Friday, May 14, 2010

Making weight, cutting weight for a tournament.

This will never be me in the absolute division (or anywhere else.)

But still, I manage to stress over my weight more than I should. Making weight for a tournament is a different thing for women than it is for men, I believe. It seems to me that men are usually fine with whatever they weigh ordinarily.. but logically want to be in a lower weight class at a tournament for strategic purposes. Women, on the other hand, are pretty much always conscious of their "walking around" weight and pretty much always wish it were less. Add to that the spectacle of a public weigh-in (and not even the Gina-towel-accidentally-dropping type) and the labels these tournament people attach to our weight classes... it gets ugly.

I mean, seriously, NAGA, wtf? how can you divide women into "light weight" (134.9 and under) and "heavy weight" (over 135)..

And women still want to be in the lightest weight class they can, for the same strategic reasons.

Plus, it's harder for us to drop weight, thanks to the hormones swirling around in our bodies that think we best be prepared to bear fruit at all times, despite images in the media that tell us we should always look like this:

So... keeping in mind this is NOT medical advice, I'll tell you what I do when I want to lose weight for a tournament. And I'll say up front, I know what I do is contrary to the advice of most nutritionists, sports med people, doctors, blah blah blah. It's just what works for me so nyah. I'd love to hear what YOU do to make weight, if you care to comment...

My problem is that usually after a tournament I get a little loosey-goosey with the diet, treating myself to pizza, tacos, Belgian waffles, and other yummies. Thus, I gain back what I lost. When I'm not "between tournaments" my weight settles at a happy, healthy place, so I know my usual amount of eating, exercising, and sleeping is good for me. Tested with a bod pod at my gym, I'm 21% body fat, which is the bottom of the range of "healthily slim" and just above the start of "elite athlete" (which makes me LAUGH) according to the World Health Organization and National Institute of Health recommendations. So please don't think I'm anorexic or whatever.

It's a simple, three step process. I start about 4 weeks out from a tournament.

1. I work out at least 3 hours a day, 7 days a week. On weekends, this consists of jits class-- maybe a 20-30 min warmup of conditioning, cardio, pliometrics, stretching, bodyweight strength exercises, etc. Then an hour or so of drilling technique, which is maybe 1/3 sitting and listening. Then an hour or so of open mat. On weekdays, I'll do a two hour jits class in the morning, at least twice a week, sometimes if I'm lucky 5 days a week. Lunch is an hour of crossfit-like class at the gym, and sometimes an hour of open mat afterwards. At least 3 nights a week I do a 3 hour jits class as well. This is actually my normal workout schedule, whether cutting weight or not. If I am really stressing about losing weight, I will add a night class on Monday, or cardio (LSD) workouts on the weekends.

I will say, jits motivates me to exercise. I want strength and endurance! (Arms like these would be great too.)

2. I get at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night. This makes all the difference in the world, in terms of fast weight loss AND not physically breaking down. Better if I can get 8.5. When I can, I add 15-20 min in the sauna at my gym, maybe 1-2 times a week. I count this as rest, as it certainly helps with any tweaked muscles. I do NOT cut weight in the sauna, though I know others do with great success. I have tried it on the day of weighins, for example NAGA tournaments where you weigh in the day before, and it doesn't cut a lot of weight for me. Couple of ounces at best. I'm just not hard core enough to dehydrate that much.

3. I seriously restrict what I eat. If I am really panicky about making weight, I'll eat 700 calories a day; if I'm just shooting for losing 3-4 lbs/week, I'll ease up to 900-1000 a day. Usually for me this works out to eating 100-200 calories throughout the day in the form of healthy, very low calorie snacks (carrots, celery, cucumbers, strawberries, lemonade with splenda, rarely some low fat light yogurt). I'm just not hungry before and after class. At night after my last class, I'll eat the rest of my calories for dinner, ideally a huge spinach/kale salad with lots of fresh vegetables chopped up, some protein, and a little bit of whole grain carbs. If I'm being bad, I will keep the same calorie count but adjust for indulgence with a cookie or two, or pasta, or whatever my husband is eating for dinner.

My resting metabolic rate is 1300 calories a day, meaning if I sat at my desk and did no exercise, that's what I burn just existing. A pound of fat is 3500 calories. To lose a pound, you have to burn more or eat less; Newton's Law of Thermodynamics means it's simple math. My body can't always do math-- sometimes I am CERTAIN I ate way more than I exercised and still I drop weight; sometimes I am positive that I only ate 700 calories, yet I gain weight. This is why I think being female makes cutting weight different than it is for a guy. I retain water unpredictably, and my hormonal cycle throws a wrench in the mix too.

But, it works for me. I weigh myself on two digital scales, one at home and one at the academy. At home, I'm naked, at the academy I'm usually in a normal (non-competition weight) gi. I write down my weight twice a day like clockwork. It gets a little anal retentive, I know, but it's that or show up for a tournament and be over weight. At NAGA it's just embarassing, to be this short and have someone say I'm a heavyweight and make me fight the bigger ladies. But at IBJJF tournaments, it means I wasted plane fare etc. and can't get bumped to a higher class. Lame.

