Emma Montgomery (aka @macroswithem) is a girl everyone and their sister seems to know in the online space. She’s the girl with ALL the macro-friendly recipes, best bathing suits, badass grocery hauls, arms that rival Michelle Obama’s, and the mastermind behind her incredible program: Shred with Em. But did you know she started her business completely by accident?! Before Macros with Em even existed, she managed a bank. She NEVER intended to be a fitness coach, or hell, even own a business. But almost 10 years after SHE was first introduced to macros (by the same coach that literally taught them to yours truly), there’s no looking back now.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Emma and this blog is diving into some of the highlights of our conversation. We chatted about her story, her practically-famous Shred program, her BEST macro tracking tips and so much more! So you know this blog is about to be a good one 😉 Without further ado, let’s dive in!
Emma’s First Introduction to Tracking Macros
“Life before macroswithem: I started a business on accident because I competed and followed a meal plan that I realized was stupid, got into macros, and then people just started asking for help… and here we are!”
Emma and I started our conversation by going back to the beginning of her journey before macroswithem even existed (I know, it’s hard to imagine a time when our favorite macro tracking page didn’t exist, but bear with me). And it may even be encouraging to know that Emma’s first introduction to macros was similar to how many of us first learn about them… with a big fat WTF-are-macros moment. So let’s take it back to where things started when Emma first started participating in fitness competitions.
Where It All Started
“Back in 2014 was the first time I competed… before it was trendy and not everybody was on steroids… But I did it with several people that I knew and we all followed the EXACT same meal plan. We were all different sizes, different weights, there was a guy… No shit! Then I would see these girls that were posting meals they were eating during competition prep and I would see ‘hashtag macros’ and I was like, ‘what the hell is macros?’ So I dove into it a little more and then I started following Erin Dimond… I hired her as my coach and that’s how I got into learning how to count macros.”
Although there were many parts about competing Emma realized she didn’t actually like – particularly the posing and all the attention that came with it – she DID love the transformation and the drive behind the whole experience. But it started to make her wonder if eating the same meal plan as other competitors really made any sense. As she dove into the world of macros and started working with Erin Dimond, she quickly became HOOKED. Also super wild side note: She worked with Erin Dimond around the SAME EXACT time I worked with her – I mean honestly, this interview felt like it was meant to be. But I digress… Let’s dive into how macro tracking not only changed her life, but led her to unintentionally start her business.
A Business Started by Accident
As Emma became completely head-over-heels obsessed with macro tracking and everything it was doing for her, she started making delicious meals and sharing her recipes on her private Instagram. She just had a genuine love for coming up with her own unique recipes and her audience ATE. THEM. UP.
“I was just sharing recipes ‘cause I… was so excited about it [macro tracking]. I was creating low-calorie anything that I could think of… and that’s initially how people started following me… They’d be like “how are you eating that? That’s only this many calories?!”… And people’s minds were blown just like mine was.”
As Emma shared her passion for macro tracking and making bomb-ass recipes, she started to realize it was making a difference for other people. She’d get messages asking for tips and advice, and she quickly found that helping others lit a fire in her like nothing else ever had.
“I loved the fact that people wanted me to help them and I’m like yeah I’ll help everybody! So I literally was just helping people for free when I first started this… because I didn’t know I could charge for it. I wasn’t certified, I didn’t plan on doing it as a business – I just loved it… I wanted everybody to know this secret that I had found out. It was just like the coolest shit ever.”
As Time Went On…
People continued to reach out with questions or just to share how much they enjoyed her recipes and tips, and eventually an opportunity came her way that led her to create the Shred program her community knows and loves today.
“There was this girl from back home that was doing… online 21-day challenges and stuff… Everything was in a Facebook Group and she… asked me if I would help her do it and bring more people in… So while I was helping her, people just kept asking “can you show us how to do macros?…” She didn’t know anything about macros so I created the Shred program at that point, which is the one I run today.”
Isn’t that INSANE?! Emma was doing her thing, sharing what she had learned and just being the kind, generous, and inspiring person she is – and it led to her creating the program that has helped LITERALLY THOUSANDS of people change their lives and health. It’s nothing short of amazing.
But, there’s more to the story… because like most businesses, Emma’s didn’t start out as the huge success it is today. She had to put in a ton of effort, time, and work to build it…
How Emma Decided to Go Full-Time in Her Macro Tracking Business
Whether you’ve followed Emma for a while or this blog is your first introduction to who she is, it doesn’t take long to see that this is the stuff that FIRES her up. Her passion to help people with their health is ultimately what pushed her to go full-time in her business, and it’s part of what makes her the incredible coach she is today. But to say that her decision to go all-in was an easy one wouldn’t be doing all of her hard work justice. Emma experienced some major growing pains at the start of her business – things like wildly undercharging and working her ass off while still working a day job she no longer enjoyed.
“I think my first Shred I had like 10 people… I charged $50, I did their macros, had a workout thing… and I was so excited ‘cause I was teaching people. And so when I had initially started I was making next to nothing. I didn’t even care about the money I just loved doing it…”
As Emma’s passion for helping others grew, she quickly realized she no longer wanted to be in the corporate world. Although she worked as a manager of a bank making a six-figure salary, she found herself dreading going to work every day. She wanted to continue helping people, and she was damn sure gonna make that happen…
But the decision wasn’t that simple.
“I was the breadwinner. We were literally in NO position for me… to just quit, and go home and do this fitness shit. I wasn’t one of those [that] could afford to quit.”
