Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The woes of being a low cal flexible dieter and why I take a full cheat day

So I was not a good reverse dieter... I know I said I would be and I know that I promised myself I would do it but when it was time to step up to the plate I slowly dissolved. Having a bad stomach flu 2 weeks post competition did not help as I watched my weight drop down to 115lbs- the lowest it has ever been since 8th grade. Best case scenario I would have held out against the emotional, psychological, and physical stress of being hungry and slowly added my calories back... I would probably be just 2-3lbs over stage weight... and up to the same caloric point I am now (but about 14lbs over stage weight). It is what it is though, and it is hard to deny a body that is sending you constant signals to eat. In July my period finally returned after about 5 months not having it. That was a bummer, but a good sign that my body had reached the point it was comfortable with from a health perspective. August was a wash, birthdays all month and barbecues galore. I hit a point where I had to just give myself permission to eat as I wanted because bingeing, and admittedly purging at times, was becoming a problem. There is so much guilt seeing your body change and knowing that you aren't doing what you are supposed to do. So I forgave myself the desire to eat above my caloric maintenance and let lose the reins for a little while.
Eating disorders are no joke... if you have been following me awhile you know this is my struggle. Bulimia and Binge Eating are very common for physique competitors though it is something rarely made public. I am one of the many who suffers with this, especially post show. Flexible dieting has definitely helped me, since less restriction means less likelihood that I will reactively backlash. Also having a good support system in place is invaluable- my teammates giacomo, ashlee, and christian who checked in on me regularly, my dad who having been a competitor in the past has gone through it and can talk about it from a completely non emotional viewpoint, my coach Dani Taylor who helped council me through the worst times, and my girlfriend for being perfect- never scrutinizing my eating behaviors even when she was worried, just telling me that she wanted me to be healthy, and that I am beautiful even when I don't have defined legs and abs. It was a rough time for a while and I know it was hard for her to see me suffer with self hate, guilt, and dysmorphia but she was calm through it all and helped me to work through it.
I am completely past bingeing (although you are never completely through ED, you always have to watch yourself and be mindful) and decided I was ready to start slowly monitoring and structuring my food again. So now it's september and I am back on a low but necessary caloric budget. It is lower than my current maintenance but about right for where I need to be to slowly lose some of this excess 5-7 and get back to a leaner yet healthy body fat percentage.
So let me tell you the bummer deal you get when you are a small person who follows flexible dieting guidelines... You've probably seen the instagrams, the fb feeds, and the memes hash tagging #IFFYM #FLEXIBLEDIETING #TEAMSCIENCE #ITFITS #COUNTYOURMACROS below photos of oreos, burgers, ice cream, and candy. That is one of the biggest perks of flexible dieting right?? You get to chose where your carbs and fat come from! You get to eat candy!!!
Well I am here to tell you: if you only eat 1600 calories a day, and you are a hungry person, you don't waste those calories on a tiny cookie. Not gonna happen. You eat salad, lots of vegetables, the purest sources of protein you can find, and some nut butter or vegan cheese if you've been frugal. You feel like a wild woman if you get in some regular pasta or WHITE BREAD!
You debate between eating tofu or more beyond meat chicken so you can have some fat in your last meal...
The big boys, the 2500-5000 calorie eaters, they get to have the cookies, poptarts, sub sandwiches, half pizza, and doughnuts. I can sometimes splurge on a small serving of those things but quite honestly it isn't usually worth it.
Hence why I have elected to keep a cheat day. Yes you read that right, not a cheat MEAL, a whole day. I do this with amanda and it is actually what we call a "no count day" not a cheat day. Which means if I want to have a real dessert I can. If I want to go out to eat and have a sandwich AND fries I can. I will try to make sure I don't go too far from my protein goal, or go too far over in calories, but if I do I don't think twice about it- as long as I don't binge or eat to sickness. This helps keep me sane. This helps keep me on my diet the other 6 days of the week and that makes it a sustainable diet for me. It helps me to not obsess over food that I have cravings for all week because if I still want it saturday I can have it and because trying to cram everything into one free meal gives me anxiety and results in me binging. Knowing I have the whole day to eat what I feel like- within reason, makes me less frantic... and because I do it with amanda I am less likely to overeat- I can share something or gauge a reasonable portion size.
So anyway, that is where I am at and that is what is working for me. I know people say that when you count your macros you shouldn't take cheat days or whatever but it is what I have found keeps me on track. The reality of the matter is that eating at a caloric deficit every single day with low calories does not allow me to actually eat the foods I enjoy without stress and maintain a good quality of life. Adding the extra 50cal per day that comprises the additional 600 I possibly hit on my no count day would not allow me the wiggle room to enjoy a real dessert. So this is what works for me and I hope it dispels some myths about flexible dieting. It is still a diet! Even though you can eat whatever fits in your macro budget ;)
I love vegan soft serve- specifically in a cone

