This weekend I did something totally unheard of- I went out. Like OUT out. To a club. Honestly I can count the number of times this has happened in my life on one hand. Typically, it’s not my scene. Catch me at a hipster bar drinking beers with bearded men and bespectacled ladies, catch me at a rave wearing hot pink false eyelashes and booty shorts, catch me at school in a dress with allover tiny cat print, but most often, catch me in my gym clothes… or none. Getting dolled up and wearing heels to drink and dance and be judged by scowling women or hit on or leered at by desperate and rude men is pretty much the opposite of everything I do. It would be safe to say that I have not had good experiences at clubs in the past. No judgement if this is your thing, but it ain’t for me, as a habit.
But a group of friends asked me to come celebrate a birthday with them, and I never even considered saying no. I did decline the invitation to dinner after glancing at the menu- there was simply nothing on the prix fixe that could fit into my day, and the restaurant planned to charge me whether I ate or not. Not cool. My husband was worried- will I account for alcohol in my macros? Will I shift my eating window to account for drinks later in the night? Will I even have fun if I’m worried about how this will impact competition in 7 weeks?
Never fear, Husband dear! I got this! I will be the DD! I can have plenty of fun without tequila, still see my friends, and meet my goals. If you don’t like your friends without alcohol, you should shop for new friends. Luckily, I like mine heaps. My friends didn’t care either, what’s it matter to them if I don’t drink? Everyone was amazing and supportive and giving lots of compliments (you know you’ve made gains when your out-of-town friends say “whoa! You’ve been getting even buffer! I didn’t know you could!”
One thing that did strike me, though, as I passed around hugs and smiles, is that even though words like macros and programming, cutting, intermittent fasting, and even deadlift are all normal, everyday words to me, the general non-competitive athlete has absolutely no idea what any of them mean. My curious and well-meaning friends, not just the group from last night, but MANY of my friends, and strangers as well, often ask me questions like “what do you lift?” “What do you eat?” “what diet are you on?” and I simply have no response. I don’t mean to make anybody awkward or offended, but so many times I meet them with a blank face, I have no idea how to answer their question.
The word diet is such an evil, misused word. I’m not on a diet at all! My diet consists of foods- whatever foods I want to eat! I don’t avoid fats, or sugar, I love carbs and rely heavily on them, actually. I’m not opposed to artificial sugars (inB4 it causes cancer, stahhhhp plz), I’m all about pizza and I love chocolate. I also love carrots. Like way too much, seriously, between the carrot and the Cheerios I don’t know which I’d choose. Please never make me choose.
My diet doesn’t have a name. Just like every other person, I eat food. I just do it with intention. I have a specific set of numbers I try to reach every day- most people are familiar with calories, but calories are further broken down into three macronutrients (macros)- proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. In order for my body to perform optimally and look how I want it to, these numbers are carefully calculated based off of factors like body composition, my daily activities (whether or not I lift), and percentage of my daily total calories, and I have a goal for each macro every day- a certain number of grams of protein, of fats, and of carbs.
To meet these, the most accurate way to measure is by weighing food- my kitchen proudly boasts not one but THREE food scales. I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years, so of course I can go out to eat and order mindfully, then estimate, but largely, with a show looming in the near future, most of my food right now is weighed to make sure I’m on track- things are just a little tighter, calories slightly lower, and therefore the macro numbers that make them up are slightly smaller. This means I need to make sure I’m hitting them and also that I’m not starving at the end of the day because I’ve thrown all my macros away eating a huge stack of pancakes and bacon for breakfast, leaving nothing for the rest of the day.
Think of it like a checking account. If I’ve got $1500 to spend each day, and I go and blow $1100 on a new TV right away in the morning, I’ve only got $400 left to carry me through the day, but I’ve got a whole list of shopping to do (that is, my day has a lot of activities in it, and I need to fuel them- with food!). it’s the same with food. If I have 1500 calories to last the entire day, I’m not going to want to eat 1100 of them for breakfast, I’ll want to spread them out a bit so I don’t get ravenous by evening, or run out before dinner even starts.
Largely my food intake comes from “whole” foods- I’m obsessed with veggies and I wish refrigerators would come with more space for crisper drawers, as mine is always bursting. I absolutely LOVE to cook! Fruits, veggies, fish, meats, spices (I have two huge cabinets dedicated just to spices. I thought this was normal until very recently when I learned that most people dedicate about 1/4 of that space to spices- how sad!)- let’s get creative! Stir-fry of infinite variety, pasta, Thai food, burritos, sandwiches, cheesecake, gigantic fancy salads, the possibilities are endless!
I won’t lie, though, I have a serious love for doughnuts, pizza, frozen yogurt and In-N-Out, though, too. And that’s ok! Those things are delicious! Luckily, ALL food- not just chicken and broccoli- is made up of macronutrients, so as long as I can account for it in my handy-dandy tracking app, you better bet some days I plan on a double-double for dinner. (Sidenote: a double-double protein style is essentially the best rest day food ever engineered, for those of us that carb cycle. So many fats and proteins! And soooo much yum!)
No, my “diet” is not a diet. It’s just eating with intention. No special foods, no gimmicks, no magic beans, no restrictions, no guilt, no need for “cheating sometimes.” Just math and science, with a healthy serving of moderation and self-monitoring!