The Evolution of my Eating Experimentation

How I currently eat relies heavily on tracking done on two websites:

MyFitnessPal

Energy Expenditure Calculator

After surgery I let myself get up to 182 lbs. I wasn't freaked out by this, I specifically told myself I was going to use surgery as an excuse to get a little fluffy and not give a shit. And 182 lbs on my frame isn't even that fluffy, just put a little icing over my muscles is all.

But I know I wouldn't be able to stay there, the last limited weight class in my sport tops out at 165 lbs. Why that is stupid is a rant for another time, but regardless, I know I won't be competitive in the unlimited category.

I weighed in at 172 lbs this day. I'm big, but I like to think it's in the right way.

What I've been doing to get down to size is (1) giving myself a small calorie deficit (200-400 calories), (2) making sure I get plenty of protein (~170 g/day), (3) cycling carbs and overall calories.

On days that I'm particularly active, lots of coaching, over an hour of strength training, and/or some CrossFit Football work, I make up the calorie difference by drinking extra protein shakes during the day and eating a bowl of white rice with kimchee and seaweed right before bed.

On days I'm less active, I might have less rice at night, and mess with the caloric deficit through how much Paleo pulled pork I eat midday.

If I have a no-training day I'll forgo the rice and adjust protein shake and pulled pork volumes for an appropriate deficit.

Then I have the "flex day" on Sunday. I'll eat ALL THE FOODS! Usually I don't want that much junk because it just makes me feel gross, but it's nice to allow an beignet or crepe for breakfast or dessert for no reason at all. I think that it's given on Sunday my caloric load is over the expenditure level.


The Journey to Here

Let's start back when I was a martial artist

<cue fade in and music>

For the first time in my life, I was really starting to get the combined importance of calories and macronutrients. When I was a dancer, it was all "eat healthy, eat less, be thin" but as an athlete who wanted to be awesome instead of thin, I had to get more of the story.

Taking an athlete's approach to nutrition also make me look better in a leotard. 

I learned that protein was key to building muscle. Okay, at least one gram per pound body weight, I can do that. Then I learned how carbs can fuel your work and help you recover, but also how too much at once creates a hormonal cascade that can lead to fat retention and energy crashes. Cool, let's go for 150-200 grams of carbs spread through out the day. Calories are energy, and as a female athlete I probably need somewhere in the 2200 to 2600 range. Calculate up the protein and carbs, fill out the rest with fat. Done.

This worked really well for me. I was able to maintain 150 lbs to 155 lbs of bodyweight while competing in the 70kg class for judo. Plus, I had four pack abs. It took a lot of dedication and tracking, but I felt awesome.

Weightlifting

When I became a weightlifter, I initially thought I would compete as a 69kg lifter. After all, it's only one kilo less than my judo weight class.

What I didn't anticipate was how my body was going to want to put on mass when I changed from a highly conditioning oriented training regime to a predominantly strength and anaerobic focused one. To try to keep my body weight down, I cut down sugars to only the occasional fruit in my salad, and my calories went way down. After all, I worked in an office. How much did I need? I only calculated out my food to get total protein, the low calories was just too depressing.

When I decided to move up a weight class, and start putting a FULL chicken breast in to my lunchtime salad, not only did my body mass swell (in a good way), my numbers sky rocketed. It took two weeks of eating more to put 5 kilos on my clean and jerk, after being stalled for months.

You'd think I'd get that calories matter.

Things Change as You Get Older

It's hard to tease out pre-surgery how much of my body composition was defined by my diet, by my lackadaisical training routine, and by my general mentality of being SO BURNED OUT OF IT ALL. I tried a lot of things; Paleo, Primal, Carb Back Loading, Carb Nite; and half assed every single one.

Post Surgery

I've talked before about how surgery not only fixed my shoulders, but fixed my mentality. Once it was time to start thinking about competing again, I knew that I had to get back on track. First was Carb Nite, which worked really well at the outset, bringing my body weight down from 182 lbs to 170 lbs in about 5 weeks. I was looking lean, I was feeling strong. But then things just stalled out.

Time to try Carb Back Loading. I read and hear how people feel so much more recovered the next day, they put on muscle faster, can train harder. Talk out there made CBL sound like steroids. So I tried to have mango and sticky rice immediately after my training sessions. I didn't feel any better. I wasn't feeling more recovered. I felt a little bloated and it was kind of a pain in the ass to make sure I ended my training with enough time to gorge on the rice before I had my next client session. I tried for two weeks and gave up.

I spend the next few weeks on Carb Nite until a conversation withe a friend led me to the Calorie Expenditure Calculator above. Turns out that on some days I was around a 1000 calorie deficit! No wonder I felt like my body composition was slipping and my weight wasn't budging!

The rest is history.

What Will I Try Now?

Going forward I plan on doing what I currently do with one added exception. When I'm not focused on making weight for anything, I'll make sure that in addition to my "Sunday Flex-day" I'll have one day during the week where I go over my caloric needs in a typically "clean eating" way. Most likely a Wednesday since it'll be easier to do. I figure that varying my calories during a maintenance phase shouldn't just be about varying the amount of my deficit, but also if there is even a deficit.