IIFYM, Eat Clean, Paleo – What’s Next?

I recently got a little made fun of for my “Clean Eating” mantra, which inspired me to briefly go over what it means to #eatclean. So there are a million different ways of eating out there, and I’ve tried a few of them.

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I started dieting with an IIFYM approach. At the time, I had no idea that I was even following this fad. For those of you who are out of the loop, IIFYM stands for If It Fits Your Macros. I don’t like to get all scientific, but this ones science. You need a caloric deficit, Calories in, calories out, yadda yadda… “science”. Anyways, IIFYM promotes flexible dieting. It is a GREAT approach for beginner dieters, and those who are just starting their journey towards awesomeness.  IIFYM was the main reason I was so successful with my weightloss journey. I counted my calories on an app called My Net Diary. In my About Me, I listed a few foods I ate that helped me get in the groove and drop a few pounds. Because I wasn’t completely restricted to chicken and broccoli, dieting became fun. I have undiagnosed OCD, and my diet was something I had complete control over, and I liked that. I fit Special K cereal into my diet, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and a healthy serving of pasta and chicken for dinner, all as long as it fit into my available macronutrients! I was not limiting myself, but I was controlling my portions and measuring serving sizes to make sure I was on track. Paleo people cringe at the thought of IIFYM. That’s because it technically allows processed foods, dairy, gluten, anything and everything. If you really wanted, you could have a pop tart for dinner. If it fits your macros. Fitness competitors also use IIFYM to make “gains” in their off season. From my research (brought to you by Instagram, Twitter, etc), IIFYM seems to be commonly used by those with an already fast metabolism and those who are just discovering the calorie counting process and benefits of changing your diet. It seems that many people start with IIFYM, and move on to a cleaner diet eventually when they want to reach some serious goals. Though IIFYM is often abused, I have no negative thing to say about this diet strategy because it is all about what works for you. If Pop Tarts and Reeses get you to where you need to be, so be it.

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And this is where my thoughts collide. I’ve recently been trying to find a balance in my diet and mind about food. As I said before, I started with an IIFYM approach. Now, I often find myself cringing at the thought of processed foods. Not to mention, I am gluten and dairy intolerant, so IIFYM would make me just as limited. So yeah, you’re following science. You might be eating chicken and veggies for lunch, but Reeses and ice cream for dinner. Ah! Filling your body with chemicals you can’t even pronounce? You might be fitting in your calories, but your insides are not thanking you. There is actual research that proves that these foods are poisonous to your body. They are also very addictive, as well as chemically made. Not real food.

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So you opt for a bowl of cereal instead of a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. Yeah, they might have the same macronutrients, but there are more cons than pros. One including, those processed foods increase your serotonin levels (I’m talkin’ science, people). Serotonin causes you to be drowsy, tired, and lazy. When I follow my #eatclean way of eating, which is as close to Paleo as possible, everything gets better. And yeah, I mean everything. I feel energized. My skin shines, my hair looks healthier, my thoughts are positive and clear, and my body just feels right. But also, who the hell can eat one serving of Reeses cereal without going for round two? Not me. Reeses are the bomb dot com. Anyways, what I was trying to mention in the top of this paragraph was that I’m trying not to be so gosh darn anal about what I put in  my body. Yes, it’ll help me in the long run, but sometimes you have to throw your chicken and broccoli out the window and stop at Taco Bell. Also, nobody wants to go out to eat with someone who isn’t going to eat. For example, Friday night we went to a Burlesque show at one of my favorite local restaurants, Jackie O’s. They have an unbelievable gluten free menu. I was wondering all week about what I was going to eat there, because I am really trying to follow my plan! There’s a difference between a healthy lifestyle and trying to lose weight. When you’re trying to lose weight, you can’t throw out your chicken and broccoli for Taco Bell. It is important to follow your diet to the best of your ability, your body will thank you later.

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I thought maybe I would just eat dinner before we went, but then I thought about how not fun it would be watching everybody chow down on pizza. They have burgers, so I ordered the morning burger, which is a burger with an egg on top! No bun, no cheese. And yeah, I ate the chips, thanks Chardonnay.

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Okay, back to clean eating. Clean eating doesn’t mean you spray your food with windex. Clean eating means you opt for food with as little ingredients as possible.

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I started getting into the #eatclean fad when Instagram became more popular. Sophomore year I would follow all these profiles with great clean eating recipes that looked delicious. I was in the dorms, so I started #eatingclean with the best of my ability. Our market at school sucked. There were no fresh fruits, veggies, or meats. So I bought what I could at the market and the rest at the grocery store. When I went to the dining hall, which wasn’t that often, I would get a salad or a deli sandwich on wheat bread. I was lucky if they had chicken and brown rice. In my dorm room I would have oatmeal for breakfast, or Smart Start cereal with added FiberOne cereal and fruit. I also got egg beaters and microwaved them with broccoli and would make sandwiches with those Whole Wheat Flat Out wraps and thins.  I was obsessed with Wasa Crackers and the Laughing Cow Cheese wedges. I would spread those on the Wasa crackers with some Deli Turkey meat and have a baggie of carrots and broccoli for lunch. My snacks were apples, veggies, bananas, or granola bars. I was trying to follow a low-fat diet at the time, so I didn’t have peanut butter as much. But when I did I would make peanut butter and banana sandwiches. For dinner I would have the One Minute Ready Rice cups, with microwavable chicken and veggies. I steamed my veggies by putting them in a microwavable bowl with water for about five minutes.

