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Having to deal with a mommymonster. No fun!

 

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, it’s much more fun to eat big and be strong. On 1400 calories a day my energy levels were very low, and I was a grouchy monster on low carbs.  My soon to be 3-year old had enough sense to say, “Mommy, you’re being mean!” But when all was said and done, by the mid-September I was at 112 lbs-and had lost 6 lbs in a about  4 weeks. Certainly not earth shattering results, but I was not after dramatic weight loss, as this could also signify loss in strength and LBM.

 

Another thing that I lost while cutting was my menstrual cycle.  At 112 lbs, I estimate that I dropped to about 12-13% body fat based on the caliper readings, and the not-so-glamorous part about that is the possible interruption of your cycle.  Clearly, I’m messing with my hormones here! You’ll also want to mentally prepare yourself for reduced energy levels, your workouts feeling waaayyyyy harder to get through, possible losses in strength, and perhaps waking up earlier than normal to get in the cardio.

The worst part of all, bar none, was the dehydration leading up to the photo shoot.  I normally drink a minimum of 1 gallon of water in a day, and it was my decision to use a herbal diuretic, sodium elimination (except whatever was naturally occurring),  and taper down water (from ½ gallon, to 32 oz, to 24 oz, and finally 16 oz the day of the shoot) to lose any puffiness.  It literally felt like a cat was sleeping in me mouth. YUCK! I also had a hard time sleeping well and the sight of anyone drinking water made me want to race to the nearest fountain and drink like a fish.   I didn’t of course, and the process worked for me. I’ll confess that I was totally freaked out when I stepped on the scale the morning of the shoot and clocked in at 109 lbs. I lost another 3 lbs of fluid on the process of dehydrating, but I could see that my abs were tight and hard. Mission accomplished.

Other tools that I used to get picture perfect were the application of a self tanner and baby oil during the shoot.  I actually didn’t have time to get a spray tan, and I have a natural “tan” from being of Indian descent, so I used a mild and gradual tanner which worked perfectly for me.  5 days out from the shoot, I also modified the diet by doing a carb up to load my glycogen-starved muscles with the carbs they needed to “fill out.”  I kept protein and fat at the same levels, but started to eat more starchy carbs (e.g., white rice instead of brown) and larger amounts (1/2 cup to ¾ cup instead of ¼).  I was carb happy again, although I was thirsty as anything!

Throughout my cutting journey, one of the things I faithfully tracked and recorded were my strength logs.  Earlier in this article, I charted my week 1 stats.  After 5 weeks, here’s how I made out.  You can see I really did not lose much strength, and in fact made some gains, a good indication that I was able to maintain some of that hard-earned LBM, though trust me, every rep felt harder towards the end!

Upper body Wt/reps

Week 1

Wt/reps

Week 1

Wt/reps

Week 1

Wt/reps

Week 5

Wt/reps

Week 5

Wt/reps

Week 5

Incline Flyes 20/10 20/12 20/12 25/12 25/12 25/10
Machine Chest Pr 90/11 90/10 90/9 90/12 90/9 90/8
DB incline press 35/12 35/12 35/12 35/12 35/12 35/12
Flat Bench Press 75/12 75/12 75/12 75/12 70/12 70/12
Lat pulldowns 90/12 90/12 90/8 90/12 90/10 90/10
Machine Low row 90/8 90/8 90/8 90/8 90/8 90/9
BB Military Press 55/12 65/8 65/8 55/12 55/12 55/12
DB Side Lateral 15/10 15/8 15/8 15/12 15/12 15/12
Standing DB Curl 20/11 20/8 20/8 20/12 20/8 20/8
Skullcrushers 40/12 40/12 40/12 40/12 40/12 40/12
Tricep pushdown 65/10 65/9 65/10 70/11 70/10 70/10
Standing EZ curl 40/12 40/10 40/8 40/12 40/12 40/12
Lower Body Reps/Wt

Week 1

Reps/Wt

Week 1

Reps/Wt

Week 1

Wt/reps

Week 5

Wt/reps

Week 5

Wt/reps

Week 5

BB Box Squats 95/12 95/12 95/12 105/8 105/8 105/16 (where did that come from?)
BB Lunges 85/12 85/12 85/12 85/12 85/12 85/12
Seated Leg Ext 110/15 110/10 110/8 110/10 110/10 110/10
Leg Press 360/8 360/8 360/8 270/12 270/12 270/12
Straight leg deads 115/12 115/12 115/12 115/12 115/12 115/12
Standing Calf Raise Smith 160/8 160/8 160/8 160/12 160/12 160/11
Seated Calf 90/8 90/6 90/8 80/10 80/10 85/10

 

The cutting journey really was a learning experience for me, and the next time I do it, the same exact method may not work. Everyone is different and our bodies all react differently.  If you plan to do it, give yourself ample time to experiment with the calories and activity level, and don’t ever give up strength training! It’s what got you the muscles in the first place.  Enlist the help of experts in the field and stay focused on whatever your goal look may be.  Be prepared for the not so fun stuff: to diet hard, to bust through your discomfort zone, to possibly have to pick up lighter weights (like I did!), lose some sleep, be cranky, lose your period, and to possibly have to migrate into an anti-social bubble because 1) you can’t eat or drink like most people and 2) you’re so cranky no one wants to play with you.  Realize that there is a decidedly unhealthy aspect to achieving this look, and for some people, such a look is not maintainable, nor should it be.

Despite all the hard work and effort, and the fact that everyone thought I was insane, it really isn’t impossible.  I wanted to do this, I set my mind to do it, and because part of me loves data and experiments.  I would hope that there’s plenty of room on the planet for a variety of beautiful, fit bodies of all sizes, colors, and ages.  I’m a mom, I work two jobs (one full time, one part-time), am no superwoman, nor do I have any special gift of genetics or superhuman discipline.  I do have the right mindset and attitude to get it done. Anyone can do it.  And if I can, you can too! As Will would say, good luck and see you in the magazines!

-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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