To Track Or Not To Track, That Is The Question

There are loads of things in this endeavour of mine that I’ve really struggled with, and I’ve often focussed on those rather than the things I’ve found easy.

The Trainer, quite rightly, at the very start talked to me about nutrition and laid out the basic principles of clean eating. Food was fuel, nutrition was vital and the best fuels had the least ingredients. Real food, home cooked, as unprocessed as possible. Pretty much overnight I switched. Started drinking green smoothies with coconut oil, started eating fish (which I’d claimed to hate for the past 30 years), cut out most sugar, no pasta, rice, potatoes. Carbs from leafy green things. Good fats and protein. No gluten (turns out I don’t do very well on it, after all). I did amazingly well, got the idea really quickly and found executing on it super simple.

Having come from 20 years of diets in various formats, I found it really difficult to not concentrate on calories. In this way of eating, calories are to be considered but not to be a driving force. There is no daily target, with a three day rolling average being preferred. And in order to fuel the activity I was doing, I was likely to be consuming more calories than you would normally expect. I found this switch from focussing like a hawk on calories to bigger picture stuff quite uncomfortable and to make me feel better and get through I started tracking my food, both in terms of calories and macros. Interestingly, I often found that I wasn’t eating enough to sustain the activity, and I found comfort in having some data to explain why I felt terrible some days, and really well on others (fuel in = performance out). And after a few weeks, I was feeling absolutely amazing. I felt like I was buzzing with energy and, despite training six times a week, didn’t know what to do with all the vitality I had.

Five months passed and I could count on one hand the number of times The Trainer had to comment on any negative fuel choices. So I got confident and decided that tracking fuel wasn’t necessary anymore. A couple of things happened. More negative choices were being made; sugar was creeping back in slowly but surely; blood sugars started to fluctuate again; I was hungry by 4pm and energies were limited. I strongly suspected that I wasn’t eating enough to cover what I was doing, and I wasn’t eating the right things. But I had nothing to remind me that that was the case and so each day I’d start with a good intention and each day I’d end up feeling regretful of my choices.

So I decided today that I would return to tracking. It feels like a backwards step, but really it is a small sacrifice to make for the rewards of being sufficiently fuelled to train well, losing 4 dress sizes in 4 months and dropping 25lbs in the same timeframe.

My dodgy knee is uncontrollable but how I fuel my body is highly controllable and it is irresponsible of me to not do absolutely everything in my power to make sure that I control the controllables. If that means writing stuff down to remind me to eat more protein, or to make sure to remember to include the coconut oil in my smoothie then that is what I shall do. My return to clean eating is more important than my pride, which I think I just swallowed. There are no calories in pride anyway, right?


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