Katie Allen was dedicated right from the start. She consistently came in to train three days a week and did a personal training session with me every six weeks.
But after two years, she was frustrated.
Yes, she had gained strength and could lift weights she never imagined she’d be able to lift when she started. Yes, her squat mechanics were night and day better than in the early days. And yes, her aerobic capacity had improved considerably. But she hadn’t lost a pound in two long years of hard training.
I still remember the frustration in her voice when she told me this.
It was January of this year and she was on the verge of both tears and quitting the gym. Though this made me slightly nervous, I could also hear the urgency in her voice, as if everything in her body was screaming at me that she was ready. She was ready to tackle the diet component of this whole health and fitness thing.
She was indeed ready.
“I got to the point where I just decided this was something that I had to do. I had always convinced myself that if I worked out hard enough, it didn’t matter what I ate,” Katie said.
At the same time, she was battling the voices in her head that told her she’d never have the body she wanted.
“I was always active as a kid and played competitive sports even through college, but I was never skinny and I convinced myself that I wasn’t going to be able to lose weight,”
she said. But she was tired of feeling this way, so she hunkered down.
Together, we came up with a plan to start counting her macros. The biggest challenge was the fact that Katie’s a vegetarian, so it’s tough to get her protein up to 40 percent of her calories, which is what I wanted to do.
We went back and forth a few times, got her going on some new recipes, found some new protein sources, like protein shakes for breakfast, to add to the other sources of protein she was already eating, like tempeh. We also got her eating more eggs and significantly reducing her fruit intake. While we didn’t get her protein quite up to 40 percent of her macros, we got it pretty close.
Specifically, Katie has been consuming around 130 g of protein, 50 g of fat and 170 g of carbohydrates a day since late January.
Fast forward to May and Katie is down 24 lb. Basically this equates to one pound a week, which she said feels incredibly healthy.
“To be honest, the weight has come off relatively effortlessly, and I really feel like this way of eating is sustainable,” she said. “The process itself has been pretty easy and I can chip away slowly without doing anything crazy.”
That’s because there’s flexibility in it, she said. If her son bakes cookies, she will eat one to make him happy and then will simply adjust the carbohydrates she eats at dinner. Or if she’s craving a bagel one day, she’ll plan to eat the bagel and adjust elsewhere, so she doesn’t need to guilt trip herself for eating the allegedly sinful bagel.
“People think counting your macros is limiting and restricting, but it’s just the opposite for me. It allows me to be adaptable and flexible,” she said. “And the counting part to figure it all out helped me realize just how much I was over eating before.”
Though she’s dedicated to eating well, she isn’t consumed by it. This is another component that makes the lifestyle sustainable, she explained.
“I want (good nutrition) to be part of my life, but it’s not what dictates everything and it doesn’t consume my life,” she said.
Weight loss aside, Katie said she feels better today, both physically and emotionally.
She has seen huge strides on bodyweight movements like push-ups. While doing even 5 military push-ups used to be challenging, Katie can no do 5 sets of 10 with relative ease.
(Even coach Andy noticed. Just the other day, he pointed to her and asked: When did that happen?)
“The best compliment Andy has ever given me,” Katie laughed.
She added: “I just feel more capable to move my body around.” And, of course, emotionally, she feels incredibly proud of herself. “I just don’t worry about getting dressed in the morning anymore. My clothes just go on. That was something I always struggled with,” she said.
Through proud, Katie says she’s not done. She wants to lose more weight, but she’s also conscious of the fact that her body’s appearance is just one piece of who she is. In light of this, she is remembering to appreciate how far she has come already and not to go down the hamster wheel of needing to lose more, more, more weight until the end of time.
All the compliments from the MadLab community help her appreciate her progress, she said. “I love the spontaneous compliment I have been getting from people at the gym. It means a lot to me,” she said.
Congratulations on your ongoing journey, Katie.
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