19 pounds. That is how much weight I have lost since I started this prep in July. It sounds like a LOT, and frankly it is a lot. In all honestly, I am not comfortable being this lean. I went to my husband’s Navy Football game yesterday and wore a 3/4 sleeved shirt because I’m a little embarrassed at how vascular I have become. Borderline freak show. My body does not want to be 123 pounds and neither does my mind. I prefer a much more flexible lifestyle, more curves, and for goodness sake, I miss BREAD like you have no idea.
But for the purposes of going pro and bringing an even more competitive package to the stage in 6 days, I’ll stay the course for a bit longer. Beginning on the Monday after this show on the 28th, I will begin a very slow reverse diet in order to bring my weight back up to a more comfortable place at around 132 pounds. Stage weight isn’t maintainable (nor do I find it very attractive on me for everyday life), and if I want to keep improving my physique and growing my muscles, I need to eat more to fuel that performance. Bring on the carbs!
While my diet has shrunken down to about 1200-1400 calories a day, as opposed to my usual 2200 calories, I do admit that while there are afternoon bouts of low energy, I feel great overall when I eat a diet of 100% clean foods. On the menu most days are egg whites, oatmeal, almonds, a wide array of lean meats, and a lot of green vegetables. I get a little wild some days with hot peppers and flavored mustard. Boring, but it gets the job done.
Here are my best cooking tips for making the most out of a diet that may seem bland but PROVES to work!
I buy most of my vegetables frozen. My favorites are broccoli, green beans, and edamame. Frozen produce is picked at the peak of freshness and flash frozen to retain all the fiber and antioxidants that support a bodybuilders muscle-development needs. For fresh veggies, I choose spinach, arugula, kale and asparagus. I like to roast my asparagus on a large baking sheet lined with organic canola oil spray. Then I spray the tops of the asparagus lightly, and sprinkle on plenty of salt and pepper. I roast them at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook asparagus. You want them to be slightly soft with a little crunch.
Egg whites from a carton are always on hand in my fridge. Organic liquid egg whites are not cheap, at $5 a pint from Whole Foods, but in the end, I prefer to eat the best quality food possible and save money else ware. Make sure that you purchase egg whites and NOT egg beaters or egg substitute. There should just be one ingredient on the label: egg whites. I love to add salt and cinnamon to egg whites, and when I am allowed oatmeal, I mix it all together (after cooking both separately) for a hearty, sweet bowl of goodness.
I buy organic chicken breasts as my main source of white meat and cook them in the oven covered with plenty of Flavor God seasoning. My favorite flavors are Pizza, Taco Tuesday, Spicy Everything and Buffalo. Then I pour a small amount of chicken broth at the bottom and cover the dish with aluminium foil. I bake the chicken at 400 degree for about 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. After it cools slightly, I cut it into slices and store it in the fridge for easy access. I do not reheat the chicken when I eat it after it is cooled because it can get very rubbery. I prefer cold chicken which retains a moist consistency.
When it comes to fish, my two favorites are cod and shrimp. I love salmon as well, but the last few weeks my fats have been coming from only almonds, and salmon can pack a whopping 14g of fat for a 4 ounce filet. I buy the cod and the shrimp frozen for ease of storage and cost-savings. For the cod, I spray a casserole dish and lay 6 filets (yes, 6, which I will eat over 2 days) inside, once again covered with Flavor God seasonings and some added lemon juice. I cook cod at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the center is flaky. Do not overcook. You can reheat the fish the next day (or later that day) but I would suggest 30 seconds max in the microwave as to not overcook it.
I cook shrimp on the stove top in a frying pan. Spray oil, Flavor God seasonings, some crushed red pepper – whatever you enjoy! Cook the shrimp on medium heat for about 3 minutes, then flip each piece and cook for about 2-3 minutes more. The key with cooking any meat is NOT to overcook it. Reheat or enjoy cold.
Steak is a rare treat for a bodybuilder at the end of prep, so I typically buy the finest filet I can find from Whole Foods and prepare it in a cast iron skillet with butter and plenty of salt and pepper. I typically eat steak the night before a show, and it’s such a special treat. It’s also always my post show celebratory meal, alongside a crab cake and plenty of bread and butter.
I can’t even remember what a carb tastes like. Just kidding. But besides oatmeal, I haven’t had a potato in about a month, and the only other carbs come from green vegetables and the (very) occasional rice cake. When I am eating potatoes, I slice them into quarters, lay them on a baking sheet, spray with oil and top with plenty of salt and cinnamon (for sweet potatoes). Chili powder and a little cayenne pepper are great too. It’s all about flavor preference, so get creative!
If you’re not much of a cook, then I hope that these simple tips have helped you to see that cooking really isn’t that complicated or time consuming. Simple foods (with spice) are the best way to achieve a lean physique. Have a great week, and take some time to meal prep so you’re always prepared when hunger strikes.
