It’s peak week and typing is hard

Bikini biceps! And a messy condo...please ignore that.
Bikini biceps! And a messy condo…please ignore that.

One thing I really like about fitness competitions is the mental aspect. It really teaches you to be mentally tough. This morning I really didn’t want to get out of bed. My body hurts, I’m hungry, tired and the election results really pissed me off. Still, I had a workout to do and I did it. This is where it becomes so much more than just dieting and going to the gym for a few months. You have a schedule and a set of rules that you have to stick to no matter what; even when life gets in the way.

This can really teach a person what they’re made of. In fact, it’s got me thinking I really don’t like the term “bikini” for this level of competition. I really think “bikini” sounds like a skinny girl who’s naturally pretty and probably had breast implants, that is good for looking nice in a swim suit. That’s really not the reality of this sport. You set goals, you push yourself so hard, and you are strong. Not just physically either.

So this is peak week and I wanted to share with you a bit about the last week of a competition. It’s probably the hardest but also the most fun, because you start to work on the aesthetic aspects. My diet is the most limited, just a few lean meats, low starch vegetables and a small amount of sweet potatoes daily. The workouts are a bit easier, just an upper body circuit daily plus cardio. No more leg workouts. And water. So much water! This is the week when you flush out any water that’s been stored, for me usually around the belly. So I’m drinking about five liters a day, taking some diuretics and spending several nice relaxing evenings in my sauna. It’s working too because I can really see my abs.

Last week I got some hair extensions which I think will really look nice on stage. Big hair’s got to make the rest of me look petite, right? I also just got my waxing and nails done. The last things will be tanning, hair and makeup on the big day, then my transformation into fitness super star is complete!

Tomorrow I’m getting a photo shoot done, which I’m also very excited about. It’s with the legendary Dave Laus, who shoot a lot of models that end up in Oxygen and other big name fitness magazines. I know that won’t be my destination, but if I can look half as good as the women in those rags, I will be one happy 39-year-old!

I’ve also just finished my post competition grocery shopping: also super exciting! The last thing you want to do after a long day is come home to an empty fridge. I’ve got bacon, a lasagna, garlic bread, crackers, jam, and of course, wine my friends! If I can stay up long enough to drink it I will be very happy indeed. Unfortunately these shows can run late so this wonderful feast might have to wait until Sunday. No worries, it will still be good and very much appreciated!

Stay tuned for some posts about the day before and the day of the show!

The last week before the last week!

Striking a pose in my "sport" stilettos!
Striking a pose in my “sport” stilettos!

Well I’m almost there! This week is now officially the last week of normal prep. The week after that is prep week, which is getting your body ready for going on stage, and is, in a way, part of the competition itself. Magic things happen that week but you’ll just have to wait to find out what they are!

For the very last week of normal prep, my workout routine is the same, except it will be the longest. Each week I’ve been adding time to my cardio and reps so the time spent at the gym keeps getting longer and longer. I’ll be topping out at about 2 hours a session this week. So…yaaaay.

It’s also the time to write my check list and make sure I’m organized for the big day. I have a list of things I need already but this week will be time to make sure everything is bought, packed etc. The less I need to worry about during peak week the better.

I have all my appointments booked: hair, nails, even a photo shoot for two days before. I’ll be meeting with my posing coach at least once more and doing tons of posing practice at home. My hotel is booked, my car has gas and the tires are reasonably inflated. Sorted!

My diet will stay pretty much the same as well, except for a few minor adjustments. I still would like to lose a couple of pounds but at this point, my body is pretty much the size it’s going to be on stage so there’s no point in worrying too much about calories. Mainly, I need to make sure I’m eating enough to keep my energy level up this week and get through those last intense gym sessions.

The most important thing to consider with my diet is reducing bloat and water retention, so this is where the diet adjustments come in. Fiber, normally lauded as a great weight aid will need to be reduced as it can cause bloat. So, things like broccoli, cauliflower, brown rice etc will be eliminated. As will raw vegetables. Most of what I eat will be boiled or steamed.

