About a month ago, I interviewed Caitlin Weinsheimer of CrossFit Lindy on Long Island, NY. It was important for me to share the strength (in all aspects) she carries inside and out of the gym. I'm close to five years her senior, however I truly look up to her. Enjoy!
The USAW Nationals for 2015 are finally over and I couldn’t be happier. I feel like I got my life back on track. For the last let’s say three months, only a few people in my life knew the struggles I was going through. Now I want to share my overwhelming experience with you.
Last year around this time is when I started getting serious about weightlifting. I weighed in at 125 pounds, yes I was considered a 58kg lifter at the time. Five months later for the American Open in 2014, I weighed in at 105 pounds. For those five months I was very diligent in tracking my macros. It was the easiest (and first) weight cut I have ever had.
After the AO, I began to do some strength training and continued competing in CrossFit. Training more meant eating more, and with those combined meant more gainz in my lifts and in body mass. I was not mad about it, until I had to begin cutting again in preps for Nationals.
Though my training was on point with my new coaches and team (brUTE Strength), I couldn’t shake off the weight as easily as I did before. I never properly reversed dieted like I should have after the AO and I was pissed at myself for it. Just about every day I would bitch and complain to my boyfriend about how hard it was going. Everyday I’d find excuses not to compete so I wouldn’t have to cut weight anymore. I started to obsess over the scale even. I’d wake up then weigh myself, take a poop and weight myself, eat breakfast and weight myself; it became very unhealthy very quickly. I was in total denial of course.
Ladies and gentlemen, I understand when you compete in weight classes, you pretty much have to weigh yourself daily. When you become obsessed like I did, it might be time to take a little break from it all. It has been exactly one week since I’ve weighed myself and I feel so much better. I have no clue how much I weigh this days and I couldn’t care less.
I’m not trying to scare you guys about the horrors of weight cutting. I mean like any woman, I can get a little crazy when dieting. However, I made this extra hard on myself. Okay so I didn’t reverse diet like I should have. That wasn’t the problem though. I put so much pressure on myself taking on too much at one time. I was traveling across the country for training and seminars, I even had a seminar held in the Caribbean! I went to California for two weeks to support my boyfriend at the CrossFit Games and visit family, I even went to the brUTE retreat literally one week before Nationals. If there is something you want, like kicking ass at Nationals and maybe even setting a new PR there, focus on that. I didn’t have my priorities straight which could be why I bombed. My weight fluctuated everyday due to all the traveling. I hate water cutting and boiling but those were things I had to do to finish making weight at Nationals, which could be another reason for my unsuccessful lifts that Friday morning.
I love a good competition, I do. However going on a diet to make a certain weight class does not thrill me, especially to 105 pounds. The last time I weighed 105 without dieting for it, I was at a traditional gym and all I did was the treadmill and elliptical with the occasional cables. I had zero muscle, I was “skinny fat”. I’m taking a break from competing in weightlifting as a 48kg. On October 3rd, I will be at the Hookgrip Spartikiad but lifting as a 53kg (116 lbs.). Right now my focus is on my team training, which I absolutely love. Weightlifting is such an individualized sport, you start to get lonely- or at least I did when I was training at CrossFit Lindy by myself with my own programming. Now I’m on two teams (Harlem Horsemen and CF Island Park) and I’m enjoying training again. Remember guys, once the fun goes away, it might be time to walk away.
To the left I'm 105 pound and moody. The right was taken today. I have no clue how much I weigh but I'm happy to be eating and training hard, and not worrying about the damn scale.
In my last post I talked about my journey into Flexible Nutrition, today I want to talk about how to make this a permanent lifestyle change. For many of us, we want to eat out or if you’re like me you travel a lot. I travel every weekend for CrossFit and coach on the Level One Seminar staff. For the first few weeks I would start to get stressed out every Thursday, knowing the weekend would be challenging to hit my macros. The more I traveled the better I got at hitting my numbers on the road, here are a few tips I came up with.
