7 Weeks Out from First Figure Competition

It has been quite awhile since I wrote a blog, but don’t let that make you think I’ve been sittin’ around watching Real Housewives of Orange County (actually I did watch a few episodes of that after my law school finals were over, because my brain was tired and needed something mindless… mission accomplished! Those ladies are NUTS!).

Here’s what’s been going on since my last post: …I’ve been WORKING MY A** OFF!

I knew that turning myself into a Figure girl would not be easy or quick.  But good lord, this has been a journey.

Trying to Enjoy the Process

I have experienced moments of pure joy as I strutted around my apartment wearing my Figure suit and clear heels, pretending I was Erin Stern—then fifteen minutes later I’m in tears as I overanalyze at my progress pictures and wonder why my efforts do not seem to be translating into the body of an IFBB Figure Pro.  With terror in my heart I send my progress pictures to my wonderful Team Bombshell coach Gennifer Strobo, and she says…

Good job. Your shape is great.”

… I think to myself, “WHAT?!”

This is exactly why having a good coach is so vital—she can see changes happening long before I can.  She knows when I am not sticking to my diet 100% (whether or not I fully disclose the spoonfuls of peanut butter I ate the night before when I couldn’t sleep).  I know my coaches see the ‘bigger picture’ and will have me looking my BEST ever in 7 weeks when I step onstage.

The Current Routine + Facing Diet Demons

I’ve been weight training intensely 5-6 days a week, as always, plus doing 45-60 minutes of cardio 5 days per week.  I’ve been eating a lot, as sufficient food is necessary to sustain energy levels and allow muscle to grow. I have no problem eating lots of food—my problem is cutting out the extra nibbles that seem innocent in the moment, but when you’re trying to achieve your ideal physique, they add up!

It’s been difficult for me this summer diet-wise because I’m doing an internship in my home town and living with my parents. I love my mom—she is my biggest fan in everything I do in life—but she stocks the pantry with cookies, sugary cereals, etc.  In my own apartment, I simply do not buy any food off my diet plan, which makes it easier to remain on track.  Now I am in ‘the real world’, as Coach Gen called it, where I’ve got to figure out ways to face my food demons.

I have been working on this a lot, and realized that I stray from my diet when I am seeking comfort, either because I’m anxious or tired.  My worst moments are when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. At 1:00 AM I want to eat carbs because they make me temporarily feel better and help me sleep. So I am working on a plan of action to replace food in those moments: I listen to a relaxation/meditation track on my iPod, or look through inspirational fitness pictures on Instagram, or just take slow, deep breaths and think about something that makes me happy. It seems to be helping, but I am not perfect by any means, and I’m always working on being better.

What About YOU?

I hope you are having a great summer and you’ve set a fitness or health goal of some sort—a 5k, a competition, a triathalon… or you just have a very small bikini hanging from your closet that you want to rock! Send me a message/comment with what you’re up to—it helps me stay motivated too!

See my shoulder cap peeking through that first picture?! Gotta drop body fat over these next 7 weeks so I can SEE my hard work!

Shoulder cap peeking through photo (1)

15 Weeks Out: No Stopping Me Now!

Hello!

I’m two weeks away from finishing my second year of law school and 15 weeks from stepping onstage as a figure competitor!

Although this may be my “offseason”, I’ve been working extremely hard because I want to succeed as a figure competitor SO BADLY.  I had a fun time competing in the Bikini division, but my dream has ALWAYS been to have more muscle.  One of my law school friends commented on my last progress photo that he “wouldn’t want to get in a fight with” me, and I LOVED it (thank you Chris G.!!)! Ha ha!  The ironic part is that I’m a very peaceful, non-confrontational person… for pete’s sake, I meditate, do yoga, and read nerdy self-help books at home on Friday night.  But the idea of LOOKING LIKE a girl you wouldn’t want to mess with… that’s pretty cool :-)

The Tougher Moments

Every day isn’t rainbows and sunshine.  I have moments where I look at my progress pictures and think to myself, “Nothing. Is. Happening! I look exactly the same!”, or even worse, I’ll start criticizing myself: “You need to be more diligent on your diet plan. You had an extra piece of gum, remember? How can you expect to win if you don’t cut that out?”  I am extremely self-critical, and I have to watch myself or these thoughts will ruin my day.

