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



Not diet food – but delicious!

Birthday dinners don’t have to be healthy right?

Well tonight was the celebration dinner for my boyfriend’s birthday. Last year I made him a chicken parmesan, pasta and caesar salad dinner. He liked it so much that he made me promise to make it for his birthday every year… which I agreed to. So his birthday rolled around this year and it was time to make the dinner again. I decided to up the ante this year and make even the pasta sauce from scratch. Then to cap the night off I made a triple berry crumble. Here is what I did:  

Chicken Parmesan (original recipe from Simply Recipes)



  • 1/2 large yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes (we use Muir-Glen)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano


  • 3 chicken breast cutlets
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs  (use plain)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • mozzarella cheese, sliced (enough to top the chicken with)


1 Prepare the sauce. Finely chop the onion.  Heat olive oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat.  Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add the minced garlic.  Cook until fragrant, about a minute more.  Add the tomatoes and oregano.  Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to maintain the simmer.  Cook, uncovered while you prepare the chicken (about 10-12 minutes).

2  Preheat oven to 400°F. With a meat pounder (or heavy bottomed skillet which I have done in the past), pound the chicken pieces to flatten them to an even thickness – between 1/4 – 1/2 inch.

3  In a shallow bowl (large enough to dredge the cutlets), mix together the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and oregano.  In separate shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs.

4 Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat.  The oil should be shimmering, not smoking. Dredge the chicken pieces 1 piece at a time first in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs.  Then lay the pieces in the hot sauté pan.  Turn the heat to medium, then gently fry the cutlets until they are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.

5 Spread enough tomato sauce to coat the bottom of a casserole pan or baking dish (that will fit however many chicken breast you have easily).  Once the cutlets are browned on both sides, arrange them on top of the tomato sauce in the baking dish.  spoon some more sauce over each of the cutlets.  Sprinkle the tops with sliced basil.  Then top the cutlets with slices of mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.

6 Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the mozzarella begins to brown.

Serve with pasta using the remaining sauce for the pasta (or not if you are like me and can’t eat pasta because gluten is evil) and caesar salad. I like renees caesar dressing and made about 5 slices of bacon cooked extra crispy to mix in with the salad and croutons.

My dish which has no pasta as you can see

Andre finished his meal pretty quickly and even had a little bit more of my chicken since they were huge servings. For reference, he NEVER stuffs himself. He is one of those lucky people who just eats until he’s comfortably full and then stops (god I wish I could do that so easily!). But both this year and last he finished off the huge portion I gave him AND still had dessert.

Look at that smile… and clear plate!

For dessert I used this recipe which I have used before with much success for…

Triple Berry Crumble (makes enough for a 9×9 dish)



  • 1/2 pint each of fresh (you can use frozen if you need to but the crumble will be way less liquidy and much more stable if you use fresh) raspberries and blackberries
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries chopped to approx. same size as the other berries (you could also use blueberries I just didn’t have any)
  • 2 tbsp. pure maple syrup


  • 1 c. spelt flour (or other flour of choice such as gluten-free, coconut, almond meal, or plain whole wheat flour)
  • 1 c. large flake oats (GF if needed)
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. butter (softened slightly, but still hard)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg


Side view of the layers of crumble:fruit:crumble

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl, gently toss together blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and maple syrup
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  4. Cut in butter until crumbly – if you don’t know how to do this here is a tutorial. It can be done with a pastry cutter which makes life easy, except i couldn’t find mine today so I just used a knife and occasionally my fingers to break up stubborn clumps.
  5. Press half of mixture in the bottom of a 9×9 inch pan and cover with berries, then sprinkle remaining crumble mixture over the berries.
  6. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until fruit is bubbly and topping is golden brown (I once forgot about this for an hour and a half, so 50 additional minutes in the oven and it still tasted fantastic, it’s seriously indestructible as long as you use fresh fruit).

I love serving this with a good quality vanilla bean ice cream, but some heavy cream or some greek yogurt would be great too.


Knock your socks off Lamb Sirloin Chop

OMG guys, I cannot actually explain to you how amazing this dish was. I freaking devoured it! It probably helped that I really needed the fuel because I had just done a great run and upper body workout which I will tell you about after I give you the awesome recipe for the meal I just had.

Knock your socks off Lamb Sirloin Chop


The lamb in the skillet with garlic and wine.

