The past four Decembers I’ve thought about what I wanted to do in the New Year. I’ve thought about what I had already accomplished and how I could build on that. Last year, my goals consisted of competing in my second bikini competition, getting stronger in my lifts and excelling at my job.

I entered 2016 on prep. Like many competitors I started on January 1st, but unlike many competitors my New Year’s Day kicked off at Gillette Stadium for the Bruins Winter game. My prep started at a tailgate. It started with protein pancakes and egg whites on the grill. It started with water and passing on the 8 am beer. When I look back on that prep, those four months, I am in love with that girl.

She continuously challenged herself and trusted someone else – something that many of us acknowledge is a hard feat. At the time, I felt prep was flawless because I was never hungry like I know is possible. I never felt overworked or tired. I also am always in bed early. I learned about myself a lot over those four months.

I also learned about a dark side that I never thought would resurface.

What I haven’t talked about is the specifics.

My reverse diet was slow. Slower than it should’ve been. My workouts were still roughly the same from prep – high volume and cardio. Not a lot of cardio, but again, I was done with the season and changes could’ve been made. They weren’t and at the time I was trusting someone else.

I reversed for a month before I had surgery and while I was enjoying the reverse I found myself paranoid. I was nervous about the scale moving up. I was nervous that if the scale moved my reverse would continue to be slow and that I wouldn’t get more nutrition added to my plan. I had heard of other competitors having their overall caloric intake increased greatly after their season because continuing the deficit for too much longer could be harmful. Essentially, why keep losing weight if you’re not wanting to or trying to?

Because I have emails, I have records.

My overall macros one month after my show were: 47F/170C/130P or 1,623 calories.

My TDEE or total daily energy expenditure is almost 2,000 calories WITHOUT cardio right now. At the time I didn’t know this because while with my coach I wasn’t controlling my nutrition or workouts. I was trusting to guided appropriately.

When I had surgery my macros dropped to: 40F/135C/125P or 1,400 calories.

At the time, when we had been talking about the lack of exercise I had asked about dropping macros not realizing how many more calories the body burns when it is under duress. Meaning, when you’re sick your fever is the body response to using energy to kill off bacteria. When you’re healing, especially after trauma, your body uses more calories than normal to get you better as fast as it can. I did say I wanted us to come up with a plan so I wouldn’t drop weight or too much during recovery because that was a concern I had. I was on the table at 130.0 and had 1.6 pounds of skin removed. But on June 18th I weighed in at 126.2 pounds. My lowest had been around 125.5.

That was the first real check in back into the gym post surgery because I couldn’t stand straight up the week before even though I had been cleared and went back to the gym on the 9th for light upper body.

I always felt satisfied with my macros because I do really eat in volume. You eat a TON of broccoli and it’s still low in carbs. So I was eating, but I wasn’t eating what I should’ve. This check-in my macros were increased to 43F/172C/125P or 1,575 calories. The following check-in I explained I was satisfied, but I could always eat and now we were adding some cardio back in even though weightloss wasn’t the goal. But why would I argue.

New macros for June 26 – 45F/185C/125P or 1,645 calories

But, on July 3rd, because my weight on the scale was increasing I got nervous and asked to keep my macros the same. I didn’t understand I was still in a deficit and the fluctuation was truly about sodium intake, water intake and some residual swelling due to the summer heat and surgery. Now I know that.

Macros slightly increased again July 10th to 47F/193C/125P or 1,695 calories. To the eye that’s a lot of food, but again, my total daily caloric burn is well over that, I was still in a deficit and just didn’t realize it. If you remember my plan was going to be heading into prep the first of August.
On July 17th macros slightly changed again to 47F/200C/120P or 1,723… so protein went down and she decided to take out my 10 minute HIIT session. At that point it was clear that to get more food I needed to be doing the cardio. So I asked to keep it in so I could get a few more grams of fat. I asked for a gram or two because I had no idea how she was determining my increases.So cardio was kept and my macros were 50F/200C/125P or 1,750 calories– fat and protein increased and I couldn’t tell you the rhyme or reason for those increases. I even asked in this same email what was her reasoning to determining how much to increase by – no response.

I didn’t know any better and it seemed like she had been listening to me. I even wrote a post about why were a good partnership. But we were good until we weren’t. It’s okay to ask questions and want to know answers. It’s also okay for trainers and coaches to say I don’t know the answer, let’s figure it out together. I started asking for harder workouts because I knew I could handle them. I asked for less reps and more sets, I wanted to lift heavier and see how much I could push and pull. I asked for pyramids. I don’t know what I was given, but from research that’s not what was provided.

