SiS: Adventures in Competing – Week 6: Nutrition

WEEK 6: Nutrition

This week Stephanie, Erica and I talk about nutrition and compeition diets. At just over 6 weeks out we are reaching the half way point in the 12 week prep and the diet has to tighten up. For me this means carb cycling and dropping calories (just a little). I explain what carb cycling is, how it works, and most importantly how to do it!

If you want to know more about carb cycling here are some useful resources:

Jamie Eason’s Phase 3 of Live Fit Trainer incorporates a similar protocol to the one I use. has lots of great articles on carb cycling

Bella Falconi does a good job of explaining carb cycling for fitness enthusiasts

Rose Blackman – Young Professional – Eat Clean, Train Dirty, Think Nerdy

Stephanie Laurendeau – Stay at home Mom – Decide, Commit, Succeed

Erica Willick – Finance Exec & Mother – Strong Body-Mind-Life


Goals are just dreams with deadlines

One of the fit chicks I follow on twitter – @StephPaplinskie posted this photo from pinterest today and I loved it! It’s so true!Dreams

Every single goal I have (that I am not forced to make through work or something) starts out as a far flung dream. I dreamed one day that I would compete in a figure competition – check. I dreamed of writing a blog about fitness – check. I dreamed about making delicious fudge – check… does that last one count as a goal?

What differentiates a dream from a goal is the plan. You have to have a time line and an action plan if you ever want to achieve you goals. Last year I set my goals for the fitness competition up and I saw myself slowly but surely move in the right direction. This year is no different. With christmas coming up I am cutting myself some (probably too much) slack with my diet, but my exercise it still mostly on track. Nonetheless, New Year’s resolutions will come shortly after the Christmas feasting and I will partake in these declarations of resolve.

I normally don’t put much stock into New Year’s resolutions because I firmly believe that if you want something you should start now, not 3 weeks from now. BUT it coincides nicely with post christmas weight gain AND it works with the timeline for my goals this year!

Wait… what goals are these?

Oh haven’t I told you? I have decided what I’m doing for my fitness goals this year and they are (dun dun dun)

  1. Compete in The GNC Stephanie Worsfold Natural in London Ontario on May 25, 2013
  2. a) if I qualify at the London event – compete in The GNC Toronto Pro SuperShow on June 1, 2013 (the provincial show) or b) if I don’t qualify at the London event – compete in the Oxygen Model Search at the Toronto Pro SuperShow on June 1, 2013
  3. Rune a 5km race in July 2013 – specific race TBD
  4. Race in the Toronto Super Spartan (8 miles, 20+ obstacles) in July 2013 with my boyfriend

My favourite part about this plan is that regardless of whether I place at the regional OPA event in London, I will compete in a competition the following week in Toronto. I will also be making a dream board about the journey and some milestones that I have. To give you guys (especially those of you who are thinking about competing yourselves) a rough idea of what my plan is to get ready for the figure competition… here you go.

My overall goal in the ‘off-season” is to stay about 8 – 12 pounds away from my contest weight which will change as I try to ass muscle.

January – February

Weight goal – stay in the 8-12 pounds from contest weight range, while trading some fat for muscle.

Training – Workout legs (specifically the posterior chain of hamstrings, glutes, lower back) at least 2 times per week, upper body 1-2 times per week and use running as my main source of cardio in order to train for the races 3-4 times per week.

Nutrition – Eat 5-6 meals per day, completely eliminate gluten and maintain balance of moderate carbs, moderate fat and high protein. Use BCAAs and carnitine before and during workouts, glutamine and protein powder with a simple carb (like fruit) directly after all workouts. 1-2 cheat meals per week and limit sugar intake.


Weight goal – Lose between 1-2 pounds per week depending on how far I am from my contest weight at the beginning of the month

Training – Continue training legs heavy 2 times per week, increase upper body to 2 times per week split between push and pull muscles, train cardio 4-5 times per week 30-45 minutes per session with at least 2 sessions running and use HIITs for at least 2 sessions.

Nutrition – Continue with the same nutrition plan as before but limit cheat meals to 1 per week start tracking macronutrients and calories. Modify calories and macros based on whether I am hitting my weight targets. Continue same supplementation as above.

April (AKA 8 weeks out)

Weight goal – Lose between 1-2 pounds per week depending on how far I am from my contest weight at the beginning of the month, same as above.

Training – Train legs 2-3 times per week but increase the volume of work and incorporate circuits alternating 1 heavy leg day and 1 high volume leg day. Train upper body body to 2 times per week split between push and pull muscles as above but train in a circuit to increase cardio. Train cardio 5 times per week 3o minutes on circuit days, 60 minutes on non-circuit or rest days.

