Why I Love Macro Counting (IIFYM)

Macro counting, flexible dieting, If It Fits Your Macros. Many names for it. I have been doing flexible dieting for about a year and I used it for my bikini contest prep even.

Here is a good blog post guide on how to macro count. I thought I would direct to a good article instead of trying to rewrite something written a million times. I also suggest checking out Layne Norton for info and blog posts. Likely the most famous flexible dieter.

This post isn't about how to macro count, but why I love it and think its appropriate for majority of people. Mama Lion strong wrote a blog post about how it can be hurt a few with eating disorders and I agree, but for the most of us it's a great tool to have. 

So flexible dieting is all about obtaining a certain amount of calories, with ratios of fat, carb and protein designed for the type of activity you are doing. Calorie deficit = weight loss, calorie maintenance = body recomp/fat loss without weight loss, calorie surplus = weight gain. When you are tracking these three main macronutrients you are eating "what fits" into them.

oreos

So say you love oreos (okay so I do) and it's something you would like to eat. You plan to fit two oreos into your plan at the end of every day. (okay so this is what I do). As long as I'm eating within my fat, carb and protein limits (and obtaining a minimum daily fiber intake) I can eat them.

Now obviously if I ate just oreos and protein shakes all day, every day I could keep within my numbers, but I wouldn't hit my fiber intake (which is pretty important) and I would be pretty hungry. Usually these junk type food are high glycemic indexed, so meaning they enter the blood stream quickly and leave quickly. Whole food, generally are slower processed the body so you don't feel as hungry. Most of us flexible dieters say we usually eat 80% whole foods, 20% what we want.

salad

Of course the main reason I love this is because I get to eat the things I love and crave. Without the guilt. This is a big one. My entire life I've grown up in a society that says cookies and cake are bad. Feel ashamed for eating those awful things and get started on your diet tomorrow for doing it. How many times have you been at a party or something and your friend turns to you and says "I can't believe I ate this and that, I'll punish myself in the gym tomorrow for it" Or "I guess it's only salads all next week to make up for all this crap I ate"? Or you buy a bag of said Oreos, eat an entire row or bag and feel terrible after. Aside from the sugar rush tummy ache. But what if you planned to eat two Oreos each night? Or planned on having that McDonald's burger on Tuesdays because Tuesdays at work are always busy? Planned it to fit into your macros. And ate whole foods the rest of the day and stayed within your macros? Where would the guilt and shame be? Lost, that's where.

The thing I've struggled with in the past is the spiral. I ate this and feel crappy about it, so the rest of the day is lost. Continue eating like this today and start again tomorrow. Tomorrow comes and I eat a donut at break and think the day is lost and yesterday repeats itself. There is guilt that goes with "failing" at my diet that day. But now I eat something unplanned, like when my oh so adorable daughters bat their eyelashes for a donut at the shop next to the gym. I get one, eat it, enjoy it and adjust my foods the rest of the day to make sure I stay within my numbers. Look at that, true "guilt free" foods.

donut

Now the other part I love about this type of eating style is it fits whatever you eat! Paleo? Still can count macros. Gluten free? Vegetarian? Organic whole foods only? You can still count macros. I am a vegetarian and eating mostly whole foods and organic. I use foods in a holistic manner, by eating certain foods that help ailments and so on. For example I had some gallbladder issues this winter and I was eating foods that specifically helped me with it and avoided the ones that hurt me more. All while staying within my macronutrient range.

I'm not going to say I don't go off track, or occasionally "yolo binge" etc. But that's part of being human and the past 29 years of being made to think that's basically the way we should eat. Old habits die hard. That's also part of the perseverance training, to get back on that damn horse after unplanned "carb loading". Ha ha.

Macro counting may not be for everyone, It does require some work. The first few weeks are a pain trying to set up foods, navigate how things fit and weighing/measuring everything. But eventually it gets easier and you learn how to count with eyeballing even. I can look at a food and give you a pretty good idea of what the macro profile is now.

If you are interested in macro counting, I strongly recommend the above blogs, plus doing some research online. Some of the calculators online are pretty aggressive and I don't agree with. But one I think comes pretty close is macronutrientcalculator.com .

