I ended my cut recently and it went well. I definitely look and feel faster, slimmer, and my energy levels are back up. I did it all by myself this time, calculated my own macros, and let myself be flexible.
I was able to tailor my diet and macros towards things I liked to eat and never really felt deprived. A lot of anti-diet advocates focus on the depravity of diets and how you have to postpone all your favorite foods, but in reality as long as you account for them it’s not like you have to lock away all your favorite foods.
Discerning your priorities when it comes to nutrition is what makes a cut really difficult.
So when you have to choose between 150 calories worth of tortilla chips, vs a big yummy sweet potato, you can opt for the tortilla chips when you’re really feeling it. It’s not moralizing the choice (that tortilla chips are “bad” and you should choose the “good” sweet potato) but rather knowing that when you’re cutting calories, and need to keep your nutrient profile relatively healthy, sometimes you do need to choose the sweet potato.
Of course, you can fill in the blank with whichever foods you prefer, I just chose sweet potato because I found it to be the most recent and relevant example to me. This comes in to play for all kinds of foods, and all kinds of choices.
There are other things I really didn’t expect when I ended my cut, which meant about a month/two weeks each of adding back in some calories bit by bit so my metabolism had time to keep up. I used Renaissance Periodization’s maintenance article to guide me as well as my own hunger cues.
Maintenance is the period of time after you lose weight- you either stay at the weight you’re at, or you give your body a break between cuts to adjust to the new size. So I’ve been upping my calories slowly these past few weeks.
Things I didn’t expect:
Going from eating a smaller amount of food to a little bit bigger amounts every two weeks took some getting used to. As I entered my food into MyFitnessPal, all I could think of was “really? All this? And I’m still not at my goal yet?”
It was weird adding an extra serving of tofu, or beans, or whatever else it might be in order to reach a higher calorie goal.
There was a bit of guilt, too, since I advocate for a mixture of intuitive eating and watching what you eat, I felt uncomfortable talking openly about my cut. But as my friend, who’s undergoing her own IE journey, and some fellow RDs (Nutritionist Sam, doctormeetsdietitian) remind me, everyone works best doing their own damn thing.
You can be against the shame, black and white thinking, and sizeism that the diet industry pushes out every day while still personally knowing you need to log food to make sure you’re getting what you need.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but with my ADHD, if I don’t log and watch my food, I’ll be eating those dopamine-hitting foods all day err day. Chocolate, chips, (vegan) cheese, you name it, if my brain gets an extra dopamine hit from it it’ll be there.
It’s not depriving myself of the joy of food; it’s knowing my limits. Which is part of what makes IE make sense to me.
I already have IBS, so bloating is not a stranger in my life. But wow, adding more food makes you more bloated at the end of the day and feel just a /bit/ more full.
One of those things that I logically knew but then when I experienced it, I just went “oh, well, that’s a thing”.
When I first felt sluggish adding in more food, that slowly gave way to more energy when I lifted and better lifting sessions. I timed it well (on accident, as most things in my life) that my cut ended just in time for my program to get heavier.
I also have had to go for easier cardio now that my energy needs to go towards big lifts, which is another weird feeling. I love a hard cardio session at the end of the week, so gliding away on the elliptical is an experience I haven’t had since my early college days.
Finishing a weight cut and moving to maintenance is, like weight loss itself, a process.
It deals a lot with listening to your body, paying attention to how you feel after you eat, and changing your routine just enough that your body can get used to the new weight.
We’ve got a ways to go yet (I probably won’t cut during the summer and jury’s still out if it’d be worth cutting during my internship), but I’m pleased with how I’m doing so far.
I’ll talk more about body image in another post but for now, don’t forget to do your homework, eat a vegetable, and smile at someone today.
See you soon!