When I Grow Up, I want to Be a Unicorn

Little bit jealous over here, that looks awesome.

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Writing as someone of more or less the same height as you:

My weight does not fluctuate very much, but I can gain around two pounds depending on the time of the month. I don’t think in your case that a three-pound swing in that timeframe is worrisome. Sure, if you are in a deficit, you might not be in as big of one as you think, but I wouldn’t count it out based on a couple measurements.

How many steps do you take? You seem pretty active, so I am surprised that you are not in a deficit. Anecdotally, I find that accumulating a lot of steps regardless of my training goals affords me more food. The unfortunate curse of being a kinda short woman. This can easily lead one down a dangerous path of course, which I do not want to encourage.

Shooting for 160g protein, beyond that, things fall where they may within 1500cal.
Averaged out the last month from MFP:
125g Carbs, 70g fat, 143 protein - Looks like I am a little low in the protein, but not too bad.

I weigh meat raw. Measure everything else cooked. Been in the cut since Jan 2nd. Total weight down as of this morning? 4.4lbs.

How would one calculate that?
Both articles were a good read by the way, thank you!

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You did great with that approach! This is getting my gears turning for sure. I have learned to deal with the hunger, but I can only go so low on cals without negative effects. Plus… I have been trolling around the Training Logs and Tnation articles getting far too many program ideas. None of which go well with a cut of course!

Gladly! Every time I think I am going to move, I don’t. Everything I love is within a four hour drive. The adventure possibilities are endles!


The 3 pound swing being normal? That is good to know. I have never owned a scale until now. Honestly, probably not a great purchase.

I shoot for 10k steps a day. Hit it about 8 days out of 10. I have a desk job, so I have to get it by a morning walk and wandering around the office as much as I can while avoiding my boss.

Right? I get round so easily. All but me and one other person in my 9 person family is overweight or obese. What I have to look at from them is not great, I want to run from that very quickly.

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If you feel like you’ve stalled @jskrabac wrote a great post last year on what to do when your cut stalls that might be a useful read.

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Read it about a week ago and bookmarked! It’s awesome. Hence why I added more walking. Counting that as cardio. I’ll probably add some rowing during gym days too. I’d like to avoid cutting more calories for now.

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This averages to 1,702cal per day, so your deficit may not be as strong as you intended. Your protein is a tad low, but nothing too concerning.

There’s a few equations which can get you an estimate of your maintenance calories (Basal Metabolic Rate/ “BMR”), I used this BMR Calculator and lucked out but I can’t promise it will be super accurate for you.

The most accurate way to find your maintenance intake is to eat a regular week’s food, do a regular week of exercise and track both your weight and your calories/macros. Do this for 2 weeks, and if your weight doesn’t change - this is your BMR.

Or if you’re impatient like me, you can just calculate your BMR (with exercise adjustment!) and subtract 500 calories for your daily caloric intake to meet 1lb/wk weight loss. Continue weighing yourself daily and from week-to-week, you should see about 1lb weight loss - and you can adjust from there. It makes the math a bit trickier, but if you have the patience of a puppy (like me) it’ll get you on the path sooner.

It’s worth noting that long slow cuts can be pretty shitty for most people; it certainly was for me. I lost somewhere between 15-20lbs from early November to about the end of January, then the weight loss completely stopped while I was still in a 1000cal daily deficit. where this is important is that sometimes doing ‘diet phases’ helps a lot. This is the method I will be doing in another week or two after my maintenance phase is over: (MATADOR diet)

You’ll use two-week periods of aggressive dieting with a 30% deficit, followed by two weeks eating at maintenance calories. You’ll continue this two-on, two-off approach until you’re as lean as you want to be.

  • Weeks 1-2: Below-maintenance diet with 30% calorie deficit
  • Weeks 3-4: Maintenance calories
    Repeat as needed.

Dieting is tough, and weird, and sometimes makes no sense, but I find this method way more appealing so it doesn’t just feel like endless pain coupled with frustration. I can manage 2 week bursts on a strict cut way better than 3-4 months (who would’ve thought?).

I’ve also had success when cuts stall using the 5/2 diet for lifters.


