Gaining Weight, the Healthy Way

Hi I’m Aaron and this is my MTMM story.

How to gain weight in a healthy way

I’ll tell you from the get go that I come from a family of athletes and competed nationally for judo, wrestled provincially and continued wrestling through into my first year of university. Following that first year, things kind of fell off, not to say that I didn’t do anything, but I definitely didn’t do very much.

Following that long stretch of being in my early twenties I realized that all those PBR’s had caught up to me and I took up running. At this point my concept of nutrition was pretty skewed, mostly because I didn’t really know what it meant to be properly fuelled. Initially, and I am sure this goes for many; I thought nutrition meant eating smaller meals that were boring, real boring. Though I shed those PBR pounds that was about all that happened. I continued running, I lifted weights, I ate my small baby plates, but I never got stronger, I never got faster, I plateaued for a long time. A year maybe two, but probably longer, I wasn’t really counting.

Cut to January 2017, I’ve heard about MTMM and what Katrina is doing and I decide that it’s worth a minute of my time. I walked through the door with a set of goals, put on 15-20 pounds (of healthy weight), maybe run faster, and definitely be as fit as my sister-in-law and her boyfriend. Katrina sat down with me, ran me through a marathon of questions to get to know me, my family history, and what my body was all about. Since that day, my idea of nutrition has been completely changed. I’m no longer bound to celery sticks and awful turkey slice wraps, but real food that can keep me going. I am able to bounce out of bed ready to tackle the day rather than crawling. I’ve PR’d lifts that I had struggled with for years and am pulling off movements I’ve never thought possible. I’ve expanded my realm of physical activity beyond just running and am dipping my toes into things that scared me half to death (like putting 200+ pounds above my head with an Olympic lift).

Don’t let me make you think it was easy because it wasn’t, it’s hard to say no to that donut and hard to pass on that casual Tuesday afternoon beer, but if you do, you’ll be surprised how far you’ll go. Seriously, gains are made in the kitchen. It’s been 2 years of dedication and hard work (with plenty of speed bumps because we’re all human) for me and I can’t wait to see how much further I’ll go and how many more CrossFit Opens I’ll beat Ben in.

The Value of Proper Nutrition for a Powerlifter

Powerlifting nutrition program for weight loss and strength gain

Joining the MTMM team has taught me so much about health, fitness & intuitive eating the last 3 months. Ive done many diets and weight-loss programs in the past which always felt like a copy/pasted restrictive, sacrifice my life type of dieting.

Starting my fitness journey as a bikini competitor in 2013 left me with MANY bad habits and beliefs that I actually thought were true. All 4 of my bikini shows I lost roughly 30lbs to be stage ready and although I made the decision not to embark on that type of lifestyle again I carried many of those weight-loss trends with me into competitive powerlifting i.e hours of cardio, strict low carb diets, huge amounts it caffeine etc. Obviously this effected my strength and performance but whenever I wanted to lean out or drop a weight class I thought this was the easiest and most convenient way to do it .. likely leaving kgs on the platform and only short term weight-loss fixes leading to rebound dieting

I started MTMM with my Nutritionist Maggie Morgan Jan.1st, Maggie is also a powerlifter and this is what drew me to her the most. I wanted to find a way to be strong, feel fuelled but also attain an aesthetic physique. Typically in powerlifting there is a "eating everything in site and get stronger" "only focus on the weight on the bar not the scale" mindset but I wanted to find an approach where I could still eat the things I love while achieving a healthy bodyweight pre and post meet.

During the 3 months with MTMM not only did I lose weight/gain muscle but I also learned many valuable lessons I can carry forward with me:

I wasn’t eating enough food! This was a huge surprise for me.

How to increase my protein & fat intake and why

Cycle my carbs around workouts

Counting macros: this has changed my life. Giving me more flexibility, variety and control in my nutrition

I don’t have to sacrifice the foods I love.

No cardio needed!

Maggie and MTMM have taught me how to adapt nutrition into a lifestyle. This is the first time 3 weeks post competition that I have maintained the same body weight prior to competing. Normally after months of dieting and weight loss I rebound 10-15lbs but not this time. I keep eating the foods I love but I've learned how to track my macros throughout the day based on my current fitness goals. Maggie was so amazing and supportive with weekly check ins and she was available to chat or answer questions anytime.

