I’m on Tosca’s Blog!

I have espoused my love for Tosca Reno and The Eat Clean Diet multiple times here. I even had a chance to meet her and see her compete this past October. Now I am featured as a guest blogger. Hop on over to her blog here to check it out! I talk about will power and how you can make it stronger just like a muscle!


Sidenote – the amazingly cute devil and angel are courtesy of my talented sister.


When people ask me what they can do to improve their health (or lose some weight) I do a mini evaluation in my head.

  1. This person wants information on how to improve their health and fitness and won’t mind if I give a long winded answer
  2. This person wants a quick fix to lose weight

If I think it’s option 1 then I start to explain that it is mostly about diet and a little bit about the right kind of exercise (i.e. weight lifting). If I’m losing them here then I tell them to go read Tosca Reno’s “The Eat Clean Diet” as it’s a pretty amazing foundation for overall nutrition and has a decent exercise program.

If I still have their attention I start talking about having a combination of proteins, carbs and fats at meals, as well as the fact that different people require different amounts of food.

Then I tell them about this here blog for more info.

Occasionally people want more explanations and then I feel what some might call elation. This is what I love. I start getting into the how’s and why’s of things, talking about insulin, nutrient timing, supplements, intensity of workout, workout splits and what their goals are. This always makes me happy because I feel like I have helped.

BUT… what about option 2?

This happens a lot, and the eyes glaze over at the mention of macronutrient ratios (I don’t blame them). So I have made a promise to myself. My answer to this is now “Drink more water”.

English: Drinking water fountain

English: Drinking water fountain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s one of the few things that doesn’t need explanation and will make an appreciable difference in your health AND weight almost immediately. It’s also one of the things I can recommend free from worrying that someone might misinterpret my meaning.

Minor digression: I frequently worry that when I say to someone “eat more protein” they won’t think of that as “eat more whole food protein sources or high quality supplements by replacing processed carbs” and instead will think chicken McNuggets can help them meet this goal. I worry about people misinterpreting my advice ALL the time.

Anyways… WATER. I drink on average 3-5 litres of water per day. 3 litres is probably accurate on days I don’t work out and it’s closer to 5 on days I am in the gym (yup, I go through about 2 L of water every gym session including the water in my protein shake).

But why is drinking more water going to help someone lose weight?

  • Water actually requires energy to process, so you burn calories just by drinking more water (not many calories, but anything is better than nothing)
  • Water helps flush toxins and salt from your system which will decrease bloating and make you look smaller (please note that salt is not bad for you, but requires balance, like all things. Go here for more)
  • Drinking more water means you retain LESS water and you will probably lose a few pounds of water weight just by doing this.
  • Thirst is commonly mistaken for hunger, so if you are well hydrated, you will not be as hungry and hopefully you’ll eat a little less
  • Water helps regulate you internal balance… a body in balance is one that is healthy, and a healthy body is a lot more likely to shed fat than one that is unhealthy.

Basically water is amazing!

Secret Friends

Cover of "The Eat-Clean Diet: Fast Fat-Lo...

Cover via Amazon

Tosca Reno (AKA most amazing source of fitness motivation ever!) once posted a chart comparing various diet strategies.While I was looking at it I realized that I love the Eat Clean Diet, but Paleo is kind of awesome too.

Unfortunately (or fortunately maybe?) there are a lot of different varieties of paleo and the one Tosca used to compare is the original and quite extreme version that I would not recommend.

Because I am gluten intolerant, I started looking up recipes that were naturally gluten free instead of substituting low nutrient value foods to replicate glutenous foods. This led me to paleo blogs, recipes and cook books. I have followed an eat clean diet approach for a lot time. It’s my “go-to” method for shedding weight and is how I eat day-to-day. So when I started learning about Paleo I felt a little like a traitor.

But guess what? I think that they are secret friends!!!

There are some fundamental differences between them , but the core is the same. Both diets are designed to have you eat the way you were designed to… they just differ on how that actually works.

In my mind the main differences are:

  • Grains – paleo say absolutely no grains, where as the ECD encourages whole grains IF you can tolerate them
  • Dairy – most paleo diets say no, but primal says full fat dairy from healthy animals is ok IF you can handle it, where as the ECD encourages low fat dairy products
  • Saturated fats – paleo encourages animal fat consumptions ONLY from good sources (i.e. grass fed cows), where as the ECD says no or limited saturated fats, and encourages unsaturated fats instead
  • Meal Timing – paleo discourages snacking, ECD encourages eating every 2-3 hours.

Those may seem like big differences, but here is why I think they really get along quite nicely: JUST EAT REAL FOOD!

That is the main message in both. Neither diet says “hey, go buy my special brand of nutrition shake and eat that for 2 of your meals instead of food”. They aren’t trying to sell a product… they are trying to teach you a LIFESTYLE!

