Thursday, April 14, 2016

How I Lost Weight by Eating Cookies

Hi, I'm Amanda and I'm addicted to cookies. And crackers. And snacks. And ice cream.

I tried very hard for several years to live a Paleo lifestyle: real, clean food. No sugar, grains and very limited amounts of dairy. Mostly just meat, veggies, fruits and nuts. I thought this was the best way to fuel my body, lose fat and get abs.

Paleo works, you guys. I got abs (very quickly), but I couldn't keep them. They came and went. Why? Because it's not a sustainable diet. At least not for me. For me, it's a crash diet. And I'm a binge eater. Note: I'm not saying Paleo won't work for you, because it works great for a lot of people. I'm just not one of them!

Here's how it'd go:
  1. I would go super strict and completely restrict myself for a few weeks. NO sugar, No grains, NO cheats, NOTHING
  2. I would get abs (yay!) 
  3. After my 21 day challenge or month of Paleo was up, I'd reward myself with a massive cheat day
  4. I'd tell myself "OK, Amanda. You can keep this up. You get one cheat meal a week."
  5. Failure. I couldn't keep it up. One cheat meal would turn into one cheat day which would turn into binging over and over and over again until I felt so miserable and fat and guilty I'd start the whole process over again
I wouldn't go so far as to say this was an eating disorder, but it was certainly an unhealthy lifestyle and an unhealthy relationship with food. Massive amounts of restriction followed by extreme overeating gives your body mixed signals and makes your digestive system go coo-coo. And your brain, too. I ended up struggling with major bloating and digestive issues, regardless of what I was eating, which then lead to me feeling fatter and uglier than I actually was which led to occasional bits of depression and self-hatred. Not good. 

Round and round I went. Frustrated, bloated, no longer seeing any kind of results, and making myself miserable. So, I decided I needed a different approach. 

A lot of people at my gym had started following IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) or Flexible Dieting. They'd post about eating cookies and cereal and ice cream and fast food all the time and I was SO annoyed by it.

"There's no way all they eat is junk food and still look that good. They just have better metabolism than me."

But, after doing a TON of research, I decided to give it a shot, and I'm so glad I did.

Ignore my bed head and sleep deprived eyes in the after pic. It was taken in the early stages of puppyhood!

Here's the deal. Yes, I eat cookies and frozen yogurt on the reg, but there's also a LOT of chicken breast, egg whites and spinach in my diet that I don't share on Instagram or Snapchat....because who wants to see pictures of chicken breast....amiright?

IIFYM is basically a way to keep your diet balanced (I try for 80% real food, 20% fun food). It's kind of like counting calories. You're allotted a certain number of grams for protein, fat and carbs each day (your macros). You can eat whatever you want, as long as it fits your numbers. I also limit my sugar to less than 50 grams per day, because f I didn't limit it, I'd abuse it and get 63% of my carbs from Hot Tamales.

So, yes, I can have an Oreo or two each day to keep me mentally sane, but in order to meat my macro numbers dead on, my diet has to include a ton of foods that are high in protein, low in fat, and full of healthy carbs. And boy oh boy, those healthy carbs (bread, oatmeal, potatoes, rice, noodles, whole grains) taste real good after three years of not eating them. 

To put it simply, balance is key. Knowing I can eat whatever I want keeps me from feeling the need to cheat/overindulge, BUT I have to eat those "fun" foods in moderation in order for them to fit into my numbers. For example, if I know I'm going to be eating ice cream, I just fit the rest of my day around it accordingly (i.e.: no Oreos at lunch, fewer carby snacks and maybe chicken breast in lieu of another fattier meat). It's all about choosing which foods are worth the macros and balancing it accordingly.

The fact that I can eat cookies and not gain weight is enough for me to keep it up. Yes, its a lot of work to enter every single bit of food into my MyMacros+ or MyFitnessPal app, but in my opinion, its WAY better than not eating those foods at all or eating way too many of them and feeling gross. Its also incredibly interesting to see the makeup of every food item from a different perspective.

I'm so glad I can now go out to eat with friends or eat a donut and still feel good about myself in the mirror/at the gym/on the scale. Not feeling guilty for eating something delicious is the absolute best.

Note: I use Brittany Dawn Fitness for my Macro-Consulting, but there are many different options out there! Find a coach you like that works for you. 

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