Thank you @marriedtomymacros and @magssmorgan for being so awesome & supportive.”

MTMM Client: Michelle @michellebellalifts

Improving Sleep Quality with Nutrition

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Client: Vida Lau

“Last October, after noticing I wasn't getting the results I wanted from eating a cleaner diet and working out, someone asked if I wanted to give Married to My Macros a shot and see what happens. I've already accepted the fact that my body will look the way it does from working out. I'm not chasing a 6 pack or bubble butt although if that's what I end up with, then hey, great! My goal of working out is to stay active and healthy, physically but most importantly, mentally.

Those that know me know that my quality and amount of sleep is shit. It has been easily for the past 9ish years. I average about 6-7 hours/night, would wake up 3-4x/night and sometimes be awake anywhere from half hour to 3 hours. I've tried melatonin, valerian tea, all kinds of calming and relaxing tea prior to bed, even taking Nyquil to knock me out and even that became ineffective over time. My sugar consumption has been low for the past few years, averaging about 1tbsp of raw honey/week.

November 4th, 2018. My last hope of trying to sleep better by signing on with MTMM . The past 3 months I've been working with Katrina and with her support and guidance by following a macros based diet, I've been able to average 7-8 hours of sleep a night and waking up ONCE, maybe twice but only to go pee and fall back asleep! After so many years of being constantly tired, even having 3 days of good quality sleep feels SO good. 

It wasn't an easy 3 months, especially around Christmas and the holidays, but what better time to take on the challenge than this time of year? I was nervous, excited, disappointed, frustrated with the learning process, but in the end, I learned so much. Not only about eating clean, but how my body reacts and training myself to make better and healthier choices. My weight didn't fluctuate much, but that was not my primary goal. I'm not as "fluffy" in some areas, which was a bonus. 

You won't get a different outcome if you don't do something different or change your ways. This goes with everything in life, not just fitness and nutrition. And with change, you learn. Thank you to everyone who has and continue this journey with me. And so it continues...”

Continuous Learning and Growth

results from macro counting

Client: Jonathan Appleby

“Over the past two years I have been training with a broken body, little knowledge, a large appetite for change and key combat indicators suggesting that what I was doing wasn’t working. I was training consistently, lifting heavy and reaching what my limited understanding thought were goals. However things such as continuous injury, undesired weight gain, lack of energy and poor sleep were a constant part of my life and training. I have been friends with Coach Ben for some time and at the start of 2018 he suggested that I try the MTMM methodologies to create some more desired outcomes from my training. Three months into my journey I had dropped 10 Kilograms (22 Pounds), gotten stronger, had more energy and was not riddled with injury. Through ongoing support provided by Coach Ben and the team at MTMM my journey of continuous learning and growth has not dwindled in the 12 Months since becoming apart of the community. I have maintained my weight (and waist line 😊), become stronger in my body both mentally and physically and most of all I love reflecting on my journey and looking to my future and what awaits. Being apart of the MTMM community has supported my growth, understanding of training and fed my appetite for change. Thanks guys.”

Empowered With Knowledge

Client: Ashley McLaren

“I have been working with Kat since September of 2018. I had been participating in CrossFit for just under a year and had recently lost a significant amount of weight. I was looking to change my focus from eating for weight loss and body composition to eating for performance. With big goals in mind - competing for my first time in February amongst other things, I saw first hand the success Kat's clients had achieved by following her programming and decided to reach out. 

Kat is extremely knowledgeable, supportive and understanding. Our weekly check ins provide me a constant opportunity to ask for guidance, provide her with any information about a change in my activity level so my guidelines can be adjusted accordingly. 

Every time I talk to Kat, I learn something new, and leave the conversation feeling empowered and motivated to keep pushing towards my goals.

If you are struggling with your nutrition or don’t know where to start, I would highly recommended MTMM.”

Start 'Em Young - Information Seminar

“In my first conversation with Ben he mentioned that Married to My Macros is all about education and empowerment through knowledge. 

He and Katrina taught our ringette team of 13-15 year olds about the importance of nutrition in sports performance. They tailored a seminar specific to our needs and kept a room of teenagers engaged in conversation about their personal nutrition needs (not the easiest task). Most important to our team was information on how to fuel ourselves before, after and between games (especially during tough tournament schedules). I’m confident that we will now be the most prepared team at our next tournament!

