IIFYM: Why I Count Macros for Health

Oh hey again! Happy Friday-eve. How’s your week shaking up?

In my last post, I talked about the basics of IIFYM and macros. When most people think of IIFYM, they probably think of the photos they see on Instagram. I’m talking about drool-worthy brownies topped with#allofthethings, whole pints of ice cream with poptarts for spoons, and pancakes piled as high as the sky.

In the world of IIFYM and macro counting, that might “fit”. But in the world of health? Probably not… or at least not all day, every day.

I believe that consistency is key, and that a balanced approach is a sustainable one. If you’re serious about healing your body and improving your health, then focusing on nutrient dense foods is the way to go.

However, I think there’s a lot to be said for a happy mind. Happiness vs. stress can be a game changer – you can’t just balance out the negative effects stress.

That’s where balance comes in. For some people that means enjoying wine on a girls night or eating a piece of cake at loved one’s birthday party. For others, it means eating enjoying Taco Tuesday or some pizza after the big game. Whatever “it” is, balance means enjoying those moments and taking the stress out of eating.

If you’re consistent about nourishing your body, then you’ll be able to include those moments while still reaping the benefits of healing and health. Those moments aren’t “indulgences”, “cheats”, or “splurges” – they’re just you living life beautifully.

Macro counting is a tool that’s allowed me to embrace life while still being mindful of my health. I still live with the repercussions of a stressful childhood (mentally and physically) and a serious of health problems, but this new lifestyle has given me the freedom I crave.

[I know sometimes I can get a little passionate, but that’s because I truly believe in this lifestyle. I’ve found so much joy and renewed health, and now I want to share it with you! Everyone is different, but this is what’s worked for me. As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions.]

4 Ways to Use IIFYM and Macro Counting for Healing

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#1: Experiment with your macro nutrient ratios

IIFYM calculators will typically use a standard formula or percentage to determine how much of each macro nutrient you should have. Although the ratios may differ slightly, most calculations will leave you with high to moderate protein, moderate carbs, and lower fat. Sure, that may be a good place to start. But while that may work for some people, it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Don’t be afraid to try different ratios to see what your body prefers. I’ve personally gone through periods of time where high carb/low fat has worked best and others where my body thrived on more fat/less carbs. Sometimes I need more protein, other times I don’t.

Over time, I’ve been able to develop a macro nutrient cycling approach that makes me feel my best. I listen to my body and use past experience to adjust when necessary. If you’re new to this lifestyle or don’t know how to bring an intuitive approach to macro counting, I highly recommend working with a coach. If you’re interested in learning more about my specific food freedom philosophy, please reach out to me to see if I can help!

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#2: Remember your “micros”

Macros – carbs, protein, and fat – are obviously the focus of this lifestyle, but food can be broken down even further into micro nutrients. These are vitamins and minerals, the things that give our bodies specific information to heal.

If you’re trying to recover from a specific condition, the micro nutrients are where it’s at! I try to fill most of my diet with nutrient-rich foods. Based on my situation, I try to include an abundance of certain nutrients. I also make sure to include a variety of healing foods to make sure I’m getting a little bit of everything – like a multivitamin, but with delicious food!

My goal is to have at least 2 meals a day that are built on high-quality, real food ingredients. That leaves me with some flexibility to enjoy “fun” foods and embrace what life has to throw at me. No foods are “good” or “bad”, but I do recognize the foundation of my eating should be foods that provide extra nourishment – that’s when I feel my best.

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#3: Plan ahead

I’ll be honest: I’m a huge planner. I love organizing, managing, and planning – it’s just in my personality. So for me, I actually enjoy planning (most of) my food ahead so that I know I’m getting hitting all my needs. It’s kind of like a game!

Even if you’re not super into planning, I think a little bit can go a long way in your healing success. Sure you could could get the same macros from a spontaneous snack on the go as one you prepared at home, but you might get in the extra nutrients you were missing if you thought ahead. I always have a batch of this super easy chicken and some veggies on hand so I can get my protein and carbs from real food sources when I’m in a pinch.

An easy way to plan ahead is to write down a rough idea of the foods you plan to eat during the day or week (your grocery list can be a huge help with this). If you’re familiar with nutrition, then you should be able to look at what you have and see if there’s any gaps or overhang. Basically look for variety – color and food group is a great place to start!

If you get extra into it, try a meal planning tool or ask your coach to help. I personally love Lexi’s Clean Kitchen‘s weekly meal plans for some good, balanced inspiration.

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#4: Include more of what works for you and less of what doesn’t

This one’s tricky, so I’m going to take a bit more time to explain it.

I don’t like to say any foods are off-limits (unless you have a diagnosed allergy) because I think that can lead to a restrictive mentality. However, I think you need to be real with yourself on what makes you feel your best and what just plain doesn’t.

The key is knowing that you CAN have any food but recognizing that one choice may make you feel better than another. Does dairy make your tummy hurt? How about raw veggies? Do you have trouble with beans? You can always have some dairy, veggies with dip, or beans in your taco salad, but maybe it’s not a frequent occurrence. You’ll be able to heal faster and be a better you if you embrace this mentality.

For example, I have Celiac’s disease, so I do actually have to avoid gluten altogether. I also have Hashimoto’s thyroid disease; grains can make me inflamed and feel extra sleepy, but they aren’t off limits.

For example, I used to buy a big bag of popcorn every week because I loved it so much – even though it didn’t make me feel my best. But once I got real with myself that it wasn’t serving my body, I broke the habit of buying that bag of popcorn all the time and instead only had it when I really wanted it. Now I want to snack on popcorn at night with my boyfriend or have it at the movies, then I can choose to do so- knowing that I may not feel my best afterwards. That being said, I definitely try to fill the rest of my day with more foods that do work well for me.

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It’s all a conscious choice – action and flexible adjustment. I choose freedom – what about you?

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