Throughout high school, I was constantly comparing myself to other females, striving to be thin. I was counting calories, eating probably 100g carbs, 100g protein, and 40g fat (yikes). Come senior year of high school, I opted out of playing Ice Hockey and Lacrosse, seeking a fitness outlet that I could continue throughout college, on my own time. I tried a CrossFit class and I was HOOKED.
Quickly sucking down the Kool-Aid, I converted to a Paleo diet after being told that sugar was the devil (it’s not). Although I was getting stronger (motor learning), I wasn’t seeing the body composition/performance changes I had hoped for. Reflecting back, my diet at that time was borderline Ketogenic, very high fat, super low carb.
After spectating my first CrossFit Regionals, witnessing women absolutely killing it, and seeing the sea of abs, quadriceps, I knew I wanted to pursue CrossFit more seriously. I began training at a competitive CrossFit gym and was introduced to MyFitnessPal and counting macros. I started tracking, eating about 220g carbs, 60g fat, and 135g protein. This lead to some great body composition changes. After some time, my training volume increased greatly, training 2-3 hours/day, 5x/week. Because I didn’t know any better, I kept the same macros, and for the next couple years when I started seeing the number on the scale go up, or my abs disappear, I would cut away a few more grams of each macronutrient. This quickly led to overtraining and under-eating. I thought the way I felt was normal..constantly beat up, always battling an acute injury.
After competing at the CrossFit Northeast Regionals in May 2017, I left VT and moved to Tennessee for an internship opportunity. Upon arrival, I continued doing CrossFit but not with the same excitement or passion I had before. Slowly, I began dabbling in some of the training methods that I was observing at my internship; plyometrics, sprinting drills, weightlifting derivatives. I asked one of the Weightlifting coaches to help me with my technique and next thing you know, I was signed up for my first Weightlifting meet. I weighed 64kg at the time I signed up, and my new coach told me I would compete as a 69kg lifter. I was shocked. It seemed obvious to me that I would cut 1kg and compete as a 63kg lifter. Nonetheless, I obliged. A few days after the meet, I decided to make the switch to Weightlifting and was told my best chances of competitive success would be as a 69kg lifter.
This meant I had serious weight to gain…commence the eating. I ate pretty much anything I wanted in an attempt to put on this weight…best described as “dirty bulking.” After a few months of this, I finally hit 70.5 kg. I felt shame for my physique, constantly looking at old pictures of myself wishing that body back. There was no doubt that I needed nutritional guidance but I was fearful I would be paying a ton of money for some random internet cheerleader to put me on starvation macros and sacrifice my weightlifting goals. After doing a TON of research; looking for the most knowledgeable and receptive nutrition coach I could find and not able to live in my shame any longer, I contacted Mike Molloy from M2 Performance Nutrition (Jan 2018).
I got back on the macro-tracking train, starting around 270g carbs, 140g protein, and 63g fat. Flash forward 8 months later: I was still working with Mike, eating 400g carbs, 155g protein, and 70g fat. Crushing carbs, staying accountable, feeling GREAT during training, and most importantly, abandoning the shame I had for my body. Working with Mike fostered incredible adherence, loyalty, and pride when it comes to my nutritional choices. I decided to stop working with a coach and began managing my own nutrition.
In the spring of 2019, I decided to compete as a 76kg lifter instead of cutting. Without a ton of agency in my training, I was told I needed to fill out the 76kg class entirely if I wanted to compete in it. For weeks, I binge-ate. Looking at my body in the mirror, I didn’t recognize myself, hiding under oversized clothes, massively sabotaging the healthy relationship with my body that I worked so hard to achieve.
Following a meet in May 2019, I was in the darkest place I had ever been. I chose to stop competing in weightlifting and prioritize my mental health. I wanted to coach, I wanted to ride my mountain bike, I wanted to say “yes” when friends invited me to go on hikes, I needed eating to stop feeling like a job. So I did just THAT. I lost 25lbs in 5 months, never tracking anything (besides a subjective feeling of joy and love for life).
I am a huge proponent of tracking macros as an effective means to achieving long term performance goals while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. With that said, 6 years later I no longer weigh/measure/track food . Through self-experimentation, I’ve learned a ton (how I respond to certain foods/macronutrients, how my body weight fluctuates, how my body responds to stress, etc.). Now, I continue to read and explore in an attempt to further deepen my understanding of factors that influence the ways we interact with food.
With Love & Strength,