An Update to My Thoughts on IIFYM

IIFYM Update

IIFYM UpdateA 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!

Your Friend,
Natalie

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day! Heart shaped pears and 'heart eggs in a basket' for breakfast this morning.

 

Reading with my kiddos this morning <3

Reading with my kiddos this morning <3

 

Natalie Hodson is a mom of two showing how to balance family, fitness, and a healthy lifestyle.  www.nataliehodson.com

18 Comments

  1. I have on and off tried this and I find I get obsessive about eating. I’m not sure it’s a healthy method for me personally. I still need to lose a bit of weight but I would rather find a way that I can feel comfortable and not freak out if I can’t weigh/scan my food. Or if my husband buys te wrong type of ingredient to make dinner. I want my kids to see healthy eating not too much obsession in either direction. Still working on what works for me!

    Reply
    • Hey Haley! Yeah, I agree with you where you said you want your kids to see healthy eating not too much of an obsession in either direction. I want to be an example of a healthy adult, but I don’t want them to feel like they have to be obsessive to reach their goals. Thanks for chiming it!

      Reply
      • Natalie! I totally know how you feel. I was going to try and start this. I had one of my friends “try” to explain it to me and I was so confused and overwhelmed I couldn’t even think about starting it. Then I started to use my fitness pal on one of my off days and felt overwhelmed because I didn’t work out that day (off day) and I went over my calories my first day. Then I got really sick for the past 5 days with a sinus infection. But even thinking about starting this flexible diet thing freaks me out. I think I will just stick with treating myself once in a while and stay on track with healthy meals!

        Reply
  2. Love this! I’m still following IIFYM but I don’t think it will be something I can maintain my entire life. While I love the flexibility it allows in making me not feel guilty about certain foods/portions I eat because it fits my macros, the constant weighing and tracking does take a toll mentally.

    Reply
  3. Hi Natalie,

    I have thought about tracking my macros and I used to be on MFP also but as you said already, I too, became a bit obsessed with numbers and it started to stress me out. Right now I am trying to lose my baby weight (about 30lbs ) to be back at pre-preg. weight. For now I try to eat clean and build some muscle and once I have the clean eating down I might be ready for tracking calories. But at the moment I just eyeball my meals and try to have appropriate portion sizes.
    I might be losing the weight faster with the IIFMM but I feel overwhelmed with all the numbers and it is sooooo time consuming. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Love this! Totally agree Natalie! I started tracking recently just to make sure I am not eating too little or too much, and to make sure I am getting enough protein everyday. I too do not aspire to ever be a fitness model or compete, and at this point just want to be physically healthy and a healthy BF. 🙂

    Reply
  5. I recently looked into IIFYM, and I found I too become too obsessive when I track so seriously like that. It becomes a bad habit that then I show to my kids. We recently had to add some more fat to the kids food (long story both our kids are very lean, and per the doctors orders we had to add more fat to their diet) It was very eye opening for me when my kids said to me “I don’t want to eat the fat milk” I realized I was over obsessing especially in front of them. That was a turning point for me. I still measure and track but just try not to let them see me do it. I will still eat out with my family, but I am making better choices. I do have about 20lbs to lose per my BMI measurement, however I also know that I have to be sensible.

    Reply
  6. Thanks for this article Natalie. I too am trying to loose my pregnancy weight and having been trying to track my macros. I’ve lost 15 pounds so far but seem to have hit a plateau. My baby is 6 months now and I am getting impatient with my slow progress. I have a few questions please:
    – did you add extra calories for breastfeeding? I am exclusively nursing her and just started to add solids to her diet. We follow the principle of baby led weaning so she gets most of the food everywhere else apart from her mouth!
    – IIFYM seems to promote higher protein and fat intake. For this diet to work, do you have to stick to the higher protein and fat intake? I struggle to meet my protein and this stresses me out.
    – when you calculated your intake on their website, did you enter sedentary or selected the option of x amount of workouts/per. I enjoy body weight exercise and HIIT but had to tone it down to low impact routines as I now suffer from Anterior Knee Pain Syndrome which is a drag. So my exercise intensity is not as hard as it used to be.