Thank you Katrina and Ben for passing on your passion for improving health and sport performance through diet!”


Look Good. Feel Good. Perform Beyond Your Limits.

"I had no idea how much it affected your body (physically and mentally) what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat it." -Anthony
Top Right-Oct. 2016/Bottom Right-Jan. 2017/Left image-March 2017

Top Right-Oct. 2016/Bottom Right-Jan. 2017/Left image-March 2017

Reaching out to Katrina at Married To My Macros has been the best investment I've made in order to improve both my physical and mental health. Within 2 weeks of my initial consultation, I saw drastic changes to my body. I gained a noticeable amount of lean muscle mass, and increase in my abdominal definition (they started to pop out!) and I felt an increase in my energy levels, allowing for higher performance throughout my workouts.

In the month following, I set myself some fitness goals that I previously would have considered out of reach. However, with Kat's constant encouragement and the support she displays for her clients, together we made sure I achieved them! 

My goals were as follows:

I wanted to increase my clean and jerk by 50%, which was at 40kgs - I hit a PR of 60kgs.

I wanted my snatch to increase by 25% while really honing in on my technique - a clear mind helped my focus, which allowed for an improvement in technique, and as a result my snatch increased from 32kgs - 42kgs.

From a body composition perspective, I wanted to gain lean muscle mass all over my body - I gained more than I thought achievable in the short time frame, with the biggest winner for me being visible abs! Plain and simple, this was my number one composition goal - to get abs! I hadn't seen my abs for about 13 years and it's a massive testament that I now can look in the mirror and say hello to them every morning.

None of this would have been possible without the programming, guidance and coaching from Kat.

My personal experience with Married To My Macros has been amazing! Kat's passion and knowledge of nutritional concepts and associated biological responses is absolutely mind blowing. Her work ethic and compassion for her clients is so apparent that you can be confident in knowing you are getting the right advice, with the added comfort of feeling supported during those tough times  - if you're having a tough day, she is always only a phone call or email away to coach you through.


***Update - MTMM is happy to report that since the publication of this testimonial, Anthony's performance has continue to improve. His snatch has further increased up to 52kg!

Come Back Harder Than Me

Photography credit: Kate Webster

Jy Stewart. Determined. Unwavering. Fighter.

Working out and moving again was appealing because I had control. Getting back to the Olympic lifts was a blessing.
— Jy

We found out on June 1 2016 that I was pregnant. I was in the best shape of my life, weighing in at 159lbs and feeling stronger than I ever thought possible. My max lifts were a 68kg snatch and 84kg clean and jerk. I was given a due date of February 7th, 2017 which put me right around 4 weeks - early days.

That first week was wonderful, and I did not have to adjust anything in my training, other than change my perspective to a goal of maintaining and staying healthy, rather than gaining strength. At 5 weeks I started to experience pretty significant sciatic pain that didn’t allow me to squat or even get out of bed easily. By the second week of June I had to stop all lower body movements. Fast forward another 3-4 weeks, and I was in and out of Emergency with unexplained pain.  At 12 weeks, I had an  MRI performed as the pain was so bad the doctors thought it must of been my appendix. Every test they did showed the same thing: normal, normal, normal. My heart rate and the little one’s were fine.

By this point I had gone from training 1-2x per day to nothing for the past 7 weeks. At 12 weeks the pain was so bad that I was unable to do much more than slowly walk my dog to the corner of our block and back. At 16 weeks I woke up to the feeling that no expectant mother ever wants to feel that early: my water broke. Again we rushed to the Emergency room where they told me that there was very little amniotic fluid remaining and they sent me home and put me on bed rest, essentially what I had been doing for the 4 previous weeks.

After being home another week with a couple more visits to the ER we finally saw a specialist who said everything looked fine with our baby, but yes there was very little fluid remaining and sent us back home to wait and hope for the best. Then on Wednesday September 7th, 2016 at 18 weeks we saw another specialist who broke it to us that there was no way to produce more amniotic fluid and since my water broke at 16 weeks there would be no lung development at all. This was the hardest thing I have ever had to hear in my 27 years, especially after so much hoping and waiting. On September 8th we chose to terminate with a KCL injection into our little one’s heart, however given our options I am not sure there was really any other 'choice.' On Friday September 9th, 2016 I delivered at 18 weeks and 2 days.

