LESSON #1: SPEND TIME INCREASING YOUR CALORIC CONSUMPTION (AKA NOT DIETING)
For 3 weeks, I didn’t log a single macro. I have been weighing and tracking food for long enough to have a ballpark idea of whether I’m eating enough protein, carbs and fats throughout the day. It DOES take time and practice to engage in intuitive eating patterns WITHOUT stressing out about being over/under your daily goals. In the past, I would have stressed out about not knowing whether I’m eating enough protein to sustain lean muscle or enough carbs to fuel my workouts or enough fat to ensure my hormone health was optimal. This time, I was confident in the skills that I had learned with my consistent effort over the years and I was in tune with my body enough to know whether I was fuelling adequately.
A major reason why I did not gain excess body fat on this trip is because I didn’t slash my calories in the weeks/months leading up to this trip in hopes to drop weight before the vacation. I focused on eating ENOUGH food to fuel the volume of exercise that I was engaging in daily in order to build as much lean muscle mass and subsequently burn excess body fat. For me (5’6” and 120lbs) that number is approx 2400 kcal/day. That is the amount of food I have worked my body up to being able to consume (through ample periods of time spent in caloric surplus/maintenance/deficits to achieve my ideal body composition) while maintaining my body weight. If you eat a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods, you understand that for most girls my size, that’s a lot of food (if your diet consistent of fast foods, supplements and packaged treats, it becomes much easier to hit those numbers). So knowing that I could eat 2400 kcal/day and maintain my body weight definitely gave me room to indulge in a few Bintangs or cookies a day without losing the body composition I have worked so hard to build. Since Bali had such amazing food options like barramundi, red snapper, poke and so many fresh fruits and vegetables, it was actually really delicious to eat healthy and that gave me the freedom to indulge in their array of vegan desserts.
This is similar to my nutrition at home as I am pretty adamant about restricting sugar and alcohol throughout the week because I don’t like the way it affects my sleep, energy, training and work life. Since I’m happy with my body composition and don’t have any aggressive training goals on the horizon for now, I am much more lenient on weekends and will enjoy a glass of wine, (dairy free) ice cream, pizza, cookies, popcorn or whatever I’m craving in moderation and ensure that I’m filling the rest of my macros with whole, unprocessed foods so that I feel well recovered and mentally prepared to attack another week!