Yay, food! This is my favorite part!
Unlike setting up proper programming leading up to my December 5 meet date, I didn’t have to do any research to set this part up- nutrition has been and will continue to be my favorite aspect of any training optimization that I do. The most awesome part about nutrition on this prep, as opposed to my previous prep- for a figure competition– is that I get to eat a lot more as opposed to a lot less, and the large increase in calories has definitely been noticeable in the gym- I have so much energy! And strength! I could lift forever! And I love food. Ohmigod do I love food.
If you’ve been following my progress for a while, you’ll now that I’ve committed myself to a bulk through the end of the year after having spent way, way too long eating at a deficit this year. In holding myself to this, I registered for the meet in the 123 weight class, though on the date I registered, I weighed just 116. Of course, in 6 weeks I could’ve, with very little effort, dropped two pounds in the time before the meet, but that would have gone against my overall, larger goals. So I bit the bullet and went up a weight class, figuring that even if I compete at the very bottom of it, at least I won’t have dieted, and it gives me quite a bit of leeway in terms of gaining too, so there’s no stress about that. It feels good to hold up to a deal you’ve made with yourself, you know? Bulking is mentally tough for me, as it is for many women- watching the scale creep up goes against everything society tells us we should be doing, and what we’ve likely been doing for most of our adolescent and adult lives- and giving myself this license to grow is just what I needed, I think, to help me stick to it.
I’ve been successfully adding in calories each week for a few weeks now, reverse dieting out of my perpetual deficit, and recently reached approximately where I believe maintenance is- and now moved to a slight surplus. I will say that all these months of being very on to of my macros has been quite taxing, and as I’ve increase my macros I’ve gotten quite a bit looser in my tracking. This is not to say adherence is low, but, as macros increase, and as the importance of the tightness of my abs decreases, I find myself more willing to join my husband on dates at restaurants, meet friends for happy hour, or partake in a piece of cake I might not have previously in the teacher’s lounge (seriously, how many times can I stumble into the teacher’s lounge and see one of those beautiful pastel de tres leches con frutas from the pasteleria down the street with the layers and the gorgeous giant glazed fresas on top… so amazing.) I bought tickets to a cinnamon roll bake-off challenge featuring 5 of the best bakers in San Diego, all of which will have beer and locally roasted coffee pairings, later in the month. SERIOUSLY. You can bet that I’ll pretty much just eat a can of tuna and spinach for dinner, that day, though. BUT it’s a lifting day, so, I DO have a lot of carbs to play with. #balance, no foods off limits, as always, but managing to get in my cakes and cookies along with my carrots and broccoli, for sure.
I’ve also allowed for a few untracked meals… with varying degrees of success. Some days, I feel like, yes, I’m good at this. I’m listening to my body, and this feels good. On occasion, this leads to total abandon, for no reason at all, and I’ll cop to that. Mistakes, they happen to all of us. Sometimes, stress eating is real, and that fucking sucks. Sometimes, the Oreo stash is too much to handle, when you get an email saying they haven’t processed your goddamn graduation yet because you weren’t even registered for the thesis class BUT YES YOU GODDAMN WERE. TWICE. I PAID FOR THAT TWICE ALREADY GIVE ME MY FUCKING DIPLOMA PLEASE I EARNED IT STOP MAKING ME PAY MORE FOR IT OBSCENELY EXPENSIVE PRIVATE UNIVERSITY.
Even when I’m strictly tracking, I eat doughnuts and street tacos, but it takes a lot more planning to fit these things into smaller numbers, and if you’re on contest prep for bodybuilding, it’s much more important to hit your numbers closely. Now that there’s more wiggle room in my macros, and I’m not preparing to galavant nearly nude on stage, I’ve just been enjoying a bit more freedom in my choices. But I’m also still into salads and sandwiches in a big way. In fact, in such a big way that I’ve been struggling to hit my carbs some days, which I never thought I’d say! I’ve been eating zucchini and spinach and squash for so long that now that I have some more freedom in my carbs, I find myself missing these things or scrambling at the end of the night to figure out how to make up the 120g carbs I’ve left unaccounted for! Increasing macros, for me, can be more difficult even that cutting them, in terms of planning my meals accordingly. Some days I find I’ve only brought 400 calories of food with me to work and I have to figure out how to consume another 1400 between the gym after work and bedtime… so I’m working on that- bring a few more items, or packing more calorie dense foods.
In terms of scale weight, I’m up about 2 pounds since I began my concerted effort to begin bulking, which puts me at around 6-7 pounds above stage weight from last March. I’m noticeably softer, but settling into it fairly well. I think this trade off is much easier to handle as a result of watching my lifts go up-up-up and feeling like a goddamn superhero in the gym. So much energy! So many pounds, watch me move them! Squat 1.5x my body weight for ten reps (ahem, that’s 185 pounds!)? YUP!
I’ll continue to increase my calories through the end of the year, and hopefully my lifts will continue increase to compensate. I’ve been operating on a once a week increase for a long while, basing my increases on how my body responded to the last, but have had to step back from that model recently. Because I had no idea what my maintenance actually was, after such a prolonged cutting phase, it was all estimation, and about two weeks ago I must’ve hit about that point and moved forward a bit too quickly. My body rebelled, and for six whole days I was bloated and my skin hurt- the so-called “stuffed sausage” stage, so when it came time to increase again, my body simply was not ready. Reverse dieting is all about adapting- there’s no prize for increasing every seven days, so I chose to go a few days more to let my body calm down before increasing. It happened again this week, as well, where my body simply had not adjusted to the previous increase at the end of seven days, so I may begin calculating for a ten day increase cycle at this point to see if that settles better.
Anyhow, I’m eating a lot. I feel soft, but strong, and I’m getting my head and my body in the same place about it, which undulates daily in terms of the level of ok-ness I find with it all. But a new round of limited edition Oreos just came out, and I’ve got a package of both, so… It’s probably time for some Oreo reviews and a But What Do You Eat post: bulking edition. Shoutout to the couple of badass readers who message me when they find a new flavor to see if I’ve got it yet so they can send it for review if I haven’t- you’re incredible!