I noticed a while back that dairy gives me a bit of belly bulge as well so I switched to vegan protein powder and eliminated dairy in my meals…mostly. I did still sneak a small taste of yogurt every now and then. When you aren’t eating anything sweet, plain Greek yogurt tastes like a freakin’ ginger bread house! Or whatever the sweetest thing you can imagine is. But from now on, it’s definitely not worth chancing it.

Steamed kale with mushrooms and scallops...a bloat-free masterpiece!
Steamed kale with mushrooms and scallops

Overall I’m pretty happy with my physique at the moment. I would have liked to lose more fat but I’m pretty stubborn that way. I do put on muscle easily so that’s really helped my shape, although for the bikini category too much muscle is not usually an asset. If I lose for looking too much like Wonder Women I don’t think I will be terribly upset! If I don’t place well, I’ll just automatically assume the reason was I looked way too awesome. You can actually pay to hear the judges feedback on your body but why would you want to do that? It’s much better to just make up a more flattering reason, and spend that money on wine. So much sweet sweet wine.

Three weeks out: Too soon to buy wine?

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Posing session at three and a half weeks out.

Yes the end is in sight. Like the last time I competed, this is when I start to think of life after the show. And by that I mean wine. Well, not just that, but I have been thinking about it an awful lot today. Probably the best friend for a fitness competitor is a pregnant woman. As I was visiting with my soon-to-be-mom-again sister I realized the one thing we have in common is we really, really miss wine. Plus her belly makes me feel super thin. That was a bonus and I started to think maybe we should hang out more often, until she joked about replacing wine with ice cream as her go-to stress relief.

After 10 or so weeks of restrictions, I can’t say there’s any one thing I’m craving; just the idea of being able to eat whatever I want without weighing it first is appealing. The morning after my last show I went to a breakfast buffet with my husband at the King Edward Hotel. Not cheap but holy heck, best breakfast in town! I didn’t go because I wanted to stuff myself, I just wanted to be able to enjoy all that choice. Well, it turned out not to be such a good idea as my stomach was clearly not ready for so much indulgence. This time around, a little butter on my Ezekiel bread and a real milk latte sounds perfect.

But: it’s too soon to start thinking of all that just yet as I still have work to do. I feel like I’m on track and just need to stick it out for two more weeks before peak week. Peak week is the days leading up to the competition when things change a lot, and in some ways, get easier. The day before the show there is no training at all, and the few days leading up to it are mostly cardio and some light upper body training.

Right now however, I’m in the thick of it: my gym sessions are at their longest and I work out ever single day. Here’s a break down of what a week of training looks like for this week:

  • Monday: 1 hour bootcamp
  • Tuesday: 40 minutes stepmill
  • Wednesday: 1 hour bootcamp
  • Thursday: 1 hour and a bit of lower body weight training and 40 minutes of cardio
  • Friday: 1 hour of upper body weight training and 40 minutes of cardio
  • Saturday: 1 hour of lower body weight training and 40 minutes of cardio

The week after that is pretty much the same, but with longer cardio sessions.

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Exactly 4.3 ounces of salmon, stir fried kale, cabbage, cauliflower and brussles sprouts (a PC mix) plus mushrooms.

My diet is big time into cycling so measuring and weighing is more essential than ever to make sure I’m getting my macros right. On some days this is great because by the end of the day I may realize I need to eat more. But usually I just need more of one specific thing so my snacks get a bit weird, like straight up white fish or just rice, for example. Here’s an idea of what I’ll be eating next week:

  • Monday: Starch carbs with breakfast, lunch and dinner, two snacks with just protein
  • Tuesday: Starch carbs with breakfast only
  • Wednesday: Same as Monday
  • Thursday: No starch carbs, a little higher in fat
  • Friday: Starch carbs with every meal (about 250 grams) very little fat
  • Saturday: Same as Tuesday

Starch carbs refer to what most people consider carbs, i.e. rice, sweet potatos, oatmeal. Of course carbs are found elsewhere like in fruit or vegetables. I do count the carbs in my vegetables, but refer to them as fiber carbs since, as you may have guessed, they’re a little higher in fiber usually. Every single meal has protein but I do have to be very careful about the fat content. I’m sticking pretty much to white fish and chicken, with occasional salmon or bison on higher fat days.

