Anyone who knows me – whether it be in real life or via social media – knows about my Crossfit journey. Today, in fact, is actually my five year anniversary of beginning Crossfit (which is humbling, since I still can’t do double unders). Given that, I thought it would be an appropriate time to update you on how things are going, what I’ve changed, and why.
BUT, before I do that, I want to give a disclaimer: even though this post is about my struggles with weight loss, I want to be clear that the standard for beauty for all of us shouldn’t be focused on a number on the scale. That may seem hypocritical, but hear me out – what it ultimately comes down to is whether or not YOU are happy with and comfortable in your skin, and not what everyone else thinks. And, ultimately, I think it needs to be said that our primary concerns in life should be with being kind, empathetic and loving human beings and people of character, and not people who are obsessed with how we look. As a woman, however, it’s a hard balance because I know almost all of us have the desire to want to feel confident, and that usually translates into feeling like we look our best. Strive to be healthy first and love the body you have now. And I know – I’m preaching to myself as much as I’m preaching to everyone else, here.
Moving right along.
I have to start by saying that I’ve never seen a dramatic change in my body like I did when I first started Crossfit and was doing strict Paleo (and it’s likely I won’t ever again). I went from 200+lbs (I think around 215ish) at 3 months postpartum to a gangly 140 in less than a year, which is – you read that right – 75lbs. I think that was primarily due to the fact that before I started, I was eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), which basically consists of grains, grains, and more grains (i.e., SUGAR 24/7) to mostly lean protein, healthy fats, and veggies, and I was in the gym 4-5 days a week on average (vs. never being active at all).
Here’s my before and after (L was my first day of CF, R was exactly 1 year in):
Whew….that first picture is a hard one to look at. It doesn’t even look like me….it’s like a different person.
Anyway, I did that for about two or three years, and then I got lax on my diet and grains and sugar started to gradually creep their way in. And then I got pregnant with Caedmon, and, well – I’m never going to be one of those “I only gained 20lb total!” pregnant people. It doesn’t really matter what I eat or do, my body just sort of takes over and is like, “We’re giving this baby plenty of cushion and warmth and comfort, scale be damned,” and I’m pretty much just along for the ride. So, that said, although I still did Crossfit 3-5 days a week the entire 10 months I was pregnant with him and maintained a gluten free/whole foods diet, I still gained in the ballpark of 50lbs. I was right at 155ish when I got pregnant with him, which put me back at around the ~200-205lb mark when he was born.
Here’s me at the end of my pregnancy (I think it was about three weeks before he was born/38 weeks) and then about two months after (~190-195lb):
I assumed that, once I got back in the gym and in my routine, the weight would melt off like it did before. So I got a nice little shock when, about 6 months later, I had to go to the doctor and weighed in at a startling 190lbs. Yikes. Needless to say, I knew then that things weren’t going to be so easy this time around.
Since then, I’ve pulled all the stops trying to get back to what I feel is a healthy weight. I am a little over 5’4” – probably like 5’4” 1/2 – and after a lot of experience with weight fluctuation, I function and feel best at around the 150lb mark. (That’s still a little high according to the BMI chart, which is why you should ignore it, especially if you’re an athlete.) For frame of reference, here is me at 155 compared to my before/after photos:
(Above: 215lbs, 140lbs, 150lbs)
(155lbs, just before I got pregnant w/Caedmon. Also….weeey hey hey, it’s Brittany with the blue hair! Kinda makes me wanna do it again.)
I have a lot of really great resources at my disposal – one of which is my gym coach and owner, Tyler Minton, who is a professional nutritionist that works with pro MMA/UFC fighters. With his help, I have managed since January to drop down to the 170lb mark. And then, BAM – stalled out again. Nothing I have tried the last several months has helped shed any more, and I’ve tried everything I could think of:; being in the gym more days per week, eating MORE, eating LESS, working out twice a day…..nada.
I still don’t know why exactly it’s been so hard for me to lose; it’s been confusing and frustrating because it used to be the case that even working out a little would have the weight coming off with no problem – my body is scary responsive to activity (or a lack of activity). So, if I was in the gym, I would be dropping and slimming down, and if I wasn’t, I’d be packing on the weight – even after just one or two workouts. Maybe it’s the fact that last year I turned 30, and my body is just simply getting older and my hormones are changing and all that jazz. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve not been able to be in the gym 4+ days a week consistently (because….kids). Maybe it’s that I’m a mesomorph, and my body has acclimated to Crossfit and needs a change. Maybe I need to be much stricter on my diet. Maybe – and this is the most likely scenario – it’s a combination of all of these things together.
Which brought me to Keto.
If you don’t know what Keto is or does, basically it teaches your body to rely on healthy fats for fuel instead of carbs. When you eat carbs, your body becomes reliant on those for fuel, and it makes your blood sugar do crazy things (which can cause you to gain weight, and, eventually, develop type 2 diabetes). With Keto, by limiting carbs, you are forcing your body to produce ketones, which is basically what happens when your liver breaks down fats and use them for fuel instead of carbs. (Now, listen – I am a laywoman here, and not a nutritionist, so this is just my understanding of Keto. I’m certainly no authority. If you want that, do your own research.) It’s become pretty popular in recent years due to the positive results that people with various health issues have seen when implementing it; and, of course, it helps you lose weight, which has also contributed to the popularity.