Buy a travel scale - Yes, you will be the weirdo weighing food at a restaurant…but you will also be the weirdo with a six pack. I found a cheap one on amazon for about $12, it’s about the same size as my iPhone.
Bring food with you - if I my weekend is driving distance, I pack for my entire day Friday so it only leaves me with two days to worry about. Weekends I fly, I always pack some what I call “stand alone foods” these are foods that are primarily protein, carbs, or fat. For example, I’ll bring some turkey for protein, licorice for carbs, and cheese or even fish oil for fat. I also always bring some pop tarts or cookies to get in my comfort foods in the hotel room.
Whole Foods - I always find a whole foods in the area as I know where to find the foods I like. Any supermarket will do, I’m just most comfortable with these guys.
Google the airport if you have a layover - If I have a layover and think I’ll be hungry, I google whatever airport I’ll be at and restaurants and you can find what food you can buy there. I typically look for a Subway or Sbarro, with the app update their foods are verified and I plug in ahead of time what I’m going to order.
Plan ahead at restaurants - Saturday night is international cheat night CrossFit Trainers so they choose restaurants they can go crazy at. Knowing this, I’ll ask early in the day what the plan is and look up the restaurant. We rarely go to chains so many of the restaurants are not in the app. I’ll find similar foods and restaurants and plug in what seems to be the closest food and I always prefer to overestimate my macros than underestimate. I’ll find something on the menu I can compare it to and if I can’t, I don’t order it. My mentality is, even if it’s not 100% accurate, it beats the hell out of what I would have done, which is eat all the food!
Eat less throughout the day - These Saturday nights I also keep my intake lower all day so that way I have slightly more flexibility when I’m out. For example if I ate all day and then get to a restaurants and nothing has less than 30 carbs or 20 fat etc, it might be harder to order something. I would rather have to concern myself with eating more to hit my macros than being over.
If I go over a bit I don’t freak out. This took time, I’m super anal with my numbers and work diligently to hit zeros daily so I know if I’m over 5-10 one day a week it’s not the end of the world. I simply get right back at it Sunday and hit those numbers again!
Take a day off! You won’t die and you won’t get fat. Once in a while we go to a super fancy place and I eat whatever I want! If we go to an upscale steakhouse and I’m hanging with CrossFit big wigs I let loose. It’s FLEXIBLE dieting, it’s ok to be chill every so often. With that being said, knowing this ahead of time, I may choose to IF (intermittent fast) that day and I typically keep alcohol to a minimum, less than two drinks as I would rather be over my carbs with cheesecake than wine.
Those are my tips for successful travel. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out, email@example.com, check out my websitewww.squathterapy.com, or find me on instagram @jasonackerman78 - good luck on your Flexible journey!
I coach a lot of athletes with their nutrition. I teach them how to look at food in a new way and I can only hope that they run with the knowledge bombs I pass on to them. Jason Ackerman, a friend, and current client has blown me away with his transformation. Many of you might know him from the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar Staff. I have invited him to guest blog for me this week. Today, I share with you his experience with flexible dieting and how it has changed his life for the better.
Riki is a lifesaver...
I'm a fat kid at heart. Couple that with twenty years of wrestling and we have a disaster when it comes to relationships with food. I've done every "diet" out there, from Atkins, to Paleo, to Juice fasts, none of them worked. Well, they worked, but they weren't sustainable, so really they didn't work.
It was New Year's eve this past year and I wasn't happy with what I was looking at in the mirror and like a message from the big guy upstairs, I saw one of Riki's many possitive messages on Facebook talking about "Flexible Dieting." Right place, right time? Serendipitous? Coincidence? When someone is ready to learn a teacher will appear. I was ready to learn and Riki became my teacher.
I had met her many times at CrossFit events and had known Daniel "Boomsauce" Tyminski for a few years. I knew she was an amazing lifter and athlete but didn't really know much about her nutrition outside of she looked great and seemed to be eating jelly beans daily.
