It’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week right now and so I decided I’d share my story with you. It’s not dramatic, or extreme, I was never clinically diagnosed with an eating disorder, I’ve never been anything other than a normal, healthy weight, but I do believe I had disordered eating, and it was probably more recently than I like to admit.

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What Is An Eating Disorder?

Before I begin, let’s define what an eating disorder is. When we hear the words ‘eating disorder’ our minds usually jump straight to anorexia or bulimia, something reserved just for those who are hospitalised because they’re so sick that their bodies can’t function anymore. Yet according to the NHS’s website, an eating disorder is categorised as ‘having an unhealthy relationship with food’ or ‘being obsessed with your body shape or weight’. Thinking about these two definitions, it opens up the moniker to a lot more people than you’d think. I wonder how many of you reading this HAVEN’T gone through a period in life where you’ve had an unhealthy relationship with food, aka feeling guilty about eating something, having a binge, eating a severely reduced number of calories to change your body shape etc? And how many of you haven’t at one point been obsessed with how your body looks. And let me say there’s a difference between wanting to lose weight to be healthy, and wanting to lose weight because we’ve been told by society that a size 8 is healthy and if you’re a size 12 with even just a millimetre of extra flesh on your tummy that you’re not healthy.

My Eating Disorder Story

So keeping this in mind, I’ll come back to me, just for a short while. I’ve always been a tall person, and have varied around a size 10/12 my whole life. The main issues probably started when I was about 14, and at first it was just general teenagery, cutting out pictures from magazines of Lily Donaldson and bluetacking them to my wall, wishing I could look like her (and the fact I call this general teenagery is a problem in itself). Until I went on the pill at age 17 I had always been very thin, so when I started taking it I gained a little bit of weight, but I was for sure still totally healthy. I’m not entirely sure what triggered it but this is when the problem really started. I began to hate my body. I was discovering sex, I was at that awkward age where I wasn’t quite an adult but I also wasn’t really a young teenager anymore, all my peers were just as body conscious as me, Gossip Girl was a brand new TV show and Blake Lively and Leighton Meester were prefect and slim and that’s what everyone wanted to be, perfect and slim.

I don’t remember my first binge, but I would end up eating so much pizza/chocolate/sweets that I would get to the point where I felt horrifically nauseous and would have to stick my fingers down my throat to get it all out. It was a combination of feeling ill and not wanting that obscene amount of food being digested by my body. This would follow by vowing not to eat breakfast the next morning, taking these ridiculous açai tablets from Holland and Barrett that I thought would make me not hungry and literally putting a few drops of milk into a bowl with some cereal crumbs and leaving it on the side so that my mum would think I’d had breakfast.

Things seemed to hit an all time low at uni, I remember trying on a pair of flared yoga pants in Abercrombie & Fitch and being so horrified at what I saw in the mirror that I cried in the changing rooms. How on earth did the way I look make me cry?! How is it okay that we have a culture that made this a thing? The thing is this stayed with me into recent years. In 2016 before I found yoga, the amount of times I’d go and look in the mirror in my work toilets to see how my abs were looking is totally absurd. Counting calories was absurd. Berating myself for having too much chocolate was absurd. Making myself throw up for fear of getting fat was absurd. But I know I’m not the only one. The fact that I’m writing this article just proves that it’s still very much an issue. And maybe your eating disorder hasn’t characterised itself as sticking your fingers down your throat, but I can be certain in thinking that about 80% of people (and I say people because I know this is an issue for guys too) have had or still have some kind of complex with the food they eat or with the way their body looks. Some days those thoughts still creep in telling me I’m not good enough, but I’m happy to say that for the most part they’re no more.

Hating Your Body Isn’t Normal

You think Slimming World and Weight Watchers is good and healthy? You’re wrong. You think counting calories and dieting in any way is all good? If you’re doing it to lose weight or tone up or whatever (unless you’ve been specifically asked by your doctor to do so) because you’re unhappy with your body and you think being smaller will answer all your problems then in my opinion your relationship with food is in some way disordered. Do you think cave men and cave women used to have to count calories? Do you think neanderthalean women used to pull at their fat in front of a mirror? No. Because there’s a lot more to life than how we look and making ourselves feel guilty for not looking like people who are stuck on the front of magazine covers. We’ve got lost. And it’s not one person’s fault, it’s an amalgamation of the media, big companies feeding on our insecurities to make money and social media making us think life will be better if we look this way or if we look that way and magazines labelled ‘health’ magazines only putting pictures of scantily clad size 8 women on their covers. Sure, aim for health, aim for a body that works at its optimum and keeps you healthy, happy and safe, but do not think that being a size or being a certain weight means you’re not good or whole or any less of a human being than that ‘skinny girl’ on TV.

