First, let’s back track a couple months. Around 6:00pm on March 18, I was sitting on a chair, legs stretched out, head moving to the beat of a Whitney Houston song. In the zone, a tap on my shoulder came followed by the voice of my coach saying, “let’s go, you’re up next.”
This is when my vision went from an open wide lens to a narrow tunnel. The focus was real. Remaining in my happy place, I stood on that platform, under those bright lights and pushed with all the strength I had left to complete my final deadlift. At that point I knew I placed 3rd in the 63kg category at Canadian Nationals. I accomplished something I was fighting for, for 3 years straight.
The year 2019 couldn’t have gone any better. One thing that my coach and I share is the constant need to better oneself. As much as I achieved my goal and soaked in that moment for a minute or two, it didn’t take long before we looked at each other and said “okay, on to the next!” Luckily for me, my coach is more driven in that way of thinking than I am, which I didn’t think was possible and for that I am grateful.
While my competitive year of 2019 was going on, my coach was testing out the Ketogenic lifestyle on himself. He experienced firsthand the benefits in energy, the improved focus and the healthy weight loss/maintenance without compromising muscle mass. Then a light bulb went off – why not become stronger and feel better at a lighter weight, especially in a sport that is based on how much you lift in comparison to your body weight. From that point on, all it took was a little more research and he was sold!
For those who are unaware, the Ketogenic lifestyle or at least the way I was/am doing it, is very low carb which includes small amount of vegetables but no starch, moderate protein and high fat from healthy fat sources.
The body makes the transition from using glucose (sugar) to using the fat as the primary energy source. There are many neurological and physiological benefits, but I will let my co-worker Kayla tell you more about those through the Holistic with Kay blog posts. I will stick to my learnt experiences.
Where was I?… Oh yeah!
Off season was the best time to test out the Ketogenic lifestyle, therefore April 1st I embarked on the journey. The transition to the Keto way of eating was somewhat smooth as my eating habits were not far off and it was just a matter of becoming a little more regimented and consistent. If it wasn’t for the consistency and self discipline, I would have never seen the true benefits of this new lifestyle.
The first noticeable change that I experienced was the boost in energy. This was huge. There was no more afternoon desire to get a ‘pick me up’ coffee and the days that I didn’t get enough sleep, I wasn’t affected. It had become easier to focus throughout the day and especially when needed to dial in for a lift. I felt a sense mental clarity. I believe this can benefit anyone on a day to day basis. Am I right?
The second noticeable change was that my hunger shrunk drastically! This had a big impact since on training days I always felt like I had to eat in order to perform and that if I didn’t eat enough, my training would be harmed. Going Keto changed my perspective on this completely. Although I am a foodie, my daily schedule no longer revolved around it. I remain fuller for a lot longer, my cravings have gone away, I feel no need to snack in between meals, I finish every meal feeling fully satiated and experience no morning, afternoon or post meal bloating.
Do you ever go about your day and suddenly get so hungry because you forgot to eat that you can no longer function? Or does it ever happen to you that you finish your dinner and then an hour later, you head to the kitchen to grab that evening snack? Well none of these are an issue with the Ketogenic lifestyle.
The third noticeable change that I experienced was a decrease of inflammation within my body. I rarely get that post workout soreness and I recover like a champ even after the hardest lift days.
During my off season, the volume of my training gets intense as I partake in the CoreXcellence Athletic Development training program, which you will hear more about what that entails in Part 2 of this blog. Even with the increased training volume, I’ve felt no aches or pains and overall movements were more fluid. Muscularly, I was developing just as efficiently but due to the lack of inflammation, it was much more visually apparent. At this point I couldn’t be happier, as muscle was developing, I didn’t feel swollen and my strength gains were coming along!
It was three months in, that I came close to calling it quits…
It was a slow progression to experiencing any additional benefits to this lifestyle change other than the increase in energy and the drop-in hunger. My body weight began and remained around the 142lbs mark for 3 months time. Regardless how much nutritional restrictions I gave myself or the amount of volume I trained; my body wanted to hold onto the weight. At the same time, during training I was experiencing a lot of nausea.
Tip: Elemental Labs was key for this! You’ll hear more about this in my quick product review post coming soon.
When training started to be affected, and I was struggling with the fact that my hard workout was not benefiting me the way I thought it would, that is when I wanted to throw in the towel. In my mind, there is no lifestyle change worth harming my performance/strength.
As much as I wanted to – I did not quit. I held on and kept telling myself to keep at it. This is where my willpower was challenged, and the fine tuning had to begin! I played with portion sizes, the variation of foods, my water consumption, my quality of sleep… the whole nine yards. I’ve learnt that no two people are alike and no two people go down the same path achieving the same outcome, so I had to find what worked for me and my body. I learnt that when one area of progress is stagnant or not progressing as planned, perhaps you need to look into the other un-addressed health factors. Yes, food is a big part of it, but it is not the only contributing factor!
Any lifestyle habit change will only bare fruit once you fully commit to all its parts but most importantly when you have the consistency and self-discipline to stay the course.
So as previously mentioned, I started in April and it is only at the end of July was when my body finally adapted and the changes started shinning through; had I not ‘held on,’ I would have never seen the changes I now see today.
In Part 2: The Athletic Development Experience, you will read about how my 5-foot 3-inch self lost 12lbs and the triggers that took my performance to the next level. Stronger than ever at a lighter weight!