Disclaimer: Not everyone is going to agree with me on this….and that’s ok. Many in the paleo world may still be very against the idea of flexible dieting or counting macros. Many in the flexible dieting world may disagree with me on some points here, and believe that food quality doesn’t matter. That’s totally fine. This is my opinion. I ask that if you have comments, they remain respectful, and promote intelligent debate or conversation.  Anything rude, nasty, or likewise will be deleted. My blog, my rules. 

It’s bullshit. It’s predatory. It’s these ripped women, who have spent years dutifully training and eating well. Now, they have six packs. NOW they eat donuts. And now they have a magic program that’s going to get YOU ripped, with your 9-5 job and 30 min a day training while you eat cake and pizza and all the things you love….as long as it fits your macros. I basically felt it was Weight Watchers, the remix.

When we talk about macros, by the way, we’re talking about a nutrition plan that is based on hitting specific amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fat daily. This vary based on the individual, their activity level, and their goals.

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That’s what I’ve felt about the ‘IIFYM’ (if it fits your macros) movement that’s gotten popular. This is probably most because when you search that hashtag, it’s seemingly only junk food that comes up. It bothered me. Here I was, trying to show people how to gain their health through dropping the junk and finding the deliciousness of nourishing, real food. And there they were, in their underwear and bare stomachs, with a box of donuts, and the proclamation that “you don’t have to give up anything to be ripped like me!”. It drove me bananas. First, because I didn’t think it was fair. I felt it was false promises. I felt it was a scheme to get lots of money because hey…who WOULDN’T want to eat all the delicious junk food and still get all jacked and tan?! It seemed like putting a model on a magazine cover with the headline, ‘Do this ONE thing for 5 minutes a day and you’ll look like this!’. Second, because I felt it put health to the wayside.  It’s possible to be lean and still have horrible blood sugar control, liver toxicity, and hormone dysfunction. Skinny does not equate to healthy.  Fuck getting healthy. It’s all about ‘dem abs.

‘Kristin, it sounds like you’re still pretty heated!”

I guess, in a way, I am. Because I know that feeling of looking at a woman on my computer screen with a ‘perfect’ body, eating a pint of ice cream and thinking to myself ‘what the fuck…I don’t eat any of that shit!’. Here’s the thing though:

I was disguising my own insecurities about it under the veil of ‘defending’ others.

Recently I’ve looked a little more at it. Counting macro’s (macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) isn’t new. It’s a took that’s been around for a LONG time in one capacity or another. I count macros all the time. Making sure I get enough protein, making sure my carbs are appropriate. I’m actually focusing MORE on them lately as I try to build up some muscles and drop some random lbs that showed up. Here I was, doing the exact same thing that all these ‘IIFYM’ folks were doing and yet I thought myself to be all high and mighty because I was doing it with REAL food, not junk food. Well fuckin-hey-day to me! I’m just the fuckin coolest!  Anyone counting macros in a ‘real-food’ way was fine by me. Whatever, girl, get to it. Especially when people I look up to focused on macronutrients. THAT was fine. It doesn’t bother me because ‘they’re doing it RIGHT’. It’s totes fine if you want to lean out, when you’re still keeping your health in mind….But as soon as I saw the junk food and the, ‘Hey it fits my MACROS!’ suddenly judgement swept over me.

***On a side note, we need to get away from the whole shaming of anyone who wants to loose fat, or change their body. I see it all the time. Women who are afraid to tell me that their goal is to loose their belly fat, or drop 10 lbs, or whatever the case may be for fear of being seen as vein. I hid the fact that I didn’t like how my body was changing for a long time as I was gaining some weight. I lied and said I wanted to ‘improve my performance in bodyweight work’ because I was embarrassed to say, ‘I wan’t to lose this weight that I’ve gained’ for fear of being named in the CrossFit/Paleo community. We call women who post pictures in bikinis or sports bras gratuitous or conceited or better yet – sluts. When paleo-ladies we love start showing off their bodies, we say they’ve changed. They’re so full of themselves now. We make fun of the girls who train in sports bras for being attention-seekers.  If someone wants to loose weight, or look a certain way, we tell them they should just love themselves more. They shouldn’t be so superficial and just focus on how their body looks. If someone has a goal to lean out, we mock them. Yet, when someone who does NOT fit the ‘mold’ posts the same things, they are heralded for being brave. Called beautiful, inspirational, ground-breaking. We need to start showing this support for ALL bodies. Wether it’s thin, ripped, curvy, skinny, heavy, big, small, whatever it is. We can’t sit here and say, “Love your body! Be proud of it no matter what!” if the ‘no matter what’ we mean is really ‘only if it doesn’t fit social norms or make me feel insecure about myself by comparison.’. You don’t know what someone is going through. The girl with the flat stomach in here bikini may have struggled with body image her whole life and posting that picture makes her feel proud and empowered. Or MAYBE that’s just what she was working out in that day, and didn’t go put a tank top on to prevent being called a whore. Maybe it’s not about selling sex, or getting validated with likes.  Maybe the girl you’re pitying in the gym for being overweight used to struggle with disordered eating, and has now found a healthy and happy, confident place. The point is you NEVER know someones journey or motivations. If we’re going to push self-love, we really have to mean it. We have to allow every woman to have her goals, and to be proud of her body at the same time, regardless.***

