Two weeks before Christmas this past year I decided to gift myself a nutrition coach.
It’s been hard to share this with you because for 13 years I was the “success story,” you know, the one who blogged about losing 70 pounds, finding fitness and breaking the yo-yo dieting cycle of hell.
Anyone remember this?
Well, I needed help, and it was a hard thing to admit not only on the blog but to myself.
Need is probably too strong a word. I didn’t need help. I wanted help, and I think that’s an important distinction to make.
I haven’t been sharing my experience in real time here on the blog like I used to because I didn’t know how. Since stepping away from blogging full-time I’ve been a little lost in that department, but enough people have asked I thought I’d attempt to sum it up.
To do so, I feel some context is in order so please feel free to scroll through the abbreviated history I’m about to share and get to more recent update about my experience with Stronger U if you’ve been following along for some time.
My Weight Loss History in a Nutshell
Thirteen years ago I stepped into the doors of Weight Watchers (WW) tired of the roller coaster I was on. WW was there for me when I was a self-conscious yo-yo dieter who felt sorry for herself and binge ate her emotions. I am and will forever be thankful for the support and changes WW was able to guide me through when I first started this whole crazy journey — and yes, I look at the day I joined them as a sort of rebirth which is why I still consider myself on the same “journey” since then.
For the last five years, however, I’ve been CrossFitting and Olympic lifting as a hobby and outlet. My day is not complete without some physical activity. Even on rest days I minimally take a walk. Every morning at 5:10 a.m. my alarm goes off, and you know what? I’m excited to get to the gym to see what kind of crazy work out I’m in for with my just-as-crazy friends who are there with me every damn day.
Believe me; I wasn’t born this way. I wasn’t a young athlete. I didn’t play high school sports. For Pete’s sake, I was even too lazy to walk to my college classes when I lived a mere three blocks from campus. Back then I’d rather pay the $5 parking ticket then take a 10-minute walk.
A TEN MINUTE WALK
I was lazy.
There’s no two ways about it.
My weight back then (teens and 20s) would easily fluctuate 50 pounds. I fell for every damn fad diet there was until I had my first baby. It was then I decided I had enough. I joined WW and never looked back.
When I started WW I did not “work out” — the air quotes are entirely appropriate here because all I did was take walks which were more like strolls. I hated the gym. I didn’t like to sweat. I never, ever exercised for exercise sake.
I did, however, lose weight. Why? Well, what WW gave me was accountability and a strategy that helped me balance and lower my calorie consumption.
I know no one wants to hear this but eating less worked. I lost 70lbs in about eight months, and I kept it off for years by continuing to eat less.
As those years went by, however, I started getting more and more active. It was slow going for sure. My strolls turned into long, hilly walks and soon jogs. I joined a gym and experimented with different classes — who would have thought Step would be so much fun?! I befriended trainers who taught me about free weights. I ran my first 5k when I was 32, my first marathon at 33, my first Tough Mudder at 34 and competed in my first CrossFit (scaled) competition at 37.
I thought losing a significant amount of weight was a crazy identity crisis to experience. Well, going from couch potato to committed weightlifter was just as challenging — as you can tell by my need to dump this all on you in a blog post.
My More Recent Realization
Last year when I decided to go back to a traditional job I pulled out all my old dress pants and suites from the back of my closet and nothing fit. At the time I had no idea how much I weighed. I stopped weighing myself about three years earlier because I no longer saw the need — I was working out consistently, eating a nutritious, varied diet, and living the way I wanted to live.
The scale had nothing to give me except stress and unwanted pressure.
And I wanted nothing to do with it.
When I discovered all those old dress clothes didn’t fit I wouldn’t say I was surprised nor depressed about it. It just was. I decided I would start watching what I ate a little closer and all would be fine. I mean, I’ve done this before. All I needed to do was eat less again. I’m already super active.
This should be No. Big. Deal.
We all know it’s just not that easy.
I found myself in the same old cycles I used to be pre-WW. I started reading about the latest trends like intermittent fasting and keto. I tried to stop eating carbs for a while. I wanted to make changes, but I couldn’t commit. I could feel myself boarding the yo-yo dieting cycle of hell roller coaster again. All the patterns where there. All the emotions were coming back.
I wanted help, but it wasn’t the same kind of help I could get from WW. I wanted to get nutrition advice from someone who understood my past and my new athletic lifestyle.
That’s when a friend of mine introduced me to Stronger U.
