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Flexible Dieting

Flexible Dieting Food Overview

How I Got Started with Flexible Dieting: The Long Story

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Well I’m going to go ahead and blame it on this guy.

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The Back Story

Matt & I went to the same elementary school, the same high school, and even the same college…but managed to miss each other until last year.

What does he have to do with this? Well, Matt is a Personal Trainer, and he asked me to go on a bike ride for our second date. Ummmm. That’s intimidating.

My thoughts:

Just no.

How am I going to keep up?

What if I fall off?

I’m never going to make it that far.

How am I going to look cute in a helmet?

See, my background with fitness was totally different from Matt’s. I grew up in an Italian family. Food came first, and there was plenty of it. Wine too. I love to cook, and I love my olive oil. I definitely worked out- when I felt like it. My attitude about myself was that I was just the right size, and I didn’t need to be any different. I thought maybe I could be a little more toned…whatever that was. I certainly wasn’t going to let my very cute, very fit new date make me feel like I should eat differently or work out more.

But, of course, he didn’t make me feel that way. We did ride bikes that day, we had an amazing time, and I was just fine. {I was going to spin class a few times a week at the time, I don’t think I gave myself enough credit!}

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My Previous Beliefs About Food and Fitness

As the months went on, we started having conversations about food and the fitness world. I was curious about his eating style, and I wasn’t sure how to cook for him.

I believed in what I read about online- clean eating. I stayed away from processed foods and junk. I tried cutting sugar out, and I wasn’t a big fan of dairy. Mostly this was because I have terrible skin and stomach issues, and I figured my food choices had something to do with that.

I had never really changed in size. I was skinnier in high school, obviously. I had gained a little weight during college (I mean, who doesn’t?). And I started “eating clean” and running almost daily about 4 years ago. I went to a workout class 3 times a week, and I had lost a little weight over the years, remaining consistently about the same size.

I didn’t think much of my weight, but I definitely wasn’t gaining muscle or getting any more lean. I figured that was the size I was supposed to be, and I really didn’t think I’d ever be any different. 

I thought I was doing all the right things, but my body didn’t seem to be responding anymore. I was completely stalled and running in neutral. {Running HARD in neutral. To the tune of a few sweaty miles a day.}

Matt ate completely differently. Pizza. Ice cream. Pop tarts. And he ate….like….a lot of food. AND he had muscles. He’s kind of a walking advertisement for science. {He’d kill me for saying that- but it’s true.} To be fair, he didn’t eat junk all the time, but he seemed to know how to fit it in.

I wondered how he could eat like this and look the way he did, but I wasn’t really interested in eating junk food. I was much more of a big bowl of rice and brussels sprouts in olive oil with cheese on top kind of girl. {What I didn’t know was that my body had no idea I was consuming a big bowl of rice and veggies and oil. It thought I was eating a greasy cheese pizza. So…maybe I should’ve went with the pizza.}

Matt explained that he tracks what he eats. He could eat whatever foods he wanted- as long as the “macros” fit his “numbers”. He talked about it so passionately claiming it made so much more sense as a lifestyle, that it was so much more educational than some yo-yo diet or any product people are trying to sell.

I got that. But I was still pretty mystified. You really measure everything you eat? So for my whole life I’m going to put my food on a scale? What about when I have more than one person to feed? At some point I’m going to give up and stop measuring…just like a yo-yo diet. And. PS. I’m NOT giving up olive oil. It’s a healthy fat, right?

He didn’t push me to change, but soon I started reading on my own. I wanted to know more.

I saw these transformations people were posting online that were pretty darn inspiring, and it wasn’t just men. There were girls. And they weren’t, you know, muscle-y in a scary way. They were lean and strong. And some of them were posting pictures of food…YUMMY food. My stomach was growling, and my interest was peaked. How were they doing this?

Here’s Corina Nielsen. She’s a regular girl, a mom- with an amazing fitness & food blog. Because of flexible dieting, she was able to work her way to eating more food- food she loved, while maintaining muscle. Reading her blog is what really drove me to get started. She’s so relatable.

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Could I look like that? It really hadn’t occurred to me before. I thought I was doing everything I could do short of depriving myself of food. I was eating clean! I was running! I was spinning! I was bootcamping! I could hold a plank for 2 minutes. I was even tracking my food in an app on my phone. Isn’t that what tracking is? Why didn’t I look this way already?

I’m Ready to Try It

When I brought my thoughts to Matt, he helped me come to my own realizations about my choices. Like a true coach, he frustratingly told me to measure what I would normally eat for a week.

“But I’m ready to start eating better! Today! Just take me grocery shopping and tell me what to get.” I argued.

He maintained that he would not give me an eating plan. He insisted I cook normally and log all of my food measurements into the My Net Diary app. The measurements. With a scale. Not just a guess. And I had to measure the oil too.

