My weird food habits
If it fits your macros has been around a long time now within the fitness community and it has been something I have previously looked at people doing and been super jealous of. Whilst I stuck to my lean chicken, vegetables and minimal carbs in an attempt to lose body fat, these guys were eating chocolate when they wanted it, cake, ice cream – you name it – and still staying in the most amazing shape. As much as a followed these people on instagram and tried to read up on such eating habits, I just couldn’t bring myself to get involved. Why? Because of the huge emphasis on weighing all of your foods, which seemed obsessive and unnecessary, not to mention socially awkward, to me. Also, how could eating chocolate, and not of the dark kind, be good for me and my weight loss goals?
So when and why did I decide to finally get into it?
When I started back on my fitness hype around June last year, my metabolism was pretty destroyed because of the way I had been treating my body – super low calorie days followed by huge binges a few times a week. I couldn’t afford to eat a high volume of food and still expect to lose body fat, with a maintenance level of around 1400 calories, which is really low, especially for someone who loves eating as much as me. As we know, in order to lose body fat, you must be in a calorie deficit and so for me, this meant consuming less than 1400 calories every day. This was where weighing my food had to come into it, because otherwise, there was no way I would know that I was keeping to my daily allowance. I weighed out everything, tracked it all on myfitness pal and tried as hard as I could to stick to my macros. It was a struggle at times, but definitely had it’s rewards and the weight dropped off me pretty fast. That, alongside my training, meant my metabolism began to speed up and I started to burn more calories each day. My body began functioning properly again and with this increase, I was able to start reverse dieting and build back in more calories to my day. I added an average of about a hundred calories to my weekly intake every few weeks, sticking pretty rigidly to this, until finally after about 6 months, I hit around 2000 – which is where I am now.
So what do I do now?
Well, I still track and weigh my foods, but my reasons and methods are totally different to what they were when I first started. I wouldn’t really call what I did before an IIFYM approach, because I avoided a lot of foods and really just weighed stuff to make sure I stayed in a calorie deficit. Nowadays however, I would call myself an IIFYM gal or ‘flexible dieter’ as I decide what I want to eat, weigh it out, fit it into my macros (and micros) and adjust the rest of my day’s food accordingly. Whilst to me, this now seems a totally logical thing to do, outside of the industry, I am well aware of the stigma that such an intense and somewhat obsessive focus on numbers brings. In fact, I used to be so self-conscious about telling people this was how I ate and avoided questions on it. It’s not that I was ashamed, but I totally get that it’s not considered ‘normal’ to weigh out and measure your food and then to devour bowls of chocolate, cake and spreads in the evenings when you’re not especially hungry, just because you have left over carbs and calories. It was just easier not to talk about it. But since writing about it on this blog, I have inevitably been getting asked questions and have had to start opening up more about my food habits. At first it felt weird, because a lot of the time, people won’t and don’t get it, and quite rightly so – it’s an obsessive concept to get your head around. But having to explain it and what I do, has made me realise how far I have come and how amazing it has been for me.
IFYM has given me back a normal mentality and attitude towards food and eating (in one sense of the word anyway). It has allowed me to see beyond the whole ‘clean eating’ fad and know that I can eat what I want, when I want, even if it’s made of carbs and chocolate. I no longer get scared about going out for a pizza on a Saturday night, worried it will make me fat. Instead I think - that’s 100g of carbs, which means I have about 50g left today, so I can probably afford to share a dessert if I want one and even if I can’t, it’ll only take me over my calories by a couple hundred, which won’t really make a difference to anything. It has allowed me to stop constantly fearing weight/fat gain and I have been able to re-build my loving relationship with food. I now follow a much more sustainable diet where I no longer feel the need to starve myself of the foods I want and then binge because I feel deprived. Everything can be fit in to my day, and if I’m a few hundred calories over, I’m sure I will eat a little less over the course of the week and everything will balance out. It also means that I can set new goals in the gym, knowing I will be able to reach them, as I tailor my calories to what I want to achieve.
So yes, when I look at food I see numbers as well ingredients and do mini calculations in my head and yes, food prep takes longer because I have to weigh things and track it all down. But is it worth it for me? 100%! Because by keeping tabs on everything, knowing how much of my intake I’ve used up and how much I’ve got left, I can choose to eat a chocolate bar at the end of the day without feeling bad about it. I can know I am on track to get a new PB in the gym because I have fuelled my body accordingly. And I can afford to eat all the food with my friends, because 80% of the time, everything is so on point, that a little bit extra here and there won’t make the slightest of difference. There’s no need to tell me it’s just a different obsessive habit, because I’m well aware it is, but it’s an obsessive habit that has done, and is doing me, a lot of good when it comes to my mental health and attitude towards food. I have to say, I really do see it becoming a long term venture for me.
Now I don’t claim to be an expert at all, but if you would like to chat about my food habits, or would like to know a bit more about this approach, do drop me a line or whatever. I am slowly getting my head around opening up about my weird food choices, but would love to share and chat if you are interested!
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Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org