Twelve Weeks of Macro Counting
Stronger U is a personalized nutrition company. I shared with them my history and goals. They assigned me a coach who gave me macro targets based on those goals and my current lifestyle. My coach checks in with me weekly (or I reach out whenever I have a question) and I track my progress in a Google spreadsheet we both have access to. At the end of the week, my coach makes adjustments to my macros if needed based on any progress I made or didn’t make.
That’s their entire process in a nutshell.
(If you don’t know what a macro is CookingLight has a pretty good article, but basically, macros (Macronutrients) are what make up the caloric content of food — carbohydrates, fat, and protein.)
I found Stronger U to be a lot like WW in a sense. They have given me accountability, structure, and support. Instead of counting “points,” I have a target for carbs, fat, and protein separately. Instead of a group meeting, I check in with my coach via email.
This approach (accountability, structure, and support) works for me. It’s the same formula I’ve used twice now to reach my goals, and I think it’s a potent combination.
In 12 weeks I fit back into a pair of those dress pants that didn’t fit last year, and I’ve never felt better at the gym. I’m back to being able to do strict pull-ups, I did my first dip recently, and I’m hitting new PRs consistently.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my progress. Stronger U approaches weight loss/nutrition coaching in a way that makes sense to me, and they share a lot of the same philosophies I do.
Here’s a screenshot of my week 12 spreadsheet…
As you can see, they track a lot more than just macros, and I love that they help you realize there’s more to it than just that. Sure, it comes down to reducing calories but tracking how you feel, your workouts, your sleep and even measurements all help you see the bigger picture.
I made a little stat page in my spreadsheet to celebrate finishing 12 weeks. Here’s the snapshot of my weight loss.
My week-by-week losses have been slow and steady with some exciting “whoosh” moments here and there.
Average Weight Loss by Week
- Week 01: +.5
- Week 02: -1
- Week 03: -.8
- Week 04: -3.5
- Week 05: -1.3
- Week 06: +.3
- Week 07: -3.1
- Week 08: -.9
- Week 09: -2.7
- Week 10: -.3
- Week 11: -1.2
- Week 12: -1.7
More interesting than the weight loss itself is my body composition. Remember those pants I mentioned earlier that I’m able to fit into again? Well, I still weigh more now than when I originally bought them, but they fit perfectly. Actually, they are getting loose! I think I’m leaner now at a heavier weight than I was when I lost weight previously. This, I’m sure, is a combination of the muscle I’ve gained over the years but it also validated my decision that merely cutting calories wasn’t the way to go for me. Paying attention to macros allows me to give my body what it needs while creating a deficit to lose fat.
Speaking of calories, I can look back at my spreadsheet and tell you I’ve consumed an average of 1,520 a day — not tons but I’m also not starving myself.
Questions I Imagine You Want to Ask 🙂
How did I track Macros?
MyFitnessPal. I did pay the $50 for the premium to make it easier to set the macro goals
Was I perfect?
Nope. Far from it. My goal is to stay within 5g of my macro goals for each nutrient. Weekends have been a challenge for me, and there were about four weekends where I just stopped counting all together to give myself a break. I didn’t go crazy on those days. I just didn’t track. I ate more intuitively and then went right back to tracking on Monday.
Have I been hungry?
Yes, there have been times I’ve felt hunger, but I learn from it, and it helps me make better decisions on how to spread my macros out through the day. The first few weeks took the most adjustment, of course, but once I got the hang of it and figured out some go-to meals with balanced macros, I’ve been able to manage quite well.
What’s My Ultimate Goal?
I’m not sure. I don’t think the body weight I have in my mind based on my personal history makes sense anymore. I’m going stay in a deficit a little longer and then start to up my macros to find my base macro numbers for maintenance.
Is this a paid post?
Nope and Stronger U has no affiliate program. They don’t even know I’m writing this.
I’m always transparent with you guys, and I know this post sounds like a commercial but I’m just sharing my experience and thoughts. I did the same with WW when I found success with them as well.
I do have to add that I love Stronger U so much I talked to my coach about becoming a coach. I’ve always been the type of person who’s inspired by inspiring and frankly, I think I’d be good at it. My blog used to be my outlet for “coaching” in a way, but I think I would enjoy having a closer and more personal connection with people while helping them reach their goals. Coaching and teaching are in my blood. I can’t help it!
Stronger U does have a program that gives it’s members free coaching if you refer people. So if you do happen to reach out to them, please tell them I sent you. Maybe it will help persuade them to let me join their coaching team one day. It’s something I’ve considered doing on my own, but that’s a big undertaking.
Anyway, I hope this helps clarify a few things. I know there were a few questions on my previous post and IG I haven’t gotten around to answering. Let me know if you have any other questions. I hope to share some of my macro counting strategies in future posts.