Cutting Weight – How Not to Lose 40 pounds
March 9th, 2012, 5pm I stepped on the scale and weighed 130 lbs. and cried. This is the story of how I got there.
I’ve been wrestling competitively since I was 12 years old.
I was small, I guess I still am, but in middle school I was approached by my science teacher who also happened to be the wrestling coach and said, “We need a 91 pounder, ask your mom if you can join the wrestling team.” When I got home I said, “mom, Mr. Ortega wants me to wrestle, can I?” Like any good Jewish mom she said no, you’ll get hurt. When I went back to school the next day and gave Mr. Ortega the disappointing news, he told me not to worry about it and that he’d have a word with my mom. Obviously he had a way with words because later that day I was at my first wrestling practice.
I might be biased – no wait, I am definitely biased! But wrestling is quite possibly the greatest thing any child can participate in. You learn determination, heart, willpower, respect, and more, but first you get your butt beat.
I was the smallest kid in the room and I could see the rest of the kids salivating at the thought of pummeling my face into the mat. And that’s exactly what they did! In the beginning at least. For the next three months, I showed up every day at 2:30pm and for four hours proceeded to get my butt whooped. But, I’d never quit, I’d never give up, I’d never even complain and at the end of my first season I was given the “biggest heart” award.
Those kids that would constantly push me, challenge me, and thump me, weren’t doing it out of hate or anger. They were developing their competitive spirit in the sport they loved and in doing so they helped me develop mine. Wrestling not only shaped my body, it shaped my personality, my mindset, my life. Most of my best friends have come from wrestling mats. I think there’s something about sharing, blood, sweat, and tears with others that creates a bond that cannot be replicated.
So, that was 1990, how do we get to 2012?
After college and the end of my wrestling career I got involved in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is very similar to amateur wrestling but with an emphasis on submissions versus pinning. I continued to compete often and continue training to this day.
In January of 2012 I found myself at the heaviest I had ever been, a whopping 170lbs., which might not sound that bad, but keep in mind I’m 5’3″ tall. This frame is not made to hold 170lbs. It was a day like any other and just like every day I went and checked the mail and looked through the usual bunch of fliers that wind up tossed in the trash. Except one flier caught my eye. It was from NAGA Grappling announcing that they would be hosting a tournament at the local college on March 10th.
At this point you have to understand that my wrestling mindset was to get to the lowest possible weight I could. It’s a competitive mindset that’s been ingrained in me since that first day Mr. Ortega asked me to join the team. So, I scanned the flier and found the lightest weight class was 130lbs. I figured I had been there before and could do it again. I immediately went online and registered to compete knowing that if I plunked down $100 there was no turning back.
The next day I began dieting. I knew the journey from 170 to 130lbs. wouldn’t be easy, but I figured I had 10 weeks to make it happen and began plugging away. I loved competing but the process of cutting weight was a conflicting labor of love. The first few weeks the weight moved down, I was doing a modified Zone diet coupled with Intermittent fasting. I had had previous success with 14 blocks on the Zone, although clearly not sustainable, so I figured if 14 blocks worked, 10 would be even better. Less calories = lose more weight right? Or so I used to think. On most days I wouldn’t eat all day, and then binge on one enormous dinner. My favorite part was my 30 cashews. I remember eating them slowly, savoring each and every one like a precious morsel of candy.
My strategies were working and by the end of January I had already lost 15lbs. and figured at this rate with a simple water cut, I’d easily make weight at 130lbs. Well, my body had other plans. A week later I had completely stalled at 155lbs. My body had hit a dreaded plateau. It refused to keep losing weight and so I did the only thing that made sense to me at the time. I decreased my food. I went from 10 block on the Zone to 8 blocks and every day my body slowly lost a bit more until early March when I another wall at 150lbs. The scale refused to budge.
It should be noted, that while I continued to deplete my body by reducing my food, I was training both CrossFit and Jiu Jitsu. So I was exercising intensely over two hours per day…basically my body was in starvation mode, hanging on to fat for dear life as it struggled to survive on the limited fuel I was giving it.
That final week was terrible. Barely eating and the idea of dropping 15-20 pounds of water looming over me. Friday, March 9th I woke up at 148lbs. Weigh-ins opened at 5pm and my goal was to be the first one there, so I could get on the scale and start rehydrating before my first match on Saturday morning.
Let me make something very clear! Cutting weight can be dangerous if not done properly. I had over 20 years experience with manipulating my body weight and while I knew the next 8 hours of my life would be horrific, I knew I could do it and how to do it safely.
My training partner met me at the gym at 9am from there it was sauna, steam room, whirlpool, repeat. Within a few hours I was at 140lbs. and still sweating. 8lbs. out of your body sounds big, but in the wrestling world it’s really not bad, a good “cardio” session could easily leave you 5-6lbs. lighter, let alone when doing it in a sauna with sweats on. Dropping those last 10lbs. was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. While I was no stranger to cutting weight, 18 pounds in 8 hours was the most I’ve ever attempted and probably really dumb. As a guideline, 10% of your bodyweight in this timeframe is very high. This was just over 12%.
After making weight at 5pm and shedding some tears, I immediately began the rehydration process of water and pedialyte. By 6pm I was already back up to 140lbs. which doesn’t do your stomach any favors.
This was more than just winning a tournament or weighing a specific weight, to me this represented challenging myself and sticking to a goal. It would have been very easy to quit many times; when the scale wasn’t budging, in any number of workouts where I had nothing in the tank, even that Friday morning before shedding 18lbs. But I never gave up. The same 12 year old that lay pinned, repeatedly staring up at the lights his first year on the mats was still inside of me. The grit and guts wrestling has taught me will never disappear. But over the years my experience with cutting weight or making weight has given me more than just a sense of my own mental determination and sheer willpower. Like a human scientific experiment, I have tried & tested what works and what doesn’t.
Nowadays I walk around at 140lbs. eating donuts. This is something that truly amazes me when I think back to my wrestling, weight cutting days. This is a weight that was unattainable when I was starving myself and is now my norm. Think about it. I was barely eating and weighing 150lbs. Now I eat what I love and weigh 140lbs. You need to eat to lose weight, all of those starvation diets don’t work because your body is smart and is programmed for survival. Those sorts of low calorie diets just ultimately set you up for failure. Had I not had this tournament, I would have given up at 150lbs. and been right back up at 170lbs. within a few weeks. Easily!
I want to be able to share my experiences with all of you so you don’t have to go through the same misery and struggle that I did. I designed the
Cutting Weight Bundle specifically for athletes, bodybuilders or anyone that needs to make weight so that you can do what you love without conflicting pain & torture. I didn’t have a nutrition coach that could tell me what to do, my science teacher would simply say, “Looks like you’re not eating dinner tonight!” and that was that. I will help you make weight for your wrestling tournament, MMA fight, weightlifting meet, or be ready for the bodybuilding stage, whatever your competitive arena may be. I will do so in a safe way which keeps you fed and feeling energized right up until you compete.To perform your best, you need to look and feel your best. Let me help you get your mindset and your body on point. I know what it takes and I know I can help you be your best.