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Wednesday, 4 June 2008

I am an Athlete

When you have what Liz calls "high risk leverage", exercise and dietary compliance are easy. In ordinary talk, when you are committed to standing on stage on a particular day in an itty bitty bikini and high heel shoes, saying no to the cheesecake and getting up a 5am every morning to go to the gym is actually not that difficult. You kind of don't have a choice. You have an ever decreasing window of opportunity to train as hard as you can and eat as clean as you can. There are no extra days, hours or even minutes so you can't start again on Monday, you have to be as disciplined as possible.

But take away that immovable deadline and all hell breaks loose. Combine that off the back of an extended period of self imposed deprivation and you are facing potential Trouble (with a capital T).

What all this means is that I have been OFF. Off plan with my eating, off plan with my exercise and just plain off.

Since I competed Sunday week ago I have eaten junk food to the point of discomfort on no less than 4 occasions. That is 4 days out of 10 - closing in on 50% of the time.

I have felt ashamed of this behaviour, but at the same time, now I've figure it out, it hasn't worried me too much.

On contemplation, I don't think I have an eating disorder or a mental problem, I think I have hunger. Simple, unglorified, I need calories and I need them now, physiological hunger.

It is still quite possible I am in denial and I am mental, but here is my reasoning.

I have been on a diet - counting calories and macros - for 16 weeks. I was already slim by most people's standards to start with. I lost 7.5 kilos since I started dieting - or roughly 0.5kg a week. I was eating 1400-1500 calories a day.

Now in order to lose 0.5kg a week, I need to be in a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories a week or 500 a day.

Are you still with me? That means my MAINTENANCE (not gaining/losing) calories are approximately 1,900 - 2,000 a day. I have been trying to stay on 1500-1600 calories without my "high risk leverage" motivation. Felt starved and then binged.

Yesterday morning after another out of control eating episode on Monday night, I didn't even complete my gym session. I did half my weights and then gave up and came home. Curiously, I still have DOMs in my back today (I suppose those assisted chin ups with all four grip positions will do that to you!)

So I am eating more. I am aiming for 1700-1800 just to be on the safe side, and to allow for 100 odd calorie drop in exercise calories burnt as I am not doing as much cardio as I was.

I have also added some fat back in to my diet as I do miss my old fatty friend. I have pushed it up from 20 to 25%. I have also embraced sodium a little more. After my extreme cramping experience when I sodium depleted and a little exploration with Dr Google, I think that as I am an athlete, I need more salt that the general population to replace all the stuff I lose when I sweat - and I really sweat.

Results so far - feeling heaps better, feeling full and satisfied. I am not hungry anymore and I don't have an uncontrollable appetite that sees me cleaning out the fridge and the cupboards after dinner every night. It wasn't comfort eating, it was just hunger which I am taking care of.

The biggest realisation is that I am an athlete (thanks Shelley). I am not a skinny chick on a weight loss diet or starving myself trying to stay at an unfeasibly low weight. I want to stay this slim, but that is because I never really got that lean. If I compete in October, my competition weight actually needs to be about 5kgs lighter so, in fact, I am at the perfect off season weight already.

I am an athlete so I need to eat like one. I already train like one so I need more petrol in the tank.

The curious thing is that the bingeing hasn't resulted in fat gain. I am slightly softer than I was on comp day, but I still fit all my teeny tiny clothes. In fact, I am almost sure that I am still getting smaller as my teeny tiny jeans were falling down yesterday. I think I have inadvertently been refeeding and carb cycling just enough to continue dropping fat. Once all the water dissipates and my period finally turns up, I may just have to eat MORE to prevent fading away before your very eyes.

If that is the case, then I have been given a gift that is far more precious than any tin plated trophy. I will have found a way to live a lean life without suffering for it. Imagine that ...


  1. What I love about you, Katie, is that you really look closely at what you did and how you did it, what worked, what didn't and you use your BRAIN figuring out how to tweak things to work better for you.

    The sodium thing is interesting. I've had to increase my consumption of it too, for different reasons to yours. We so often forget about the individual differences that mean a one-size-fits-all approach isn't necessarily going to work for us.

    Good news on the loose clothes. Yay for eating more! :o)

  2. "YAY" for Katie. I am so proud of you.

    ESP - I just added salt to my wedges tonight (no cals left for tomato sauce) and I haven't had salt on anything for years (oh, other than the deep fried food feasts from the take-away shop - he he he).

    Keep up the great work.

    Luv Shelley

  3. I love your rationale!

    Can you please come and put some organisation and reality back into my life? I used to be so good at it. Not so much anymore.

  4. Anonymous10:51 pm

    You're very lucky that you can have splurges and have them all be forgiven. I'm short and I notice that even slight increases in water retention or bodyfat will show up with jeans that are too tight or needing to wear my fat jeans.

    I think you've really got a great handle on where you're going with this.


  5. I just had the 'I am an athlete' revelation too! It changes your outlook entirely. Harder is remembering your not on a fat girl crusade. I truly believe that it's a whole change in mindset from negative to positive and so many more things become possible in training, eating and life.

  6. Absolutely spot on ... you are an athlete, you need to be eating much, much more. There is nothing psychological about the binging or over eating that is going on. Your body is starving.

    When you actually do raise your calories and continue that for a few days you'll probably find that you can actually eat much more than 1900-2200.

    And, if you eat more, your body will find it much easier to build muscle, which is your ultimate goal, right? Attempting fat loss and muscle gain at the same time is certainly possible, but the most EFFICIENT way to do it is to focus on one OR the other, while minimizing the draw back (that is focus on building muscle while minimizing fat gain OR focus on losing fat while minimizing muscle loss).