Soon my friend. Soon.
Soon my friend. Soon.

So what’s my indulgence these days? It may sound ridiculous but I am really loving apple cinnamon tea. I was never a big herbal tea person, but since I can’t do caffeine or protein shakes late at night, this has become my evening treat. It would be nice if I could make a life long habit of this but no. In three weeks it’s going to be wine biatches! And I am really excited about it!

Four weeks to go…when things get weird.

There's always something to wine about
There’s always something to wine about

“Some more wine?” I hear my husband ask cheerfully. “More wine?” I think to myself as I flash with irritation. I haven’t had any wine. I can’t have wine right now. I’d love some wine but he damn well knows I can’t. Why the hell would he ask me…” Then I hear the first few beats of “Don’t You Forget About Me” play through the iPod dock. He was just announcing that he’s about to play Simple Minds. “Simple minds” and “some more wine” can sound very similar in a Scottish accent, but it’s very clear what just happened. I had a wine hallucination. It’s real people!

At four weeks to go, with every muscle that appears I am starting to lose my mind a little more. It’s the inevitable inverse relationship of fitness and intelligence. At least that’s my theory. It’s also the point in your prep when you realize there is absolutely no room for errors. I do try to stick to my diet and exercise plan 100% but there’s almost always a time when things go wrong. Twice now I’ve gone nuts: and by that I mean purchasing a small bag of cashews on one occasion and a vegan protein bar on another. In both cases I was going to be out for a while, starving and these seemed to be the best options. That’s never a good thing to do while prepping for a bikini competition, but it happens. Twice in 12 weeks isn’t so bad, and I’ve yet to miss even a single rep of a workout.

But at four weeks you do start to worry and look at other fitness competitors. When I see someone on Instagram who’s fitter than me posting “OMG only eight more weeks” I do freak out a bit. It’s time like that I have to give my head a shake and realize why I’m doing this. There will always be someone out there who’s naturally fitter, more dedicated and will place better than me. I know that. I also know that when I stand on stage I’ll be super fit…for me. And wearing so many sparkly things which is also a big part of the fun.

So the next four weeks will be a bit of a blackout period for me. I need to avoid any potential opportunities for screw ups, preserve my energy and start planning the last few elements of the competition: hair, nails, posing, packing etc. The stressful parts of these last weeks are balanced out by the fun stuff and excitement. I am really looking forward to stepping on stage again so the aesthetic elements are all part of the fun. It also means I can let my meals get dead boring. This would be hard to stomach for the full prep but for a few short weeks it’s not a big deal. Most meals consist of pretty bland lean protein, with fats and carbs inserted as needed. I used to think I’d enjoy coming up with clever, creative ways to make normal meals healthy–and to a certain point I do–but this is not the time for that nonsense. This is the point where meals are about getting protein in your face and getting on with it. There’s something oddly freeing about that.

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Straight up tuna washed down with black coffee. It does the trick. Not pictured: three amaranth rice cakes.

What exactly should you eat to be lean (part III)

I swear I didn't eat the whole thing!
I swear I didn’t eat the whole thing!

The other day my husband said he’s going to start having protein shakes for breakfast in the morning. Normally a non-breakfast person, he’s been taking up the clean eating habit and learned he’s supposed to start the day with protein. I asked if he’d be adding fruit, to which he replied, “no I just need to get the protein, I don’t care how it tastes.” To me, this is a big step: part of eating for a fitness competition, or for weight loss, is really to start seeing food as fuel and how it impacts your body, rather than just eating something because you feel like it.