It’s also sometimes difficult when not everybody understands or supports my goals.  Not every guy out there thinks an athletic/muscular woman is attractive. I’m sure there are people looking at my progress pictures on Facebook thinking, “Yuck, she looks manly.”…

… but my new experiment in life is called “What If I Didn’t Care What Anybody Thought?”  This is a radically new concept for me.  I spend way too much time fearing that others are judging me.

A few mornings ago, I decided to see what would happen if I pretended like I truly didn’t care what anyone was thinking.  This idea made me  happier and more relaxed.  I wasted less energy pretending to be someone I’m not.   (I’m actually getting tears in my eyes writing this, because it feels so freeing.)  My challenge is to start living this way EVERY day.

Current Training Plan

My current routine: cardio first thing in the morning 5-6 days per week.  Weight training 5 days (lifting as heavy as I can).  I follow the diet plan my Team Bombshell coaches give me, with one moderate “treat” meal per week.  I eat clean, unprocessed foods every 3 hours and don’t take any weird supplements (you don’t need them!).  Don’t fall for gimmicks.  Marketers/advertisers are very good at getting your hopes up, but don’t fall for their nonsense.  You’re smarter than that.

I absolutely LOVE hearing about others’ fitness goals, accomplishments, challenges, setbacks, etc. etc. Please write to me anytime on Facebook or this blog (also Instagram: katiedaysully).

My shoulders in 2010 vs. 2013:

IMG_2761 photo

2013: Big Changes & Plans

Hi guys!

Happy 2013! I am so excited for this year. I think it’s going to bring a lot of positive new things into my life.  I actually spent New Year’s Eve sitting in bed happily reading (yes, I’m a nerd) a book by one of my favorite people in the world, a life coach named Martha Beck.  In the book, Beck describes how to identify what you’re meant to do with your life, and how to get there.  This is not an easy process for anyone, especially if admitting what your heart wants to do is different from what society (or your parents, or your peers, etc.) wants you to do.

This process helped me realize a few important things:

1. Although I do want to try living in Washington, DC at some point in my life, now is not the right time.  So instead of doing the internship in DC this semester as I had planned, I am back at law school.  With regard to law school…

2. I signed up for mainly business law classes, realizing that I don’t like the traditional law school courses.  I don’t want to be in a courtroom, I don’t want to write briefs–I don’t even know that I necessarily want to be a lawyer.  This was extremely scary for me to admit to myself, and even scarier to admit to others, but I can’t change what my heart knows.  I’m grateful that a J.D. is a useful, versatile degree that allows people to do all sorts of things.

I signed up for the business classes with the idea that I may start my own business post-law school. I love doing personal training, but I feel that my “calling” in life may be more involved than just physical fitness.  I want to get my life coach certification (via Martha Beck’s online program) and help people “find their way out of hell”, as Beck describes it.  I would like to specialize in helping people sort out their body image issues, especially since I struggled with anorexia for many years.

3.  I am a “Figure girl” at heart.  Although I had a wonderful year competing in the bikini division of the NPC, for 2013, I am following my original dream and training for the Figure division.

My wonderful coaches at Team Bombshell are always honest with me, and they let me know that my body is better suited for bikini (I’m tall with long limbs).  But deep down, I knew I had to switch.  I’ve dreamed about competing in figure for years.  …And I am LOVING the training plan for it!  It involves higher calories (eating 7 times a day!) with less cardio, and my favorite part–heavy weights!  I love the rush I get from lifting as heavy as possible.

