So I mentioned a while ago over on my Instagram that I was switching my diet from IIFYM to ‘clean eating’ – paying more attention to the foods I was eating not just hitting macros/calorie goals. Here I will explain a little bit more about it and my current eating habits.
Why the Change?
So firstly why change – well I have tried numerous bodybuilding/generic nutrition plans and for the most part IIFYM but never felt like I was achieving my goals and though yes I was within my calorie and macro goals for the day I wasn’t really enjoying what I was eating and so focusing on hitting macros I didn’t really think about what I was eating so often let feeling tired and crappy.
This is where Vivo Life have been my life saver – obviously we all know roughly what we should and shouldn’t be eating but fine tuning this to what works best for me and with so many ‘health’ products that actually can be equal too if not worse than a bar of chocolate its hard to really grasp what is ‘clean’ nutritious food and which companies you can trust, hence my love for Vivo/
Vivo Life are the most down to earth genuine company I have met yet – honestly caring about and listening to their customers. Particularly Josh – director and nutritionist at Vivo, we first started speaking a while back when I posted a recipe using a cacao nut butter they sell, he wasn’t trying to sell me any product or one of those generic Instagram comments – the fitness community should working together to grow and promote a positive industry which sadly it is often viewed negatively with so many conflicting views and confusion regarding training and nutrition – no wonder so many of us feel lost/confused and steer away thinking its just about killing yourself in the gym and eating salad for the rest of your life – not the case! There is so many ways to be active not involving boring gym workouts and same for nutrition – healthy eating in my house is certainly not dull, boring or bland foods (take a look at my Instagram or here on my blog for some healthy recipe ideas including pizza and brownies!)
Anyway rant over back to why you really came to read this article……
After speaking with Josh it was clear to see he had incredible knowledge on the world of nutrition and really made things so easy to understand, clearing up for me so many of the myths in the field. Although he taught me a lot which helped with a lot of my clients I wanted to know how to gain the most from my diet and what he thought about my current diet.
What he came back with was incredible – he took a genuine interest in helping out and after a few emails back and forth came back literally within a day with a fab plan specific to me, my goals and lifestyle with loads of interesting pointers and information including the best protein, carbs and fat sources but still so much freedom within this to create and make dishes I enjoy – happy days!
Step 1 – stopping tracking macros for 2 weeks
What- no logging on my fitness pal? Yes this did terrify me as its something I have done for so long and almost relied on like my safety blanket. But after speaking with Josh he reassured me and made me realise that its important to get in touch with your body and focus on eating whole natural foods and nourish our bodies. We rely far too much on packets to tell us exactly how many calories/grams of fat, carbs and protein without focusing on actually what we are eating.
Now tracking and correct macro calculation is needed to reach your goals but equally important is how we achieve this i.e. what we are putting into our bodies.
Step 2 – Nourish Your Body
Taking the focusing to eating whole, natural foods and eating ‘clean’
So the words ‘eat clean’/’clean eating’ are thrown around a lot but what do they really mean? True eating cleaning would be totally raw, organic produces – no packaging no mass produced shop bought goods. However for me I focus on eating as much of the food I can from reputable sources buying organic fresh produce – My meat I buy from the organic online butcher Graigs Farm or the local butchers and from treats/supplements from at Vivo Life (link to my favourites here) and everything else I still buy from the supermarket – fruit/veg/cheese/yogurt etc.
So I won’t lie I found the first few days a little tricky with what to be eating and how much, though I had portioned for years I had clearly become so obsessed with weighing things out I didn’t pay much attention to how much. After the first few days I began responding to my body – if the day before I felt a little tired and sluggish I tried upping carbs (particularly after heavy training sessions) also playing around with high fat/low carb vice versa and of course getting in protein at every meal – something which I was actually having too much of before!
Now there was no miracle change in the first week like so many fad diets claim and still some days I felt a little tired (often not enough carbs) and the bloatedness was still there a little bit – but after some fine tuning by the end of the second week I felt stronger, leaner and bouncing with energy – result! And I was eating pizzas, brownies, cookies and experimenting and trialling so many new healthy goods, cooking and eating should be something to be enjoyed not just a because we need to !
My New Goals
So after the initial buzz of discovering so much variety and yumminess I could create I now wanted to make it more specific to reaching my goals. My aim from now until march time is to build as much lean muscle as possible (optimal time in the run up to Christmas as more muscle = more fat burning = eat more food without huge weight gain !) so time to factor back in those macros.
I was secretly pleased to be back onto tracking as I like having structure and macros are important when trying to reach your goals – particularly when building muscle. One thing females (myself included) are not so good at though is realising we need to be eating over our maintenance level calories to be able to build that lean muscle. It is programmed into us that more calories = weight/fat gain! Yes the scales may go up but remember muscle weighs more than fat hence I focus for me anyway more on photos and body fat measurements to judge.
Still not convinced well picture building a brick wall, in order to make it bigger and stronger we need to give it the right tools – cement and bricks will give it that – just like our muscles require protein and carbs to grow bigger and stronger – obviously calculating correct amount is key or excess will be covered to fat but with expert help and listening to your body (this is why the first two weeks were so key for me) you will get to know what works best for you – I am still working to get mine spot on but with Josh’s help the improvement so far for me has been incredible!
100% Clean/What about Cheat Days?
Guaranteed look at most fitness Instagram accounts this weekend and you will see a picture of various junk/fast foods but yet they still stay in amazing shape. For me this is promoting the wrong message and personally I don’t like the word ‘cheat’ or ‘treat’ I work towards making foods that I enjoy everyday and so don’t feel the need to have a huge junk/bingefest over the weekend – maybe I’m just weird but I honestly enjoy the foods I eat and never force myself to eating something i don’t enjoy no matter what the health benefits. Sure I love cookies, cake and ice-cream as much as anyone else but I find ways to factor this into my life without feeling the need for an all day binge or ‘cheat meal’. I will be creating a future blog post on ‘cheat/treat meals’ and how I factor in the things I like whilst staying on track so keep your eyes peeled!
Finally a huge thanks to Josh and the team for their support and making things so much clearer for me – I cannot recommend them enough if you are struggling with nutrition or just want some advice get in touch. Likewise I am more than happy to speak with you on anything you are unsure of/any questions you may have or for a general chat about leading a fit and healthy lifestyle – please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to hearing any comments and feedback (good or bad) and really hope you all have a great weekend !