As I move towards my weight-loss and fitness goals there have been some tricky times, trying to figure out what #FlexibleDieting is all about, how to master using the My Fitness Pal app for calorie- and macro-tracking and just how to keep myself on track… There are days when 1,600 calories seems like an effortless accomplishment and others when it just isn’t as enthralling to be living in a calorie deficit. So as I have progressed I have been putting together a list of tips and suggestions that can possibly help other novice Flexible Dieters and make things just a little easier as you become familiar with the approach and things that have made my process far more manageable.
These are not expert tips or advice, simply a few learnings I have developed for myself…
Tips & suggestions from a novice Flexible Dieting…using My Fitness Pal
- Track and eat, rather than eat and track!
- Give some thought to your meals for the week, so that you can plan and shop…don’t leave things to chance so that you end up without ingredients to cook or prepare meals.
- Plan and track your meals for the following day each evening so that you can take lunch to work, and you know what is on the menu for dinner when you get home (and that you have what you need).
- Keep your essentials in stock such as marinated chicken breasts, lean mince, fruit and veg, protein/whey powder, eggs, popcorn, bread & pita bread (in the freezer), etc.
- Don’t put temptation in your path…try and keep uncooked, high-calorie foods out your kitchen. If you are planning to include a little chocolate or some other treat in your day plan for it and only buy what you are going to eat.
- If you are going to have a high-calorie dinner (such as an Andiccio’s pizza) plan for it, as you will probably need to restrict your calories during the day (depending on your calorie target).
- There are NO SUCH THING as good or bad foods, only nutrient-dense or calorie-dense foods.
- Nutrient-dense foods will keep you full for longer, so save calorie-dense food for later in the day!
- Carbs are not bad! Sugar is not evil! Dairy is not fattening! But always in moderation and within your calorie- and macro-targets.
- Include some of your favourite foods (in moderation if calorie-dense) everyday…There is NO NEED to deprive yourself which is NOT sustainable over the long-term
- Focus on mostly nutrient-dense foods and leave a little space for calorie-dense foods on certain days as a treat (e.g a kit kat J)
- Be flexible with yourself and avoid becoming too rigid within your tracking [calories first, protein next, then be flexible within carbs and fats to make up the balance] and you’ll feel satisfied and healthy at the end of the day!
- Track accurately:
- Use a digital kitchen scale for weighing food
- Use green-tick foods on MFP
- Use DCSN or USDA entries where possible on MFP
- Use grams/ounces rather than cups for measurements
- SCAN foods using MFP app for increased accuracy
- Most big restaurant franchises (e.g. Spur, Andiccios, Nandos, Starbucks, etc.) have nutrient information on their websites which can be entered into MFP.
- Save your favourite meals or dishes on MFP for ease of use (e.g. homemade lean mince hamburgers, creamed feta spinach, chicken & salad pita, etc.)
- Eat your first meal later in the morning [if not training first], and then spread food out during the day. Try and keep some calories for a banana before bed [it helps with hunger and sleep!]
- Allow calories for a snack, protein shake, or pre-workout drink if you are planning to train after work and before dinner so that you have energy for your workout.
- Eat protein in the morning [e.g. boiled eggs] rather than carbs as it’ll keep you satiated for longer.
- Plan and prepare for diet breaks (with your coach) which are incredibly helpful in keeping motivation high, stress low, results on track and enjoyment going…
- Eat and prepare 90% of your meals at home, and plan for meals that are away from home (or have a non-tracking day which you can discuss with your coach).
- Develop a growth mindset around nutrition and fitness:
- A slip is not failure but an opportunity to learn and move forward!
- Dieting does not need to be black and white.
- There are NOT good or bad foods, only nutrient- or calorie-dense and nothing is “forbidden”- moderation is the secret!
- Learn from those that are successful – ask experts, speak to your coach, follow professionals & join groups on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
The more I use these little practices, the more habitual they become and the less thought and effort goes towards making decisions, and staying motivated and focused on my eating-plan and weight-loss goals. The benefits of not restricting myself, allowing myself some wiggle wrong and being gentler on myself as I go through the process have been so different and more sustainable than ALL THE OTHER diets I have ever been on! And as I mentioned in my first post, Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes, there have been a lot of those.
And of course the more weight-loss and muscle-gain I achieve the more my self-confidence improves and the more committed I become to my desired outcomes. Though to be honest, the ideas I had have changed somewhat over the last few months. I have learned to accept what I can and can’t achieve, given my body type, age, genetics, etc. but having a coach has been the one thing that stands out as being the biggest difference this time around. Although, being able to eat the occasional pizza, Kit Kat and post-workout chocolate muffin cannot be ignored!
Written by Leigh-Anne Brierley