We spoke on the phone that day and she presented me with some facts and some science and some explaining, but really I was already convinced. I don't care about "why" something is working, so long as it's working..."Riki, just tell me what to eat" and she did. I literally started that day.
I was someone who was afraid of carbs, not in a fear of spaghetti killing me type of way, but I thought carbs were what made me fat. To the point that I was eating less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. So to hear my inital Carbohydrates at 189 grams both scared but excited me. I immediately made pancakes...well, my girlfriend made them.
Part of my frustration at the time was I had no real measure of how I ate. Meaning, I thought I was eating well, but what is well? No cookies? 4 servings of vegetables? 3 Perfect Food Bars? With Flexible dieting, I now had a quantifier. Did I hit my numbers before I went to sleep? If I did, it was a good day, if I didn't, not so much. It was what I needed not just physically, but mentally as well.
I hate the scale. As a wrestler it represents so much more to me than a number. It's a reminder of so many hungry nights or hours and hours in a sauna, but I stepped on it. 165lbs. The heaviest I had ever been. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't fat, but I wasn't happy. I don't think anyone would have suggested I lose weight, but l wasn't doing this for anyone, I was doint it for me.
Immediately I loved it. Flexible dieting truly was flexible. If I wanted to eat 6 meals per day like my bodybuilding days I could, if I wanted to save most of my macros for a huge meal at night I could. For the first time ever, I felt as if I was in control of my food, food was not in control of me.
I also saw progress quickly, both on the scale and in the mirror. I went from a two pack to a four pack in less than 10 days and the scale dropped about ten pounds. I hadn’t weighed myself daily in years and I’m not a fan of it but it was a quick way to check progress and every morning it made me excited for my next day of flexible dieting.
As I gained confidence I started to take more pictures and post them on social media, and the world took notice, well, at least my followers did. I started getting tons of questions of what I was doing and how they could do the same thing. Just like when you start CrossFit and you can’t stop talking about it, Flexible Dieting is the same, I couldn’t shut up! I would tell people about it and some would listen others couldn’t believe it. How can you eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch every day and lose weight…I don’t know, but I do!
Now over 4 months later, I still love it and can’t thank Riki enough, she truly changed my life. I was at the point where I assumed I was just that guy that could never be ripped or look how I wanted to without killing myself, but with a simple phone call, Riki proved I can be that ripped guy in his underwear on instagram and I’ll never look back!
I currently weight about 138lbs and have increased my macros steadily to the point I’m now at 220 grams of carbohydrates, this from the guy that was literally eating less than 30 grams per day! I don’t look at foods as “good” or “bad” I just simply weight and measure, count one macro at a time and I couldn’t be happier!
Please be sure to follow Jay on Instagram: @jasonackerman78 and check out his page: www.squattherapy.com
A couple of months ago, my client and mentee, Lauren Parrinello, asked me to be part of a short ethnographic film for her school. She and her colleague worked very hard all semester long getting the proposal approved and then going into production. Lauren drove from Maryland to me (in New York) to train and then interview me for a few hours. Lauren shows much enthusiasm and dedication in changing the perception of the female body; strong is beautiful. I am pleased to have met her and coach her, she makes the world a better place.
Supplementation is a question I always get, “What should I be taking?” “What protein do you like best?” Whether you are a Zumba fitness queen or a competitive powerlifter, it’s important to know what supplements will benefit you most. You don’t just want to purchase all of GNC because your trainer takes and recommends it with zero explanation. You need to learn the why, when, and how much.
Now I will tell you, I’m no specialist when it comes to supplements. I just know what works for me and that is what I can share with you. I have only been on a true supplement schedule since I have been signed with Competitive Edge Performance. Prepping for the American Open last year, Tony Cowden, owner and operator of Comp|Edge, sent the sponsored athletes an outline of supplementation for optimal performance. I immediately emailed him back with multiple questions because before this, I was only taking protein and fish oil. He answered and explained in detail why I should be taking what, and when. We even took out some supplements and increased the dosage on others.
