From chubby “healthy eater” to lean ice cream eater
A younger ice cream-loving version of myself would have never envisioned “future me” as I am today – a woman who likes working out, doesn’t fear social situations with big tasty meals, and loves motivating others.
In fact the term “socially awkward” best describes the younger version of myself. I remember being eleven, sitting down at school and being totally embarrassed about my “fat legs.” In reality, I was a stick-thin schoolgirl at the time. (Also, let me repeat, I was eleven.) I felt that people would only like me if I was perfect and therefore was never confident in social situations.
So I thought I was fat. At least until I entered high school where I was one of the smallest girls.
The conformity that school tries to thrust upon us is truly soul destroying. I’m supposed to be like everyone else, right? Same school uniform, same ponytail, same grades, and most importantly, same body type.
It was at this point, I decided I was too skinny. I made a habit of overeating ice cream with Tim Tams (which is an Australian Oreo of sorts) on the regular, which my parents always had stocked up in the fridge even though they still demanded that sugar and dairy was the root of all evil.
From Skinny to “Skinny Fat”
Skip forward a few years and I became your typical-skinny-fat-could-stand-to-lose-a-few pounds-still-awkward young adult. I half heartedly tried various diets, aiming to be super healthy, vegan, perfectionist.
Then I got dumped. This was a push over the edge for me.
“Why aren’t I good enough,” I thought to myself.
Luckily I had a solution – eating my feelings. Because while ice cream may freeze your brain, it will never break your heart.
“Well, it’s ok. I’ll only eat organic, vegan, sugar free, dairy free ice cream now,” I thought.
I also decided to throw myself into obsessive exercise to forget about the stress of boyfriends. The stress from these exercises only exacerbated the drive to overeat even more. I rationalized this because I was binging on “clean” foods.
Binge eating felt was like a bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from.
“I’ll be happy when I’m 5 kilos lighter,” I told myself. After all, that was the problem, right?
I put everything I had into eating cleaner and working out header, requiring me to put my life on hold until I reached my goal weight at the end of the rainbow – a rainbow that I was obsessed with chasing.
If you didn’t think that things could get worse, they did.
Getting More “Hardcore” About Fitness
I signed up at a session with the “best” trainer at a mainstream gym. (By this point, I was back to eating meat again.) The trainer’s recommendations? Take a (now banned) weight loss pill, along with some other questionable supplements, daily. Oh, and I had to purchase them through him.
I wanted to be perfect so badly that I didn’t stop to think about how weird his recommendations were. In fact, the only thing that his recommended supplements did was introduce me to anxiety.
Now, I’d never experienced anxiety before. But the stress of dieting, workouts designed to “smash me” and questionable pills seemed to push me over the edge. It was too much.
My trainer’s remarks about my weight not changing, or even asking if I’d gained weight, only made it worse.
Talk about a Grade A jerk.
CrossFit, Broscience, and Burnout
Even more desperate now, I figured that I wasn’t seeing results because I just didn’t know enough. I had to know everything about the exercise part too, and the best way to do that was to become a certified personal trainer. Part of my curriculum included a nutrition course that I hoped would offer me a solution to all the other fad and detox diets.
But it wasn’t much better. It taught me about clean eating, meal frequency to “stoke the metabolic fire,” and that eating sugar and carbs, especially at night, will make you fat.
Oh, also if you didn’t consume protein every two to four hours your muscles will start “eating themselves.” (Yes, eating themselves.)
I know know that this is all utter nonsense. In short, more than half of what I learned there I have had to unlearn.
In the meantime, I also figured that I needed even more exercise to get the fat off, so Muay Thai and CrossFit were my weapons of choice. I was eating more protein than ever, and exercising 6 days a week.
So then why was I losing muscle and looking worse? If you eat all the right foods you can’t gain weight right?
“There must be something wrong with me,” I thought.
I also had zero energy and could not sleep. My CrossFit box said it was due to lack of fat in my diet (although they had no idea how much fat I was consuming). They literally told me to add coconut oil to everything and eat nut butters by the spoonful to increase calories.
My bodyfat actually increased to 33%, but my CrossFit box told me the weight gain was all muscle. Ok, coach. Seems legit.
Nothing was changing. My strength was stalling. I was completely burned out.
Finally Figuring It Out
You know those personal trainers in my gym who were hardcore and making great progress by “clean eating” 800 kcal/day? I soon learned that they were on a cocktail of various performance enhancing drugs.
I’d had it with the industry. It was full of scammers who took illegal drugs then attributes their successes to something they can sell you. This made me feel like a lean physique was even more unattainable.
Screw this. I was in this industry to make people healthy, to love themselves, to feel good. Not for them to live a lie and suffer.
So I started researching, and discovered an interesting niche in the fitness industry. There was one camp of carefree eaters that seemed to be free of crazy rules and restrictions.
They called it “If It Fits Your Macros” or IIFYM for short. This dieting crowd went against everything I had been told. Even from a young age my parents told me that bread and white sugar were the devil in powdered form.
I was done with doing the “right” thing.
This was not the life I wanted to live.
Enter Flexible Dieting
It was amazing. Shockingly, carbs didn’t make me chubby. I started losing weight right away. Energy levels were up. More strength. More ice cream.
When I say more ice cream, I mean I ate ice cream at the end of every day as long as it fit my macros.
This sweet sugary freedom made me lighter, stronger, and slimmer.
But above all, I was happier.
My insomnia also disappeared. This meant less hunger, fewer cravings, more awesomeness. Win.
The next step in my journey was finding a new evidence based, “natural” coach to guide me in strength training and macros. I was super lucky to find just what I needed.
My coach helped me get strong and kept my macros in check. I cannot find the words to tell you what having a great coach has done for me. It’s truly life changing.
Did I ever fall off track? Sometimes.
But that’s why you have a coach. He eventually convinced me to step on stage, to push body to the next level with a goal that scared the pants off of me.
I was told how hard and miserable it was getting that lean by my clean eating friends. The hardest part about getting that lean was the anticipation of how hard it was going to be. It wasn’t a walk in the park. But I did not suffer through boring bland meals. I ate when I wanted. I didn’t have a meal plan. I could live my life without fitness consuming it.
I didn’t stop myself from going out anymore because of my body image issues. I decided life’s too short to tie my mood and self worth to how I looked in the mirror. I armed myself with tools for a consistent and enjoyable weight loss journey.
To say I’ve learned to enjoy the process is an understatement.
I love seeing what weird new foods will fit my macros.
I love seeing strength gains on the regular.
I love being able to make a slight adjustment when things stall, instead of wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do next.
Most of all, I love being able to save the millions of others just like me from the years of suffering, before learning it doesn’t have to be that way. Giving my clients all the tools to make their life incredible, not just bearable.
It’s simple. It makes sense. It works.
What have I learnt? Relax. Don’t assign moral values (good, bad, pure evil) to foods. Don’t ever let people tell you that you can’t enjoy your ice cream!