There is nothing more fulfilling than when you’re in the zone and your workouts make you feel like Thor fighting through the ancient dead before fighting his crazy sister Hela in Ragnarok, you feel unstoppable. In fact, taking a day off seems absurd and you definitely don’t want to stop progress, right? Not exactly, taking a day off really does your body good and you need it.
Muscle recovery is vital to your progress. I know I know, I also said your nutrition is vital to your progress, well guess what? So is your muscle recovery. As a competitive bodybuilder, I understand the importance of rest and recovery and there is more to it than just sleep. Fueling your body, engaging in active recovery, and your nutrition all play vital roles in muscle recovery.
In the following article Muscle Recovery: Essential to Your Next Workout was originally published on HVMN and dives into consuming, resting, and techniques for recovery. It also highlights the importance of foam rolling and stretching to help reduce the risk of injury. Overall, we have to take care of our bodies in and out of the gym and it starts by empowering yourself with the right knowledge.
Today I started thinking about a comment a member said to me last week. “You’ve got it so easy, you already look amazing.” Although she didn’t intend to make me feel I’d been slapped in the face I still felt the heat on my cheek lingering. Does she honestly believe ‘this’ is easy? Sorry sister, you don’t get to give me a compliment I didn’t even ask for, especially a back handed one. I work for THIS, I workout, for THIS, I eat for THIS, I supplement for THIS, I recover for THIS, I drink a lot of water for THIS, I do cardio for THIS, shall I continue??
Every morning I visualize how my day is going to go and what I want to accomplish. As a body builder I plan every meal, workout, cardio session, supplement intake, and getting in my gallon of water. A routine I have been perfecting for 10 years and every year I find new ways to improve my strategy of prepping and training to conquer the body I want. But you don’t have to compete to get the body you want. I compete because it holds me accountable and I look forward to the discipline, consistency, and development of my training along with helping others learn to live a healthier lifestyle.
The will power it takes to accomplish my goals is not easy. Some days are tougher than others but I know I can do it. When anyone sets a goal to lose weight, change their body, eat healthier, begin a workout routine, run a marathon, it all starts with the power to decide. You don’t start losing weight or adding muscle because it’s the in thing to do. You do it because something intrinsic has been stirring up inside of you and is ready to express its reality through your body. For some, they believe doing cardio and weight training is enough but do not give nutrition much effort. They aren’t ready for real change and continue doing the same bad habits with little effort to improve their daily eating. You have to be all in to feel and see change. In other words, going from 1-2 meals a day to 3 meals a day is nothing to get excited about if it’s still unhealthy/crappy food. If you are going to add a 3rd meal then make all 3 healthier and part of your plan to a healthier you. Our bodies are complex but when you find the formula that works it becomes easier.
It’s when we give up that we fall short of our accomplishments. You have to see it through til the end. Have patience and stay consistent.
Growing up when my mom wanted something done I had to remove all distractions to complete the task or suffer the consequences. The daily tasks she required taught me to focus. Especially in a time crunch. Don’t get me wrong, I tend to procrastinate on the things I’m not so fond of but when it’s something I love to do or trying to accomplish something important I laser in on what needs to be done.
Every day my schedule requires me to set aside two separate times to train for competition. As I awake I do fasted cardio for 45 minutes. This means getting everything I need for the day and heading to the gym. Since my work day starts as early as 6am my alarm starts screaming at 4:15am. After cardio a shower is desperately needed and my first meal is eaten before training my first client. Later in the day I schedule an hour for strength and weight training. This happens five days out of the week and then I’m back to training clients until 7pm, sometimes as late as 8:30pm.
One can say the days get long but luckily I love what I do and it never feels like ‘work’. Once I’m home I tend to my furry babies then prepare dinner and attempt to enjoy some of the evening with my hubby. But before I get too comfortable I have to start preparing for the next day. Managing my time is important when I compete. Scheduling times to eat along with clients and my own training can get overwhelming and exhausting. Staying on track with taking all my supplements throughout the day and drinking at least a gallon of water is a full-time job. To get my body stage ready I can’t miss a beat. There’s no wiggle room and forget taking the day off from ‘my comp plan’ because if that box is cracked even a little we might as well bring in the doughnuts because a little taste is never enough. That is why getting ready for a show requires focus. If I get distracted then there is a possibility that my plan can start to unravel. Fortunately for me I am zoned in like a sniper waiting for its next kill.
