Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Weight Loss: Flexible Dieting

I started counting macros (i.e. flexible dieting, iifym) on February 23 when I started training for my race. I wrote a blog about that before. At that time, I had lost six pounds. My experiment worked.

I've now been tracking macros for 17 weeks and two days. I am down about 18 pounds. I've kind of stalled the past couple of weeks because I haven't been very disciplined about my food--not out of control, but not awesome either. I have been disappointed at my lack of progress recently. But knowing it's been 17 weeks and I'm down 18 pounds makes me feel better. It shows me I'm right on track for a healthy pace of weight loss--one pound per week.

I still want to drop another 10 pounds but am not rushing it. I will get there. I'm also trying to focus on clothes, sizes, and measurements. Maybe I haven't lost weight, but I very well could just be losing fat and turning it into muscle with all the weights I've been doing.

After my race, I had Dallas recalculate my macros ( She dropped my carbs and upped my fats, but decreased my overall calorie intake because I weigh less now. It's been really hard adjusting. I'm not going to lie (thus, the stall). I have a hard time hitting my fat and carb goals. In fact, I usually hit the same amount as my macros were before.

But as with anything, this is a learning process. It takes time to adjust and get things down. I recommitted on Sunday to doing better. I've been working my butt off in the gym (like, 90+ minute workouts) and don't want to throw away that progress.

Here are my measurements since February 23, compared with today, June 24.

Neck: 12.5"
Now: 12"

Waist: 36"
Now: 29.5"

Hips: 41"
Now: 38"

Bust: 36.5" (on April 27)
Now: 34"

Chest: 32.5" (on April 27)
Now: 30"

Forearm: 10"
Now: 9.5"

There are pros and cons to flexible dieting, and I wrote about a lot of those back in March. Because I've seen results, a lot of people ask what I'm doing and how it works. I'll try to come up with a quick FAQ...

How do I calculate my macros?
Oh man. Just do a google search, and something will come up. I'll tell you I tried calculating my own using Krissy Cagney's book which you can get {here}. The only reason it didn't work for me is that I calculated too low based on my half marathon training. I'm grateful I had {Dallas} do them for me so I didn't starve or go crazy. The basics are:
- You figure out your maintenance calories
- You want to set protein intake at about your goal weight.
- Your carb intake depends on your activity level, and other health issues. If you're pretty active you'll use the higher multiplier. For example, Dallas added fat to my post-training macros because I have endometriosis.
- Fat is what's left after you subtract your protein and carb calculations.

What if I have a hard time hitting my protein?
Plan better. That's all it came down to for me. It came time to add egg whites to breakfast, chicken or tuna to my salad, along with a boiled egg, and eat string cheese and beef jerky for snacks. It is possible to hit that number every day, just hard to learn how.
- I often have a protein shake at the end of the day when I'm still 20-25g short of my goal (120). I'm about to go make one now.
- Also, these things have been my life savers when I've come up short or been on the go. They actually don't taste too bad.

How do you track your food?
I use MyFitnessPal.

What if you're on the go? What do you eat?
So I usually try to bring food with me like jerky or almonds, to keep in my purse. Also, ThinkThin bars have been serious life savers, particularly the high protein ones.

Oh my, and these are so delicious too (but super high fat)! (190 cal, 12F, 14C 10P)

It's my favorite to check macros on bars to see how they'll affect my macros. My new favorite finds are these:

I found them on clearance at Smiths and then found the coconut ones at Big Lots. 190 calories, 18 carbs, 9 fat, 10 protein in the coconut bar. Perfect for a pre-workout this morning. Sure, fruit is probably better, and that's what I do most days. But sometimes a treat is nice. And honestly, if you're on the go and don't want cold chicken in a bag--look into protein bars.

What about foods that aren't on there?
Guys, you just have to work your way around it. For example, tonight we went to the Food Truck Underground. I got CupBop which was a big a-- bowl of rice, rice noodles, lettuce, and Korean barbecue chicken. So? I added everything independently. 3/4 cup of rice, 3/4 cup of noodles, and chicken bulgogi was in there, and it looked right. Sure, I didn't add the sauce into MFP, so you have to take that into consideration. But you can still get a general idea, and that's better than none at all! We went back to the food trucks to get mini donuts. So, I found a "cinnamon sugar fried mini donuts" in MFP. It looked close enough, and that's what I used. Again, it's better to have an idea!