back september 8th, working towards accepting higher body fat

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mind games: Exercising my positivity muscle and coming in strong!

5 weeks and 2 days until stage day. Officially cutting for 18 weeks at this point...
When people think about bodybuilders getting ready for a show I think they empathize with the cardio, the lack of food, and the sacrifice of time... but I think most don't really see the mental struggle to stay positive, to fight the irritability the comes with lower calories, and the depression that self imposed deprivation can induce.
My big commitment to myself this year is to keep a good mental space and a positive frame of mind WHENEVER POSSIBLE! So far I think I have done well. Feeling super happy and positive, trying to keep my energy up, and really feel the gratitude I have about being given the ability and opportunity to compete in my chosen sport to promote veganism with my inspiring teammates.
I am about to head in to the 5th week from stage- in the past this has been a tough chunk of time for me... week 5-2 has traditionally really pushed me to my limits in regards to hunger, fatigue, and brain function. I am prepared as much as I can be and I am resolute that I will continue to strengthen my "attitude muscle" throughout these toughest weeks and get through this time with grace.
At this point my calories and carbs are lower than they have ever been but even though I feel hunger I welcome the cuts my genius coach sends me because I know that together we are going to take it to the next level this show and I will get to be a better example of a vegan athlete. I am so grateful for her guidance and bravery. I am also so lucky for the patience of my clients, sorry I am so often foggy or seem a little disconnected... and as always humbled and appreciative for the support of my friends and coworkers.
I had a great check in this week- probably my best yet, and have made strength gains steadily leading up to this point. Feeling strong and ready for more as we push forward through this last 38 days!
Here are some progress photos which I know you all love and also a request that you do something hippy-ish and send some energetic thoughts my way if you think of it. I may need them!
Macro Friendly Pizza

I am getting abs!

And Striations
I love flexible dieting!
Two year progress

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The secret to successful fat loss...

Here it is guys, I am going to give you my big secret to losing fat, gaining muscle, eating better, creating healthy habits, and changing your life... You ready??
You thought it was really going to be a secret, haha. In all things in life that you want to improve at, for all habits you want to create or behaviors you want to change consistency is the key to success. You want to stop smoking? Most people don't just flip a switch and never want a cigarette again- you have to consistently chose not to have one hundreds of times before it becomes your new pattern.
This is the time of year where people who have fallen off their new years resolution diets and workout routines are coming back into the gym. I am getting a lot of "Wow, you look lean! What have you been doing?" Umm, what do you think I have been doing?!! Eating on my diet and working my ass out every day. It isn't rocket science! Lol. 
Losing body fat, increasing muscle, increasing overall fitness- none of this is unachievable for any person, it just takes an adherence to your plan and consistent effort. Nothing happens instantly, your goals are attainable by day after day of tiny changes and improvements... the battle isn't lost because you have one off day, it's what you do the 99 other days that are going to make or break you.
There are a couple really motivational people in my gym right now that are making me want to go harder everyday. These two specific men are a part of our 90 day fat loss challenge and have without a doubt given it their all. Not a week has gone by that I haven't seen them in the gym at least 5 days a week... They have both made HUGE improvements to their health and body composition. It is so inspiring to see someone do something that life changing. I can imagine how scary it is to even take on that level of planned fat loss, as both were well within the obese range. It makes me so excited for them because they are now going to be able to do things in their lives that would have been super challenging or even out of the question for them before due to their size or poor cardiovascular health.
Bottom line, in and outside of the gym, consistency is the key to winning at life. Try it... Pick something you want to learn to do, or a new habit you want to adopt. For the next 30 days just do it, every day... You'll see.
And here I am at 9 weeks out... still a long way to go! I'll get there though because I am going to stay on my diet, do my workouts, and do my cardio!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