Obviously, eating like a robot is no way to live life. We associate food as part of being human: it’s a reward, a pleasure, part of our culture and how we connect with others. Most can’t imagine a baseball game without a hotdog and beer, or a birthday party without a slice of cake. Most fitness competitors (if not all) spend weeks dreaming about their post-show pizza.

But, when you have a goal in mind you have to put these thoughts away and look at your food a bit dispassionately, just for a little while. On that note, here is an update on what’s on my menu for these last few weeks leading up to my competition. I’m putting this out there as an example of what fitness competitors eat, but if you are thinking of doing a show yourself, I would strongly advice a personalized meal plan from a trainer or dietician to make sure you’re eating right for body type and to match the intensity of your training. While my list of “allowed” foods is limited, it’s shortened even further by what I like to eat, so take this as a sample rather than an absolute meal plan:

Protein: about 4-6 ounces per serving, depending on fat/caloriesimg_2001

  • Chicken/turkey
  • Fish (tilapia or salmon)
  • Eggs
  • Lean beef
  • Bison
  • shellfish (shrimp, scallops, oysters etc.)
  • Cottage cheese (until about six weeks out when I cut all dairy)
  • Protein powder (whey until six weeks out, then I use Vega Sport)

Carbs: 4 ounces per servingimg_1914

  • Sweet potato
  • rice (brown or wild, usually only after workouts)
  • Oatmeal

Fat: about 1 tbsp per serving

  • Almond butter
  • Mayonnaise
  • Olive oil
  • MCT oil

Vegetables: 1 cup per serving

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Zuccini
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms

Most vegetable are ok, I stick to the ones in the above list because I like them and it’s just easier to keep my options limited. (It’s like Steve Jobs and the black turtle neck, the less I have to think about choice, the more time I have). The only vegetables that are really not ok are the ones high in sugar (yes that exists!) like carrots and beets. Tomatos are pretty high too so they get cut closer to the competition date.

Other:

  • Almond milk for coffee and with shakes
  • Mustard as long as there are no added sugars
  • Cider vinegar
  • Herbs such as garlic, ginger, cilantro, basil, cinnamon
  • And coffee of course. Lot’s and lot’s of coffee!

I definitely don’t eat the same portions every day either. In an early blog, I mentioned carb cycling. Varying your macros and calories keeps your metabolism revving and helps ensure you’re eating enough without over doing it.

Right now my week looks something like this:

  • Monday: high carbs
  • Tuesday: low carbs
  • Wednesday: high carbs
  • Thursday: Very low (almost no) carbs
  • Friday: High carbs (happy day!)
  • Saturday: low carbs
  • Sunday: high carbs

These fluctuations are also closely matched to my workout schedule, which is as following:img_1922

  • Monday: bootcamp
  • Tuesday: cardio
  • Wednesday: bootcamp
  • Thursday: legs
  • Friday: upper body
  • Saturday: rest
  • Sunday legs

The result: I am very very tired! But it’s working so I’ll be able to stick it out for a few more weeks. Good night everybody!

Pose until you’re posing a threat

How I wish I had spray tanned today!

Holy mood swings bat girl! It’s begging to happen again where I start feeling some self pity over the things I can’t eat right now. It’s really stupid actually, but I think most people who prep for fitness competitions know what I’m talking about.

Everyone’s talking about their pizza, posting photos about their ice cream, blatantly drinking wine in a restaurant in full view as I pass by on my way to the gym. Jerks all of you! As stupid as it is to feel animosity towards normal people doing normal things, it seems to be an inevitable stage of training. I have to remind myself: I can have those things. I just choose not to. It’s very important to remember that.

I could just take a break for a day and have pizza and wine. Then not look my best and place poorly in the show. Or I could stick to my diet, place poorly but not beat myself up about falling off the wagon.

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Journey to the bottom of the storage locker.

