Clean Eating Vs. IIFYM – Sorry, Didn’t Know I Was Part of a Cult

Nutrition Mindset Health Fitness Gym Personal TrainingTalk about being misunderstood…

Apparently, if you eat clean you’re a food Nazi, and if you follow IIFYM (if it fits your macros), you just make your diet up out of shit.

Both are untrue extreme points of view. Unfortunately, the people who understand the concepts on both sides are drowned out by the morons on both ends.

A brief backstory:

Over the last couple of months, I have posted things on Facebook about how I believe IIFYM is more or less- another fad. This has been met with utter disdain from the IIFYM community.

I posted something on Facebook recently, and someone called me a “clean eater” and said, “you clean eaters.” To be perfectly honest, I didn’t realise there was an “us” versus “them” until that moment.

31414-bro-do-you-even-gift-egIz I am not part of any cults. My beliefs are my own. I am not a ‘clean eater’ or any other label you can throw at me. I have no need for labels. I come from a place of “being” I believe this needs to remain the focus of teaching (in all areas.)

It’s no secret I don’t identify with the IIFYM style of doing things. Being misunderstood means that I think ANYONE who follows an IIFYM diet is a moron and should be genetically wiped from the planet! That is a joke, calm down. I don’t think that at all. I have friends that follow IIFYM. Some of them, I consider peers as they use the IIFYM as a tool to get better results. The others (who are still friends) have an oral fixation and are masking an eating disorder (more on that in a second).

Recently, in a discussion (who am I kidding) in a Facebook shit fight, it was brought up that I have never blogged on the reasons why I disagree with the IIFYM lifestyle (thanks for pointing that out).

And I do emphasize that point… IIFYM is a mask for a ‘lifestyle.’ Using it for a contest diet or photo-shoot or to improve an athletic endeavor while selecting wholesome foods is one thing (merited).

While I do not use that approach, I realize in my journey of teaching others to produce the results that I have over the years, quantifying food via the macro system is useful to beginners or those with how I say, an OCD personality.

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Being of Italian heritage, mangiare, bere, siate allegri! I have never cared for ‘counting.’

Mindset – BE the person

In essence, IIFYM is a way of ‘doing,’ not a way of ‘being.’ I teach people to “BE the person” that does the action that gives you a result.

When you ‘become’ actions and inspirations are automatic. When you focus on ‘doing’ you need outside motivation to get you off your arse so you can keep going.

When you run out of steam on the “do” you will go back to “doing” whatever you were ‘doing’ previously that gave you the result you didn’t want in the first place.

Or you stick to something because you have an immense amount of willpower, even though what you are sticking to is outside your values systems. So then you walk around with shame, blame, and guilt.

By focusing your attention on “being” rather than doing, it creates freedom and choice. Who do I want to BE in relation to my health not what do I want to DO. Doing something for the sake of “doing” will not bring you contentment. It will bring you emptiness that you will realize only after the hype of human emotion has gone. Example; YAY! I’m following this awesome ‘diet.’ Five years later… I mean is there five years later on a “diet”? Or do most people go to another diet that is popular five years later? History tells us, people find a new diet. They’re always finding diets… This is the way of the “doer.”

My philosophy…

“I am a healthy person, who eats healthy foods, that build and nourish my body.”

IIFYM is another system of control or teaching someone control (which does have merit to an extent), but after the lessons are learned one needs to move on and “become.” It’s a label prescribed to someone so they can be less of an individual and part of a group.

People say, ‘I practice IIFYM because it gives me flexibility.’ I find this to be illogical. How can you be free if you’re counting your macros daily? You are not free but bound to another system that you have given power to. You ‘have to’ eat a certain amount each day and you can’t go over a certain amount each day. Where do your thoughts, feelings, and emotions come into this?

WHAT THE HELL IS THIS GUY TALKING ABOUT??

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Thoughts, feelings, and emotions as it relates to food? Are you crazy? Isn’t this supposed to be an article on how insulin works and calories? Aren’t we suppose to argue and disagree about ‘how science’ works.

“For us to understand nature, we need science, but if we understand nature as science, we lose its meaning.”

For someone doing a competition, sure this system has merits. I have never used it with anyone one I have coached; I have no need for it. Though I can see its application for people with less experience and starting to coach physique competitors (or even with more experienced coaches as a system they are comfortable with).

The people that are most illogical are the ones that follow it as a ‘lifestyle”. It’s like following Jenny Craig, except Jenny Craig justifies your poor diet choices with a “points system” and makes money from you when you choose ‘Jenny approved products.’ (Nestle now own Jenny Craig, so they make a good profit from you by eating their points approved foods.)

Again, I am not talking about people who are looking to experiment with their nutrition and counting their macros as a means of doing so- in which case; they aren’t ‘following’ an IIFYM diet, they are simply counting their macros to tweak their nutrition.

