I am someone who has always had issues with their self image. Throughout my entire life, my weight and body shape has been extremely inconsistent for a variety of reasons, resulting in an warped self image. When I look at photos of myself now, I catch myself staring in disbelief, sometimes thinking to myself, ‘that can’t be me…’. Despite all my hard work and clean eating, I still have a hard time accepting how drastically my body has changed.
Entering into a weight controlled sport did not help much in terms of the way I felt about myself. When I started fighting, I was always too heavy for my height and it meant I would have to cut up to 14 kilograms sometimes, just to get into the ring. I dieted and exercised and I couldn’t lose any weight. After some time of being poked a prodded, a local GP in Melbourne had me diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) – a syndrome in which my ovaries are covered in small cysts, changing my body’s hormonal structure. In addition to this, many PCOD sufferers are also at the mercy of insulin resistance, greatly affecting their bodies ability to process complex carbohydrates, often storing them quickly as fat.
A common symptom of PCOD is weight gain, and many sufferers experience difficulties losing weight. My GP prescribed me with a low dose oral contraceptive to help me deal with my weight (and other vary issues commonly associated with PCOD) and a nutritionist advised a low carbohydrate diet. Between going Paleo, doing Intermittent Fasting, carb cycling, and the rest, my progress was undeniably inconsistent. It was frustrating, but I had submitted to the fact that I would never look the way I should, or the way I wanted. I would never look like an athlete.
When I moved to Thailand I was heavy for a fighter. The only fortunate thing being that I had time on my side. Time to lose weight and time to get into a more competitive weight class before I hit fights where weigh ins were required. It is a constant battle, something I struggle with daily, and it has taken me 18 months to lose close to 12 kilograms.
My weight loss has come with the usual fluctuations. I have also tried a variety of different programs to help me along the way. Last year I spent a period of time working with Elite Combat Nutrition in an attempt to shift some extra weight. While I enjoyed the metabolic conditioning program, and know of many other people who have had great success using it, it wasn’t suited for my body type. I felt great at training and when I fought, but I was consuming too much food for my body to process. A whopping 8 meals a day (granted, some liquid), was too much for my body to handle.
This year I had the opportunity to chat with the creator of The Lean Performance Diet, James Bee. James has worked with a number of high level fighters, not only with leaning out, but with their final week cutting program. I have had great success with James’ program and it is one I continue to use week in and week out to maintain my weight. His cutting guide is also one of the most comprehensive I have ever seen and I use this for all my weight cuts now.
After a while of maintaining a reasonable weight, I had done some research into the possibility of now trying a juice cleanse. Juice cleanses are a big thing here in Phuket and I have found that the combination of our little health and fitness hub (not limited to fighters!) has bred some really incredible businesses that support its environment including the growth in juicing and raw foods. No complaints from me – two things I love!
I have been wanting to do a juice cleanse for a while but the downside is they can be expensive with some companies, and with my gruelling schedule, I need to be weary of having enough energy for my sessions while recovering and not feeling hungry.
I chose The Juice Junkies because of how attentive they were to my specific needs and the ability to adjust my cleanse based on how I felt everyday – they even gave me the option to omit certain vegetables that did not agree with my palate. This is exceptional service given how lengthy the process is to make the juices, without having to take into consideration the finicky wants of the client! Lucky for me I am not that picky.
While weight loss was one of the reasons to undertake a liquid diet for 5 days, I also wanted to give my body a reset. Over the last 18 months I have had 22 fights, 1 significant injury, and a month in Australia of non stop eating and drinking. Suffice to say, I felt like my body needed a little TLC. Here is how it all went for me!
My juices arrived and I couldn’t help but look over all the beautifully coloured juices and Nut Mylks. Yuuuuuum!
My first adjustment was being reminded that this would be a caffeine free week for me. I don’t drink a lot of coffee, but some mornings I just need that extra kick before training.
The first juice of the day is a metabolism booster. It’s not the tastiest drink in there but I am pretty sure this will eliminate my need for coffee in the morning! The Cayenne pepper gives the juice a real kick and it has a really nice warming sensation that you can feel moving down into your stomach.
30 minutes after this was the first Green Smoothie. Unlike most Green Smoothies, it wasn’t lumpy and it wasn’t too sweet. Don’t get me wrong, I love Green Smoothies full of delicious fruits, but this one was perfectly balanced and so smooth – just a little thicker than a juice with a lovely banana after taste.
The red juice followed, extremely tart, but plays a vital role. Filled with naturally cleansing items, I drink it anyway and decide to keep it in my program regardless.
My next two juices were the green juices. Very high in citrus, I noticed it upset my stomach a little, especially after the second bottle. I was a bit concerned about this knowing there was still another green juice to go, but continued one my merry way, determined to stick it out. I hadn’t felt hungry all day and I begun preparing for my first training session.
I ran 7km before Muay Thai and it was the best run I have had in a long time. I came back and consumed my second green smoothie which powered be through a intense 2.5 hour Muay Thai session. I felt weak on pads but the trainers told me I was really strong so that was great to hear. Even on days where a juice cleanse is not a factor, I feel weak, but the trainers seem to think I am really strong, so I guess I just can’t tell sometimes!