Moving back to those macros….

I started looking around and noticed that ‘cake and Cheetos all day!’ isn’t necessarily the norm. Lots of people out there are opting for real food over junk and the reason is well, a difference in GOALS.

I was getting all butt hurt about something because I was imposing MY goals for myself and other folks onto everyone else.

The thing is, there’s this weird rivalry between ‘clean eating’ and ‘iffym’. Just google and you’ll find countless memes of the ‘iifym-community’ making fun of paleo/’clean’ eating, and vice versa. Because clearly we can’t just have different strokes for different folks. SOMEONE is VERY wrong. And VERY stupid.

The fact is, not everyone has health as goal. Some people just want to get cut. That’s their life, their goal, and that’s fine. I can support them without tearing them down. WTF does it matter to me if someone else eats a bagel because it fits their macros? BUT THERE’S GLUTEN IN THERE! Whatever! If they don’t care about eating gluten, why should I care if they do? It’s their journey, and their choice. If it makes them happy who am I do shit on it? Some people have health as their only goal. The manifestation that takes in their body does not matter. Health is numero uno. For some, like me, the two converge. Health is a priority, but aesthetics bare weight (no pun intended) as well.

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There’s another side to this coin. I’ve preached that when we crap all over other people, it’s really a reflection of ourselves. Sitting with a client a few years ago, she was telling me how paranoid she was going to the beach because she knew everyone was looking at her and thinking, ‘she shouldn’t be in a bathing suit.’. I responded with, ‘Honestly, I see those girls who maybe don’t look like the typical bikini-wearing-body-type and I envy them. I’m actually jealous of their confidence. Here I am paranoid about my little pooch on my stomach and they’re just loving their day rocking their bikini.”. Her reply? “When I see those girls I think, ‘she should NOT be wearing that.”. Enter the ‘ah-ha’ moment. I pointed out to her that the reason she probably feels people are judging her in that way, is because she’s doing it to others. This isn’t a new idea in my book. I try to be conscious of it. For whatever reason though, I thought this IIFYM thing was different. It’s not.

The truth is, would I love to eat Doritos, and ice cream, and REAL donuts, and bagels, and candy and get all svelt? Do I wish I could still enjoy the daily craft beers I so loved before?

Uh….yea. Fuck yea.

Truth is, I can’t eat that way. I have before and it made me puffy, achy, moody, fucked up my thyroid, and more. I am simply not one of those people who can be hella lax with the quality of food they eat. I started to loosen the reins (by a LOT) over this past summer, and since then I’ve been dealing with acne for the first time in my life for the past 7 months now. It’s awful. To anyone who dealt with this in teenage years, you are my hero. My body does not respond well to regular booze, and sugar, and dairy, and gluten-free grains. It just doesn’t. Sure, that’s not always super fun for me, but that doesn’t mean I should scoff at people who CAN have those things.

Now, do I think eating those processed/junk/high sugar foods will lead to optimal health? No, I don’t. I don’t believe that regular sugar/junk food/gluten consumption results in a top-functioning body. However, if that’s not your aim, then that’s not your aim.  I do believe that the best way to achieve one’s best health is through a diet of real, unprocessed foods, free of refined foods. 

I still do not agree that using an ‘eat junk food as long as it fits your macros’ is a good approach. I think it prevents anyone from actually changing the foods they choose and therefore, changing their lifestyle. Using ‘IIFYM’ as a means to keep eating shit food but lose weight is, in my mind, simply another crash Diet and not sustainable for long term health.