Mentally the hard part hadn’t even started yet. Physically, having been on restricted activity or bed rest for the past 18 weeks I had put on over 35lbs. My joints hurt from not loading them for over 3 months and even walking still hurt my hip and lower back.

12 days later I touched my first barbell. It was weird, because I had spent so much time waiting and hoping, having no control over anything. Working out and moving again was so appealing because I had control. I was afraid of going to the gym though, afraid to see people who might say congratulations or ask how I was doing. Some days I got to the gym, looked at the doors, turned around and left. Most days though, I went inside. Getting back to the Olympic lifts was a blessing. Any time I approach a barbell for an Olympic lift, I have to turn off my brain or it will not happen. Training gave me the space I needed to stay sane over the next few weeks.

On October 12th, I hit my first full snatche since June. I started following a 5-6 day per week Olympic lifting program again. I had this urge to throw all my energy into something I was passionate about, and towards something I did not have to talk about. I gave myself another month and once I felt like I had a handle on training and could deal with something else that is when I spoke with Kat about MTMM. I was still sitting over 190lbs and although my strength was coming back, I needed to track my food again.

Not only was Kat completely understanding, but she also helped set up my nutrition to a level I could manage. I am slowly (very slowly) making my way back down to the weight I started at, maybe lower. I am eating more than I ever have, and although I have many days where everything just seems like its too much and unfair (as I’m sure it does for everyone) there is a light. My weight this morning is 178lbs. My comeback maxes are 71kg (3kg lifetime PR) and 84kg. My next hurdle is a fibroid removal on March 29th. This means I will have at least 6 weeks of no training where Kat and the MTMM team will be even more important as nutrition will be all I am able to use to maintain the body I have gotten myself back to. There is never a perfect time to start looking after your body, but MTMM is able to help you every step of the way. I just cannot thank you guys enough for all that you have given me.

-Jy #ComeBackHarderThanMe

Progress Is Not Linear

Client: Kayla Ireland

There is no better feeling than waking up every morning knowing that I will have enough energy to get through 8 hours of class, 2 or 3 hours of training and whatever else the day throws at me. Every day I get to lift weights and feel awesome, I get to go to school and take in every bit of information possible, I get to enjoy interacting with other people and I get to go to sleep feeling proud and satisfied. I have not always felt this way. In fact, this feeling is very new for me, and I have MTMM to thank for it.

I have existed both ends of the dieting spectrum. I grew up dancing with a heavy focus on ballet and jazz. These are both disciplines that place a great deal of value on a person’s look. Therefore from a young age I was self-conscious about my body and this lead to an unhealthy relationship with food that lasted for 10 years. From when I was 12 until I was 17 I didn’t eat much at all. By the age of 16 I had become so lost in my eating disorder that I couldn’t identify one food that I enjoyed eating. To me, food was not associated with fuel or pleasure. Food was something I avoided at all costs. I continued with this mentality for years and reached a record low weight of 76lbs.

I worked very hard to rebuild myself after years of eating as little as possible. However, this is something that takes years and in the beginning I wasn’t prepared for the work that it would take. I left home to pursue a career in dance when I was 18. I had been doing better with my eating but things shortly spiraled out of control. I became depressed, I quit dancing and I turned to food as an escape. During this dark time sometimes I ate everything I sight, sometimes I binged and purged, and often I didn’t leave my bed. At the same time I was struggling with some medical issues and I went from 110lbs to 140lbs in 3 months. After that I went through periods of restricting and binging for months.

After sorting out my medical issues I found love for exercise again and shortly after that I found weightlifting and MTMM. When I first started weightlifting I was delighted with my new weight loss and I was sitting around 105lbs. I was still too light for my frame and it was limiting my energy and my strength. With the Help of Katrina at MTMM we slowly added more and more calories in to my life and brought my body weight up to a healthy spot. This has been the most positive change I have ever made. I have never enjoyed eating, until now. I have never felt good, until now. I didn’t know that I would ever be able to develop a healthy relationship with food again. Katrina provides a safe place for me to express my past issues with food, she understands them and she works with them in a way that prioritizes my health. For the first time in 10 years I’m not tired, I’m not angry and I’m not deficient in any nutrients and I have Katrina and MTMM to thank for that. Of course I have improved as weightlifter since dialing in my nutrition, but most importantly my quality of life has improved. For that I will be forever grateful.