Some of the things you will need to start are:

  • A food scale
  • Calorie counting app, My Fitness Pal, Calorie King, Bodyspace are all popular.
  • Measuring cups/spoons

Thanks for reading, and no matter your "eating style" as long as it makes you happy and gets you the results you want, tell others to piss off and enjoy.

 

Jen

 

The Red Dress

In four months I will celebrate my 30th birthday. Not turning 29 for a second time, but fully embrace 30. Guns a blazing. Bicep guns that is.

Match 1st I started cutting calories for a 4 month process of shedding the "extra" I added this winter to see the muscles I've built underneath. Yep summer is less then 4 months away people! Let's get moving and shaking on those short shorts legs and sleeveless shirts.

I'm a very goal oriented person. If I have a goal, I will achieve it. So I set the goal of this beautiful red dress for my 30th birthday. I happened to be in a store looking for new boots and came to pass this dress. I stopped and just had to try it on. It fits, sort of. I can zip it up and all, but it just doesn't sit quite right and shows everything. I think I've ever only owned one of two red dresses in my life and I hardly wore them. Likely because red dresses scream "look at me" and I've always been sort of self body conscious. Lifelong body issues; certainly a post for another day. Red dress fits perfectly for this situation since my birthday is on Canada Day. Be color themed :)

 

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So, I have a motivational dress now. A goal to obtain. And a date to obtain it by. Sounds like most of us at any given moment? A bikini filled vacation booked, a wedding, a reunion and so on.

Going back to school days where we learned goal planning, let's see where I sit.

  • Goal - Smoke show for 30th birthday. Ha ha. I have a weight number, but I don't want to share it. Not because I care what anyone knows I weigh, but because MY bodies 100, 120, 140, 160 will look different then yours, his, hers or anyone else's. So make your own approachable and REALISTIC goal. If I can make a suggestion 0.5 - 1 lbs a week is a realistic goal. Expecting to loose 10 pounds in 2 weeks is not healthy for your body or your mind. Sustainable and steady is the way to go. Remember the tortoise and the hare?
  • End Date - July 1st 2015. My 30th birthday. Pick a date, for whatever reason/event.
  • Motivation and Commitment - The Red Dress. Trying on the dress monthly and taking pictures to see my progress. Keep imagining the red dress on the day I don't feel like the stairmill. Pick a motivational dress, outfit or whatever. A physical thing to look at is something I prefer.
  • Reminder to stay on track - Trying on the dress is a good one, but I like my Project people will be taking weight and pictures bi weekly, measurements monthly.
  • Plan - I have a plan for my caloric deficit (better term for "diet") and when I start adding cardio to my current workout schedule. I know this is where a lot of people struggle. They get lost in the "who, what, when and where" of fitness and nutrition. But even if you plan to workout so many days a week and commitment to one or two specific things nutrition wise, now you have a plan. One that you can measure your commitment.
  • Review and assessment - Reviewing my progress regularly (see weight, pictures and measurements) and assessing where I am in relation to my goal. This one can be hard to do for yourself. It may be hard to see progress because we see ourselves every day, and we judge ourselves on our failures a lot, especially when it comes to weight loss. So maybe your spouse or best friend wants in with you? Check in on each other and review progress. Keep each other motivated. (Tip: Can also be your support person at events and functions when people ask have that extra piece of cake or drink etc). Over the course of 4 months, things will need to change on how I reach my goal. As my body changes, I will need to keep reassessing how to stay on course. I still love that quote "Be stubborn about your goals, flexible about how you reach them"

Now my real "secret" to weight loss. I also bought a dress that I feel good in now. One that flatters my current body and I feel amazing in. With no event in the future exactly, but hey, who doesn't need a fun little black dress? But wait, why buy a dress that you likely might not fit soon? Because you need to love your body now. As cheesy as it sounds some of those fitness clichés are good tips. "I work out because I love my body, not because I hate it". Yep. If we view ourselves in a negative light now, do we think loosing a few pounds will be easier? If we have a little bit of self love and view the process as improving on something that's already great, do you think it might be a more enjoyable process? Be a little self centered and point out the good.

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Let me know your favorite tip for staying on track with your goals below!

Jen