Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The woes of being a low cal flexible dieter and why I take a full cheat day

So I was not a good reverse dieter... I know I said I would be and I know that I promised myself I would do it but when it was time to step up to the plate I slowly dissolved. Having a bad stomach flu 2 weeks post competition did not help as I watched my weight drop down to 115lbs- the lowest it has ever been since 8th grade. Best case scenario I would have held out against the emotional, psychological, and physical stress of being hungry and slowly added my calories back... I would probably be just 2-3lbs over stage weight... and up to the same caloric point I am now (but about 14lbs over stage weight). It is what it is though, and it is hard to deny a body that is sending you constant signals to eat. In July my period finally returned after about 5 months not having it. That was a bummer, but a good sign that my body had reached the point it was comfortable with from a health perspective. August was a wash, birthdays all month and barbecues galore. I hit a point where I had to just give myself permission to eat as I wanted because bingeing, and admittedly purging at times, was becoming a problem. There is so much guilt seeing your body change and knowing that you aren't doing what you are supposed to do. So I forgave myself the desire to eat above my caloric maintenance and let lose the reins for a little while.
Eating disorders are no joke... if you have been following me awhile you know this is my struggle. Bulimia and Binge Eating are very common for physique competitors though it is something rarely made public. I am one of the many who suffers with this, especially post show. Flexible dieting has definitely helped me, since less restriction means less likelihood that I will reactively backlash. Also having a good support system in place is invaluable- my teammates giacomo, ashlee, and christian who checked in on me regularly, my dad who having been a competitor in the past has gone through it and can talk about it from a completely non emotional viewpoint, my coach Dani Taylor who helped council me through the worst times, and my girlfriend for being perfect- never scrutinizing my eating behaviors even when she was worried, just telling me that she wanted me to be healthy, and that I am beautiful even when I don't have defined legs and abs. It was a rough time for a while and I know it was hard for her to see me suffer with self hate, guilt, and dysmorphia but she was calm through it all and helped me to work through it.
I am completely past bingeing (although you are never completely through ED, you always have to watch yourself and be mindful) and decided I was ready to start slowly monitoring and structuring my food again. So now it's september and I am back on a low but necessary caloric budget. It is lower than my current maintenance but about right for where I need to be to slowly lose some of this excess 5-7 and get back to a leaner yet healthy body fat percentage.
So let me tell you the bummer deal you get when you are a small person who follows flexible dieting guidelines... You've probably seen the instagrams, the fb feeds, and the memes hash tagging #IFFYM #FLEXIBLEDIETING #TEAMSCIENCE #ITFITS #COUNTYOURMACROS below photos of oreos, burgers, ice cream, and candy. That is one of the biggest perks of flexible dieting right?? You get to chose where your carbs and fat come from! You get to eat candy!!!
Well I am here to tell you: if you only eat 1600 calories a day, and you are a hungry person, you don't waste those calories on a tiny cookie. Not gonna happen. You eat salad, lots of vegetables, the purest sources of protein you can find, and some nut butter or vegan cheese if you've been frugal. You feel like a wild woman if you get in some regular pasta or WHITE BREAD!
You debate between eating tofu or more beyond meat chicken so you can have some fat in your last meal...
The big boys, the 2500-5000 calorie eaters, they get to have the cookies, poptarts, sub sandwiches, half pizza, and doughnuts. I can sometimes splurge on a small serving of those things but quite honestly it isn't usually worth it.
Hence why I have elected to keep a cheat day. Yes you read that right, not a cheat MEAL, a whole day. I do this with amanda and it is actually what we call a "no count day" not a cheat day. Which means if I want to have a real dessert I can. If I want to go out to eat and have a sandwich AND fries I can. I will try to make sure I don't go too far from my protein goal, or go too far over in calories, but if I do I don't think twice about it- as long as I don't binge or eat to sickness. This helps keep me sane. This helps keep me on my diet the other 6 days of the week and that makes it a sustainable diet for me. It helps me to not obsess over food that I have cravings for all week because if I still want it saturday I can have it and because trying to cram everything into one free meal gives me anxiety and results in me binging. Knowing I have the whole day to eat what I feel like- within reason, makes me less frantic... and because I do it with amanda I am less likely to overeat- I can share something or gauge a reasonable portion size.
So anyway, that is where I am at and that is what is working for me. I know people say that when you count your macros you shouldn't take cheat days or whatever but it is what I have found keeps me on track. The reality of the matter is that eating at a caloric deficit every single day with low calories does not allow me to actually eat the foods I enjoy without stress and maintain a good quality of life. Adding the extra 50cal per day that comprises the additional 600 I possibly hit on my no count day would not allow me the wiggle room to enjoy a real dessert. So this is what works for me and I hope it dispels some myths about flexible dieting. It is still a diet! Even though you can eat whatever fits in your macro budget ;)
I love vegan soft serve- specifically in a cone

back september 8th, working towards accepting higher body fat