Last weekend was QUITE the weekend.
I finished my 12-week cut with Renaissance Periodization, having dropped 13 lbs and at least 4.5% body fat (~9-10 lbs of fat).
I PR’ed on bench, repping 120×8 at 131 lbs.
I passed the CISSN exam, which is the premiere sport nutrition certification through the International Society of Sport Nutrition.
I was approved to begin taking on clients as a Renaissance Periodization coach.
Last but not least…I celebrated by seeing Tears for Fears and Hall & Oates in concert!
Since then, I’ve maintained my weight for about a week while slowly increasing my calories and killing it in the gym! (Benched 125×7 and definitely had another one in the tank!)
During this whole process, I encountered three typical diet de-railers: studying for a BIG exam, traveling, and experiencing a troubling emotional event. I was able to stay on track, though, and chose not to have any fun restaurant meals along the way (which is entirely personal preference and not required for everyone).
So, of course I want to share all of my cool weight loss data and a couple more thoughts on the process of changing one’s body composition and meeting long-term goals!
First, the numbers:
I reached my highest weight of the year on March 13th at 146.2 lbs after a couple weeks of eating whatever I wanted to and taking a training break. By the 18th, I was back down to 143.2, and mentally and physically ready to start dieting. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I initially intended to cut down to something slightly below 138 lbs in order to enter the 63kg weight class for a powerlifting meet. It was around this time that I began training to coach with Renaissance Periodization, so adopting their evidence-based principles made perfect sense! I devoured their Renaissance Woman Nutrition Guide and set to work on my own nutrition plan, complete with daily nutrition periodization for my workout load and progression back up to maintenance in preparation for peaking up to the meet.
I’m very fortunate to have access to a DEXA, so I was able to have three scans done over the course of the 12 weeks that followed, though I didn’t get one done right at the start. I tracked daily and weekly average weights to flush out the daily fluctuations. I also kept track of my caloric intake per lb of body weight, and graphed this against my weekly weight change. This allowed me to extrapolate some cool information, like the the best caloric intake for steady loss and an estimate of my maintenance calories.
DAY 1–March 18th
Daily Weight: 143.2
Body Fat %: ??
Average Weekly Weight: 144.3
Daily Weight: 141.4
Body Fat %: 27.6
Average Weekly Weight: 141.3
ABOUT HALFWAY–May 4th
Daily Weight: 136
Body Fat %: 25.4
Average Weekly Weight: 135.6
ALL DONE!–June 10th
Daily Weight: 130.4
Body Fat %: 23.1
Average Weekly Weight: 131.3
Daily Weight: -12.8 lbs
Weekly Weight: -13 lbs
Average Loss: 1.1lbs/week
Body Fat: -4.5% (-9lbs of fat from Week 2-Week 12)
In my last blog post, I discussed ten practical things that really helped me lose weight steadily while maintaining my sanity and saving some money. This time, I’m going to delve a little deeper into the psychological aspects.
The Transtheoretical Model of Change
Change is not an event, but a process. Anything that requires change– from smoking cessation, to weight loss, to leaving a relationship you find unfulfilling–requires a decision, preparation, action, and an effort to maintain that change. Many of us relapse after a change has been made. We regain weight, or smoke another cigarette, or get back with an ex. The initial action is challenging, but following through on that action until it becomes ‘permanent’ is so difficult that many people don’t even get there. This process reflects the Transtheortical Model of Change, a psychological model developed in 1992 which describes how people make changes in their lives.
There’s a final stage called Termination, and once an individual reaches that stage, nothing will cause a relapse. As you can imagine, very few people ever reach that stage, and most remain in Maintenance indefinitely. Relapsing usually sends people back to Contemplation or Preparation. Contemplation can be a sticky place. You know you should ‘get back on the wagon,’ but the process of starting over seems almost insurmountable. You might feel like you’ve undone all of your progress, let yourself (or others) down, and you’re starting at the beginning with new knowledge of how challenging the Action phase was. It’s very easy to talk yourself out of the Preparation or Action phases with this mindset because the ‘cons’ seem to outweigh the ‘pros.’ It’s probably unsurprising that this is also called behavioral procrastination.
I prevented relapses by practicing my change habits every day (Action) and ensuring I had the resources required for my change habits (Preparation). When it came to my training, I made sure that my gym bags were always packed, shoes were in a convenient place, and hung out in workout clothes when I wasn’t in professional attire. This made me more likely to increase my NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) by standing or walking while working, for example (I love the gym and never skip a workout, but this is effective for folks who struggle with compliance in that area!). When it came to eating, I invested in a high-quality cooler and tupperware, meal-prepped every week, and found meal-replacement bars that agreed with my GI tract (I LOVE Pro Supps MYBAR , especially the chocolate chip cookie). I made the decision not to have any restaurant meals or highly-palatable foods during this time because I knew that they were likely to cause a relapse and more preoccupation with food I might be ‘missing out on.’ Not to mention, at my small body size, it is very easy for one or two weekly ‘free meals’ to quickly reduce my caloric deficit. Many people relapse because they’re unprepared and can’t practice a given change habit; it can be as simple as going out to eat instead of eating a prepared meal because they’re hanging with friends and didn’t pack something, or forgetting their gym clothes and skipping ‘just this once.’ Make your change habits easier by planning ahead. Individuals in Maintenance still practice these habits, and it becomes second-nature over time. If you do find yourself in the Contemplation phase, you will have to take a break from analyzing the difficulty of the situation and make a few tiny habit changes, like setting out your gym clothes, to transition back to Preparation. Remember that the time will pass anyway, so you may as well be making progress while it does!
In my next installment, I’ll discuss the psychology behind cravings and how I overcame them based on Dr. Guyenet’s book The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat.