Just got back from New York! And if you followed along through my stories on instagram, you saw I had one main story to tell…… that we ate.

And ate.



And then grabbed a pizza on the way back to the room at midnight after a show.  To eat with our face sized cookies.

Or maybe I didn’t share that part. Err….

YES— This was an extremely indulgent trip!  But that’s not always how I choose to vacation. Let’s rewind.

Traveling and tracking

I’ve tracked macros now for two years, very consistently.  For the most part, I don’t ebb and flow.  I have events or phases where it’s harder to be accurate, definitely an untracked meal here and there, and I’ve certainly gotten more relaxed over time, allowing for more estimations and a larger margin of error.  It might be why I can’t seem to lean out quite like I once did.  BUT I almost never throw it out the window.  The habits I’ve created counting macros guide the way I eat almost every single day.

I’ll admit my first few trips while counting macros were stressful for me. And probably for Ross!  I was seeing such success already and couldn’t bare to lose my momentum! I would travel with my scale (gasp for some, DUH for others) and do my best to choose the restaurants where I knew I could order something really clean and easy to break down. Lots of chicken sandwiches, I’d ask for the chicken to be cooked without oil, no butter on the bun etc… I even had a pocket scale in my purse to do a quick subtle weigh of each component. I’d pack little containers of my own salad dressing… sometimes even my own reduced fat blue cheese or homemade chipotle cream.  Sounds crazy to some people… but I don’t regret it! It was all a part of my mastering that steep learning curve. I’d pack and grocery shop, I’d make sure and find a low fat ice cream to keep in the room and pre-log my dessert like always. If we didn’t have a freezer, my favorite protein bar, a G2G became my dessert.  I could have made decadent meals “fit my macros” but I knew that was a recipe for sadness or failure, because it meant I’d be hungry later without enough macros left to satisfy me! No thanks.  This worked for me.  It took prep on my part, sounds obsessive to some, but it meant I could travel, even through the HOLIDAYS… without undoing all of my efforts! That feeling of success and fitness was worth it to me.  At least for a while.

This was us in New Zealand – while I still tracked pretty legit. Eggs benedict is a go-to fancy, delicious vacation brunch for me that’s still trackable. Hollandaise on the side for total control so I can drizzle just 5-10 grams… less than a tbs… two poached eggs, a piece of bacon and a thick slice of toast. Those are all things I felt pretty confident eye-balling.

Not as light as something I’d eat at home but doable! And AMAZING. Clearly.

Ok and maybe I had an untracked bite of everyone else’s food. Or logged 10 carbs and 3 fat and called it good there.

Traveling and SORTA tracking

The first trip I ever took where I tried to shut off the macro part of my brain was Hawaii with Ross, a little over a year into tracking.  I felt so much pressure from others (not even Ross surprisingly) to “close the app” and enjoy my trip… but the truth is, I just preferred to keep tabs on myself in there. So I roughly tracked. It didn’t consume me or spoil the fun. I didn’t pack a scale, or try to control where we could or couldn’t eat like I had in the beginning.  I didn’t refuse to take part in my favorite local treats.  But honestly, I was going to be in a swim suit every day, and I knew I would be HAPPIER if I felt good in that suit, and went home STILL feeling good… than I would eating malasadas all day while throwing my head back with reckless abandon.

There’s always a lot of support for that latter option. “You deserve it!” “One trip won’t undo you!” “Memories over macros!” And sometimes that’s what you need!  As long as you remember that YOU’RE the only one that has to deal with the aftermath. You’ve got to go in prepared to handle that.

So on that Hawaii trip,  I’d have one malasada if we got them… log a donut for a rough match…. choose a super light veggie and protein packed lunch, grab for simple snacks I kept stocked if needed, like rice cakes with turkey…  and save a good portion of balanced calories for dinner with a pre-logged desert.  I CHERISH (as anyone who follows me on instagram knows) my own dessert. Late at night.  In front of a show.  Wearing sweats.  I don’t even want to talk to anyone. Ha.  I love it WAY more than a fancy restaurant dessert– cuz I’m happily low-class like that…. so I’d log my slow churned ice cream with pretzels or whatever–ahead of time.  That way the only puzzle piece I was really trying to fit was dinner.  I wasn’t going to be finding nutrition facts for random shrimp trucks on Kauai… and I wouldn’t bother breaking down the meal for logging because it wasn’t worth the time and effort for me when I knew it was such a guess anyway… I’d just save a good 600-1000 calories depending on our plans, and try and make higher protein, lower fat choices that kept me within my allotted calorie range. I had become an expert in ordering lighter options at restaurants and still LOVING my food… so I didn’t feel deprived when I tried to order smart. I did my best and continued that habit to save where I could.

