This article is Part 4 (Read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three) of a series we will be publishing that will consist of us following a CrossFit Games Regional Hopeful, Katie Harper, through her journey and progress over the next year. Her coaching will be handled by Jonathan Kinnick who, for those of you that don’t know, is pretty awesome. Jonathan is a Co-Founder of BTWB as well as the owner of CrossFit Kinnick. He’s a Board Member on the CrossFit Trainer (CCFT) Certification Board and a CrossFit CF-L3 Trainer. He’s also completed the CrossFit Coaches Prep, CrossFit Competitor’s, CrossFit Olympic Lifting, CrossFit Endurance, CrossFit Mobility and CrossFit Nutrition courses. He is also a USAW Sports Performance Coach.
I’ll never forget the first time I considered the idea of becoming “strong.” 5 years ago my coach, Elizabeth Shear, was showing me how to put a barbell over my head, with maybe 65 pounds or so on the bar. I was terrified of bailing in an “I don’t know what to do with my hands” sort of way. She said something along the lines of “YES, now all you need to do is to come back and keep training, you’ll get super strong and then you will be able to lift ALL of the weight.” I remember thinking, “Hm… yeah that sounds nice… but why would I want to do that?”
It wasn’t that I lacked a competitive drive or an appreciation for feats of strength, but my personal goals to improve as an athlete were different at the time. Most of my experience was in field sports, so I naturally placed a higher value in certain categories of fitness- endurance, speed, agility, and coordination. I had yet to grasp the concept of CrossFit, and how strength tied into it all.
With an underdeveloped understanding of strength came an evolving perspective on body image. Like many, I joined the gym with the intention to lose some weight, with zero ‘ab-spirations’ whatsoever. At the time, I legitimately thought that my family wasn’t genetically gifted enough to grace me with my very own “set of washboards”.
Flash-forward to June 2013. I’m six months into CrossFit, a little less awkward, more confident, and there was a small bicep sighting where my sleeves used to be. I’ll never forget how awesome that feeling was, to be able to flex and see a real live muscle.
That very week, I pulled my first heavy deadlift single off of the floor and *RAWR* it was like a switch flipped. I was hooked on the feeling; the physical strain, the uncertainty of failure, and the empowerment that came along with success. I realized then that the expression of strength feels frackin’ AWESOME, and I wanted all of the muscles that came along with it.
Of course, my imagination went a little wild when projecting an image of my future superhero self. I quickly realized that my quads were not going anywhere, anytime soon. Alas, the Sophomore Slump on my road to Gainsville inevitably hit, and my body’s ability to grow muscle mass over time wasn’t progressing as quickly as I had hoped.
I categorize myself somewhere along the lines of the “average body size” for a CrossFitter. I’m 5’4”, comfortably sitting at 132 lbs, with a relatively lean build. In order to keep up with these Beasts of the East, I know I could afford to pack on a few pounds in order to increase my performance. I’ve known for a long time that my food intake, or lack thereof, is to blame. And finally, after approximately 2 years of all talk and no action, of half-hearted macro tracking and semi-flexible dieting, I decided to buckle down and commit to my diet.
I’m about 4 weeks into an RP strength template, with the intention to gain 5 lbs of lean mass by the beginning of the 2018 Open season.
How is it going? Well, I’ve gained a whopping 2.0 lbs of questionable weight, but I’m going to stick to the plan and see where it takes me. Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way:
I need approximately 8 appendages, 3 brains, and 24 extra hours in my day to pull off meal prep
Given that I am a Brooklyn resident without a vehicle, one does not simply “go to the grocery store.” It becomes more of a mind game, such as “how much can I farmer carry for 1,500 meters” or “how dark am I willing to go to haul that extra jar of peanut butter.” Needless to say, I knew I needed to come up with a better solution, fast.
I have been able to cut back on food prep time by using a “CrossFitty” food delivery service and ordering family style chicken, veggies and rice. For easy reference, I made up a food chart for the fridge, consisting of macro counts per ounce. From there, I created 3 meals that I knew I could stand to eat several times a week. This made the final step seamless, as all that was left to do is distribute portions and toss everything into Tupperware. What used to take 2 hours is now essentially mindless, and I’ve been able to get it all my prep done in roughly 20 minutes per evening.
Find a buddy who will keep you accountable
Let’s be honest, changing your diet is no walk in the park, and it’s always nice to have somebody to commiserate with. Luckily, my boyfriend Keith is there to keep me honest. Having your significant other on the same lifestyle wavelength can make the weekly routine much smoother. We are now sharing groceries, cutting back on take out, and have been much better about eating in on the weekends. Sadly, since it is New York, I have managed to save zero dollars throughout this process.
Don’t let Arnold judge you, eat for fun on the holidays
Even though the goal is to remain compliant, I am a human, and this human likes to eat Christmas cookies. I know that for my own sanity, my diet wouldn’t be sustainable if I didn’t give myself a break. I have one rest day during the week where I eat healthy without macro counting, and I do what I want on Sundays. With the holidays fast approaching, I am looking forward to a little rest and relaxation, which includes taking a little RP holiday hiatus.