A while back I wrote a blog with my thoughts on IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), which is kind of the new craze in the fitness industry right now. You can read the full article by clicking HERE.
In short, I talked about how I have been following IIFYM the past few months and that it has really worked and helped me lose a lot of the baby weight I gained (note: I was 218 lbs when I delivered Phoenix, so I had a lot of baby weight to lose. If you are interested you can read my full natural birth story HERE).
Now that I have been following IIFYM or Flexible Dieting (same thing just a different word) for the past six months I feel like I have some experience with it, and I wanted to share with you guys my thoughts. If I had to recap in one sentence it would be: IIFYM definitely works, but I don't really like it.
Let me elaborate.
Does counting your macros and following IIFYM work? Yes, absolutely. Can you lose weight while doing it? You bet. Does it help you make necessary tweaks to your program when results start to stall? Yep.
But, here is the reason I don't like doing it. You have to be meticulous about every bite of food you put in your mouth. In order for flexible dieting to really work, you need to stay within 1-3 grams of your planned macros for the day. Grams! That means that every single piece of food that goes in your mouth needs to be weighed, measured, and recorded. If you try to eyeball your measurements, or take a bite off your kids' plate this style of dieting doesn't work optimally. This is where the problem for me lies.
I have never really had a bad relationship with food....until I started doing IIFYM. I started to feel kind of guilty if I ate something and couldn't weigh it on the food scale, or if I grabbed a handful of the kids' goldfish and didn't know how many I had snacked on to record in My Fitness Pal. I mean, hello, that's crazy to me. I'm not a fitness model. I'm not trying to compete in a figure competition. I am just a regular mom that wants to feel comfortable in a swimsuit when I take my kids to the pool.
So, here is how I have adjusted to make things work for me that are do-able in the long run. I have a pretty good understanding of portion sizes from tracking foods for so long. Typically I eat about 4oz of protein in each meal, complex carbs in three of my five meals (one of those meals is a pre/post workout), and veggies in 2-3 of the meals. So, that is how I structure my meals for the day. If I get busy and miss one of my meals, I just double my portion sizes for the next meal. If I decide to snack on some goldfish, I just make my carb portion slightly smaller in my next meal. I have one or two nights a week where we go out as a family and get frozen yogurt, or order in pizza, something like that. To me, this is a better version of creating balance, and is what works for me in the long run. I don't feel obsessed over numbers and I feel like it's more manageable for me with a busy life as a working mom with two kids.
Now, with all this being said, I don't think tracking macros is entirely bad, and if done for short periods of time I think it is really helpful. If there are times that I feel like my clothes are maybe getting a little snug, or I have an event I want to look a little leaner for, then I will probably track my meals/macros again for a week or so just to keep me in check and make sure I am actually eating what I think I'm eating. I also think that if your goal is to compete in a figure competition, or be on a magazine cover, then tracking your food is a part of the process and is probably necessary. But, for someone like me who doesn't want to compete, but just wants to feel healthy and comfortable in my clothes, only tracking on occasion is a better fit for me.
I'm sure I will have some people who disagree with me on this because I know so many people out there love IIFYM. But, this is just what I have found works for me, that doesn't mean it's the end-all or the best possible way out there. Truthfully, whichever approach to healthy dieting is the one you can be most consistent at is going to be the most successful for you in the long run.
And, with that, I'm off to go snuggle on my babies, read some books with them, and get some Valentines Day love from my family. Have you ever tried IIFYM before? Do you count calories? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please share your experiences in the comments!
Natalie Hodson is a mom of two showing how to balance family, fitness, and a healthy lifestyle. www.nataliehodson.com