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The end result….

Welcome to Part 2 of the journey to getting lean and mean!

As the second and third weeks progress and I as I cut calories, I would note some dips in strength for some lifts but not for all.  I could usually attribute a bad day to poor sleep, straying from my usual workout time, or another calorie adjustment.  The fact that I wasn’t seeing dramatic losses in strength was a really good sign that I wasn’t losing much in the way of LBM.  Still, I really, really missed picking up heavy weights, so made a pact that we were just on a “time out.”  I’d be back for more heavy metal in no time! Some people might be able to continue with heavy (i.e., 85% of their 1 RM) while cutting but not me.  It just felt far too taxing.  Cutting made me realize how very much I am in tune with my body, how making minor adjustments always translate into something else, and it reassured me that my instincts would really help me proceed through this journey.  Everyone is different, and what works for me might not work for everyone.

In addition to the new program that I begin in early August, I also slowly and gradually being to add small amounts of easy cardio to the equation.  While bulking on Hybrid, I did very little cardio; there was the Hybrid HIIT day and otherwise I mainly walked briskly with my dog as a form of exercise.  While cutting, I started with 3 sessions of 30 minutes (brisk walking, uphill walks on treadmills, or light jogging). Each week I added one session until I was up to 6 sessions a week.  Nothing intense, and I generally added or subtracted this form of activity depending on what the scale, calipers, mirrors, strength logs, outside observers, and my own level of energy told me. It was really nice to have the input of BBR members and my close gym buddies because at times I felt like I was watching grass grow! Every week I was asking, “where is my six pack?” An extra set of objective eyes always helps.

More important than cardio however, was really tightening up the diet.  For me, I didn’t hit the sweet spot for fat loss until I dropped cals to around 1400.  During mid-late August, I began cutting the carbs more dramatically (well, dramatically for me!). This was brutal! I like eating, and eating a LOT, and I looooovvee carbs, but I had to take carbs down to 75 grams per day to start seeing results. With the change to the diet, I saw the scale gradually ease its way downwards, and I was seeing weekly changes on the scale.   I kept the protein high, never dropping below 1 g per lb of body weight, and the fat low-moderate. For example, protein portions were slowly taken down from 6 oz portions on bulk to 5, 4, and finally 3 oz on the cut, brown rice from ¾ cup to ½ cup to ultimately ¼ cup.  Every week I experimented slightly with the macros while keeping the calories constant since 1400 seemed to be my magic number. I found that adding more healthy fat sources throughout the day while cutting carbs really helped me with my energy levels.  I ate fat with 4 out of 6 meals a day (8-12 almonds or 1 TBSP fish oil).  I ate at least 6 servings of green veggies every day (because you gotta poop right), and used fish oil and nuts for my fat source.

Speaking of supplements, I did not change much about what I was taking in while bulking. I maintained using creatine monohydrate, and stopped this 3 days out from the shoot, and continued taking beta-alanine, glutamine, and branched chain amino acids.  I did have to start using caffeine to give me the energy and focus I needed to get through the low-carb energy nadirs.  I did try using a couple of thermogenics and some “pre-workout” energy/concentration focus formulas, but not one of them appealed to me in the taste department. The simpler the better!

 

Stay tuned for part 3 of this series…the fine tuning and “dialing in” of the physique as shoot date approaches. Please feel free to leave comments!

-Sumi Singh is a Personal Trainer in Austin, TX and an online diet coach. Her website is www.shailafitness.com

 

 

 

 

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About

 

Sumi Singh is a diet coach, group fitness instructor,  personal trainer in Austin TX, and a mom.  She is an ISSA Certified Sports Nutrition Specialist, holds her personal trainer certifications from the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and the International Fitness Professionals Association, holds a certification in pre-and post-natal exercise, and is a Les Mills Group Fitness Instructor. She writes for her online fitness blog at www.shailafitness.com, and is a contributing author on the BrinkZone.com.

 

She has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Tufts University and a Masters in Environmental Management from Duke University.  The strong science background gives Sumi a unique edge in being able to separate fitness fads and trends from effective approaches to fitness and nutrition.

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