Your other options are to either go to places that are very macro friendly (Corner Bakery, Chick-Fil-A, Noodles & Co., most chain restaurants, etc.), or eat at home if you don't want to hassle with it.

Isn't it a pain to track?
Um, yes. But to me, it's worth it. I could do a restrictive diet. I might see faster results. Will it stay off? I don't know. Here's the thing: tracking, while it seems restrictive, gives me freedom. I don't have to give up the foods I love and want. I just have to plan and consume in moderation. To stay sane, I'd rather track.

Do you only eat unhealthy foods?
Obviously not. I usually eat an awesome, balanced breakfast and lunch--salad almost every day--and a good dinner with dessert. If I don't eat a good dinner, I usually forego dessert. So it just kind of depends. I have been trying to be better about finding ways to include more veggies. I made caulifloats (cauliflower oats) for breakfast last week. They were so good!

How often do you have to recalculate?
Krissy Cagney's book touches on this.
- If you hit a plateau, that's when it's good to reevaluate.
- If you have big changes in your training plan, you should reevaluate.
- If you've lost a considerable amount of weight, then you probably have to decrease your calories again. Shake things up.
But honestly, not very often. I had my initial calculation, and ONE recalculation in 17 weeks. So, just relax and eat all you can if you're still losing.

What do I need in order to count macros?
You need a food scale. Holy moly, get a digital food scale! My life depends on that thing. We have an unshakable attachment.

How long until you "get good" at hitting your macros?
It took me over a month to feel like "I got this." Be patient with yourself.

What struggles do you have?
- My biggest struggle is probably in my relationship. He has a very lax attitude about food and food choices. I tend to be the one "restricting" us. But I try to stay balanced and flexible, because I'm a "flexible" dieter after all. He has been supportive, and a really good sport, but there have been times where it's been hard to stand my ground.
- I also struggle on Sundays. It's a VERY low activity day, but there's a LOT of good food available usually. So keeping my calories low on Sunday sucks.
- Schedule switches have been hard. It being summer has been an adjustment because I'm using a lot of carbs up in the morning now that I work out in the morning. I am supposed to eat most of my carbs before and after my workout. But I like to save my carbs for dessert later in the day. So it's been hard to try and be balanced, because I feel it if I don't start my day off with enough carbs.
- Not weighing myself. I was doing fine with this until I joined DietBet. I was obsessed with the scale for that time period. I was happy that Patrick took it back. I get on the scale at the gym almost every day lately because I'm just so excited to see it be 20 pounds lighter than I was at my heaviest. I just like to see it.
- Movie theater popcorn. I can eat a whole large popcorn by myself. And I like it completely doused in "butter." So I probably don't need to explain that movie theater popcorn is not macro friendly. ButIloveitsomuchIcoulddie!

I'm a real person. I eat like a real person. Most of my days aren't perfect in terms of macros. But I'm going to stick with it. I'm too far in to give up now! Please comment, email me, or text me if you have questions. I'm an open book.


Linda Nowlin said...

Hi Janae, It's fun to hear your voice again in your writing. I was just thinking about you and how much I enjoyed (and need a copy to help me laugh!) about your masseuse experience. Please send it to my Email: I don't use the Google acct much at all. However, I am doing writing, so maybe I will start blogging and posting some writing. I'm sure once I start, I won't stop because, like you, the words and just have to GO SOMEWHERE, RIGHT?
I'm sooooo happy to see you happy and delighted in how you feel about your weight and appearance. Yea for you! I'm with you about movie theater popcorn. We've been in Italy since October. It's one of the things I miss the most . . .along with great films conveniently close to my house! There aren't too many things convenient about Italy at all. If you have time, send me an update and please send me the masseuse piece you wrote and the funniest blogs or things you've written 'cause I'm in pain from my head to my ARSE! My best to you! Linda

Abby said...

Hey! Long time no talk! Was so excited to see that you are into IIFYM- me too! I love it, no fad diet. Feels like a lifestyle change.