Monday, February 8, 2016

IIFYM - If It Fits Your Macros aka Flexible Dieting - How This Might Be the Answer More Mature Women (and all women really) Have Been Searching For!

 As I have documented here off and on, and certainly on my Facebook to friends and family, for the past almost 4 years I have struggled with the change in body composition.  I wish I could blame it all on the thyroid, but since I've proven that to be something you can overcome through diet and exercise (as I proved once I was diagnosed and put the work in to get better.  The meds alone can't fix it all.
But then came a move to Nebraska and the later stages of pre-menopause and those coupled together were just a nightmare waiting to happen.  I just didn't realize it.
I wanted to document my journey through a few blog posts...if for no other reason than for older women to know they aren't alone in the struggle and how I am FINALLY figuring out what has worked for me.  I am almost 3 weeks since my initial bod pod and a complete over-haul in the way I eat AND in the way I see and think about food.
Let me just list a few things I have tried over the past few years that DIDN'T work:
Run more
Run less
Lift more
Lift less
Eat less
A combo of any and all of those things in no particular order
Here is what happened with all that:
I got hungry
I got slower
I got fatter
I got depressed
Some time around Spring of last year I remember my niece, her girlfriend and I were going to do a 'biggest loser' thing and at the time on my digital scale at home I was weighing in at 127ish.  So for the past year, I thought that is how much I still weighed.  Clearly I was wrong as documented on my post with the bod pod.  On someone as short as I am 5 lbs is a size up in pants and well overall just looking like a person in photos I didn't recognize, being as even THAT weight was 6 more than I weighed when I moved to Nebraska mid-2012.
Oy, oy, oy.
I had some success late Spring and in to Summer with a boot camp(ish) kind of workout being offered at my 24 Hour Fitness...but it was expensive, and well it was 24 Hour Fitness and the fast paced/circuit type program just didn't really work in that environment.  Having to compete in a HEAVILY crowded gym was just more frustrating than anything so I stopped after 12 weeks.  I have since embarked on something else, which I will write about in a separate post but right now...I just want to talk about what I have done with food and how even though its only been 3 weeks it has changed my life.
IIFYM - If It Fits Your Macros
So, what does this mean?

It means:
I run less
I am faster
I eat more
I sleep better
My clothes fit like they are supposed to
My aches and strains have disappeared
I am no longer depressed

It also means I’m measuring and recording all my food in order to reach a particular number of macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) each day. I’m using My Fitness Pal and a food scale to track everything and have found it’s pretty easy to take a few minutes to enter in my food. So far, I’m really enjoying the process and it feels good to take full responsibility for how I fuel my body.
Right now, I’m aiming for a 40C/30F/30P macronutrient split and with some planning, I’m find it pretty easy to reach those numbers. For my needs, that works out to be 140 grams of carbohydrates, 47 grams of fat and 105 grams of protein on a training day. Those numbers vary slightly for a rest day.  It took a few days to figure out how to budget those macros throughout the day but I’ve found by making my meals and snacks well-balanced, I end up with a good amount of each macro left by dinnertime and even leave some room for dessert!  These numbers are tailored to me; my current situation, my goals...etc.  Once I get to where I want BF wise etc., the numbers will be raised to be in maintenance mode.
Before I get into what I learned these past couple of weeks, I want to be clear that this isn’t a diet and it’s not about being restrictive, in fact I’m eating even more than I was before I started. I will not be fulfilling my macros with fat-free, sugar-free and low-carb products, I will still be eating plant-based, whole foods, just in different proportions than I used to. I will not be eating junk food because “it fits my macros,” in fact, I really don’t plan to change much about how I eat at all but rather just be more conscious of how I feel, what works best for me and have the energy I need to reach my fitness and health goals.
I’m not trying to lose weight persay, my goals are improved athletic performance, improved recovery bust mostly a change in body composition. This is about seeing how good I can feel, how strong I can get, how much energy I can have and what I can accomplish if I really put my mind to it. This is not about being hungry, feeling restricted or being obsessive, it only takes a little bit of extra work to hit my numbers each day and I’m actually really enjoying it. It’s like a puzzle that you get to solve each day! There were a few nights where I didn’t feel like measuring out my dinner but I’ve found that adding my recipes to the app ahead of time makes it really easy to enter my food in just a few seconds.
I won’t be doing this forever nor will I be doing it every single day over the next few months, I have some summer trips (Costa Rica In May!!!!) and vacations planned and at this point, I don’t feel the need to worry about it when I’m away from home. I’ll do my best to stick to a general guideline but I won’t be busting out my food scale at our family reunion or the music festivals I’m attending this summer.
Yes, I was already eating very healthy before taking this on but I didn’t pay any attention to macros or really put much thought into how I was fuelling my body. On weekends, although still eating healthy for the most part, I was all over the map, eating way too little or way too much without any consistency to my diet. Some days I was eating a ton of carbs and fat and some days I wasn’t eating nearly as much as I thought. When you want to get the most out of every workout, that inconsistency can really hold you back.  I have been tracking for almost a year off and on actually, and when I went back and looked...well guess what my diet was mostly carbs.  I was NOWHERE NEAR eating as much as I should have been and certainly not the right macros!!! 
So, what about micronutrients? Well, of course, they are still important to me too! That’s why I’ll be continuing to eat a whole food diet. Vitamins, minerals, fibre and other parts of the food we eat are still an important factor in my overall health and I’ll always ensure I’m getting what I need.

The biggest takeaway from my findings so far has been I need to eat more and in the form of proteins.  Previously, since I didn’t pay any attention to my protein intake, there would have been days when I didn’t eat all that much. It was enough to be healthy, workout and feel OK but not enough to reach my current goals. Without a conscious effort to include, high-protein, plant-based foods in every meal and snack, I won’t be able to reach 107 grams a day. When I go in to maintenance I will have to even eat MORE food! Ha!
MyFitnessPal is great that as I log and track, based on the goal numbers loaded in, it automatically tracks my nutrients in both grams and in percentages in a pie chart so that I can easily see if I need more of any of them or a combo.  An example is earlier planning out the rest of my day I was short on Carbs and Fats but didn't need any more protein planned.  So guess what got added?
Ice cream and chocolate syrup!
Its quite amazing..
Yes it can be a bit daunting with the weighing and measuring but after about a week or so you get used to it and honestly it doesn't take that much time.  Its just an excuse people will use because they aren't serious ... they want the easy answer... can't I just eat less?  Nope.  Maybe for a while but screw up your insides like I did after years and years of that...and well.  You're going to have to fix it.
I believe wholeheartedly that IIFYM, flexible eating and reverse dieting CAN fix a broken metabolism and assist with body composition as a woman ages and hormonal fluctuations become more and more common.
I have my 3rd weigh in on Wednesday so I will come back with that number but since my goal is BF loss and retaining muscle, my numbers in macros are to aid in that.  Losing .5 lb a week is optimal.  Losing weight too quickly will result in a higher BF percentage and a lower muscle mass percentage aka SKINNY FAT.
I am very much so anticipating my follow up bod pod sometime in April!  In the 3 short weeks since I started, the change in body comp is definitely noticeable and really that's the most important thing to me.
If you would like to know more about maybe what your percentages would be, please do not hesitate to email me.  Or you can google IIFYM to do more research on their website; or any of the numerous folks out there who have excelled with this no nonsense approach to nutrition and being the best you at any age.
Anyway for anyone reading...stay tuned as I will documenting some of my trials and tribulations as I navigate the IIFYM world!


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