My Fitness Journey
I've been through it all -- cutting, reverse dieting, cutting again, maintaining, massing, maintaining, cutting.. basically the whole nine yards. I'm going to take you step-by-step through everything so grab some water and some popcorn because it's story time!
October/November 2014 - I had been doing CF at an actual affiliate for about 8 months at this point. I ate generally pretty healthy for the most part. I stuck to paleo principles because at that time, if you did CrossFit, who didn't?! Paleo was the way to go back then. Paleo kind of glorifies healthy fats, which isn't bad, but if you're like me and love peanut butter, this could go terribly wrong.
I kid you not, I'd take spoonfuls of peanut butter and put it in a bowl. Then I'd take spoonfuls of grape or strawberry (or both if I'm feeling frisky) jelly and mix it all together. I got this idea from watching a Rich Froning video on youtube, go figure. It was so good obviously. Who doesn't like peanut butter and jelly? The problem is how many calories I was consuming every time I did this but I thought it was okay because fats are okay and fruits are okay and I was doing so much CrossFit so I definitely needed ALL those calories. Wrong. I was probably using 4-6 TBSP of peanut butter which is around 64-96g of fat at one time. That's over my daily intake of fat right now. Needless to say I was way over-consuming fat and under-consuming carbohydrates.
I was 17 at the time, had just gotten my CF-L1, and did SO much activity. I was a machine and could just keep going. Metcon after metcon and never got tired. You'd think I'd be able to balance my eating habits by how much training I was doing. Wrong, yet again. I might have been over-consuming my fats but I definitely wasn't eating enough to support the activity I was partaking in. I'm about 5'5 and was around 168-170 at this time. You'd never know it because I was pretty dense with a lot of muscle mass, but that's a lot of weight on my frame.
I was naturally stronger at the olympic lifting parts of CrossFit and my dad talked me into doing a weightlifting meet. I'm also young enough at this time to be in the Junior categories for USAW National meets. In order to qualify for this nationals meet, I had to do a meet in the desired weight class prior. I had done a meet as a 75kg lifter but wanted to compete as a 69 at Jr. Nationals, so I needed to cut some weight. I had counted macros in the past but stopped for a few months and wasn't consistent.
I had seen results from another lifter, Kristin Pope, by doing WAG (Working Against Gravity). I contacted them, signed up, and was coached by Hayden Bowe. Once Hayden gave me my initial macros, I started dropping weight immediately. I thought the carbs he assigned to me were really high (they were 200g) because I wasn't used to eating that many. My meet was coming up quick in about 4 weeks so with the weight cut and a little help from a water cut, I made weight for the 69kg class. Nationals was in February so I had time to cut a little more weight and then do a small reverse diet leading into Jr. Nationals. I maintained about 65-66kg during these couple weeks around Nationals and dropped some during the reverse diet as well.
My next meet was in April and I was competing as a 63 (138lbs). I had about a month and a half to lose the last 7lbs. I ended up weighing in at that meet a little under 63. So from November-mid April, I had gone from 168-170 to 136lbs. It's still kind of shocking to me that I lost that much in that short amount of time, but I really believe it's because I was so consistent. Hayden taught me SO much about my body and how I respond to the manipulation of different macronutrients. The whole time during this cut, my calories never got to a dangerously low point which was the best part about it. My carbs never went below 160g, fat never went below 38, and protein stayed pretty constant in the 130-140 range (I'm giving these numbers as a reference point, the shouldn't be taken into consideration for your own macros). I think the biggest reason I could make that progress in that amount of time is consistency. I will always preach consistency is key.
Those top pictures are the first pictures I sent to Hayden. (168-170lbs). Bottom photos are when I cut to 63kg/138lbs.
