In today’s world, there is no escaping diet culture. From the obvious “Diet Tip Guides on How to lose 15 lbs. in a week” to the more sudden nuances of social media like “What I Eat in a Day” reels on Instagram; we are exposed to it even when we don’t even recognize it.
You might look at fitness competitors routines and even go as far to mirror their EXACT macros and still not get the same results. This isn’t meant to deter or discourage you from looking to them for inspiration; rather to use a reality check to get you one step closer to your dream physique!
As a coach, I can wholeheartedly say, there is no one size fits all way to achieve weight loss or body recomposition. It is unique to each of us and there is a lot of trial and error in finding a custom plan that works for your body. So what do you do now?
Owning this uniqueness and honing in on an objective to reach is a fantastic place to start!
Notice how I used the phrase “objective” instead of “goal”. To me, the term “goal” implies there is an end. An “objective” leads us in a desired direction with no limitation or boundary as to where we might end up. As I have continued on my own fitness journey, I have found letting go of this rigidness, has guided me to places I could have never imagined, (I.e. a bodybuilding stage, owning a business, coaching/training clients).
A curvy athlete from Day 1, I spent a majority of my life using my broad build to excel in my athletic career. A first degree blackbelt in Martial Arts, 17 years of competitive softball to an international collegiate water polo career, sports have always been a prevalent part of my life.
The flip side of that seemingly glamorous coin, I felt the pressures of performance perfectionism leading to my own personal journey with body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Fast forward to 2019, my heaviest & lowest mental health point, I knew something needed to change and I took back control. Introduced to the world of bodybuilding, I decided to face my biggest fear of stepping onto a bodybuilding stage with all eyes on my physique. Now I have the privilege of sharing my lessons with my own clients and helping them along their personal journeys ( #blessed is an understatement!)
However, I did not just “decide” I wanted to step on stage later that week, that took years of continued dedication to recomping my body, optimizing my metabolic/hormonal health and prioritizing mental health. Ever feel like you are doing everything in your power to lose weight, but find the number on the scale isn’t actually moving? (Been there, HOW FRUSTRATING RIGHT?!) It’s more common than you think and mentally holding onto that “ideal” number you want to see scale will actually hinder your mindset and ability to progress. Instead, shift focus onto non-scale victories and body recomposition.
Non-Scale Related Victory Examples
- Improved performance output in the gym (Running faster/longer, lifting heavier, etc.)
- Higher, more consistent energy levels. (no more 2pm slump!)
- Better sleep & recovery! (Actually feeling rested after sleeping)
- Your “I’ll fit into these again one day” pants actually fitting!
- Improved mental health & self-prioritization. ( Better Daily Habits that are in line with what YOU want for yourself)
Body Recomposition does not necessarily mean numbers lost on a scale; rather the proportional switch between muscle and fat. In short, lean mass fuels metabolic function so the more you have, the easier it will be to burn excess fat as well as reap the other health benefits! (better digestion, less bloating, better posture, healthy EKG results, balanced hormones, regulated body temp and more!)
Here are some tips that will aid in body recomposition & losing the right weight.
Consistent Caloric & Water Intake
I won’t dive into specific Carb/Fat/Protein splits as this will vary per person based on body composition and other health indicators. However, over time a consistent daily caloric intake allows the body to burn fat and build muscle without constant spikes in weight and gives you an idea of what macros are ACTUALLY working for your body. If there is no constant, it can be difficult to determine what works best. This is the case in a growth and in a leaning out phase.
TIP: Try eating multiple small nutrient dense meals throughout the day (4-6). This will health up-regulate metabolic function, stabilize energy levels, improve digestion and more!
Eating in a Surplus is Where the Magic Happens!
Yes, the shreds of a nice cutting phase are pretty to look at ( and has its benefits too! ) but are not sustainable for long term hormonal and metabolic health (especially in women). Eating the right foods in a surplus gives your body what it needs to push performance in the gym, increases muscle growth and fuels metabolic function so you are set up for success when cutting season comes around. This, with the correct protein intake, will also aid in being able to maintain muscle during a cutting phase.
If you are constantly eating in a calorie deficit, this poses a few issues. Your body likely is not functioning at optimal levels (poor digestion, low energy, holding onto stubborn fat, even hormonal acne/skin issues). Let's say you are averaging 1200 calories a day for example.
For perspective, a 3 year old female with a moderate activity level is recommended to have 1200 calories a day! Yes, a deficit is how to cut weight, but in this instance, there is nowhere to “cut” calories from. This is not enough food for your body to function, let alone build or maintain a lean physique.
TIP: If you are worried about gaining the wrong weight; consult with your coach/trainer on what macros might work best for your body and build up toward a surplus. (EX. if you are at 1200 calories, build to 1400, get consistent, then to 1600 consistently, and onward).
Pushing Past Adaptation in Your Training
So what can we do in the gym to push us in the right direction? Put that fuel to work! When lifting, focus on energy intention, time under tension, and pushing weight without compromising form.
TIP: A good rule of thumb would be the last 2-3 reps of each set should be really hard!
Once we have all the consistent daily habits in place. How can we bring our output to the next level? Below are some key staples in my routine that give me an extra edge during prep!
XTEND Protein - As mentioned, eating an adequate amount of daily protein will be beneficial for maintaining the muscle mass you already have and providing you with the necessary amino acids to build new muscle. If you struggle with consuming enough protein on a daily basis, XTEND Pro Whey Isolate is an easy, tasty way to integrate into quality protein your meal plan, my personal favorite is the Chocolate Lava. Check out some fun recipes using this protein powder here to spice up your routine!
C4 Ultimate Shred & C4 Ripped - I was a loyal C4 Ripped user for years and I still find it to be a solid cost efficient option that delivers great energy performance in the gym with ingredients that aid in raising your internal thermodynamics and muscular endurance for that extra cutting edge.
If you are looking to up your game, C4 Ultimate Shred takes you to the next level. Similar benefits; just intensified with some added ingredients giving it the longevity to sustain for even my toughest training sessions.
Cor-Performance Creatine - Creatine supplementation is an added support to aid in lean muscle growth and endurance without any added caffeine. Make sure to be drinking enough water daily to really feel it’s benefits!
CLK Stimulant-Free Fat Burner - Apart from its quality extra fat-burning ingredients of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid, L-Carnitine and Razberi-K Raspberry Ketones, I love that the CLK supplement is stimulant-free so I can effectively stack with my other supplements and stay under the recommended max of 400 mg of caffeine.
XTEND BCAA Powders - XTEND BCAAs gives me the extra flavor and hydration throughout my day making it easier to hit my daily water goals. It’s my favorite contest prep hack to stay on track!
TIP: I like to call this my super-night cap! Right before bed, I mix a scoop of Mango Madness BCAAs with some Magnesium Citrate Powder (Calm). This yummy mix puts me into a relaxed state with the added hydration and recovery of BCAAs so I wake up ready to go!
If I have noticed anything in competing, it’s that each cut & health phase looks different than the last but is achieved in the same way: time and consistency! The scale might show the same number (even higher sometimes!) but it does NOT look the same in the mirror.
Take away the stigma around the number on a scale and all you can see is that body recomposition just keeps improving. This is why weight on a scale is just ONE of many tools to gauge what success looks like. If we are set on a desire, in order to achieve it and grow, we need to be flexible on how we get there and trust the process; even when it’s scary.
Remember, no one can look at you and see a number on a scale and non-scale victories are just as important if not more; treat them as such! We are celebrating with you; keep it up!