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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7 Comments
  1. PaulM 8 years ago

    Sumi – I subscribe to Will's blog and have followed your progress. You look great! Awesome work you are doing . I applaud your efforts and I appreciate seeing more women lifting.
    I think you are totally right on about how important the dietary aspect is. However, I would caution you about some things. Not all carbs are bad! I understand you want to lose weight but it can take a longer time than many of us believe or have the patience for. Weight loss is a good goal but health first should always be the primary goal IMHO.
    To me there's some indications that you're diet could be looked at more. If you needed to start using caffeine, thermogenics and some “pre-workout” energy formulas then this would be something to think about. This is nothing but stimulation in the end. And, although a workout can be exhausting, exercise should leave us feeling a bit more energetic in the long run not needing more stimulation.
    For whatever it's worth, I highly recommend eating more fruit. You mentioned craving carbs and this will help satisfy you. Fruit has lots of water and vitamins. So who needs so many supplements, powders and drinks? Try blending fruits as a pre or post workout drink. For example, apple-banana-cucumber is very tasty and is a great electrolyte drink.
    also, regarding protein, mother's milk is about a 6% protein. Yet it is good enough to raise a growing infant and build a very strong body for the first 1-3 years of life. We don't need to give infants protein shakes!!
    All the best, Paul

    • Sumi 8 years ago

      Hi PaulM- Thanks for reading and tuning in. I hope you check out Part 3 of the blog too. My whole point, as you'll see ,is that this process (cutting) at least for me, wasn't very healthy (and I go into the side effects in Part 3), and it is temporary. We all know some people who seem to maintain an extremely lean physique year round. Maybe it's genetics, or very careful monitoring of eating, or maybe they are taking in other "substances."
      There's no way I'd suggest that eliminating fruit (or any other food group, like dairy) as a permanent lifestyle choice is a wise decision. As you may have seen from my post when I was on Hybrid- I ate 3000 cals- and unlike most gals- I LIKED it! Food makes me strong. And strong is sexy 😉 Bulking is way more fun!

  2. anci 8 years ago

    The article is very interesting, giving a lot of inspiration for this beginners.
    Thank you for sharing with us and continue your great work.

  3. George Bulkupfast 8 years ago

    Great article and great to see a woman loving lifting heavy.
    In response to the first comment above, I wonder if eating some of the fruit shakes pre and post exercise would have helped workout intensity?
    This would be like a modified ckd, i guess.
    Although when I tried a ckd I just couldn’t get the energy to workout, my body just needs to have more carbs. I remember a session on day 4 of a ckd and dropping to a bench after an HIIT session (that I didn’t get through) and feeling truly awful.
    Yet when I cut fat and protein but keep carbs proportionally high, I feel hungry all the time but dont lose energy for training.
    Each to their own.
    I look forward to part 3
    George

  4. Annette 8 years ago

    Whoa…..75 grams of carbs a day…..eeegggaaaddd. I feel ya in that department. The only way that I can get past a plateau or lose more body fat is to cut the carbs. I do ok at about 100 grams. Lower than that, all I think about is grapes and chocolate…lol. But sometimes we must sacrifice for a short while to get where we need to be. Looking good girl!

  5. KK 8 years ago

    Hi great posts except I really don't think you needed to cut back on water to get nice and tight for pix day. The dehydration thing is playing with fire and you are lucky it worked for you. Sometimes people totaally blow up from that approach and look soft and puffy on show (or in your case photo day) and get major cramps, etc. Believe it or not, adding water your peak week, use of some sodium but not even really that much, plus your carb manipulation from low to high and a tapering of water the night before pix/show is a safe and effective way to go to come in nice and lean and tight. Sounds counterintuitive but it works! Maybe you already know this and for whatever reason, chose to do it differently…..In any case, you look amazing. Congrats! I just felt the need to post b/c I think it's important for people not to pull out water to peak.

  6. Pamela Mchugh 7 years ago

    Sumi,
    You cut your calories down to 1400, what were they at the beginning of this phase?
    Thanks, Pamela

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