So why did a mind body challenge appeal to me so much?
– I just left my old job, in preparation for grad school (and cause we lost our funding, actually, but I’m avoiding opening that can of worms). I ended feeling pretty good, but also having normal self doubt. I’ve gotten particularly stuck on my perception that some of my coworkers don’t like me. Now… even if this is true, so? There’s not a single person in the world who’s liked by everybody. There are a lot of coworkers who do like me (and moreover respect me and think I do good work, which is more important). My mental pep talk that I tried to give myself made me think about the transition in my life that’s coming up, and the importance of supporting myself and caring for myself.
– On that note, I’ve been starting preparing for school wayyyyyy further in advance than I did back in the undergrad years. I’ve been testing the statistics software I’ll be using in biostats and being wicked grateful- it’s, uh, worthy of my attention.
– On the relationship front, Steve and I have been putting in some work on improving our communication and seeing awesome results.
I’m interested in seeing how the mind stuff goes. When I made my list, the body stuff sounded much more achievable. Self-care doesn’t come naturally to me. Let me rephrase- formal, preventative, repetitive self care doesn’t come naturally to me. Ignoring self care, getting sick, and loafing on my couch for a weekend- that’s my m.o. It’ll be a changeup, and hopefully a good one.
(Note: nutrition nerd ahead!)
– My coworker and I have started tracking our meals together for healthy eating inspiration and moral support. In the past tracking my meals has made me a calorie-counting psycho, but our cute little Google Doc spreadsheet doesn’t include that!
It’s been nice to just be more mindful of what I put in my mouth, and to have someone who has the same goals as I do. (We went out to lunch together today and ordered the exact same meal 😀
– I’ve miraculously cut way down on desserts. Desserts are my vice, as anyone who’s known me for longer than two seconds knows. I have been known to call myself a sugar crackhead, and I really have been in a trend of consuming a scary amount of sugar (having to be at work at 7:30am and run an entire camp had a lot to do with that, in my defense). But, one day I didn’t eat dessert and was totally proud of myself for it. And thennnn, sticking with that momentum (and sometimes, admittedly, feeling as if I was in withdrawal) I totally skipped it for 11 of the past 13 days! And the two that I cheated were single, small desserts (two smallish farmer’s market chocolate chip cookies on a picnic with my friends, and one Trader Joe’s reduced guilt microwave chocolate brownie) and spaced out over a few days. Who am I, right?! Note that I’m not sweating all sugar (the honey on my Fage 2% greek yogurt isn’t going anywhere, because that would be depriving myself unnecessarily. Who needs it?!) but I’m trying to be mindful of the junky things and reach for fruit more often.
– Finally, I decided that since I had a spreadsheet full of data (and I looooooooove data) about the meals I’d been eating, I might as well calculate my macros. Macros, meaning the percentage of calories that comes from each macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein, and fat).*
It wasn’t something I gave a lot of thought- I thought I’d be well in the normal range. Sure, I think of myself as a carb addict, but carbohydrates are actually supposed to be your body’s main energy source, so I thought I’d be fine.
Imagine my surprise that on three out of four of the days I’ve calculated so far, my diet was too high in fat! Calories from fat should make up 20-35% of the total calories you eat (per the Dietary Reference Intakes, the national guidelines for Americans created by a board of health and nutrition pros). Looking at my percentage, one day it was 38.9%, one day it was 39.5%, and one day, it was a whopping 43.3% of my calories.Yikes!
I foolishly thought that I was in totally great shape because, say it with me… I hardly eat any meat! And when I do include fat in my diet, it’s mostly from things like nuts and nut butters, avocados (mmm), olive oil or coconut oil, and some full-fat dairy (I buy soy or almond milk- because it’s cheaper organic- but I do love full-fat cheese and low fat but not non fat yogurt). Well, it’s still outta whack. Whomp whomp.
So what’s falling by the wayside? Protein! Again, I foolishly thought I was totally in great shape because… every American gets too much protein! And it’s fine- I’m not protein deficient. A woman my age only needs to be getting 46 grams of protein a day. Obviously if I were running marathons I’d raise that number, but as a non-pregnant, reasonably but definitely not over active person, I feel okay (not concerned, anyway), about the 47, 89, 66, and 68 grams I got, respectively, over the days I tracked.
However. As a proportion of my diet, it’s something I think deserves a bit of my attention. The healthy range for protein as a percentage of calories in one’s diet is 10-35% (see the earlier DRI link). For the days I tracked, my percentage of calories from protein were 9.45% (too low!), 18.3%, 13.8%, and 14.6%. I am welllllll at the low end of the range. And, protein is good. It’s good for muscle growth, satiety, and steady blood sugar. So, one of my body goals is 25 grams of protein for each of the day’s meals. We’ll see how it goes.
Truthfully, part of the reason my protein numbers are a bit low is that I’m not that wild about a lot of the obvious sources of protein. I’m mostly indifferent to meat, except when I have the occasional intense burger craving (which means I’m craving iron, probably… separate topic). I like eggs fine, but I’m happy with two in a serving. I love fancy expensive Greek yogurt but really don’t like the cheap plain stuff at my grocery store (I like having the 2% option, which isn’t available in the large container). I love fish when other people cook it but find it a little annoying to deal with (either icky can grease or icky raw fish drippage).
So. Little Miss Protein Diva has to stretch her comfort zone, and I feel good about that.
Any goals? Any self discovery? Anyone doing the challenge with me?
*If you’re interested in calculating macros:
1. Write down what you eat, trying to keep track of portions.
2. Get a free myfitnesspal.com account and enter in your meals and snacks for a day or a few days.
3. Read the summary at the bottom. Write down total calories consumed, and number of grams you consumed of carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
4. Multiply! Fat has 9 calories per gram, so multiply the number of fat grams you ate by 9 (ex one day I ate 58 grams of fat so, multiplying that by 9 means I ate 522 calories from fat). Protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, so multiply the number of grams you ate of each of those by 4 (ex that same day I ate 290 grams of carbohydrate so multiplying that by 4 means I ate 1160 calories from carbohydrate; and I ate 66 grams of protein so multiplying that by 4 means I ate 396 calories from protein).
5. Divide! Take each of your macronutrient calories and divide by your total number of calories (on that day, my number was about 1915 calories) and multiply by 100 to get a percent.
So percentage of calories from carbohydrate: 1160 calories from carbohydrate/1915 calories total*100= 60.6% of calories from carbohydrate
Percentage of calories from fat: 522 calories from fat/1915 calories total*100=27.3% of calories from fat
Percentage of calories from protein: 264 calories from protein/1915 calories total*100=13.8% of calories from protein
6. Compare these numbers to the ranges from the DRI link above. Are you in those ranges? Could you use more or less of something? Experiment and find what works for your body!