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My body slowly started craving more fresh foods, and by junior year I was in full force with my clean eating lifestyle. Not to mention, I actually had a kitchen to cook in. Perks. So I started really cooking for myself my junior year. Breakfast was omelets, with Feta cheese! (Oh how I miss cheese sometimes) Sometimes I just had oatmeal or yogurt with granola. That was before I got into putting protein in almost every meal. For instance, sometimes for dinner I’d have soup and salad. Sometimes the salad would have a protein in it, sometimes it wouldn’t. I still would enjoy a nice sandwich every now and then (I may or  may not have just started drooling because I really want a sandwich now, it’s the little things).  My junior year is also when I started getting a lot more into Crossfit and lifting. I was gaining a little muscle and getting stronger without even realizing it. I started researching how to eat for performance, and started eating like an athlete. For instance, I started making protein and vegetables my main focus, and keeping carbs involved for performance and recovery.

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Once I started noticing the gains I was making from Crossfit, I couldn’t stop! And that’s how I got into Paleo. Somehow, Crossfit and Paleo are paired up. After my research (also brought to you by Instagram, Twitter, etc) I now realize that most crossfit athletes don’t even eat a Paleo diet. Anyways, I grew a girl-crush on Juli Baurer’s PaleOMG website, and really thought Paleo would help me lose weight!

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You figure if you’re eating meats and veggies, nuts and seeds, fruit and fish, and healthy fats, you would lose weight, fast! Well I didn’t exactly lose weight. I’ve heard of many successful weightloss stories from the Paleo diet, but my results were not consistent and I learned that it was not for me. My body changed though. I realized what it actually felt like to be happy, mentally and physically. My physique changed. My booty lifted, my shoulders broadened. I started to actually look like I at least worked out from time to time. (Which is all why my diet is still mostly Paleo, anyway) Any fitness nerd has that goal in mind. You want everyone to see how hard you work, and your body is a reflection of that. I think that’s my biggest frustration with my body. I kill my workouts, but my stubborn body is not giving me the results I KNOW I can get. Hence my recent diet change. I’m putting everything I know that has worked together. Lifting, HIIT, Cardio, a clean diet, a meal plan, counting calories, and a few moderate treat meals here and there! I know that I have accomplished a lot, and I am more than proud of myself for doing so! I’m hopefully on the road to the body that I have worked so hard for.

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I know I’ve mentioned this a million times throughout my blog, but I can’t stress this enough. It’s not what you’re friends are doing, not what your instagram idol is doing, and sometimes… it’s not even 100% what your nutritionist is telling you to do. It’s what works for you. You have to be well rounded. You aren’t going to get anywhere by depriving yourself, but you also aren’t going to get anywhere by constantly rewarding yourself with food. I’ve shot and missed a million times, and eventually you start knowing your body better than any advice column can tell you.

Yours Truly,

Stef

Indulge Without the Bulge

My last post was sweet and everything. Actually, no… no it wasn’t. There’s always the ever dreaded questions I receive. For example: “Do you ever eat good food” “Do you ever crave sweets?” “Do you even eat sweets?” “What do you do when you crave normal people food?” Haha. Normal people food? What does that even mean? What is normal people food? I’m assuming they are talking about the processed foods, the stuff that “tastes good”. The stuff in packages. The stuff you get at our schools dining food market. “I have a feeling you never eat like..queso and chips” So I laugh, because technically I can’t even eat queso anymore. Those were the days. But I guess I’m better off for it. I can’t count the amount of times I made trips to the market with my roomies back in the dorm days to prepare ourselves for a snack attack. Octopus gummies, chips and queso, oreos. It happened, I just never let it happen too often. Discipline. There is no greater feeling than self discipline. So just because I eat healthy 90% of the time I’m all of a sudden not normal? I have my fair share of fat Sundays and “YOLO” moments. Those moments where you just put the burger to the face. Skittles? Yeah sure, it’s Tuesday. Chipotle? Totally, I mean it’s Wednesday. But…if you treat everyday like a holiday you go from treating yourself to cheating yourself.

