On February 13, 2017, I started the process of altering my body composition and reworking my diet so that I can have the balanced lifestyle that I have wanted for such a long time. Over 6 weeks I lost 13.1 lbs, 2 inches in my waist, 1.25 inches in the circumference of my upper thigh and dropped over 5% body fat to give you a few stats. If you read my post The Lessons I Learned Before Reaching My Goal Weight, then you know just how difficult and eye-opening this experience was for me. The diet itself was actually pretty simple. I took a new approach that actually allowed me more food than I was allowing myself on past diets and the opportunity to program my own exercise plan.
Exercise Program: I owe a shout out here to Kayla Itsines and her Bikini Body Guide Programs. These got me back in the gym and away from the home workout programs which had become my fitness regimen due to my lack of time. It reminded me of my strong passion for fitness and exercise and gave me the opportunity to get comfortable in a gym setting again. About a year ago, I started using Kayla’s program (which I highly recommend). With my knowledge of what works for me, when my body needs more of a challenge and when something will be a bit too much or leave me craving a different variety of movements, I started following her program but swapping exercises that challenged me more. When I started my serious diet phase –more on this below, this is the program I followed; I did a couple of BBG workouts (with some of my own exercises substituted in) and created some of my own exercise routines from scratch. You can check out what a typical week of exercise looked like for me below.
Monday: Full body resistance training circuit
Tuesday: Cardio Interval training and Abs
Wednesday: Full Body resistance training circuit
Thursday: Steady State cardio- moderate intensity
Friday: Full body resistance training circuit
Saturday: Moderate intensity steady state cardio or lighter intervals (depended on how my body felt)
Full Body Resistance Training: I included all major muscle groups of the upper body, lower body and core and included lots of full body movements like bupree box jumps or squat to curl and press.
Cardio: I love the stair master and the treadmill, I slack on the bike and the elliptical (that’s just me- lots love them!)
Stretching: every day after exercise hitting all muscle groups targeted in exercise, I also foam roll occasionally and really need to do this more (it’s good stuff people)
Diet: My diet consisted mainly of clean eating (cutting out processed food and basically eating all natural foods prepared by yours truly) and counting my macros. I experimented with counting my macros before I got serious which made it easier for me to monitor my mood, hunger and energy levels based on the proportions of macros I was eating. I did this mainly Sunday through Thursday and took Friday and Saturday off. When I was in the experimentation phase I actually was allowing myself more fat and less carbs than when I began the serious dieting phase. Originally, I experimented with 45% carbs, 30% fat and 25% protein. This was not working for me. I felt hungry and didn’t feel like I noticed any change in my body composition after a few weeks. I looked back at some research I had done for a grad class I took over the summer: Nutrition for Peak Performance, and came across research paper I had submitted. For the assignment we had to use research to determine our macro nutrient intake based on our goals. I was reminded by the research I found that one study tested the effects of different macro nutrient combinations on those trying to alter body composition. Those who kept their fat intake lower and had a higher amount of carbs had the greatest change in body composition. This was all I needed to reassess my macro situation. It was time to start the serious phase of my diet (where I didn’t eat everything in sight on the weekends). I had to start tracking Friday’s and Saturday’s too (my least favorite part of dieting). I settled on setting my macro intake at a little less than 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fat. This change made all the difference. Carbs=life. I altered my macro intake at different points throughout the 7 weeks I dieted as I progressed.
The weight started to drop. I felt so motivated and nothing could stop me. I was ready to take on the weekends which has always been my biggest struggle with dieting (can I get am AMEN!?) By week 4, I was donnne! I was done mentally and emotionally. That excitement and motivation I had faded fast and I wanted a beer and 4 large pizzas and also another beer. I forced myself to stick with it. Looking back I wish I would have just allowed myself a break that weekend right there. I needed it bad and it would have probably re-energized me right when I needed it the most. Oh well, no regrets, only lessons learned.
Following this the next few weeks dragged on. My mood fell and my will power was weak. However, I still stuck pretty closely to my goals. These were the toughest weeks to get through. By week 7 (after a lot of soul-searching) I ended up feeling satisfied with my body composition and was ready to take my macros back up to maintenance and turn this into a lifestyle. That’s where I am now. It’s been about 2.5 weeks since week 6 and I’m still learning and growing in this process.
Maintenance is kind of a foreign word to me.
Maintenance is kind of a foreign word to me. I’ve been just a step away from this goal for years. I am so glad I finally stepped up to the plate and made it happen. I have tons of experience on what works for me (and probably many) diet and exercise wise but not much in the maintenance department. It turns out there is way more to it than calories in vs. calories out. It is the habits that we ingrained in ourselves for probably the majority of our lives, our personalities, our emotional, social and mental connections with food and our values. Changing my old ways will be an even bigger learning experience than my diet was. Stay tuned.