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Winter Break Body Comp Challenge

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  • Winter Break Body Comp Challenge

    Hi everyone--first, thanks for taking the time to read my post!

    I'm a (female) college student home on break for the next month, and I want to take this vacation to try to improve body composition; I'm generally on the slimmer side, but I recently gained some weight and I want to push myself to see how lean / strong I can get (while remaining sane and being able to maintain it). I was hoping I could get some advice from the community on what you do / would do with 4 weeks to reduce body fat and gain some muscle.

    Normally I lift weights ~ 3 times a week, but at home I don't belong to a gym so I'm my strength training consists mostly of bodyweight exercises. I can deadlift almost my body weight but still can't do a real push-up, so that shouldn't be much of a hindrance. The past week and a half I've been trying to IF (16 hrs) more often than not, and, slowly but surely, it's becoming easier. I've also reduced my carbs (between 55 and 70 grams total, coming mostly from veggies and my beloved nuts) the past two weeks. I may have had some success with this, but I'm not sure because I was weighing myself on a few different scales (school gym, doctor, home).

    I also want to mention that I really don't see eating only one meal a day as something that will work for me. For a long time I adhered to the "small, frequent meals" rule, which didn't help fat loss but did help my bloating issue: when I eat very large meals, I tend to get bloated easily. (This is from a digestive issue that honestly is too complicated to go into here, but basically I have a hard time digesting / absorbing all my food without supplementary pancreatic enzymes.) My two (primal) vices are that I eat a fair bit of full-fat dairy and a lot of nuts (I'm addicted to almond butter…but at least I switched from peanut butter, right?) A few summers ago I tried ditching dairy and I saw no improvement, so I figured it was okay. However, I was also suffering from a bout of ravenous hunger and crazy-out-of-control-hormones from being on birth control pills, and have since stopped.

    I've now realized this post is much too long, so I've bolded some things for those who wish to peruse (à la Mark). Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to answer!

  • #2
    Sounds like you have a few issues occurring together -- strength imbalance (DL vs pushup), dietary challenges, and time (4 weeks - less now?) to effect a change.

    I'd work on bodyweight exercises (Convict Conditioning, PB, and/or Al Kavadlo style - he works out in Tompkins Park -- close enough for you to see?). Those type of exercises will help balance your strength and make you all around more physically capable (which I find feels effing wonderful, not to mention being derned useful). Those exercises and progressions you can take back with you to school, by the way.

    I'd also work on a slow transition to meal/food combos that work for you and don't generate that distress. It could be you're still hitting some foods that cause you problems (FODMAPs maybe?). Be cautious about nuts, too - you could be hitting some sensitivities there, especially if you are indeed eating them in quantity.

    This may be a good time to do a quick (abbreviated, if necessary) Whole 30 to isolate those sensitivities.

    Good luck, and keep us posted!


    • #3
      Thanks for the advice! I've been working on bodyweight exercises and enjoying it more than I anticipated. Fasting is getting better, and yesterday I did my longest fast ever, almost 18.5 hours. I know for some people that seems like a breeze, but I was quite proud of myself.

      Another question for IF'ers out there: do you find that intermittent fasting significantly reduces your calorie consumption for the day? Because the past week or so I've found that I still eat about the same number of calories on days when I fast as on days when I don't, only in fewer meals. Yesterday, for instance, I only had about a 4.5 hour eating window, but I think I probably ate as much as I had the day before (Christmas!).

      I've also decided I should probably up the carb allotment a bit so that I can fill my ravenous hunger with more vegetables and not things like coconut oil, which, while a primal staple, is still high in calories. Anyone have any thoughts?