Well today was one of the happier parts of prep: a posing coaching session. This is when you’re reminded of the fun competing can be and serves as a reminder of why you’re giving up on short-term pleasures like food. You get to don your bikini and stripper shoes (found them, by the way!) and think about the excitement of being on stage.

If you’ve never done this before, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get a posing coach. More importantly, a posing coach who knows what he or she is doing. You might think competing is all about the diet and the exercise. That’s about half of the equation. The other half is being able to show it all of. You’re being judged on your walk, smile, confidence, etc.

This turned out to be the biggest challenge for me the first time around. I had recently lost the weight I’d been carrying for many years, and while I knew I had finally achieved a fit-looking figure, part of my brain was still not convinced. I think for most people, the task of strutting about in a tiny bikini in front of strangers is not a natural thing to do, much less look like you’re enjoying it. But that’s what the show is all about, and it is a show after all, so you have to see yourself as both an athlete and performer.

So today I drove to Pickering to meet with my very favourite posing coach, Fedel Clarke. Yup, that’s right, the best bikini posing coach in town is a dude. And a big one at that as a top bodybuilder and former football player. He’s also a judge with the Ontario Physique Association so he knows exactly what judges are looking for. And he’s brutally honest. It really goes a long way to know what to do with your hands and feet when you’re on stage and this is the man who can drill it in your brain.

Prepping for the competition becomes a lot more fun as you start to get ready for the stage. Don’t get me wrong, if I see you with wine you will get stink eye from me, but the closer I get the more it seems worth the temporary restraint. But seriously, keep your wine away from me or I will cry.

What exactly should you eat to be lean (part II)

In my last post I covered macros and why all three need to be included in your meal plan. This post will get more specific with calories and carb cycling.

There is again an on-going debate about which is more important: what you eat or how much you eat. There are some who argue that a calorie is a calorie. Your body can’t tell the difference between 100 calories of broccoli or the same amount of chocolate. It’s all considered energy, which is used or stored, accordingly.

The second camp claims that the body does use respond to different foods. Some say fats are burned while carbs are stored. Some think certain foods slow down your metabolism or for whatever reasons wreak havoc on your insides.

And again: I don’t have the scientific knowledge to say which side has more merit, but I can provide some practical advice.

On the calorie is a calorie point: one thing that is true is that you need a base amount of calories to get you through the day. If your stomach is growling, you can barely sleep, much less concentrate at work or get through your exercises. That said, an excess of calories will be stored as fat. So you need to choose foods that provide value for the calories.

A chicken breast may be higher in calories that broccoli but it will keep you full and provide energy for hours. Broccoli may not taste as good as chocolate, but if you fill half your plate with broccoli you won’t go to bed hungry.

No matter what you eat, weight loss will come down to one simple equation: did you use more fuel than you added today? The only way to lose fat is to gradually reduce the amount of calories you ingest, by about 100 calories or so less than you would need to maintain your weight. Cut by too much and you’ll lose muscle mass and be just miserable in general. Don’t cut enough and you won’t see any changes at all.

The assertion that is doesn’t matter how much you eat it’s what you eat, really doesn’t hold up in facts. Despite the Paleo fad, using bacon as a pizza crust will NOT help you get lean. Cavemen certainly did not do this, and you’re probably not running around hunting saber tooth tigers all day to burn off that fat.

The one part of this theory that has merit comes down to timing. I always start my day with a protein and carb to refuel from sleep and get me through the morning. Mid-day snacks are typically lighter, with protein and some vegetables. Post-workout meals should always contain protein and carbs to help your muscles recover and grow.

Furthermore, your balance of calories and macros should coordinate with your workout schedule. Right now, I have high-carb meals on days when I’m doing bootcamp or leg day, medium-carb days when I’m doing upper body, and very low calorie and low carbs on my rest days.

This is a very effective weight loss strategy known as carb cycling. My friend and Registered Dietician Aly explains it thoroughly in her blog posts and I highly recommend taking the time to learn the science behind it.

My next post will give some examples of what I eat and typical meals for each day of my carb-cycling week.