The posing onstage is different for Figure.  I’m trying to figure it out!  Here’s a picture of me attempting to flex my back and shoulders for the “front” pose:

image

The inevitable question: “Katie, are you going to get HUGE?”  … NO!!!  It drives me nuts when people (usually guys) ask me this.  To prove this to you, below is a picture of 4 professional competitors.  Guess who competes in Bikini and who does Figure? …

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…The furthest left woman (the beautiful Natalie Waples, who is one of the nicest people in the world) is a Figure competitor.  So is the furthest right woman (Candice Lewis).  The two middle women (Yeshaira Robles and Yarelis Gonzales) compete in bikini.  The point is, they ALL look fantastic, and the Figure girls are not “huge”.  Figure is not the same as Bodybuilding.  I will probably step onstage at about 126 lbs (I’m 5 foot 7).  So everybody can RELAX! :-)

My first Figure show will (hopefully) be in June 2013 in New York City.  I am already counting down the weeks (19, if you were wondering…).  I am so grateful to my incredible coach IFBB Figure Pro Gen Strobo for answering all 8 million of my questions and encouraging me to work my butt off.  She is a huge inspiration for me.

I also want to give a shout-out to two new Team Bombshell members:

  • Vanessa L. has been a friend of mine since high school.  I’ve been telling her for months that she’d be a great bikini competitor (she’s a former dancer, so she already has that ever-important stage presence!).  She is going to do amazing this year!
  • Jennifer B. is a law classmate of mine, and she’s been with the team since November.  She’s extremely smart and an incredibly hard worker.  She’s been following her plan 100% and looks amazing.  She is going to rock her first competition in March!

That’s all for now.  Most importantly, send me a Facebook message or comment on this post and tell me about your goals for 2013 (fitness-related or otherwise).  I absolutely love to hear about them, and help you if I can!

Three Days Til Showtime!

It’s Wednesday, and on Friday I’ll be flying to Florida for the Ft. Lauderdale Cup. It’s an awesome event featuring both IFBB pro and NPC competitors—and it’s all-girls! They even have a red carpet at the night show—it’s really fun.

Here’s a picture of me on my birthday last weekend, which was wonderful.  I know what you’re wondering–did I eat birthday cake? NOPE!  I am determined!  (But I will definitely be having some after the show this weekend!)

Progress From January to October 2012

This will be my 5th show of 2012, so I’m pretty used to the contest-prep routine by now.  My first show was in March, and 7 months later, I know I’ve improved a lot—physically and mentally.  I’m much calmer.  And I did much better sticking to my diet.  I’ll be totally honest—in every prep before this one, I cheated a little bit—just little bites here and there.  I didn’t think it really mattered, but it does!  I can see the difference in my photos this time.  I had to take drastic measures—I cleared out my apartment of extra food.  I had nothing in my cabinets/fridge except my meals I’d prepped for the week—which were frozen so didn’t I pick at them (yes, this is extreme—but bad habits are hard to break).

My wonderful coach Vanessa Campbell told me she thinks I look the best I have so far this year.  That made my day, and gave me the motivation to push through til the end—only 3 more cardio sessions and 2 more weight sessions now!

Improvement Season Begins

After this show, I think my 3-month “improvement season” will begin.  Essentially I’ve been in contest-prep mode since January, when I went to Bombshell Camp in Daytona Beach, FL and they kicked my butt into gear.  That’s pretty tough on your body!  I’ll cut it down to 1 cardio session per day, and lift heavier weights to create some more shape in my shoulders, glutes, back, etc—and eat more! (Yessss!!)

Are You Better Than You Were Yesterday?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how dangerous it can be to compare myself to other competitors.  I can really bum myself out if I spend too much time wishing I had someone else’s abs or arms or whatever—the truth is, in this sport, the point is to be better than your previous ‘version’.  And I know I am getting better as time goes on.  As I lean out during this prep, I can see muscles emerge that I didn’t really know were there!  It’s exciting.

