My Journey Coaching Myself through this Bulk: Part 2

Part 2 is here, WHOO HOO. If you haven’t checked out part 1 –> GO. In this one, I’m going to focus on what to consider when you increase your macros, when/how often I increased and by how much I increased my macros each time. The best way I can think to do this is to give you the basic information first, and then just jot down the outline of the timeline as an example of what it looked like  for me. Again, this is what worked for ME, you need to find what works for your body. But this is a tool you can hopefully use to learn the basics and then apply to your life. As always, let me know if you have any specific questions!

Factors to Consider:

Most people think the scale is the most important factor, and it can play a big role, but it’s not the whole thing. To start, you’ll want to weigh yourself every morning (or at least most mornings) and keep a journal somewhere where you write the information down each day. Every day there are going to be fluctuations based off of things such as hormone levels (how near you are to the time of the month), sleep (or lack of), digestion issues, water intake, sodium intake/bloating, stress, food, etc. This isn’t to stress you out, this is to help you realize that just because you jumped .5 pounds overnight, does not mean your food intake is too high. The beauty with bulking too is if you do gain a little too fast, you’re still on track because the point is to gain weight–you just know to slow it down going forward.

Other factors to consider besides just your weight is your hunger levels (are you hungry when you go to bed or are you still stuffed when you wake up the next morning?) and your strength/performance in the gym. Eating more won’t magically bump up your performance, but theoretically eating the extra calories should allow for more muscle to be built and therefore increase gym performance on a big-picture scale. For example, my scale was doing some wacky things at one point, telling me that I had gained almost 3 pounds in one week, which I know was not physically possible (I’m also dealing with a lot of hormonal and digestive issues which play a huge role in this too). I didn’t restrict my food, instead I focused on how I felt and gave myself another week to see how it would pan out. There were times my scale was going up like crazy yet after two weeks at the same macros, I was still slightly hungry some nights so I decided it was time to increase.

When/How Often to Increase:

There is no arbitrary number, it’s really going to depend on the person and your individual progress. The rough estimate is every 1-3 weeks, preferably around the 2-3 week range. This gives your body enough time to adapt to the prior macro increase which then allows you to decide how to move forward. If your weight has roughly stayed the same (I used the scale of within the same .5-1 pound) for at least 1.5 weeks, then consider it time to increase the macros. However, still listen and pay attention to the other cues because some circumstances may call for slightly adjusted approach.

By How Much to Increase:

Last, but certainly not least, how much do you increase by each time? Again not a straightforward answer because it highly depends on the person. A good range that I aimed to follow was around 100 calories at first. but more recently I’ve been wanting to step up my game and have being doing 200 calories. This will depend on how much your weight has fluctuated, how close you are to your goal, how high of macros you already are at (i.e. it may be easier to jump from 2300 –> 2500 then from 3000 –>3200). Try either 100 or 200 at first, and then you can decide from there whether that seemed too much or too little.

As far as the individual macro breakdown, there is a general rule of thumb, but you need to find what your body works best on (carbs vs. fats. vs protein). Generally, you’ll increase your fat anywhere from 2-5 g (18-40 calories); increase your carbs anywhere from 10-30 grams of carbs (40-120 calories) (this can vary heavily depending on what stage you are at and your goals); and increase protein either not at all or very little, maybe 3-5 grams (12-20 calories). The reason for the small protein increase is, most people choose their protein level and stick to it–I only changed mine once my weight moved to a significantly different level (my protein went from 140 to 145 to 150 and will stay here)

My Personal Journey/Experience:

Week of November 27: 348c — 140p — 72f

Week of December 4: 348c — 140p — 72f

Week of December 11: 370c — 140p — 75f

Week of December 18: 370c — 140p — 75f

Week of December 25: 370c — 140p — 75f

Week of January 1: 370c — 140p — 75f

Week of January 8: 385c — 145p — 77f

Week of January 15: 385c — 145p — 77f

Week of January 22: 385c — 145p — 77f

Week of January 29: 420c — 150p — 80f

Week of February 5: 420c — 150p — 80f

My Journey Coaching Myself through this Bulk: Part 1

After asking on my Instagram, there seemed to be high demand for me to share my journey and experience coaching myself through this bulk. This of course is going to be a multiple blog series because I have so much to say, but in today’s post I want to go through the basics and outline of my journey thus far. One thing that I want to remind you before starting all of this is that everybody and every body is different. This is my journey that I am working on and what seems to have worked for me so please do not try to exactly copy everything I did/do. Use these blogs as a starting point for you, but adjusting everything to your body, past history, goals, lifestyle, wants/needs, etc. I’m not sharing this to say look at me; I’m sharing it to help those out there who are in the same situation or may be curious about transitioning into a similar situation as me. I know  a lot of people don’t talk about self-coaching because so many people have coaches, which is why I want to put as much content on this subject out there as I can. As always, I am always here to answer questions, talk, or just listen so please do not hesitate to reach out to me: comment below, email me, or DM on Instagram (@beyoutifully.healthy).