May 2015 - This is when I started my long reverse diet. I was one of the hyper-responders that lost weight as calories were added. This isn't super uncommon because as calories are added, metabolism will get faster and adjust. I think my starting macros were around 38f/160c/135p and Hayden worked me all the way up to 45f/315c/150p. I lost 10lbs during this 3 month process. I probably didn't need to lose that much weight.. I got to 126 at my lowest. It was nice having super ripped abs, but I was starting to not recover as well.
Sometimes now even looking at those bottom pictures, I'm shocked at how tiny I was. I was only doing weightlifting at this point, hardly any CrossFit. With how small I had gotten, I was way too tall and small for a 58, and I needed to gain some mass if I wanted to get stronger and recover better.
August 2015 - Time to gain weight! Hayden took me through it all. Cutting, maintaining, reverse dieting, massing, everything! Another reason I believe all of these processes went so smooth is because of the coach/client relationship. I was very compliant and trusted him with what he was doing. Every week he'd increase my carbs and they got up to around 375g I believe. It was a LOT of food and I got up to 135-136lbs.
It's very very uncomfortable especially as a female to gain weight intentionally. It's totally against society norms as girls are typically wanting to lose weight and become smaller. I was maintaining this weight throughout November I believe.
December 2015 - Here we are now about 3 months out from Junior Nationals. I was sitting around 135 at this point and with a certain total, I had a chance at a spot on the Junior World team as a 58, so of course I was going to cut to 58 which is 128.6lbs. My plan was to cut a few pounds of "real" weight and then do the rest with a water manipulation. I make it sound a lot easier than it actually went. Long story short, I ended up having to do a brutal water cut the night before which is NOT recommended. I talk more about that here on my friend Ryley's blog!
March - August 2016 - After the 2016 CF Open, I began working with Kristin Pope. She took me through a reverse diet and got my calories back way up especially after that awful weight cut I did. I was maintaining 135-136 then but with a different body composition that when I massed/gained to that weight back in the fall of 2015.
November 2016 - I was a few months out from the 2017 CF Open and even though I didn't need to lose any weight, part of me wanted to be lighter for the gymnastics and highly metabolic workouts and the other part of me just wanted to be leaner for pure aesthetic reasons. My caloric intake was pretty high at the time around 2250kcals and I was in a good place to start a mini cut, so I did. After about 4 weeks, the scale hadn't gone down (it actually went up 2lbs from stress most likely and under-recovery) and not really any body composition changes either. I was super frustrated so I reached out to someone I've looked up to a lot in the industry for at least 3 years now, Krissy Cagney. She helped me for a few weeks and then I wanted to take it into my own hands again.
Mid-February 2017 - Now we're a couple weeks out from the Open, I hadn't lost really any weight like I wanted to and I'm eating less calories. So... this is very much a lose/lose situation. I have friends that were doing nutrition with coaches under Jason Phillips so I wanted to reach out to him next. I contacted him, gave him some information about my situation, and then put matters into his hands because I trusted him. He began taking me through a reverse diet because he said I was just not eating enough to support my training at the time. Over the past 3 months (now May 2017), we've been increasing calories and I'm now eating more than I was when I started the cut back in November and I've lost weight.
May 2017 - My plans now are to just maintain where I'm at with some body-recomposition which can happen through consistency. The photo below shows 135-136 during the mass/gain phase and 136 during the maintain/reverse diet phase. Even though I'm the same weight, you can see body composition differences.
I hope you enjoyed that super long winded explanation of every cut, maintain, reverse, and mass/gain cycle I've ever been through! I can't thank enough every coach that has ever helped me along the way. I pick up golden nuggets of knowledge from each one of them and use it in my own nutritional practice with clients.
So here's a big thanks to Adee Cazayoux (WAG), Hayden Bowe (previously with WAG), Kristin Pope (Barbells & Bows), Krissy Cagney (Black Iron Nutrition), and Jason Phillips (The Driven Life/Mission 6 Nutrition) for all the nutritional guidance I've received from you. The ways you've impacted me and my knowledge of nutrition is inexplicable.