This post was particularly hard for me to publish, as I’m not 100% at the place I want to be with my fitness goals. In truth, most people aren’t, even those who may seem the most in-shape, lean, perfectly curvy etc. This post is meant to inspire and also outline a method of food intake that I have found truly helps me, and while I’m not at the ideal point in my journey I don’t want to let that discourage from sharing tips I believe would benefit other women (or men!)
I’ve never had an easy time maintaining a certain size. I LOVE food. I love eating large amounts of food. I love dessert most of all. Not surprisingly I’ve struggled with my weight in the past. I would restrict food intake for days at a time, and then snap eating everything in site. Or, I’d maintain a “clean” diet all week and come Friday night dive face first into a pizza, wine & pint of Ben & Jerry’s… and then continue the theme through the weekend.
This cycle of depriving and over indulging went on for a few years. At times it worked better than others, depending on how long I was depriving myself and how much I was indulging. But I never achieved the results I wanted.
If It Fits Your Macros
In 2012 I came across an online nutritionist & personal trainer who specialized in something called IIFYM, or “If It Fits Your Macros.” While IIFYM is well known within the fitness industry, I’ve noticed most people outside of that sphere have no idea what it is. IIFYM is a style of dieting/eating that’s centered around moderate intake of foods deemed “bad” while balancing these foods with nutrient dense whole foods, all while adhering to a strict guideline for amount of calories and macronutrients (grams of carbs, fat, protein & fiber) consumed.
For instance, a typical day on an IIFYM diet could include a breakfast of egg whites & wheat toast, a salad with chicken for lunch, an apple and nuts for a snack, and then a few slices of pizza for dinner, as long as all of these foods fit into your daily “macros.” To keep track, one uses a calorie counting app like My Fitness Pal.
Adopting the IIFYM approach completely changed my relationship with food. Before adopting this style of eating I was always trying one diet or another, low carb, paleo, low fat, keto, vegan, dairy free etc. But I always ended up overeating one type of food group and not enough of another. For instance, my carbs while eating a Paleo diet were low, but my fat intake was super high. While I’m sure this works for some people, it didn’t do me any good. At the end of the day, weight loss, or weight maintenance is only dependent on calories in vs calories out. While the quality of food does matter for your overall health, energy levels etc, weight loss is purely based on numbers. Furthermore, you can’t possibly eat a full junk food diet on IIFYM because you’d use up your daily calories in one meal.
IIFYM allows me to eat the foods I love in moderation. If I save up carbs and fat for a slice of pizza, I can have it. With IIFYM I’m able to fit in some type of “dessert” everyday, whether its a cookie or my new obsession Pressed Juice Freeze (seriously the macros on this are insanely good!)
While some people think that IIFYM is difficult because it focuses on numbers, I find it much easier than constantly struggling with making a “good” or “bad” choice at every meal. If you struggle with moderation, IIFYM a controlled way to achieve balance in your diet, which can be extremely helpful
Probably the most difficult part of adopting an IIFYM is making sure you’re eating the right amount of food at the correct ratio of carb/fat/protein. For this I recommend using a macronutrient calculator or even better consulting with coach/trainer who uses this approach. There are a ton of options and most are pretty affordable as they’re based online. Instagram, surprisingly enough, is a great resource for finding these coaches.
Personally, my ratio is higher on carbs than fats, with protein intake hovering just above 1 g per lb of body weight. This allows me to eat good portions of fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as a moderate amount of healthy fat. While each person is different, in my opinion lower carb diets are hard to sustain and a bit counterproductive when trying to lose fat & build muscle.
I highly recommend trying this approach, especially for those of you who struggle with binging on certain foods etc. It’s a much more sustainable and healthy way to live your life.
Any diet should be done in conjunction with a fitness program that aligns with your goals. I’ll detail my current program in another post!