Daily intake. IIFYM. Food scales. Grams. Ounces. Macro Cap. Micros.
What do these all these words entail? Macro counting.
And what is macro counting? Well, essentially, it’s finding and tracking the correct breakdown of fats, protein, and carbs your body needs in a given day to help you reach your specific fitness goals.
For many, it can be a reliable, methodical method for attaining your goals, whether that be gaining muscle, maintaining your physique, or cutting fat. Used by the competitor and the fitness lover alike, it can allow for a flexible, yet systemized meal plan that may just be the key ingredient to helping you stay on track!
But…what happens when macro counting becomes more of a burden than a benefit? Well, then it may be time to make the switch to intuitive eating.
And what is intuitive eating?
It’s listening to your body. Visually portioning out your food, and leaving the food scale behind. Eating until you’re satisfied, without thinking about how many ounces of chicken breast you’re having or how many grams of nut butter you are going to spread out on your toast.
However, sometimes making the switch from counting to not counting can be a time of confusion and stress. Am I getting enough protein in? Am I going over my macros? Should I just go back to tracking?
It can be a little bit of trial and error at first. But, when it comes down to it, if macro counting has become more of a burden than a benefit, switching to intuitive eating may be the healthy choice to make—mentally and physically. So, here are some tips for how to make the transition as smooth as possible!
- Aim to get some protein, fat, and carbs in every meal! That’s not to say you need to have the exact breakdown down to the very gram every time you want to munch on something. But, if you approach each meal with the intention of getting your three main food groups in, by the end of the day you should feel satisfied that you’ve properly fueled your body!
- Don’t neglect your micronutrients! Now that you’re not tracking, you may forget about hitting your micronutrients. But, it’s so important to provide your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs, so keep in mind that it’s never a bad thing to add some greens to your meals!
- Portion out your meals ahead of time! One of the tricky parts about intuitive eating can be questioning exactly how much you need to eat. Preparing your plate ahead of time—that is portioning out your protein source, carbs, and fats—will allow you to visualize what you’re about to eat. And then, once you’re finished, take a moment to listen to your body and see if you feel properly satiated. If not, go back for more!
And remember, it’s all about trial and error! Like most things in life, this process might be a little bumpy! But, we’re only human, and mistakes are to be expected. The first few days you may eat more than you’re used to, less, or just the right amount. Slowly learning to understand cues from your body and taking progress photos along the way may be just the thing you need to complete your transition!
So, with these tips, hopefully you can go forward, making the right change for you and your body---no food scale necessary!
If anyone were to look at my google search right now, it would be awfully embarrassing. Bloating, digestion, gas, and poop ( yes poop ) are probably my most google searched topics. Topics that many people don’t want to talk about but affect everyone daily. So let's end the stigma against bathroom talk and get down to the nitty gritty of bloating, why it sucks, and how to fix it.
Cramps, gas, burping, a swollen stomach, and pain are just a few symptoms of bloating. Why does this happen and how can I make it stop? The symptoms of gas and bloating can be simple, yet complicated. After researching and dealing with my own digestive issues, I have come up with a short list of causes and how to treat bloating when it occurs.
- Overeating - I noticed that when I ate very large meals in one sitting, my body had a hard time digesting causing discomfort and bloating. Eating smaller, more frequent meals is easier on the gut and the digestive process.
- Eating Too Quickly - Slow Down! It is important to chew food fully in order for it to break down making it easily digestible. Also, try not to talk while you eat. Talking while eating will cause you to swallow more air which can cause stomach gas and bloating.
- Chewing Gum - this was a BIG one for me. Gum is my sweetest downfall. Oh, how I love you yet you cause me so much pain. Gum requires you to swallow more air and is filled with artificial sweeteners that can reek havoc on your stomach.
- Carbonated Drinks - another weakness of mine is that bubbly bubbly. Unfortunately, carbonated drinks contain sweeteners and the ability to create trapped air pockets in the intestines, causing you to feel discomfort, gas, and bloating. If your body is not reacting well to carbonation - tea, juice, and water are a few better alternatives.
- Fruits & Veggies - Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and apples contain sugar and starches that are hard to break down by the body. If you feel discomfort, try eating these foods in small portions, cook your veggies instead of eating them raw, and make sure you are home for the night if you DO decide to eat a bowl of brussel sprouts :)
- Sweeteners - Many sweeteners and artificial sugars are hard for the body to digest. If you are experiencing discomfort, make sure to check the label to see if maybe this is the culprit! i.e. soda, gum, diet foods, sugar free food.
- Too much fiber - Fiber is necessary for normal bodily functions but too much can cause cramping, diarrhea, bloating, and constipation. Slowly increase the amount of fiber in your diet and make sure you are drinking PLENTY of water!