Here is a list of supplements I take: Vitamin D, Zinc, EFA 500 (fish oil), BCAA, Magnesium, Taurine, Vitamin C, probiotics, chondroitin sulfate, and deer antler. I will touch base on a few that I simply can’t live without below.
Magnesium- The benefits of magnesium range from regulating blood sugar levels, to alleviating migraines, and to strengthening our bones. I love that it does all that, but personally I benefit most from it to regulate my bowels. That’s right I said it, I have gut issues. I take 400mg at night and 200mg in the morning. This helps me sleep like a baby and go to the bathroom regularly. Before taking magnesium I was going every other day and was constantly in pain; in before you mention it, my fiber intake was not an issue. My other favorite reason I take magnesium is because it helps create ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), which is a high energy molecule that stores energy we need to do whatever is it is we do.
Vitamin C- Tony came to my gym a few months ago to educate me in the supplements that I take, yes he traveled from North Carolina to New York. How great is it to have sponsors that truly care for their athletes!?! Anyway, he stressed to me how vitamin C is the most underrated vitamin there is and we don’t realize the benefits of it. Also, you can never get enough vitamin C. When we were sick as kids, our moms would make us drink orange juice. Mom is a smart cookie. Vitamin C supports the immune system. It may not be able to cure the common cold, but it has been studied that it can reduce the risks of further complications. Stress! Whoever says they never stress about anything is a lair! Or Richie Rich, a juvenile multimillionaire-- actually no, he stressed about not having friends. Vitamin C can lower cortisol, which is your stress hormone. So eat your fruits and veggies and supplement some vitamin C.
This isn’t a blog post to sell Comp|Edge products to you, however even if I wasn’t sponsored by this awesome company, I’d still be a customer. The people behind this brand don’t just push out quality supplements to their athletes and customers, they educate us, because they care. If you decide to try Competitive Edge Performance out, use code LIL RIKI for a discount.
As most of you know, I competed at the RVA Open in the Invitational division a little over a week ago. While I was there, I had the pleasure to be a guest on The Movement Podcast with Jake and Matt. On this podcast we talk about how weird singlets are, what lifters intimidate me, and of course, Flexible Dieting. It was a ton of fun and I can't wait to chat again. Be sure to follow them on Instagram @movementrvapodcast!!
You asked, I’m answering. May not be the answer you want or are looking for but here are my answers. If I did not answer your posted question, it was either a good question that I will save for a future blog post, or the question was just a waste of mine and everyone else’s time.
“Do you have to have your body fat measured with flexible dieting?” I think it’s a good idea to have when you first start out especially. You ought to know what your lean body mass is so when you set your macros up, you don’t set your protein too low. It’s not major to have, I can still set up clients’ macros without. I also don’t recommend using the handheld tests either. Talk about inaccuracy. Try testing your body fat with the bod pod or DEXA scan.
“Flexible Dieting and eating on dates with a new dude without looking weird.” Plan ahead. Check out the menu beforehand and plug in your meal, be sure to overestimate if you don’t want to bust out that scale at the table. However, who cares if you look weird. Mr. Right will accept your weirdness no matter what
“What mascara do you use? Are those your real lashes?” I wear Ardell and Andre false eyelashes; the ones on that post last week were Andrea #45. I use Maybelline The Falsies Volum’ Express mascara in ‘brownish black.’
“Do you follow the Outlaw Way site program or do you use tailored programming?” The Way portion is too high volume for me as a weightlifter so I just follow the OBB part which is programmed by Mr. David Fleming. My boyfriend, Daniel Tyminski, programs for me though. He offers remote coaching and will be taking a new wave of clients after the Games this summer. Email him at Daniel.Tyminski@crossfitlindy.com
“How many hours per day do you train?” Average is two hours. In the morning I do the OBB strength portion which takes me an hour to an hour and a half, depends how slow I am moving. I go back to the gym late afternoon to work on accessories and maybe do an EMOM of a complex, which is typically just an hour. Two to three times a week I will do the WOD posted; if there’s muscle ups, snatches or handstand pushups, I’m doing it. Yes, I’m a cherry picker.
