To cut or not to cut...that is the question.
It's no secret that I love food. Perhaps too much at times. Especially when I am in Hawaii where there's a wide variety of my most favorite fatty foods just at my finger tips. Needless to say, I've put on a few pounds after my most recent trip back home. Of course I've got superficial reasons why I want to drop the weight but this year I've got an even bigger incentive. My sights are set at winning the gold at the 2010 Pan Ams. But I've got my work cut out for me! The Pan Ams are in less than a month and I am raging a serious war on that extra weight. Yet most importantly, I've got my game face on and an undying desire to win.
There are a lot of different opinions on the topic of cutting weight. Some people say that it is not healthy, makes you weak and is in fact a disadvantage. Others see it as a strategy to win. My natural weight is right at the bottom of one division and just a few pounds over the top of another. I have personally fought at both my natural weight and have cut weight to the division below. I know based on past experience that if you cut weight right and do it in a healthy way it can be an advantage. However, I have had to learn the hard way, that depending on the tournament, sometimes cutting weight is pointless and just an added stress.
The first time I decided to cut weight for a tournament in Texas I spent a good few weeks prior the event dropping weight. I then found out the only other blue belt weighed in 30 lbs over my natural weight. Never again.
The trick to cutting weight and staying healthy is to balance what you eat and the amount of exercise you do. Too often these days we are looking for instant gratification through crash diets and the various fad dieting that come along. The most dangerous types of diets are those that promote starvation.
Starving yourself is dangerous. Eating less than 1500 calories a day, will plummet your metabolism. Your body goes into starvation mode which means it will hold onto every ounce of substance you consume for as long as possible. Once you start eating normally again (assuming you do), your body will continue to hold onto everything, and you'll gain everything back you lost plus some. So in the long run, starvation diets will cause you to gain weight.
Starving will lead to a loss of muscle mass, instead of fat mass. If your body eats at your muscle mass because you're starving yourself, then you will lose the ability to burn up those extra calories. Starving yourself will do damage to your body, which could be permanent. Your body will feed on itself, and will deplete the proteins and minerals that your body needs to function properly. Your heart, kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, everything will suffer from malnutrition. As the body begins to feed on muscles, your heart (the largest muscle in the body) will weaken. You'll become dizzy often as your heart will have trouble supplying your body the right amount of oxygenated blood to your organs, brain, and extremities. Passing out is a high probability, and you'll run an extreme risk of organ failure and heart failure. Starving yourself can kill you.
I hate running with a passion, but I've found it has the best results when wanting to lose weight. My work out consists of: 15-20 hours a week in Jiu Jitsu, 6 hours a week in weight training, yoga 2 hours a week, run about 25-30 miles a week and I am hoping to incorporate crossfit into the mix shortly if they incorporate it into my gym.
As for my diet, when I am burning off all those calories, it is crucial that I am properly fed. I have cut dairy products, sugars, whole grains and starches out of my diet almost entirely. I eat a lot of veggies (my favorites are Brussels sprouts, avocado, broccoli, kale), fresh fruit (pineapple, berries, mango), fish (Salmon and Mahi Mahi are my favorites), Kambucha, nuts (brazilian nuts and almonds are my favorite), Zinco coconut water, Acai, egg whites and protein shakes. Most importantly I make sure to take my vitamins. I take fish oil, vitamin E, C, B, Iron supplements, calcium supplements, selenium, zinc and Echinacea.
By no means do I claim to be a health, fitness or nutritional expert. All in all, you know your body best and what works for you and what doesn't. I have simply found what has worked for me. I have also found that having a happy disposition and living a stress free life contributes to my over all well being. Not to mention having a positive state of mind contributes to my success on the mats. So the long and short of it is. live healthy, be happy and never stop challenging yourself.