I’ve always had this secret desire to obtain bikini competitor leanness. I am not talking about the Hawaiian tropic bikini contests. That is a completely different story. This is a division in the world of bodybuilding. These competitors are not as lean as true ‘bodybuilders’. The bikini division demands a good 12-15% body fat unlike bodybuilders who demand single digit body fat.
One of my favorite events to attend is the Bikini Olympia in Las Vegas in September. I admire the discipline, work, and dedication to the process that these women go through to compete, and I personally think they look awesome! I experimented in 2014 with using a Bodybugg (which is just like the fitbit) and wore that thing for over a year on my arm. I was relentless and sometimes would wear it at night even. When I would work out, sometimes I would burn up to 3000 calories! I tried to mix up my workouts by changing my lifting routine and adding HIIT training. I experimented with eating 2,000 calories, then 1,900, then 1,800, then 1,700, then 1,600, then at 1,500 I said no thanks! I am not enjoying this anymore and I felt like I was starving and not losing weight! Well, and I kind of was, when you consider my average burn every week was 2500 calories a day. So why wasn’t I losing at 2,000 calories? I should of been losing, if the whole calories in versus calories out is true. I’m a true example to tell you it’s not! I had a lot of underlying hormonal issues that were a pressing problem that was hard to identify at the time. But I didn’t give up hope.
Come end of 2014 I decided to hire a bodybuilding coach. Surely they knew something I didn’t.
Nutritional Experiment #1 The bodybuilder coach diet: 1400 calories
After I paid up and got my meal template, I was worried. If 1500 was painful, this is going to be tough. And it was. But I paid money to this coach, and I mentally invested myself in committing to this diet. There were weeks when I would do awesome, and the scale would budge a little, and then I would go crazy and overeat. It was so hard to control my cheat meals. I was hyper focused on what I was going to eat next, and how hungry I always was. Because you see this coach also gave me the most intense weight lifting workout I’ve ever done. I would get so exhausted after working out first thing in the AM that I would want to pass out on my bed after showering but I couldn’t because I had to go to work! I thought to myself this is what bikini competitors do. They have these days, they keep pushing. I have to keep pushing. Unfortunately this pushed my hormones into even more dysfunction, leading me into adrenal fatigue with worsening gastric distress problems that I was in denial about. It was very difficult to maintain discipline and did not feel sustainable. For the pain I went through, I had little results. Finally, my 6 months with them ended, and I had very little to show for it except for some increased endurance and a little more muscle. Definitely not what I committed myself to. I started this in August 2014 and completed six months in January 2015.
I took a break after this. I maintained a healthy diet and continued to work out.
Nutritional Experiment #2 The Alternate Day Diet
I had been reading and following Dr Sara Solomon for a few years and she is a fitness celebrity who is a walking billboard of intermittent fasting success. After researching I decided to purchase the book on the Alternate Day Diet written by a Doctor. It consists of eating 500 calories 3x a week in the form of a meal replacement. The other four days you eat healthy normal portions of food. I knew how to do that, and was careful not to overeat. It was not hard to diet 3x a week versus 7 days a week. It was challenging, but sustainable, provided I saw results. At the same time I joined Orange Theory Fitness. This was a type of exercise model that combined using weights and high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts while maximizing your intensity using a heart rate monitoring system. They were doing a 6 week challenge so I thought the application of this diet and 3x a week would be the shake up I needed to bust my plateau. I tried doing the 500 calorie days on my workout days and opposite workout days. Neither seemed to help me recover as fast as I wanted to. I consumed calorie free branched chain amino acids before, during, and after working out which is ideal when you are fasting and working out. It’s like consuming zero calorie protein. I was exhausted all the time and intensely sore for most of the week. I pushed so hard for those 6 weeks. In the end I had lost zero pounds, zero inches, but again just gained some endurance and felt somewhat stronger. For the work I put in, that was extremely disappointing. I learned later that this sort of fasting when one has autoimmune disease may worsen the adrenals. This totally explains my daily exhaustion and zero results. I began this in June. Experiment failed.
Nutritional Experiment #3: the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). By this point, my gastric distress symptoms seemed to be a constant daily pain. I would use the restroom frequently, and was sensitive to random foods. My psoriasis was constant and worsening and I was needing topical steroids to help it. Perhaps my weight loss resistance was deeper than a calculation or macro balancing. Perhaps my hashimoto’s was getting worse and my hormones were resisting change. I might have made my adrenals worse. I began researching about the autoimmune protocol, commonly known as AIP. This protocol is very particular, and very limited in that it is not easy to go out to eat. You have to plan ahead of time or bring your own food. I organized my cabinets to be AIP friendly, with my daughters regular food on other shelves so I would know my boundaries. I purchased multiple books like Sarah Ballantyne’s The Paleo Approach, and Mickey Trescott’s The autoimmune paleo cookbook. I bought Breanna Emmitt’s He won’t know it’s Paleo and Angie Alt’s The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook. These were all great books and I recommend all of them. As you can see, when I want to learn a method, I do everything I can to prepare myself for maximum success. I recommend reading about AIP on Sarah Ballantyne’s blog, The Paleo Mom. I cooked up many interesting things that I never knew were possible. With AIP there is no measuring or counting calories, you eat to satisfaction. I drank bone broths, didn’t eat out and didn’t have wine. I avoided coffee, and drank black tea with lemon. I utilized some supplements recommended by Chris Kresser. I started this in August and lasted thru October. I even joined a FB support group/program to guide me through it. My gut issues remained, and I lost no weight. In fact, it seemed like I was starting to gain slowly. Experiment failed.
Nutritional Experiment #4: The Repairvite Diet
I gave myself a break from the discipline of never eating out and always having my food prepped. I then consulted with my previous alternative healthcare practitioner, Dr David Clark, DC. We had drawn labs and devised a plan to start the Repairvite Diet. I ordered over 400 dollars worth of a 1 month supply of supplements. The Repairvite Diet is basically AIP or Paleo on steroids. You cannot get any more strict than the Repairvite diet, next to a bone broth fast. I decided I would start this program on December 22, 2015. Yes right before Christmas! I was tired of feeling tired, not getting results, and feeling worse. I was ready to get committed again. See my post on my experience with the Repairvite Diet. I also went to Disneyland on New Years Eve and remained on point for 30 straight days with zero caffeine, avoiding nuts, seeds, and nightshade vegetables as well as high glycemic fruits. I get to January, and have no positive change to report to my Dr. He tells me that if it was an inflammatory issue, I should of had remarkable results, and perhaps its something else. He decides to presume me as having a gut infection, called SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and wants me to go on a low fodmap diet for 2 weeks to see if there is change. This was overwhelming and discouraging news to me. So I decided I would take a break. Next post I will talk about what SIBO is, how I got tested, and what treatments are available. Plus my next plan to tackle it all.