Remember when I raved about the dietary approach called If It Fits Your Macros, or flexible dieting? I experienced some significant personal growth with respect to the way I approached and related to food. I still believe that others can experience these breakthroughs via IIFYM as well. Not to mention, I and countless others have achieved significant changes in our physiques. But, at what cost? And were those changes sustainable? As I alluded in my How-To: Take a Break post, following IIFYM for a long-term, continuous basis is not feasible or sustainable. Like all diet plans and program, “flexible dieting” or If It Fits Your Macros has both benefits and pitfalls for its followers. I’ll be exploring the less desirable aspects of this program (and other “restriction diets”) in this post.
You might think from my previous How-To posts on How-To: Track Your Macros and How-To: Track Your Progress that I’m an advocate for relentless, unyielding pursuits of fitness goals, striving to be ever leaner/fitter/faster/stronger. I’M NOT. You simply CANNOT continue to push the body without expecting it to push back. Your body is smarter than your brain, and it is HIGHLY efficient. Ever wonder about weight loss and/or strength gain plateaus? You reduce your intake/increase your workouts and yet that one last pound gets harder and harder to lose or lift? Your body, marvelous machine, has reduced its metabolism and has gotten smarter and more efficient about fueling its required processes with LESS fuel, because you are supplying it with LESS fuel. Very smart (if only our cars operated on the same principle!). Similarly, your body has adapted to the stress of the workouts and doesn’t experience the same muscular hypertrophy and strength gains as it previously did under the same or lesser loads. VERY, very smart!
So, what do we do about this? Well, in a word – nothing! That’s right, there’s virtue in kicking back and relaxing! It’s time to talk about the value of knowing when to strive and knowing when to stop.
As I mentioned in my How-To: Track Your Macros post, you’re going to get a wealth of information about your macronutrient intake. But generally people are only going to put in that level of effort if they have a goal to achieve, in terms of physical performance and/or body composition. And the very best goals are S.M.A.R.T goals: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely/time-oriented. So, if you confer with your trusted health professional and decide that a realistic goal for you is to lose 10 lbs in 6 months, then you’ve covered off all of those attributes. But you won’t know whether you’ve achieved that goal unless you MEASURE – in this case, you have to step on that damn scale! You won’t know whether the actions you are taking (the input), such as eating a certain macronutrient ratio/target each day, are working as intended unless you look at the output. And progress is multi-faceted – so the more measurements you take, the more you can see progress and successes in areas you might have otherwise missed by focusing on one measurement exclusively (i.e. only ever looking at the unchanging number on the scale without realizing that you’ve lost several inches by decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass and/or gotten noticeably stronger at back squats).
So, that’s my case for tracking progress. If you’re a believer, follow along!
Alright. You’ve heard about it. You’ve seen the acronym a few too many times, and far too many photos in your Instagram feed of “bikini athletes” mowing their way through deep-dish pepperoni pizzas as part of their show prep. If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) is a food/nutrition/diet movement that looks at food at the macronutrient level: proteins, carbohydrates and fats. P-C-F, in IIFYM short-hand.
There is no more “clean” food vs. “junk” food or “good” food vs. “bad” food. No more cheat days or treat days; no “earning” carbs or calories. Food is food. From an apple to an anchovy, a chicken breast to a Cheez-It, all food is comprised of the same three basic macronutrients (yes, there are also micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals to consider, but we’ll worry about that later). The idea is that your body needs a certain personalized ratio of these three macronutrients for optimal performance and body composition. Figure this out and then make small changes over time and you can reap lasting changes in your strength, physique and body composition.
This post is NOT about figuring out YOUR personalized macronutrient ratios. There are other websites for that and frankly, that can actually be the easy part. The harder part (as always) is putting information into action and taking the steps to actually eat the desired/required macronutrients in the run of a day (or week). The only way to know whether you’re actually doing this is to TRACK WHAT YOU ARE EATING. Everything you’re eating and ALL of what you are eating. THAT is what this post is about.
Just in time for #MotivationMonday (apparently super popular on Instagram and trending on Twitter these days), get to know my favourite fitness bloggers from around the web – a much shorter list than My Favourite Food Bloggers but I guess it’s because these two inspirational women do the work of many! You’ll see many of their ideas and insights echoed in my own posts (and I hope I’ve given credit where credit was due) – great minds think alike!
FINALLY – a workout post on the blog. Here I’ve been
fatteningfueling you up to tackle and recover from some intense workouts with all of my high-protein recipes, and I haven’t given you any workout ideas to do. Well, it’s time for that to change. And this workout is intense enough that maybe you’ll wish I had never shared it (ha ha – no, don’t be intimidated – yes, it IS effective AND challenging, but it is very scalable for all levels of fitness).
My chief athletic background is in competitive swimming, up and down the lanes in a regulation competition pool as fast as I could go. I performed reasonably well at the provincial level but certainly never on a national level and my amateur competitive career fizzled out after less than one semester at the varsity level in university. I returned to swimming as an “adult” (and I still use the term loosely when describing myself) as part of the Masters program (a sanctioned swimming body for recreational and competitive athletes aged 25+).
I took up running as a sport (as opposed to a cruel & punishing form of cross training for swimming) in my first year of working full time after university graduation. It seemed like a very “adult” thing to do. I’m pleased to say that my very first road running race was a full marathon (42.2 km or 26.1 mi for my American visitors) because that’s just really how I do things: go big or go home. I’ve now done three full marathons, seven half marathons and a handful of ten-mile and ten-kilometre races. I still enjoy getting out for the occasional jaunt, but I’ve hung up my laces in semi-retirement for the tenure of my assignment in the ROK (Republic of Korea, also known as South Korea and not to be confused with the aptly-named Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, our neighbours to the North).