Updated: Oct 21, 2018
Finding the right way to take care of yourself can be confusing. Most are guided by misinformation or take on an approach that does not match their goals. Most know what they want but lack a clear direction on how to get there. Eventually effecting overall motivation and results. Even coaches and trainers spend a great deal of time trying to figure out what is best for ourselves and our clients. But it is an ongoing process especially as new science and trends change at a fast-rate. Still, it all begins with understanding where you want to go.
My goal was to decrease my weight and develop a more focused program. I’d lost weight before, but I lacked a real long-term approach that I could fall back on when needed. I always stress to others the importance of trying different methods and not to be frustrated by a lack of results too soon. It’s the experimenting that will lead you to what is best. This current approach was my latest experiment.
My weight was around 182 when I started. Not something I had to do, but I wanted to get down to 175. More importantly I wanted a better understanding of what to eat, how to eat, and when to eat to reach my ideal weight. I also wanted to bring clarity to aspects of nutrition that were never completely clear to me. What is best before and after exercise? Is a non-training day intake the same as a training day? What is the appropriate level of decreasing intake to lose weight in a healthy way?
I’m very happy and proud to say that from July 11th-October 11th I managed to lose 16 pounds in 90 days and my body fat is down to 10%. The approach I took requires dedication and time but it was a well thought-out process that worked best for me.
My hope in sharing my experience is to encourage others with the same goals or want a different approach. As in most things, the hardest part is the discipline but the results and learning experience are well worth the process.
I came across Renaissance Periodization (https://renaissanceperiodization.com/) through social media. What stood out for me were the before and after pictures showing clear differences amongst those who used the program. Not only for athletes but everyday people. The more I studied, the more I appreciated what they were doing and how clear the approach was. No gimmicks, nor any unrealistic expectations. The RP program was very specific and required time for change.
A big emphasis for the RP Diet program was a precise kind of balanced nutrition for long-term success. Not just calorie deficit or complete removal of specific foods. But an approach of consuming solid and clean foods, meal timing, macro-nutrient quantity, and timely calorie deficit.
I.I.F.M.M. (If It Fits MY Macros)
It all begins with tracking and counting macro-nutrients. Macros are simply Carbs, Fats, and Proteins. Veggies are not considered a macro, but on this program you average 2-3 handfuls of primarily green veggies per meal. RP emphasizes managing the quantity of these macro-nutrients. Previously I was always eating the right food and reasonable quantities but a diet that was heavy in fat and excessive protein and 1-2 cheat meals a week. My salads were covered in olive oil and snacking all day on almonds/almond butter was too much. When I started on RP I learned to decrease and delegate my macro-nutrient to match my needs in a smarter way. Also, certain nutrients were meant to be consumed in higher quantities depending on the time of day and activity. For instance, I was required to eat higher carbohydrates after strength training but decrease carbohydrates on non-strength training days or days I only focused cardiovascular training.
How it works
The beginning of the RP diet template is referred to as “Base.” I saw this as an adjustment period. Adapting to a new diet but also decreasing cheat meals, moving away from foods not on the program, and developing a system. The next phase was decreasing intake but more so with fats and carbohydrates. Later on, fats were completely removed, and carbohydrate intake lowered. The program is designed for 10-12 weeks with at least 4 phases but staying in each phase is up to the individual. I managed to stay in each phase no more than four weeks and no less three.
(Average per meal in grams)
Example of meals at the start of program/ end of program:
Phase 1/Week 1-4
Protein: 30 G/ Veggies: 3 handfuls/ Fat: 10-25 G/ Carbohydrates: 40 G
Final Phase of Cut: Weeks 9-12
Protein: 30 G/ Veggies: 2 handfuls/ Fat: NA/ Carbohydrates: 20 G
Note: Intake of specific macros was dependent on type of activity and time between meals. Some meals in the last phase had zero carbohydrates.
By decreasing macro quantity, you are also decreasing calorically. It is less food then before, but this strategy allows for an easier transition into a deficit. By the end I was in a much higher deficit for all food groups, especially carbohydrates. But this was only for a limited time. When done, I began to cycle these foods back in but on a limited and more manageable basis.
Before starting RP, I’d been doing 3 days a week of strength training and 2 days of endurance/Cardiovascular training. An effective approach of building strength, stamina, and heart health. But my programs were still pulling from the many different sources with no specific strategy or goal in mind. I then focused my attention on the “RP Physique template.” A 3 cycle highly customizable muscle gain weight training program, to be completed in 12-13 weeks with strength training 5 days a week. This was suggested to me because as I was moving into a calorie deficit, the strength program would be adding more volume in reps, set, and weight with the goal of creating more lean muscle. Basically, at this point my program was decreasing calories and increase resistance training. I still added cardio training, but normally between 50-60 minutes total per week (Usually 2 times for 20-30 minutes).
Over the course of the 3 last month’s I’ve done the least amount of cardiovascular training in a long time and have been pain-free with the exception of some sore muscles after the harder workouts. The exercise program is challenging. But organized in such a way that you are balancing your exertion with the proper amount of reps, sets, and rest and done over an extended period of time.
Steps to Succeed
I believe this can help anyone with the goal of losing weight if they are committed. It requires a lifestyle change, organization, sacrifice, patience, and a commitment to the process. But none of which is impossible for the average person. It is also flexible enough to allow of a variety of foods to be eaten. It is just managing the macro intake.
I rarely had too, but certainly deviated at times. Vacations, restaurant or drink invites, etc. But I tried to limit the duration and would make smarter choices in the course of the day, so I could enjoy those moments and stay consistent enough with the plan. It is impossible to be perfect every step of the way and the RP program accounts for that. The important thing is getting back on track.
Additional steps to be successful
Easily prepared food (cold veggies, pre-cooked, packaged foods, etc.)
Weekly food preparation
Planning meals in advance
Adapt when necessary
Accept what’s out of your control. You can always get back on track.
Work with a professional coach, trainer, or nutritionist if needed for guidance and motivation.
These were the steps I’d take on a weekly basis to manage my resources (time, money, energy) to be in the best position possible.
Now that I’ve finished and accomplished my goal, the challenge will be to maintain with the same focus, enthusiasm, and sense of purpose with my health. But not necessarily my weight. That will fluctuate as I bring back other foods (cheat meals, lack of choices, etc.) which is fine. As I’ve done to get myself here, it’s about finding a balanced strategy. Since I’ve managed to lower my weight, another step is continuing to build muscle, incorporate more cardiovascular and high intensity training again, and modify my nutrition and activity for greater vitality and performance especially as I get older. In addition, to better understand the science of why this method worked so I can comfortably share with others.
For the activity, it was very little of what is considered by today’s standards “functional-training” or High Intensity Training or an emphasis on cardiovascular training like running and spinning. In addition, I’ve done less flexibility and mobility training in the last 3 months. All of which I plan to incorporate back into my routine.
I still have some postural and structural work to focus on as well. This should never be over-looked because of the importance to stay injury free. Preventative steps are just as important as getting in shape. Like everything else, it is a process and one I welcome to maintain an active lifestyle.
Is this approach right for everyone?
One-size fits all does not exist when it comes to health. Everyone should find what individually works best. Always ask yourself, what are your goals? What kind of activity to you like? What are you willing to sacrifice and commit too? This is what’s motivating and creates results. But be open to modifying a program as needed. Everyone has different dietary needs so knowing your medical history and consulting your physician should always be a step to consider. But I believe the foundation of the RP program is ideal for anyone. It's about adding a structure to how you eat.
Balanced nutrition. Calorie management. Proper exercise, and most important, consistency will will always be a positive step for your health.