I've been following flexible dieting/iifym without really knowing I was since I started with the personal training. My trainer didn't give me a set strict eating plan to follow. Instead, the first week I was to write down everything I ate, and we'd go through it to discuss what I should and shouldn't eat. At this point, I'd already started cleaning up my diet, so there wasn't a lot of "bad" foods on there for him to nitpick about. Since I was logging everything into myfitnesspal and then transcribing into a notebook for him to see, I also went ahead and wrote down my daily macros for him as well. Everything getting color-coded, of course, because that's how I roll.
There's a lot of planning and weighing EVERYTHING, but it fits my organized OCD nature to a T. The best thing about it is that it's allowed to finally have a good relationship with food. I never feel that guilt that comes with eating something that's "bad" for me because I plan for it. I don't let it ruin my day; I allow it to be part of my "diet." Letting a bad meal ruin my day has always been a part of trying to lose weight for me in the past. I can't count how many times I've fallen off the wagon, only to tell myself I'll start over tomorrow. Or worse, Monday. Then I'll gorge myself on all the delicious things I can't have while dieting for days until Monday rolls around. By Monday, I feel so defeated that I tell myself why should I bother starting over when I'm just going to fall off the wagon soon anyway. Or, there's a birthday/anniversary/special day around the corner, so I'll just start after that. I do still eat mostly clean, but it's not so strict that I have to avoid social gatherings because I'm afraid to eat. As long as I plan ahead, and log what I'll be ordering into myfitnesspal before I go, I stick to it and can enjoy myself with friends without stressing about the food.
While the planning can get tedious, I actually really enjoy it. Partly because I try to plan some small treat into each day, so it's like Christmas when I get to it in my day. I get very excited for my treat. It's typically stuff like cinnamon coffee cake Fiber One bars (my current obsession), or taking the kids out for froyo. Froyo has become an almost weekly staple this summer because I've learned self-control. I don't NEED the biggest size cup with every topping imaginable. I'm perfectly satisfied with one of the smaller cups with strawberries and one scoop of brownie bits for toppings.
Self-control is probably the biggest lesson I've learned this time around. Finally, I'm at a point where I can allow myself a small amount of something without gorging on the entire container. I think it's one part knowing no food is forbidden to me, and one part planning ahead. When I buy groceries, I portion everything out right away. Instead of mindlessly munching on a whole bag of granola or half a watermelon, I portion it out so I can mindlessly eat ONE serving and not twelve. It may be a lot of work up-front, but it's a huge time-saver in the long run.
I'm now to the point where I pretty much eat the same things most days, but I still log everything. Most mornings start with an omelet and fruit, and there are a lot of chicken breasts and more fruit in my diet. I'm going to be devastated when summer's over and all my favorites are no longer in season! I've also been loving almonds and almond butters. That's something I had no idea I enjoyed until recently. My fats typically come from almonds, wholly avocado mini cups, shredded cheese in my morning omelets, and sometimes I add mayo to my shredded chicken to make it a chicken salad. I haven't been cooking big family dinners as often as I've should because that's the one area I'm still trying to find balance. When I do cook, I make things like pasta with meat sauce but only eat the meat sauce, or I'll grill burgers and eat mine without the bun. Not because I'm avoiding carbs, but I'd rather get my carbs from other healthier sources. Last week, I made Skinnytaste white bean turkey chili and that was amazing! That will be made pretty often now, particularly when the weather starts getting colder. Most of the time, I'll eat a second chicken breast and a salad for dinner. In the evenings, I'll make a protein shake. My current favorite combination is vanilla protein powder, oats, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. Delicious! My carbs come mostly from fruits and vegetables, the oats I throw into my protein smoothie, KIND granola, and my daily treat.