Friday, January 29, 2016

IIFYM, Macronutrients, and Sport-Specific Nutrition

IIFYM, Macronutrient Tracking, IIFYM for Runners, Balanced Eating

Tracking macros, "if it fits your macros (IIFYM)," flexible dieting, balanced eatingit goes by many namesbut the principles toss old-fashioned calorie-counting, food group restriction (low carb, low fat, etc), and "diets" out the window and say, "Eat what you want, when you want, as long as you stick to what your body needs." When looking at food intake from a sports-related mindset, this dietary concept has been a game changer for me.

My body has undergone several changes over the last couple years. After Air Force Basic Training in 2014 and maintaining a hardcore half and full marathon training schedule in 2015, I lost nearly 20 pounds. I found myself consuming very few calories (compared to what I was burning), at a very low body fat, running faster in my races, and finally saw a number on the scale that I had for years considered a "goal weight." HOWEVER (I should triple emphasize that), I also noticed that I was having a hard time managing my stress levels, my clothes were now ill-fitting, and I just didn't LOOK or FEEL healthy.

Enter IIFYM. (Note: I'm not going to go into the specifics or science behind IIFYM—if you really want to know how it worksGoogle itbecause I'm not a nutritionist/dietitian, so this is all my personal opinion and should not be taken as "advice.")

Over the past several months, I've been changing the way I look at foodto eat based on IIFYM principles of tracking protein, carbohydrates and fat instead of simply focusing on calories alone. And let me say, I love it. I have been able to throw my idea of a "goal weight" out the window and have put back on about 10 pounds (though my body fat has stayed almost the same!), I feel stronger, I have SO MUCH MORE ENERGY, and goodness gracious—I can actually eat real food and more of it! At first, sure, I felt bloated and like my body was asking me what the heck I was doing. After all, I was consuming a lot more calories (specifically carbs) than I was before—it took a while for my metabolism to catch up and realize that I wasn't depriving it of the nutrients it so badly craved anymore!

There's a lot of criticism out there that IIFYM promotes an "EAT ALL THE FOOD/DONUTS/POPTARTS" mentality, but really, if it fits into your plan, why not? And that's the beauty of IIFYM—people can eat without feeling like their depriving themselves so it's much easier to maintain and sustain over the long term. It's not a diet, it's what you eat all the time! And from a sport-specific perspective, with my still intense exercise & running schedule (the top left post is the most recent), I'm actually giving my body the FUEL it needs to be able to sustain this active lifestyle.

IIFYM, Macronutrient Tracking, IIFYM for Runners, Balanced Eating

Now, what's working for me is eating a balanced menu that doesn't really include sugar-sweetened drinks, sodas, fast food, or "desserts"as many people think that's all that folks on IIFYM eat. That's the cool thing... I still get to eat a TON of delicious food and it's not that I'm forbidding myself from having those things (I still have them, trust me, just in moderation), I just also realize that I can eat way more each day based on how I plan my meals. For instance, I could have a small brownie and a half scoop of ice cream OR I could have a giant bowl of oats with peanut butter. For me, volume foods always win.

Here's a sample day of eating to fit within my macronutrient requirements (don't ask for measurements):
  • Meal 1: Post-workout protein smoothie including: protein powder, cashew milk, spinach, chia seeds, avocado, frozen fruit
  • (Optional) Snack 1: oats, protein powder, nut butter
  • Meal 2: baked chicken with hummus, roasted squash & sweet potato
  • Snack 2:  fruit, unsalted nuts
  • Meal 3: zucchini noodles, shrimp, tomatoes, spinach, sauce
  • Snack 3: Protein dessert including: protein powder, almond milk, baking powder

What's awesome is that the above is totally just a sample. Some days, I have 3 big meals. Some days it's 3 small meals and 3 snacks. It just all depends and doesn't even really matter as long as I'm hitting my macro goals. And a big item of note: I don't eat at specific "meal times," instead, I eat when I'm hungry and am working on stopping when I'm full (that's a hard one to master!). But with macro tracking and meal planning, I usually know what I'm going to be eating before I eat it, so I know exactly how much I should eat before I need to stop!

IIFYM, Macronutrient Tracking, IIFYM for Runners, Balanced Eating

Now, since I can't really tell you all of this without giving you some tools & resources, I initially used an IIFYM calculator to help determine my basic macro needs based on my biometric measures, BMR, and energy expenditure. HOWEVER, calculators can only give you so much and don't know your body like YOU know your body. So with the help and recommendation from a friend & nutritionist, I took those numbers that were first generated and adjusted them—and will continue to do so—as my goals/exercise/energy levels change. For instance, I eat a little less fat than they recommended and eat more carbs. But every body is different, so depending on how your body adjusts to your macros, that—and someone to coach you through it to further develop your macros—will help determine what you truly need!

