Flexible Dieting | It’s Not Just Black or White!?

So it’s been three months of really focusing on my nutrition and fitness, and I am definitely seeing and feeling the results as I mentioned in my previous post.  And then suddenly at the end of month two it all became a little overwhelming.  I didn’t actually notice what was happening, but Alex did!  He’d been commenting on my stress levels and the work pressure I was under, along with the training intensity and the calorie deficit.  And I resisted!!

He’d prepared me from the beginning that there would be diet and training breaks at times, to allow my body and mind to rest and recover.  I pushed back, not understanding that it is important to give my system a chance to “take a deep breath” and just refuel a little.  And because he explained it to me and supported me through the process, I was able to come to terms with the idea that I would be eating more calories for a few  weeks and spending a little less time in the gym.  It was difficult for me to grasp as I saw it as “falling off the diet wagon”, rather than taking a hiatus before starting the process again.  For someone who has always followed rather rigid, regimented diet plans, I have had to be very gentle with myself over these past 21 days when I got on the scale every morning.  It felt like I was cheating on my diet, even though Flexible Dieting does allow a little room for certain foods that some might consider dieting and nutrition no-no’s!  Dieting and food has always been so black-and-white for me!  No wiggle room to enjoy the process and actually learn a little along the way!

But the diet break has taught me that even though I was not eating as few calories as I have over the previous months, it was still extremely important that I was intentional and aware of what I was eating.  I have continued to plan, log and track my meals (which has become an effortless daily habit on My Fitness Pal).  I have got up every morning and weighed myself, and the scale has actually been kind to me over the last three weeks.  A 100 grams here and there, but nothing as drastic or terrifying as I had imagined over the first two weeks, and even some weight loss over the third week of the break.  The numbers did not shoot up with the extra calories, and the break has done exactly what Alex said it would…  Lowered my stress levels and allowed me to better cope with my personal and professional challenges, given my body a bit of recovery time and shown me that the increases in nutrient-rich food was not going to take me back to square one, as long as I was consistent within the break period.

So on Monday I went be going back to my 1,500 calories a day and I am once again feeling focused and motivated to reduce my weight and body fat.  I’m more than likely going to miss the extra calorie allowances, but I’ve been informed that there will be another break within three to six weeks, which is something to look forward to while I continue working towards my goals, develop healthy eating and training habits.  And this makes the journey I am on feel far more sustainable then previous programmes where I was simply given a goal weight and told to keep going until I got there…I rarely did!

mindsetThe flexible approach is giving me space to anchor my new behaviours, habits, thoughts and ideas around nutrition and exercise and to challenge some of the old, destructive ones I have developed over the years.  I  have a compassionate, self-loving and exciting relationship that is growing and developing around myself, and how I engage with food and exercise.  It’s been revolutionary for me, and I don’t feel trapped within the cycle of the ever-restrictive, always distressing, no-end-in-sight diet plans I have chosen before.  And because of this I am in no tearing hurry to get to some quantitative weight loss figure, but rather enjoying the experience and the process, as I feel myself shifting to a growth mindset in this area of my life, where I have always been so fixed in my ideas, beliefs, thoughts and behaviours.

By Leigh-Anne Brierley

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