It wasn’t perfect,  but it was the perfect way for me “count” and feel a healthy amount of control while traveling.  Like most things in life, I’d learned that abandoning the “rules” and going crazy never ACTUALLY made me happy. The joy was so short and the aftermath so swift and frustrating.  So this rough, reasonable tracking kept me happy and relaxed so I could actually ENJOY my trip.

A million carbs in an acai bowl… but still something I could track-ish— and balance through my day.

Again… it was a swim suit trip so I cared! Kept up our workouts because all we had was time and dreamy weather and of course, working out always keeps me a little more motivated to not eat like a total butthead.


Traveling and shutting it OFF

So…. then there was this trip. HA! This was different for me. For a few reasons:

  1. I’ve been tracking for a while.  I don’t feel this need to transition into intuitive eating — or stop the tracking. I enjoy it, and don’t feel consumed by it, but rather I feel and appreciate the “food freedom” everyone always talks about… that can come with tracking.  BUT I will say my tracking has EVOLVED into something less- consuming and more sustainable to me.  I’m one of those people that sees rules as guidelines… I like to take the information and then make it fit my life- Ha. So for me, the longer I’ve tracked the more freedom I feel to experiment with it or find my own balance, even if it means I might not hit the goals I’d like to. I’m aware. Two years in, and I decided I just wanted to turn it off for this trip and eat the pizza. Not for a second did I worry that would make it hard to track when I got home. Tracking at home is WHAT I do.  Eating three slices of pizza regularly just doesn’t actually make me happy. But in NYC– THIS time. It did.
  2. It’s NEW YORK. And hello there is SO MUCH GOOD FOOD. That changes everything.  Like for me, I think it’s pretty much ABOUT the food.  There’s some yummy food in Hawaii… but I wouldn’t say it’s ABOUT the food. We’re there for a week or two when we go, and it’s about the beaching, hiking, snorkeling, kayaking… one great meal a day is plenty for me to feel “all in” on the fun, and the rest can be controlled by groceries etc. But New York! No kitchen, no grocery shopping, just a list of like a hundred amazing food opportunities I don’t have at home. It almost seemed sacrelig to pack rice cakes in my purse while passing New York pizza an French pastry shops. It’s a decision I made when we planned the trip. I would PARTAKE!
  3. I’m in a weird place. I’ve wanted to shed about five pounds since summer and despite my best macro-focused efforts, haven’t had success.  I’ve actually been hovering at my highest weight in years!  My body composition has changed a bit through macro counting and weight training, so I know that this higher weight is still a lower body fat percentage than before macros. BUT, it’s still frustrating, and part of me felt, going into the New York trip,  like I had nothing to lose!  If all my hard work wasn’t leaning me out, maybe it’s just not meant to be right now.. may as well go enjoy myself. Not the most scientific or well calculated decision. Ha.  I think mentally, I just needed a break, come what may.  When I was my leanest, I think I actually put more pressure on myself because I didn’t want to lose my edge! But now I almost felt like my body was stuck at this new high no matter what. Like maybe a weird long weekend was just what I needed to shake things up, and then it would respond better when I got home.  Wishful thinking perhaps. But still part of my thinking!

I won’t always go on trips with the “memories over macros” mantra. I hear that a lot on instagram and I agree with the idea sometimes!  But not always. I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive: making memories and counting macros.  And a lot of times, like Hawaii, the memories I make will be HAPPIER if I also stick roughly to my macros.  I just think it’s different for everyone and every TRIP–  and you have to know yourself and whether or not it’s worth it.

Here are some pictures I already shared in my stories… you might notice a cookie theme. It’s because there was one.  You’ll also notice I’m not in a swim suit. Phew.


So what to do now that I indulged!

SO– the moment of truth.  I did get on the scale the day after we got home and was a couple of pounds up. Like two.  Which I can gain any given day, so honestly, normally I wouldn’t give it a second thought and I’d know it would settle back down.  But remember this is two pounds up from my HIGH. Literally a number I haven’t seen since I was pregnant. SO no… I don’t love it. But I was FULLY prepared for it… and right now I’m still gonna say it was worth it! This time.

SO– If I were feeling great and lean when I left and had gained two from then, I wouldn’t do anything. I would drink a lot of water and hit all of my same workouts and same macros and assume things will just settle back down. But since I’ve already been trying to cut off a little bit of unwanted and stubborn body fat, I knew my plan would be to come home and pull my numbers back down.  My original “cut” numbers from when I started two years ago put me around 1600 calories … and that hasn’t seemed to work these last few months.  So I came home and set my numbers just a hair lower, around 1500 calories.  THIS ISN’T ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA– I definitely believe that if your numbers are unsustainable and lead to bingey weekends, they’re too low! Consistency and sustainability are major KEYS to success.  But I know myself, (remember rules are guidelines for me- ha) and worst case, if I’m too hungry, I’ll raise my numbers to that 1600 range instead… depending on the day.  I don’t have that “all or nothing” mentality, and I don’t ever take extreme measures…   But I AM hoping to achieve a slightly greater weekly deficit overall.