- STRESS! Stress puts a great deal of pressure on your stomach and abdomen. Try to find things that will help you feel calm and peaceful. I.e., taking a warm bath, meditating, yoga. etc.
- Dehydration - DRINK WATER! I know it sounds crazy but dehydration can actually cause you to bloat, so stay hydrated!!!
- Food Allergies - It is possible to have a food allergy that you are unaware of. If you are unsure of what the cause could be, I suggest keeping a food journal to help figure out the culprit!
Other Helpful Remedies:
- Probiotics: good bacteria that will help balance out your system.
- Herbs & spices: peppermint, ginger, dandelion, fennel, dill, and chamomile.
- Light exercise: go for a walk after a meal. Exercise to keep your body moving along properly.
- Do not lay down after eating
- Loose clothing during times of discomfort
It may seem complicated and a bit frustrating trying to figure out the cause of your discomfort. Through trial and error (and patience) I was able to figure out how to beat the bloat. I still get bloated and feel discomfort ( what can i say, I love soda) but now I know my triggers and what to do when it occurs. As always, seek a doctor or medical attention if pain persists and does not seem to get better.
One of the hardest things to do when it comes to sticking to a healthy routine is not falling off the wagon while traveling. I travel often for work and it’s always a challenge to find time to workout, eat healthy and get rest. I recently traveled to Las Vegas for a conference and decided to share my top tips for traveling fit so that it can help some of you next time you go on a trip. If you can prepare ahead of time you should be able to remain consistent even when much of your everyday routine is turned upside down. By the way if you plan a trip to Vegas check out www.Vegas.com for some great deals on fit things you can do while in town!
Packing is one of my least favorite things to do in the entire world and it gives me some anxiety no matter how prepared I think I am or how much time I give myself to get the task done. One thing that I make sure to always do is allow myself 2-3 hours of alone time to get everything packed. I never want to forget anything and that can happen when you are in a rush or if you are distracted, so I usually have my husband go out for a few hours so I can get packing done. Let’s get right on into what I put in my suitcase as well as purse and carry on bag.
What I pack:
Fitness Gear: no matter how little time I have while traveling I always make time to stay active. Whenever I go on vacation or a work trip I make sure to find out if the place that I am staying has a gym on site. Most hotels thankfully have gyms on the premises, but I always include that as a filter option when looking for lodging. I usually always book my hotels on Expedia which has this filter and makes things super easy to narrow down my selection. I pack a pair of sneakers that are comfortable for training indoors and outdoors. If the weather is nice I will go outdoors for a run and do some plyometrics so I pack sneakers that are good for both running and lifting. This trip I am packing my Nike Juvenate which are very light and comfortable and these new wine colored Nike Air Max.
I also pack at least 2 pairs of Nike Pro workout shorts and one pair of workout pants because I never know what the weather will be like. I also pack 2 sports bras, socks, a zip up Nike pull over if it’s cooler outside and some tank tops. I also pack a hat so that it is easy to just get up early and throw that on and go get a workout in.
Supplements: I am a creature of habit and always need my pre-workout to get a lifting session or workout in. I pack my C4 Ripped with me to travel, but I don’t bring a shaker bottle to save space in my luggage and just add the powder to a water bottle or do a shot of it in a cup in the hotel room. I use 1.5 scoops and then drink water with BCAA powder during my workout. Due to the size of my BCAA powders sometimes I will skip bringing it with me and traveling with a ziplock bag filled with white powder isn’t such a good idea to TSA, lol. I also bring a few capsules of Quadra Lean thermogenic for energy to take 1 before my workout and for night time before bed I take 2 capsules of True Athlete ZMA which helps me to sleep really well and recover overnight. If you don’t pack a pre-workout you can have some black coffee before a workout to give you a bit of energy. I use a pill case to pack all of my daily vitamins and bring that with me when I travel. I never miss a day taking any of these supplements.
Healthy Snacks: airport are notorious for being terrible for healthy eating. The good news is most of the convenience stores in the airport terminals are getting better about having more fresh and healthy options. I suggest packing your own snacks to save money and also have more than enough food so that you don’t need to feel impulsive and buy the junk they sell. It’s easy to buy chips and other bad for you snacks when you have nothing packed in your bag. I always pack almonds, protein bars, beef jerky or other jerky and that helps me to stay on track.
I put a ton in my checked back to have in the hotel room whenever I need a snack or in between meal fuel, but I also pack a few in my purse to have on long flights. I usually bring D’s Naturals No Cow Bars, Ostrim jerky sticks, Power Crunch bars or a single serve Lenny & Larry’s cookie if I need to manage a sweet tooth. I also love the Justin’s almond and peanut butter single packs for easy consumption too.
