I would not say my eating patterns fall under “IIFYM” but there are definitely days, like yesterday, where I have simply said screw it. Maybe I can call it intuitive eating, but honestly I do not have any need or want to label it anything at all. Primarily, I focus on eating for my goals: strength, and optimal performance– and some days I have some thing I am craving. One thing that is very important: I try to make sure that my craving is not surrounded or fueled by my emotions. On Friday for example, I wanted something sweet not because it was a simple craving but because I was extremely upset, frustrated and downright sad. In those moments, I take more care to limit the types of things I eat as to avoid a Binge Eating episode. The majority of the time though, it is a matter of what I want to eat and what feels good.
I have been making great progress this way. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Telling myself “no” on any given day is easy because I know that when the hankering for sweets comes around again I can very well allow myself that flexibility. I used to tell myself I could not have sweets for an entire week or I would try to go 22 days to break the habit, etc. etc. and the cravings would just get stronger and stronger until finally I would break and consume everything I could find. I was scared to say “Ok, we can have that whenever I want” that I restricted and restricted and restricted until I spiraled.
Then I decided to loosen up the reigns a little. I decided I would work out, I would try my best to eat as clean and as fresh as possible and if I wanted a doughnut one day or two then so be it. I swore I would go off the deep end. Guess what? Instead of gaining weight and letting loose completely I have actually started to make lifelong progress. While I still feel my nutrition and eating habits need a bit of tweaking here and there, I no longer feel like my Health is a temporary imposition on my life. The nice thing about taking the pressure off and saying “Ok, I can have that” is that I am much more capable of rationally deciding whether I really want a treat.
Crazy enough, telling myself I can have sweets has made it less alluring. I am telling myself, and reminding myself that food is not the enemy. Sweets are not evil. It is ok to want something sweet and to eat something sweet if that is what your body is asking for. That does not make you a bad person or less dedicated to your Fitness journey. It just means you are human! I needed to remind myself of this. On those days when I say “Let’s go get some ice cream,” I am reminding myself that my weight will not exponentially suffer simply because I eat something “off the books.” If I continue to workout and eat for my goals, the ice cream will make no difference.
There is no need to put in an extra hour of cardio to burn off what you ate or put yourself on a super strict diet because you wanted a piece of cake. I no longer stand in front of the mirror, upset because I ate chicken wings and fries over the weekend and have to burn off all the extra calories I ate. Nope nope nope. There have been days where I have eaten nearly 3,000 calories, all over the course of 2 meals and I have woken up the next day with a clear conscience (and sometimes, a flatter belly!!) Because I give my body breaks from time to time, my body thanks me when I get back into the gym. I have gotten stronger and see my conditioning improving. And yes from time to time, I have a bowl of cereal or a cookie. I still make progress. You simply have to trust and enjoy the process.
If maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle is becoming difficult and causing too much stress, then I would suggest taking a look at your methods. Are you being too restrictive? Do your eating patterns match your goals? Are your goals something that you feel are manageable, lifelong and motivating?
Letting go is not a bad thing. Sometimes, letting go is the best thing you can do to move forward. So I say, let the restrictions go! Find your happy medium, and you will continue to move towards lifelong progress.