My mindset is, “I am a healthy person who eats healthy foods that build and nourish my body.” I give no power to any system. I don’t eat anything unless it’s delicious and I certainly don’t obsess about food.

Having to count your macros teaches you obsession. It takes your power away from “being” and forces it to “doing.”

There are many reasons why we eat,  such as pleasure, fuel, boredom, to bond and to celebrate. All of these are valid reasons. The point here is, I have heard way too many IIFYM followers say, “it allows me to be normal.” When you translate what they are getting at when they say ‘normal,’ it means, ‘I have finally found a diet that supports my love of junk foods, and I have found a way to justify it to myself.’

Here are a couple more points on ‘normal’:

  1. How does counting your food allow you to be normal? Why not just enjoy and be done with it?
  2. If you’re competing and you have some ‘not so good choices’ are you giving competing 100%? Or are you using this to justify eating something out of ‘diet’? Did you give it your best shot?
  3. People will say things like “flexible dieting is a way for me to be normal.” Normal by whose standards? Most people who pick up the iron are tired of being normal; they want to become more. Normal is a slap in the face.
  4. What, because you can buy it in a supermarket you call it normal? Or because “everybody” else is having it, it’s now normal?

 The standard of “normal health.”

Each year the standard of health declines, the average sperm count fell from 113 million per milliliter in 1940 to 66 million in 1990. Also, the definition of a “normal” sperm count fell from 60 million per milliliter to 20 million in the same period. This is just one example.

Each year the mean/average of lab testing standards drop… Why because the standard of health is dropping. So instead of saying “folks, this is not normal”, we change what normal is.

Another example, constipation used to be considered (by US standards) if you did not go to the toilet once a day. Now it’s if you don’t go to the toilet once every two days…. Why? Because there were too many people who aren’t NORMAL by the original definition. So let’s change what is ‘normal’ so we don’t offend anyone by telling them they are full of shit…. literally.

Also, let’s change the definition of obesity:

Ok, that one was a joke!

We have rules you know…

Sometimes I heard, ‘IIFYM has rules you know.’ You need to have 5 grams of fiber with each meal. But the kicker when people say, but you don’t need to follow those rules, that’s what flexible dieting is.

So you’re telling me, it’s just a justification to eat junk foods and not make yourself feel bad?

It’s pretty simple, there are rules, or there are no rules? Or is it how you feel on the day? Does not sound like a plan for success.

Flexible and dieting in the same sentence is an oxymoron, just like an honest politician. Sounds like a marketers dream. “Eat all the bad foods you want and get abs.” Are you following a diet or are you using that diet as a justification of your position and using it as a way of acceptance.

Many concepts are brought out of weakness or love of something that is shamed. Example, a friend of mine has a love of junk food. He loves it. It’s one of, if not his favorite, thing in the world. One day we were out, and he turned to me and said, “let’s go to Hungry Jacks.” I turned to him and said, “You got to be kidding!”

He said “it’s my high-calorie day today!” with a smile.

I replied, “didn’t you eat a burger, chips, and cheesecake last night?”

Friend: “Yes, but I feel like I need another high-calorie day. Need it two days in a row this week, have to jack-up the calories!”

Me: “Need or want? Or are you justifying it to yourself as a means to eat your Hungry Jacks?

I got salmon; he got a whopper. We’re still friends.

So he turns his love of junk food into a theory, “I need a high-calorie day twice a week otherwise I will lose size.” He looks at the world and finds things that will support his theory. Over time he finds things, he even finds others, just like him who love junk food. Together they convert the theory into a fact.

Fact: If I don’t eat junk food twice a week, I WILL lose size.

Eventually, that becomes his conviction.

“Mark you don’t understand, if you don’t eat junk twice a week, you just won’t put on size. You will get smaller.”

Weakness – Theory – Fact – Conviction

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Does this mean I have a superiority complex over my friend? No, not at all. I love and respect him. However, I do remind him to call a spade a spade…

“Buddy, you just love junk food, its ok.”

But please, don’t justify it to me with some theory that supports it. It’s like a smoker telling you that if they quit they will put on weight. Please!

So instead people like me get called ‘elitists’ or ‘narcissistic’ for not accepting subpar standards of food. Yes! I do hold beliefs about my body such as it is more valuable than a Ferrari and I would encourage more people to hold these beliefs as they would take more consideration towards the food they put in their fuel tank.

My body is the vessel that contains my spiritual essence. Wisdom is keeping the vessel as clean and healthy as possible. There is more to life than just ‘looking good,’ for me, it’s about having the body that can do ANYTHING I set my sights on. Looking good is a mere side effect of understanding the wisdom in keeping the ‘vessel’ healthy.

Making all food ‘equal.’

The vegans are right.

No, no not about the not eating meat thing, about food being a political issue. Every single time we go to buy food we are voting with our dollar. We need to respect our food and respect our land. Another thing IIFYM doesn’t address.

