Yes I've stunk at updating this. Sorry, I know you all were sitting around biting your nails wondering when you would know the latest on my diet. If you're still hanging in there at 90 days, I commend you (including myself for still being here).
This cut has definitely been trying. And while it has been trying it has also been an insightful experience. Cutting for powerlifting is definitely not a walk in the park. The quality of life is better than dieting down for a bodybuilding show, but training, the reason we do this sport in the first place, definitely suffers. In the words of Ryan Doris, "If you feel like you're dying, then it's working." Having a good training session occurs much less frequently and you really have to be strategic about when/how you train. Bodybuilding prep - you go in, get a pump, it was a good day now let's suffer through cardio and eat asparagus. There have been several times in the gym that I've thought about ditching the diet and going back to eating so I could feel strong again, but mama didn't raise no quitter.
In the back of my mind I've often had the thought that I might not make weight. I had a good bit of weight to drop and honestly the cut was partially to put me in a more competitive weight class and partially because I wanted to feel comfortable in my clothes again. The cool thing was that even at 158 lbs, I wasn't really self conscious. I was the strongest I'd ever been in my life. I fell in love with this sport because of the fact that my entire focus shifted from what I looked like to what I could do. I was training because I genuinely loved it, not because I wanted to look a certain way. My entire life I've been insecure with my body and it was so empowering to not care. I hardly ever looked in the mirror at the gym because I honestly didn't think about it.
So here we are, just over 3 months in, just over 10 pounds down and the realization that there's a really really good chance I won't make the lower weight class is now at the front of my mind. And that's been hard to swallow. I'm an all-in kind of person. When I become interested in something, I am SUPER interested in it - I do research, I watch videos, I talk to others about it and I genuinely want to know the ins and outs. So when I got into powerlifting, what's the first thing I did? I looked at results from National Level meets for my weight class. And I was surprised to find that my numbers were comparable to the Top 15 at last year's USAPL Raw Nationals in the 63 kg (138.6 lbs) class. That's been the driving force. I would be competitive, possibly even great, if I could make that weight class.
Great. I feel like that's something everyone wants to be at some point in their lives. I had a mentor tell me when I was 16 that "I was good at a lot of things, but not really great at anything" and those words have never left me. They stung and they still do, but it's true. I was a good kid, a good student, a good athlete, a good equestrian, a good employee, heck maybe a good/mediocre/she-managed-to-get-on-stage bodybuilder - but never great. Does that make me a failure? Well no, it makes me well-rounded. But when I looked at those results I thought that maybe I could be great at something for once in my life. I'm probably the reason that I've never been great at anything. I'm the world's best at getting in my own way. Obviously, I need to keep in mind that I've only been doing this for a year. The people that actually ARE great at powerlifting have been at this for years, if not decades.
I'm sure the greats of this sport went through a similar season as I am in right now. Katie Anne Rutherford (@katieanne100) is one that comes to mind. She tried to hang on at an insane level of leanness in the 63 kg class and managed to place, but it wasn't until she finally decided to embrace a higher weight class that her lifts really exploded. Alessandra Daniele (@fitgirlmoves) is another person I admire that made her decision to go up a weight class after suffering through a cut for last year's Raw Nationals. She now looks phenomenal at a heavier body weight.
I was 128-130 lbs when I competed in bodybuilding last year. I was 135-138 lbs when I started powerlifting. The very first time I maxed I was around 140. My lifts have increased drastically over the past year, but my weight has also gone up. More body weight = more body mass = more strength.
Of course, me being the kind of person that I am, sat down and did the math and thought "Okay I sit comfortably weight wise in the low 140s. If I can diet down there and then manipulate water and sodium, pee/poop right before, weigh-in naked, I could probably make weight." While that could very well be true, it's not the smartest from a performance stand point. Almost every seasoned powerlifter I've talked to has told me not to try to cut down a weight class. And then others have said "Oh I've lost 12 lbs in 2 weeks doing a water cut." Unfortunately USAPL has a 2 hour weigh-in so that only gives me a 2 hour window to rehydrate and get as much food as possible in and that can very easily backfire (literally) on you when you're super depleted. So the dilemma that my coaches have presented me with is either A) Just weigh-in wherever you weigh-in and have a great meet or B) Make weight and potentially have a terrible meet because you cut too much weight in a short amount of time.
