Periodization part 1: getting lean in quarantine!


Getting lean in quarantine!

I started thinking about a fat loss phase back in October, I didn’t actually enter a calorie deficit until January. Using myself as an example I want to take a dive into periodization, a term I throw around here quite a bit and the method I hope to teach all of my clients. It is basically phasing out your year of nutrition based on your current goals.

If my goal was to lose weight why didn’t I just cut calories right away?

Diet preparation!

Prior to October I had been tracking around maintenance calories but was very inconsistent. I had taken the summer off of tracking macros (no I don’t track year-round) but did find the scale was up a bit by the end of summer. It was no surprise and almost a calculated risk of giving myself more food freedom for a few months. I still ate plenty of protein and veggies day to day, but ultimately, I was likely in a calorie surplus most weeks, and not a carefully crafted planned surplus. (please don’t say you are bulking or reversing when really you are just eating like a jerk, own it) I was trying to maintain while feeling like I could enjoy my summer to the fullest. We all know how that goes!

Because there was no consistency to start, the fat loss phase had to start there, with consistency. Jumping right into a cut was not the right call, so I started with diet prep and finding my true maintenance. Because I had also changed workout modalities from CrossFit to body building I saw a great deal of re-composition while eating at maintenance calories (roughly 2200 for me) This is losing body fat and gaining muscle, the scale doesn’t move too much here but visible changes are noticeable.

From October to January I worked back to my true maintenance, STAYED THERE for a couple months, and focused on strength training. The scale dropped 4 pounds FROM 137--> 133, and I was happy with the re-composition taking place.

With all bio feedback markers (energy, sleep, stress) looking great I stared with a 10% cut in calories after the holidays, keeping calories high for a while in the hopes of even more body recomp as I intensified my training.

I was really pleased with how high my calories stayed week to week as I consistently saw weight go down a pound on average each week. With exception of my last week in the cut, I never dipped below 1600, and when I did it was short lived. There were many refeeds and diet break weeks within the 4-month diet. The biggest takeaway here is I did not cut my legs off and try to lose 10 pounds in 6 weeks. I took it slow and made it sustainable. Yet another reason to hire a coach, who can talk some sense into you when you try to restrict to low calorie straight out the gate!

I also pritotized keeping all the muscle I had, as some of the weight lost in a cut can be muscle and that should never be the goal! Staying higher calorie and just being consistent while pushing my lifts allowed me to keep the muscle I had. Over the 4 months I lost 10 pounds going from 133-->123.

Points to hammer home:

Patience: Yes, it took me over 16 weeks to drop ten pounds and keep most of my muscle. It also took me over 3 months to prep my body to lose body fat. PATIENCE. Please for the love of god sop trying to drop 10 pounds in 8 weeks. Full stop.

Prep: I took the time to allow my body to feel safe and I earned the right to diet. I fully believe this was a big factor in allowing me to lose in a smaller calorie deficit, i.e. higher calories all around! It also allowed me to see weight loss almost immediately after taking a small cut in calories. Staying higher calories while cutting also makes for a better reverse diet once the cut is over.

Consistency: I was dialed in 80-90% of the time. I had a few long weekends where I felt I “messed up” but when you look back that matters very little! Be consistent overall and you will get there.

Accountability: I had a coach this whole time, I believe we need accountability not just to make the right food choices but to really follow through and do what is good for us. This does take time and patience, something we all lack in general. Having a coach keeps me accountable to the periodization and stops me from making stupid choices with my own diet just to get to a goal faster.

Sustainable results: I feel I have reached a leanness I can sustain. There is no point in getting “shredded” if you can’t stay there. Don’t put your body through unnecessary stress (unless you are competing in a show) to reach a level of lean that you cannot hold for the rest of the year! 

The diet phase ended Memorial Day weekend and I began my reverse diet which I will be covering in part 2 of periodization!