The Dark Side of IIFYM ( and diets in general)

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http://dietsinreview.s3.amazonaws.com/diet_column/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/stress-eating.jpgRemember 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.

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How-To: Make (the best!) Mayonnaise at Home (Paleo, Whole30)

Homemade Mayonnaise Quick and Easy

Ready for a healthier version of something you likely already have in your fridge?  A creamy, cool condiment gets the makeover treatment.  I’ve culled the web and done a lot of experimenting on your behalf to bring you The Best Homemade Mayonnaise (Ever).  I didn’t just make this up on my own, but I will share the unique combination of ingredients and technique I used for the richest, creamiest, most-delicious mayonnaise you have ever tasted, without any of the less-than-desirable ingredients and additives you might find in store-bought stuff.   Keep reading

How-To: Make (Raw) Cashew Butter at Home

Homemade Cashew ButterIt’s time to fire up your food processor!  I’ll take you through the process of making your very own raw cashew butter at home.  I learned so much from The Healthy Foodie in her post All Natural Homemade Raw Cashew Nut Butter, and I can’t wait to share it with you! Keep reading

How-To: Make Macadamia Butter at Home

Homemade Macadamia Nut Butter SpoonfulIf my How-To: Make Hazelnut Butter at Home inspired you, then hopefully this How-To will elevate you.  I’ve taken what I’ve learned from making nut butters, including different flavour combinations, and come up with this gorgeous roasted macadamia nut butter with vanilla and sea salt.  (And if the last How-To didn’t inspire you to fire up your food processor – or high-speed blender – then maybe this one will.)

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How-To: Take a Break

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Image source: http://eurythmia.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Relax-slider.jpgYou 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.

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How-To: Track Your Progress

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Image source: http://northwrightcounty.today/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/scale-and-tape-measure1.jpgAs 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!

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How-To: Track Your Macros (IIFYM a.k.a. Flexible Dieting)

Image source: http://mindovermunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/macros.jpg

Image source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Sys5vdIVsJ4/Uh_StNxnLSI/AAAAAAAACwQ/-6XvxkVTZPk/s1600/fe480cea0cb211e3bd6322000a1fa42a_7.jpgAlright.  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.

Image source: http://itsvmfitness.blogspot.kr/2013/08/a-closer-look-at-iifym-if-it-fits-your.htmlThere 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.

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How-To: Make Hazelnut Butter at Home

Homemade Hazelnut Butter

As you know from my previous How-To entries, I’m not exactly re-inventing the wheel over here.  What I do hope to do, though, is provide you with the education and vicarious experience to give you the confidence that if I can do it (little ol’ me!), then so can you!  Everything you could possibly need to know (and more) on making your own nut butters at home has already been published on the web.  So, I’m just throwing my post into the fray and I highly encourage you to check out Tasty Yummies’ How to Make Homemade Nut Butters for even more insight into various other nuts and flavour options, as well as thoughts on soaked nuts vs. unsoaked nuts, raw vs. roasted and all things nut butter-related!

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How-To: Make Unsweetened Applesauce at Home

Ripe Apple“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  “You’re the apple of my eye.”  Oh, apples!  So good on their own, so good in desserts (Salted Caramel Apple Bake, anyone?), so good at breakfast (Cinnamon Apple Pie Overnight Oatmeal), so good in soup (Simple Apple Cinnamon Roasted Squash Soup)…the options are endless.  And after all of that shameless self-promotion, what about applesauce?  Well, as you know, I’ve been loving my Vitamix high-speed blender and one of their first recipes I checked out was for Cooked Applesauce.  It’s seriously JUST APPLES.  And any regular jug blender or food processor should do the trick – I’ll show you how in this “How-To” and you can enjoy healthy, homemade applesauce, free of added sugar or preservatives, any time, either as a snack or as an ingredient in a recipe.  No need to go to the store!

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How-To: Plan and Prepare Healthy Meals

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Image source: http://averyleighdesigns.com“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  This axiom is attributed variously to the late war-time British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and to self-help guru Alan Lakein.  Regardless of who said it, it rings true in many realms, not the least of which is health and wellness.  “Fitness starts in the kitchen,” is another popular adage.  I believe both of these statements to be patently true, especially when you are first starting out with healthy eating and active living.

Changing habits is hard work, and until better-for-you choices become reflexive and automatic (this comes with experience and practice), it can be nice to set yourself up for success in as many ways as possible.  Planning and preparing for healthy meals (and snacks) can help to take the guesswork out of your day and help you to make good decisions when hunger pangs strike you at 2:43pm on your way past the vending machine (or even 2:43am when the middle-of-the-night-munchies strike).  Being able to get healthy, family-friendly meals on the table in less time than it takes for the pizza delivery to arrive also means that you will be less likely to pick up the phone for takeout in the first place!

This post is dedicated to bringing you guidelines, tips, tricks and suggestions for healthy meal planning and preparation.  This will support your wellness goals and hopefully save your sanity during the weekday dinner rush!

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