Guest Blog Post: I’m NOT Cutting Weight this Time

Coach Sherrie:

I recently competed in a National level Olympic Weightlifting
competition and leading up to it, I had this idea that I was going to
cut down to a lighter weight class. Now, being a 37 year old woman
with hypothyroidism, and having the genetic predisposition to hold on
to extra body fat (envision “thunder thighs” and you will understand
my body type), that means that in order for me to undertake that goal,
I have to work out a pretty serious energy balance with my body.

About 1 week before the meet, I realized that I was down about 8
pounds but that still wasn’t enough to meet the lower weight class. I
was burnt: sleepy, hungry, moody, weak, insecure, etc., etc., etc… I
had just gone through all of the steps that I would typically go
through in order to cut weight, but I had also experienced something
that I wasn’t used to seeing from myself: self-sabotaging behaviors. I
had various TDYs during this time-frame so I didn’t always have clear
control of available foods; time-crunches throughout my day that led
me to grab something convenient rather than prepared; missed training
sessions due to complete and utter exhaustion coupled with lack of
motivation; too much training crammed into one week resulting in
shoulder or knee pain; I wasn’t getting the sleep in that I KNOW is
necessary for good training and good body composition; and I had used
up all of my willpower about halfway through my cut. This isn’t the
all encompassing list but these are the first things that come to
mind.

What did I learn from this? I’ve had the last few weeks to look at my
overall life, determine what standard I was holding myself to, and ask
myself “What did you honestly expect?” I have been working 50 hours
per week at my day job because I’m trying to make some extra money to
pay down debts, and because I want to keep up with various tasks at
work. I manage/supervise about 40 people so I have a lot of
responsibilities and have to perform a lot of oversight. On top of
that, I typically coach 5 hours per week. Now this is entirely
self-inflicted because I love this second job. It’s my fun job, and I
do it as often as I can but I recognize that it takes energy for me to
do it. I have been training in Olympic Weightlifting long enough that
I take for granted how much volume my coach gives me in order to
elicit the results that we both want to see. It took Jeramy looking at
one of my typical Fridays and saying out loud how many reps above
75%/80% I was performing on any given week for me to take pause and
realize that maybe the training was more difficult than I gave myself
credit. I was over here trying to run at lunch breaks and do Strength
Club 3 days per week in addition to my already difficult training
BECAUSE I was comparing myself to other people around me who seemed to
do EVERYTHING. And just to put the cherry on top of all of this: I was
averaging about 6 hours of sleep per night. Some of you may think that
is “normal” but for any successful strength athlete, if you aren’t
getting 8, you are screwing yourself. I actually suggest you talk to
any nutritionist and they will also say that lack of sleep directly
correlates to lack of progress with weight loss. Factor age into this
equation, and you find that my body is a lot less forgiving than my
20-something year old body was.

I have an upcoming competition in October and I am not cutting weight.
I am learning to live on maintenance calories, to ignore the dimples
on my thighs, the pooch of my belly and the number on the scale. I am
not forcing myself to love the way I look because that in itself takes
a lot of energy for me (I’m certain that some of you can relate to how
forced optimism doesn’t work for all of us), but I’m trying to not
feed negative attention into it so that I can focus my energy
elsewhere. I am focusing on drinking at least 3 Liters of water each
day, eating vegetables at lunch and at dinner, and averaging 7 hours
of sleep per night. Right now my training feels so good in both
Olympic Lifting and Strength Club. I am present when I am training,
really focusing on what muscles I want to engage, and what positions I
want to get into for my movements. I am taking epsom salt baths at
night whenever I feel especially achey. My mental clarity at work is
more focused, and I’m more efficient with my tasks. I am giving myself
a bedtime, cooking meals at night, and meal prepping more often.
Eating out has become a rarity and an expense that I second guess
before committing to (that debt isn’t going anywhere without funding).
I eat when I am hungry, and I enjoy a beer or a glass of wine when I
want one at the end of the day. Keeping the 3 kids on schedule and on
task is easier, especially since school is in session and they need to
get back into the swing of structure.

I want to set a new PR at this upcoming competition. I want to stop
thinking about how I compare to others around the gym. I want to feel
good during the week whether it be at work, at home, or in the gym. I
want to stop trying to make myself “perfect” and just do what I can
handle without burning myself out. I know that what I described above
is not the most ideal way to approach my situation, but it’s better
than it was and I’ll take that as a win.

Happy Lifting – Coach Sherrie

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