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The answer to all the above questions is, yes, I do eat good food. I do crave sweets, and I eat them too (sweet potatoes mostly). But what do I do when I crave “normal” people food? A lot of different things. I was about to explain to you guys that I “allow” myself about one cheat meal per week. Then I decided to reword that sentence. I allow myself to eat what I want to eat at all times. It just so happens that I want to eat healthy 95% of the time. And 10% of the time I don’t. It overlaps. 5% of that 95% of time that I want to eat healthy, I don’t. Mainly because I will go insane if I don’t treat myself with a greasy meal and a few beers (approximitly 10) with my friends. (just kidding about the 10 beers.) So when I’m craving a nice hardy meal and order in with friends, I’ll tell you what I eat. My chipotle order is white rice, chicken, fajita vegetables, salsa, guacamole & lettuce. Sometimes I’ll even get double meat. Treat yo’self. I will sometimes order a Gluten Free, no cheese, pizza from Dominos or Athens local brewery and restaurant, Jackie O’s. They also have gluten free buns for hamburgers. Hey. Girl. Hey. It’s halloween so I bought myself two packets of skittles. One for Halloween weekend and one for the actual day of Halloween. I’m trying to be more flexible with myself and my diet in the healthiest way. Yes, skittles are no where near healthy but it could be much worse. There are times when I don’t want to completely go off the paleo clean eating bandwagon, so I treat myself in a moderate, non traumitizing, non expensive, way. Here are a few meals I eat at home. These are not recipes, just ideas on how to have a great tasting, healthy, treat meal.

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1 Rudi’s Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin bagel, 2 tbsp Natural Almond Butter, 1/2 Banana

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In need of extra carbs & fats? 1 Slice of Udi’s Gluten Free Bread, 2 oz Sweet Potato, 1 tbsp Nut butter of your choice (this was peanut butter), 2 oz chicken thigh. You can use any protein you want. It’s just as good with ground meat or an egg. Experimenting with food can really turn out delicious…

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Sometimes I get really annoyed of cooking. I pace my kitchen a million times because I can’t figure out what I want for dinner. I don’t feel like heating up vegetables or cooking anything that has 1 oz of effort in it. My appetite was so suppressed that I really just wanted something sweet and delicious. I plopped 2 Vans Gluten Free Waffle in the toaster. I was going to spread peanut butter and banana on both sides, but then realized I was completely lacking protein. At the end of the day, protein is what keeps me feeling satisfied and full. I decided to heat up some leftover chicken and do my own take on chicken and waffles. I wasn’t sure how it was going to be, so on 1 waffle I put 1 tbsp of Peanut butter and 1/4 of a banana. I heated my chicken, put it on the other waffle, and poured some agave maple syrup on top (not too much). It was absolutely delicious. This meal was about 450 calories and 30 g protein. Not bad for something that looks like a pile of junk!

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I can’t express to you how crucial sweet potato fries are. Everybody loves fries, right? Did you know you can lose weight while still eating fries? Sweet potato fries, that is. Cut a medium sweet potato into whatever shape you want your fries to be. I usually do circles or normal fry shape, but you can get as creative as you want… Soak your sweet potatoes in olive oil. Don’t take that and run with it…use about 1 tbsp of olive oil. Salt your fries. There are many different ways you can make your sweet potato fries. I sometimes put cinnamon instead of salt. I’ve seen people put seasonings like garlic and onion powder too. That, you can get creative with. While your preparing your sweet potato fries, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. I typically leave my fries in for about 20 minutes. It quite honestly depends on how patient I’m feeling. The picture above shows peeled sweet potato fries. It is up to you whether or not you want the skin on, but keeping it on makes a crispier fry. Enjoy!

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Oatmeal! I love oatmeal. I typically eat Glutenfreeda instant oatmeal. There is so much variety you can put into your oatmeal. Sometimes I go with bananas and cinnamon, and sometimes I go a little farther. Pictured is cinnamon oats with slivered almonds and cherries on top. I also put about 1 tbsp of shredded coconut into my oatmeal. Other times, I’ll add a tablespoon or less of almond or peanut butter. Other topping ideas include: raisins, mixed berries (blueberries are my favorite), any nuts/nut butters, egg whites (added protein, not added flavor), ground flax seeds & chia seeds, and chocolate chips if you’re feeling rebelious.

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Pretty sure I ate this on a heavy deadlift day. I was lacking carbs, starving, and hadn’t really been able to eat much that day juggling my classes. I toasted two slices of Udi’s Gluten Free bread, spread 1.5 tablespoons of peanut butter (half on one piece, half on the other), and added about 4 oz of sweet potato to my sandwich. This is a game changer.

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Picture above is a little dessert I made for my brother. Yeah, its vegetables, and yeah, it was delicious. I microwaved butternut squash in a little water and coconut oil. I added shredded coconut, a pinch of salt, a lot of cinnamon, and who knows how much almond butter. When I made this for myself, I used about 1 tbsp. Rumor has it it tasted like a Cinnabon.

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Pretty self explanatory. Gluten Free Rice Chex Cinnamon Cereal. My go-to when I’m in need of cereal.

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So the only thing different about this meal is the fact that instead of eating a plain burger I actually put it on a “bun”. Filled with a whole plate of vegetables.

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And last, God Bless Chipotle.