It makes me so fucking sad to think that there are people out there who are unhappy with their bodies. Covering up at the beach because they’re so self conscious of their tummy rolls. When did we decide that tummy rolls are a bad thing? Why do we think being slim is a goal? I can’t answer that for you. But what I can say is that whatever your body looks like right now it’s incredible. Perfection is fucking boring and not even worth your time pursuing because FUN FACT you will NEVER EVER be perfect so what’s even the point? Save yourself some pain and some time and start to just look in the mirror, and tell yourself that you’re beautiful and that you love yourself. Exercise because it makes you feel good and because you want to be that cool grandma when you’re 70 who still goes for walks and can run after her grandkids in the garden. Eat food that you know will make you feel good physically and eat something that makes your brain feel good every once in a while. Don’t restrict, live in abundance. Spread the feeling around. Teach your children to love themselves. This is how we eliminate eating disorders. This is how we make sure that no other teenager looks at herself in the mirror and hates what she sees.

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I am at the end of my second week of counting macros, and whilst I have struggled this week (I had a job interview mid week and quite a lot going on so sticking to my macros hasn’t been my priority), however, I am still working on it and I know that after a few weeks of sticking to them and working out what works for me I will be finding it easy in no time!

This week I thought instead of sharing how I personally got on, I would share with you how I worked out my macros and how I keep track. When I calculated my macros, I did so on the assumption that I want to reduce my body fat slightly, so the following article I’m quoting from is about ‘cutting’ and therefore if you’re looking to bulk, these may not be the best calculations for you to choose.

Working Out Your Macros

Step 1

Determine your calories.

“Take your bodyweight in pounds and multiply it by 11 to 14.

Here’s how to work out what you should multiply by –

Multiply by 11 if you have a sedentary job and do little to no exercise

Multiply by 12 if you have a relatively active job (think postman, bin/garbage man, etc.) or you have a sedentary job but train 2 to 3 times per week

Multiply by 13 if you have an active job and train 2 to 3 times per week, or have a sedentary job and train at an intense level (ie. weight training, or high level aerobics) 4 to 6 times per week.

Multiply by 14 if you have an active job and train at an intense level (ie. weight training, or high level aerobics) 4 to 6 times per week, or you’re an athlete training every day or multiple times per day.”

It’s important to be honest with yourself here. I chose to multiply my weight by 13, because although I have a sedentary job, I train multiply times a week and I am also on my feet a lot as a Londoner.

Step 2

Workout how much protein you need. I feel like nobody realises how much protein they actually should be consuming, so it’s important that you work this out correctly, as protein is vital for helping your metabolism stay efficient, and therefore metabolising/burning fat, as well as being great for muscle growth and recovery.

Working out the amount of protein you need in grams is easy, you just take your body weight in pounds, and exchange the ‘lbs’ for ‘g’ and there you have it! So I weigh 65kg, therefore I weigh 143lbs, and therefore (too many therefores…) I need to be consuming 143 grams of protein a day!

Step 3

“You need between 0.3 and 0.6 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight.

This should be largely based off personal preference, as provided you’re hitting a minimum of 0.3 and not exceeding 0.6, you’re okay. To determine what your ideal intake should be, ask yourself what your favourite types of foods are.

If you tend to err towards fattier foods, such as cheese, bacon, nuts and fatty desserts, then aim for 0.5 or 0.6 grams of fat per pound. You’ll likely enjoy a diet far more (and therefore be much more likely to stick to it) if you have more room for your preferred higher-fat foods in your diet.

If, on the other hand, you’re more of a carb-o-holic, and crave bread, pasta, crisps and pretzels, aim for 0.3 to 0.4 grams per pound. Your carb and fat intake will be inversely proportional, so the higher one is, the lower the other. Therefore, you can go lower with your fat intake in order to consume more carbs.

The only caveats to the above (though these are really minor details) is that athletes focused on performance and needing to recover quickly should keep their carbs high to moderate, while if you rarely train, or only ever partake in gentle exercise, your carb tolerance is likely lower, so set fat towards the higher end of the scale.”

I am definitely a fat fiend, but understand that it’s important to still consume a decent amount of carbs, so I went for the middle ground.

Step 4

Now you just need to work out your carbs, so grab your calculator for this one!

“First up, take your daily protein intake and multiply it by 4. There are 4 calories in a gram of protein, so this will give you how many calories you’re consuming from protein each day.