What exactly should you eat to be lean? (Part I)

This is the number 1 question I’ve heard since I first started training for a fitness competition, early in 2016. It came up so often I felt a bit like my own pet iguana (what do you feed it, exactly?)

I still get asked this question a lot and have noticed there are many mis-conceptions about a competitor’s diet. (Yes, I do eat carbs!) So I thought I would write a few posts that go into more detail about my diet, and for anyone looking to tighten up their shape, I hope this will be helpful.

A few years ago I tried losing weight on my own in advance of my wedding. I opted for the super low-carb strategy that had worked for me years ago, but that time, the results were frustratingly low. I remember being so stressed about it I had a nightmare where there was tons of food in front of me and I was yelling at it. Yeah, that is not healthy behaviour!

Now I understand much more about how food works in relation to fueling and weight loss, but as you might have guessed, it’s a bit too complicated to sum up in one post. So, this will be an overview and I will go into more details later on.

Macro-nutrients: The real food groups

We’re taught in school that there are four food groups: Grains, vegetables, meats (and alternatives) and dairy. This sounds simple but it’s a very bizarre way to group foods. You probably know someone who gives up an entire food group and gets along just fine, so how can this be?

We should really be look at foods in macro-nutrients. These are the food groups you really need; whether you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle or maintain, you have to have these in the right balance. They are:

Carbs

Carbs are present almost everywhere. If someone says they don’t eat carbs, than they literally would only eat grass fed meat and probably buy toilet paper once a year. In other words, it’s not possible (or at least very healthy). Carbs are highest in starchy foods like potatos, but are also found in vegetables, dairy and some meat.

Protein

This is another macro that is present in most foods but in different ratios. Animal sources such as meat, fish, eggs, all have high protein ratios. Vegetarian protein sources such as beans, nuts and seeds usually contain higher amounts of either carbs or fats. People focusing on weight loss often try to eat as much protein as possible, but it’s still important to make sure you’re eating the right amount to meet your goals. (I.e. it still has calories so too much will be stored.)

Fat

Yes we all know now that you need fat to lose weight, but I feel like this message has been exaggerated somewhat by fans of the Ketogenic and Paleo diets. Fat should still be the smallest portion of your macros because of its calorie density.

Speaking of diets and diet fads, so many popular trends will completely eliminate or over-exaggerate the benefits of certain macro-nutrients. This should be a red-flag that you are dealing with a quack. A healthy diet should include all three groups, but the controversy usually comes up when you talk about exact foods or ratios. If you spend five minutes on Google you will find “experts” with strong opinions on eating vastly different diets. So who’s right?

Obviously I’m not qualified to say, but I will leave you with two points: listen to your body, and if that doesn’t work, see a dietician. Your lifestyle and/or body type may impact how well a certain diet works for you, but the knowlege of a dietitian can give you important guidance as well; particularly if you have any allergies or conditions that impact how you digest food.

My next post will discuss the gold standard of the bodybuilder’s diet: carb cycling.

PS: I don’t actually have a pet iguana, but my cat Beansy’s former owner did. Its name was Jezibel and they got along great. I assume it ate bugs.

Street meat that I can eat

One of the biggest challenges of a competition prep is trying to find food on the go. Even seemingly innocuous choices can wreak your diet plan thanks to added sauces and cooking methods that add way too much sugar, salt and fat. To complicate matters, keeping an eye on your macros is essential, so even if you can spare the calories, you can’t log what you didn’t measure yourself. That said, there are a few options to keep you from staying home throughout your entire prep or dealing with hunger when you’re out.

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A rare indulgence in street meat!

I was super lucky today. While at Kensington Market getting my groceries, stores were having sidewalk barbeques as part of the Pedestrian Sunday festivities. My favourite fish store was grilling shrimp, lobster tails and calamari outside and it all smelled amazing. I was on my way home from the gym and hungry as always, so I decided to brave the line up.