4:15am Alarm…snooze button
4:24am Alarm… Rise and shine!
4:24-4:45am morning ritual then off to the gym
5:45am-6:15am shower, get ready for work, scarf down meal 1
6:30am-1:30pm train clients, eat meals 2 and 3, take required supplements, drink at least half-gallon water.
2:00pm-3:30pm workout, eat meal 4
4:00pm-8:30pm train clients, eat meal 5 (dinner)
8:45pm-10:30pm family time and prepare for next day
10:30pm wind down and prepare for bed. i usually am asleep between 11pm and midnight
Houston can be a tough city to find healthy meal choices when eating out. Here in Texas we like our southern fried foods and fatty meats and most of us have never met a potato we didn’t like! With our daily schedules, cooking at home is just not an option for a large number of busy professionals, executives, parents, and students. But if you are working toward a fitness goal, or if you have simply put healthy eating at the top of your list of priorities, then you need to know where you can go and what you can order when you can’t make your meals at home. Knowledge is power in this situation, and I hope to arm you with some of my experience and expertise on the matter.
Planning ahead…at least a LITTLE BIT
Most days you probably run out of the office and hit the road for home (or the gym!) at breakneck speed. Chances are your tummy starts rumbling while you are still sitting in traffic and you find yourself turning in to pick something up for dinner. Or perhaps it is lunchtime and you need something fast. If you have made the conscious decision to eat healthy, fast food is not on the menu. In fact, quite a few standard American choices are ruled out. So what’s a hungry guy or gal to do? The first step to a fool proof healthy eating plan is to do just as the name suggests…and PLAN. Pack your lunch and a few healthy snack options to curb your hunger. But if eating out is a major part of your routine, then you at least need to know where to go and what to order. The easiest way to do this is to know the healthy restaurants in your area (list below) or find it on HealthyDiningFinder.com or a similar site. Then, browse the menus online ahead of time. Many restaurants provide nutrition information online and in stores these days. When we have goals to accomplish it is important to stick to the plan and eat healthy even when we don’t prepare it ourselves.
This one can be tricky when eating out with co workers but if you know where you are going then you can take a sneak peak at the menu on line and plan ahead. Choose the item you will order while you are sitting at your desk. It is easier to think about and follow through with your healthy choices when you are not rushed by the people behind you or tempted by the table next to you. We live in a time when information is literally at our fingertips. Use your smartphone—most sites have mobile versions—and plan ahead. You can always call ahead as well and ask for special preparations. In fact, calling ahead and ordering your meal for pick up instead of eat in might just save you the temptation of ordering that dessert you saw. Don’t DRINK your calories. This should be a no brainer by now, remember a healthy diet does not include soda or alcohol for that matter. Many people automatically order a soda or alcoholic beverage with every restaurant meal and the calories can stack up by the hundreds. It just “goes together” in their mind and this is a thought cycle that will sabotage even the best of healthy eating plans. Choose water or unsweetened tea or coffee instead of regular soft drinks or alcoholic beverages. This will save a lot of calories. This is one more place where ordering your food to go can help you stick to your healthy choices when flying solo. You are far less likely to order a drink “to go”—it can be a pain to transport it home, and you know you have plenty of drink options in the fridge anyhow. Or better yet, water!
Whole Grains Are Your Friend
Most restaurants have a whole grain option for their pastas and sandwich breads, and brown rice in place of white. If you MUST order one of these types of starchy items, go for the whole grain varieties. The added fiber will offset some of the carby content at least to some extent. Let’s not forget our new gluten free friendly menus. More restaurants and healthy on the go places are catching on to the wheat free trend of eating.