Stevia Packets: when I travel I tend to drink a lot of coffee. The early hour flights, always being on the go and just needing some caffeine means I need to pack natural sugar packs with me. I put a ton of stevia packets in my purse since most coffee shops and stands only have equal, splenda and white sugar. Now that I only use stevia in all of my coffee I just can’t use anything else so I pack those at all times in my purse to keep on hand whenever I grab a coffee.
Headphones, Book & Music Player: I can’t workout without music to get me pumped and energized throughout my workout so I always pack a pair of apple ear buds or if I have enough room in my suitcase I put in my solo Beats by Dre. I also pack my old school iPod which has tons of music on it for the flight or workouts. I bring a book or buy a book in the airport to entertain me while doing cardio and on the flights.
How to eat Healthy While Traveling:
When it comes to eating out it’s hard sometimes to stick to your normal diet, but here are some tips that you can use to make sure you don’t completely derail your hard work. Most of my meals are fat and protein only, limited carbs so as you can see above I just ate the eggs and turkey bacon; you can find ways to eat healthy you just have to be creative 🙂
- When eating out make sure you are always ordering foods you would eat at home. While it is fun to have a cheat meal here and there don’t fall victim to the “well I’m on vacation so let me eat this entire pizza”. Sure you can have a few things that are splurge foods but don’t just go balls to the wall every single meal. If you want to eat pasta for dinner, make sure you are eating pretty clean and healthy for breakfast and lunch. It’s all about balance, just don’t just eat yourself sick all day and night because you won’t feel good and you will have more work to do when you get home in the gym.
- Limit sugary beverages (both regular and alcoholic). Having a drink on vacation is normal, hell I do it when I go on vacation but I always stick to red wine or vodka with club. I don’t get things that are loaded with sugar like frozen drinks or fruity cocktails. Those are all empty calories that add up quickly if you have a few. Not only are they loaded with sugar but they usually will wind up giving you a pretty bad hangover. If you order drinks go with a red wine or a vodka with soda and skip the fruit juices.
- Eat most of your carbs in the beginning half of the day. I always follow this rule and usually most of my carbs come from vegetables, not wheats and flour foods. If you want to enjoy some oatmeal for breakfast or a wrap for lunch that is fine, just avoid loading up on lots of heavy carbs in the evening when you can’t really work them off.
- Always be drinking water. Most vacation spots are warm and you won’t realize you are actually thirsty until you are already dehydrated. Have a water bottle with you at all times. If you are drinking alcohol outdoors in the sun drink one bottle of water for every cocktail to make sure you don’t get over heated. Also make sure to drink lots of water when you are flying since you do get pretty dehydrated with the limited moisture in the airplanes.
- A lot of vacation spots have buffets which can be a nightmare when you are dieting or watching what you eat. Make sure to fill up on vegetables, protein and healthy foods first. If you want to have a few bites of something that you don’t normally eat that is okay just fill up your belly with healthy foods first so you won’t be tempted to overeat.
Other helpful tips when traveling:
- Get REST! I can’t stress this enough but a good night’s sleep is essential to over all health. I aim to get at least 8 hours a night and if I have a hard time sleeping or adjusting to new time zones I take 1-2 melatonin gummies. They work well to give me a very restful night’s sleep and wake up refreshed to tackle the day ahead.
- Find time to stretch. Sleeping in a new bed can tweak your back or make you sore so spend 10 minutes each morning to do some basic stretches to get your back warmed up, especially if you are going to be on your feet all day at a convention or site seeing.
- After a long day on the convention floor or walking around town treat yourself to a nice, hot bath. Let the warm water soothe your aching feet and muscles and allow you to de-stress. When I travel for work conferences I am always on the go, but I make time in the evening to unwind so that the stress doesn’t effect my body and mood. If you want even more relaxation add a face mask and just pamper your face like I always do.
- Don’t forget to pack your sun screen. If you are traveling somewhere warm, or even if you aren’t but plan to be outside a good amount of the trip, pack some sunscreen and apply all over, even your face. I wear a SPF everyday on my face and many makeup creams use them now. I like to use the Bare Minerals tinted moisturizers which have SPF already in them.
- Travel comfy. Make sure to wear layers when traveling since many airplanes and airports can use AC year round. Wear a tank top under a comfy sweater in case you need to peel off layers. Wear breathable pants and sneakers. Most airports require you to remove your shoes so wear a pair that can come off and on easily.
What are some of your tips for traveling healthy and staying fit on vacation?