I hope you are having success working toward your goals—do not give up, even if you’re having one of those days where you just want to throw up your hands in frustration. (If you ARE feeling like that—email or FB message me! I’ll try to help!) 

I’ll post pictures and updates as the weekend goes on—follow me on Twitter, too (@LegallyFitKatie).

Recap of NPC AZ Open, Upcoming Shows & Life Dreams

Hi everyone!

I have been MIA from my blog because it’s been a time of transition: I did a competition (the NPC Arizona Open), completed my summer judicial externship, moved back in with my family for a couple of weeks, and will be moving again in a week to start my second year of law school.  It’s also been a time of deep thinking about what direction my life is heading. I’ll explain more below…

The NPC Arizona Open July 2012

Regarding the AZ Open, I had a fun time and took home a fifth place trophy.  I am proud to have received a top-5 placing, especially because I seriously messed up my tan!  I tried to cut costs by applying it myself. It didn’t turn out so well.  For those who compete, you know how vitally important your tan is.  Under those blindingly bright stage lights, every flaw shows up.  A bad tan is distracting, regardless how great your body looks.  My tan was streaky and blotchy, but I didn’t realize it in the dim lights of my apartment.  By the time I tried to fix things, it was too late.  I was in tears a few moments before stepping onstage for prejudging.

Fortunately, I hired the professionals to re-do my tan for finals, so it looked great at when the trophies were presented.  But by that time, the judges had made their decisions.

The most important thing about this story is that I’ve learned my lesson!  Never again will I try to do my own tan without professional assistance.  It’s just not worth it.  After hundreds of hours sweating in the gym and diligently practicing my posing, I’ll spend the $80 or $100 on a professional tan.

What’s Next?

My next show will be the Fort Lauderdale Cup on October 20.  I am really excited about this show because (a) it’s near my birthday (October 13 – I’ll turn the big 2-5!); (b) it’s an all-girls show – no male competitors!;  (c) it’s about 11 weeks away, which gives me a bit of a break from stage-prep mode, and (d) several of my Team Bombshell friends will be in attendance and I can’t wait to see them!  After the Ft Lauderdale Cup, I plan to compete at the NPC Nationals in November in Atlanta (my 2nd national show – this one should be massive.)

When I say I’m taking a “break”, I should be honest that I don’t mean it in a normal-person sense.  I love the gym and no one can keep me away from it! Ha ha.  So I’m still training really hard, but adding in one or two extra small food “treats” each week.  I continue to watch my weight to make sure I’m staying within 5-7 pounds of my stage weight.  I do this because dropping a lot of weight before a competition is NOT fun, NOT easy, and NOT great for your body – trust me, I have experienced it.  Additionally, if you have a high percentage of bodyfat, it’s hard to see any changes happening in your body underneath that layer of fat.

The Journey of Life….

On a different note, lately I’ve been thinking hard about where I see myself in 5 or 10 or 20 years.  I really enjoy law school and I know that it is training me to be a better critical thinker, a stronger writer, etc.  But I also know that I’m deeply passionate about health, wellness and fitness.  I always assumed that my passion for health would have to remain my “hobby”, outside of and apart from being an attorney.   But after a deep conversation with a close friend today, I’m now able to step back and see that, eventually, my law degree and my passion for health & wellness WILL be able to fit together into a wonderful career where I (hopefully) make a difference in the lives of many individuals.  Just because I can’t see the exact roadmap yet doesn’t mean I’m not getting there – I have to see this as a “ten-year plan”.

For now, I’m going to just keep working hard each day both in the gym and in law school, and eventually things will work out – probably better than I could have designed them.

I love to hear from other fitness-minded folk, so please send me a message/post a comment with what you’ve been up to.  Do you have any current fitness goals/aspirations?