Then multiply your fat intake in grams by 9 to give your fat calories.

Add these two numbers together, and subtract the result from the total number of calories you’re aiming for each day.

This will give you how many calories you need from carbs each day. Divide this by 4 (remember – carbs have 4 calories per gram) and that’s how many carbs you need each day.”

I took all of this from an article here, it’s well worth a read, but I thought I would quote a lot of it in this article to save you going back and forth.

Keeping Track of Your Macros

To keep track of my macros, I downloaded the app ‘MyFitnessPal’ and I use that. You can also just track them online using the MyFitnessPal website. There is a free and a charging version of MyFitnessPal (MFP) and I just use the free version, but this means, when I put in my goals (aka calorie intake per day and macros), I have to enter my calories, and play with the percentages to get them as close as possible to my macros. You can do a guided set up on MFP, where they calculate the macros and calories for you, but I have always found them to be off, usually with the calorie in take being too low.

After you have entered your calories and your macros, you can start tracking what you eat and making sure you have the right amount of macros each day. You do this by going to the diary tab on the MFP app, or the food tab of the MFP website. To be honest most food you have will be in the MFP database, but if it isn’t just look at the nutritional value on the back of the package of food you’re consuming (if it’s from a packet) and add it in as a new item.

I would suggest trying to work out what you’re going to eat the evening before the next day, this way you can be ready. Organisation is seriously the best way to approach the macros diet, and I am giving this advice having learnt my lessons the hard way!

To check how many grams you still need of each macronutrient, either click on ‘More’ on the app and then go to ‘Nutrition’ and then ‘Nutrients’, or online on the ‘Food’ tab it will show you your ‘remaining’ allowance at the bottom.

I hope that this has been clear, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or DM me on instagram (@hannahrosefit) or send me a snap on Snapchat (username: hannahrosefit).

Next week I will hopefully give you some examples of the types of foods I eat to get my protein intake on track, and I may even share my macros with you (I haven’t done this as of yet as I don’t see my macros intake being relevant to what yours should be, and I wouldn’t want anyone to base their own macros on mine!)

 

DSC_0384Anyone who sits at a desk for the majority of their day as a part of their job, knows how hard it is to stay on track when it comes to healthy eating. I know it full well, when I’m sat in front of that computer for hours on end, all I want to do is eat eat eat. I work hard every day not to buy loads of rubbish from the local Sainsburys, and sometimes I give in sadly, but this tends not to be an issue when I have planned and organised my snacks.

The number one rule to staying healthy and eating good snacks when you’re at work is to be organised. I tend to try and keep my Sunday afternoons free so I can prepare my food in bulk for my lunches, and if I can’t do that, then if I am cooking a meal one evening then I make sure I make more than one portion, so that I can have that for lunch for the next few days. I do the same for my snacks, I make sure I have everything prepared and portioned out ready for the week ahead, tupperware should become your new best friend!

I eat pretty constantly throughout the day when I’m at work, if I feel peckish, I will eat something, and because I have got my snacks sorted, I know that I will be eating healthy, nourishing food, and that I also won’t be eating too much (I have taken a step back from calorie counting/macro counting over the past few months and am slowly going to get back into it again, but regardless it is still important not to over eat, even healthy, good, food).

Some of my go to snacks:

  • Blueberries
  • An apple
  • A banana
  • Peanut/almond butter (Pip & Nut do 30g sachets, which are perfect for eating at the desk because you can’t over eat it… I have a serious issue with gorging on Pip & Nut almond butter!)
  • Carrot sticks (earned me the nickname ‘rabbit’ in my office)
  • Brown rice cakes/corn cakes
  • A small bar of 90% dark chocolate
  • Salted popcorn (if you make your own at home you can come up with some very cool flavours!)
  • Protein shake (if I’ve worked out that day I usually have one at about 10am, mixed with unsweetened almond milk)
  • Nuts and seeds

These are just a few ideas of what I tend to have but I’m sure there are many more things that you can come up with (and if you do please let me know in a comment, I always love new snack ideas!)

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Hi all! I have decided to give counting macros (also known as flexible dieting or iifym (if it fits your macros) another whirl. I started again on Monday, and am now one week in, and I thought I’d share my experience with you guys!

 

My actual macros and how many calories I aim to eat are sort of irrelevant to what yours could be and isn’t the point of why I’m writing this post. But I will share that I used this website here, to work out my macros, I found this article super helpful so take a read if you’re interested!

