For those of you that have been following my Instagram account you may have noticed that I have been hash-tagging Whole 30 a lot lately, eating really clean, yummy foods, and NOT tracking my macros. I know I started the beginning of the year all ready to kill IIFYM, eat my Oreo's and get 6 pack abs all at the same time, but lets just say it did't exactly go that way, and I'll tell you why.
Before you read this realize that everything I am about to say is completely my own opinion and I got no information from scientific articles or ANYTHING legit like that. These are strictly my opinions and what I found experimenting with IIFYM tracking and how it effected me, both mentally and physically.
- Tracking every single calorie and every macro nutrient is a lot of work, and for ME it just does not fit into my life. Living life with a food scale in one hand is hard work, makes it impossible to go out to eat and its annoying and tedious to eat foods with a lot of ingredients, (i.e. big salads with lots of veggies, stir fry, etc.)
- For me it encouraged packaged and "fake food" consumption. If I'm going to track calories and take note of how many calories are in a certain food, you bet I want something simple with the nutrition label on it. The only foods that have nutrition labels are processed, packaged, not always great for you foods. Obviously there are exceptions like quinoa, some meats and others but you'll never see a nutrition label on a banana or a bunch of kale.
- Planning all my meals days ahead of time takes out the enjoyment of eating, it stripped me of my abilities to choose what I wanted to eat and what I felt like eating in that very moment. This ended up leaving me unsatisfied with my meal, and picking on foods later in the day.
- I have a serious sugar addiction, when I start eating a lot of processed sugars in my diet it becomes REALLY hard for me to stop eating it. I end up craving sugars all day which led me to going over my macros and "failing".
- I felt a lot of guilt associated with this diet plan. Every time I was over a few macros I failed, and felt guilty, I don't think you should ever feel guilty consistently about a plan you are on.
- I bought a scale. By now everyone on the planet basically knows how inaccurate scales are and how they don't tell you the whole picture. But this plan required me to weigh myself every morning. A bit obsessive, I think so, incredibly unhealthy? Definitely, for me at least.
- This way of eating made me tired, hungry and always looking for my next meal. I believe that this came from eating more empty calories than I was used to, consuming protein shakes that added calories but didn't satisfy my hunger because I wasn't chewing anything, just drinking it and I was eating 6 smaller meals a day, none of which actually filled me, just took the edge off my hunger for an hour or so.
- I want to live a life where I can make last minute decisions, be free to eat the foods someone at work brings in for everyone to try and have breakfast for dinner just because I feel like it. Planning so far ahead of time down to each macronutrient doesn't fit that lifestyle because it doesn't allow for much flexibility.
- My skin freaked out on this plan. I already have pretty problem skin and get breakouts pretty easily, but the increase in sugar or stress from this plan or something just did not do well for my skin. Since I started eating only whole foods, sticking mostly to the Whole30, my skin has started to clear up again.
I think its important that everyone find a plan that actually works for them, makes them feel good and gets them their desired results. Feeling your best, having energy and not feeling tied down and anxious about what you're eating next are all so important. If counting calories and macros works for you, then go ahead and do it, but I know it does not work for me. What works for me is eating real, nutritious foods, staying away from over processed and sugary foods and eating what I want, when I am hungry.
It has taken me a lot of experimentation to figure out what is right for me and what isn't. You also have to weigh whats important to you and what isn't. If its more important for you to drop 20lbs than develop a healthy relationship with food and fitness, then tracking calories may be what you need. If you want to fuel your body with whole, nutritious foods and feel filled with energy then do that. If you determine that a certain food group doesn't react well with your body, or gives you bad breakouts then avoid that food.
It is so important to remember that what works for one person may not work for you. I see so many people that have great results on IIFYM, vegan diets, paleo or whatever, but that does not mean I will have the same results or feel just as good on that same plan.