I broke into my Protein Mylk in the final 30 minutes to keep my hunger at bay, and downed the rest straight after training. Despite being made with pea protein, the smoothie was amazing! Again, not too sweet, but the hints of cacao made it feel like I was drinking a milkshake. Heaven in a bottle!
My 3rd green juice after training sat really well in my stomach, no yucky feeling. I was incredibly happy my body had adjusted so quickly.
My final drink was a Nut Mylk before bed, which was a beautiful, creamy combination of house made almond and cashew milk (along with some other tasty delights). I found this equally as delicious as the Protein Mylk. Day one was done and dusted!
The owner of the company checked in with me after training which I really appreciated. She wanted to know if I needed to make any changes to my plan. It was extremely reassuring to me that this program can be changed should I need to.
One of the greatest acknowledgements of day one was being able to see how linked to my emotions my eating habits are. I received some devastating news on day 1 and noticed the first thing I wanted to do was eat. I didn’t even want to eat junk food, but I just automatically felt like snacking. It was an interesting thing to notice, because I think that I have been justifying snacking if it’s healthy. A little more mindfulness on my part in the future will go a long way!
I woke up feeling fresh and not at all sore from training. Usually when I start running long distances after a break from running, my legs get quite sore. Not this time around though! All positive signs! I also expected to wake up starving but surprisingly I didn’t which was amazing! I am so used to being hungry upon waking so this was a refreshing change.
I dove into 8km run (most of it up a hill) and a 2.5 hour Muay Thai session. I still felt good and strong though the session.
I started feeling hungry after training so I drank a few juices a little ahead if schedule until it subsided. By the time I was sipping my Protein Mylk during the second session, my hunger was gone.
I noticed a significant drop in energy during the second Muay Thai session for the day but managed to push through. I added an extra green juice before bed which I found helped with my hunger and recovery.
Despite being fatigued, I noticed that my mental alertness was through the roof and my mood was the best it has been in weeks.
As I set off for my morning run, I knew I was flat so I reduced the distance to a short 4km followed by a 2.5 hour Muay Thai session. I was incredibly weak the whole session and could feel how depleted my glycogen levels were. Despite this, my mood was still soaring, as was my mental alertness. No weird hunger pangs today yet either.
I had a good solid rest and wake up feeling groggy – not much different to most days though.
I went off to the Pro Team Airdyne session that afternoon and I knew it would not be my best performance, but I was insistent on just moving my body to make the most of the cleanse.
Physically I was a bit of a mess. Mentally, I was on fire. My exchanges with others were bright and lively and my attitude was so positive. Nothing could bring me down!
8km morning run followed by a 2.5 hour Muay Thai session.
I won’t lie. The run was a HUGE mistake. I knew I was fatigued and I could feel how tired my muscles were. I ran anyway, and came back utterly useless for the Muay Thai session.
Training has been tough, I have been fighting training with one of our best trainers who has been pushing me to complete failure on pads day in and day out. I suffer with him ordinarily (and don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE being pushed this hard) and today was no exception. Today’s training came down to mental toughness. Even though my technique was out the window, I was determined to get through the pad rounds, and I did.
I ended up taking the afternoon off as my body desperately needed it. I also wanted to prepare myself for a double session on my final day.
8km morning run followed by a 2.5 hour Muay Thai session.
Once again, I failed myself my running such a difficult run although my pads sessions after were not too horrible. The trainers could see how tired I was and I noticed by the time we had started sparring, I could barely lift my legs. I knew I had pushed myself too hard and was paying for it. The trainers gave me the afternoon off to go and have a massage and take care of my body. It was actually the perfect way to end the cleanse.
By the evening of day 5, I was starting to crave food. Any food. Anything I could chew. Instagram was not my friend on day 5.
In a moment of weakness, I found myself rummaging through my kitchen and decided to go visit a friend so I wouldn’t be tempted.
Over the course of the 5 days, I definitely pushed myself too hard in terms of training. My sleep improved drastically though which was a huge change from my usual tossing and turning. My recovery from training was better than when I eat well, and I was stoked that I wasn’t sore and had no muscle cramps whatsoever. It was great indication of how nutrient dense my program was.
I slimmed down significantly during my cleanse although I had doubts that this weight would stay off although after a day of raw eating and replacing all my glycogen with extra fruit and raw treats, my weight is holding steady. I will spend the next few days eating raw and vegan, and will continue to eliminate dairy and wheat products from my diet for the time being.
The thing I did not expect from this cleanse, was the emotional clarity and mental alertness that came with it. It’s no secret that I have suffered from depression in the past, and recently I had been exhibiting manageable symptoms of this. I had been withdrawn and unwilling to enter into large social settings. I had also taken time away from friends as I was having a difficult time interacting with others. I was taking too long to respond to messages and in general my mood was low and negative. I have walked away from this week, the happiest version of myself again. I can not believe how positive I feel, physically and mentally, and I will be making mini cleanses a regular part of my routine.
I still have a little more weight to lose to be at the 12-15% body fat range that I am aiming for, but I am so happy with where I am at right now and will keeping chipping away with The Lean Performance Diet.