I stopped weighing myself a couple months ago, and it has been good for me. I previously weighed myself religiously for several years. I have not intentionally lost weight using this strategy, but I can see myself never returning to using the scale unless I decide to compete it a weight class sport, and even then that’s only a maybe. That’s not to say that a scale is not useful, however.

A three-pound swing is very normal. That happens to me regardless of whether I gain, maintain, or lose weight. But even when I have lost weight in the past there is almost always a stubborn series of days where I don’t lose anything if at all, and then at the end of the week – usually after a refeed and in turn a good night’s sleep because deficits stress out my body like crazy, especially because I use more drastic rather than gradual approaches – there is a “woosh effect,” and the number on the scale reflects that. You might have weighed yourself on a “bad” day and internalized it as a failure to maintain a caloric deficit.

Gotcha, 10k steps are good. You could experiment with increasing them to see if that makes a difference. I don’t have a car and generally enjoy walking, but I can imagine that accumulating more steps takes more intentional effort in some situations.

I’m sorry to read that. My parents also did not model good relationships with exercise and food, so I can empathize.

I failed to do the maintenance calculation the right way before getting on the cut band wagon… Too late now! According to the calculator, I am basically where I should be. It came up with 1981c with 1-3 days exercise. With my desk job, I can’t say it’s more than that.

According to the above number, a 30% deficit would put me at 1387. I’ll see how this week goes on Sunday, but that isn’t much lower than where I am at now.

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I am liking this. I don’t take a lunch break at work, so it would be easy for me to skip that meal two days a week. If I am interpreting it correctly, it sounds like you can keep your training the same as well. For instance, doing 5/3/1 with this might be acceptable?

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That’s what i did, yeah. Instead of changing your lifestyle for 7 days a week, you just change 2 days. Makes it much easier to stomach.

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Sounds like great cardio right there!


I like this term! Fingers crossed for woosh effect on normal weigh in day.

It is for me. Desk job. Drive to work. Etc. I have to go on purposeful walks, but I enjoy them as well.

Thank you, I know I am not alone in this. They absolutely did they best they could on their budget. I honestly have no idea how they managed. My dad got up over 300 at one point, and when he started to go to the gym, he had a heart attack after a workout one day. He still makes the joke, “don’t go to the gym, it will try to kill you”. He has lost and kept off about 50lbs though, which is fantastic.

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Absolutely! I ran for years, then just stopped one day. Oh crap… Sprints. I need sprints.

Trap Bar DL
4 x 6 x 190
4 x 6 x 85

3 x 8 x 155
3 x 10 x 35

Farmer’s Carry
3 x 60sec @ 70lbs

A couple of those presses ended up as push presses on the last set. Everything was feeling heavy and slow today. Ate about 400cal more than allotted last night, I was hoping that would translate to today, but it did not.


I have been having an internal conversation on goals, and how I’d like to program my next few months of training. I am getting better at clean meal planning every week. It’s getting easy to avoid pastries at coffee shops. During travel… that one is a work in progress. I am slowly wrapping my head around food being fuel, not a reward.

I admitted to myself today that lifting has naturally taken over time and mental space that another pursuit once occupied. I have found myself with more time now. I’ll phrase my lifting goal in the form of a question, how big can I get? I, of course, don’t want to find that answer at the bottom of the Twinkie box. More along the line of, when I wear a long sleeve shirt, I need a concealed carry permit.

When chatting with my new coworker about the gym the other day, she said that when she first saw me, even with me sitting down she was thinking, “Damn, she looks like she could mess me up.” Maybe the nicest thing a coworker has ever said to me. This girl weighs 100lbs soaking wet, but I’ll take it. Then later that week my other office mate asked me if I still lift weights. Ego boost over. I’d like it to be clear to everyone.

Here is my order of operations, I did not come up with this on my own. Took it from a certain Mythical Strength Reddit post, swapped out BBB for Hardgainer.

5/3/1 for Hardgainers
I do not claim to be a hardgainer, I want to get back into 531, try a 4-day lift week, and I just like it. I also discovered my gym has a prowler.
6 weeks, 7th week will be a deload/conditioning week that will line up with a hiking trip I have planned.

Building the Monolith
It scares me.

Deep Water beginner through advanced.
See above.

Starting Monday, it’s all plug and play now.


In for the follow. This is going to be good, ladies and gents.

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Hell yeah!