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Does the fact that it’s really hard to compete with nutrition coaches out there telling people they can eat whatever they want and lose all the weight as long as they count calories and macronutrients while I’m over here like, ‘keep sugar low, eliminate processed foods, and focus on your health and your weight will normalize’, probably impact my feelings?  

Uh….hell yea.

Not everyone out there has health as their primary goal. Some folks just want to get lean, or loose x-amount of pounds, or see an ab. That’s their priority. It’s not my place to say if it’s right or wrong. It’s my job to find the clients who share my goals, not get mad at those who don’t.

And there it was.  It wasn’t about them, it was about me. It was because I hadn’t taken the time to learn about it. As negative feelings about things often are. It took me a while to realize it, but there it is.

It’s like when we make fun of ladies in Zumba class. It may not be for us, but hey, they’re doing something and if it’s fun for them, who gives a shit?

So the long and the short of it is this: I’m done judging it. If that works for you, if it fits your goals  (IIFYG!) then more power to ya. This whole idea that there’s one way to do something, one way to BE, is something I’m constantly speaking against, yet I seem to have decided that there’s one way to definitely NOT be. Seems counter-intuative. 

If you see people with different goals than you have, that’s for them. What someone is doing, or not doing, is for them. Not for you. Certainly not for me. There’s no sense in getting irritated at folks for going down a different road than I want them to go down. They have their own destination, I have mine. 

When it comes to all this stuff, Paleo, Standard American Diet, IIFYM, Vegetarian, Vegan, Primal, AIP, Health-focused, abs-focused, whatever, I think we can all agree that the world would be a better place if we could all just support each other. Regardless of if we agree.

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Recently, I got into a debate with someone about how long cavemen lived. This person, to my knowledge, has no education in the anthropological or evolutionary-biology sector and was pretty much going off the “cavemen lived til they were 30” soundbite, yet they could not have been more dismissive of what I was trying to explain to them. Sitting on their phone, flipping through god knows what, repeatedly saying, ‘believe what you want’, quite literally laughing in my face. The rude, dismissive, behavior was even more infuriating to me than the fact that they disagreed. Plenty of people disagree with me. The problem is when we can’t even engage in civil discourse about it. The sharing of information and ideas without treating the other as stupid, or silly, or gullible. The truth is though, their behavior was a poorer reflection on them than it was on me. As poor behavior usually is.

All of the different viewpoints in food and nutrition have something to offer. Instead of judging each one: Calling meat-eaters murderers. Calling paleo-folks quacks, Calling vegetarians idiots, maybe if we could all just drop our judgements and start having some intelligent, real discourse and share our ideas instead of attacking them, we would learn something for a change. 

If someone refuses to reevaluate their position on ANYTHING or learn more than what they believed in their pre-conceived notion, they are a BAD resource. ‘Experts’ know that there’s always more to learn and we can, and should, be humble enough to change our opinions when presented with new information.

This isn’t so much a declaration that eating pies may lead you to great health, so go raid Krispy Kreme. It’s more a letting go of my negative feelings towards it, and a new ‘live and let live’ midset. Because honestly, getting mad about things you can’t control is exhausting, and pointless.

The more I learned, the more I realized that macros might matter more than I thought. They work. And there’s a reason for that. Many women, especially in CrossFit and Paleo, are chronically under eating both protein and carbs, and eating significantly more fat than is necessary. Spending some time paying attention and making sure that your body is getting all the proteins and carbs that it needs to support the individuals goals isn’t HARMFUL. It’s not disordered. It’s not OCD. It’s just another approach. Just because it’s not right for one person, doesn’t mean it’s wrong for EVERYONE.

I now run a small group coaching program, Primal Precision, that uses the principles of both real-food Paleo AND macro nutrient counting for increased athletic performance and yes, fat loss. Is it for everyone? No. Have I had personal success with it? Yes. Have my clients had success with it? Yes. Do people who have been shackled to ultra-low carb paleo get really happy when you allow them to eat rice again? Uh…YES.

So to end this rant-like post, I pose this challenge to you:

Open your mind to the ideas of others. Even when you don’t agree. If after learning more, you still don’t agree, don’t dismiss or attack. Simply move on with respect, knowing that different journeys, struggles, and goals, result in different destinations. Yours are not mine. Mine are not yours. Neither are inherently wrong.

Do your thing, bae.