MJ Kafkas: “How I Got Leaner By Eating More”
M.J. has always been a productive member at Performance360. However, once she dialed in her diet to focus on a higher-carbohydrate, lower-fat approach, she saw her body composition and gym performance take off to completely new heights.
Name: Melissa Kafkas (MJ)
Length of Membership: 2 Years
Fat Loss: – 4% Body Fat
Recent PRs: 300# deadlift, 195# back squat
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF.
My name is Melissa Kafkas and I just recently turned 28. I am a dolphin trainer at Sea World, and have been a member of P360 for two years! I recently married Nik Kafkas who is also a member of the gym.
WHAT BODY CHANGES HAVE OCCURRED?
I have gained 6 lbs of muscle and dropped 4% body fat since my first weigh-in on January 12th of this year.
I can see quite a noticeable difference in definition and composition change in my quads, glutes, core, and my biceps, and also just a general increase in strength.
Although I have definitely put on muscle, a lot of my clothes have become a bit looser on me and my body has had a lot more energy to keep up with my extremely active lifestyle.
I have also hit PRs in several barbell movements, including a 20# PR in my split jerk and a 20# PR in my deadlift.
TALK ABOUT CARBS.
My mindset on carbs has done a complete 180! I did the 90 day challenge last year and I followed it fairly strictly, with 2 months of it being low carb. Going into that challenge some of my goals were to lean out and gain some muscle in the process.
While I did lose 3.9% body fat, I saw a gain of barely one pound of muscle. I thought a low carb diet was going to be the best way to get the results I wanted. In the end, I realized that there was more that I needed to learn to help me accomplish those goals, I just hadn’t found the knowledge yet. That’s why I jumped on the opportunity to participate in the 60 Day Challenge at the gym with the Renaissance Diet. It was a chance to go and try something different since it was a higher carb approach, and it included a lot more carbs than I was used to consuming for fitness purposes.
While a lot of my carb intake comes from vegetables, I do eat lot more carbs like sweet potatoes, rice, brown rice pasta, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese (which are also great protein sources as well), fruit, English muffins, and waffles!
I now eat a waffle with my breakfast whenever my workout is along the circuit or strength category. I fucking love waffles.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE IN THE GYM?
Training wise, I have always focused on barbells and strength training. I have been attending classes 4 times a week, upped from my usual 2-3 days a week. I am currently trying to focus on technique and fine tuning with barbell movements so that I can be more efficient with the weight I am moving.
I am taking the time to do every movement, ie. pushups, pull-ups, anything with a dumbbell/kettlebell, etc., with purpose, rather than being sloppy and moving as fast as I can, and challenging myself with adding more weight here and there.
I have also taken into consideration the wellness of my body and what I can do to help it recover more quickly.
For me, this means working on my mobility. After every class, I stretch and use a foam roller and/or lacrosse ball.
I have even gone into open gym on a Saturday to do an hour of mobility work and my body definitely thanked me for it.
I believe that these are all factors that have contributed immensely to my recomposition.
WHAT DIET FACTOR HAS BEEN THE MAJOR CAUSE OF YOUR RESULTS?
Increasing my carbs via the gym challenge and RP diet has made all the difference. I won’t talk more about the carb aspect because I already covered that in an earlier question, but I will talk about the protein aspect. I had zero clue how much protein I should be consuming to gain more muscle. I currently weigh in at 134 lbs, which means I should consume about 134 grams of protein a day if I’m following the plan.
I was consuming maybe half of that amount of protein on a good day before. In February, within one month of carbohydrate increase, I started to hit those 20# PRs I mentioned earlier.
This change in my diet has played such a huge role in my recomposition, I think much more so than the training factors. I have also stopped looking at the scale at home. I weigh 2 lbs more than when I began this journey at the beginning of the year, but that means absolutely nothing because I’ve lost fat and added muscle.
I can see the difference when I look at my body and when I look at that printed out sheet from the composition analysis machine. Those two factors are solid proof that the number on the scale is just that; a number.
So ladies, do not be afraid of lifting weights!!
WHAT IS YOUR WORKOUT STRATEGY AT THE GYM?
I pretty much let the chips fall where they may. I have a very active and physically demanding job, so I always try to take classes before work, even if that means a 6 am class when I have to be at work at 7 am and work a 10 hour shift.
I’m just too exhausted at the end of the day and I know I won’t get much out of my workout if I go later. I do wish I could say I have a more exciting strategy, but basically as long as I make it to the gym 4 days a week, I’m a happy camper.
M.J. Kafkas has been a member of Performance360 for two years. For information on Performance360 nutrition guidance, visit here.