Although her family needed the income from her job, she was not about to let that stop her from pursuing her passion, so she found a way to do both: she left her high-paying management position and replaced it with a part-time banking job that would allow her to have a steady income and extra time to build her business. The only problem with this new job?
“I was terrified to give something up. And so the first DAY, the phone never stopped ringing. I didn’t have time to wipe my ass when I went to the bathroom! It just never stopped.”
The job that was supposed to be the safety net providing her with income and extra time quickly left her overworked, underpaid (we’re talking like $14/hour!!!) and quickly OVER IT.
So after less than a week, she made a HUGE decision that changed everything…
“I clocked out for lunch and I never clocked back in… It was the moment that I needed to put my back in a corner, to say this is your sink-or-swim moment. You have to figure shit out now because you don’t have a safety net. And that first full month that I went all-in on my business I had my first $10,000 month. Literally the first month.”
I don’t know about you but I had LITERAL CHILLS during this conversation. Emma’s story is such a good reminder that we all come from different backgrounds and we all start at different points but that when you REALLY want something, sometimes you need to go all-in and trust that shit will work out. As time went on, Emma focused on building and refining her Shred Program to be what it is today. What started as a program of MAYBE 10 people is now a recurring program helping over 1200 people at a time! And the whole thing wasn’t even something she EVER thought she would do. Talk about some real-life destiny shit!
“It’s wild to me to look at where I started and how it even evolved. Again, because my business was a complete accident. I never in a million years meant to start a business.”
Emma’s Best Tips for Tracking Macros
Now that we’ve covered most of the deets on Emma’s story, let’s dive into the meat and potatoes (I mean who doesn’t love potatoes?!) – her best macro tracking tips. Many people that have come to Emma or myself have felt that macro tracking was an oppressive way to diet and live, and maybe you feel this way too… Like if you try it out you’ll have to sign your name in blood to commit to macro tracking forever and ever amen. And while of course it can be taken WAY too far (as can anything), at its core macro tracking is an incredible tool that Emma, myself, and our clients have found to be life-changing. So if you’ve struggled with getting into macro tracking and you’ve made it this far into the blog, keep reading!
“Counting macros is not a life sentence. It is something to get you to a goal. It’s to teach you how to weigh and measure your food, what foods make you feel good… people think when they sign up to track macros they’re going to have to do it til they die to keep the way they look, and it’s just not that. It’s a HUGE educational tool if you use it that way.”
Most people think macro tracking means eating low calorie and doing a little mo’ cardio every damn day, but that’s not what it is (if it were, I could GUARANTEE you people wouldn’t stick with it). Macro tracking is an incredible tool because it not only helps you accomplish your goals, but it helps you have more BALANCE. And one of Emma’s biggest tips for macro tracking is learning how to have balance through appropriate Nutrition Periodization.
Macros & Nutrition Periodization
“The nutrition periodization was the biggest thing for me. Just learning [to be] at maintenance the majority of the year – pretty much the whole year minus probably 2 months. So that’s the first thing… you need to periodize it. You need to pick times to diet when you can be the most consistent and adherent.”
There are times to bulk, times to maintain, and times to cut – and it’s all designed to help you crush your goals, actually LIVE your life (rather than be stuck in another fad diet), AND take a step away sometimes when you need to. Like for real – even pros like Emma take time away from macro tracking. Finding the right balance FOR YOU is going to be a key part of your success with macro tracking, so here are some examples Emma mentioned on this topic…
“If you know that you’re going to travel a lot in the summer, you do a lot of social things… dieting in the summer is probably not your best option ‘cause you’re going to spin your wheels a lot. That took me a long time to learn.”
“The times that I step away from tracking will be in the winter during the holidays. So I’ll track for the majority of the summer so I can keep an eye on things… and then when winter comes, I’m fine not really tracking at all. I enjoy the holidays. Again, I don’t eat stupid but I also don’t track daily.”
Macro tracking can be a really empowering tool if you let it be. If you’re curious to learn more about finding balance with macro tracking, you can also read this blog on How to Balance Having a LIFE When You’re Macro Tracking to Lose Weight. We have a tendency to make things WAY harder on ourselves than they need to be (myself included!), and sometimes macro tracking slips into that pattern as well, which is why Emma’s second tip is also a really helpful one:
Focus on Calories & Protein First
“For people that are tracking macros, this is one of the things I wish I would’ve learned sooner: just really focusing on the calories and protein portion… it gives you more flexibility, it helps you be more consistent and adherent and you’re not doing the macro tetris.”
Sometimes when we find ourselves making things more complicated than we need to, it’s better to get back to the basics. Macro tracking is meant to be a FREEING tool, not an oppressive way of living. So if you’ve struggled to find balance with macro tracking, try Emma’s tip and just start with focusing on hitting your calorie and protein goals. And if you want more advice on this, check out Why Tracking Macros Feels So Hard, & Why it’s Actually SUPER Simple.”
While I’m obviously a huge fan of Emma, I really recommend following her on Instagram if you haven’t already! She is such a great person and a helpful source of information, so for real – go check her out. And if you’re new to macro tracking and are curious about just dipping your toes in, check out her Shred Program. It’s literally only $100 a month (and it’s month-to-month!) and you get custom macros, exclusive workouts, and some of Emma’s badass recipes. Seriously, this is an insanely valuable program!
If you’d like to catch our interview (which also goes more in-depth about specifics of the Shred program), check it out on YouTube!