How many diets have you tried? Why is nutrition so confusing? Low carb vs High Carb. Low Fat vs High Fat. Carnivore vs Vegan? Pop-tarts vs Kale. Calories in. Calories Out. We all are at an information overload when it comes to diet and nutrition. So TRUE, right? Well I am here to say, that I have tried it all over the last 6 or 7 years. (Paleo, Keto, Carb cycling, poverty fat intake) Maybe you can relate on some level?
There came a time when I felt stuck. Have you been there? Are you there now?
Paleo was great because it prompted me to cook, eat more veggies, and learn about high quality foods vs processed garbage. After a few years eating Paleo, (trying the Whole30 1x) I was not seeing any results with my body or my performance/energy. So naturally, I tried Keto next. Keto and bulletproof coffee became super popular in the CrossFit world at this time. So I would drink the BP coffee in the AM and eat only 2 other meals the rest of the day… the coffee kept me full for 4-6 hours. I lost some weight… maybe 10# After about 6 -8 weeks I noticed my performance in the gym was terrible. I lost motivation. I had no second gear in my workouts. I was eating no carbohydrates, less than 40 grams. Then, I quit because I realized it didn’t work with CrossFit. Nevertheless, I discovered how important carbohydrates are for high intensity workouts like CrossFit. So the next bout was with carb cycling. I would eat most of my carbs around my workout. I quickly noticed an improvement in my performance. I felt strong and could feel a huge increase in energy. After a few months I was hitting PRs but I noticed that the weight I lost from Keto (it wasn’t keto- it was fewer calories from only eating 2 meals a day…. A caloric deficit) I gained back plus a lot of water retention. At this point I was not counting or tracking my food. I ate based off what I felt like and although my performance increased my body was not looking the way I wanted it to. So slowly I transitioned back to a modified Paleo diet that included carbs, but just not as much. I continued to eat that way for about 2 more years.
Roughly about 5-6 months after opening SOPO I FINALLY had time to train again. I began working out consistently and the stubborn fat was not going away. I still wondered what I was doing wrong. So….
I hired a cool athlete on Instagram to do my nutrition. I was excited to try something that I had never before… track my food. Finally, I was going to get coached- or so I thought. After just an email of interest and some information about her I was immediately put on a low fat/high carb diet on training days and a low carb diet on rest days. I got emails about adding pop-tarts to my diet as well as oreos topped over ice cream. This seemed great! I lost about 15# in the matter of a few months and was really excited about the way I looked. I realized that the years prior I was eating very little protein like 70g or less and over 100g in fat. (No wonder why I was never really lean!) How I ate, what I ate, was not important for this coach. I felt like it was easy. I became real comfortable eating 50g of Fat or less. (as you probably guessed... I assumed eating a lot of fat would make me gain weight again). After three months with this coach I felt like I could do it without her… I mean I could these deficit numbers forever, right? So I bought an e-book and started reading more and discovering why the flexible diet worked in the first place.
Fast forward almost 2 YEARS and I was still eating less than 60g of fat. (2017) I started a new training cycle that pushed me physically more than I ever had been pushed. I was working out pretty much 6-7 days a week. My rest days still consisted of a light workout. I begin to eat more carbs but still was afraid to increase my fat grams. I knew this wasn’t ideal because I would never tell someone else to do that. But my inner vanity didn’t want to get puffy. I was afraid of gaining weight!
…….I bet you can relate now.
Toward the end of 2017 my overall stress increased. That winter until about May of 2018 I didn’t really have a period at all. I was concerned and I remember asking my doctor whether or not I should be concerned and she said “it was normal because of how active I was and to not be concerned.” At first, I was comforted. Then… after it continued I started to get worried. I started doing research more about it. I knew I needed to learn more about nutrition.
Still no period. Still stressed. I continued training hard until about August of 2018. My training (for no reason, so I thought) hit rock bottom. I remember knowing that it was my last lift of the day. At around 70% of my max, my body would literally stop working. I couldn’t do any more. My intensity was nowhere to be found as well as my motivation. I had a nagging shoulder twinge that hurt when I would kip on the bar. I was a big ball of stress and hot mess. Later on I figured out, I was knee deep in hpa-axis dysfunction commonly known as adrenal fatigue. Too much cortisol from too much stress… too much stress can also take away your period.
