Earlier this year I completed a full 12 weeks of a Renaissance Periodization weight cut. I’d done shorter versions of them before in order to make weight for competitions, but I’d never done the full 12 week program. Could I really stick to a plan for 12 weeks? I challenged myself to do it, and along the way learned a few surprising lessons.
- There is no good time to do this. Go ahead, look at your personal calendar and find a 12 week period without a birthday, anniversary, major holiday, vacation, or event. Can’t do it. At least I couldn’t. So just jump in and be ready to tough it out, or give yourself permission for a small splurge. It’s life, you gotta live it.
- Your non weightlifting friends and family will not understand. ‘But you don’t NEED to lose weight!’ is what I heard over and over for 12 weeks. Be prepared for your social life to dwindle and for some friends to stop calling. They probably weren’t really friends to start with. Figure out things you can do with your friends that don’t involve going out to eat or sitting in bars, unless you want to be a total glutton for punishment and sit there drinking club soda for hours.
- The scale is not your only measurement tool. For me, I found I noticed the biggest changes when I took photos of myself and then looked at the photos. For some reason, seeing the changes in a photo registered more than seeing the changes in live form. Get your fat measured, pay attention to how your clothes fit – some days that will give you better feedback than the scale.
- Eat the program. I’m a bit of a carbophobe, so I tended to scale down in my carb measurements. That caught up to me on cut 2, when my fat intake got cut down to 1 serving of fat a day. ONE SERVING. I was hungry all the time, until I started to eat the proscribed amount of carbs. Eat what they tell you to eat.
- Don’t freak out about meal prep and/or your cooking skills. Now, I like to cook. On a cut, it’s pretty hard to figure out the macros involved in a serving of something like ‘Thai Curry Soup’ (Do I eat one more almond to make up my serving of fat? Is there protein in the broth?) What I ended up doing for 12 weeks was less ‘cooking’ and more chopping and heating things up somewhere past a raw state. Making one chicken breast? Make 5 and there is your protein for the week. Steaming some broccoli? Steam the whole head. It’s not advanced cooking nor do you have to spend a lot of time on planning. Keep it simple. Which leads into….
- Sriracha, salsa, pickles, mustard, vinegar, spice rubs and other no carb/no fat flavor additives become your lifesaver to not going bat shit crazy eating chicken and broccoli for 12 weeks.
The results of my 12 week experiment? I went from a body weight of 132lbs down to 120lbs, a body fat of about 18% down to 13.5%, and added a pound of muscle mass. I am a 47 year old, post menopausal woman who does almost no cardio and doesn’t even really lift all that heavy. What’s your excuse?