Wednesday, August 27, 2014

#IIFYM #flexibledieting... What Are You Talking About?

About a year ago...

Scrolling, scrolling through Instagram, stop..."#IIFYM, #flexibledieting, ... #sciencebitch ... WTH are these hashtags?" Further hashtag searches led me to pictures of ice cream, cheese-topped proteins, and carbs (and I mean hundreds of grams of carbs) being eaten by incredibly lean and muscular people. My mind was blown. Who were these people and why I hadn't I heard of this sooner? The thoughts that followed consisted of skepticism.. this has to be some sort of marketing ploy, this is a fad diet....After a search on the internets, I learned that the crux of the diet is to eat to meet your daily macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fats) and fiber. You decide what to eat to fulfill your macros. Simple enough. My interest was piqued.

I soon started reading about how IFBB athlete Ava Cowan was doing a macro-based prep and so was my friend Kristy (NPC Physique athlete). These two ladies have physiques that I have been admiring for years. I needed to learn more. What about the non-competitor, would flexible dieting be sustainable? Short answer, yes.

I calculated my own macro plan based on an article I read by Sohee Lee. I maintained my a great off-season weight by gaining 10-15 pounds the first 8-weeks post show. I was eating at restaurants again and enjoying desserts. Macros was working.

Fast forward to maybe 6 months

My diet was improving. What hadn't changed was my habit of binge eating. I needed to teach myself that it was okay to eat what I wanted because it fit into my macros and to not eat as much as possible before I got caught, lol. I enlisted the help of Metabolic Evolution to help me with calculating my macros. The plan helped me get back on track. My nutrition coach helped me better understand how to build an efficient metabolism. Learning sustainable eating habits is not a race. It's a learning journey and a slow and sustainable process.

Present day

After quitting my job to move, I was a bit loose on my macros. Adjusting to this life change and the month of manual labor doing house projects was enough for me to handle. No biggie. Life happens. It's not the end of the world. It happened and now that I am adjusted here, I can work on my goals of increasing strength and decreasing body fat, along with optimizing my macros for lifting and non-lifting days.

Here are my recommended reads and resources if you are interested in IIFYM nutrition plans:
  • "How to Count Your Macros" ebook by Sohee Lee - The article I read a year ago turned into a great ebook with more details and examples on how to calculate a macros plan for yourself. The book is straightforward and practical. Bonus - Sohee responded to my tweet about reading her book! She told me to tweet her if I had any questions... how awesome is that?
  • "3 Keys to Dialing in Your Macronutrients" - Informative article on about how to calculate macros for your body type.
  • "IIFYM v. Clean Eating" - Video by Dr. Layne Norton on his opinion of IIFYM and clean eating. Dr. Norton, in my opinion, is one of the pioneers of flexible dieting and breaks down flexible dieting, metabolic damage, etc. with science.
  • "Diet Doesn't Need to Mean Denial" Article on by Sohee Lee that breaks flexible dieting myths.
I am an advocate of flexible dieting because with macro guidelines I have the most flexibility to go out and eat a restaurants or social events without feeling guilty. I haven't been dropping pounds like I did with a strict clean eating plan, but that's ok. My long-term goal is to have a sustainable fat loss. Long-term health is what is more important to me than fitting into a smaller dress size next month.

Flexible dieting is not a "quick fix" to fat loss or gaining lean muscle. It may take a couple weeks to adjust your macros to meet your goals. You are the one who has to stick to the plan, so do your research and figure out what will work for your journey.

Any thoughts on IIFYM v. Clean Eating or recommended reads about nutrition?

Happy training,

Monday, August 25, 2014

When Is Your Next Show?

I got asked this question practically weekly after my last show in June 2013. Sometimes it was followed with an "oh, you really lost your muscles" or "are you even training". Eh, I am not one to let these remarks or questions bother me because having competed for over three years, I know my body and the prep/non-prep cycle. I wanted to answer the question with basically what is in this post, but I knew it would take a long time to explain my total thought process about competing again and really people just wanted to hear about how crazy prep is.

After my June show, I was happy that I competed because 1.) I got to wear that expensive a$$ figure suit that I bought the year before and 2.) I met my long-time goal of doing a figure show! Who cares about a second to last place finish? I didn't. I was just happy to be doing quarter turns instead of model turns.

June 2013 NPC LA Figure Show with my awesome teammates
After the June show, I did a post-mortem of the experience to figure out how I could have done this prep better. The post-mortem lead me to a few conclusions:
  1. There definitely has to be a more flexible way to prep.
  2. I want to be stronger. I want to get back to 1- max rep glory days.
  3. I cannot function on a strict meal plan because off season, I have a difficult time maintaining weight and social and work functions are difficult to manage. More knowledge on nutrition is needed.
  4. I do not want to spend half of my nights lifting, doing second round of cardio and doing food prep because now I have a significant other to think about.
  5. I cannot put my significant other through the hangry prep experience again. Seriously. Although I warned my significant other of the strict guidelines for prep, I don't think he was prepared for how it actually played out in real life, nor did he know what he was in for travelling to LA with three hangry competitors.
Knowledge is power so over the past year, I've been reading, learning, and testing out new methods to expand my tool set.  Hence the break from competing or even thinking about competing until I do what I need to do.

To answer the question, "when is your next show?," I don't know. It will be when I am ready. Remember competing is a big time and mental commitment, compete when you are ready and to meet your own goals. Arm yourself with knowledge and a great support network.

Happy training,

Monday, August 4, 2014

Colorado Travel Tips: Hiking Maxwell Falls

Beautiful Sunday afternoon! Maxwell Falls Trail is in the Forest ahead.
Each weekend there's a line of parked cars along the side of a main two-way road in our neighborhood. If you follow the line of cars, it leads you to the overflowing Lower Maxwell Falls parking lot. According to my neighbors, this trail has only recently gained popularity. Scott and I have been meaning to make our way over the Falls. The house projects have been taking up our free time on the weekends.

This weekend was an unexpected two days of pure blue skies and sunshine. Plus we completed our house projects on Saturday! Sunday = perfect day for a hike :) Our neighbor offered to be our guide on the hike.

If you plan on hiking Maxwell Falls, here's a few tips:
  • Middle trailhead is unmarked and is about two miles further up the road from the Lower Maxwell Falls entrance. This is the best place to find parking.
Saw this mushroom on the way to the car.
  • The trails are a worn out and washed out in some areas because of the heavy foot traffic and recent storms. Pay attention to the trail to make sure you stay on it.
  • If you start from the middle trailhead, you can go left to an awesome lookout point on a huge boulder. If you go right on the trail, it is an easy 15 minutes to the waterfall.
Lookout Point
  • If you are doing the entire loop from the Middle Trailhead, start by going left. There's less uphill and you can finish off the loop with the Falls. The entire loop is about 1 hour and 30 minutes. According to my HR monitor, I burned approximately 650 calories on the hike.
Scott in front of the Falls. The best view of the Falls is by this wooden marker.
  • Check the weather forecast the morning before you go. A sunny morning is not predictive of a clear afternoon. You don't want to be stuck in the forest during a lightening storm.
  • There's rattlesnakes in the Forest. We heard a couple of them as we were walking through. Stay on the trail!  
Happy hiking!