If I entered in a bikini competition this weekend, I certainly wouldn’t win any trophies. I’ve been referring to this week as my “week of gluttony” to my husband who has seen me plow though some serious food over the past 7 days. (I hope my coach isn’t reading this).
**I may or may not have eaten an enormous tray of sushi this week from Ziki, including the Volcano and infamous Da BOMB rolls.
**I may or may not have eaten a chicken cheesesteak and fries from Heroes Pub. Oh and their steamed shrimp are amazing (not that I would know).
**I may or may not have picked up a piece of carrot cake from Stoney River, which may or may not have the best carrot cake within 100 miles.
**I may or may not have eaten several Levain Bakery cookies, shipped to my house from NYC two weeks ago.
**I may or may not have had the nuts ‘n more birthday cake nut butter everyday.
Sure I could pretend that I have been a perfect reverse dieter over the past week, but I think you know me well enough by know to know that I don’t pretend. Tomorrow kicks off my 2-week macro group with twenty new women, so I will get back to my healthy lifestyle then. For now, I’m finishing off the weekend strong.
I wrapped up my competition season with 2, 1st place trophies from the OCB, and 3 trophies from the NPC: 2nd Place in Masters 35+, 4th place in True Novice (never competed in the NPC before), and 5th place in Novice (never placed 1st in the NPC before. I trained for a total of 18 weeks for these shows. So am I mad at myself for my “week of gluttony?” Nope, I’m not.
My “off season” will continue through the summer, and I will begin training for my 3 fall shows in mid-August. An off season for me includes a little more flexibility in my diet (however not like the past week!) and a few less hours in the gym. I will still weight train for 3 hours a week and do about 3 hours of cardio, but I’ll incorporate 2 full rest days and more yoga. I will also plan to only track my macros during the week and leave the weekends off to enjoy more of a social life and meals out.
Despite my food fest, I did manage to do a few healthy things this weekend, including preparing a simple dish for lunches this week. The recipe is below. I hope to share more easy recipes with you over the summer on a weekly basis to help keep us all accountable in the warmer weather.
Sweet and Simple Honey Mustard & Goat Cheese Turkey Meatloaf Muffins
adapted from Skinnytaste
Macros for 1 muffin: 72 calories, 9P/1F/6C
3/4 cup grated zucchini, all moisture squeezed dry with paper towel
2T. onion, minced
2T. red pepper, diced
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs, recommend Ian’s
1 large egg
3T. honey mustard sauce, recommend Tessemae’s (non-GMO, no added sugar, dairy free)
1T. Flavor God Honey BBQ seasoning, or similar
salt + pepper
1 ounce goat cheese crumbles
1 package (about 16 ounces) ground turkey meat (used 95% lean)
Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Divide evenly into 10-12 greased muffin tins. My mixture made 11 muffins. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. Enjoy!
I ended up cutting up all of the extra onion, red pepper and zucchini and sauteed it as a salad topper for this week. I love it when 1 meal prep idea performs double duty!
Happy Superbowl Sunday. If you’re like me, you just dove into a pizza and some chips to celebrate this annual game (that most people really don’t care about). Treats like this for me are few and far between at 12 weeks out from my next bikini competition. Tonight, however, I enjoyed every bite because I knew that I was set up to succeed with my meal prep for the remainder of the week.
Someone recently asked me to help her get bikini-ready for a spring break vacation that was 6 weeks away. She wanted to know what type of workout schedule I would recommend to lean out a little in this short time. My response was simple. If you have 5 hours a week to devote to your fitness, use 4 hours of that week to meal prep.
That doesn’t mean she needs to be in the kitchen for 4 hours, chopping and cooking and chopping some more. That time would include making a grocery list, shopping, looking at the calendar to plan ahead for a busy schedule of dropping her kids at activities, and then actually cooking or prepping some simple foods that were ready to go.
Here are some of my top meal-prep hacks that I use regularly to stay on track when time is tight:
Pre-Cut and Pre-Washed Lettuce and Veggies
I spend a little extra money each week to have Whole Foods wash my lettuce for me. Do you know how annoying it is to wash lettuce? Don’t even get me started. I don’t even own a salad spinner to dry the lettuce, and frankly I have no space for one. Sign me up to pay fifty cents more for clean lettuce that’s ready to go. I also splurge on some veggies that are already washed and pre-sliced. It sounds silly, but have you ever bought whole vegetables at the store with intentions to wash/peel/chop them and you find them a week later in the back of your fridge, rotten? Go on. I’m with you. Sometimes our weeks are too busy to even chop a vegetable, and when we do have 5 minutes to ourselves, that’s the last thing we want to be doing. This is a minor expense that I pay to save me a little bit of time. That way when I am ready to assemble my daily salad, all I really have to do is assemble.
I also purchase a lot of frozen vegetables and use them as sides for many of our dinners. Broccoli, green beans, asparagus and spinach are all good choices that are low carb (yes, veggies have carbs) and packed with fiber.
