With a photoshoot looming in March I had decided to do a short mini-cut to prepare for it. But I made the decision to call it quits. This was a difficult decision for me to make. On one hand I wanted to be leaner but on the other hand I needed to take my own advice.
I asked myself, what would I tell one of my clients… I knew I wasn’t listening to my own advice.
Why Did I Stop My Diet?
The reason I stopped my diet can be summarized in one single word. Biofeedback.
It took me a couple of weeks to finally come to the decision to increase my calories and stop intentionally dieting. Coaches do not always make the best clients. This is usually driven by an “I know better” mentality, or an “I’m different” mentality. But the reality is that we are no different than the clients we work with.
I go through the same struggles that you go through. Some may think it is easier but it’s simply a factor of years of practice and creating habits and behaviours. Rest assured that when I diet I still get tired, I still have cravings, I have my ups and downs, and I often over-analyze things.
When you’re both client and coach it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees. It really does help to have someone that can provide unbiased feedback on things.
So, I did a little mini cut for a photoshoot we have going on next weekend. . The left was yesterday morning. The right was at the start. . Want to know what? Yesterday I decided to call off my diet. I am going to write a lengthy article on WHY next week. Please DM me to know why! . During this cut, I followed a flexible approach. I ate many meals out at restaurants, more than one per week. I ate cereal pretty much every day, you can ask my team! I ate some amazing homeade Ukrainian bread over the last couple of weeks. I also did zero cardio. . Dieting shouldn't be this black or white or all or nothing thing. . I love showing people how to do this stuff to fit their life and still reach their goals. . Interested in coaching? Send me a DM or link in Bio. . . #diet #flexibledieting #iifym #macros #weightloss #minicut #bodybuilding #ripped #shredded #lifestyle #beforeafter #dietplan #abs #core #cardio #coaching #strong #gymlife #entreprenuer
Why Was This Diet Different?
I’ve dieted many times before. I started bodybuilding in 2010. I have competed in a total of 4 bodybuilding competitions with one first place finish and I have competed in a total of 2 powerlifting competitions. Outside of these competitions I have also done various mini-cuts.
Stress Impacts Your Diet
This short diet was performed in a different phase of my life compared to my past diets.
During all of my bodybuilding contest preps I was self-employed and working from home. Being a business owner there was still stress but I was working from home. I could take breaks when I needed. I could nap if I needed. I was able to eat when ever I wanted or needed to.
Fast forward. My life is in a completely different place. Alongside Laura, we are managing a private personal training facility with a team of 8 (ourselves, 3 full-time personal trainers, and 3 personal training interns).
When I worked from home my daily schedule was very regimented. My days were more standardized 8ish hour work days. Now, my days start around 4:30AM and run till 7-9PM.
We often forget that all stress coming in has the same compounding effects on the body.
Training is a stress on our body.
Dieting is a stress on our body.
Work, life, everything else, is also a stress on our body.
Training and dieting were no different this time around but the stress of everything else was far higher.
Activity Levels Affect Your Diet
This may seem somewhat obvious but let me explain…
The more active you are on a day to day basis the more calories your body expends. This means that your maintenance level of calories is higher. In turn this means you can lose weight while consuming more food. It is very logical.
However, when you become more sedentary your body does not expend as many calories throughout the day. Which means that you do not need as many calories. Therefore when you diet you will be eating even less.
When I began my mini-cut I noticed that I was not actually losing any weight. I thought I might be retaining some water from high stress levels. This didn’t seem to be the case. After a few weeks I had to take a hard look at things and realized that I didn’t need as many calories as I once did.
This was something I had a hard time accepting.
When I first started training I would be on my feet for at least 8-10 hours per day loading and unloading plates during client sessions. But as L2 Fitness has grown my role has shifted. I spend far more of my time managing and running the business, working with nutrition clients, and less time on the floor. This shift has affected my daily caloric needs. This was a hard pill to swallow because I used to be able to eat a lot more food than I can now. I’m not as active anymore.
After I came to this somewhat sad realization I made some adjustments and finally got things moving in the right direction.
But! This meant I had to get my calories lower than I had thought I would need to. This meant less food, less options, more hunger, etc.
I have this conversation with people quite often. Most of us don’t need an abundance of calories. If you are working an office job and exercise 2-3 times per week you do not require a lot of calories. Compound that if you’re a smaller individual. There is nothing wrong with this but it means you have to be more diligent with what you eat.
In other terms this means your margin for error when dieting is higher.
Take a 200 lb muscular male who trains 5x per week and is on his feet for 10 hours per day laboring. He may be able to eat upwards of 3400-3600 calories or more per day.
Compare this to a 200 lb (average build) male who trains 2x per week and sits at a desk all day, drives home and watches Netflix. He might only need 2400 calories per day to maintain his weight.
On the surface the two people might not seem different but when it comes to the volume of what they can consume in a day the difference is quite large. When you have the ability to eat 1200 more calories per day your flexibility increases giving you more wiggle room.
What Did I Do For My Diet
I followed a flexible dieting approach for my diet. I did not shy away from things like homemade Ukrainian bread, meals out with my family, or my weekly date night. However, they were all accounted for. I ate quite a few meals out, if you follow me on social media you will see that Vietnamese is one of my go-tos. For good reason, I can customize it exactly to my liking and needs for that meal!
Chicken Rice Plate at a Vietnamese restaurant. . This is my go-to meal out, Why? . I can identify my protein. I can identify my carb. I get veggies, kind of. . I usually don't add the fish sauce. . But… . I can fit this into what ever my preference are. . Options . Order half rice, double veg. . Double meat if I need more protein. . I can see each ingredient so I can portion out the amount of rice I'm going to eat and take the test home based on hand portion sizes. . Order shrimp if I wanna keep fats low. . The reason this is my go-to is because it is SO versatile and still allows me to eat out and have it be tasty. . Don't let you plan handcuff you. . . #vietnamesefood #food #chicken #rice #springroll #healthyeating #calories #macros #portions #weightlosshacks #weightlosstips #edmonton #yegfitness #l2fitnessyeg #iifym #macrocoach
I am an advocate of practicing what I preach when it comes to my profession. I adhere to the same principles and philosophies that I employ through my coaching [link]. It is so important to build the strategies required to handle all situations so once the diet is done we don’t simply revert back to poor habits.
What Were My Key Markers That Made Me Stop
As I mentioned previously biofeedback was the primary reason I stopped my diet. These are some of the key things we look at with all of our coaching clients as well:
- Energy levels
- Sleep quality
- Food focus
My biofeedback was out of whack. My energy levels were steadily decreasing. I was feeling quite lethargic. This compounded and was affecting my mood. My sleep quality was being affected. My focus on food and cravings were starting to rise.
When I decided to stop dieting it took an honest evaluation of things. I had to try and separate myself from the situation and view it from an unbiased lens. The athlete in me wants to just go-go-go, no different than everyone I work with! But the bigger picture is far more important. I did not like the way I was feeling and it was not worth it to push any harder.
Where Will I Go From Here?
Calories are increased. The plan is to find my maintenance calories. Then put myself into a small surplus and focus on my biofeedback markers improving.
There is more to this journey than just weight loss. Never neglect how you feel.