I’d read a lot about it, and always sort of dismissed it, mainly because I thought – feeling a little superior, if I’m honest – that I didn’t need it, because my body has always been so responsive to activity. I just figured I wouldn’t need to be that “extreme”. Also, reading about macros and all that kinda overwhelmed and confused me, so I just stayed away because I had never had any of it explained to me clearly.
Then, a few weeks ago, one of my best friends, Kayla, surprised me by informing me that she had started Keto. At that point, I was like, “Well, I may as well do it when I have someone to help encourage me and keep me accountable…” So I got online and started researching where/how to start. I found the Ketogains group on Facebook, which has a nice step-by-step outline for how to get stared. Then, I just…started.
And honestly? I thought it would be a lot harder than it actually is. I expected to feel hungry all the time, and I NEVER – seriously, never – feel hungry. I feel like I have to make myself eat.
The day I started Keto, which was Monday, August 28, I weighed 175. This morning – exactly two weeks in – I weighed 160.
So…..”How do you do it, and what do you actually DO?”
If you want to try Keto out, that’s great, but I have a couple of recommendations first.
The first and most important thing is, you should reduce your carbohydrate intake sloooowly, to prevent shock to your body. I think most of you would be shocked/horrified to know how many carbs you consume on a daily basis. (And, again – carbs are largely sugar, and they riddle your body with inflammation, which causes chronic illness – this isn’t opinion, it’s well documented by lots of medical research. Google it.) Maybe start with cutting out carbs 1 meal a day for one week, then 2 meals a day the next, etc. There’s a thing called the “Keto flu,” and that’s basically just when you start Keto cold turkey and then your body goes into freak out mode and starts to basically detox and you just feel like crap for a week or so. The less dependent your body is on carbs for fuel, the less likely you are to experience this. Case in point? I haven’t had any Keto flu issues, and I think that’s because I was already eating gluten free, whole/unprocessed carbs and they were still pretty low in quantity before I started. Trust me on this one – if you eat the SAD (standard American diet), you don’t wanna jump in the deep end with this.
The next thing is, make sure you have some clearly defined goals before you start. Why do you want to do Keto? What is the specific goal weight or body fat percentage that you have in mind, and why? Is it healthy for your height and body composition? These are all really important questions to ask.
Last, it’s probably a good idea to run this by your doctor(s) before you start – I’m not a medical professional, and I don’t know what may or may not be going on with your body that would be affected by this sort of drastic dietary change. Oh – and DEFINITELY do NOT do this diet without clearing it with your Dr. if you’re a diabetic. That’s a BIG one.
Assuming you’ve checked all those boxes, here’s what I did to get started:
1) I took this quiz to determine what my macros needed to be. Basically, if you don’t know what Macros are/what that means, it’s short for Macronutrients – aka, the basic groups of nutrients we need as humans to function: protein, fats, and carbs. The quiz will help you determine how many of each one you need to eat per day in order to meet your specific goals, whether that’s weight loss, muscle gain, or maintenance. (Hence, why I said you’ve gotta have specific goals in mind before you start.) So, once I entered my info, the macro results I got were 117 grams of protein, 111 grams of fat, and 20g of carbs per day, and 1551 total calories.
2) I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app on my iPhone. This is basically like a food dictionary – I enter in my Macro goals, and then search for what I am eating (or what I am thinking about eating) to see the macro count for each thing, and the app keeps a running tally so I know exactly how many of each one I have eaten so far that day and how much of each one I have left to eat. You can use the app to search for ANYTHING – it has literally just about every food you can think of, including restaurants, so you can really get super accurate calculations.
So, for example, if I eat 4 pieces of bacon for breakfast (because mmmmm…bacon), I go on there and enter that I had 2 servings of bacon (a single serving is 2 pieces), and it tells me that one serving has 5g of fat and 4g of protein, so with 2 servings I would’ve used 10g fat total and 8g protein total for the day. That translates into:
Fat: 111g-10g = 101g remaining for the day; Protein: 117g – 8g = 109g remaining for the day.
Now – for the math-averse, don’t sweat it, because you don’t actually have to do this math yourself (hallelujah!). The app keeps track of it, so really all you need to do is pay attention to the number it’s telling you that you have left for the day. Pretty easy, right? I don’t even really pay attention to the calorie count, either – just macros, and it’s been super simple. If I hit (aka, stay at or just under my macros for the day), it’s usually pretty hard to go over on calories anyway.
Here’s a screenshot of what this morning looked like after breakfast:
Oh! Also, if you do end up trying it out, you need to know that you’ll need to take some supplements – namely, Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium. When you’re in ketosis your body will dumb these via urine, and they’re pretty essential, so you’ll need make sure you’re getting enough. You can google the recommended daily requirements for each one, and you can get an over-the-counter supplement at pretty much any pharmacy. I personally take this powdered Magnesium in hot tea every night before bed, and then I get enough Potassium from my daily multivitamin, although depending on how I feel I may start adding more eventually.
And, ladies and gents, that’s pretty much all there is to it. I’ve been shocked at how much easier it’s been than I anticipated. And the big thing is, I don’t feel tired or under fueled – which, when you’re in the gym a lot, is crucial. I feel mentally better/clearer than I have in a long time. I’m sleeping better. I am honestly in disbelief of how much progress and improvement I’ve seen and felt even in two weeks!
Once I hit the goal I have set (~150-155 and/or ~20% body fat), I’ll recalculate my macros according to maintaining those numbers instead of weight loss.
In the meantime, make sure you follow me on social media so you can get regular updates and before/after pictures of my progress, and hit me up if you have any questions. 😉