[Q & A] My Journey with Iron Tribe Nutrition

Jun 1, 2017

Sarah Cook
Sarah Cook
Jun 1, 2017

Iron Tribe has always emphasized proper nutrition. After all, if your diet doesn't reflect your hard work in the gym, then you probably won't see the results you want. With the conclusion of the Transform Challenge, we've seen countless members share their journey of dialing in their nutrition through the Renaissance Periodization diet (read more about the RP ideology here).

In an effort to live out the code that Iron Tribe preaches, our corporate team tested out the nutrition program before releasing it to members. After watching Corbitt, our VP of Marketing, succeed with the program, I decided to sit down with him and pick his brain about his results!

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Why did you decide to dial in your nutrition?

Ha! That’s a great question. There are multiple layers to it. It really came down to getting my arm twisted by Forrest. Our offices sit right next to each other and as the Transform Challenge was coming up he asked me everyday whether or not I was doing it. I would come up with a whole host of excuses and each one he would combat with a reasonable answer as he had already done the diet before.

So, literally, the morning of the Challenge I began reluctantly throwing food together for the day (probably cursing Forrest under my breath). But, that’s why accountability is so great… After only a few days what I thought would be hard or undoable I realized wasn’t so tough. I started to see patterns in the diet and fall into a routine.

What were your eating habits like before?

If you had asked me before the diet, I would have told you that I ate “clean” and I think I probably did for the most part. We purchase high quality meats, I ate healthy carbs, healthy fats, veggies and fruits. The reality is though I wasn’t tracking anything and for aesthetics / weight loss there’s just no way to see real results if you’re not measuring.

You see I started doing Paleo around 2010 and was diligent. Then, over time, my performance started to suffer and I talked to some highly educated individuals in the nutrition arena and they were pretty explicit that the body is glycolytic and I need more carbohydrates. So, I reintroduced carbs, but continued eating “healthy fats.”

Without any sort of tracking the caloric intake was just way too high to achieve the physical results I wanted. Not to mention other things I wasn’t measuring like sauces and dressings… Those can easily push you overboard.

What was your first week on the plan like?

There was some figuring out for sure. Like most of us I thought I was weighing all of my carbs in grams… As in I would weigh my whole wheat bread to come up with the weight grams I needed to eat instead of just looking at the grams of carbohydrates. That was a HUGE revelation when I figured that out. Made things so much easier.

Plus, just googling things… There are so many resources out there. You can literally google “how many calories in X” and it’s going to come up. So, there was a lot of that to start and I found what worked easiest for me. I’m routine and have no qualms eating pretty much the same thing every day so I had a couple different meats and carbohydrates I would rotate through.

What were some of the biggest struggles and how did you overcome them?

Well, I went for the full 12 weeks not just 45 days of the Transform Challenge. So, once you get to Cut 3 it’s a whole different level. There’s a lot there psychologically that happens. Your body is super depleted and that can have effects on your energy level, processing thoughts, emotions, etc. As much as my wife appreciated the six pack abs she was ready for me to go onto maintenance by the end of Cut 3. But, I’m glad I did it and pushed myself to that limit. It’s fun to see what you can do.

Other than that, non-training days are my least favorite… As I’m writing this it’s a non-training day and it’s no fun to know my caloric intake will be pretty low. I worked out a lot on this diet… Not super hard mind you, but just enough to justify a “light training day” on the template so I could eat more food.

And, lastly, just overcoming that I had to do things EXACTLY as they were laid out on the diet plan. For example, non-training days which I just mentioned the diet calls for my carbs to come with my last three meals that means for the first 6 - 8 hours of the day I would have no carbohydrates. There’s just no way that would work for me. So, I have carbs with my first two meals, skip carbs on my third meal, carbs with my dinner and then no carbs before bed. It works well for me and I’ve gotten great results even though I didn’t do it exactly as prescribed. I did the same thing if I was going on a date with my wife. I might skip carbs with a meal so that I could have more at dinner and enjoy myself.

Describe a regular day of eating

It really depends on what Cut I was on, but let’s do Cut 2 since that’s right in the middle plus I’m currently on Maintenance 1 which is the same as Cut 2.

