessert during a luncheon, that I was traveling down a dangerous path. I was worrying too much about the scale, obsessing over if I was three macros over my fat grams instead of the +/- 2 that was recommended. I wasn’t enjoying food. I was putting it into “good” and “bad” categories, and actively trying to avoid outings where I didn’t have control over what I ate.
“Do you know how much this chicken weighed before it was cooked? What sort of oil was it cooked in?” “Can you bring me another plate so I can weigh it on this digital scale that I just pulled from my purse?”
No one wants to hangout with that girl.
I don’t want to be that girl.
I made the decision to stop working with my coach and return to tracking on my own, in a way that is much healthier for me. A healthy relationship with food is important to me. I don’t want to think of food as “good” or “bad.” I want to eat the whole egg, not just the egg whites, and not feel guilty about it. I want to sample the cookies I bake, drink a glass of wine with my friends, and enjoy a piece of Grandma’s fried chicken.
I have no ill feelings or bad things to say about WAG or my coach. In fact, I recommend WAG to anyone who wants or needs the day-to-day accountability and has the strength not to get caught up in numbers and good vs. bad. It’s a good program that, if one sticks to it, generates results.
It’s been a little more than a week since I stopped tracking with a coach. I’m still using my digital scale and choosing healthy, nourishing foods, but I’ve had a power ball from Mudhouse two days in a row this week and didn’t lose fifteen minutes trying to find a MyFitnessPal entry that best reflects its macro break down. I simply found an entry, logged it, and carried on.
Friday night, I had a glass of prosecco while baking a batch of cookies AND cupcakes for our post-Murph cookout. I did it guilt-free and I sampled both the cookies and the cupcakes. We’ll call it quality control.
At the end of the day, we have to make the best choices for ourselves. I was so excited to join WAG from their wait list and get started with a coach. I knew it would be a learning process, but I had no idea that it would teach me so much about my relationship with food and help shape how I will use my nutrition certification down the road.
And now, I’m going to enjoy a tablespoon of real peanut butter with my apple for a snack – fat macros and all.