Last year, I’d been reverse dieting for a while, but during volleyball season (Late August to early November) it got difficult–we go out to eat a lot, on tournament days I would eat upward of 3000 calories most days, and then of course, I got injured and wasn’t able to workout for a month. So I decided as an athlete I didn’t need to track, and once season I ended I gave myself a two-week hiatus from tracking and working out before starting into my bulk. This was the week after Thanksgiving so I’ve been bulking from end of November to now or a little over two months. I have learned so much about the process, about myself, and this lifestyle in general throughout this. It hasn’t been easy, and I certainly have not been perfect–there have been many days I said screw it I’m still hungry, I’m going to eat. And part of me was okay with that due to my background of an eating disorder, if my body really needed more food who was I to stop it at this stage? It was a tricky balance because I did want to stick to my macros to accurately gauge my progress, but sometimes you have to do what you feel is best. However, overall I have been pretty in-tune and stayed on track so far with my bulk.

Now, I’ll go into the details of how I measured progress, when I increased my macros and by how much, where I started and why, etc. in a separate blog, but here I’ll outline a few things. After working with a sports dietitian for a few months and doing my own reverse diet (attempt) during the Fall, I had a general idea of starting my macros at what equalled around 2600 calories. Every day I tracked my macros, my weight, and how I felt/other important notes. It’s important to understand that bulking isn’t just about what your weight is doing, you have to take other factors such as digestion, tired levels, sleep, hormones, etc. into consideration too. Every week I would look at the previous week, compare it to other weeks and decide what my macros would do going forward. Essentially I did mostly everything a coach would do, minus sending in progress pictures because it was just myself. In this aspect, having a coach can be beneficial because they are an objective eye for progress and then tweak your macros from there–you don’t have to worry about the amount you just follow what it is given. However,  I promise you that progress is possible by yourself too. Now, I am not competing any time soon if at all. If I ever did compete, I would get a coach so that I could be more precise, but as far as my goals for right now, coaching myself is perfectly okay for me.

Lastly, I want to touch some of the things I’ve learned. First, bulking is not just physical. Most people think it’s all about gaining the weight and building the muscle and it’s not. Don’t get me wrong it is a big part of it, I mean essentially your goal in a bulk is to build your physical appearance so that when you cut, you’ll have a better physique. And it’s tough to physically eat as much as people do on a bulk.  People think oh yeah, I’d love to eat 3000 calories or bulking means you eat out all the time and eat lots of junk. First, off you may wish you could eat that much, but it’s hard. And don’t just use “3000” because that could be easy for some people, but those people are bulking at 4000 maybe. The point is that it is hard to shove more food down when you aren’t all that hungry or not even hungry at all. It’s hard to cut and be hungry, but it’s also so hard to eat a lot of food and always feel full or bloated, especially because you don’t get shredded like you do on a cut, you are supposed to be adding weight–muscle and fat. And this is where the fact that bulking adds a huge mental aspect to it too–especially if you’ve come from a background of an ED or body dysmorphia. So what I have learned to do is this: focus on things other than what my body looks like. I focus on my strength in the gym, on the fact that I get to eat a lot of yummy food; I focus on my PRs or the muscle I’m building or the fact that I actually have a booty now. I don’t have a coach to keep me accountable or you know to encourage me when I start doubting, so when  coaching yourself you have to learn to be that for yourself and this is one way that helps. Also, I highly suggest you get support around you whether that be in your family, significant other, friends, social media friends, etc. because they can help encourage you and keep you going.

I know this was long and a little scrambled, but I wanted to get my thoughts out and give y’all the basics. I promise that the next two blogs will be more focused on actually how to coach yourself/increase your macros as well as specific tips on coaching yourself. Please let me know if there is any specific questions, or topics you want me to cover in regards to this. Thank you for everyone who is supporting me on this and I hope you can learn just one thing from my journey too.