 

A quick low down on what macros actually are

 

The word ‘macros’ is short for ‘macronutrients’. Everything we consume can be divided into two categories, macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are the nutrients that provide the body with energy (calories), and are divided into three different types: fat, carbohydrate and protein. Micronutrients are much smaller nutrients that the body still needs and take the form of vitamins and minerals. So when you ‘count macros’ you ensure that on a daily basis you consume a specific amount of each macronutrient.

 

Why did I decide to start counting macros you ask?

 

Well, first of all, I am having a surgery soon, and for both my pre and post op health, I want to ensure I am getting the right nutrients, both macronutrients and micronutrients, in order to make sure my body can heal as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Second of all, I was overeating, and although what I was overeating was ‘healthy’ or ‘clean’ (mainly almond butter, let’s be honest), it’s still overeating, and at the end of the day I am in the business of keeping trim and keeping healthy and happy. I also think that counting macros makes you very aware of what you are eating, including the ingredients in what you’re making, at least this applied for my mind set.

Week 1 Impressions

 

I decided it would be fun to share several thoughts that sprouted in my brain during my first week of macros counting:

 

  • “This shit is hard”
  • “How the eff am I ever going to reach my protein goals??”
  • “Ok, so it’s going to be a slow process”
  • “Asian food is probably best left alone (SO. MANY. INGREDIENTS.)”
  • “Black coffee is so low cal, yay!”
  • “Emma is the best person ever” (in reference to my friend @em_wizzfit who is just great in general but also very helpful with the macros side of life)

 

So yes, macros counting is pretty difficult, it involves a lot of planning, and I think it will take a while for me to get the hang of it, but I have also seen some results (after just one week!) so it is worth the struggle, and I know a lot of people who have been doing macros for a long time and they really enjoy it.

 

I will be back next week with my musings on week 2 of counting macros! Please ask any questions, I’m happy to answer them/give any help!

 

P.S. I still promote eating healthy, unprocessed food. Many people who count macros/flexible diet eat refined sugars and processed food, because it ‘fits their macros’ and whilst this may work for them, I am still focused on nourishing my body and only eating good ingredients.

Photo 14-02-2016, 10 50 46If there is something that I like to stress most to people who are wanting to start to workout or are wanting to clean up their diet, it’s that I haven’t always been this way, I’ve been there.

Most people say ‘I just don’t think that I could do it’ or ‘I’m too lazy’. I was that exact person. If you were to meet the me from two years ago, I wasn’t bothered about health and fitness, and wasn’t overly happy with my body, but I wasn’t unhappy either. I exercised by playing netball, but I did that because I enjoyed the sport, it had nothing to do with fitness, and I hated the fitness training part of it, I actively avoided it. I loved all the bad food (and still do), and just ate whatever I felt like. Looking back on it now, it’s like I’m a different person in some ways, which is of course natural as we grow and evolve as people!

Having been at the fitness game for over a year now, I would say it takes time to make it part of your routine. Don’t be mad at yourself for not wanting to go to the gym, believe me I rarely actually want to go to the gym. When the alarm goes off at 6 there are rarely times where I jump out of bed like ‘YES, TIME TO WORK OUT WOOH’, but that’s just my personality in some ways, mornings aren’t my jam. Despite this I still get up and go (most days), why? Because being healthy and feeling fit and well and liking the way that I look is pretty important to me. And there’s no shame in working out and eating well because you want to look good. Those people who preach that ‘you should workout and eat healthily because you want to be healthy, not because you’re not happy with your body… You’ll never be happy that way’, shouldn’t be listened to. DO NOT listen to these people. You should be working out or even just contemplating it for whatever reason you please, whatever drives you is so vital for this. Don’t let any of those motivational quotes make you feel bad for wanting to change your body for the better!

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The point of what I’m trying to say is, just because right now you don’t think you can do it, just because that scared part of your brain (that we all have by the way) is telling you that you can’t do this, is only a part of your voice. We feed these types of thoughts a lot, mainly because as human beings we don’t like failure or rejection. But I am telling you that when you hit your stride with your health and fitness journey it’s AMAZING! So even though you feel like you can’t do it, or that you don’t have the self-discipline, take it from me, microwavable-Mac-and-Cheese-lover-and-sit-on-her-butt-all-day-Mandy that it is totally doable and that these small voices telling you you can’t, aren’t worth your breath, literally! Take what drives you to even contemplate changing something and use that, focus on that, and hopefully in a few months time you’ll look back and be bloody glad you did!

P.S. Muchos gratitude to my friend Cari for inspiring me to write this!