3 Days Out from NPC Arizona Open

I’m three days out from competing at the NPC Arizona Open in Mesa, AZ!  I am really excited about this contest because (a) it’s local so I don’t have to travel! (meaning: I don’t have to bring my food through airport security, terrified that they’ll take it away from me);  (b) my wonderful, supportive roommates are coming to watch prejudging on Friday night, and my dad & sister are coming to finals on Saturday;  (c) it’s a regional (not national) show, so I’m not nervous – just excited.  I’ve been to this venue before and it’s really cool. 

This competition prep has been less stressful than previous ones, because I stayed within about 5-6 pounds of my contest weight (about 125).  It’s much easier on my body to remain constant and not have big weight fluctuations.  The diet is always tough, but at least this time I’ve been able to consume more carbs than usual to keep my muscles full and round. 

Until this week, I had one cheat meal per week, so that was nice.  I usually crave sweet potato fries.  Over the Fourth of July I went to San Diego with my best friend, and beforehand I conducted research to find the best sweet potato fries in the area!  We also walked a couple of miles to track down an amaaaazing bakery with the BEST cupcakes!   (Last note about food:  have you guys seen the commercial for IHop red velvet pancakes??!!  I saw it at the gym and almost fell off the StairStepper. Post-competition meal, here I come!)

My next national show will be IFBB North Americans at the very end of August in Pittsburgh.  This will be my second attempt at earning my IFBB Professional status.  The best part about this show is that I will have brand new suit from CJ Elite Competition Suits!  CJ is well-known in the industry for making exceptional suits.  I didn’t realize how important a high-quality suit was until I’d done a few competitions and seen how CJ’s suits stand out and flatter the body.  It will be bright BLUE!  I can’t wait!

Lastly, a new friend of mine recently gave me a hard time about the fact that I can only do 3 pull-ups.  Now it’s a challenge: I have to beat him in a pull-up competition.  The foolish person who initiated this challenge clearly doesn’t know me very well yet.  When you tell me I can’t do something, my response will be…  “WATCH ME.” :-)

“I’m not working out – I’m TRAINING!” Plus Upcoming Competition: Jr Nationals

It’s the final week before I fly to Chicago for the NPC Junior Nationals where I’ll compete for the chance to earn my IFBB Pro card.  I’ve never been to Chicago and I’m so excited!  Although most of the hard work has already been done in the gym and kitchen, the final week is very important for last-minute adjustments, packing (very careful packing – I don’t want to forget something important!), practicing posing, double-checking my flight times, arranging hair and tanning appointments, etc.  

Goals for the show:  I don’t have any specific placing goals because it’s my first national show, and I know that everyone competing will have been working just as hard as I have.  I want to focus on looking better and presenting myself better than I did at my previous show in Atlanta on March 17, 2012, where I placed 4th in my class (against an amazing lineup – the girl who took first in my class recently turned pro!  Awesome job Tiffany!)  In high-pressure situations, I perform better when I keep my “blinders” on and ignore what everyone else around me is doing, instead focusing on doing the best I can. 

This final week of prep has been mentally and physically tough.  My legs are very tired, I haven’t gotten quite enough sleep, and every time a commercial for IHop pancakes comes on the TV at the gym, I force myself to look away because I want it so badly!  My metabolism must be on fire because I’m hungry ALL. THE. TIME.  Even 15 minutes after a meal!  And I’ve been consumed with thinking about the show, visualizing my posing over and over and making lists for everything – things to pack, things to buy at the grocery store, things to email my coaches about. 

I Don’t Have Motivation to Go to the Gym/Eat Right

Lately I’ve been thinking about motivation.  Why do some people have an abundance of it, while others do not?  A big part of my motivation comes from how I think and talk about my healthy habits.  I don’t just go to the gym for fun… I go there to train.  Same goes for my eating plan – I don’t care if I have to eat cold tilapia and asparagus, because it’s fuel for my training.  I don’t care if it doesn’t taste good – if I want to have an awesome, high-intensity workout, I NEED it! 