It all hit me at once and left me in a big state of frustration. Late August after reading a few books and listening to podcast I decided to cold turkey and I stopped taking the birth control that I had been taking for 12 years. (12 years!!!!!) I thought I am almost 33 (at the time) and if I ever get the chance to have children I won’t be able to with a missing period. I had no idea what I was getting into when I stopped. I just knew I felt terrible and not having my period wasn’t healthy. I took my health in my own control and I had to advocate for myself.
[If you don’t know there is a real thing called “post birth control syndrome”. Basically on the pill our hormones are suppressed, in my case for 12 years…. My body adapted to having my hormones on mute. Once I stopped taking BC I experienced “metabolic mayhem”.... And I am still going through it today. ]
I had to learn more.. I wanted to learn what my body was going through so I could eventually help others. In October of 2018, I went to NCI- Nutrition certification and really started my journey of trying to heal myself. I was gaining knowledge that I wish I had known earlier. Nevertheless, I was really thankful for everything that was coming to me at this time.
When I got home from the certification I quickly started a reverse diet on myself. (Reverse diet is slowly increasing my intake in efforts for reaching maintenance calories) My maintenance calories are 160g of protein/80g of fat/225g of carbs. That’s around 2300 calories. I had been eating around 2000-2100 calories for so long… and nothing more than 60g of fat. Along with eating at maintenance I started eating gluten free all the time and about 4 months ago I started eating dairy free. I learned a lot by reading (Period Repair Manual and Beyond the Pill).
This journey has been hard emotionally because I don’t love how my body looks. It is taking a VERY long time (10+months) for my body to turn back on the hormones that were suppressed for so long. I have gained 10# and I have had water retention like crazy. I am holding on to weight and fat because my body is in repair. I am forced to stay patient and put in the work to heal.
Last March, I was becoming overwhelmed and tired of spending so much time trying to fix myself...after all it has been 10 months since I stopped taking hormonal BC and I still weigh the 10# (it hasn’t moved at all in months). So I decided again to hire a new coach. Someone I trust from my own certification group, NCI and In3 Nutrition coaching.
The coaching was great as I was told I was supplementing correctly, eating correctly, and doing ALL the things right. But what she told me was simple, that things were not going to change unless my stress was lower and I was sleeping like a rock each night. I added some things to my routine that she taught me and I was beginning to feel that was my missing piece. Slowly my body is healing. Eventually my period came back, my acne subsided, and my body is finally not feeling puffy and inflamed constantly. Praise.
I am still eating at maintenance calories (so I don’t expect to lose weight) and the reality is that my body will not lose weight right now. .
I have been in a stressful condition for a long time. My hormones have been non-existent. My period non-existent. My body has been running from a big brown bear for years. What I know now is that I have to slow down, spend more time in nature, drink my freakin water, delegate to others more often, not do a zillion workouts each week, prioritize sleep every night… this is all remedy for killing the bear.
So this has been my story. The awesome and exciting part is God is still writing it. I’ve learned so much in the past few years about myself, my identity, my short-comings, and my character. I know that to be a good coach on any level you have to empathize with your clients, you have to be vulnerable, you have to lead by failing and getting back up stronger. The setbacks are never what the story is about, instead, the story is about the growth you experienced along the way. I hope that the growth that I’ll experience ahead will help as many people as it possibly can.
What I’m doing currently to kill the bear:
Tracking my intake
Not eating gluten or dairy (inflammatory foods)
Eating veggies at every meal, so getting 30+ grams of fiber
Supplementing with digestive enzymes, soil-based probiotic, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin B6, fish oil and vitamin d, my Juice Plus, and my grass fed beef liver to help with detoxification.
Seed cycling- (pumpkin and flax seeds during the follicular phase and sesame and sunflower during luteal phase).
Eating organic meat and veggies and as often as I can
Sleeping 7+hours, using the “headspace” app
Changed my training so that I am not maxing out every day… just doing a lot of weight training with 1-2 days of light conditioning
Spending more time outside. Biking. Hiking. Walking. Paddle boarding. Swimming. Time with my boy Coach.
Being patient (hardest on this list by far)