The past 8 weeks has been Phase 1, and I've just come off of the 1 week of "maintenance"....
Maintenance Week: Deadlifting PRs, Sweatbread & Full Moons
But I did hit 120kg with my new 1RM Deadlift - fueled in part BY that extra energy, I'm sure!
I got quite hungry a few days in as my metabolism really started kicking in and asking for more food! It was actually harder than I thought staying at maintenance on some days - so I increased my intake on the days I felt I needed it. And it felt good!
The intake over maintenance week varied from 2100-3000 calories, and ended up averaging 2400, so nothing too excessive, anyway - in fact, that is my average maintenance cals (before the cut - so now it would be less at a lower weight). The extra energy all came from super nutrient dense foods my body does well with - and also fattier cuts of grass fed meat, bone marrow, extra egg yolks, sweet potatoes... and a good dose of 100% chocolate, for those anti-aging antioxidants!
But in any case, based on my body's needs, I decided to relax, stop counting, and eat intuitively for a few days - for me, this means eating whole foods my body craves, and not restricting or putting limitations on how much, BUT at the same time also not eating impulsively. There is a difference! A habit I got into is finishing all of the food I have made, or eating past the comfortable feeling of full, even if all that food "fit in" to my energy intake (lots of veg and volume!) - or even just BECAUSE it fit into it, and that I "could" eat that much (funny how the mind works sometimes!)... but THAT much at a one go still does not FEEL good! So tuning into a more intuitive style for me is also STOPPING eating when my body's NEEDS are met, not the needs of my eyes that are bigger than my stomach haha ;P
Intuitive eating is a skill, and learning how to listen to the subtle cues of the body and hunger and satisfaction takes time - it's something I would like to consciously start cultivating in terms of mindfullness and body awareness when eating during this cut even though I'm tracking my intake; and then afterwards I would like to move towards integrating a more intuitive eating style when maintaining. (i.e no tracking).
Thankfully, I feel more and more in a really good place when it comes to my relationship with food - and as someone who has struggled in the past with this, especially in periods of illness/dysfunction, it is such a gift to move in this direction, and feels very liberating and nourishing.
Starting Point for Phase 2
All in all, I'm really happy with maintenance week. I feel a big difference at the end of it - my metabolism feels stable and happy (no cravings), whereas at the end of the 6 weeks prior I was juuust at the point of getting cravings even though the deficit wasn't so high (just comes when being in a deficit for a while), and my body feels nourished and my glycogen stores filled! Apart from the physiological and hormonal benefits of a week of increased energy intake as part of a cut, I think the psychological effects are just as beneficial. My mind feels calmer and more focused, and knowing that I am doing this in a way that doesn't place excess stress on my body, and choosing a slower way, if you will, but that will eventually pay dividends in terms of health and metabolic function later on down the road makes it much easier to trust the process.
Sometimes you have to seemingly regress to progress... But it is all part of the plan ;) I'm ready and excited to take on the next 6 weeks!