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Changes in physique once I prioritized strength training over cardio

I have received SO many questions about my own experience with counting macros, while making weight training my primary area of training vs. a cardio heavy group fitness class 6-7 days a week.

Some disclaimers: These photos are in no way a reflection of good/better/best. I am not asking for any feedback on which you prefer. I am not going to speak to the weight in any of them because that is not the point. I have been at many weights and I can promise that when the number on the scale was my focus, I did NOT feel good. ... In both right-side photos I was/am prioritizing protein, counting macros, training regularly.

The top left is my first progress pic when I first began counting macros in 2016. I was coming from a place of inconsistency, whole30s, diets with names and lots of rules. I was ready to try this elusive concept of ‘moderation.’ ... The top right was 3 months into macro counting. It was working! I was losing weight. But I was not building muscle. Frankly I didn’t care because the results in the photo speak for themselves. I was making progress and felt like I found the answer! ‘great’ results were superficial at best because:

I was hanging on by a thread. I was reversing out of my cut but wrecking myself with group fitness and trying to manage insatiable hunger, bad sleep, inflammation and a loss of my cycle. My macros were very well-suited to my frame (~2000 calories), so I contribute the turmoil to the intense physical strain I was putting on my body through stressful, intense exercise.

Bottom left: in summer of 2017 I had walked away from macros, never feeling satisfied or strong (a result of being under-recovered and lacking any strength focus), wondering what the next ‘diet’ should be - I was ‘trying something’ - keto. It didn’t work.

Bottom right: today. Macro counting, prioritizing protein, strength training, no cardio beyond a 1x/week HIIT session plus 10-12k steps/day because I love them. ... What I am trying to illustrate is the difference in my leanness once I started to prioritize strength training with minimal cardio. This may NOT be the look you’re after and that is OK!

What’s more important? How I FEEL today:

No insatiable hunger

No pain

No ‘transaction required’ mentality when it comes to eating and exercise

Again, let me reiterate that there is not one ‘best’ photograph here, Simply an illustration of how different phases in my life affected me physically and mentally.

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