So if you’re lacking motivation, try choosing a specific goal – a half-marathon, a triathlon, a bike race, an upcoming event like wedding/reunion, etc., because then you can tell people “I’m training for _____, and that’s why I’ve got to hit the gym after work.”  Additionally, tell people about your event/goal, because then you’re accountable!  They’ll ask you about it, and you’re going to be embarrassed if you say, “Oh, I gave up on that.”

I hope everyone is having a wonderful June so far.  I’ll take lots of pictures at Jr. Nationals and write a blog about the experience after it’s over.  Follow me on Twitter for updates there, too:  @LegallyFitKatie

The Story of Me and Food

Hi guys!

It’s final exam time so I should be studying, but I wanted to take a break to talk about a topic that plagues just about everybody – your relationship with food.

I’ve struggled with this issue for a long time.  starting around 7th grade when  I began receiving Victoria’s Secret catalogs in the mail.  This is the ideal woman,” I thought to myself.  I decided to do whatever it took to become rail-thin like the models.   I started running around my neighborhood and tracking calories obsessively.  At my lowest point, I was only consuming about 600 calories per day, neatly written on a food tracking chart.

When I decide I want something, I commit to it one-hundred percent.  Sometimes that’s a good thing.  But around age 15-16, my goals were completely unhealthy.  In fact, I don’t even know what I wanted – to look in the mirror and think “I look good”?  Because let me tell you, I never, ever thought that.  

My habits kept becoming more dangerous until I hit a low weight of around 110 lbs at 5-foot seven inches tall.  Finally my parents intervened.   I know it must have been really difficult for them to watch their daughter destroy herself, and even tougher to discuss the topic.  I reluctantly saw a counselor.  This was the point when I became aware of my unhealthy behavior, but my obsession with being skinny didn’t stop.

My fixation on being runway-model-skinny continued throughout the rest of high school and the first couple years of college.

Then, things changed. 

One day while looking through the magazine racks for my usual Shape or Self to look at while plowing through 45 dreadful minutes on the elliptical, I discovered Oxygen magazine.  This magazine was the catalyst that changed my life.  Oxygen emphasizes that strong is beautifulSkinny is unhealthy.  Additionally, it’s not just about what’s outside that counts – the health of your heart, lungs, brain, liver, digestive system, etc. are even more important.

In Oxygen I discovered the world of fitness competitions, where the fittest women in the world step on stage to show the world the product of countless hours spent sculpting their body and eating the cleanest diets possible.  I continue to be amazed by these women and I hope to have a long life in the fitness competition industry.

Today, my relationship with food has changed and improved tremendously.  What I know now:

  • Food is fuel for my intense workouts and for the recovery and growth of my muscles.
  • Food is also medicine – it truly can heal you from the inside out.
  • 8,000 hours of cardio won’t get me an awesome body

I still struggle with some “balance issues” – like having a moderate cheat meal instead of binging on an entire pizza – but I’m doing much better.

What’s your relationship with food?  Is it healthy?  Have you struggled with eating issues?  I would love your feedback on this topic.  Feel free to send me a message on Facebook with your experiences with this topic.  And have a wonderful week! 

8 Weeks Out Update

Hi guys,

Just wanted to give an update about what’s going on.  I’m currently taking a quick break from studying for final exams.  I am terrified about finals (as usual), but making a conscious effort to breathe and remember that they are not, in fact, the end of the world.

8 Weeks Out 

8 weeks until I fly to Chicago and compete in the Junior Nationals! I can’t believe I will be competing on the national level. It’s a big deal! And I’m scared! But I will not get caught up in thoughts about my placing.

My goal instead: to look better than my March competitions, and improve my stage presence.

I have been working hard in the gym and sticking to my diet because I’ve realized that if you want to succeed in this sport, it must become your lifestyle.  You can’t train & diet for 12 weeks and slack off the rest of the time.  This is fine with me, because I feel much happier and healthier living this way than I used to.

My current ‘project’ in the gym: build muscle & roundness in my glutes!  If you’ve ever been to a bikini competition or seen photos online, you’ll know that they are frequently won or lost based on the ‘back pose’.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with many ‘curves’, so I work VERY hard in the gym to create some!