So true to form in my family, I have picked both over and taken what I like from both and here is where I come down on each:







Keep the fat though!

Sat. Fat


Meal Timing


I think the goal is to find out what YOUR body does well with. If you are allergic to tomatoes, it doesn’t matter how healthy they are… don’t eat them. Some foods cause inflammatory reactions in almost all people and these should be avoided across the board (like refined sugar), but otherwise it’s about finding what is healthiest for you personally.

Resource Share

Today I realized that over the years of being involved with fitness and dieting and healthy lifestyles I have become somewhat addicted to research and motivation. This is especially apparent on the web. I have a whole host of websites I frequent either daily or at least weekly. These include blogs that I might have found through WordPress, other blogs that I have randomly stumbled across by like minded individuals, food sites, workout sites and fitness forums. I also have a collection of books and magazines that I turn to for motivation, inspiration and of course instruction.

I love this stuff! My boyfriend can vouch that way too many of my conversations revolve around what I heard or read today about fitness and health; I’m sorry and thank you for listening. But it occurred to me that even though I do this stuff non-stop, most people probably don’t know where to look for advice.

So here is a list of websites and resources I use ALL THE TIME! Check them out and let me know what resources you use and love too!


Bodybuilding.com – this is one of the best sites EVER, if you only use one resource, use this one because it has everything. The forum has just about every topic you could ever be curious about already there, discussed and laid out for you. When I was reacquainting myself with nutrition, macronutrients and how to structure a diet I start with their “sticky” on calories and macros. They also have so many resources to help you tailor workouts for your goals, get you started with a diet, teach you correct form for exercises. And yes they do sell supplements, but the site is SO MUCH MORE than that, and they really do not push the selling side of the business in your face if you are trying to use the other parts of the site.

Oxygen Magazine Online – don’t want to buy the magazine? ok, go to their website. They don’t put everything up there for free, but a lot of the workouts, recipes and diet tips are there, plus some really awesome videos of their cover girls. I love watching these and hearing the different approaches to living a fit lifestyle. I use this site for clean eating recipe inspirations too

Facebook and Twitter – Ok this is a bit of a cop out, but I “like” pretty much every website, supplement, athlete, or store I frequent so that updates and random motivation show up in my daily news feed. With Facebook you can now add pages you like to a specific feed so that its all in one place if you don’t want tonnes of health stuff cluttering up your news feed and want to keep it more for updates from friends (personally I like the health clutter, but it’s a neat option)

Chowstalker – recipes galore, all grain free, most are 100% paleo but can be modified to include ingredients like real milk if you swing that way

Blogs and People I love

Mark’s Daily Apple – Mark Sisson – Part blog, part website, part forum. Whatever you want to classify it as I like it. I like his approach to health. He accepts that you aren’t perfect but encourages you to make healthier choices. He should you the spectrum of choices available, gives you the info for all the levels of the spectrum and let’s you choose! Awesome. Technically he’s kind of a paleo diet type person, but he accepts that people are different and doesn’t preach that no one should drink milk, and beans are terrible for you. He just gives you the info and let’s you make up your own mind… he also tell you how to make these “less than ideal” choices the healthiest they can be, like fermenting the beans first or buying whole fat milk etc. Very cool.

Tosca Reno

Tosca Reno

Tosca Reno – Owner of RKP publishing which published Oxygen Magazine among others, author of the Eat Clean Diet books, Bikini Grandmaster champion and overall awesome woman. She has a lot of different social media outlets, but her blog is one I really like. It’s kind of puts the highlight real in one place and might link you to other cool blogs (like He and She Eat Clean) or recipes from the Clean Eating website or just talk about the fact that she hates “peak week” and shares the more human side of her. Love, LOVE, LOOOOOOOOVE!

Figure911Lisa MoskalukWicked figure competitors whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. She tells it like it is and I love her workouts, even the ones that are craaaazy (which is all of them btw).

Erin Stern – She’s right at the top of her game with Nicole Wilkin’s and her battling it out, but I like Erin because she really interacts with her fans. Her facebook is always being updated with videos or workouts, not just links or random pictures. She is great!

Jamie Eason – While she’s emphasized religion a bit much for my taste she is so real! She talks about her choices and fluctuating diet and weight and admits her shortfalls (while being cue as a button the whole time). She’s the main spokesmodel for bodybuilding.com and was featured in Oxygen Magazine all the time.

Books and stuff

The Eat Clean Diet – all the books are great as well as the cookbooks, take it with a grain of salt and know that it’s not supposed to be a rigid diet, but a lifestyle.

Jamie Oliver’s Cookbooks – I love his cookbooks and usually just modify the recipes a little to make them a bit healthier. His way of roasting meat is THE BEST!