Nutrition – Continue to eat 5-6 meals per day. Evaluate nutrition based on weight loss progress at this point and restrict calories as needed, maintain high protein. Eliminate use of BCAAs during upper body and cardio workouts (only use for leg workouts).

May (AKA final month)

Weight goal – Lose 1 pound per week up to peak week

Training – Same as above, but modify cardio as needed depending on weight loss (i.e. increase to 6 times per week, longer sessions etc.).

Nutrition – Continue with the same nutrition plan as in April, but evaluate whether carb cycling or carb restriction is necessary, start to reduce carbs as peak week approaches. No use of BCAAs during workouts.

Hopefully I can look like this by about 2 weeks out and surpass it by the time I compete.


I will post what my monthly plans are each month in more detail as I tend to change things as I see how my body reacts. If you have any questions or want to chat you can reach me by commenting, or through facebook


1 month to go to UFE Halloween Mayhem!!!!

Ok so I’m a little excited. Firstly this morning started off fantastically with a 1 pound weight loss after carbing up (I am seeing a pattern that I actually drop weight the day after the carb up… weird) and secondly I added pumpkin pie spice to my morning coffee which is about 2 cups of coffee + 1/4 c. skim milk + 1 pkg splenda and now featuring a dash or 3 of pumpkin pie spice. Love it! Thirdly, I have one month left to my first ever fitness competition!

Coffee with pumpkin pie spice

This last month is so crucial to success and I have a big to do list/plan that I will share with you. Please take this in the context that this is my first competition, I am designing my own diet and training plan and everything I do is based on lots of research but little to no experience other than talking to helpful people. So with that in mind this is my plan:

  • Cardio 5 – 6 times per week, at least 3 sessions of 50 mins on the stair climber and 2-3 other sessions including sprints on high carb days
  • Weights 5 days per week
    • Legs – 4 rounds of super sets with a hamstring and glute focus, 1 minute rest between sets, keep the weights as heavy as possible
    • Push and abs – high reps (12-20) of push-ups and lighter weight exercises plus 2 heavier sets and 3-4 sets of ab exercises hitting all different areas
    • Pull – start with heavy weight in 8-12 rep range doing one set each for lats, rhomboid and combination, then 3 sets of 15-20 reps lighter weight, same grouping
    • Legs – circuit of 6-7 exercises at least 2 plyometric moves and only 30 seconds rest between exercises, 2 mins rest between circuits
    • Shoulders and abs – 5-6 exercises alternating high and low rep ranges depending on type of exercise hitting all three deltoid head then 3-4 sets of abs
  • Diet
    • Continue carb cycling with 2 days low carb, 1 day high carb, 3 days low, 1 day high
    • Focus more on timing the carbs on the high carb days around breakfast and pre- and post- workout with lower carbs the rest of the day
    • Currently eating 1600-1800 calories per day, drop range by 100 calories per day each week going no lower than 1300 calories on a low-end day
    • Absolutely no gluten
    • Cut out milk/dairy 2 weeks pre-contest
  • Tanning 3 times per week with a tanning accelerator
  • Use a pro tanning product day before the show (maybe Jan Tana?)
  • Make sure bikini fits and bling it out
  • Find/make a costume for the costume round – IDEAS PLEASE?! – I was thinking of being a flower fairy or a super hero… thoughts?
  • Buy clear plastic heels and practice walking in them toe to heel (yes I apparently have to re-learn house to walk
  • Decide on poses and practice them

If this looks like a daunting list that’s because it is! I feel a little overwhelmed, but I have come this far so there is no turning back.

I will post more progress pics tomorrow,  I think I will start posting them every friday so that you can see what the progression is leading up to the competition.Now, I promised you a recipe for the awesome Oatmeal that I had on my carb up day yesterday… so here it is:

Raspberries and Cream Oatmeal

Raspberries and Cream Oatmeal

The ingredients are:

  • 1/3 c. large flake oats
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. egg whites
  • 1/4 c. skim milk
  • 1/2 c. raspberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 pkg. splenda (or sweetener of choice to taste)
  • 1 -2 tbsp. 2% plain greek yogurt


  1. Combine water, egg whites and oats in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat stirring frequently.
  2. When boiling, turn heat to low and simmer until very thick while stirring frequently.
  3. Add the splenda and raspberries and stir to combine and break up the raspberries throughout.
  4. Add the milk which will thin in considerably and bring back to a boil until desired thickness is reached.
  5. Serve in a bowl and top with the greek yogurt and a couple extra raspberries if you want to be fancy.

