Me and My Fitness Pal have had a peculiar relationship over the years, and I’m sure some of you can relate…
Today I wanted to share that after years of our on/off relationship together, we’re taking a break from each other…again...
It takes up much more time in my day than I’d like to admit
Analysing macro splits, over thinking portion sizes based on how many calories I have left, planning and tracking every last morsel that passes my lips. It gets to a point where you’ve done it for so long, it can take the joy out of food and meal times.
It takes away way too much of my emotional energy
There are only so many fucks I can give on a daily basis. It’s the most logical decision to give my fucks to the things that actually matter e.g. my loved ones, my business, my life, my cats! Too many minutes (likely hours) have been spent over the years freaking out over an extra 30g of pasta going over my calorie allowance, or getting to the end of the day and (shock horror) forgetting to put something in. I want to go back and shake myself and say, “Kat it’s 200 calories. Get a grip, get over it and go live your life”.
Intuitive eating and tracking calories don’t go hand in hand
I realise I’ve been completely contradicting myself over the past few months - wanting to eat intuitively with my body and how I’m feeling, whilst living day by day according to this much of this and this much of that. What if I want to eat high carb one day, and high fat the next because it’s what I’m craving on different days? How about when I’m in PMS week and my stomach is a bottomless pit of hunger and I want to eat everything in sight, then the next week I’m perfectly satisfied with my breakfast, lunch and dinner with no snacks in between?
Am I supposed to just stay within these set guidelines, on this straight and narrow path of food boredom? Hell no!
Just like with anything on our phones, we can get so sucked into the screen that we forget life is happening outside of it. Much like we need a reality check from Instagram sometimes, I need a reality check from My Fitness Pal.
Discipline turns into obsession
Me and My Fitness Pal have a cycle now. I start using it because I enjoy tracking my food towards a certain goal. This time around, I’d stopped eating a vegan/plant based diet and was curious to know whether I was getting a good balance of macros - I was teaching myself how to be an omnivore again. My plan was to use it for a while, just to see how my day to day food was shaping up, and be mindful of choices in the future.**
So for a few months, it’s all lots of fun - scanning packets is a novelty, learning more about the macros of your favourite dishes is interesting. The time passes, I don't need to do it anymore, but I continue on and it becomes a habit.
And then as the weeks go by, and I’m tracking day in day out, I inevitably start to associate my food diary with my worth.
I beat myself up if I’ve not worked out or I’ve gone over my calories. I over analyse every inch of my body in the mirror. I decide I need to lose weight, and set my calories lower - for no reason other than I feel my body isn’t good enough. Which is so strange, because my body looks relatively the same, give or take a little muscle or fat depending on my workout routine. I genuinely like my body. I find it easy to eat a balanced diet and maintain my weight. I like the way I look in and out of clothes. So why the hell do I become someone else when I’m using My Fitness Pal?
I truly think it’s the mentality that we always must be striving for more - more pounds and inches off, more definition here. I’m all for having a goal to move towards, but it’s so exhausting to be focused on how you look 24/7. There’s got to be more to LIFE and there’s got to be more to health and fitness - energy, strength, performance, confidence, trying new things, just doing it because you bloody well enjoy it and you wanna feel like a boss!
So if you’re in the same boat as me - you know what foods are healthy for your body, you know what treats you enjoy to eat, you know what to eat to get that balance between the two and you’re happy and healthy how you are. If you are tracking, and you are restricting, ask yourself why...
Why do I feel I need to lose weight?
Who or what has told me that I’m anything but perfectly happy and healthy the way I am?
Listen to your body - listen when she’s full, listen when she’s hungry, listen when she says “I fancy a bit of that” and don’t ignore her! Bye bye My Fitness Pal - we used to have fun together, but then you started making me feel shit about myself, so you can GTFO. 💋
This post is featured via this week's email letter. Every Monday morning, I share a positive message with my community on the topics of self care, personal development, health or anything else I want to share to add value and mindfulness to your day.
You can sign up to receive future letters here...
Love, Kat x
Helpful resources if you resonated with today’s post:
- Zanna Van Dijk - I love Zanna's vlogs. She’s a PT & fitness blogger promoting a balanced approach to health and fitness and a healthy relationship with food. No dieting, no extreme approaches, no guilt.
- Mel Wells - Mel’s work is so special, and I highly recommend you check her out if you struggle with your relationship with food or your body on any level. She shares encouraging thoughts on self love and anti-dieting that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Start with her blogposts, but if you like them definitely get a copy of her book.
- Nic’s Nutrition - Simple, straight forward advice on nutrition from a Registered Dietician - AKA someone who's trained for YEARS for their qualification, not some randomer on the internet sharing bogus health claims. If dieting hype in the media has left you feeling confused about what’s healthy, Nic cuts through the BS.
- B-EAT - Eating disorder support in the UK
** I actually think MyFitnessPal is a fantastic resource for nutrition education, and I know so many people have success with it. Learning what your daily food looks like, and learning about how to structure a meal, portion sizes and balance will ensure you’re getting everything you need in the right quantities. If you have a specific fitness goal, like gaining muscle or training for a sport or competition, MyFitnessPal can be invaluable. But for the everyday gal like me and you, it’s not really necessary and can, as discussed, damage your relationship with food. Once you have that baseline knowledge of food and nutrients, it's like riding a bike. It should be easy and effortless to do, and you should know what types of foods make you feel fullest, and what portion sizes are enough for you to satisfy yourself, etc. Tracking food is not a long term solution for everyone, in my opinion. If you're still keen to use it, set yourself a time frame (e.g. 6 weeks whilst you educate yourself, or train for something specific) and then delete it and let your body guide you with that knowledge in future.