I buy 2 rotisserie chickens a week, one on Sunday and a second one on Thursday. I always do a second grocery shop on Thursdays to restock anything that I need, so that I go strong into the weekend prepared. I know a lot of people that undo all of their hard work on the weekends, and they are back to square one on Mondays. This second shop helps to ensure that I can still meet my goals, even on a Saturday.
Rotisserie chickens are a simple solution for the lazy cook (or the bad cook). The KEY is to remove the meat when the bird is still warm. Trust me, you do not want to unpack the groceries, throw that bird in the fridge and think “I’ll get to it later.” You just spent $8-12 on a delicious bird, take that meat off (eat the juicy wings while you’re doing it) and shred the breast for later.
You can use that chicken for a lot of things:
- Salad topper
- Chicken tacos
- Throw it in the food processor (when cooled) with some carrots, onion, celery, some mayo or Greek yogurt and some hot sauce for buffalo chicken salad
- Make chicken enchiladas
- Make chicken soup
The list goes on. Get creative and use this simple hack to help you add protein to your week.
Whole Grain Rice Packets
I recently discovered that Whole Foods sells these whole grain rice packet medleys that are ready to go after 90 seconds in the microwave. Each packet serves two, so it’s perfect for me and the hubs. They come in blends like Spelt, Green Lentils & Long Grain Brown Rice and Long Grain Brown & Wild Rice. You can use it as a side for any dish or mix it with some taco meat, and make your own little burrito. Plus, 90 seconds is about the most time I want to spend on rice these days.
Frontera Sauces and Marinades
We eat a lot of Mexican cuisine in our home. Fish tacos, taco soup, enchiladas, flank steak tacos. The list goes on. I always have Frontera Sauces and Marinades on-hand, since all you have to add is the protein of your choice and wa-la a tasty dinner. I love the Carne Asada marinade for flank steak, the Red Chili Barbacoa Seasoning sauce for a slow cooker meal, and the Texas Original Taco Sauce for ground beef. Just buy a pouch, and follow the recipe on the back. There are no sketchy ingredients, and the calorie content is minimal. Keep and eye on the sodium if you have a history of high blood pressure.
Last but not least is frozen fish. Fish is an excellent way to add a well-balanced side of protein to your family dinner. I typically cook very bland white fish (cod, tilapia and halibut) and spice it up with Flavor God seasonings. If you haven’t heard of Flavor God, check them out. They are low sodium and they come in both sweet and savory flavors like pizza, spicy everything, and chocolate donut (which is amazing in oatmeal). They are non-GMO and MSG-free.
To make the fish, I defrost it (same day), rinse it and pat it dry. I place it on a foil-lined baking sheet (another hack to reduce clean up time – just toss the foil after the fish is cooked) that is sprayed with cooking spray. I drizzle a little olive oil on each piece and load up the seasonings. Fold up the sides of the foil and then the ends, sealing it tightly. Bake the fish for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees. Open the foil and scrape gently at the fish with a fork. It is cooked through when the flesh flakes easily and the color has turned opaque all the way through.
Another quick dinner that is healthy and easy in under 15 minutes.
I believe that I have mastered the simple-quick weeknight dinner in our home. It’s not fancy, but it’s healthy and easy. On the weekends, I venture out a bit and try new recipes .
I know you’ve heard the phrases “abs are made in the kitchen” and “you cannot out exercise a poor diet.” These statements are 100% accurate. Take some simple steps to plan ahead with your meals, and you can skip the gym a bit more often.
A super easy and healthy turkey burger has been my staple at lunch the past couple of weeks. Turkey burgers are super high in protein (you know I like my protein) and low in fat, so you can easily have 2 at one sitting to help you feel full and satiated.
I’ve discovered a few tricks to making burgers lately that I want to share with you:
**Make things easier on yourself by throwing all of the ingredients except the turkey into the food processor. Then you don’t have to chop chop chop which can be time consuming. The juices from the canned peppers and chilies also provide a nice binding agent to help the patties stay together.
**Bake the burgers instead of grilling them. Sometimes when I grill mine indoors or outdoors, then juices run away from the meat. In this case, since turkey is so lean, I like when the juices stay on the meat. The result is a super moist burger.
So I hope you enjoy these little suckers as much as I do…
Green Chili and Roasted Red Pepper Turkey Burgers
makes 10 large burgers: macros for 1 burger: 114 calories, 1g fat, 3.6g carbs, 23g protein
1 cup cilantro
8 whole green chilies (from can) or 2 cans of diced green chilies
3 large roasted red pepper halves (about 4 ounces)
1 small onion (about 150g)
5-10 fresh basil leaves
Salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes
2 pounds of ground turkey breast, lean (32 ounces)
Combine first 5 ingredients + spices in a food processor until mixed. Add the mixture to the ground turkey. Form into 10 patties. They will be a bit wet from the juices. Mine measured each about 135g per patty.
Bake in 2 large, greased casserole dishes for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
After the patties have cooled to room temperature, transfer to the fridge or freezer for storing.