Cutting Weight: Manipulating My Body For Competition, the Horror!

I don’t believe I’ve noted in more than an offhand way that I’m planning on cutting to 105 for future powerlifting competitions. This decision comes after competing in two meets in a weight class I don’t actually meet in terms of my normal bodyweight; where both July and October’s meets had me competing at 114, I weighed in at 108 and 111 lb, respectively, at those meets. I normally wake up between 110 and 111 pounds. Performing a water weight cut of five to seven pounds would not be unreasonable and should not be a difficult weight cut for me. That said, I must do it right, and I have guidance from several sources in the process that will most likely help me carry it out to my best advantage.

Most people do not realize how much their weight fluctuates and is determined by water retention. That three or five pounds you gained over the holidays? That actually might be largely water weight. You “lost” one pound by the end of your workout? That would be you sweating it out; your actual body mass was not affected by 40 minutes on the recumbent bike. Changes to body mass, particularly changes in favor of a high percentage of lean mass in relation to body fat, happen extremely slowly over time. This is why consistency with one’s diet is important if you are looking to attain and/or maintain a certain body composition. Should you track your weight on the scale? This depends on several factors. If you’re not looking to compete in a weight-class based sport, you really do not need to check the scale every day to determine whether or not you’ve lost weight. This is because fluctuations in weight caused by water retention are normal on a daily basis, and what the scale says to you today versus tomorrow really isn’t telling you much beyond what your body is doing with the water and sodium and mass you’ve taken in and excreted in the last day or so. Checking your weight constantly when you don’t understand this can drive you nuts and worse, can be psychologically counterproductive, particularly if you are inclined towards an obsessive personality. To ratcheting up your anxiety levels regarding your body, check your weight every few days or, hell, once a week to see how you’re trending over time. Do this instead of daily weigh-ins because it takes time for your body to change, and one day is not a lot of time.

If, however, you’re like me and you need to “make weight” for a sport, it isn’t totally unrealistic to check your weight daily. Hell, you can cheek your weight multiple times a day and it will be edifying/supportive of your understanding of your body in preparation for doing a weight cut. What you’re doing when you check your weight this often is essentially observing how your body changes in relation to your hydration and intake levels. When I eat a massive cheat meal, I see my weight spike, sometimes a good four or five pounds. Did I just gain four or five pounds? No. After that spike in weight (usually the evening after a massive carb-up meal), I’ll watch my weight taper back down to normal within a matter of days. I note how long it takes for my weight to taper down, and this observation will help me determine how much I’m going to need to manipulate my diet in the week or two prior to weigh-in.

Oh dear god it's the ribs and sweet potato fries and black beans I ate a few weeks ago. Someone please give this to me now.
Oh dear god it’s the ribs and sweet potato fries and black beans I ate a few weeks ago. Someone please give this to me now.

I used to be anorexic. I used to check the scale once a day. I understood, even at that point in my relationship with my body, that by the end of a given day my weight would be up because I had eaten and/or drunk periodically during the day. I have learned an incredible amount about my body since those years. I’m now appreciably amused by the process of which I speak–bloating up, then drifting back down to normal water retention levels. I listen to discussion of weight carried on by women around me and know that I’m hearing them mostly talk about how much water they’re retaining–and they have no idea this is what their anxious conversations are actually about. I wish more of them did.

It might seem like a bad idea for a former anorexic to entertain the idea of “cutting weight.” Let me quash that concern right now by pointing out two important issues related to my relationship with the process:

1. I have come through a unique experience with eating disorders, introduction to weight lifting, gradual recovery from disordered eating, and embrace of my body. I can say today that I no longer think of my body in the way I did years ago, and probably never can to the same degree again because of the amount I have learned after engaging in strength training. Cutting to 105 is not a process of actually losing bodyweight, or at least not much. It is not a process that involves the same mentality held by the typical anorexic. My intent is to be able to shed as much water weight as possible before weigh -ins–and then eat and drink ALL of it back on (and probably plus some) as soon as possible after the weigh-in time in order to be at my best for lifting the next day.

2. As mentioned before, I have already competed at a weight class higher than my normal bodyweight. In other words, I have spent time NOT being concerned about “making weight” for powerlifting. I have gone through the processes of training for competition and competing without the extra weight of what I register on a scale on my mind. I believe I am now prepared and experienced enough to take on an extra step in the process of competitively powerlifting. I will be writing more about this process over the coming months, including documenting a trial weight cut that will take place in 4-8 weeks (depending on when I decide to do the trial, which I really haven’t yet). Until then, cheat meal pictures will continue to appear on this blog and I will continue to salivate over onion rings of all kinds. That said, I haven’t had any in a while…I think this needs to be rectified.

Look at this mountain of fried brilliance made sometime in december. All hail the deep fryer that now resides in our kitchen.
Look at this mountain of fried brilliance made sometime in december. All hail the deep fryer that now resides in our kitchen.
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