The goal of this meet is to qualify for this year's Raw Nationals in October. If I make the 63 kg class, I could go up to the 72 kg class (158.4) if I also meet that qualifying total if I make the decision that I don't want to try to hang on in a lower weight class. If I end up in the 72s, I qualify for that class, but do not qualify for the lower class. Essentially you can go up but can't go down. If you know anything about powerlifting, the 72 kg class is stacked (looking at you Katie Anne and Kimberly Walford). The 63s are also very competitive too, but I felt that I would be able to hold my own a little better there. (I'll unfortunately probably never been 300+ pounds so Jen Thompson will forever be in the #1 spot) But, on the flip side of that, powerlifting has exploded in popularity over the past couple of years and there have been more and more super strong females on the scene which will just make the entire sport that much more competitive.
Now that I've given you all this insight that probably makes no sense, does this mean I'm no longer cutting? Not necessarily. Does it mean the goal still isn't to make weight? Not necessarily. My coaches, Ryan and Paul, have both been very straight forward with me about this process and have put my performance in the gym as a top priority. At this point, making any more adjustments for fat loss would probably be detrimental. I've already had to change my training schedule to allow more time to eat/drink beforehand and am already struggling through workouts so adding more cardio would only inhibit recovery and cutting food would add to the struggle.
So for now we hold steady. If my body continues to drop weight which it very well could then great. If it doesn't, but I am still able to train intensely then great. All I can do is give my workouts 100% and listen to my coaches. Ryan was honest with me in my check-in Sunday night about the fact that making weight is not likely to happen and that's what prompted this post. But like I said earlier, it has been in the back of my mind for some time now, he just had to say it for it to really sink in. I hired him for his honesty, for his objectivity, and his guidance. If he told me "Sure add cardio, cut food and we will do a water cut" and then I bombed on meet day (my first USAPL meet ever to be exact), I would probably be even more disheartened than I was/am when I accepted my current reality, but I love this sport because I'm encouraged to be strong. So by putting so much emphasis on the scale (again, like the last 15 years of my life wasn't enough) I've taken the fun out of it. I'm training to survive instead of training to improve. And only a dingus would do that.
I also have to take a second to look at how far I've come. I have dieted since I was 10 years old. Powerlifting helped me learn how not to diet and those 9 months in a caloric surplus has done wonders for my body and my metabolism. I cut on less than 100 carbs almost my entire bodybuilding prep last year. My carbs have been no lower than 185 grams on my heaviest training days now. I'm also doing minimal cardio compared to then. And my body has responded well. In 13 weeks I've dropped 11 pounds and several inches and I can honestly say I like how my body looks right now. Sure I'd like to be a little bit leaner, but I'd get in a swimsuit. My legs look muscular again and not just massive (still massive but we have lines now ya'll.) My clothes fit and I look jacked in a sleeveless dress. And I'm still enjoying life here and there without completing blowing my diet. I ate Easter lunch with my family Sunday and didn't stress over it. I was mindful of what I ate but I didn't deprive myself or have anxiety. Basically my body type is "Trains hard but likes fro-yo."
So maybe I won't be great at powerlifting. Or maybe I won't be great at powerlifting RIGHT NOW. One other awesome thing about this sport is that as long as you can stave off injuries, you will just get better with age and experience. So for now I'm going to put my focus back where it should be - training. I'm going to train because I love it and because I want to be strong and let things play out how fate allows. I'm going to stop being a dingus and I'm going to leave the gym and say that I was great for that training session. And in the meantime, I'll focus on being a great human that is good at a lot of things.
Starting Weight: 158
Current Weight: 147.6
Starting Macros: 2080 Calories/ 140g Protein/ 245g Carbs/ 60g Fat
1915 Calories/ 140g Protein/ 215g Carbs/ 55 Fat
1750 Calories/140g Protein/185g Carbs/50 Fat
Current Macros: High Day 1830 Calories/145g Protein/ 200g Carbs/ 50 Fat
Low Day 1465 Calories/145g Protein/120g Carbs/ 45 Fats
Starting Cardio: 4 days of Steady State Cardio for 20 mins
Current: 4 days for 25 minutes/1 HIIT Session on Saturday
Starting This Week
Waist 32.5" 29"
Hips 39" 34.5"
Quad 24" 23.5"
Bicep 12.5" 12"
Upper Hip 36" 34.5"