Health, A Lifelong Priority.

Client: Lizana Muir

I am not your typical client specifically looking to increase performance or to shift a weight class. My primary goal is HEALTH and Married To My Macros is definitely helping me.

My health journey has been a long one and Kat has helped me continue to heal but also provide me with something I've never been able to achieve - better body composition WHILE still having energy and looking after my health. 

Through my teenage years and 20's I was always sick, on antibiotics, eating the wrong food drinking a lot, partying, constantly tired and always low on energy. I never slept well as long as I could remember. I was very active - running, playing sports, working out at the gym and eventually finding CrossFit and Weightlifting. I could never understand how people worked out every day! Sometimes twice a day? Where did they find the energy or how do they recover so quickly? I love exercise but I found I would have a great few weeks where I would feel amazing and invincible followed by weeks of lethargy and niggly injuries. 

All of this I lived with but when the food intolerances and gut reactions started to get worse is when the true frustration set in. I started avoiding foods that caused adverse reactions and that helped a little but mostly things slowly got worse. Even though I had adopted a clean diet free of processed foods, dairy, gluten and sugar. 

I've also had a lot of stress in the last 5 years - I've moved house 3 times, moved countries, had my heart broken, changed jobs multiple times (all my own doing), ran my own business and juggled multiple jobs at once, had so much money I was lost with what to do and also had no money I was worried debt collectors were going to knock on my door. 

Years of abuse from food, alcohol, sleep, antibiotics, stress and anxiety.

In my early 30's I'd had enough. Enough of the limited foods I could tolerate, the exhaustion, the rashes, acne, brittle nails, orange skin, shortness of breath, aching joints, mood swings, insomnia and the list goes on!

I had low thyroid function, gut dysbiosis and adrenal fatigue. Basically, my hormones were all over the place and I was exhausted, couldn't digest food therefore absorb nutrients and found it hard to lose weight and gain muscle. I worked with a Dietician for a few years and we started my recovery. Medicating for my low thyroid, gut healing and de-stressing including not so much high intensity exercise. 

That was a HUGE part of my recovery and these things take time. I had to go through that to get to where I am now. I got to a stage a year ago where I was feeling pretty good. I could eat a larger variety of food, I was generally relaxed and had energy to slowly start exercising regularly again. Then I moved countries! 

When I met Kat I had regressed and a lot of my symptoms had come back. Basically, my thyroid was still low even though I had been on medication for 2 years and I was back in adrenal fatigue - my cortisol levels remained the same all day; basically, my body was in a state of stress all the time... which leads to burn out. I had also put on a lot of weight and was at my heaviest. I knew what I had done previously so started back on that regime but nothing was working. 

And that's where MTMM came along!

I had never tracked macros before, I'd always just eaten good food. Kat showed me that eating the right food for me in the right quantities is hugely important and beneficial. Kat has focused on foods and supplements to heal my gut and techniques to reduce stress AND making sure my macro profile is sufficient for my needs. I eat MORE protein than ever, and I still get to eat delicious carbs and healthy fats.

My focus other than nutrition is sleep! Listen to my body... rest when I need to and also work out with the intensity I feel that day. Some days I just want to walk cause that's all I can manage but other days I can CrossFit and feel great. That's ok. I know the difference from feeling muscle fatigue or tired to feeling exhausted.. so I listen to my body. I'm kind to myself. Which - reduces my stress!

I've been able to focus on my health - all while feeling better about myself, losing fat, gaining muscle AND healing my body. 

It's a long journey for me and I'll always be susceptible to slipping back into Adrenal fatigue but I'm so glad I have Kat to help me along and to have shown me that I CAN lose weight, look good, feel good about myself AND be healthy. I also love that I have someone to guide me and listen to my complaints and questions. Someone who supports me and is genuinely interested and invested in my journey and seeing my health improve. 

As far as improvements in the last 5 months - I now have clear skin, no acne or rashes, I sleep better, less gut distress or reactions, my nails are long and strong, the high energy days outweigh the exhausted days and I'm more in tune with my body. Numbers aren't so important for me but I have lost nearly 6kg and over 9 1/2cm in total around my waist, belly and hips. Still lots of work to do but I'm on the right path with Kat's help! 

Everyone's journey is different and ever evolving. 

This is mine.