13 weeks out! Update- see what a vegan bodybuilder eats!

Appreciate THICK THIGHS- My current obsession= ADDUCTORS!
Well it's starting to get close! In my past experience the 12 week mark is when I start to notice differences in my body a lot more often. I am definitely ready for that! Getting excited to see what I have under this layer of fluff and present my last year and a half of work to you guys. Not to mention that after the last 11 weeks or so cutting I am so ready to feel like I have something to show for all that culinary discipline and cardio!
So how am I doing? Really well, for the most part. I am making efforts to reduce my life stress while my physical stress increases. I have been a bit of a hermit lately, staying in for the most part and even spending my breaks at work in the break room alone more often than not as opposed to out in the club- eating at the counter. I am feeling the need to conserve my energy and less able to handle a lot people at once. It just feels a little draining- so I save that energy for my clients and friends, but don't be offended if I send you a text expressing my love instead of wanting to go out or if I want to just go for a walk with you instead of going somewhere public. It is just what my body is asking for right now and it is keeping me feeling balanced and mellow. In addition I have my budget set tightly so money won't be a stressor and my work schedule a little more restricted. With my work schedule more tightened up I have been mostly able to reduce my waking hours by 1-2 so that I don't have as long to stretch my food out over. Just trying to take care of myself so I don't get sick this year and am able to keep up my intensity the whole duration of my prep.
This week my diet changed a little- I was able to hang on to higher calories for several weeks, but I saw my progress slow this last week so I knew that this week a cut was coming. However my coach must really love me because she gave me a great refeed day every few days and I am using it to satisfy all the cravings I have had over the last few weeks. I had nachos the other day (not a lot mind you, but enough that I was able to satisfy the need!) and I am making a single serving low sugar pie on tuesday. Berry pie has been on my mind a LOT lately!
I feel very fortunate that my schedule allows me a lot of access throughout the day to my home kitchen. In the past I have had to prepare all my food in advance, and take it with me for the day. Since most days I work splits and come home during the day I have the opportunity to prep food for each day as it comes. It is considerably more time consuming this way but luckily I love all things food related and being able to make each meal before I eat it gives me a lot of joy. It also allows me the freedom to chose what I want to eat on a daily basis, so I feel way less restricted than I have in the past. 
I have admittedly had very hungry and very drained moments, (you can ask my coworkers!) but so far it is not too bad. Making an effort to reduce my meals from 6 a day to 5 has helped a lot, so I feel more satisfied after I eat. Some days I am unable to stretch 5 meals over my day so I have been having a small protein pudding for breakfast to tide me over and it seems to be doing the trick. I cannot say how glad I am that my coach allows me the freedom to use flexible dieting during prep. I have not once yet this prep eaten sweet potato, asparagus, and baked tofu! Haha! Instead I am getting to eat foods I love and would chose to eat even if I wasn't cutting. Don't get tricked into thinking I have it too easy, none of these servings is large. The biggest meal I have had in weeks was around 400cal, and I average 300 cal a meal. So I make every meal delicious, and I don't suffer through day after day of the same boring "clean foods". I get lots of protein, more fruit than any previous cut, veggies, and still all the good stuff like pasta and bread. I know as calories become scarce I will choose to stop having as many of the fun foods in favor of food that is super filling, but for now I will enjoy the luxury of 24 baked tortilla chips!
Nachos with Sour Supreme and Salsa Dressing

