I started Precision Nutrition's Lean Eating program in July of last year, after a lot of back and forth with dieting and not-dieting. I was hoping the program could help me solve my cardinal struggle - feast vs. famine, restriction vs. binging - and help me find the middle path.
It worked, sorta.
The program aims to help you fix your relationship with food. They don't tell you much about what to eat, though spoiler: it's much what you'd expect - a whole foods-based platform, with an eye to reducing carbs, sugar, and eliminating processed food. They aren't super prescriptive about that though, and you get to go at your own pace with eliminating or modifying that stuff, which is great.
They give you a lesson every day, a habit, and a workout. The habit changes every 2 weeks. You track whether or not you were compliant with the workout and habit, and whether or not you read the lesson. It keeps you accountable and on track.
You get a coach. That coach is coaching 250+ people though, so be aware of that. Mine was responsive and gave me good feedback, but it's not an everyday, individualized kind of thing. Still, she was around when I needed her, and we even did a Skype session.
So far so good, right? Well, here's the kind of icky part - the point of the program is to lean out, and lose weight. And that often came into conflict with my goal of finding balance, because a lot of the messaging was about what you had to do to lose weight, and some of it was still pretty damn restrictive. You were supposed to reduce carbs, or only have certain kinds of carbs, and not all the time. You were supposed to have certain things before and after workouts. You had to weigh yourself and take girth measurements once a week, which I found triggering sometimes. It all started to seem a lot like the Whole9, CrossFit Elite, bodybuilder mentality, and that wigged me out.
In retrospect, I think I should have been more clear about what my goals were and recognized that the program maybe wasn't a fit for me. But when I signed up, I did want to lose weight. I think that what I wanted changed over time, and by the end, PN wasn't really the best fit. I stopped taking measurements every week, didn't do the photo shoot, and came in 10 lbs heavier than when I'd started. Did that bother me? A little, but there were good reasons for it.
As I wrote in the first piece on this blog, Already Okay, the goals that had replaced weight loss felt much better:
My focus right now is building a healthy, nourished, self-loving body. It means going to happy hour once in awhile—not always saying no because I have to go to CrossFit. I haven’t given up or anything. I still go to CrossFit 3+ times a week, but I don’t feel crazy if I miss a session, or reschedule it for later to take a rest day, or even just some much needed social time with friends.
Because the fitness journey can’t be all there is. At the end of this, we’ll all die. A healthy body isn’t proof against death. It can prolong your life, sure, but if you’re killing yourself to get there? You’ve missed the whole point.
Also, it's worth noting that maybe weight loss isn't always the best goal, period. After doing a bunch of research on set points, weight loss recidivism, and the like, I've come to realize that if you're going to have weight loss as a goal (and I support you if you do, honestly, because your body, your life), it makes sense to have a reasonable weight loss goal. As I pointed out in Diets are a Fallacy, it's unlikely that someone who is 300+ lbs is going to get to 120 and successfully stay there.
So that's my "goal" for the Precision Nutrition plan I'm currently on: to finish at the weight I started, having learned all this valuable stuff about diet and data and set points and the rest.
If I've spent a bunch of money to find out that really, I was fine all along? Great. And if what I've gotten out of it is increased mindfulness about my behavior and thought patterns, more self-acceptance, sustainable food and exercise patterns, and better sleep. I've won. And I've won on my terms.
I won. I have healthy food patterns, an exercise habit I love, a meditation practice that sustains me, and a whole lot more deep and rejuvenating sleep.
I'm now fully aware that I'm already okay, just as I am, and that everything I do from here on out just adds health to an already healthy body.
I wish the same for all of you in your own wellness journeys. May we all find peace, health, wellness, equanimity, and our own badass, righteous way to be.