Giving Myself a Break

I realized recently that I never stop to recognize my achievements.  I rarely feel ‘proud’ of myself.   I was listening to a podcast by former ‘Bigger Loser’ trainer Jillian Michaels who made me realize this.  She’s currently on a huge billboard in Times Square, but upon being told about this accomplishment, she brushed it off and said “Whatever, fine. What’s the next project?”

I do the same thing.  I celebrated my win at the NPC bikini show in March for about 30 seconds before wondering when my next competition would be and what I could improve.  This means I’m frequently in a state of dissatisfaction, which isn’t a healthy way to live.

So my new goal is to write 3 things I’m grateful for, proud of or excited about in my journal every day. Here’s today’s entry:

1. Proud of today’s glutes workout – I was dripping in sweat and gave it my all.

2. Excited to start working on my Master’s degree in Public Health in concurrence with my J.D.

3. Proud of myself for getting my butt to the library to study on a beautiful Saturday

…That was actually kind of difficult, which is evidence that I definitely DO need to start doing this regularly.

Proud of my fit friends!

Last thing – I want to give some recognition to friends of mine who have been working on their own fitness goals and doing great.  Andrea has been running consistently & increasing her distance;  Jillian has truly amazed me and I couldn’t be more proud;  Callie has set a big goal this summer and is going to do great;  Emilie has been working hard to implement healthy habits;  Menden (fellow blogger!) will be competing very soon and I can’t wait to hear about it;  Vanessa has not let obstacles like a lack of motivation prevent her from kicking butt!

How Do I Get Rid of My “Muffin Top”?

It’s almost bathing suit season, and I’ve been getting questions from many of my female (and some male!) friends about the dreaded tummy pooch/muffin top – they want to know which exercises to do to get rid of it. The problem is: that’s the wrong focus. I have learned from experience that there is no crunch or plank or sit-up that will destroy that stupid pooch.

It’s 90% about EATING CLEAN. Let me explain…

“Eating clean” means eating whole, unprocessed, natural foods every few hours, and avoiding most of the staples in the standard American diet (“white” everything, especially – white bread, white rice, sugar, etc.). Here are some examples of “clean” foods: sweet potatoes, oats, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, olive oil, flaxseed oil, etc.

In order to have flat abs and look “ripped” (as my law school classmates called me) at my bikini competitions, my diet had to be pretty close to 100% clean. Every 2-3 hours I ate a small meal with lean protein, a little bit of complex carb (i.e. sweet potato or oats), plus a little fat. I did not cheat. It wasn’t easy. But if you really want to see your abs this summer, there’s no other alternative.

But can’t I just do cardio & burn off that cookie?

Some people have the idea that they can just “work off” whatever they ate – 300 calories of McDonalds fries is equivalent to 30 minutes on the elliptical, right? WRONG. Even if you think that logically should make sense, it doesn’t work that way. Of course cardio helps you drop bodyfat – I did lots of cardio in preparation for my competition, and I still do cardio just about every day just to maintain. So once you’ve cleaned up your diet, do cardio – but make it INTENSE. If you can read a novel while doing cardio, you’re not working hard enough. Try HIIT, which stands for high-intensity interval training. Go as hard as you can for 1 minute, then rest for 1 minute. Repeat this cycle for 30 minutes.

Hit the weights!

Also, for pete’s sake PLEASE hit the weight room! Ladies, I have said this many times, but you will not bulk up. A little extra muscle speeds up your metabolism. Additionally, unless you are trying to add massive size, when you do weight training, do it quickly. Keep your heart rate up the whole time. Superset exercises so there’s minimal rest. That way, it becomes sort of a cardio workout in itself.

I hope this helps you get on the right track toward seeing your abs emerge this summer. I love to hear from people about their thoughts and questions, so please shoot me a Facebook message or a Tweet. Now go start shopping for that bikini!