“How long have you been lifting?” I started CrossFit September 2012, I didn’t start being competitive until about a year later. August 2014, I sent Nicole Capurso a snatch pr video (we always send videos back and forth, to include SWELFIES lol) and she insisted that I register for a local meet because I could potentially qualify for the American Open. It took some convincing but I lifted at a local sanctioned meet a month later and qualified for the American Open as a 53kg lifter. I dropped weight to lift as a 48 and lifted in my first National meet (AO) in December 2014. So I have only been focused on weightlifting for seven months, yes, not even a year. So my friends, this should motivate you that it can happen anytime. How bad do you want it and how hard are you willing to work for it?
“Best way to get pullups.” For strict pullups, besides constant practice, you need to build strength and have decent mobility. If you start off with tight joints and muscles, you might be adding some stress attempting strict pullups. I suggest you check out http://www.livetheactivelife.com/ for mobility tips. For strength, do weighted ring rows and strict banded pullups, try to avoid the kip.
“Best way to gain weight while doing CrossFit with a Power Lifting emphasis” First thing you need to know is how many calories you’re burning in a day of training. Now add 500-1000 calories. You also need to make sure you’re making the smart food choices.
“Compression gear. Yeah or nah, and why?” I say hell yeah. They remove lactic acid faster, delivers oxygen to the muscles better, improves circulation, and it also accelerates recovery time. Right now you can get some awesome Skins compression pants on DoughnutandDeadlifts.com. Use my athlete code- LILRIKI and save 15%.
“Last minute cut for weigh ins” Yes, it happens. I can only speak from personal experience when it comes to last minute cutting before a meet. It’s only to drop the last kilo typically. I start a water cut six days out starting off at about 120 ounces and the day before I only have 20 ounces. I don’t like it, but I have taken scalding hot baths and that helped me drop half a pound in 20 minutes. Like I said, I don’t like the bath because I’m very claustrophobic and I easily panic, so submerging my entire body in boiling hot water is last resort. However, it’s much safer than a sauna. Salt baths, you are dehydrating your skin, saunas dehydrate your organs and make you feel like complete shit if you’re in there for too long—when you’re on a cut. You will recover and rehydrate quicker after weigh ins doing the bath than a sauna. This is last minute stuff though folks. Please please please be smart and use flexible dieting for cuts. Set realistic goals. It took me 4-5 months to drop 20 pounds for the 2014 American Open. It’s the safest way to cut, and I ate whatever I wanted, in moderation.
“Any extra benefits eating paleo while counting macros?” Totally. Don’t get me wrong, paleo is an excellent way to eat. In fact, the true practicing flexible dieters out there eat 80% paleo. Your micronutrients (vitamin and minerals) are just as important as hitting your macronutrients. You know very well if you follow a paleo lifestyle, you will indeed reach those micros.
“How young is too young to start flexible dieting, primarily to lose weight?” I do coach a handful of teens (13-17) using the flexible dieting approach. I have been given written consent by their guardians to be their “nutritional advisor.” The teens that I coach are active and competitive athletes. My competitive level athletes, I make sure they are consuming enough of the right nutrients to fuel their performance, we don’t necessarily have set macros. I tell them not to restrict themselves, they’re growing kids after all. For teens and weight loss, I do have a few and I have developed not only a close relationship with them, but I have one with their guardian. It’s all about trust and knowing who you’re working with. As long as you are helping a teen lose weight because their health is being compromised and you’re going to educate them with food, then I don’t see any problem with that.
There were so many great questions that I still want to answer, but I know I would go off on a tangent. I have written down a lot of your questions to turn in to blog posts; how to gauge refeeds, nutrient timing, supplementation, how to get over mental blocks, the list goes on. Be on the look out!