I’m a foodie, an all-out fan of food. I think about it, dream about it, plan it, cook it (sometimes), and blog about it. My blog is a collection of delicious meals, my Instagram is stocked up with food porn, and I witter on a lot about food on Twitter. I’ve had my fair few issues with food over the years (probably because I’m obsessed with it) so I spend quite a lot of time exercising too, and I understand the concept of balancing foodie fun with a bit of healthiness at times.
But despite heading to the gym four or five times a week, lifting weights, and squeezing in some cardio, I’ve found myself losing control quite a lot recently. I’m a big fan of finding balance between enjoying life and keeping yourself in good nick, and I point blank refuse to give up all the things I love, no matter what my goals are. But recently I’ve got to confess that balance is a bit out of kilter.
Apparently, nutrition can be up to 75% of the battle when it comes to changing your body shape, which effectively means that no matter how hard I train, how heavy I lift, how much HIIT I do, it’s not going to make much of a difference if I’m consuming more than my body needs.
I try not to measure my progress by the number on the scales, but by my fitness and ultimately whether I’m happy with my shape or not. But hey, you know yourself, and i know that I’m gradually taking myself down a path that I don’t want to go down, slowly and surely eating and drinking too much, putting on fat, and affecting my own health and fitness.
It’s not the end of the world, but it’s time for a reset. Which is why I’m writing this post. I’ve already written about my plan to ‘rebalance’ myself a bit on my own blog, but I’m inspired by this blog and all the great things Amy writes, so how better than to kickstart a bit of accountability for myself by writing about it here.
Since my training isn’t the thing I’m worried about, it’s my diet I need to focus on (from that, take diet with a small ‘d’, not ‘Diet’ that is one of those short-term fads people go on that never last). Over the years I’ve tried all sorts and these days I’m a bit of a believer in a system called IIFYM – If it Fits Your Macros. No, it’s not a fad, it’s not a quick fix, it’s basically just a way of working out how much your body needs and what of in order to have a balanced diet. Your macros are macronutrients – protein, carbs, fats and fibre – and all IIFYM helps you do is work out how much of each of those you should be having for your body shape (as well as the number of calories you can have), taking into account your training and your general lifestyle.
Now, some people will stick to this religiously – and you need to if you have hardcore goals when it comes to your body shape, look, etc. I don’t, so I’ve never said it would be the end of the world if I didn’t ‘hit my macros’ every day. There’s no way I’d be able to enjoy the life I live – in which food and drink plays rather a large part – as well as doing that, so something’s got to give. But I know that if i have something to aim for, then I might exercise a bit more control when I’m eating for the sake of it rather than because I actually need or want something.
There’s plenty of literature on IIFYM out there for you to look at if it interests you – in short, there’s no cutting out of foods, no only eating at certain times, just a system where you work out how much you should be consuming, based on what you want to achieve, and how much of the different food groups.
Here’s the link to the calculator
– for me I know I’ve added a bit of fat to my body over the past few months, so to shift that I’m going to have to create a calorie deficit. (burn more than you consume, and you’ll lose fat). I have a desk job, which the IIFYM calculator takes into account, and I lift weights four times a week, with some HIIT thrown in the mix.
So, bearing all this in mind, and my weight and height (5ft 4ins and 9st 12lbs for honesty’s sake), according to IIFYM I can consume around 1,422 calories to be in a calorie deficit, given my levels of activity.
When it comes to the breakdown of that, according to the calculator I should aim for 138g protein, 55g fat, and 94g carbs (you can adjust your fat and carbs depending on whether you prefer fatty foods or carb-festa ie if one goes up the other goes down).
Like I say, if I don’t hit that every day, it’s not the end of the world, but I know it’s good for me to aim for, which means trying to cut the carbs slightly (not completely cutting them out you’ll see -you need carbs for energy) and upping my protein intake. I’m lucky that I love things like chicken and fish, so I know I can manage it. I’ve decided to allow myself one day a week where I don’t worry too much – I know myself well enough these days to know I need it, and that way I can fit in one meal for my blog a week that will still give my own food porn-loving readers their fix.
If I stick to this, and carry on training hard, I should be able to do something about losing the bit of fat I’m carrying and build my lean muscle. For me, this isn’t about being skinny, it’s about being the shape, strength and fitness that I want to be, and still living a life that I enjoy. One of the biggest fans of IIFYM that I know of is Mike Samuels of Healthy Living, Heavy Lifting
, and he regularly tries to remind his readers that it’s not just about sticking to numbers and hitting macros – it’s about being happy with yourself, which sometimes means not hitting the numbers exactly.
I said at the start of the post that this is all about balance for me – and that’s why IIFYM appeals to me. I’m definitely not an expert, so don’t take all of this as gospel, just what I’ve understood from everything I’ve read. And I know I’ll never stick to it religiously – I just love food to much, but by trying to keep to it, I know it will help.
I’m also not saying it’s for everyone, or that it’s better than other theories around health, fitness and training, but I know it is probably good for me. And that’s what this stuff is all about. It’s about finding the best for you to help make the best you that you can possibly be. I know I haven’t been doing that, so I’m gonna try a little bit harder. Starting with this post. 🙂
See you in a few months and we’ll see how I got on…. Big thanks to Amy for letting me add my two pennyworth to her fabulous blog.