Protein Waffle with no sugar added Coconut Ice Cream

Silver Dollar Protein Pancakes

Chocolate Protein Ice Cream with Cookie Crumbs

Protein Pudding with Cocoa Crispies and Strawberries

Low Fat Mac and Cheese

Mini Breakfast Protein Puddings


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Oatmeal from

Tofu Benedict

Coconut Milk Raspberry Chocolate Protein Ice Cream

High Protein Cheesecake Filling with Strawberries

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Progress and game plans

around 2 years of compositional changes

 1) I had great news saturday morning when I had my body composition tested. I am up to over 109lbs of lean body mass, which I am super happy about! At 4'11" that is great progress and I can't wait to break the 110lb mark. That is up 3lbs of muscle compared to last year at this time. Hard work and a adhering to my nutrition is paying off. I am so eager for what is to come and this makes me more determined than ever to push and see where I will be in a year, 2 years, 5 years and on.

2) With those results in hand I am seeing that to be where I want to be as far as body fat by april 18th I would need to lose over a pound a week of fat. So far this season I have not had success losing at that rate, to the benefit of my muscle mass, and keeping that mass is more important to me than being ready for the april show... so I am going to plan on making june 6th at the Naturally Fit Super Show in Austin my first show this year, followed by the Columbia Classic June 20th. I am not sure if I will do another show later this summer after that. I think I will just play it by ear and see how my body is feeling at that time. If I am doing ok holding my fat low I may push for a third show. If I am struggling I will begin a reverse diet and start my off season in July.

3) It is tough to be hungry, and to not allow myself to graze a little, especially at the end of the night when I am trying to go to sleep and can't stop thinking about food. This week I finally feel like I am rounding a bend physique wise and starting to see some of the indicators that I am getting lean. I am happy with what is happening in my quads and with my shoulders taking some shape as I lose a little of the fluff in my upper arms. These photos and indicators of my progress give me the determination to keep pushing forward.

4) I am feeling a little sappy and as always I have to thank the people in my life that help keep my morale up: Dani- without you I'm lost, seriously. Thank you for keeping me on path, keeping my head on straight, and driving the ship. Co-workers- thank you for taking the time to mention that you see my shape changing, you might not realize it but that helps me make it through each day and push harder in my workouts and cardio. Thank you for always asking how my workouts went and how I am feeling. I have never had such a strong support system so close to me daily. My clients- thanks for your check ins and being understanding when I am a little spacey or continuously mention that I am hungry during our sessions. You are the best! Karen- cheerleader and cardio motivator, I appreciate you to no end... thanks for understanding that going out to coffee is my new favorite activity. Dad- I live to make you proud, thank you for always being my biggest fan and getting me started on this path. Stacey, Jack, Erin, Iron Ethos crew, all of portland really- <3 thank you for the love and support. Teammates- Thanks for doing this with me... together we will change the world. Social media friends and fans- knowing you are out there and that some of you see me as an inspiration makes me work harder to give you the best I have. Every comment and positive remark makes a difference to me and has more than once helped me through a tough day.

Ok, enough of my dramatics ;) I know I am not doing anything impossible or anything tons of people haven't done before, but I am doing something that means a lot to me and is very challenging- and I couldn't do it without you!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The slow crawl towards stage lean