Sauces: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
If you’re in the mood for pasta, look for tomato-based sauces rather than cream-based sauces. Tomato-based sauces are lower in fat and calories. In addition, the tomato sauce (or marinara sauce) can count as a vegetable! Another option is to ask for your pasta to be tossed in a small amount of olive oil with steamed veggies and a dash of garlic and salt. Always order sauces and salad dressings on the side. This way, you have control over how much or how little you add. When choosing a dressing, stay away from cream-based dressings like Ranch and Blue Cheese. These pack a huge punch when it comes to calories and instead choose a vinaigrette. One excellent trick is to ask for “oil and vinegar.” The waiter will bring you a little caddy of olive oil and some kind of vinegar, allowing you to control the amount of oil in the dressing you eat. Sour cream counts as a sauce too. Ask for salsa with a baked potato instead of sour cream, butter, cheese, or bacon. Salsa is very low in calories, tasty, and a healthy alternative with a lot of spice. Another tip is to ask for reduced-sodium soy sauce. Too much sodium will sabotage your healthy lifestyle in ways far too numerous to list here. Just go easy on the shaker and high sodium sauces like this one. Order sandwiches with mustard rather than mayonnaise or “special sauce.” Mustard adds flavor with virtually no calories. Other sandwich tips are to choose gluten free, whole grain bread, skip the cheese, and add vegetables as toppings. Also keep in mind that chicken salad, tuna salad, and egg salad are made with mayonnaise. These are calories that can add up and not considered the good kind.
Bread and Chips
A steaming basket of bread or fresh hot tortilla chips is sure to send your hunger bells into attack mode and innocent snacking on these while you wait for your order can result in hundreds of unhealthy calories offsetting all your hard work at the gym. Request that the waiter NOT bring these items to your table. No need to make it harder on yourself than necessary. Yet another good reason to order it all to go!
There have been studies done that show consuming a small cup of low calorie soup before every meal lowers overall caloric intake and will therefore aid in weight loss. Just be sure you choose a broth-based soup over a cream based option. Keep in mind that cream-based soups are higher in fat and calories than broth-based soups. Soup can serve as a great appetizer to a meal, or as an entree. Most soups are low in calories and will fill you up.
Salads at many restaurants have been teased and tossed and dressed within an inch of their healthy core. A small pile of iceberg lettuce loaded with grated cheese, bacon or ham, croutons, and smothered in creamy dressing can have as many calories as a cheeseburger! So be sure to ask for the dry Garden salad and dressing on the side. If you think you can’t leave them behind on the plate, request that the croutons and other toppings be left in the kitchen.
Where’s The Beef? Or Meat?
For meat dishes, look for leaner cuts such as skinless chicken breasts, turkey burgers, pork loin and beef sirloin. Select options that are flavored with spices and fresh herbs, as those items are more likely to have lower fat and sodium content. When ordering grilled fish (or vegetables,) ask that the food either be grilled without butter or oil, or prepared “light,” with little oil or butter. Do I have to tell you that anything battered or fried is out of the question?
Whenever possible order steamed or grilled vegetables rather than anything starchy. If your only choice is potatoes, choose baked or steamed rather than French fries, tots, chips or any kind of fried hash. Always ask for healthy choices, even if there are no healthy options listed. Restaurants often have veggies and fruit available for other dishes that they will be willing to prepare for you as a side dish.
Keep in mind that eating out, if at all possible, should be something you do only occasionally. Almost everything you make at home is going to be a leaner, healthier option. The hamburger you grill up at home is better than the one you can get at most restaurants when it comes to fat, additives, and other questionable ingredients. Plus no one looks at you funny if you choose to only eat half so that you can afford a french fry or three. Also, asking the waiter to box up half of your meal in the kitchen is increasingly more popular. Or you can ask for a box to be brought at the beginning of the meal and box it up before you dig in. Out of sight, out of mind! Restaurant portions are typically twice what you should have in one sitting in terms of calories and fat. If you get in the habit of only eating half of what is served, you will not only be spreading your calories out properly and avoiding over-indulgence, you will be saving money too, since you have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch (or tonight’s dinner!)
HEALTHY EATS IN HOUSTON
The following restaurants are a few of my favorite places to eat healthy. Their menus are designed to have less fattening items and will tailor to your requests.
