Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Diet and Exercise. Yes please.

I have been asked by a few people how I got in to my current iifym (if it fits your macros) diet and what exercises I do, so I thought I would give a bit of a back ground story about where I've been, where I am, and where I am going with my fitness and nutrition. I got in to running about 2 years ago. Prior to this, I thought running was the worst form of exercise I could not run a mile without stopping, had a hard time with my breathing, and loathed the people around me who found peace in the activity. Somehow, I taught myself, little by litte, how to work up to a mile or more without having to stop and low and behold, one day I found a runners high. I loved it. Over the next year I started running in the mornings, sometimes becoming obsessed with it, and rarely taking a day off. I mostly ran 3-4 miles a day with a longer 5-8 mile run once a week. I dropped 5-10lbs easily and loved my thinner physique. Along with my runs, I had a personal trainer that was willing to come to my home once to twice a week for strength training, mostly WODS and crossfit type exercises. Then my husband and I bought a Breville juicer and incorporated juicing in to our daily lifestyle. We cut out most processed foods, junk food and any fast food we were eating. Healthy eating habits were important for a healthy life, as well as a way to show our children how to care for their bodies. As with most things in my life, my new eating habits were not enough for me. I found an excuse to cut out gluten and within a week of changing to an entirely GF diet, I also decided to go vegan and cut out most sugar. Crazy, I know. Perhaps it was from watching multiple documentaries on Netflix, like Food Inc, Fork Over Knife or Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Whatever the reason, I forced myself to stick to a strick diet, often feeling hungry throughout the day, craving foods I was denying myself, and probably lacking vital nutrients. I stuck to this diet throughout the summer of 2012. Occasionally I would cave to my sugar cravings and sneak a cookie or ice cream. Along with my excessive exercise habits, I also went on a month long binge of running every single day, I started feeling pain in my right hip. I didn't know at the time if it was from running or possibly an injury from one of my workouts, but eventually I spoke to a specialist that explained I had a hip impingement. I was given a few options; I could get a cortisone shot given during an MRI, hip surgery (whaaa???) or take active rest and refrain from any workouts for a minimum of a month. I hate needles, was not about to jump in to a surgery, so I opted for the time off. Initially I did not think I would be able to last an entire month, but eventually I got comfortable with sleeping in rather than waking up each morning at 5:30am to workout. So started my evil black and white cycle of taking time off of working out. After my time off, I jumped right back in to a heavy workout schedule. Running 5 days a week and various workouts 2-3 days a week. Since I had so much time off from working out, I would easily injure myself again or my hip impingement would flare up, so I would take another week or two from working out. This yo-yo cycle was not contained to just working out. My eating habits tend to go hand in hand with exercise, so naturally I would fall off that wagon as well. From November of 2012 till March 2013, I had gained 20lbs and suffered multiple sports related injuries such as a dislocated shoulder, pinched sciatic nerve, swollen hips and joint pains. I was obviously not happy with myself and something had to be done.
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My first step in exercise abuse recovery was getting away from the exercise that was causing so many injuries. I realized running could not be my primary source of exercise. I started BodyPump, a weight lifting class at 24 Hour Fitness, and replaced running with cycling. It took awhile to adjust to a new workout and cardio routine, but I have been injury free since March and that alone has been worth it. My second step was creating a healthy relationship with food. I was still eating clean 90% of the time, but was still feeling hungry, fatigued, and often left with strong cravings for sugar. I started seeing more people talk about Macros and how important it was to not worry about just the number of calories I was eating in a day, but really focusing on the overall nutrition and balance of good fats, carbs and protein. The more I adopted this way of eating, the less hungry I felt. Slowly my sugar cravings were curbed. I mean, how can you crave sugar when you are allowed to eat peanut butter and chocolate flavored protein shakes?!
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Since no one I knew personally was tracking macros, I started following as many people as I could on InstaGram that was following a macro nutrition or iifym diet. I figured out that the website www.iifym.com had a calculator that would tell me exactly how many of each vital nutrient I needed in a day to achieve my desired fitness goal. I can not say it has been easy without the help of a professional nutritionist or a coach, but it is not impossible. I still feel like I am adjusting my numbers to fit my desired outcome, but in the short time of following this flexible diet, I have already seen a significant change. For more information, daily recipes or fitness motivation, follow me on my InstaGram @livingsemicrunchy Instagram

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