Coach Caleb’s Corner
A Proven Approach to Dropping about 10 Pounds in a Month
Kati and I seem to have a habit of seeking out “first times” for… fill in the blank. I don’t think we enjoy doing this, necessarily, but we do recognize the powerful impact it has on propelling us forward. That’s not to say that we experiment with all sorts of ideas all willy nilly. Just the opposite, in fact. We keep our range of experimentation about an inch wide and a mile deep. Not unlike our training. Getting deep into one thing can be so much more satisfying than skimming the surface of many pursuits, and a wise man (Pavel Tsatsouline) once told me, “if you shoot at too many targets all at once, you’re not likely to hit any of them.”
On this occasion, instead of going deep into a training topic, I set out to hit a new nutrition target. A new “first” experience is a great teacher; it pushes one’s boundaries in different directions. So… the most recent “first” has been attempting to cut enough weight to compete in a new weight class at an upcoming powerlifting meet. The dissenter in my head spoke up immediately. Could this be achieved with only about a month to do it? Would I starve? Can you stay strong while cutting weight? It was time to shut him up and find out.
I have never tried to lift competitively at this new target weight before, and have never attempted to lose this much bodyweight prior to a meet. I knew there were lots of methods for cutting weight, some more rapid and scary than others, but I had never tried any of them. As such, at a bodyweight of about 155-160lbs, I decided it was time to test a theory and registered for an upcoming meet to compete in the 145lbs weight class. My theory was that I could lose the 10+lbs without taking any drastic measures, either nutritionally or in terms of training. I had resolved to stick to a training schedule that simply included two days of strength training and two days of easy-going, anti-glycolytic conditioning. What? No sauna suits, long runs and high intensity intervals, laxatives or liquid diets? That’s right. And now, a couple days from competition, having landed comfortably at the target weight, I can say with confidence that the tactics employed work just fine.
Normally in my Coach’s Corner I love to talk about training. Probably because I just love to train. Lifting barbells, swinging kettlebells, boxing, bodyweight exercise.. I get excited about pretty much all of it. I didn’t used to be as enthusiastic about nutrition, however. It just didn’t seem as cool a topic to dive into as designing powerlifting cycles or testing endurance protocols. That was until I realized just how much you can change about your physique by adhering to a few simple principles when it comes to stuffing your cake hole!
Much like the StrongFirst and Jeet Kune Do principles that guide our training and martial arts styles, Precision Nutrition’s principles provide us with a corresponding approach to nutrition that goes far beyond a set of tips and tricks, or a short term diet solution to lose weight. In short, I was able to easily cut over 10lbs (about 7%) of my bodyweight and a couple of percentages of body fat in 38 days. Yes, the Thanksgiving holiday occurred in there and now the holiday season is in full swing, so if weight loss is possible at this time, it can likely be done at any time. Wasn’t it hard? Not really. Did I have to be disciplined? Yes, of course. What do you mean “disciplined” then? Well, I turned to Kati for her proven nutritional guidance and my coach made sure we were strict about the following:
Adherence to the 10% Rule
This means that you only “splurge” 10% of the time. The trick with this rule is that 10% is definitely enough, but keep in mind that it really isn’t that many splurges. At three meals and two snacks a day for the week, you’re at just under four treats for the week. People often fall into the trap of being good all week long and then going a bit crazy on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and thinking they’re still adhering to the 10% rule. “But I’m so good most of the time!” I enjoy a festive weekend myself, but when you’re cutting weight it has to be carefully planned. For example, I like a margarita on a Sunday. That usually goes with some chips and salsa. One of the reasons I like this particular margarita is that it is big and strong (just like a powerlifter!). It’s fair to say it counts as two splurges, given it’s magnitude. Chips and salsa are another. If I get some huevos rancheros the way I like it with some fried potatoes or rice and beans, then there’s my fourth splurge for the week, especially on a day when I’m not training. With this in mind, I can’t expect to also go out for Friday and Saturday night drinks, have a chocolaty dessert somewhere in there and still somehow expect to hit my weight loss goal. The truth might sound a bit harsh, I know, but as I type this at my target weight I know that the satisfaction of achieving the result you want far exceeds the pleasure of any of those extra splurges!
2. Focusing on protein and veggies at every meal
I mean really focus. Some protein, and a tiny portion of vegetables stuck between two slabs of refined carbohydrates (bread) or sitting on top of a pile of refined carbohydrates (pasta) is still mostly refined carbs, not mostly protein and vegetables! Sandwiches and pastas are convenient, but when prepared in the usual manner, they’re not great nutrition. Getting most of your nutrition from the foods that actually provide healthy fuel for your many amazing systems, and speed recovery from hard training would seem like an obvious choice but it’s surprisingly easy to miss out on. By seeking out meals and snacks that pack the protein and veggie one-two punch, you can set yourself up for success and not feel starved. This takes planning and practice. Getting good in the kitchen with a few trustworthy go-to meals is a huge help. Scanning the menu at your favorite restaurant for items like “Power Salad” or enjoying your favorite Teppanyaki but skipping the rice will help you when you step out to eat too.
3. See above
Seriously those first two principles are most of it. As Dan John likes to say, “Eat like an adult.” There are many other nutritional strategies that help with healthy weight loss, of course, but I’d recommend starting with these big ones and progressing from there. Kati’s amazing nutritional coaching that follows the Precision Nutrition methodology has a proven success rate, and anyone who wants to know more should definitely join us for our Drop Two Sizes Challenge kickoff next month. This stuff works. Period.
With all this said, I know that some of you out there think that I must be concealing some secret HIIT protocols or insane metabolic burn training used to achieve this goal. I have not. Being strict on my nutrition was all I needed to do. You simply can’t out-train a poor nutritional regimen. No matter how often I explain this, some people just don’t believe me. Honestly, I’ve been doing bench presses, back squats, deadlifts, and less than 200 kettlebell swings and pushups each week. That’s it! Now I’m excited and ready to compete at this new weight class. I’m also excited to celebrate all the white lights with a splurge when we’re done! Happy Holidays everyone!
Cheers – Caleb