#R2AD, Week 3: The food, the bad and the ugly

BEST! WEEK! EVER! Laaalalalala!
Okay sure, I miiiiiiight be writing this while high on training endorphins aaaannnd I might be starting to finally feel fit again after putting in all the foundation work…aaaand it is a crazy fun rush to feel fit again….Hush you. I know you get weird after good training too. Don’t deny it. Its why we do what we do, no?

I had to start the week by making changes. Last week was a fizzer.
First and foremost was about food but also I had to address sleep and sanity. There was no way I could do another sub-par week. We just don’t have enough time and feeling flat, uninspired by my food and sore, all bad things.

It was all my doing, I chose to read my diet plan from Dr.Hannah and make some really ordinary meals that weren’t so appealing. They totally toed the line for macros and calories etc but they were super uninspiring and felt like punishment. The meals were ‘right’ but everything felt wrong.

Last week during training and while discussing my super boring cooking outcomes, JT (GrappleFitness), my strength and conditioning coach asked me about how my weight cut was coming along.  During that exchange he asked me a really interesting question. ‘What food makes you feel good?”

I genuinely didn’t have an answer, which seems odd to me so I thought about this a lot.

The truth is, after being an overweight woman throughout my 20s, I began exercise with the only initial goal being to become a smaller human. Health, happiness, taste all coming in a second priority over weight loss. Ew.
Over the past 10 years+ my training had to become more interesting and with better goals so as to keep me from quitting (which is essentially why I ended up in one of the most complex sports on the planet).
In my late 30s I am still that woman, trying not to be big again…well, I’m trying to be BIG but in muscle these days…big hard, not big soft. But thats just my goals, doesn’t mean they’re noble or should be anyone else (do you lady, do you!).

Last year, I injured myself at 62kg (136lbs), 7 weeks later I was already 69kg (152lbs). Weight loves me. And fast. Sometimes I feel like I’ll always be trying to run away from it. Definitely it is part of my life and weight loss (and its even harder sister, maintenance) has never come easy to me.
At my biggest I was 103kg (227lbs). When I turned up to my first Weight Watchers meeting at the age of 24 I was 86kg (189lbs). I still have the check in card.
Currently I am working to be 60kg (132lbs) for Abu Dhabi and I started the weight cut at 66kg (145lbs).
I’m 158cm tall (5’2″).
*pictures below are in proportion and actual height. They are 7 weeks apart and they are from last year.

So when JT asked me this question it made me realise that I have a skewed way of relating to food, one that needs to be updated now that I am in a maintenance phase and no longer a weight loss phase, even within the umbrella of a short weight cut.
This weight cut is exactly that. A short diet to take me below my natural weight for a specific date and a specific purpose. In no way do I see it as a maintainable lifestyle.
I like me at 64kg. The comp just happens to be at 62kg in a gi, so I’ve made the choice to match that criteria.
When I asked myself what foods make me feel good, all I could think was cake.
Cake, ice cream and champagne make me feel good but I don’t think that was what JT was asking me for aaaaand none of those would help me too much to lose the 6kg we’re working to drop for April 18th.
I thought all of this and then I said, nah, I don’t really I know what makes me feel good. Steak? I guess? I dunno.

JT told me he doesn’t much enjoy eating salad and fish (over burgers and fried carbs) but that he also knows that eating these foods will give him a good kick of energy and that after the meal he just feels better. More energetic, fresher, fuelled. He’s tried it, tested it, done the research, has the data. Salmon and salad are the go for him, the trick was to find what the go is for me.

I took some time to reflect on the fact that I’m not currently aware of any of the food I eat effecting my energy in a positive way like this. Sure, cake things and bread things make me feel like crap and lethargic (and generally awful about my life’s decisions and self control) but I’m so many years in to a weight loss and maintenance story that has me in a habit of labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ so they still come up (mainly as rewards which I gotta move away from).
I am the master of food math with broken logic….if I eat these three good foods I get to treat myself with this one bad food as reward.
Oh good. What joy. Hate all these punishment foods like they’re homework or penance, but get this fried Oreo and ice cream because you’ve been so good…
Exactly NONE of that cycle makes me feel good.

Because of this outdated habit of mine whereby I  assess food based on what I think I should be eating vs. food I know I shouldn’t be eating I have missed an opportunity of insight into creating a list of foods that are good for me, as opposed to foods that are ‘good’ generally.
What I have now is a naughty or nice list of sorts and this list is no longer serving me.
For example: In my head….Apples: (old way of thinking) = Apples are good, right? They’re fruit. Fruit is good. Yay!
Apples: (new insight/some reflection) = I don’t really like these things, they’re carbs and right now carbs are a little restricted so why eat carbs you don’t love? Let’s buy some berries instead they’re awesome (Thanks Dr. Hannah for showing me the way!).

I had been in my old habit for so long I had’t really reflected until now on what might create good energy vs ‘good’. What might make me feel good, physically (and the more important bit to be able to get through a weight cut) as well as emotionally.
There is NO WAY I make it through heavy training each week, while cutting weight, with no energy and hating what I’m eating. Thats a recipe for fail for sure.
No more crappy meals. Time to build meals I enjoy, make me feel good energetically AND sit within the parameters of my needs for cutting weight/calorie and macros needs.
So it was time to find out what those meals might be. Time to try something new!

So, I headed into this great week with simple food plans and goals of research and refinement.
What I ended up with and am LOVING is: Eggs and veg in the mornings. Fish and salad for lunch, fish salad and rice just after training.
If training was earlier in the day, refuel after training with an epic smoothy thats based mainly on milk and banana and then allowed no carbs later in the day.
I’m utilising things like jelly and greek yoghurt to feel like I’ve got a dessert in the plan. Doing this means I have less cravings and break diet less often (so far I haven’t needed to).
Blueberries and chia puddings are also a treat. Sometimes all mixed in together to make this amazing low carb, low calorie bastardised triffle that makes me joyous at the end of a long day…droooools…haha.

My energy levels have soared! I found the right combo!
Fish, green things, treat things (that don’t pack on weight), loads of volume with veggies, loads more water, tea, less coffee, more sleep = winner week!
I got through the epic lifting week, added in more conditioning (we’ve split conditioning and strength into seperate sessions because my recovery is slower for me at 38) as well as all the jiu jitsu sessions I needed to.
All up we hit 2 conditioning sessions, a 10km run (more for my head than practical application, its my mediation), 2 heavy tonnage lifting sessions, 3 active rest rolling sessions and an EPIC competition rounds night and a rest day. For me, this is perfect.

Things that made this week amazing:
I found foods that make my energy levels BETTER than they were before the weight cut AND I enjoy the foods.
My training felt stronger and better as a result.
AND as a result I was sleeping better and therefor recovering better, which means better quality training the next day.
Plus I’m seeing the scales steadily work toward my goals.

Fantastic, now that I have the formula, I ain’t changing anything! Onwards and upwards!
Just like an old school game of Mastermind. Keep what works, discard what doesn’t. Keep trying and keep improving.

x

ps. for those that don’t believe me, can’t picture it, or just wanna sticky-beak…

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