First, I asked the fellah barbequing if he would make me something un-sauced, which he was happy to do. I went for the calamari since there is absolutely nothing better than fresh calamari off the grill. A second staff member was slathering each plate with a seasoned olive oil before serving the portions to customers. While that was tempting, and technically olive oil is ok for me, I chose to go without since it would be hard to know exactly how much oil was added. Olive oil is very healthy but ridiculously high in calories so I always make sure to measure it carefully. I did indulge in a little lime juice and hot sauce (I was fortunately able to read the ingredients first) and the result was delicious. Maybe it would have been better with the grilling sauce and oil, but I’ll never know!

My usual plan for eating on the go is to pack my own food. This can be challenging, but its doable. I’ve been known to carry a small cooler in my purse with seasoned meatballs and veggies that don’t taste too bad cold. I do feel like a dick sitting in a cafe subtly trying to hide the fact that I’m eating out of my purse while my husband eats like a normal person. I haven’t been chased out of a dining establishment yet.

My emergency go-to food is normally a Quest bar. Luckily they’re getting easier to find, although at $4 a pop (roughly) it’s not something I’d want to rely on too often. They are only about 200 calories and high in protein, but still not what I could consider a “clean” food so I try not to fall back on this too often. Ideally, I like to eat right before I leave the house and pack something clean, but that doesn’t always happen.

Another good takeout choice is the chicken salad from Aroma. I skip the carrots and just enjoy the grilled chicken, lettuce and onions. I’ve grown accustomed to eating salad without dressing and this is a pretty filling and healthy meal.

If you do have to eat in a restaurant, your best bet it to keep things as simple as possible, i.e., meat, vegetable, starch, no sauce. Make sure you ask the server to cook everything “dry” so there aren’t any unseen surprises. Sadly, if something tastes too good, you should be suspicious. Portion sizes are an other issue with eating in restaurants. If you’ve been measuring and weighing your food diligently, you should be able to eyeball the right portion size but it can be hard to stop eating when there is food on your plate.

Ultimately, if you’re prepping for a competition or just trying to lose a few pounds, plan to stay home for your meals as often as possible. It’s only temporary and won’t wreck your social life. The bonus is: whether you’re going on stage or just getting healthy, the fit life is very expensive so bowing out of the restaurant scene for a few weeks will be a welcome relief for your bank account.

Pumpkin Puke Smoothy

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Yes it’s officially fall so time to jump on the all-things-pumpkin wagon. Oddly enough, I had a really hard time finding canned pumpkin that wasn’t pie filling, e.g. full of sugar. Read the labels people!

If I may rant for a minute: if there’s one thing that drives me nuts is the added sugar in absolutely everything, when there is no need for it. Like almond milk: come on! If you want something sweeter it’s not difficult to add it yourself, and the amount you want, but you can’t take it out!

Bottom line, when ever you buy anything, from sauces to canned vegetables, always check the labels for additives. You would be surprised how fast little things can add up.

Now, back to the smoothy: yes it looks disgusting, as most of my smoothies do. That’s because I almost always add spinach. There is literally no reason not too as it has zero taste but adds to your daily vegetable requirements and helps keep you full with very little calories. The trick is to not look at it too long or pretend that you enjoy drinking frothy swamp water.

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This actually tastes pretty good and is a change from my usual sweet smoothies. It’s a spicy, savory blend that is a bit like pie but also like a liquefied meal. Again, ew, but still good. It’s makes a great after workout shake thanks to the added carbs from the pumpkin, but it’s also low-calorie enough to work as a between meals snack.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp pumpkin (make sure it is ONLY pumpkin in there!)
  • .5 cup of spinach (or as much as you can cram in your blender. You’ll thank me later!)
  • I scoop of protein powder
  • Half a table spoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp each of ground ginger, cloves, allspice
  • Sweetener to taste

Add ice and top up blender with either unsweetened almond milk or water

Directions: Close your eyes and enjoy or watch your husband be grossed out as he watches you drink it. The latter is more entertaining.