Great stuff, thanks. Makes me feel better that I'm headed down the right path.
Now I just have to figure out what to cook and eat.
In a similar boat as an intermediate trying to drop lbs. I currently float around 198 - 200 and obviously would like to be more comfortable in the 198 class. I do something similar to praetorian. I tracked my calories and found 2600 to be a rough maintenance so I dropped to 2000. Protein is super difficult and I dont stomach shakes really well so I gravitate towards 150g as an avg, which is still slightly lower than 1g per lbs of lean. My findings in length of dieting is that strength gains will inevitably stop and you will then go backwards at some point after that. It makes clear sense in the long term. No amount of carb manipulation around training can compensate for being in a constant deficit for a long time. I find that after 4 weeks even the best laid plans or military grade caffeine cant hide the lack of calories, another couple weeks after that and the slide starts. This is basis for all my sample size of 1 info, but the TLDR version is consider cycling your diet and calories. 4 weeks diet 1 or 2 at maintenance kind of deal. From a sanity standpoint it makes it a shit ton easier, and it's exactly what I plan on doing after next Saturday
You bring up a great point about cycling cutting and maintenance periods. Mike Israetel has a nice video on the topic. I feel like cutting 10% at a time then taking a break is a really manageable way of doing things.