Hey all! I am currently destroying some snow and slopes in Snowshoe, WV. Just kidding…well maybe. I’ve been skiing for about 12 years, so I’m pretty decent at it. But I’m surrounding by danger loving boys, so I’m hoping I just don’t come back home with a broken leg!
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While I’m gone, I thought I’d share some tips and tricks that I use everyday while implementing flexible dieting and IIFYM. I have had at least a dozen people ask me for advice on how to start tracking, how to stay focused, and how to maintain the progress I have since September 2014.
That being said, I have some basic tips that I have told a lot of people recently, only because they’ve asked.
1. Calculate out all of your macros for the day in the early morning, or the night before.
Do this. Track all of your food for the ENTIRE day before you eat anything. Trust me when I say that it will be extremely hard for your to track as the day goes on, at least when you are first starting out. When you track all of your food ahead of time, there is no guessing throughout the day. I work 10-12 hour shifts and bring all of my food with me for the whole day. I am now able (after tracking for more than a year) to track my daily macros in 5 minutes or less in the morning. Tracking all of your food ahead of time also makes it easier to make small adjustments to your food consumption.
Say you eat an extra brownie at work because you just couldn’t resist. Simply track the brownie, but figure out what to take out of your day in order to still hit your macros.
It’s ten times easier to track your macros when you have them all laid out ahead of time than to just eat food and track afterwards. If you track after you eat, at the end of the day you could be left with 35 g protein, 2 carbs, and 5 fat. You’d have to eat a hell of a lot of egg whites, or something like that…and honestly for me, I just don’t feel like eating egg whites at 11pm.
2. Prep food ahead of time as much as possible.
I love my Crock Pot. I never thought it would be possible to love a piece of kitchen equipment as I do my Crock Pot. It is my best friend for prepping lean meats for the week. I have posted a few recipes here of some great high protein foods. Prepping my food for the week makes tracking my macros 100% easier. I eat a lot of the same foods everyday because I just love the taste of them and they are easy for me to take to work and prep at work.
Honestly, it takes me about 30 minutes to prep some of my crock pot recipes, and then I’m done for at least 3 days. I have a ton of high protein sources ready to go, and just have to packaged them up for work. Frozen vegetables are also great, and super easy to prepare. I usually heat up one in the microwave and then have 2 or 3 servings ready to go.
3. Pre-calculate your food before you go out to eat.
Are you going to your favorite restaraunt with friends this weekend? Or maybe you want to hit up Chipotle but don’t think it will fit your macros? WRONG. I would eat Chipotle every day if I could, and if it wouldn’t break my bank. When I know I’m going to be going out to dinner, and I really want to make a certain thing fit, (i.e. a burger, sweet potato fries, chipotle) I always track this food first out of my daily total. When doing it this way, I am able to eat the food I really want, but still hit my macros by adjusting the rest of my meals.
The beauty in flexible dieting is that nothing is off limits. If I am going to Burgatory (a really great burger place) and I want an all beef burger…I’m going to have it! I don’t get to go to Burgatory very often, and their burgers are amazing. Yes I may use up 20 grams of fat on the beef itself, but I can work my macros around that to enjoy what I really, really want! You have to have an open mind about your food, and you have to flexible enough to adapt and eat less fatty food in the morning.
4. Don’t be super strict.
When you first start tracking your macros, you will think, “how am I ever going to be able to hit these numbers spot on.” I can tell you right now, you won’t. There is not a day in the past 4 months that I have ever hit my macros perfectly. Generally, +/- 5 grams in carbs and protein is allowed, as well as +/- 2 grams in fat. Obviously you don’t want to go wayyy over on one macro, but hey…sometimes it happens.
Sometimes I have days where I come home from a shitty shift and I eat all of the Nutella right out of the jar. Yes, it happens. Yes at the time it feels good. But the next day you better believe I am right back on my macros. I track my extra intake so that my coaches know I went over that day, but I don’t let it destroy me.
Don’t let the numbers give you anxiety and cause you to freak out. It takes some adjusting (around 3-4 weeks for myself) and learning to be able to get your numbers pretty close. This is all a learning process, and the best part is that we get to make mistakes and continue to learn from them. One day of missing your macros is not going to derail your entire week, month, or year. You will continue to make progress.
5. BE PATIENT
This is the last, but most important tip. Progress is not going to happen overnight. Progress is not going to happen next week. Progress might not even happen next month. The physical changes when you look in the mirror take time.
People always seem to ask me how long it took before I actually noticed a physical change in the mirror. I usually tell them that I noticed it after I lost around 8 lbs. To be totally honest, I wake up everyday wondering if I am continuing to make any progress.
Looking at myself in the mirror everyday and weighing myself everyday, I continue to see the girl who weighed 160 lbs, and had a lot of extra body fat on her. My waist is maybe a little bit smaller (in my mind) and I have some sweet new veins on my stomach, but that’s about it.
It was only when my jeans did not fit, my workout shorts were falling off of me, and people started telling me that I looked great that I realized that I had made some significant progress. Then when I put my pictures next to each other, I honestly couldn’t believe that the “after” picture was myself. I had the image of the “before” picture embedded into my mind.
So please be patient. Please know that the physical changes do take time. A difference of 2-6 lbs isn’t really going to show that much, unless you’re already pretty lean. Like I said, it wasn’t until around 8-10 lbs that I really noticed a difference. This is a slow process. Fat loss should be slow, or else we would just continue to lose muscle as well.
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So there you have it, my top 5 tips, tricks, and advice that people seem to ask me quite often. I’m sure I’ll be able to think of some more, but these have gotten me to the point where I am right now, and will continue to help me be successful with flexible dieting.