RP Coach's Story - Dr. Jen Case

It's easy to assume that RP coaches have perfect physiques and training regimens and easily maintain those due to our elevated levels of academic and performance-based knowledge. I wanted to share my progress with you today to remind everyone that RP coaches are athletes just like you who struggle with the same challenges in body composition and performance goals. Our bodies do not always respond to stimuli the way we expect them to, and for many of us, the motivation to continue to learn and acquire knowledge was driven by the fact that our bodies respond poorly to common diet and training stimuli. We are driven to learn about the most effective ways to diet and train to get our own bodies to respond.

My personal struggle is with fat loss

Like many of you, this has been an ongoing issue since junior high. I have been tested for PCOS and hypothyroidism, neither of which I have. My body is just very slow to respond and takes a greater caloric deficit for weight loss. My sport of choice is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There are weight classes for every size individual. However, for females, as you get heavier in weight there are fewer and fewer competitors in your bracket.   The feather through medium-heavy weight classes tends to be the largest brackets on the female side. My end goal is to be in the medium-heavy bracket. For this upcoming tournament, I went for the heavy weight bracket as I am returning from an injury and had massive amounts of weight gain.

Last May I was training for one of the largest jiu jitsu competitions and my ACL was completely torn two weeks before the competition. I was unable to compete and had to have ACL reconstruction surgery. As this was my second ACL reconstruction (the other knee was done back in 2010), I knew it was going to be a long road to recovery and a long time away from jiu jitsu. I still lifted weights regularly for the first 3-4 months post-surgery, but my diet did not stay on point. Healthy cooking at home went out the window and convenience food like pizza and Chinese takeout become the norm. Doughnuts, cookies and ice cream also made regular appearances in my weekly diet. By six months post surgery, I was deep into my “no jiu jitsu funk”. I had gained 25 pounds of useless tissue, basically stopped lifting and was eating like a college freshman.

But there was a glimmer of light on the horizon. I was finally released to start training jiu jitsu again, granted it was only while wearing the giant Don Joy ACL brace, but I was back on the mats. This was in November of 2016. My diet was still very poor, but I was becoming more aware of the problem and actually want to take steps to improve my diet. I began by reducing the junk. I went back to preparing more meals at home. When the pizza craving hit me, I would have a small frozen pizza instead of an entire large pizza. The sweets were limited to a couple doughnuts rather than half a dozen in one sitting. My weight was sitting at a solid 200 pounds now and no longer climbing. I had stopped gaining weight and was starting to be more active.

I stayed in this holding pattern of decent eating for a few months. It was late March/early April that I finally decided I needed to write myself a diet plan and stick to it. My knee was starting to really feel good and I knew I would be able to return to competition in a few months. I designed a proper diet plan for someone of my age, gender, and activity level. I would stick with it for about 2-5 days and then cave and have a free meal. This resulted in zero actual weight loss. I reached out Dr. Spencer Nadolsky for help with my appetite/cravings. After speaking at length with Dr. Nadolsky about my goals and current issues, he prescribed Topiramate to help control my appetite. I still had to focus on my goals and stick to the diet plan, but the medication helped to decrease my appetite enough that I could adhere to the plan.

It was in May that (when I began working with Dr Nadolsky) I was able to really stick to my diet plan. During that same time, I reached out to a friend of mine to be my lifting partner. Having someone to lift with helps to keep me accountable, because I know they are adjusting their schedule to come lift with me. It also revs up my competitive side and makes me want lift harder. I registered for the IBJJF Masters World Tournament in August to give my jiu jitsu training more of a focus as well. I have just finished my 12 week weight loss phase and am down to 175 pounds. My plan is to maintain this new, lower weight for 12 weeks then resume weight light loss with the end goal being low 160s. Having 3 weeks of weight maintenance leading up to this competition allows me to gradually increase my calories my calories over the next few weeks. This is perfect as that will aid in recovery between each training session and enable me to train harder to be more prepared to perform on August 24th

I just wanted to share my story with all of you to remind you that everyone struggles in some way when working towards body composition and weight goals. Your RP coaches are no exception. We each have our own goals and barriers that we must overcome. The diet and training plans we recommend and design for you are very similar to the ones we design for ourselves. At times you may need to reach out and ask for additional help, like I did with Dr. Nadolsky. Finding a training partner and/or registering for competitions can help to keep you focused on your diet and training. Social support is a commonly overlooked aspect of diet adherence. Let your family and friends know your goals and get them involved. Who knows, they may want to join you on your journey!

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