Nutritional Information:     Cals – 340     Carbs – 43 g      Fats – 5 g     Protein – 32 g

* if you use caloric sweetener remember to add that into the calories and macro count.

Trainers are all sadists!

I think it might be a requirement of the job.

Interviewer: Do you like causing people pain?

Prospective Trainer: Yes!

Interviewer: Great, you’re hired!

This is forefront in my mind because last night I had to most intense, draining, painful workout of my life! Seriously, this is not in the rotation for people looking to get fit or who are not slight masochists. Everything was supersetted, all the exercises were variations of traditional ones so they targeted muscles in ways that they aren’t normally targeted, and everything was HARD! I also made the mistake of doing a 12 minute “warm up” that involved some sprinting (note: it’s full on cardio if you end up sprinting) so my legs had already been drained a bit AND I was at the end of my second day of low carbs so I already had little to no glycogen left in my muscles. For those of you not familiar with it, glycogen is stored sugar in your muscles and is the prefered fuel for anaerobic/intense exercises and you can only store between 300 – 500 grams in your muscles at a time. Since I had a total of about 100 g of carbs over the previous 2 days AND had worked out the day before, I am guessing that I didn’t have a whole lot left for this workout.

I will call this The masochist’s leg workout and it went like this:

Superset 1: A – Stiff leg deadlifts   B – Reverse hack squats on the machine with a wide stance

Set 1 – 15 reps each            Set 2 – increase weight, 12 reps each               Set 3 – Increase weight, 12 reps each AND drop set the hack squats for a total of 45 reps

Superset 2:  A – Sumo deadlifts with narrow grip     B – Single leg hamstring curls

Set 1 – 12 reps each, plus 12 “pulses” on curls           Set 2 – increase weight, repeat set 1            Set 3 – repeat set 2 (do not increase weight)

Superset 3:  A – Backward lunges from a step (i.e. start standing on a small step and step back into a lunge) pushing through to a knee raise and squeeze glutes      B – Lunges on the smith machine with front foot far forward and pressure going through the front leg (targets the hamstrings and glutes)

Only 2 sets, both the same – 12 reps each leg, for each exercise with as little rest between as possible

 Superset 4: A – leg extensions          B – Walking half-up lunges (do a full lunge but keep your leg bent as you take the step for the next lunge to keep tension on the muscle to whole time)

Only 2 sets, both the same – leg extension “21’s” (this is where you do 7 full extensions, 7 from the bottom half way up, 7 from half way up to the top), 20 walking lunges with dumbbells if you can.

And that my friends is a KILLER workout in under 1 hour. I have never felt as drained as I did after this and I push myself pretty hard. Trainers have a way of making you go that much more and giving that last drop. I was dripping with sweat and the only superset I made it through without stopping was the first one. After that I would have to stop for a few seconds in the middle of sets because I literally could not do another one. At one point on the smith machine lunges I just sat down because my leg would not support me, took about 5 seconds rest and then kept going. There were multiple times (like 8-10) where I would stop at the bottom of a rep (i.e. mid-way through) and I actually whimpered at the end of my last set of walking lunges… the trainer laughed and said “I love my job”. Then after all that I thanked him profusely!

Who knew I could push that hard?

I also did 30 minutes on the stairmaster after chugging a protein shake with added glutamine in hopes that I would be able to walk this morning, so far so good :).

Ok so now you have the most brutal leg workout of all time… what might you eat after said workout. Obviously some steak!  Only I don’t have a barbecue, so stir fry steak it is.

Super simplified broccoli beef

Broccoli Beef

Ingredients (for 1 serving):

  • 5 oz sirloin or other lean steak cut (I had some leftover steak so I used that)
  • 1.5 cups broccoli florets cut medium or small
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion sliced into strips
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp teriyaki sauce


  1. In a medium skillet heat oil to high heat
  2. Add onions and sautee until starting to brown (2 mins)
  3. Add broccoli and cover with a lid to stem for 2 -4 mins until bright green mixed every minute or so
  4. Add beef and cook until desired doneness
  5. Add teriyaki sauce and mix to coat evenly
  6. Serve and enjoy

Nutritional Info:   Cals – 400       Carbs – 11 g    Fats – 19 g       Protein – 46 g

This was a pretty large portion but felt just right after that leg workout. If you aren’t on a carb restricted diet, this would go great over some brown rice or quinoa.

