Last night I calculated opened up my all-powerful Excel spreadsheet and created a new tab, which I named “WEEK 8.” Yes, in all caps. Shit’s serious.
Last time I gave you an update on my attempt at a reverse diet, right after I competed in March, it went… poorly. Which is an understatement. My expectations were somewhat unrealistic, and I didn’t set myself up for the best success. But that’s how you learn. You make mistakes, you reflect, and you adjust. And that’s precisely what I did, then.
Today begins the first day of my eighth week of successful reverse dieting!
Here’s the stats, in that time, beginning date June 24, through today, August 12:
Weight: stable, overall
For reference, stage weight for me in March was 112. I began my reverse in June at 116.6, and today weighed 117.2. There have been fluctuations ranging from as low as 114.2 to as high as 119.8 in between, but I would say that the overall trend has been that my weight has remained stable, though I have felt that within the last week or so my weight might be creeping ever-so-slightly upwardward, just based on how my body is feeling. Most of my fluctuations are due to carb cycles, which contribute to holding water, and muscle glycogen levels. I will admit that some of the bigger jumps are due to end-of-the-school-year stress (if you think teachers have an easy job I hate you and stop reading my blog you don’t belong here) that led to some almond butter and muffin decisions that could have been dealt with differently. Also max testing week… we will get to that.
Caloric Intake: increase of an average of 200 daily
I don’t typically like to put out into public what my calorie or macro intake is, mostly becasue I fear people seeing it as “ideal” or “correct.” Please bear in mind that these are MY calculations, and should in no way be taken as gospel and implemented for you- my body responds differently than yours, and has different requirements than yours.
I began my reverse eating a weekly average of 1468 calories daily. Remember that this varies day to day for me, with lifting days being higher and rest days being lower. We will focus on the averages though, for simplicity’s sake. As of last night’s calculations, I am eating 1667 calories daily, as a weeklong average. My protein has remained stable each week, with carbs and fats increasing. I do not have a set number of carbs or fats that I am adding each week, choosing instead to evaluate each coming week at the end of the previously calculated one. I take into account my weight, how my training has gone, the number of days my plan has me lifting in a week (my current training program has be lifting 3, 4, or 5 days per week depending on the week, which changes how my carb cycles go, which I need to take into account for my reverse calculations), and how I’m feeling in my body. Every week until this week, I’ve added at least 20-80 calories to my average daily intake.
For the duration of my reverse, I’ve been running a powerlifting program by Candito, trying to build up my strength. This has gone incredibly well, and I increased my max on all three of my big lifts in my first cycle, adding 5 pounds to each my squat and deadlift, and a full 20 pounds to my bench. Of course, this bench increase is wildly inflated, due to the fact that it was my first return to benching after having had surgery last September, so I calculated my 1RM quite low to be on the safe side for the first programming cycle. I did not expect to be able to bench my body weight again after just 5 weeks of focused training. If I’m super honest, I didn’t expect I’d ever bench my body weight again, so that was an incredible surprise! It feels amazing to have well-fueled training sessions, where squatting 1.6 times my body weight 9 times is a realistic and attainable goal.
Body Image: varies, daily
Some days, I feel awesome. Powerful, strong, confident. Other days, I feel a bit flabbier than I’d like to… and I know that this is my silly brain, remembering what I looked like as I led up to competing. I know that I am not, subjectively, fat. Mentally, that is hard to come to terms with, though. Even at just 4-5 pounds up from stage weight, which is minuscule, I know, some days I argue with myself about it. Yes, my abs are disappearing, and some days don’t appear at all.
But I’m hella strong, and all it takes is one good gym session to remind me how useful my body is. All it takes is a night of restful sleep to remind me how comfortable I can be when I move around without clanging my joints together like a weird bone-robot. All it takes is my husband grabbing my booty as I dig the carrots out of the bottom fridge drawer to remind me that omg you have a little bit of a booty! And it’s SEXY! All it takes is a bowl of ice cream to remind me that the “off season” has it’s perks too.
I touched briefly on my max-testing week having bee a bit rough. Week 6 of the training program I’m using has options: you can deload, and begin the next week based on calculated new maxes, you can skip the week and start on week 1 again with calculated maxes, or you can actually test your maxes. I chose to test my maxes. I opted for one lift each day, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. And for some reason this triggered a why don’t you just eat every goddamn thing all fucking week response in me. My daily intake averaged 1990 calories. 1990. That’s much higher than the 1600-something that I had calculated for that week. Oops. Anyhow that was a mistake. Up until then, I was maintaining my abs pretty well, staying pretty lean. But a week worth of eating everything has an impact.
By the end of the week, yes, I had successfully added a bunch of weight to my Wilks score (WOO! 341.27!), but I was so overloaded on food and carbs I could feel the carbs moving around in my body. That’s only sort of hyperbole. For real, though, my skin hurt. So I listened to my body and backed off a few days, took my carbs down. For a few days after, I couldn’t even bear to think about eating my 235 allotted carbs. I’d get to 160 and be just stuffed, absolutely unable to even attempt more food. As long as I got my protein and a reasonable amount of fats in, I was ok with this intuitive sort of model for a bit. Shit happens. You learn from it, you adjust, and you do better next time. Now I know, max resting makes me ravenous and triggers a lack of accountability, or perhaps the exertion simply requires a bit larger of an increase in that week. I’ll be better prepared next time.
As for the continuation of my reverse, my ultimate goal was to reach a weekly average of 1800-2000 calories. In a week and a half I’m going to fly back to the midwest to be in a wedding, and I will not be “photo shoot lean,” or any such. I’ve come to terms with this. What I’ve not yet decided is based on the fact that tonight, the husband and I purchased tickets to me favorite music festival, TomorrowWorld… in 6 weeks. And if you saw my EDC photos, well, you know just about what I’ll be hoping to wear and how I’ll hope to look in it. The idea was to compete again in November or December, to reverse through September to get my calories as high as possible before starting prep… but this throws a wrench into things. So I’ll be wrestling with that this week, deciding whether to do a “mini cut” for two or three weeks leading up, to do a 5 week cut and get really ripped, or to just keep on trucking and hope to still compete… so I guess I’ll let you know?