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I firmly believe if a diet isn’t sustainable you won’t stick to it. How long can you really go with no carbs or no sugar? I know I didn’t last long on either of those. A week….Maybe?? Then I felt so miserable, I gave in and ate everything in my house.
If you are too uptight about your diet, you won’t be able to stick with it no matter how good of a diet it is and believe it or not, that INCLUDES counting macros! There is a time and place to be super strict on your diet. For me, I was super duper strict for the first 9-10 months. I had a cheat meal once a week and I had non-tracking days on holidays only but other than that, I was 100%. And I needed that at first. It really worked for me while I was first starting and learning. But now that I know everything I do about flexible dieting and my body, I know I can be a little more lenient. I am not seeing results as fast, but it’s also more sustainable for me and my lifestyle. I am still very good at hitting my macros but if we are at a bbq or a business dinner, or something unplanned comes up, I don’t freak out. I live life in that moment and get right back on track the second that moment is over. I don’t let myself stay off track for long and that is the key. You can have times where you don’t count or days where you are feeling extra hungry and want to eat everything, but you better get right back on track the next meal or day. There is no starting on Monday and binging through the weekend. That’s when things start to get bad. Allow yourself a little leniency from time to time and the other times, stick with the diet. I stay on track the best I can 90% of the time so I can allow myself some room to live the other 10%.
With that being said.. There are different levels of flexible dieting. Have you heard that term before? It’s called flexible dieting because it’s meant to be flexible. Imagine that!?! Counting macros, iifym (if it fits your macros) and flexible dieting all encompass the same basic principles. IIFYM to some people means they can eat anything they want as long as it fits their macros, not being too concerned about healthy foods and micronutrients.
Flexible dieting consists more of a diet of eating healthy most of the time but fitting in a treat here and there (or everyday) I am more on this boat. I eat healthy pretty much all day and then have a non-healthy treat for dessert that still fits in my macros.
I want to share with you several approaches to counting macros/flexible dieting. You can use any of these approaches to fit your life and make your diet sustainable. Remember, if it’s not sustainable to you and your life, you won’t stick with it.
Here are some options when it comes to macros:
1- Intuitive eating- I caution strongly against this one. I don’t really know anyone who is good at intuitive eating so I strongly recommend you DON’T do this! I mean, how did we gain weight in the first place?? By not tracking what goes in our body and eating what we want. There are some people who are really good at this, but I am not one of them! And if you’re reading this blog, my guess is you’re probably not either.
2-Only counting calories- Calories in vs. calories out is how we lose weight. Counting calories only and not worrying about macros is definitely an option, however, you most likely won’t get enough protein and therefore you won’t be able to build/protect muscles as well as if you counted macros. For some people, this will work best but if you want to see major changes in your body, you’ve got to get enough protein and have the right ratios of carbs and fat as well as protein.
3- Counting calories and protein- Some days, this is what i do if I am having a particularly hectic day. I will make sure I hit my protein goal and not go over calories. I don’t do it every day but it is a good option if you’re just having one of those days!
4- Hitting macros pretty close but not perfect- This is what I do most of the time. I track my macros and try to hit each one but if I am a little over or under on a particular macro, I don’t freak out. If it’s the end of the day and I’ve hit my fat and protein and still have 200 calories left in carbs and my family is having ice cream, I will have the ice cream and just fill my calories, not caring that ice cream also has protein and fat in it.
5- Hitting each macro within 5 grams every day- A perfect day of macros is considered to be hitting each of your macros within + or -5 grams on all three-carbs, fat and protein (bonus for fiber!). I have done this a lot and still do. I tend to use 4 and 5 the most.
6- Hitting perfect 0’s on all macros- I have done this 3 times ever! It is hard to do… totally possible, but hard. It involved me eating a teaspoon of butter just so I could get all 0’s! HAHAHA! It’s fun to do a few times but definitely not happening every day. Not even close!
I want you to find what works for you and go for it. Everyone’s lives are different and everyone’s bodies are different so you have to find what works for you and go for it. Do something you can SUSTAIN! Trying something for a week or two and realizing it’s not sustainable, then giving up and binging, will only lead you further down a one way road and to more weight gain.
Let me know in the comments section, what type of flexible dieting works best for you!