What Diet Should I Follow? (And Tough Love About Why You’re Not Losing Weight)

You have tried it all. You cut out carbs. You started Weight Watchers (or Atkins, or Whole30, or Paleo, etc.). You joined that workout class and regularly attend three days per week. You lost a few pounds … and then gained it back. You’re starting to lose patience and get frustrated. Bathing suit season is rapidly approaching and you have made zero progress toward the New Year’s goals you set on January 1.  So what now? What’s the problem?

It’s time to be honest with ourselves.

What, exactly, are you eating?

I’m not talking about a list of angelic superfoods that would impress a nutritionist or personal trainer (“I ate a kale smoothie for breakfast with chia seeds and Acai berries!”). I’m talking about real numbers. How many calories are you averaging? How many grams of protein? How many grams of fiber?

… You don’t know?

Then how will we know what’s working, or what isn’t working?

As a nutrition coach, I have seen and heard it ALL. I am not shocked or disappointed if a client confesses that they binged on jelly beans on Easter weekend or stopped at Taco Bell at 3am after a night out with their friends.  We have all been there!  (*Of course I hope that 80-90 percent of your diet consists of whole, unprocessed foods and tons of veggies, but do I really expect you to never touch a cookie again? Of course not!)

Intro to Flexible Dieting: We Like Numbers!

I want real, hard data so we can help you succeed.  I want to know how many calories you are consistently consuming and what makes up those calories – aka, the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates (including fiber), and fat).  I want to help you figure out a nutrition plan – not a diet – that will allow you to reach your goals and keep you sane so you can follow it for the rest of your life.   I want to teach you HOW to eat, not give you a list of “approved” and “non-approved” foods that makes you feel more disappointed in yourself than you already do.

This way of eating is called “flexible dieting” (also called “if it fits your macros”).  This way of eating allows you to choose what you want to eat, as long as you meet your daily calorie/macro requirements.  I love this way of eating because it is science-based (and I am a nerd – I graduated from law school, after all!).  It abides by the basic laws of calories/macros (which say that, put simply, in order to lose body fat, we must be in a caloric deficit – but consuming sufficient protein allows us to maintain our lean body mass (i.e. muscle).  More on this in a future blog).

Good For the Body AND Mind

Studies are emerging which support flexible dieting as a healthy way of eating both for the body and the mind.  How many times have you been on a rigid diet where you eventually quit or lost control and binged because you JUST NEEDED ONE OREO?!  A flexible diet allows us to remain versatile with our diet, which means we can survive the social challenges of modern day life (the snack bins at work, the dinners out with your family, holidays, etc.).  It allows us to enjoy our diet more and not totally restrict ourselves.  This flexibility often allows for a higher rate of long-term success and less yo-yo dieting!

This study found that individuals who engaged in rigid dieting strategies reported symptoms related to an eating disorder, along with poor mood and obsession with body size/shape, while those following a flexible diet did not report the same issues.  I can speak to this directly: starting in 2011, I followed a very strict meal plan outlined by a coach which told me exactly what to eat at every meal (i.e. 4 ounces of tilapia, ½ cup green beans, etc.).  It worked temporarily, but without a rigid meal plan, I was clueless about how to eat – I never learned the “why” behind the meal plan.  On top of that, it definitely exacerbated my disordered eating behaviors – I always ate alone, in secret, and binged weekly so I could eat the foods I actually wanted, leading to feeling ashamed and “fat” and starting the cycle all over again.   I began using a flexible dieting method in 2016 and my food obsessions have dissipated.  My brain is much healthier!

Taking Flexible Dieting Too Far

Of course, people can take the concept of “I can eat anything I want if it fits my macros” to an unhealthy extreme – you may see bodybuilders on Instagram bragging about eating a Pop-Tart and staying lean.  But in reality, in order to meet your fiber and micronutrient requirements, you cannot subsist on “junk foods”.  My fiancé, for example, loves his pancakes and eggs each morning for breakfast – but they’re high-protein Kodiak Power Cakes and cage-free eggs with organic spinach mixed in. And later in the day he eats at least 6-7 cups of green veggies because he needs to get at least 30 grams of fiber daily.  (He has lost 26 pounds so far since beginning to use a flexible dieting method).

In addition, a Pop-Tart is very “expensive” in terms of your macronutrient “budget” – it will use up a lot of your daily allotment of carbs, leaving you hungry!  In order to remain full, you must incorporate high-volume foods … aka, vegetables and fruits!  In this way, I have found flexible dieting to be “self-regulating” – I don’t have to tell people to eat veggies because they do so anyway, in order to get enough fiber and feel full.

How Do I Learn How to Do This?

Learning what a “macro” is and how to track your food in an app like MyFitnessPal isn’t easy in the beginning, but anybody can learn how.  The best approach is to get some personalized help – ask me if you’re a member of LifeTime Fitness. Or start by reading some articles, like this one.  Download MyFitnessPal and start tracking.  Have patience and be honest J

In conclusion, when you’re trying to determine what the best diet is for YOU, ask yourself – what can I stick to long-term?  Maybe that’s Atkins, Paleo, Whole30, Weight Watchers, or flexible dieting – but be honest with yourself about your lifestyle and preferences so you can jump off the weight “roller coaster” forever.


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!


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:


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? …


…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.” 🙂