Snap Kitchen 3600 Kirby Dr. Houston, TX 77098 (713) 526-5700 www.snapkitchen.com
Zoe’s Kitchen 3701 S. Shepherd Drive Houston, TX 77098 (713) 522-7447 www.zoeskitchen.com
Ruggles Green 2311 W Alabama St Houston, TX 77098 (713) 533-0777 www.rugglesgreen.com
Field of Greens 2320 W Alabama St Houston, TX 77098 (713) 533-0029 www.fieldofgreenscuisine.com
Pepper Tree Veggie Cuisine Highland Village 3821 Richmond Ave Houston, TX 77027 (713) 621-9488 www.ilovepeppertree.com
My Fit Foods 5410 Kirby Drive Houston, TX 77005 713-592-9707 www.Myfitfoods.com
For many of us that have been competing for multiple years we have learned that post competition nutrition is an important thing to understand, especially if you do not want to torch everything you’ve worked so hard for the previous three to four months. I have seen hundreds of competitors just a couple of weeks post show and am baffled to see they gained anywhere from 5 to twenty pounds after watching them work so hard to get lean and ripped for a show. I understand after being on a restricted competition diet we want to eat everything in sight. For me, I am constantly looking at foods on Pinterest and saving recipes of foods I want to eat after my show. We want what we can’t have and we definitely miss the foods that make us feel good. Our mind loves to play tricks on us and it’s human nature to want what you can’t have and lord knows I want it all after a show. The problem is our body has been on a restricted plan for a long period of time and the moment you flood it with foods you haven’t eaten in months like dairy, high glycemic carbs, bad fats, and sugar from dessert and alcohol we put our body through an emotional roller coaster and flood it with chaos. We immediately go into carb overload and with every gram of carb comes 4 grams of water which causes us to bloat because we were depleted just days earlier. The ideal thing to do is take baby steps into regular eating. It took one time for me to learn that eating what I wanted post show was not the way to go. You would be surprised at how easy it is to lose that tight midsection and ripped body. So before you start hoarding your favorite cookies and stocking up on every flavor of bluebell there are a few things to understand.
First, for the last few months you have been eating clean and your body has been working like a machine to get you to your goals. Many of you have been eating a set number of carbs that your body has been using for energy and to fill out those hard earned gains. When you eat more carbs than the body needs it is going to take the extra carbs and store them for later use. But if you are use to eating 100-150 grams a day and eat a whole pizza, then your body is going to take the extra carbs and store as fat. Let’s not forget all the additional water that comes with the carbs, hence the post show eating bloat. I recommend easing your way into eating more. After a show your body is depleted so a good cheat post show is fine. The disaster begins when we start an eating binge that continues into the week post show.
Second, I recommend getting back on your usual eating plan and slowly start adding calories by increasing portions or adding a few foods that you’ve kept away but are still good for you like a little fruit, yogurt, and healthy grains. Don’t completely stop eating your healthy meals. Balance is everything and understanding how many macros/calories you need to maintain your weight is important when planning your meals for the day. Remember, you still need to stay on track to keep your hard earned body fit. This is a good time to talk to your nutritionist about future goals.
Finally, take what you’ve learned from your competition prep and continue to grow. Now that you understand you have to be consistent with your nutrition to get the amazing results of a bodybuilder use that to continue reaching new goals. If your next goal is to add more muscle then start a plan you will follow consistently to reach that goal. Grocery shop, meal prep, take your supplements, track your progress, and most importantly build that physique you have pictured in your mind!
You are the only person that can get you to your goals and the only person that can keep you from them. It’s up to you.
To contact Juliana for competition prep or questions: email@example.com
Mindless chatter,I know I am an anomaly and when I go to the movies I smell the delicious aroma of buttered popcorn only to have the thought of how many calories would be wasted and the terrible havoc the corn would wreak on my digestive system that would essentially cause a number of other issues I don’t want to remind myself of…yes, I am that girl that calculates, weighs on a scale and measures before it enters my body, all food I see before me, well, most of it. I can’t help it because it’s what I’m passionate about. You see, I’m a professional body builder and in order to build my body into a fit and fabulous bikini physique I am one to watch what passes my sweet little lips. I have plenty of friends that have teased, belittled, joked about, whispered about, and cheered on my efforts of endless calorie watching but at the end of the day it’s the life I choose to live and that results in the body I love to have. You see, the beauty of it all is I am in control of both my physical health and aesthetic look. I am that girl that flaunts the summer tank top to show off my muscular arms. I am that girl that can wear the hot booty shorts in the summer short enough to question if they are age appropriate… I am that girl that can wear anything and get away with it because I worked my ass off year round in the gym and also put in the work with my nutrition just so I can love me and be happy with the way I look and feel. I won’t lie about my age because I’m proud to look younger than the number I confess to (born 1975) and I am happy to share the wealth of knowledge I have acquired about nutrition so you too can be that girl… Or guy 😉 Juliana 💋💋