  • Intra-Shake: 35g Whey Protein / 50g Carbs of Capri Sun (I stole juices from my daughter)
  • Workout: 5am-ish
  • 20min After Workout: 70g of carbs (usually oatmeal or cheerios with unsweetened almond milk), 6 boiled egg whites
  • 10am: 55g of carbs (usually white rice or whole wheat bread), 4.5oz of lean meat post cooked weight (usually ground turkey or chicken)
  • 2pm: 25g of carbs (same as above), 4.5oz of lean meat (same as above), green veggies cooked in calorie free canola oil spray
  • 6pm: 25g of carbs (two chocolate rice cakes with fat free cool whip slathered on top!), 4.5oz of lean meat (whatever the wifey cooked), green veggies
  • 9pm: 35g Casein protein pudding with half a packet of sugar free Jello pudding mix and unsweetened almond milk

What were some of the first signs that the plan was working?

Honestly, just looking in the mirror and tracking via everyone’s favorite - selfies! The scale didn’t budget for a lot of Cut 1 and Cut 2. But, I saw physical changes by tracking through pictures. You see I think that’s where a lot of people fall off. They don’t stay consistent or get frustrated not seeing the scale move and quit or give up. I tracked this diet meticulously and trusted the process.

Over time, I did lose some weight, but it wasn’t that much because I was also able to add some lean muscle mass by eating regularly and getting protein consistently.

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Ultimately, in 12 weeks, I ended up going from 17.7% bodyfat to 9.4% bodyfat based off an inbody scan.

How did the ITF community aid in your success?

So many ways! I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for everyone in the office doing the plan, to our athletes to Iron Tribe Nutrition page. There was such great information and then just people being real about whatever they were dealing with helped me know I wasn’t the only one going through certain things. It was great to see the community come together and support each other!

How has taking charge of your health ultimately benefitted your overall lifestyle?

I love it! I love the way I look. Sure, I still have insecurities about my body as we all do. So, it’s not like I’m overly confident, but I’m proud of myself. I know that I put in the work and committed to something and got great results for me. And, that’s what it’s all about. We’re all on our own journeys and you have to not compare yourself to others and just track your own results.

If you had told me I would have gotten the results I did or even have been able to be so diligent for 12 weeks when I started I wouldn’t have believed you. Now, I’m a believer in myself and RP! I have no plans to ever do any other program. I’m on maintenance now and will see this through to new base. Once I get to base I’ll continue to track my weight and take the average over a couple weeks span. Depending on which way my weight goes I’ll decide if I want to do another cut or mass cycle.

Thanks to the entire community for the support. Feel free to reach out with any questions as well. I’d love to help you or lend any advice that I can!

Any parting words of wisdom?

As crazy as my transformation was over the Transform Challenge and the 12 week cut that I did, it's even more drastic if you compare it to a year ago (pictured below). I've been very open and honest about some of the things I've gone through on our Blog and my personal social media. In the before picture from a year ago I was training extremely hard - probably overtraining even. There were also certain struggles I was dealing with behind the scenes and all ultimately lead to me in the ICU with viral meningitis on August 11th of last year. Then, even more revelations that lead to where I am today.

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In June of 2016 I weighed 238lbs... the last time I weighed to date I was 193lbs.

Since then, SO MUCH has changed, but it wouldn't mean a thing if it wasn't from the inside out. The physical is cool and, yeah, it took work, but the transformation has been more than that. So, my encouragement to anyone reading this is to keep at it, hold steady and keep getting back on that horse. Be stubborn and uncompromising when you need to and know when you need to take a step back to evaluate things. And, just be honest with yourself - you know if what you're doing will get you where you need to go or not.

About Sarah Cook

Sarah oversees social media and internal communication for Iron Tribe Fitness. Her goal is to share the mission of Iron Tribe so others can be transformed by the program, and ultimately become the healthiest version of themselves. Graduating from Auburn University with a journalism degree, Sarah has a passion for storytelling and the written word.

Sarah Cook