4 weeks progress
I know people love to see progress photos, so here I am in my underwear for you.
This season has seemed like an especially long trek to me. I have been cutting for about 8 weeks now and my weight has not changed too significantly. I am down around 5lbs and about an inch in the waist, 2-3 inches in the hip area, and an inch and a half in the booty.
The cool thing is that in november, my measurements compared to now were larger through the waist, hips, and butt- but my weight is about 2lbs greater... so I know I have gained several pounds of muscle.
I am trying hard to not become frustrated with the slow progress, and to remind myself that even though I am frequently hungry I still eat more than a lot of women my height and weight do to maintain. Really I am doing great, I have lost fat while maintaining and possibly even increasing my muscle- which is a rare thing during a cut... but it's tough to work so hard and know I still have so far to go. I am estimating about 12-14lbs to really be where I want to be on stage this season... It may not happen, but I have many years to get good at cutting down to essential fat. I get dunked on saturday and I am very interested in seeing where my Lean Body Mass is in comparison to the last time I dunked over a year ago.
Cardio is hard for me, and being hungry sucks, but the toughest parts are the mental things- being patient and just trusting the process, having to fit every meal within a budget of calories/macros- with no free meals, and no meals out now that I am more limited in my calories. I really just want to go get nachos and a slice of pie... I am starting to remember all my tricks for making food volume increase while calories decrease, making the most of extracts and spices, and turning towards a few sugar free products to curb sweet cravings.
This is just me letting off a little steam, venting my frustrations... I have a harder time than some cutting body fat- my body really likes to keep its womanly bits. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, I may have a hard time losing fat but I gain muscle somewhat easily and each season, while on a deficit I have continued to gain muscle almost through my entire cut. I will make it to the stage by june, lean and in a better condition than my last season. I still don't know about april but I am not feeling very optimistic.
I am super resolved to reverse diet properly after my shows this summer and minimize the amount of fat I gain in my off season so that next year I hopefully only have to cut for 16 weeks instead of over 20. I can say with complete certainty that dieting is one of my most hated things are hardest challenges. I stay resolved knowing that what I am doing is going to make an impact and help change people's minds about veganism and maybe convert a few meat eaters.
my zen pump at golds gym capitol hill, seattle
photo by Karen Mishelof

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tips for succeeding with your fitness goals!

This month my work kicks off our nationwide 90 day challenge. During the 90 days clients can make a fitness goal- to lose fat, gain muscle, improve their health, run a marathon, etc. and we help them achieve it. I put together this list for my team and I thought others might find it helpful as well. These are things I have found to be helpful for sticking to your H&F goals.

Tips for staying on track with your health and fitness goals 
1) You have to WANT it. I mean bad… it has to be more important to you than going out for a drink after work or sleeping in an extra 30 minutes before work. Not only do you have to want it but you have to be clear with yourself about why you want it so that when it becomes a challenge you will have to motivation to push hard and keep going.

2) Set concrete goals and WRITE THEM DOWN. Put your goals somewhere you will see them, like on the refrigerator or your bathroom mirror. Make a second written document that states WHY this goal is so important to you that you are willing to change your life to accommodate it. This has to be good! You will need to look at this as a reminder of why you are doing things you might not feel like doing. Find a friend, coworker, partner, parent, the internet, and tell them your goal. Tell everyone your goal. Talking about it makes it real and like it or not you will have more pressure to succeed.

 3) When you fail to plan, you plan to fail… Think about what you need to complete your goal and get those things in place before you start. Do you need a trainer? Do you need a workout routine? Do you need a weekly grocery list? DO YOU NEED TO GO BUY GROCERIES??? Great, go do it.

4) Log things… Log your workouts, track your food, be clear with your intentions and the energy you put into this journey. Logging your food and workouts will make you more aware and focused on what you are doing and you will be able to see your progress!

5) Develop a support system… This can be a workout buddy, an internet group, an instagram account, coworkers who also have fitness goals- whatever. There is strength in numbers and having someone who is going to tell you to go workout when you feel lazy and congratulate you when you completed something hard helps a lot. Remember that ultimately you can’t count on a buddy to always be there when you need to go workout… you are going to have to go it alone sometimes. Don’t let another persons lack of commitment halt your progress.

6) Keep your eye on the prize. You will have set backs… you will get sick or have an injury, you will slip up and under eat, or have a few too many oreos on the weekend. It happens. Get over it and move along. We are prone to this mentality (I am especially) where when we make a mistake we either wallow in it and feel horrible about ourselves or we throw everything out the window and go on an unhealthy binge. Don’t do that. Just because I ate 8 oreos doesn’t mean I might as well finish off the pack.

7) Get help. Hire an expert, or find a good knowledgable source of information and learn from them. 

Good luck and I’ll see you at the gym!