    I look forward to your reply! Thanks in advance

    Reply
  7. Love your post! There isn’t many of us in the fitness industry that have this outlook so its great to see another Mommy with the same approach as I do 😉

    Reply
  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on IIFYM. At one point you did live fit trainer, eating 6 meals every 3 hours. What’s your take on timed meals? And do you currently time your meals? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  9. It’s funny you posted this today I’ve been thinking about asking you about this on your page for a few days now. I was wondering how you were feeling about it now that you’ve been doing it a while. I’ve been thinking about doing it, but I think I might end up obsessing a little much over what I’m doing…I have that all or nothing personality. It’s nice to hear other peoples thoughts behind it. Thanks! I love your blog!!!

    Reply
  10. I like how you’ve tweaked a program to make it realistic for yourself and affords flexibility. This is also what I’m currently trying to do. It needs to be sustainable without becoming obsessive and bring you down. I’m just a regular SAHM who wants To be fit and healthy; no fitness competitions in the horizon so counting every gram of food is not necessary and gives me a sense of relief with no guilt. Thanks for your article!

    Reply
  11. I completely agree with you Natalie. It definitely seemed to work when I hit a plateau when working off my last few baby weight lbs. but felt that it became obsessive and a constant thing. I hated having to stress if I went to eat at family/friends houses afraid that I wouldn’t be able to track every little thing. It does work and the few months I did it, it got me really good at eye balling portion sizes, but I feel way more comfortable not stressing over every tiny bite. And being a good role model is definitely important for my daughter so we do eat healthy, but I don’t want her to see me being obsessive over food and the scale, thinking that that’s normal.

    Reply
  12. Hi Natalie,
    If I wanted to consider IIFYM how to I get started and know which percentage is correct for my goals? I know most people do 40/30/30 and I know if you go to the MFP website you can tweak it that way. And do you also follow a calorie guideline as well as track macros? Thanks!!

    Reply
  13. This could not have come at a better time for me personally!! I’m starting a program that follows IIFYM and I find it difficult to understand as well as adhere to. I am NOT a meticulous person so to hear you say that you have to be meticulous with your food solidifies for me that I am going to have to figure out something that works for me and my lifestyle while following this workout program! Thank you for being so open with what works for you and all the information. From one busy mom to another it is so appreciated!!

    Reply
  14. I disagree with the strictness that you say is necessary. I follow flexible dieting, and have achieved great results doing so. I go out to eat and do not weigh my food, but it’s still in my macros. I don’t hit exactly my planned macros every day, HOWEVER, my weekly average does get within 1g of my goal for each macronutrient. I also don’t count everything, like things that are <5kcal/svg ("free foods") because it's not worth it. And face it, the nutrition label may not be truthful and nutrients vary in natural foods like avocados and bananas just NATURALLY. Listed in databases are averages; it's all just a guide and not an exact science.

    Reply
  15. This article and the comments by other posters is a “Godsend”. I am struggling terribly with IIFYM. Am I getting results? Yes. Am I doing this despite eating ‘bad foods’ like a small amount of chocolate on a daily basis? Yes? Do I binge on an off day like I did with clean eaing? No. From my experience IIFYM looks fantastic but the reality it is not. it is everything that you and the other readers summed up. Every single one of my meals has to be planned and monitored. When I eat out instead of enjoying it I’m looking at my MFP everything I eat. I spend hours planning my meals and stressing about not hitting my macros r going over my calories. Also eating at someone’s house or having ‘banquet type meals are stress factors because I can’t control what I eat. I also know that when I go out for Chinese food or any other meal where you share dishes I spend the time looking at MFP and thinking I can eat x amount of this Y amount of that. The idea that there is no bad food is also a myth. Food avoidance is still an issue. Suddenly clean foods like brown rice or avocados are a ‘bad’ food because they are so calorie dense. I’m happy I’m not alone in my struggle.. Thanks for this article because everywhere I look people talk about their freedom and say it prevents disordered eating. For me it’s the opposite . I aim to keep this tempoary just to get a hold on portion size and eventually adopt youyr approach especially since im not prepping for comp and doing it just to improve body composition

    Reply
  16. Thank you,I have recently been searching forr info
    about this subject for a while and yours iis the greatest I’ve found out till now.
    But, what concerning the conclusion? Are you sure concerning the supply?

    Reply

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