The most common epic fails are I’m going to get fit, I’m going to lose a few kilos and I’m going to give up X, when X stands for anything that tastes good, feels good or looks really great. The thought is there but generally changing habits is really hard, tiring, unenjoyable and unsustainable so predictably, most people give up. This is human and it is normal. When it comes to dieting, a sustainable approach does exist– it’s all about balance.
For a long time I was driven by what I would describe as a hatred of the way I looked. I ate minimally, I classed foods as “good” and “bad”, avoided entire food groups altogether, trained daily for hours, spent a lot of time doing cardio and “punished” myself with exercise based on what I thought was overeating. I did all of this in an effort to achieve a body shape that wasn’t healthy or very attainable for my structure. For a long time I counted calories but after struggling through a soul-destroying eating disorder I stopped because counting calories was a major trigger for me.
After a couple of years of training myself into the ground and eating only foods that I deemed “healthy”, all the while being completely fearful, restrictive and obsessive with my eating habits, I discovered Flexible dieting or IIFYM. The method gave me complete freedom when it came to food sources and instead, focused on the macronutrient profile of said foods. Daily goals were determined by macronutrient quantities and apart from adhering to micronutrient, fibre and vegetable guidelines there was absolutely no restriction on what or when you ate.
To begin with, I was slightly dubious. How could eating ice cream possibly allow me to lose weight or gain any muscle? I had for a long time convinced myself that there were certain “unhealthy”, junk foods that would only hinder fitness progress and couldn’t possibly be included in daily consumption if you didn’t want to gain kilos of unwanted fat.
While IIFYM is not an excuse to fill your days with high-sugar junk foods it does allow for a balanced lifestyle. It proves that you don’t need to discriminate or choose only bland, basic foods in order to put on muscle, increase strength or lose body fat. For those who think flexible dieters only eat chocolate and processed crap- you are wrong. It would be near impossible to hit macro targets with only these food sources. Flexible dieting is merely a more sustainable approach to achieving fitness goals and for anybody feeling trapped by low carb, restrictive diets that consist of too much asparagus and chicken– I beg you to try a different way.