Oxygen Magazine – I read these on my way to work or while doing steady state cardio… so good, I really need to subscribe instead of buying them every month.

Thoughts on post-competition blues

Lately I have been hearing a lot about “post-competition blues” (Tosca just had a blog post about it) which is basically like mini depression that a lot of competitors face after a competition. Olympians and lots of other high performance athletes go through this after they attain a goal. It happens because the process for these things is so long and gruelling, but the actual result or competition is short and over quickly. Then what?

You have been living a life full of structure, limiting yourself, depriving yourself, pushing yourself hard and harder all in the name of this one goal… and then it’s gone!

Here is what happens to a lot of fitness competitors I have been reading about:

  1. They have a serious binge after the competition that usually consists of fast food, chips, chocolate and candy.
  2. They continue to eat unhealthy for days sometimes weeks because they feel they deserve it.
  3. They gain a lot of weight very quickly (a lot is water) and get upset that they lost the body they worked so hard for so quickly.
  4. They stop going to the gym for a few days/weeks all while eating poorly when introducing higher calories could mean great muscular gains, instead they get out of shape and lose muscle
  5. They have nothing to push towards and either vow not to do a competition again OR they immediately sign up for a new competition to try to get that motivation back.

None of these responses are mentally or physically healthy and there are good ways to deal with this. But I am a little worried about how this will happen with me. I decided I need a plan and a new goal to keep myself in check after the competition.

No I am not immediately entering a new fitness competition, at least not right away. I always have a few vague goals, but I think I need a few solid ones to keep me in line. So here it goes:

  • Increase my strength to above where it was pre-competition diet within 3 months
    • 205 lb deadlift
    • 175 lbs squat
    • 115 lb bench press
    • 20 dips
  • Keep my weight under 140 lbs (or approx. Within 7 lbs of my competition weight) consistently
  • Allow myself 2 weeks of “free-er” diet that includes alcohol and grains, but no gluten and no eating beyond full, my post competition meal will be Indian food and ice cream and I will not binge!
  • Look into paleo and consider the Whole30 challenge

None of these goals really have an end date, but they will at least keep me accountable and I will at least be able to let you all know how I do with the eating post contest.

This is what I dream of!

I am really excited about ice cream, and Indian food is great because it’s rice based (gluten free) but salty and fatty, which makes me feel indulgent without giving me a huge tummy ache.

I’m also really excited about my strength goals because after depleting your body and pushing it so hard it is primed to gain muscle if you push yourself. All of a sudden you are actually providing it with enough calories to build muscle and not just spare it. I want to add a little bit of muscle so the next time around I will look even better. You will also be able to make huge strength gains because you are properly fueling your body.

I do not want to turn my body into a waste bin just because I don’t have a goal… so I won’t! But I also recognize that I am currently at an unsustainable body fat % and that it is OK to gain weight after a competition, it is even healthy to gain as long as it’s not straight sugar and fat.

I plan to dial back my training to 3-5 times per week with an emphasis on heavy lifting and to allow myself to cheat with wine and chocolate and ice cream every so often (like 1 – 2 times per week) but I will keep this up… it is a lifestyle, not a diet!

Goals are great. They keep you motivated, but they can also lead to disappointment or confusion when you have finished with them, so if you take one thing from this post today, make this a lifestyle change. It took me 2 years of progressive little changes to be able to diet this strictly without feeling super deprived.

I started out working out 2-3 days per week with very little cardio and lots of strength and slowly increased that to 4, then 5 times per week, so the jump to 6 times or even multiple workout a day didn’t seem the jarring.

I also started by just making simple swaps with my food. I still bought my lunch most days 2 years ago, but I would bring healthy snack like fruit and nuts and only buy lunch, not a bag of mini eggs for a snack. My lunches were jimmy the greek salads and pita wraps, then slowly I transitioned to making lunch a couple days a week, and doubling up what I had make for dinner. Then I started prepping big batched of food and keeping staples like chicken breast and cut up veggies in the fridge. So when competition diet rolled around all I had to do was change what went in the Tupperware and cut grains out. I didn’t go from eating 3 meals a day, buying lunch and eating chocolate every day to a competition diet.

If you jump in too drastically (which I know is oh so tempting to do) you will have great results very quickly! You will start making progress, but you will feel like you are deprived and “poor me, I can’t have sugar!” and then you will cheat, and you will stop that progress and you will not make a lasting change. I have had to sneak up on this whole thing by making one little change at a time. Not everyone is like me, but I think it’s more common than we think. So take it slow and try not to look at this as a negative! Love yourself!

Also, almost entirely unrelated to all this – I have stayed the same weight for 2 weeks now, which is super weird at this point in competition prep, but I look a lot leaner – so don’t pay atention to the scale… they lie!!!