I will say that the whole body fat analysis thing made a world of difference. After doing jiu jitsu for 18 months, it seemed like I could never get back down to my prior, happy, skinny weight of low 120s. But the analysis showed that, to keep the same amount of muscle mass and still weigh that little, I'd be in the 10% body fat range (which is ridiculous, for me, and would kiss hopes of fertility good bye.) When I weigh about 132, I am about 18% body fat, which is well into elite athlete, and still at least 7 pounds too much for the pena/feather weight division. Oh hell, I don't care. I'm short for my weight :)


Ryan said...

How did you compute your resting metabolic rate? Knowing such a value seems it would be important to cutting weight.

Mike M. said...

Here's a great site that I'm using for cardio and body weight exercises:

Although the girl shown is very fit, the exercises are pretty tough. I'm usually drenched in sweat and out of breath during and after. They are HIIT type of workouts usually using Tabata timed rounds (20 secs work, 10 sec rest). I've previously done a lot of the Power 90 and P90X routines, but the Bodyrock ones are a lot of fun (read work), always evolving (never boring), short (usually 16-20 mins), and make me feel great.

Looking forward to seeing you again in a few weeks.

Georgette said...

@Ryan: To be honest, I surfed the net and took the average of all the RMRs I found for a woman my height, weight etc. I used "sedentary" as my activity level because, while I work out 7 days a week, it's not always the same # of hours. The Bod Pod analysis provided a number too, but it was crazy high, like 2100 cal/day. I know this is crazy high because if I ate that much I would gain weight. Smarties in the audience will say I've slowed down my metabolism. I respond "Great! Then I'll live longer!"

@Mike: yeah, I hear Bodyrock is really good. Most of the people at my academy who do something outside of jits for fitness do either P90x, crossfit, or Sealfit.

See you soon!

Elyse said... has a resting metabolic rate calculator. It's also pretty nifty for counting calories and figuring out different food alternatives to maintain higher overall nutritional values.

Meerkatsu said...

HAHA that photo at top is hilarious, so glad I did not open this blog at work!
This whole weight cutting business is amystery to me. I'm tiny as it is and I am too lazy (read: unmotivated) to actually try. But I can understand if, say a person is 1.5KG above their lower bracket, it would make strategic sense to do this. But I know guys who are trying to cut several times the point of near bodily collapse.

For the ladies here in the UK, I don't think many bother cutting weight simply because they usually get lumped together in one or two weight division (I'm talking local comps, not the big IBJJF ones) so there's no point eeking out those extra kilos.

Anyway, good luck at the Worlds!

Carlo said...

Dropping the fat % is the clue, 15% will make a huge difference in both your weight and the way you feel. Core cardio should make the trick (INSANITY works great for this purpose). just keep in mind that it's not just quantity wise eating but quality wise. how much are you actually planing to drop in 1 month?

Georgette said...

@Carlo: Do you mean body fat % or the % of fat in my diet? Because I can tell you, at 15% body fat, I will be seriously angry at the world, and it's just not worth it to me. I'd have a rockin' body but I don't need to be that good. :)

And as for the % of fat in my diet, I don't measure things that scrupulously. I monitor calories in and calories out. Some days, I just need a brownie, some cookies, whatever. I'm not going to deny myself, I'll just make sure to cut back in calories somewhere else. I know this is not long term healthy, but that's not how I eat long term-- it's just the making-weight thing.

I'm losing 11 lbs between now and my departure date for Mundials, June 2. Though I "gained" 6 lbs in the last 24 hours (most likely water, I guarantee you it's not fat) so if I went off yesterday's weight, I'd need to lose 5 lbs.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Good work Georgette. Very thorough analysis.

I've been tracking my weight and Body Fat on a daily basis since Jan first to see if the diet I'm following actually works and it has revealed MANY very interesting facts. It's amazing what statistics can teach about how to view numbers and what to make of them.

I've also been working on my test-cut technique (the water-cut you do long time before the actual comp just to gauge how much your body can/will loose in water) and that's going very well too. I'll hopefully sit down and write up a nice report for the blog soon.

Best of luck in all your preparations my friend.

Anonymous said...

The first time I heard about "cutting weight" I was really shocked. People lose 10 pounds in a week? WHAT WORLD AM I IN?

Yeah...since starting BJJ I've been okay sharing my weight with the world. Partly because it's a motivator to lose weight, and partly because when you are 20+ kilos up on someone it REALLY makes a difference. (for the record, I'm 92 kilos and I will be THRILLED when I finally drop below 90)

I'm just shocked that these men find it so simple to lose weight. Then again, never before have I been around so many fit/muscular people before, and I'm definitely more aware of my diet than before.

Good article, though I doubt I'll EVER be in a position where I'll have to cut weight.

# Medium Heavy: 163 lbs
# Heavy: 164 and over

Yeah...Need to lose nearly 40 lbs to get to the next weight category. >_<