Besides that, I planned to get in plenty of water, lift as heavy as I can this week, and perhaps add on a couple of extra HIIT or LISS sessions after my weight training.  That’s a lot of words to say that for the most part, I’ll just be doing what I was doing before New York with a TINY bit more fervor.  And if the fervor wears out next week, I’ll be back to normal.  And I know logically, it’s all FINE. That a couple of years of hard work can’t be undone in five days, even if they do involve eating Ross’s body weight in pizza while I was there.

But the absolute truth is this:

I’ll probably feel fluffier and a little less comfortable with my bod for a few weeks.  No big deal, but true.  And while I absolutely will never whine about it in front of my kids, some days I’ll whine about it to Ross.  Because sometimes I’m the worst and sometimes I complain about the stupid things in life.

Some days I’ll get on the scale and feel mature, knowing full well what’s coming, and I’ll feel strong and happy mid-“journey”… and some days I’ll get on the scale and want to throw something. It might put me in a bad mood for a minute and I’ll EVEN let it fester a bit.  Because some things I do all wrong.  This is me. I could certainly chant that the scale doesn’t matter and that you should never have guilt or stress over food. And I’m so grateful for all of the people who share those messages because I believe them!  And I think we can all benefit from constantly checking ourselves and remembering how many things in life are more important than whether or not we hit the perfect ratio of macros to achieve maximum sexy-bodiness.

BUUUUUUT:  I am a realist and a horrible liar so instead I’ll just confess what’s real to me and say— it was still worth it. THIS time.  Because look at those cookies.

But How to get back in the groove

If I have any advice, (you’ll notice I didn’t have much in this post did I? Mostly just my story SARRIE) Get excited to cook! Focus on all the things you can eat… new recipes you want to make, rather than spending one minute thinking about what you shouldn’t eat.

I’ll admit THIS one is pretty easy for me. There’s really no part of me that wants to continue eating like a teenage boy every day. Well that’s not true, there is a 400 pound cookie monster inside of me FOR SURE… but MOST OF ME couldn’t wait to get back and have a healthy amount of control over my food. I have no interest in feeling deprived or hungry or cutting sugar or carbs.  But I want to put foods together in a way that balance my macros and still satisfy my pallet and my BELLY.  THAT’S my best life.  Happy it’s my real one.

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About the Author

Hello. My name is Lillie. I’m not a registered dietitian, or a macro coach, or a public figure or culinary genius. I’m a mommy of four who FOUND macro-counting and fell in love with this balanced approach to food...

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  1. I love your point of view, real and honest. It hit the right spot as I prepare for a one week vacation and had been stressed over how difficult it is going to be to stay on track.

  2. You said this so well! I definitely have swung between serious and more relaxed when counting macros on trips. Thanks for all your amazing recipes to help me look forward to seriously tracking macros again after the trips!

  3. Love how real you are and how detailed you are about your thoughts, numbers, etc. so helpful for the rest of us to here some nice real life thoughts and experiences! Thank you!
    And your recipes are the best. They make eating healthy, filling foods so much more enjoyable!!

  4. You look amazing. EMRACE those 5 pounds girl! They look good on you. And if you can enjoy food and life, feeling good. Who cares!! Let it go and celebrate because you have a fantastic lookin’ bod!!

    1. Oh thank you! Never mean to come off like I’m so consumed by it. The risk of oversharing! But thank you for this sweet comment!

  5. Just read this for the second time. And I still love all of it. So much truth despite all the messages of memories over macros. I’m taking three family trips in as many months this winter/spring and this post is an amazing reminder that all of this is ok!

  6. Such a great post. I feel like I’m in the same place as you are. I loosely tracked while on two vacations over the summer – one at the beach and one in a Colorado. I realized I could loosely track and enjoy myself. I can’t quite let go of tracking yet but I’m more relaxed than I was when I first started a year and a half ago. I guess that just comes with experience though and getting some sort of handle on macros of certain foods. Thank you for such a great post. I know this took some time!

  7. I enjoyed reading this post and feel that I can relate in so many ways. I’m still in my first year of counting macros and put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect. I’m trying to find a balance! It’s interesting to read your perspective because I see a lot of people basically saying to “let go” of counting after a certain amount of time. But counting makes me happy! And seeing how you manage it makes me feel not so alone. Thanks for the post! P.S. Your recipes are amazing!

    1. I’m SOOO glad. Maybe this is selfish and I was just hoping to find out that I’M not alone either. The tide is always changing, but I figure when something is a good fit, I’m hanging on! Thanks for taking the time to leave me this comment. xo