Anyway. At this point I was more content with the nutrition provided to me. I was able to fit in cupcakes easier and I was still eating in volume. But what she didn’t realize was, I was partially lying to her.

I was getting so nervous about the scale moving I started making myself physically sick. Mind over matter right? Well, your mind controls a lot and as someone with anxiety it’s not hard to get yourself worked up. So yes, there were a few times this summer I threw up because I got so anxious that it just happened. There were also a few times that I regretted the extra gram or two of peanut butter and wished I could and twice I did.

But you know what. I can’t fully blame her for the decision I made, but she isn’t innocent either. She had my weight and measurements every week. She had my progress photos every week. She could’ve calculated y body fat or TDEE any time she wanted to. But again, I had lost weight, I had gotten on stage, I tried new workouts – what could I complain about. I didn’t see the problem. But looking back there were more red flags.

I had sent her an email asking her opinion as my coach about muscular definition and symmetry – two things that are important in competing. I asked if we could talk about strengths and weakness and develop goals.I asked if we could talk on the phone about this. That section of my email was completely ignored. I started asking for harder workouts because I knew I could handle them. I asked for less reps and more sets, I wanted to lift heavier and see how much I could push and pull. I asked for pyramids. I asked for 10g of protein more in which I was told it would tun to fat… I had read conflicting information about protein utilization and I’m not sure if I believe that it automatically converts to fat. If you’re in a deficit how could it possibly do that? A deficit is a deficit, right?

It became clear that I wasn’t being listened to anymore and I’ve always believed in doing my own research and educating myself. I don’t want to be doing something just because someone says I should. When I got my workouts for the first week of prep she left off a day. We had discussed going from back to six days because prep isn’t real life. I understand when coaches have multiple clients and the to-do lists are lengthy, but after parts of my emails being ignored, it was the last straw.

I thanked her for helping me, but that I felt I wanted to try on my own. I told her she had helped me when I needed it and that I probably would’ve been lost after surgery without her, which is partially true. But I also believe  -looking back – that I would’ve found my way.

The summer spiraled into the fall and I was already predisposed to breaking down. I felt like someone I had been paying for help, didn’t care about me or my goals. I felt that they weren’t listening and here I was getting ready to do another prep and questioning myself left and right. Stepping back in September was ultimately because of my mental health – my PTSD and anxiety broke me down, but I shouldn’t have even tried to begin with. I spoke with another competitor and she said her coach says you should pick a “season”. Do you want to compete in the first half of the year or the second? I had still been “dieting down”and been in a caloric deficit. I was arguing with the scale because it was the method I had been used to using.

I recalculated my TDEE and had my body fat retested. Almost 2,000 calories in a daily burn and I was still sitting around 15% body fat, what I was on stage day, but I couldn’t tell you if I had gained any muscle. I probably lost some. I started writing my workouts again and I decided well if I want to eat more I should do more cardio. That went out the window so damn fast. That thinking officially went to bed when I started PH3.

I haven’t done programmed cardio since I started in October. I weighted 133.8 this morning and my waist is 1″ bigger than when I was on stage and .25” bigger than my last check-in with my old coach. My hips are .5″bigger than stage day. When I updated my stats on bodyspace today it told me I was about 12% body fat and the error range is 2-3%. I weigh almost 6 pounds more than when I stepped on stage and my body fat is close to what it was then. These past months I rediscovered why I got into lifting and competing to begin with. I listened to my body. I read study after study. I check books out of the library and read blog after blog. I also journaled and cried and ate doughnuts and cupcakes and laughed with my boyfriend. We sat on the floor and played cards. We made dinner together and loosing counted things. Some days have been better than others, but this year is different.

This year I learned more about myself and instead of thinking of my goals in December, I thought about my goals in October and in November. I thought about the impact I’m making and the one I want to make. I thought about how the majority enjoys engaging with me and the minority can rock in a corner because cyber bullying is something the kids who never grew up do.

This year I have some amazing dreams and rolling goals. I don’t think setting them at the end of the year is the most effective for me. That’s why I started coaching in December, I wanted others to give themselves a chance to get started before the new year. I wanted them to feel empowered for the new year because I found this new found power these past few months.

So yes, I have these amazingly big goals. And you’re just going to have to watch them unfold because even I am sitting here in awe. But I can tell you, that this year taught me to trust someone and then it taught me that it’s ok to question things and then eventually let go. It taught me that you can be more capable than you give yourself credit for. It taught me that you can fail and not be a failure. It also taught me that you can change your mind all the time and that’s 100% ok too.

2017, I’m so ready for you. 2016, I can’t wait to see you die.

❤ Cristina

P.S. Please don’t take Betty White.

 

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