So reverse dieting. It’s stupid hard. Especially when you don’t do it right because of reasons. Reasons being prioritizing photo shoots and idiot vanity.
I’ve had photo shoots booked since the show (in various states of yam-ness… I’m totally back to normal colored as of this morning, though!), so I’ve been trying to stay pretty much stage lean for the past two weeks, and my body is not. happy. about it. It’s simply not meant to be. I maintain quite lean as it is, not too far from stage lean, but… confession time.
I’m not your poster girl for IIFYM, for moderation, and for hitting my macros every day. I’m not inspirational. I’m not nailing every lift, emanating excitement, badassery oozing out of my calluses. I’m not flawless, with my abs gleaming in the morning sunshine before I slip on my dress for work. I want to be and strive to be all of those things. Sometimes I am on a super good track, and everything is going really well and I feel awesome and in control and strong and happy and there are Oreos. But for the past two weeks, I simply haven’t.
Twice since the show, I’ve totally lost my shit and gone on cupboard rampages that ended in bellyaches. I won’t go on a stupid preachy tirade like all the insta-famous jackasses who post their overly-filtered ab selfies every morning dutifully, #iwokeuplikethis with perfect eyeliner, about how strong they are, so brave, such ED warrior, wow. No. I don’t have an eating disorder and won’t
claim that I’ve self-diagnosed one. What I do have is a really, really pissed off body due to unnecessarily stressing it out to take some dumb photos. My fats are still too low and it’s wreaking havoc on my hormones and brain function, and my calories are so low that by the end of the week- after dutifully hitting my macros within 5g of my calculated target every single day for the week, my body takes over and eats everything because it’s literally just hungry.
I’m still lifting 5 days a week (though I’ve stopped doing cardio) but I’m not making any visible muscle or notable strength gains. If anything, I’m looking simultaneously stringy and bloated. Pushing myself as hard as I still am in the gym, but not eating enough to fuel it, is precisely how injuries and muscle atrophy happen. It’s how you lose your passion for being in the gym. It’s how you end up skipping squat day, your favorite day, because you ate three granola bars and an English muffin after your delicious barbecued tofu salad (don’t shake your head- have you ever marinated tofu in BBQ and then grilled it? TO DIE FOR) and now your belly hurts.
My weight is, miraculously, the same as it was when I hit the stage two weeks ago. The graph on my LoseIt app, where I log my weight every morning (not a habit I recommend, but it did help me to see changes based on my macros that helped me engineer my perfect peak week), is a mountainous mess- fluctuations of up to 4 pounds following the days when I am just so hungry I can’t NOT eat more. For some people a 4-5 pound fluctuation is normal, par for the course, but my body typically, under proper care, fluctuates only a pound or two based on my carb cycles. Four means I was mean to it.
I’m so sorry, body. I love you. And I’m done. Let’s go back to being friends again. Let’s lift super heavy stuff and feel awesome and look awesome too.
With those realizations, and a last minute cancellation of a photo shoot, I came home last night to snuggle Kodiak and recalculate my real reverse diet beginning. While I was there, crunching numbers and doing math, I took a close look at my friend’s macros- you remember the tilapia and asparagus bikini competitor?- and recalculated hers for the coming week too. She also had expressed some concern over struggles this week, and I don’t want her to feel that, especially just starting out with counting macros. I need for her, and she needs, to feel successful. For her to feel more successful, I knew we needed to give her a bit more of an aggressive increase this week too.
Photo shoots be damned, my body needs more fuel. My muscles are hungry.
I did have one good shoot- I had so much fun, it was actually pretty therapeutic. I have been struggling, since the show, with a distinct lack of goals. For the past few months, everything I’ve done has been focused on the show. The day after the show… I felt pretty lost. During my shoot, I really let loose, frolicking in the ocean, turning cartwheels, splashing and jumping. I haven’t felt so uninhibited since I started prepping, and probably well before that.
But I won’t lie, immediately following it I was ravenous, and I ate more than twice my calories for the day. It wasn’t even an uncontrollable binge, it wasn’t emotional- it was a conscious decision that I felt physically terrible and needed to eat. Both times have been the same. Not a binge- it didn’t feel guilty, or shameful, or uncontrollable like a binge. Some may call it an uncounted refeed, I suppose, if that’s how you run your macros. Others might call it a cheat meal, but if I’m super honest that term makes me feel violently rageful (seriously, you shouldn’t have to “cheat” on your diet- just make it fit!). I suppose I haven’t got much latitude to criticize those that utilize cheats, though, at this point. I’ve done just the thing I advocate to hard against. I set myself up to fail.
So here I am. Tummy a little too full, a little bloated (those thigh veins, though, whoa), but hopeful. I don’t feel guilty. I feel relieved. Relieved that rather than punishing myself further, I listened and learned from my body. It’s time to start returning to normalcy, to my plan- the one I so carefully constructed during peak week. The one I decided to ignore. The lock screen on my phone is already set with the spreadsheet of my new, increased macros- set up for success. And I’ve told my husband- my accountabili-buddy, what I’m up to. He’s totally on board with my feeling better. Turns out I’m not such an awesome person when I’m not properly fueled, and I’m definitely not such an awesome wife or friend.
So here’s to eating more avocados and prioritizing my physical and mental, as well as interpersonal, health.