  • 1/2 lb lamb sirloin chop (it’s a very fatty and relatively tough cut, a shank would also work)
  • 2 cups red wine (I used leftover Ripasso I had from the competition)
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and kept whole
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil of choice (I used bacon grease)


  1. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and pat dry
  2. Heat a skillet to high heat and add the cooking oil
  3. Brown the lamb on each side, approx 2 mins per side, the fat should be starting to get crispy and the meat should be browning nicely
  4. Add the garlic and let cook on high for 1 minute
  5. Make sure the pan in nice and hot still and then add the wine, reduce heat to low and make sure it’s simmering nicely
  6. Cover the pan and simmer for 2-3 hours, I went to the gym in this time and it was definitely more like 3 hours.
  7. Remove the cover and turn the heat up and watch the pan until the wine reduced to a thick sauce
  8. Remove the meat to a plate and pour the red wine reduction over top
  9. If you have too much sauce like I did and you sautéed some veggies as a side dish, go ahead and toss those in the wine reduction for added flavour
  10. Devour the whole thing… but make sure that you shmear each bit with some of the now super soft garlic infused with wine

    The finished product, I promise it tastes better than it looks.

I served this with some sautéed onions and peppers that I tossed in the reduction and a half a sweet potato with some butter and salt. This was seriously un-freaking-believable. I will definitely be making this again with more than 1 serving and maybe a different meat… a game meat like elk perhaps?

Well since this is quite a rich meal (I am not going to even guess at the nutritionals because there was all sorts of fat that reduced down and probably mixed in with the wine, plus fat that I obviously did not eat) I figured I needed to earn this meal. While it was simmering away, I went to the gym and did the following workout. I felt great about it because it’s helping me move towards my November Promise of liking running AND building strength.

Upper Body Hypertrophy + Running

Cardio: Run 3 miles in 30 minutes (even though you want to stop because your legs are tired from the workout on Sunday!)

Stretch: legs – 10 minutes

Upper Body: all exercises performed 3 sets, 8-10 reps, with 1-2 minutes rest

When doing dips, remember to keep your shoulders down and head up!

  • Chin ups with a hammer grip (palms facing inward) – body weight only
  • 1 arm cable flyes – 17.5 lbs
  • Bent over pronated rows with wide grip – 90 lbs
  • Dips – body weight only
  • Lateral deltoid raises – 12.5 lbs dumbbells
  • v-up crunches on a bench – 20 reps and 3 sets

Stretch: upper body – 5 mins

I felt really great after this workout, in part because I ate really well all day. No sugary things and no huge portions! Yay for being good to your body!

BACON (and other food stuff)

 Have I mentioned that I love bacon? I don’t actually think I have… well I LOVE BACON! But not the crappy uber-salty processed crap from the grocery store, oh no. I’m talking pasture-raised danish style bacon with no nitrates of any kind and way less salt.I also have a deep and abiding affection for peameal/back/canadian bacon, but that was allowed on my contest diet because it’s an extremely lean source of protein… go canadian bacon! In case you didn’t know, canadian/back/peameal bacon is just the tenderloin cut of pork sliced thin to fry up. Things that are awesome about pork tenderloin:

  • Pork tenderloin is almost as lean as a chicken breast with 3 oz of chicken having 3 g of fat and the same pork servings having 4 g of fat!
  • Pork tenderloin is an excellent source of iron, phosphorous,  vitamin B12 and Niacin 
  • a 3 oz. serving contains HALF of your RDA of Thiamin – Without this key mineral, metabolism of carbohydrate, protein and fat would be significantly compromised. Animal protein is one of the best sources of this nutrient, and among the choices, pork is tops (source: http://www.realcanadianbacon.com/pork-tenderloin/low-fat-meat.htm)
  • It’s a great bioavailable source of protein with most people tolerating and digesting it well (things like lamb, rabbit, and game meats are sometimes hard to digest)

Most intense cheat meal EVER!

So if you are looking to liven up you breakfast and you are on a diet that doesn’t allow a lot of fat, go pick up some good quality back bacon. Also, if you live in Toronto and you can digest gluten, or are willing to brave a stomach ache, go to the St. Lawrence Market, find the Carousel Bakery on the upper floor and order their peameal bacon on a bun… just the plain one, do not get fancy, do not put anything on it. It is heavenly. Their peameal is cut thick and fried to perfection, then piled high (like 5 pieces) on a fresh-baked kaiser that is in and of itself, quite delectable (and I’m not a bread person). If you were previously unaware of this awesomeness… you’re welcome, if you’ve already experienced it, then you know what I’m talking about!

But back to the fatty stuff. Since I am not on a competition diet anymore, I can have danish style bacon again. This is the streaky stuff but is cut a little wider and generally has a better fat to meat ratio. I have been cooking with it. Specifically I have been cooking VEGETABLES with it… say what?! That sh*t cray! I know but seriously, it’s awesome. Also, I have not gone crazy and made the most intense cheat meal of all time (pictured left) but if you want to clog you’re arteries a bit, that is a bacon cheeseburger on a fried krispy kreme donut.

