Overdue Thoughts on CBL & SFCW Tue. 10/7/14

Congrats for winning tonight, NATS!!! You made this house a much happier place! ;)
Congrats for winning tonight, NATS!!! You made this house a much happier place! ;)

FIRST: I’m sorry I’m publishing this later than normal. It’s been long day, a fast-moving day, and I just got home from the gym!

SECOND: If you’re here for the workout, here’s a doozy modeled after the workout I did this past Saturday at the gym:

3 Rounds for time:

  • 12 Pull-ups (or you can substitute a row of some sort)
  • 30 Wall Balls (or goblet squat thrusters)
  • 12 Handstand push-ups (or regular push-ups)
  • 15 Kettlebell Cleans (use two kettlebells or do 15 cleans each arm)

If you don’t have access to equipment, sub out lunges, burpees, push-ups, and hollow rocks. You can even up this to four or five rounds. Have FUN!

And THIRD, if you’re here for my blogging, I have a very long overdue post on my Carb Back-Loading reflections.

When I first started blogging about health and fitness, I had a pretty different audience. I was following a body-building style lifting plan and I had JUST gotten into “Carb Back-Loading” as my way of nutrition. In a nutshell, DH Kiefer, founder of CBL 1.0, and Carb-Nite Solution, is a genius. No, literally a genius. He’s a doctor, a physicist, a bodybuilder, and knows how to burn fat, preserve muscle, and get lean. Not many people are good at this. One of my bodybuilding friends introduced me to his books, and it changed mine and Erik’s worlds. Erik has been doing carb back-loading variations ever since. And recently, I was asked to do a follow-up on my experiences with it. So here goes.

You kind of have to understand my back story though, in order to understand how carb backloading really works for women, and why I love it, and why I have also returned to this style of eating after about two years of getting away from it. So let’s back up to about ten years ago when I made my first attempts at getting healthier…which aren’t really much to brag about:

  1. I got into fitness because I was overweight and didn’t know how to eat correctly.
  2. I lost weight by binge dieting and yo-yo dieting. For a long time, I still didn’t know what to do to lose weight.
  3. I learned how to start making “healthier” food choices…like whole wheat over white. Popcorn over ice cream.
  4. Working out–mostly cardio–became habit.

Turning Point: 

I met two very important people at this stage in my fitness life: Erik and Randy. Erik looked at my workout plan–which was lots of cardio–and introduced me to weight lifting. He also looked at my “My Fitness Pal” nutrition tracker and introduced me to protein. He taught me how to lift weights and he taught me how to shop for even better foods. And a few months into figuring out that I LOVED lifting weights, my body started taking on a form that I had craved, and I really started paying attention to others who did the same. I wanted to know how to fine-tune this fitness craft even more.

Enter Randy.

Randy--one of the two most influential people to me in my quest for supreme fitness!
Randy–one of the two most influential people to me in my quest for supreme fitness!

I know I’ve talked about Randy before–he helped teach me more about fitness and food than anyone else, aside from Erik. And Randy is even the one who has cautioned me about overworking my shoulders too much as well–knowing all too well what happens to over-trained shoulders! (Sorry I didn’t listen as much as I should have, Randy.)

So when I met Randy (I had to work up the courage to introduce myself and ask for advice), I ended up chatting with him for over an hour, and have been friends ever since. Randy taught me more about lifting–how to do it better, when to lift what muscles, even how and when to do cardio. I learned about interval training from Randy and I learned about some of the dangers of steady state cardio from him as well. And the BEST thing I ever learned from Randy, several years later after becoming a fitness instructor and starting my dabbling in blogging–was about DH Kiefer and Carb Backloading.

What’s Carb-Backloading?

Carb-backloading is how this blog started, really. I wanted to tell people about all that I learned from Kiefer’s books (CBL 1.0 and Carb-Nite) and how it’s possible to lift heavy weight and have your donuts and ice cream too. Kiefer explains the science (it’s not a gimmick or fad diet, it’s research based and scientifically proven), but in my simplest words, you lift heavy-ass-weights, and then you eat carbs post training. You eat really clean–Paleo-style–during the day before your training, and you can even practice intermittent fasting upon waking if you choose. But post training, you carb-load. And according to Kiefer, you can do so by eating your favorite sweets, too. Simply, eat your meat and veggies, lift heavy, have dessert. It doesn’t work if you don’t lift heavy, and it doesn’t work if you try and slow down the carb absorption with fats and fiber, so there’s even a little trickiness there. BUT overall, it’s really simple and a total game-changer in the face of six-pack-abs and fitness if you do it right.candy test

But I did it wrong. 

