20 Aug A Binge for the Record Books
By Daniel Dalenberg
Since March 2018, I have been dieting pretty hard. Initially, my activity level was also very high with several weeks of lifting four days a week and doing some form of cardio seven days a week. The bodyweight dropped quickly, and I got leaner in a hurry.
For the first three months, it was easy to stick to the diet. I slowly reduced my carbs and fat intake and didn’t have much trouble sticking to it. I didn’t plan my cheat meals but instead, let personal and business travel dictate when I would be loose with my nutrition. That worked well and turned out to be about once a month that I had a couple of meals on the road that weren’t super clean.
Then I hit a big wall. I got to a point where I felt like I was at the end of cutting weight for a meet, except that I felt like that every day. I was tired, and my legs felt like they were going to come out from underneath me most days. This feeling went on for about ten days or so until I broke. I knew what my body was telling me: you need to EAT! I needed some extra food and to refuel myself a bit, so I tried to do just that…
A couple of granola bars quickly turned into a box of bars, a box of Cheez-Its, and a bag of mini cookies. I then discovered some popcorn and put that down my throat, too. Next came breakfast sausage and chocolates. To finish it off, I remembered that I had a pancake mix and started furiously mixing up the batter like some insane sugar craving crackhead. No measurements, just powder, and water until it looked about right. I knew my brain would soon get the signal from my gut that I was beyond full so I cooked quickly and ate the pancakes cooked “medium.”
The aftermath was gross. I got down to the last 1/3 of a 12-inch diameter pancake and knew another bite would lead me to vomit, so I put it in the trash before I even tried to finish it. I pulled myself together and went to lie down. For 90 minutes I laid in bed, moaning and hating myself. The most dysfunctional part? I had some grocery shopping to do, and if I got myself together, I planned to get an Oreo McFlurry on the drive home. I did not manage that, thankfully. I was sick for two days, gut completely messed up, and super bloated. It was smelly and disgusting time for me.
So what did I learn?
- Communicate with your coach, if you have one. I should have told Tucker how I was feeling and that my body was giving up. As soon as I did, he adjusted me, added in a cheat meal, and gave me some freedom. Two days later and I felt like new.
- I need to have a cheating strategy and put some limits around it. I could have refueled with a small portion of what I ate and not been so gross. A bunch of low fat, low sugar cereal like Corn Flakes and lactose-free milk would have done the job to satisfy me and not left me sick for 2-3 days. Going completely off the rails messed me up.
- I need to treat my diet as I do my training, to some extent. When Zane or Brian have programmed for me, I have always used this as my starting point and make adjustments on the fly when necessary. At this point, I have enough training experience to do this and listen to my body when I need to, without requiring their permission or guidance. I need to build that same competency when it comes to nutrition so that I can adjust on the fly.
- Don’t keep too much junk food in the house. We had a little too much around, and I ate it… I ate all of it.
The biggest lesson learned was that one big binge didn’t ruin the progress I had made. It didn’t mean I should throw it all away and eat whatever I want for weeks on end, either. It was a small bump in the road, one that most will encounter, and in the long term, it doesn’t matter so long as I got back on track.
Editor’s Note: Dan is currently taking a break from powerlifting competition since March of this year and is knee deep in ‘Powerbuilding.’ Dan, with the help of Tucker, has been, since March, utilizing the diet, programming and coaching expertise from the upcoming book from Brian and Tucker, “10/20/Life for Powerbuilding,” coming early 2019.