Zucchini, bok choy and bacon… mmmmm

 I have cooked asparagus, zucchini and bok choy now in a little bacon grease and then added back the cooked bacon bits. I have come to the conclusion that bacon makes everything better… everything!I feel like most people have already discovered this, but I was pretty happy with my forays into vegetable bacon bliss. I also just ate some for breakfast on occasion, but that’s relatively boring (delicious, but boring). My next venture will be brussel sprouts and bacon and baking this up in the oven instead of sauteing, because I actually don’t really like brussel sprouts; I find them too bitter, but they are really really good for you so I am going to try to make them delicious by adding bacon as a secret weapon, and maybe some pine nuts, because they are also awesome.

Bacon wrapped chicken with roasted veg

Other bacon awesomeness that happened this past week was cheddar-stuffed, bacon-wrapped, chicken breast. Literally 3 ingredients and it was knock-your-socks off delicious. I accompanied that dish with my mom’s recipe for roasted veggies and potatoes, but it didn’t turn out quite as nice as hers, I’ll have to do some experimenting to get it right before I post the instructions.

Oh and here is an update photo that I said I would post. I have filled out A LOT. my abs have softened and my legs don’t have the same definition as before… BUT look at the muscle! Seriously, I have gained like 8 pounds this week (not an exaggeration) but I think 7 of those went straight to my muscles because my arms and legs got HUGE post contest. Kind of awesome… kind of scary. I am cleaning up my diet and might be doing something more structure like the 21 Day Sugar Detox to try to clean out my system and get rid of sugar cravings that I have shamefully reacquired. It takes about 3 days for me to get back into eating sugar and wanting a sweet fix everyday, but takes at least 2 weeks to kick it… can you say unfair? But that’s life.

Some post-contest muscle for you

Nothing to it but to do it!

Strategies and plans

Keeping up with the Blogging Challenge, today’s topic is strategies to keep of the holiday weight. This flows nicely from my November Promise since one of those is to not use the holiday’s as an excuse to be unhealthy! So here are some of the strategies I use and implemented last year where I really wanted to not go crazy over the Christms season like I have in the past.

My top 5 strategies for avoiding holiday weight gain

  1. Starbucks has christmas cups… and Nanaimo bars!!!

    Healthify your favourite treats… love a Starbucks peppermint mocha? Get it skinny. Love Nanaimo bars? Dream up a wicked protein fortified low sugar version *** note that I have actually dreamed up a recipe for this as I was enjoying a non-healthified Nanaimo bar from Starbucks, if it’s any good I will share the recipe***. Other fitness blogs are an amazing resource for healthy alternatives to your holiday cravings, so get creative in the kitchen and that way you can have your cake and eat it too!

  2. Bank your calories…. typically I know if I am going to a dinner party or out with friends a few days in advance, so that gives to time to create some wiggle room in your diet. Eat a few less almonds, have a smaller portion of meat, have no oil on your salad for the 3 days before you go out. You can probably cut 750 – 1000 calories in those days without too much effort. Then you can eat those “extra” calories when you go out without it affecting your waistline.
  3. Run off those calories that weren’t banked… no you can’t out exercise a bad diet. Hopefully you know that. But logging an extra 15 minutes on the treadmill on your runs in the week after you over-indulge (assuming you run/do cardio 3xweek) will burn about 500 calories or one large cupcake!
  4. Choose your splurge… If you are out to dinner, or at a party choose to have ONE splurge. Do you want to drink some spiked egg nog? Don’t have that cheesecake. Are you eyeing up that chocolate ganache for dessert? Choose a salad for dinner. That way you still treated yourself but you didn’t go way overboard.
  5. Keep your goals in mind… don’t use every party as an excuse to indulge. Read an Oxygen Magazine or some fitness blogs and inspire yourself to eat well 90% of the time. If you set a goal to run a race, make sure you aren’t falling behind on your plan because the holidays are getting in your way. Hold yourself accountable to your plan.

So what is my plan to keep my goals in mind a la #5?

  • Do not eat indulgent food at home OR at work… only when I am actually out with people and at an event
  • Limit alcohol to only the weekends, preferably only 1 day
  • Get to the gym at least 3 times per week and run 3 miles each time (for the race goal) as well as lifting heavy to build some muscle with those extra calories (for the competition goal)
  • Eat NO gluten, and aim for low carb meals
  • Drink lots of water which helps keep me feeling full and helps flush out any bad things I do eat!

What are your strategies?