Oh and this morning started out as a usual carb up morning does, with a fantastic new combo for oats… Raspberries and cream oats. But I think one recipe is enough for today, so you’ll have to come back tomorrow for that one 😉 If you can’t wait check out this page for recipes.

Dragons and other fun

This weekend I had the pleasure of going to Buffalo to see the How to Train your Dragon live show which was a birthday present from my lovely friend Lisa of Lisa Cookies. It was one of the most visually interesting shows I have ever seen. They had partnered up with dinosaur animatronics to create the dragons and it looked amazing.

The largest dragon with animated wings

Yesterday I was on a low carb day of my carb cycling program so I knew I could not rely on eating out to fulfill my nutrition needs. So I packed up some Turkey Meatloaf muffins, a baby cucumber and some snap peas for lunch on the road along with some hard-boiled eggs and some left over salad and pork chops if I needed dinner as well. I didn’t end up needing the eggs or dinner, but I felt a lot better knowing they were there. I was able to do that without too much effort because I had cooked extra pork chops, hard-boiled eggs and about 8 turkey muffins in my fridge at the moment, so it was no different than packing the days meals for work.

The issue when traveling or going to an event is that other people are going to need to eat too, so you will be stopping at unhealthy places and seeing other people eat things that don’t fit in with your diet. On the ride down I ate my packed lunch as my boyfriend sat munching on a granola bar being very hungry because he didn’t have time to grab food before we left and didn’t want hard-boiled eggs. When we got to the show there were some (unhealthy) food options and he went with the pizza. He actually blotted the top with a napkin because it was so greasy! It did however, look and smell delicious and I’m not a big pizza fan (before you get all up in arms, this is because I’ve always felt sick afterwards because I didn’t realize I have a problem with gluten). My friends got some popcorn of which I had exactly one kernel because I love popcorn. I on the other hand, got a bag on in shell peanuts because I didn’t feel like cracking open some hard-boiled eggs in the middle of a show. Peanuts actually fit pretty well into a low carb diet, they have some carbs, but more fat and equal protein.

After the show we were all pretty hungry so we decided to stop in Niagara falls for dinner. believe it or not, it’s actually pretty easy to stick to your diet while eating out if you choose the right type of restaurant and are willing to be firm with your requests. We went to the Beef Baron and I ordered a 12 oz steak requesting that half of it be packed up for me before I started my meal (the waiter asked if I wanted it cooked first which made me laugh) and a side of steamed vegetables instead of a baked potato or something else. I don’t feel deprived eating like that at all, and it fits in with my diet pretty well. If you have the will power to make good choices and make some smart substitutions you can still enjoy a nice dinner out with friends while you are on a diet (just stay away from the bread basket no matter how tempting it is).

By the time we got home I had successfully completed my second round of low carb days without too much effort. This morning I started my high carb day with this beauty of an oatmeal combo that I like to call…

Reese`s Pieces Oats

Reese`s Pieces Oats

This is essentially chocolate oatmeal topped with peanut butter… as an aside, I love how the peanut butter melts and looks some of like a leaf sitting up top.

The ingredients are:

  • 1/3 c. large flake oats
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1/2 c. egg whites
  • 1/4 c. skim milk
  • 1 tbsp dutch process cocoa (or cocoa of choice)
  • 2 pkg. splenda (or sweetener of choice to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter


  1. Combine water, egg whites and oats in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat stirring frequently.
  2. When boiling, turn heat to low and simmer until very thick while stirring frequently.
  3. Add the splenda and cocoa and stir to combine.
  4. Add the milk which will thin in considerably and bring back to a boil until desired thickness is reached.
  5. Serve in a bowl and top with the peanut butter (I stir mine all together so every bite tastes like chocolate and peanut butter heaven)

Nutritional Information:     Cals – 340     Carbs – 36 g      Fats – 12 g     Protein – 27 g

* if you use caloric sweetener remember to add that into the calories and macro count.

This is a wonderful 100% healthy high carb meal. After 6 days of carb cycling, what I can definitely say is I like the variety. It hardly feels like a diet at all. On the low carb days I can indulge in some higher fat foods that I love like avocados, nuts, whole eggs, cheeses and fattier portions of meat. On the high carb days I can have my fruits, oatmeal (which is one of my favourite things to experiment with different flavour combos), yogurt & muesli and a latte if I want one. Of course there are some foods that are off-limits entirely, like ice cream and candy, but overall within a course of 3 days I get to indulge in all the types of foods I want. It just takes some will power in controlling the timing of the foods. If you have been struggling with a restrictive diet, or have hit a plateau, think about giving it a try. Connect with me on Facebook if you have any questions or leave a comment.