“But Mark – you can eat organic foods on IIFYM, we are not saying that”

On face value, your saying all foods are equal, for example, meat organically raised is no different than factory farmed as it ‘fits your macros.’

AND there are plenty of IIFYMer’s who talk about eating all sorts of things that contain GMO’s, factory farmed meats and laboratory made flavours.

People have said, “There are no wrong and right foods.” I do have to disagree. There are foods (such as US corn, wheat, and soy) that are all kinds of wrong from both a health, moral and political perspective. People talk about Genetically Modified Food (GMO) feeding the world. A bunch of baloney. GMO crops and agriculture dumping is the very thing that is making poorer countries around the world chained from liberation as its crushing their local economies.

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But yet, you still choose NOT to make food a political issue?

GMOs do not provide any consumer benefits thus the reason they have been banned from the European Union. Why? Because of flat out public rejection. Europeans voted with their dollar, and they said, “leave our food alone.” Well-done Europe.

This is another reason why many intolerant individuals to gluten have no problems with European wheat, but lots of problems with US wheat. In Europe, no US wheat is allowed to cross the border. For more info on GMO’s, I suggest you look up http://www.responsibletechnology.org – they are my go-to guys in this area.

And of course, you can label things as better or worse choices. By saying ‘all foods are equal’ your opening up and saying, sure a Coke-a-Cola is healthy in moderation. A Big Mac is okay now and then.

But is it?

Do our physical bodies ‘need’ Coke? No, emotionally we want it. It’s linked subconsciously to all kind of things from the Olympics, to sports to more recently, movie product placement. We are taught what to eat by the food industry, from people who stand to gain a profit. These foods were designed to make money while providing the consumer with a euphoric experience. That ‘experience’ begins way before you even purchase your can of Coke or Big Mac, you just don’t know it. Ever been on the couch or in a movie and ‘suddenly’ it hits you, yep, you got the subconscious memo.

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Additionally, foods are created in labs today to be more ‘more-ish’… Example; adding extra sodium, sugar, E numbers such as 505- all these things have a chemical response in our bodies that make us ‘want to’ consume. How can we look at these foods that were created for profit as healthy? Are you insane? Or is it the saner I become, the more I realise I need to disguise my sanity not to appear insane?

Those foods are good for food industry if that is what context you want to look at it in… Again, they taste great don’t get me wrong, and they should taste great. That is the only reason they were created, certainly not for the ‘stella’ nutritional content.

The power of big corporations makes you believe that if you don’t have them your not normal… In turn, food is a political issue. What you eat does impact the world as you are voting with the most powerful thing you have, your dollar, and money makes the world go round.

Want more information on those issues from people smarter than me in those areas? Listen to my podcasts with Lierre Keith and Dr. Art De Vany, two of my favorite people in health talking about industrial farming and the facts most people are completely unaware of. Serious great stuff and it’s completely free to download (my gift to you :-) )

Your body as a chemistry set…

When people speak of adding “rules” to IIFYM what do people say? Oh no, we can eat whatever we want; you don’t need to have rules.

Which one is it? You need to eat organic foods, you need to meet a fiber goal at each meal, or you get to make up your diet whichever way you want? Which again, please don’t pretend that you are following a diet, but rather a means to something that gives you a justification for eating junk food because you simply love it?

The way I see it…

Your body is a chemistry set. If we did nothing else to your food plan except inject you twice a week with steroids, male or female, would your physique change? Of course, it would. We did not change the macronutrient ratio; all we simply did was give you more testosterone.

Food is a ‘chemical messenger.’ This is something that Jonny Bowden taught me long ago…

Some foods, like refined flour and sugar, tell our body to raise blood sugar. The reaction from our bodies is to secrete insulin so we can handle the rise in blood glucose. Other foods, like healthy proteins, tell our bodies to build muscle or increase protein synthesis. Healthy fats tell our bodies to make the RIGHT type of cholesterol, HDL, unhealthy fats tell our bodies to make the unhealthy cholesterol, VLDL.images

Amino acids tell our bodies all sorts of things, from raising dopamine, to increase protein synthesis to assisting in the production of new collagen. 

IIFYM does not take into account the chemical message nor does it take into account food intolerances… (and I can already hear it now, but its ‘flexible dieting’ you don’t have to eat foods that you’re intolerant too.) 

Well then, is it IIFYM? Or are you just counting your macros? (Enough with your rules already- let me eat dammit!)

Summary

“The aim of business is not about doing business with everyone who needs what you have, the aim of business is about doing business with people who believe as you believe” – Simon Sinek

At the end of the day, follow whoever and whatever you want. If that’s me, great, welcome.

If not, see you around.

Peace!

Mark Ottobre

mark ice cream meme

P.S. And for the love of food, have a sense of humour AND remember to ‘like‘ and ‘share‘ this article on Facebook

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