Macro Counting and the All or Nothing Mentality

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All or nothing: Your nutrition is going GREAT and there is one bump in the road. You go out to eat, dinner takes forever, you’re HANGRY and end up eating all the appetizers and realize you completely blew your macros for the day. There are two ways this story can lead.

Option 1: The All or Nothing route. You’re upset with yourself, you think you’re a failure. You blew your entire goal for the day of hitting your macros. So you have another drink, come home and eat whatever you want BECAUSE the day is already shot. Sometimes this can even lead into the next day or week or even month being untracked. 

The All or Nothing mentality when it comes to macro counting is getting off track but then also BELIEVING that if you can’t be perfect, you might as well not do it.

Tips for leaving behind the all or nothing mentality.

It comes from a place of restriction and extremism. Deprive, overindulge, guilt, repeat. Crash diets, diet culture and disordered eating has taught us that we are either “following our diet” or we are “off our diet”. We believe that a 5 mile run is far superior than a 2 mile run; it’s so superior that doing 2 is just a waste of time. 

I love using this analogy. You go to the parking lot to find your car. One tire is flat. Do you slash the remaining 3 tires since you have one flat tire? NO! YOU FIX THE FLAT TIRE!! Same thing applies to your diet. One missed meal/day does NOT mean that you throw in the towel. 

Whether you track your food or not, macros are macros. It’s science. Your body is consuming the calories whether you weigh and measure, and log them or not.

Pay attention to your thoughts.

Humans have a negative bias; we seek out the negative as a survival mechanism. And it makes sense for survival, but is TERRIBLE in regards to our health goals. 

Are you constantly telling yourself you’re a failure when you don’t hit your macros?

Do you say phrases like,

“I blew it and it’s not worth tracking the rest of the day.”

“I can’t make healthy choices at a restaurant or have fun with my friends without alcohol?”

“I can’t possible stay on top of my nutrition when my kids are sick?”

“I don’t have time to workout and that 10 minute walk isn’t even worth it.”

Examine these beliefs. Where did they come from? How long have you been having these beliefs? And lastly, are they valid?

Option 2: Get comfortable with the GRAY AREA.

This point may not be easy. It may feel very overwhelming and tough, but I challenge you to get uncomfortable. Be okay with NOT being perfect all the time. Estimating your macros at a restaurant is FAR BETTER than not tracking anything and using it as a “Cheat day” (I don’t like that term but using it here as a day where you pretend to forget any and all of your healthy habits). Be okay with estimating in a piece of pizza EVEN if the exact chain restaurant doesn’t have macros in MFP. I promise you your coach will be THRILLED you took that step into the gray area with estimation. 

If you struggle with this gray area (estimating at restaurants, going to a BBQ not knowing what’s on the menu), challenge yourself to DO THE HARD WORK going into these situations. Accept that it’ll be hard

  • Estimating macros
  • Making alcohol fit in your macros
  • Be okay with a 10 minute workout

Accept that it will take time to break free of this negative mindset:

Change doesn’t happen unless we change our beliefs, mindset and habits. Understand that setbacks will happen.

Do what you can.

Coach Laura always stresses to focus on the things that are BASIC but give you a lot of bang for your buck. For example, things that can be or are often already ingrained in habits: Eating protein at every meal, drinking water, moving your body, getting to bed on time. 

The Second Mistake.

I absolutely love James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits” and suggest reading it if you haven’t done so already. He stresses the second mistake,

“One mistake is just an outlier. Two mistakes is the beginning of a pattern”.  You are always one meal away from getting back on track.

Tips for leaving behind the all or nothing mentality.

Learn from your mistakes. Figure out what triggers you to throw in the towel and avoid those situations if possible.


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