The Old Standby: Using the KISS Method

Eight weeks, two days out. Things are getting serious now, folks.

First, exciting news: I am officially sponsored for my first competition! I had dinner this week with an outrageously helpful and always in-the-know friend, and the owner of a lovely supplement company called Nutrilys DelMar. By the end of dinner, I had a belly full of seared ahi and veggies, a brain full of new information, a bag full of new supplements, and my competition costs covered. Overall, I might say that it was my most successful dining experience to date. I feel really good about representing the company, as well- the products are research-backed, clinically tested, ethically sourced, and (I know someone is going to comment about this…) natural- everything is from the sea! Marine-based supplements- neat, huh?

I found this joke on my napkin during dinner to be absolutely hysterical, but I kept it to myself so I looked like a grown-up, but I also took a picture so I could share it with you.

Next order of business.

Being that I’m now a mere two months from stepping on stage, and I seem to have successfully grown quite a few muscles in the past few weeks of bulking, it’s time to start thinking about cutting down a bit. Happily, when my diet is on point, I actually shred down pretty quickly.

Unhappily, my diet is NOT on point. Not to say I’m not following my macros- oh I am! It’s that my macros… well… I’ve gone off the deep end with them.

“But, but Stephanie! Last week you were so excited, and the bulking, and, and…”

Left: Diet on point. Also obviously at the end of a cut. Right: Diet not nearly as on point. Obviously at the end of a bulk. But this isn’t about cut or bulk, it’s about my macros composition and how I CAN’T STOP SCREWING WITH IT.

I know. I was. I am! I’m still quite pleased with the growth I’ve managed in seven weeks time. However, I’m disappointed in myself a bit, and I have to thank my very patient husband for kindly giving me a bit of a reminder about it last night. The poor dear, he’s amazing, truly. He puts up with all my macro calculations and days on end of time spent programming, allotted weekend hours in the gym, outrageous amounts of time in the kitchen (well, obviously he directly benefits from that). But last night, as I prepared my “flex bowl” of insanity that finishes out my macros for the day, he made a face at me. What in the world was I doing adding pecans and peanut butter to my 0% Greek yogurt and pumpkin puree topped with Honey Nut Cheerios and honey whole wheat pretzels? “I thought you lifted today, what’s with the fats?”

You see, for the past three-ish years, I’ve followed a… I hesitate to use the term “diet plan,” but for lack of a better term coming to mind, I’ll stick with it for now… called Leangains. The basic premise of this system is to use intermittent fasting- most people fast for 14 to 20 hours each day, and eat only during the remaining 6-10 hour window- combined with carb and calorie cycling to theoretically maintain muscle mass, or even build it, while simultaneously losing fat. Daily protein intake remains constant, with higher carbs and calories on training days, and lower carbs and calories with higher fats on rest days. I know I know, common bodybuilding dogma states that this is impossible, I’m not here to argue with you. Whether it works or not, I don’t know, but I do know that it works for me.

For me, it means I can go to work and not think about bringing food, or finding time during the school day to eat my lunch. It means I can sleep in an extra half hour and not bother with breakfast- let’s face it, coffee truly is the breakfast of champions anyway. I’ve also found that my body responds well to the higher carb, higher calorie days on training days, and higher fat/low carb, lower calorie days on rest days. More importantly, my brain absolutely loves the fact that rest days are made out of cheese and pepperoni and avocados, and training days are made out of Honey Nut Cheerios (seriously Cheerios, please sponsor me. I love Cheerios more than anything in the world!), steel cut oats, and waffles. I love that! It makes my brain feel so good and happy.

Precisely my feelings about Cheerios.

ANYhow. Lingering WAS working fabulously, until I decided to pick up a fifth training day. My body went totally haywire at the extra carbs and calories; I started holding water, I started gaining weight, and I did the girl thing: I panicked. Instead of think gin rationally through things, I embarked on a few months of insanity, during which time I recalculated macros at least ten times, never getting the results I had previously had, until I had so far complicated things that my husband was essentially no longer allowed to cook, for fear he mess up my macros. You could say things took a turn for the fairly unhealthily obsessed.

What macro calculating SHOULD be like…MATH!

But last night, I had a revelation when he asked me that simple question. And I sat down, clear-headed, and I worked through things in a rational way, and I SHOULD be back on track. It turns out the KISS method needed to be applied- you know: Keep It Simple Stupid.

What my macro calculations ended up being like.
What my macro calculations ended up being like.

I had gone and recalculated and reworked and shuffled and added random days moderate carb days and everything else you can possibly think of and made an awful mess of my diet. As a result, my body is no longer responding the way it once did to the carb cycling. This poses a problem, because I want my body to respond the way I know it can. So, I fixed things, hopefully. And I’m making this my public promise to NOT MESS WITH IT AGAIN. I mean, obviously other than to start my cut as the show approaches. But as far as complicating things further, I am 300% done with that.

Trust the process, and keep it simple.

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