“I’ve seen a lot of fitness influencers who stopped tracking and training as much, but they’re maintaining their physiques effortlessly. How do you get to this unicorn zone of balance where you’re committed to your health but not obsessive over it?”
For anyone who is or has been pretty obsessive about:
- The number on the scale
- Their body fat percentage
- Perfectly hitting every macro
- Counting every calorie
- Never missing a cardio session
That magical unicorn zone of balance may seem out of reach. But we’re here to tell you, it’s not! I remember being afraid to eat anything that didn’t come from my own tupperware, thinking that I would automatically gain weight or ruin all of my progress if I hadn’t tracked everything down to the gram and trained 6 days a week.
During that point, it really was difficult for me to maintain a weight that I was comfortable with without feeling hungry all of the time. Overtime, I have been able to create a new set point and detach from the black and white thinking of “I’m either all in or all out.” Meaning, I am either 100% perfectly on track or I am going off the rails and finishing a box of oreos in one sitting. I never thought I would be able to “effortlessly” maintain a healthy body composition, without feeling like I am tracking every single calorie and running my body into the ground.
But here we are! I have not tracked macros for a little over a year now, and have been able to maintain a body composition I am comfortable and confident in.
Do I have abs? No. Am I as jacked or as lean as I could be? No. But do I want those things? No. Sometimes, other aspects of your life take a bit of a precedence and that’s okay.
So, how can we practically live a life in which we have this balance of being physically and mentally healthy, while also feeling confident in our bodies? For me, it all came down to practicing the right habits and a shift in my training focus.
It’s important to note that moving away from black and white thinking, engaging in healthy habits and overall being less obsessed with food (and my relationship with it) was able to happen because I’ve been doing this for years. When our clients are first starting out or have less experience with food, we wouldn’t expect this process to be effortless or easy for them, because it’s not.
However once you’ve spent enough time working on your relationship with food and practicing the right habits, living a healthy lifestyle is not “effortless,” but it certainly comes a lot easier. These daily habits become second nature.
For me, this looks like having a running check-list in my head of:
1. Did I get at least 3 servings of protein today, or at least a bolus every 3-4 hours between breakfast and my last meal?
2. Did I get at least 2-3 servings of vegetables today?
3. Did I get at least 1-2 servings of fruit?
4. How successful was I at sticking to the 80/20 rule of making sure my intake is at least 80% of the time coming from whole food sources, and 20% of the time reserved for more processed foods or treats I enjoy?
5. Did I get in at least 20 minutes of movement today if I did not train? This could look like post meal walks, a short bike ride, a light yoga session, you name it!
Furthermore, what really helped my transition away from a rigid all or nothing approach to a successful balanced approach was simply having a new performance based goal. I am biased, but CrossFit has absolutely been the best thing for my body composition, my physical health, and my mental health so far. And if a sport like that is not your jam, that is okay! I encourage you to find something outside of an aesthetic based sport that gets you excited. Whether it be CrossFit, powerlifting or jiu jitsu. Expanding your athletic horizons will be good for your physical and mental health.
The reduction in stress I have experienced because of the change in my lifestyle has allowed my body and mind to thrive during this busy time in my life. Right now, I have a lot going on as a Team LoCoFit coach, full time master’s student and researcher, and a social life to maintain. By taking out the additional stressor of an extreme approach to nutrition and training, it’s been strangely beneficial for my body’s lower body fat set point during this time.
If you are to take anything away from this article, remember that structured flexibility is better than extreme structure that cripples you from being flexible or extreme chaos that keeps you from making any progress at all. As Team LoCoFit Coaches, we have walked the walk. We have been in the place of feeling imprisoned due to food obsession, and have come out on the other side. We have been able to use experience and evidence based practice to help clients do the same!