I screwed it up. You see, there’s a lot you don’t know about my now 10-year journey to “get fit.” From day one, I have been on a quest to become the fittest ME that I can be. So for several years, I denied myself access to “fun foods” like ice cream, cookies, cakes, pies, even comfort foods like potatoes, burgers, mac-n-cheese, bread, whatever. If it was deemed “unhealthy” in any way, I avoided it. For YEARS. I constantly denied myself “crap” foods (minus the occasional holiday splurge), and I even went so far as to deny myself FRUIT all because of the high sugar content. I was the QUEEN of low-carb, never eating sugar, and scowling upon those who did. I think my habits both impressed a lot of people and then annoyed even more. But whatev, I was super healthy.

Until I learned I could Carb Back Load. 

cblKiefer’s science isn’t wrong, I just screwed up the plan. Women store glycogen (carbs) in their muscles longer than men. And because I denied myself carbs for YEARS, I–lucky me–store them even longer than most women. (I screwed up my hormones by all that yo-yo and binge dieting in my 20s.) So when Kiefer said, “You can lift weights and come home and have a pop tart,” I came home and had a pop tart, two cookies, rice with dinner, and a blizzard for dessert. “I’m refueling my glycogen stores!!!!!”

Everyone warned me–even Kiefer himself–to be cautious. Women can’t overdo it. For the first couple months, I didn’t gain any weight  and my lifts in the gym actually got stronger, but I didn’t lean out like I wanted to either. I knew I was over-doing the carbs but I didn’t care. This was freakin’ awesome.

But I still wanted to lean up. That’s why I started this journey years ago–to lose weight! Look amazing! 

So I decided to try out Keifer’s first book, Carb-Nite Solution. It’s pretty much the same, except this time instead of having carbs every day that you lift, you eat super clean six days a week and then have one carb night. PERFECT for me because my body wants to hold on to these carbs longer and maybe if I only have them once a week, I will lean out more the way I want.

Can you believe I still screwed that up?

If there’s anything that I’ve learned over the last ten years, it’s that you can’t restrict food from women. When you do, they binge. Well, many do, and I’m one of them. So for as long as I followed the carb-nite plan, I binged every Saturday on EVERY single food I denied myself in ten years of “being that healthy person.” It was my CARB NITE! (Night, not day, Steph.) Sigh.

The pumpkin muffins I made this past weekend.
The pumpkin muffins I made this past weekend.

Of course I got tired of this. I still wasn’t meeting my goals. 

I threw in the towel, and that’s where most of my current and/or new readers have started following me–when I picked up CrossFit and Paleo. CrossFit has changed my life in more ways than I can tell you here, so I’m not going to try. It has even lead me to truly find my place in the fitness world– my strength. And Paleo foods? Eating paleo has its ups and downs too…but for the sake of your time and mine…it’s not my end-all-be-all…or whatever the cliche is. My point is, most of you have been following me once I started blogging more about CrossFit and eating Paleo.

You know what I learned from eating Paleo? Bacon and nut butters are awesome. 

And I also learned that I can eat an entire jar of almond butter in two days. Seriously, that’s not healthy. And don’t hate on me for saying this (some of you will), but I still don’t think that bacon is the healthiest food option available, either. It just tastes so freaking GOOD. Done well, eating Paleo makes me feel good on the inside. I feel clean, healthy, and I don’t feel bloated and my muscles aren’t as sore and I don’t feel like everything is inflamed either. I hit a lot of PR’s on a Paleo diet.

I also cut too many carbs, restricted too many foods, and really battled with myself on how to balance out holiday splurges and vacation treats. Does Paleo count at Christmas? What about on that weekend get-away? Is beer Paleo? Is it a cheat day yet?

You see, I learned to restrict foods SO well, that I binged on them when the time allowed. Tell me now, how is that healthy?

Feeling sexy and strong...and no one can take that feeling away.
Feeling sexy and strong…and no one can take that feeling away.

It wasn’t until very recently that I started to see things in a whole new light. 

Hitting my 305 lb deadlift PR.
Hitting my 305 lb deadlift PR.

When I started caring less about food and more about eating to fuel my powerlifting, I actually started to like my body. I have NEVER in almost 34 years, liked my body. I mean, it’s why I got into this fitness world. I was trying to change things and lucky me–I’ve learned all the lessons the hard way. But only recently have I stopped restricting foods and I am just trying to eat smart–that’s all. Sounds so simple, right? What’s funny is that the more and more that I look at what I’ve been doing, I’ve realized I’m actually doing a combination of a lot of things. I’m having Kiefer’s recommended accelerator shakes in the morning. Eating paleo-type meals for lunch. I’ve been eating healthy snacks pre-workout and sweet potatoes post training. And if I happen to come across a cookie or piece of candy? I haven’t denied myself either–I have saved it for after my lifts. I’m not stressing about eating all the things I couldn’t eat before; I am simply training. Training smart, eating for my goals, and I stopped trying to be the chick on Instagram with the abs. And you’ll never believe what I found when I stopped trying? Abs. Go figure, right?

