- Easy on food prep - For someone who was used to 5-6 small meals per day with all that prep and tupperware, this was sooooo much easier to handle mentally. I really prefer thinking less about food and who doesn't like freeing up valuable time? I sure do!
- Easier to go fasted than I thought - The 16/8 method really worked for me. In the past going without food for 3 hours was torture, but for some reason it wasn't an issue for me with IF. Not sure why. The only thing I noticed was on low-carb and calorie days towards the end, I definitely felt hungrier by my first meal. Perhaps because I was a fat burning machine at that point.
- Zero deprivation - Preparing for figure competitions in the past meant saying goodbye to chocolate, wine, food groups like complex carbohydrates, bingeing after a contest, and psychological warfare. Most diets in general follow this "cut out entire food groups" method and when you finally complete the diet or if you fall off the band-wagon the pendulum ends up swinging big time in the other direction. With IF I got to eat whatever the heck I wanted, with some stipulations of course. I consumed clean, whole foods for 95% of meals, which is the way I like to eat anyways, but days that I had intense leg workouts, which was 2x/week, were days that I splurged and had anything my heart desired. From chocolate, to chips, to cheeseburgers, to ice cream, I ate it and enjoyed it, no guilt necessary. Psychological and physiological needs met, and no bingeing required. More importantly, I felt like my relationship with food improved dramatically. I looked at food as nourishment AND as something to derive pleasure from. I savoured every bite, and took pleasure in sharing meals with loved ones and friends.
- No calorie counting, no food weighing, no macro measuring - Enough said!
- I was able to get leaner and stronger - I guess that's why they call it Lean Gains :)
- I stayed healthy - My digestion, elimination, sleep, energy, resting heart rate, mental focus, mood, and overall well-being all remained great in my subjective opinion. This experiment would have been even better if I had access to doing blood work before and after, but hey, subjective markers count.
As for my fitness goals, I have made slow and steady improvements to each lift although I am not quite there yet. I made pretty quick progress on the squat and dead lift in the beginning but then definitely hit a plateau as my core, the weakest link, kept me from being able to lift with good form at higher weights. So being flexible I had to try some different approaches, add exercises to help work on my weak areas, and not try for a PR every week. It was frustrating at times because the numbers sometimes didn't make sense: why was I able to dead lift 95% of my 1RM for 3 reps but then not able to lift my 1 RM at all? I think it's partly mental (I'm scared of injuring myself) and partly pre-exhausting myself with too many reps before-hand. But this is what I also think is the fun part - trying different training methods and continuing to chase the goal. And on the last-chance workout before the results, I finally pushed past that dead lift plateau and hit a new PR of 95kg! YES! Here are the results:
- Front Squat - 3 RM @ 60kg --> 2 RM @ 70kg
- Back Squat - 2 RM @ 70kg --> 1 RM @ 80kg
- Dead lift - 1 RM @ 82.5kg --> 1 RM @ 95kg
- Chin-ups - 2 reps --> 7 reps (well 6 and 3/4 precisely!)
Overall I am pleased with my progress thus far in both categories of goals. And even though I set out to do IF for 12 weeks, it is a way of eating that really works for me, so I am going to continue it as long as I enjoy it and see results. I want to hear from YOU - what are you striving for this summer? Are you running into plateaus? If so what kinds of things are you doing to break through them? Let me know in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you!!
And as promised, here are my before and after body composition measurements and photos:
Body Fat (BIE)
Fat Free Mass
R arm @ 7"
L arm @ 7"
Waist - narrowest
Waist - umbilical
Hipe - widest
R thigh @ 9"
L thigh @ 9"
R calf - widest
L calf - widest
150.4lb / 68.4kg
142.6lb / 64.8kg
I lost a total of 7.8lb / 3.5kg
My body fat decreased by 2.1%
I lost a total of 9.25 inches
I gained 2.2lb / 1 kg of lean muscle mass