Flexible Dieting: Are You Doing it Wrong?

When I first learned how to diet flexibly, I was overjoyed at my new found “food tetris” game.  As time went on, I started to lose sight of the real reason I ever wanted to get in shape in the first place- to be healthy.  I began to attempt to fit as many low-quality food items into my day as possible.  See what I could get away with.  Can I eat all of these empty calories and still have abs? I mean, if I can, then heck yes carry on.

With that train of thought, I was really losing sight of my initial “why”.

When I began my fitness journey, I did so as a stress relief.  I did it to sleep better, to feel good, to stay healthy and take care of myself.  Feeling great in my clothes and gaining confidence was the bonus.  After a few years of competing, alas, I was focusing more and more on my aesthetic changes and less and less on my internal changes.

If you only have a physical “why” to get in shape, I am living proof that you will become easily frustrated, and will be more likely to throw in the towel.  Even when I have been the leanest, I have continued to want to change something about my physique.  The thing about physical progress is that it is easy to always want more and more. To strive for perfection.  When you inevitably cannot achieve that (who can?), you will think all of your efforts have been for naught.

If you have a “why” that falls under the category of health, being strong, having endurance for all of your life activities, you will be more likely to encompass a variety of gauges to measure your progress- not just whether or not you have a six pack.  When you see progress, you get motivated, when you are motivated, it is easier to stick with something and make it a lifelong habit.

Food Choices

If your primary goal is looks based only, you want to get away with eating whatever treat you can and still look great.  When you are health focused, you are more likely to make positive choices for your body regardless.  Think about how wonderful it would be to have healthy, nutritious foods as the foods you want to eat; vs. have to eat.

Wouldn’t it be great to want to eat healthy, nutritious foods instead of feeling like you have to?

Just because you may be able to eat mass amounts of empty calories and still look great, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for your body.  When we eat a bunch of junk, we miss out on the valuable micronutrients in food.  There are so many benefits to having a well-rounded diet and avoiding vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Think they don’t matter? Peep these tables

Vitamin Importance and Effects on the Body 

Mineral Recommended Amounts and Functions 

Information indicated in those charts made me reconsider things a bit and head back toward the 85/15 or 90/10 guideline.  85 or 90 percent of the time I CHOOSE (it is my choice, I am not forced, none of us are) to have nutritious food for my body because I love my body and I only have one that I want to take care of as best as I possibly can.  I leave wiggle room for things I like to eat of course.  Of course, some days this all goes out the window, and I eat pizza and drink wine and nosh on chocolate.

It matters much more what you do consistently than what you do now and then

Enjoy yourself- without regret- on those occasions.  Balance my friends. 

I see so many photos on social media that glamorize the low-quality food choices made by those in great shape.  I assure you, for the most part, and the majority of those individuals, the rest of their day does not look like that.  When I began to cut calories, I realized how I was hungry very soon after sugary junk food.  My energy would tank. I noticed my skin seemed dull and even my hair and nails felt differently.  My quality of sleep changed- even my mood.  I used to avoid vegetables thinking “what a waste of carbs” and that isn’t the mindset to be in when pursuing health and wellness (or setting an example for my six year old).


Changing our mindsets

Focusing more on what we gain by making great choices for our health helps us to make those choices much more likely than focusing on all that we feel we are losing.  Thinking “as soon as this diet is over I will get to eat all my favorite foods again” vs “I enjoy eating healthy, delicious foods for my body and prefer to make great choices” will change your “diet” into a lifestyle change and equate to lasting results and optimum health.

If I have learned anything this year, it is how powerful the mind is about achieving fitness goals. A positive, relaxed, and mentally strong mind can accomplish anything.  Let’s take the time this week to tell ourselves that we are in charge and we choose to make great choices because we are worth it.

Have the right “why, ” and the rest falls into place.