PS–I’m drinking a Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale right now while editing this post. I just worked out, this is part of my post training today, and I do not care what anyone else thinks. It’s freakin’ awesome, and I’m happy. beer

I am proud to say that I feel healthy, strong, and I’m working on getting a 300 pound back squat by the new year. 

275 pound back squat from this weekend. Im so close to 300, I can taste it!
275 pound back squat from this weekend. I’m so close to 300, I can taste it!

You see, being healthy might actually be really easy after all. You make smart food choices every day. You eat foods that are good for you, have nutritional benefits, and if you are an avid lifter, you eat foods that aid your workouts. You know how to food prep, and you don’t leave yourself starving and stopping for fast food on the go. You don’t obsess over what you “can’t have,” but instead treat yourself every now and then, and honor your body and respect the hard work you do every day for it. It’s really quite simple. And maybe that has been the hardest lesson I’ve ever learned.

Does carb-backloading work? Absolutely. It’s the reason I started Strong Figure in the first place, and it’s exactly what I’ve found myself doing…several years later…the RIGHT way this time. I’m lifting heavy ass weights now, and I’m eating a homemade pumpkin muffin with my protein shake. I’m not obsessing over food anymore and I’m not restricting myself. I’m eating smarter, and things are working well. This was how it was supposed to be all along, and I am incredibly happy that I found my way back!

If you have any questions about Carb Back-Loading, training, goal setting, or overall nutrition, please ask in the comments section! After so many years of battling foods, weights, and this body, I am beyond thrilled that Strong Figure gets to serve as an outlet to help others NOT make all the mistakes I’ve made on my quest to “FIT.” And if there’s anyone out there who knows what it’s like to battle food restriction and binge-splurging, I HIGHLY encourage you to check out Abby’s Fit Life! I am currently reading her eBook, “Living Balanced,” and there are some incredible tips for overcoming the damaging affects of restricted dieting. It’s great! 


  1. eatsandexercisebyamber says

    Stephanie ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR THIS POST <3 You are honest and open with us. And I am raising my hand high, in agreement with you, 'when you restrict, you binge'. I am hands down VERY guilty of this, downing bags of cereal, jars of peanut butter, etc. in ONE or two sittings from not allowing myself to have those foods in the first place. You see, when a food is "off limits" it becomes even better, more delicious, more appealing, thus creates the binge, then you restrict, and the cycle repeats. I smiled at your AHA moment and I am so happy for your new found love of your body, I can agree, when i stopped caring about EVERY single morsel that went into my mouth, my love and appreciate for my body grew, and I leaned out, magically. Somehow, I am the lowest weight/body fat I have EVER been, yet, I eat probably twice as much, FOOD FOR FUEL/GET THEM GAINZ <3

  2. Stephanie Walker says

    Thanks Amber!!!! (I thought I commented on this earlier from my phone but I don’t see it so I’m commenting again) ;)
    Isn’t it amazing what can happen if people just relax a little bit more sometimes? Ha! I think what’s sad to me is that there are so many people out there who have to struggle with weight gain, who aren’t naturally thin, who aren’t educated about healthy foods, etc., and then in order to lose weight, they become obsessed, restrict foods, binge, etc…and it’s all because people just think they have to “diet” in order to get in better shape. I mean, true, we all need to make healthy food choices, but cutting calories to 1200 and eating a frozen “smart choice” whatever meal isn’t the way to go. I wish society could somehow focus on eating for nutrition, not eating for losing weight. I think if we could start teaching more of the benefits of food instead of the reverse, maybe we could look at overall health in a better light, instead of the “oh I need to go on a diet” mentality. I have no idea if any of this is making sense but I think of myself, when I gained weight because I had no idea the foods I was eating and the lack of exercise was actually destroying my body. I had to make so many mistakes before learning what worked to become healthier and fit. I wish we could cut that part out for everyone who will face a similar challenge and instead of saying “here’s how to lose weight,” say instead, “this will make you feel better.” Again, hope this makes sense. Just extra rambles at this point….

  3. says

    Great write up….but then again….I always thought you were a great writer/author. I am sure others that will read this, have experienced some of the things you have mentioned and hopefully they can learn from your trials and tribulations. I feel honored that you mentioned me in this article as someone who had some influence in your life, but that you also used one of my pictures.

    It makes me feel good inside to know that you are a true ambassador to the fitness world. I am glad to see that you are paying it forward to others (teaching and guiding them in the right ways and advising them in what could also be the wrong ways). Again….Well Done!