In addition, to keep track of my daily intake, I use the Premium version of myfitnesspal. The Premium version allows me to enter exact macro requirements and gives me the option of not adding my burned exercise calories back into my daily total, which is important since my IIFYM breakdown already accounts for my daily exercise. IIFYM is fun because it's like a little puzzle that I get to solve daily. With the help of a food scale (which I use only sparingly), some measuring cups/spoons, and MFP's calculator, it makes it really, really easy.

Again, I'd like to re-emphasize that I'm not giving any IIFYM-centered advice and this post should be considered my opinion and not scientifically based at all. I have just received several requests to blog about why I choose to do IIFYM and how it's working for me, so this post is it!

While I'd love to encourage questions and am totally able to throw out my opinion on this topic, please don't ask for my macro breakdown—we're all different so everyone has different nutrient needs—and with the goals I'm working toward, my macros are constantly changing. So thanks for taking the time to read this incredibly long post... I hope it encourages you—if you're looking to jump into IIFYM—to do a little research and see if it's the right fit for you!

TL;DR (Too long, didn't read): I have used IIFYM along with exercise to gain 10 pounds (without increasing body fat) and get to eat a lot of delicious food. IIFYM rocks.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

30 Years of Santa Photos

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos

Our family's long-standing Christmas tradition has always been sitting down on the lap of good 'ol Saint Nick, filling him in our wish list items while he squeezes our sides and pats our heads, and going home with a shiny new 5x7 photo to add to my mom's Santa photo album.

See, my mom has this book that makes the rounds on Christmas morning that is filled with our family Santa photos for the last 30 years. THIRTY YEARS! It blew our minds when we realized we had hit that milestone. That's 30-years of coordinated outfits, waiting in ridiculously long lines, and paying for over-priced 5x7's to fill this little book of memories. But the memories—oh the memories. They're worth every penny, every minute, every bad and embarrassing outfit and hair 'do (and hair don't!) that's contained in that book.

Whether we're all together or doing our own thing for the holidays (since my sister now lives out of state), we always make this tradition happen. Sometimes we're in the same shot, other times we have to take our own, and we've even had my brother-in-law hook us up once or twice with a rad photoshop edit because it just wasn't going to get done. Either way, we now have 30 of these little precious memories that we are able to look back on with a smile. My mom tells us each year, "This is my favorite Christmas gift." We think it's ours, too.

I can't give you the collage and not break it down, can I? See the 30 great (and yes, some are definitely awkward) photos below.

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
1986 - Seattle, WA: My very first Christmas photo. 1987 - Seattle, WA: And then we have a sister.

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
1988 Seattle, WA: This Santa was one of our favorites. 1989 Seattle, WA: Matching Easter outfits... at Christmas. Cute!

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
1990 - Seattle, WA: Matching again. 1991 Seattle, WA: Where's my teddy bear? 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
1992 Seattle, WA: This one might be my favorite of all. And there's my teddy bear! 1993 Spokane, WA: And little Stew-man was born. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
1994 Spokane, WA: Matching Norwegian lusekoftse's (sweaters). 1995 Hot Springs, AR: Stew wasn't so happy about Santa that year. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
1996 Edmond, OK: Marnie and I in velvet, Stew only happy after mom came in. 1997 Edmond, OK: We loved this Santa... and Stew's pants. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
1998 Edmond, OK: Oh, the beginning of a really couple awkward years for me. 1999 Edmond, OK: This was the year I discovered tweezers... and braces... and what being a teenager was. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2000 Mason, OH: New city, new grumpy Santa. 2001 Mason, OH: We look really happy to be taking this one. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2002 Eagle, ID: We moved again! We love Idaho. 2003 Eagle, ID: One of our better years. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2004 Eagle, ID: In my senior year of high school—yes! 2005 Eagle, ID: Skater boy brother... what a cutie. Marnie was extra tan after just getting back from a tropical trip. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2006 Eagle, ID: Marnie was cheering for University of Idaho, I was a Boise State Cheerleader. Matching again. 2007 Boise, ID: Both brunettes for the first time! Stew finds a love for ties. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2008 Boise, ID: We had just flown in from Hawai'i. Very tan. 2009 Boise, ID: Marnie and I were in college, Stew was in high school ROTC. All I have to say is that I was about 40 pounds heavier in that photo than I am today. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2010 Boise, ID: We all looked really happy. Good memories. 2010 - Seattle, WA: Marnie and Andy couldn't make it to Boise, but they made sure to still visit Santa! 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2011 Boise (Photoshop): It was a crazy year so my brother-in-law photoshopped a picture of us with Santa. It did the trick! 2012 Boise, ID: This was taken the day before Daniel and I got married. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2013 Boise, ID: Stew's hair was orange because he dressed up as Ron Weasley (from Harry Potter, if you don't know) for a Quidditch something-or-other. 2013 Spokane, WA: Marnie & Andy living it up in Spokane! Separate pics again. 

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos
2014 Boise, ID: Stew and I matched on accident! Fun to have mom in the picture again. 2015 Boise, ID: Marnie and I were trying to decide what to wear, but there was a Seahawks game on so we just drove over and took the picture during halftime. Easy as that!

