First of all, what is flexible dieting?
Many people see flexible dieting as a system that involves weighing, measuring, tracking and counting. But flexible dieting is so much for than that. If we’re constantly obsessing over numbers, how could that be considered flexible? In reality, flexible dieting is an approach to nutrition that teaches us how to properly fuel our bodies day in and day out with the right nutrients to support our goals. Everyones approach will be different. We all have different needs and dietary preferences. Flexible dieting is really not a diet at all. It’s about finding something that’s sustainability, flexible and enjoyable that supports health, body composition and any other goals we have. For me personally that also includes optimizing athletic performance.
I started flexible dieting 9 months ago. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into, I just knew I needed a new approach to my diet. For years I had an unhealthy relationship with food. I was your classic yo-yo/crash dieter. I was always looking for fast results. That usually involved under eating, excessive amounts of cardio and following fad diets. Sure I lost weight, but I never had muscle definition and I was never satisfied. I despised food. And my results were always the same, excessive weight loss followed by depression and binges that lead to excessive weight gain. It was a vicious cycle and I hated it. But over the years I've learned how to improve my relationship with food.
On day one of my flexible dieting journey, which was in January of this year, I weighed in at 150 pounds. I didn’t really have a plan for tracking. I’ve been conscious of what I put in my body for years, and I “balance” my meals, but that was about the extent of it. I used MyFitnessPal to log all of my food and at the end of the day I had some numbers to look at. But what did that tell me? All it really told me was that I’d eaten so many carbs, fat and protein which added up to so many calories. I really wasn’t using the numbers as a tool until I read Krissy’s book, Flexible Dieting 2.0, in April. Right now you might be thinking, how is this flexible? You have to keep track of numbers every day, that sounds stressful. But the thing is, it wasn’t! Sure there’s a little work in the beginning, and if you have very specific goals you may need to track more accurately, but once you have an understanding of portion sizes and how your body feels when you eat certain foods, it becomes second nature. I promise!
In May of this year I found out I had a fractured patella. I’d been struggling with knee pain for months up to this point, so on top of trying to find alternative workouts in the gym, I was also trying to figure out how I needed to eat differently. It all just became overwhelming. My CrossFit season had come to an end much sooner than I had anticipated and I was on the brink of depression. Nothing was going as planned. I could feel myself giving up on all of my goals. Like I said, I knew I needed to eat different while I was recovering from an injury, but I just wasn’t sure I had the willpower to do it on my own. My mental state was already weakened. So I reached out to Krissy and she became my nutrition coach (aka my guardian angel and saving grace).
What I’ve learned from working with Krissy is that I’m FAR from perfect, but flexible dieting works for me. I enjoy the food I eat, and nothing feels off limits. I enjoy ice cream every night without feeling guilty because I know I’m fueling my body with the macro and micronutrients it needs throughout the day. Having ice cream makes me happy and I still feel, look and perform great.
One of the reasons I love flexible dieting so much is that I’ve never once despised food. I actually love it more than ever! In the past 9 months I’ve had plenty of days (sometimes whole weeks) where I completely over ate and didn’t even come close to hitting my macros. But I never felt guilty or upset about it. It’s all a learning experience, and that’s how I look at it. I always make a conscious effort to note what happened and I try to understand why. Sometimes it’s a lack of self control, sometimes it’s stress, sometimes I’ve just trained my ass off and I needed more food, but thats how we learn to make adjustments. And Krissy can testify to my lack of perfectionism. But I’m always honest with her. She’s my support system. She kept me motivated during a tough time and I’ll be forever grateful for that.
Although weight loss isn’t my primary goal (athletic performance is), maintaining a certain weight helps with that, especially in a sport like CrossFit where you need to be able to lift a lot of weight and then do gymnastics. For me, my conditioning has always been more of a weakness than my strength, so I knew I’d like to lose a little weight, to feel lighter and faster, but I didn’t really know how much. Flexible dieting has helped me reach that weight, without even knowing what that number was for me. But I know I’m there because I feel great in the gym and my diet is easy to maintain. My starting weight below is from May, when I started working with Krissy, until now. It’s fluctuated week to week, but over the course of 5 months I’ve lost 8 pounds and I feel really good at my current weight. I don't need to obsess about it day to day, I just keep an eye on my weekly trend and enjoy the beauty that is flexible dieting!
Starting weight: 148
Week 1: 147
Week 2: 146
Week 3: 145
Week 4: 144
Week 5: 144
Week 6: 146
Week 7: 143
Week 8: 144
Week 9: 143
Week 10: 143
Week 11: 142
Week 12: 142
Week 13: 140
Week 14: 139
Week 15: 140
Week 16: 140
Week 17: 141
Week 18: 142
Week 19: 141
Week 20: 140
The reason I decided to share all of this is because I know a lot people have similar struggles when it comes to their diet. I’m not a paleo perfectionist and I want to be open and honest about that. The most important thing to me is that I’m eating foods that promote overall health, provide energy and allow me to thrive in my sport. Flexible dieting has done that for me. I can enjoy food wherever I go and I look leaner and stronger than I ever have!
If you have any questions or comments leave them below, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re interested in nutrition coaching I work with Krissy and Kelsey at Black Iron Nutrition. You can email us at email@example.com.