So, I did it. I complained a little. {A lot.}

“I don’t need to measure. I’m a good cook. I can eyeball it.”

I put my pan on the scale. Poured in some olive oil to coat the pan really well so the chicken wouldn’t burn.

2 tablespoons of GOOD, HEALTHY fat, though, right?

Insert shocking gasp here. That’s 28 grams of fat. Sure, it has health benefits. But if I should only be taking in 40 grams of fat a day, wouldn’t I rather have just a teaspoon of olive oil and save the rest for something more substantial?

In Matt’s case, he’d rather have a nice bowl of ice cream after dinner. I’d rather have an avocado or some cheese. Doesn’t matter what you choose, it’s more about “spending” those macros differently.

Macro=Macronutrient

We track 4 macros: Fat, Carbs, Protein, Fiber.

We keep an eye on sodium and sugar for health benefits, but those are personal health choices. You can literally eat however you want- clean, Paleo, whatever- if it fits your macros. (IIFYM)

It was a slow start. I tracked my food for a week, and learned A TON about my food choices. Now it was time to figure out what my macros were- in other words, during this start-up phase, what numbers should I be hitting for fat, carbs, protein, and fiber?

Matt showed me how inaccurate and inconsistent online macro calculators could be. He sat down with me, went over my eating preferences, went over my numbers from the week before, and coached me on a good starting point. I am lucky enough to live with my coach, but he consults with his clients and checks in on their progress daily, adjusting as needed- so I do recommend you get a coach too. There are many coaches available, even if you just want some consultation online.

They can watch your progress, help answer questions about tracking, and can adjust things as needed. Its just so much more personal than a calculator. Of course, I have to send you over to Matt or Rob for this. 😉

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{www.truepotentialpersonaltraining.com}

Eventually those numbers will change. The goal is to be able to eat more and have your body use up every single calorie it takes in, even when that number increases.

Case in Point. 

I’ve been tracking my food for a little over a month now, and I am working out in the scary part of the gym {the place I used to think was just for boys} 3 days a week along with off day workouts that I change around all the time.

First- a note about the scary side of the gym.

I knew how to use machines, but I had no idea what to do with the free weights on the side of the gym where it seemed like only the boys went. It is SO worth your time to take a strength training class or to read up about how to venture to this part of the gym. That’s why everybody is there! Because it works.

I’ll get into this at length in a different post- but you do not need to run miles and miles every day or lift 5, 10, or 12 lb weights for 100 reps. If you enjoy running or the class you joined, that’s totally fine.

There’s a lot of false information out there, people trying to sell something. Just look at those who are really gaining muscle definition. They are all pushing themselves to more challenging weight each time they go to the gym. If you’re easily completing 12 reps, it’s time to increase the weight. If you’re going to spend an hour working out, you’ll want to get the most bang for your buck- and that comes with proper form and pushing yourself to your limit every day. That does not mean sacrificing good form- it means marrying the two together. Take the time to read and look for resources at your local gym to help you master this.

ANYWAY. Back to food.

So I’ve been tracking and strength training and doing the off-day thing for about a month. Every single person will have different results, but here are mine. The girl who literally stayed the same weight for YEARS is seeing weight come off at a rate of about 1-2 lbs per week. I saw muscle definition in just a few weeks. {Pictures to come soon…I haven’t seemed to master the gym selfie yet.}

But the biggest a-ha moment for me was last weekend. Matt and I hadn’t been out to eat for a while, and we decided to test out a new place. Italian. I think you know what happens next.

I am pretty aware of macros by now. I tried looking for a macro-friendly choice on the menu. SERIOUSLY. I tried.

But…the only seemingly good option was a salad loaded with junk that I knew would add up to the same macro break down as one of the unhealthy main course options. So I ordered one of those unhealthy main course options. chicken. and cheese. and butter sauce. and pasta. and it was really good.

It didn’t end there. The next night, we went to a hockey game. We tracked our macros all day, but then decided to hit up a local pub after the game. I proceeded to order a huge basket of fries- with cheese and gravy. I fell off the tracking train last night, why not do it again?

So, when I stepped on the scale the following week, I knew I wouldn’t see progress.

I was wrong.

I had actually eaten way more- and I still lost weight.

Will I do it every weekend? NO! I’m not there yet. Should I have tried to make better choices? Probably. But the point is, if I keep working hard, eventually I will be able to add more food back into my diet and maintain what I’ve worked toward.

No more “falling off the wagon”. If that wagon is sturdy enough, if you get your metabolism working the way it should, your body will utilize every single bit of food energy you put into it.

One More Point

If I didn’t feel passionately that I was onto something, I wouldn’t have taken the time to share it. In just 5 or so short weeks, my body is changing in ways I didn’t think it could. I made the decision to journal this progress on my blog to share it with you. As I start get questions from friends and family, I’ll be able to have all those answers in one place. Follow along- I’d love to hear about your experiences, too!