Thirty years. Can you believe it? I love looking back and reflecting at the changes we've made, the life hurdles we've combated, and just where we were at during that time in our lives. This tradition is so, so special to us... and it definitely gets conversation going at a party when we bring the book out.

And here's a close up of our 2015 photo, because Santa's mustache is too on-pointe not to share.

Santa Pictures, 30 Years of Christmas Santa Photos

Merry late Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone.

Friday, December 25, 2015


Merry Christmas rustic Christmas card, Rowe Christmas 2015

Love ♥ The Rowe's and our annual holiday card tradition

Past Christmas cards: 2011 │20122013 │ 2014

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Our Third Anniversary

Rowe's Third Anniversary

Today marks Year Three of being married to that sweet, handsome man. When I think about the 4 1/2 years I've been with him and how that's longer than any other commitment I've ever made (personal, professional, etc), it's amazing at how fast time passes... and how much you can squeeze into that small amount of time. Every minute is so worth it.

I'm so grateful that not a day goes by without Daniel showing me how much he loves me. I have never second-guessed his love, devotion or faithfulness to me, and that is so important. He truly goes above and beyond to be gentle and kind to me—every. single. day. It's hard to explain just how much that helps me out and keeps me grounded... I'm honestly so, so lucky. But it's not just him and it's not just me—God brought the two of us together for a reason, and we're seeing Him work through us and better each of our lives with every passing day.

Daniel, you help make me a better person. You give me a reason to strive to be better and to just smile. You make my heart so full. You know how a giant bear hug cures all my fears, and puts all my woes to rest. You know my ins and outs and put up with so much. Thank you. I could never thank you or love you enough. You're my man, my best friend, and my everything. I love you. Love, love, love.

Past Anniversary Posts: Year OneYear Two

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Citizen Soldier

Citizen Soldier, St Luke's Health System Honors Veteran's Day and Wellness Coordinator, Idaho Air National Guard, Citizen Soldier

I often write about my work with the Air National Guard, but don't often touch on my civilian job—the one that I do full-time. I know I've mentioned it before, but I am a "traditional" guardsman—meaning that I work out on the base just one weekend a month and two training weeks a year (unless I have other training/deployments/etc). The rest of my 40+-hour work-week is spent at the hospital, where I am a Wellness Coordinator. I've worked for the hospital for five years and have had the privilege of working within three different departments... it's been a great growing, learning experience.

I love my job with the hospital because I currently work in the department of Occupational Health and Well-being. Our focus is developing and implementing health-oriented programs to our employee population and the surrounding community. We have a few folks who have the same title as me, but we all have different areas of focus. I specialize in healthy pregnancy, weight loss and maintenance, and web and social media marketing. The work we do is very fulfilling, and it's so encouraging to see the healthy changes people make in their lives as a direct result of the programs and opportunities we offer.

Last week in remembrance of Veteran's Day, I had the honor of being featured by my employer as a veteran and current employee. They showcased a few other retired veterans, and I, being one of several hundred veterans who work for our hospital, was chosen to represent the "active" service member population. Our public relations department came over and snapped a quick shot of me—thank goodness I was wearing my Air Force shirt in honor of the holiday—and took a quick quote. They shared it on their social media sites with the above photo, noting:
"Annelise Rowe, a Wellness Coordinator at St. Luke's, saw the impact joining the Air National Guard had on her husband. So in November 2013, she enlisted as well. Annelise is an Airman First Class with the 124th Fighter Wing at Gowen Field and will soon receive her commission as a Second Lieutenant.
'It's very humbling to think about those who have dedicated their lives to service,' she said about Veterans Day. 'It's a huge honor to be part of that.'"
Honestly, I feel like I get to experience the best of both worlds. Full-time, I have the opportunity to engage with the most amazing employees and Treasure Valley residents on a daily basis. We have a lot of fun doing our job and "sharing the health" with others. And then on the weekends when I get to spend time out at the Air Guard, that's incredible, too. I get to train as a soldier with the hardest working troops out there.

I also love the opportunity for growth. As a civilian, I am allowed the creativity to create and deploy new healthy-minded projects and have the ability to pilot almost anything that I can come up with. A BABY (Best After Baby You) class for expectant moms? Done. A Healthy Living BINGO wellness challenge? Done. It's awesome. And with the Air National Guard, I'm also awarded opportunities, such as being selected for commission, which will happen sometime within the next year. I have been pursuing a commission for the last year, and to finally be selected has been a very rewarding—and time consuming!—accomplishment.

In my Veteran's Day post last week, I mentioned that I love what I do... and to be honest, love seems like an understatement. Sometimes life is crazy, busy, hectic, overwhelming, consuming, fast-paced, and entirely a whirlwind... and sometimes that's when it's the best—like right now. I'll take the crazy-pace any day if it means it's going to be this good. Because really, it's that good.

Grateful—for all the opportunities. Thankful—for all the support. Excited—for what the future holds. And that about sums it up. I'm a citizen soldier... and I love it.