Macro Tracking Fatigue (AKA BURNOUT)
How do you know when you should take a break from tracking macros? My most famous answer - IT DEPENDS!
What are your goals right now? Are you trying to make weight for something? Are you in the middle of a cut that is your #1 priority? Are you trying to put on muscle mass and gain weight? Weeeelllll maybe you should keep tracking.
In a situation where it’s probably a good thing to stop tracking for a while, you might be experiencing some of these things:
Constantly thinking about food
Stress around food
Eating out gives you anxiety
Fear of not tracking
No flexibility even when tracking
It brings more negative than positive into your life
Your body starts working against you despite dieting efforts
You eat the same thing everyday and don’t listen to what your body actually wants and craves
You never give into cravings
Eating something “bad” makes you feel like you suck
& I could go on and on with this list honestly, but I’ll leave it at that.
Look, I’ve had MAJOR burnout. From doing competitive Weightlifting, Powerlifting, CF, starting and finishing college, and starting my own business.. it caught up to me after a few years and I burnt the HECK out. Even with tracking. I was someone that tracked meticulously for like 4-5 years straight and people knew me as someone that never took a break from it.. like not even on my birthday!! Yes, one year I literally tracked my birthday cake and ice cream. SERIOUSLY. That’s problematic lol.
I say all of that to say that I understand anyone experiencing “macro fatigue” or tracking burnout. I currently HATE tracking, tbh. I’ll track for a few weeks and then it’ll drive me crazy because I’m like omg I DO NOT WANT TO WEIGH THIS!! So right now I’m not tracking, because last week I decided that it was worse for me mentally to track than it was to not track annnnnd I really prioritize my mental health and managing my stress because when I am over-stressed, my body is like no thank u and I get puffy and inflamed and irritable & it ain’t a good time, friends.
When I’m NOT tracking, I eat things that I actually want. I don’t think about food as much throughout the day because I’m not having to worry about hitting this number and getting xyz in for the day. It’s reaaaally freeing for my mind. Some people can track and be fine with it, but after doing it for so long and being so obsessive with it, I just can’t do it anymore haha.
One of my clients actually inspired this post. I’m not going to mention her name, but I’m going to share a small part of an email she sent me regarding her stress around tracking recently.. because I think a lot of you will resonate with it. I know I do! Here it is:
How many of you have experienced all of those feelings? I know I have!!! It’s so real and raw and just the TRUTH. So many people take tracking to the extreme, including me at one point in my life. & I know what it feels like to be seemingly doing all of the right things and still feeling like I’m out of control of my own body, gaining weight even though I’m not eating too much, and just not feeling confident. I HAVE BEEN THERE AND FEEL YOU. Your feelings are valid! But honestly the stress of tracking and just the fear of breaking that chain is doing you more harm than good, which is why it’d be good to stop tracking.
Keep in mind, this client does not have any extremely specific goals obviously other than to drop a few pounds that she is currently holding (most likely from stress). Even though she does want to drop a few, I believe the stress of tracking and just all of that in general is keeping her from losing it.
We had a phone call last night. I asked her when was the last time she had a WHOLE egg.. she couldn’t remember. We went over her daily meals. She really doesn’t enjoy any of them. She just eats the same thing everyday because it’s easy. Because it fits and her macros are hit for the day. She’s likely thinking about food all day because her meals don’t nourish her body and MIND.
On the phone call, I also asked her what she would actually like to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She told me all of the things that she would actually enjoy and want to eat for her meals. I told her to ask herself before every meal, “what do I want to eat right now?” and then to HONOR that. Because she is honoring what she wants and what her body needs, she likely won’t be thinking about food again after that meal because she’s actually nourishing more than just her hunger. She’s also nourishing her mind and now food won’t be a distraction (until she’s actually physically hungry again) because she already got rid of that thought in her mind about what she wanted to it.. because she ate it! BOOM. Done deal.
She can either finish her plate or leave some if she feels satisfied and doesn’t need anymore. One way is not better than the other, but it’s important to have a healthy relationship with whether or not you actually need to clean your plate. You don’t have to always finish everything if you don’t really want it! Since she’s my client and NOT tracking, she’s sending me her meal photos so I can keep her accountable to actually eating what she wants, no restrictions, no fear, and to make sure she’s not tracking.
It’s a huge adjustment! But the biggest thing is TRUST. You have to trust yourself. Give yourself permission to eat whatever you want, no fear involved. When you give yourself full permission, you won’t over-eat because our bodies naturally do not want to do that anyway.
Let your body do what it wants for a little bit. I can guarantee you that if you’re trying to fight your body and it’s fighting back.. once you let go of the gas pedal a little bit and start working WITH your body, it might respond just like you want it to. You might actually lose weight that you’re trying to lose because that stress of tracking and controlling EVERY LITTLE GRAM isn’t there anymore. You might not lose weight, and that’s ok too. This time is just temporary. We don’t live on this earth only for the sake of losing weight, yannoooo. :)
I hope this helps you and resonates with you if you are experiencing any of this right now or have in the past. I know it’s something I’ve struggled with so I figured a lot of other people probably have, too.
P.S. this isn’t a bash blog on tracking. Tracking macros is an amazing tool and everyone, yes everyone should do it for a period of time at some point in their life just to learn about the components of food and portion sizes and just for nutritional awareness. It’s great for when there are specific fat loss or mass gaining goals and it’s good for competitive athletes to make sure they are fueling properly. The problem is when this tool becomes a crutch and just something to use as a means to control something. That’s when there needs to be sort of an intervention, ya know? Only YOU will know when things are getting obsessive or unhealthy so be aware of that!