Preparing for prep and a business trip

For lots of people who enter ‘prep’, fitness is their profession. I have been told by many people that when I step on stage, I will be in the minority who are not personal trainers. With that being said, I know there are plenty of people who have a career outside of the realms of fitness, myself included. My current role has me travelling frequently and this week I am travelling to southern California for a week long conference. I am not saying how I have prepared is the right way, or the only way, but it puts my mind at ease to be this organized. Plus, I have set myself up for success. I am not saying it will be easy, but I definitely want you to know that you can both ‘prep’ and be a professional.

  1. Pick your own flights. As soon as I found out that the conference was happening, I researched flight options. Travelling across the country takes as long in connections as it does to travel to the UK (unbelievable, but true!) I was able to find flights that left Tampa in the late morning (enabling me to train prior to my flight) and get a red eye flight back on Thursday (giving me all of Friday on my own schedule).
  2. Contact the hotel. Some people opt for meal prep companies – I frankly didn’t want the expense, so I called the hotel to ask if the rooms came with fridges, and, if not, whether I could have one in my room.
  3. Scope out gyms. I researched local gyms, as, although the hotel has a fitness center, it will not cut it for my program! If I wasn’t prepping, I would have just used the hotel gym, but I wanted to keep the workout side as optimal as possible.
  4. Pack lots of food. I have programmed all my meals into MyFitnessPal and have prepared everything, from vitamins to supplements to meals. If we end up eating at places with calorie counts on the menu that looks tasty, I will definitely adapt my day of eating to allow it. From my experience of conferences, the food is so unpredictable. Sometimes it is almost non-existent, other times it is greasy food trucks and, sometimes, it is varied and tasty! I have packed for the worst case scenario, i.e. no food will be available for me to eat! When I travel, I always take with me: protein powder, protein bars, peanut butter, oats, packets of tuna, packets of carrots and packets of rice. I also have with me a few other goodies, including sliced ham, wraps and cooked sausages (normally I wouldn’t bring all my food with me!)
  5. Be willing to train fasted. My days at these conferences are long and full on. Realistically, the only time I am going to get a chance to train is by getting up at 4am and doing so on an empty stomach. I will take BCAA and Coffein before I workout and drink carb powder intra-workout to help fuel me. I will also ensure I eat a higher carb meal before bed to help with fuel the following day.
  6. Meal prep before bed. I don’t know until I arrive at the hotel where we will be eating each night.If necessary, I will have to meal prep the night before.
  7. Understand that sleep might have to be sacrificed for a few days.
  8. Pack utensils. I have clean tupperware, digital scales, plastic cutlery and measuring spoons.

I hope this is helpful! I am organized to say the least, but I can now enter the week with my priorities being both prep and work. I don’t have to set myself up for sacrificing one for the other. I will have to sacrifice sleep and feeling optimal, I will also have to sacrifice some socialising and social media presence. I can catch up with all of those when I am back. The next 4 days will be tough, but learning and progression never came from being inside your comfort zone.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

10 weeks out: My glutes are the biggest they have ever been

Apart from Florida getting chilly this week and me re-acquainting myself with jumpers and fluffy socks, it has been another good week! This week I head to a business conference for a week – it will really test my ability to stick to prep as meticulously as I have been!

Weight loss: 0.8lbs. Mid-week, my weight was up again so my carbs were slightly lowered and then the weight has dropped. Dieting by reducing calories slowly is definitely something to get used to in terms of seeing the progress materialise on the scale. For the first time, I definitely feel I look leaner. My workout clothes, with elasticated tops, are too big at the top!

Cardio: 2 x 7 HIIT intervals. I used the rower this week as been focusing on getting faster and more efficient on this when I workout with a personal trainer. Obviously, it made me feel like death, but I am really enjoying seeing my cadiovascular fitness improve as the weeks have progressed.

Calories: 2 x refeed days a week (carbohydrates increase to 250g, fats and protein remain the same). Regular days my carbohydrates have been reduced, but are still 185g.

Dieting approach: flexible dieting. Check out my Instagram to see what I have been eating.

Training: 6 workouts a week.

How I am feeling: Feeling great! I made a benchpress PR this week and joined the 100lbs club, yay!!! My leg workouts have also been good, so much so that sweat was dripping from my eyelashes. I utilize a DUP program (daily undulating periodization), meaning the rep ranges of each of my sessions vary throughout the week. I have been making a massive effort to ensure I progressively overload every week and it is definitely paying off, both in terms of strength and aesthetics. I pulled 235lbs for every sumo/conventional deadlift and my glutes have also grown 0.5cm this week – so they are currently the biggest they have ever been!

My nutrition and workouts are programmed by New York Muscle Radio go check these guys out and search for their Podcast on iTunes or YouTube.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

11 weeks out: No-one knows I am prepping

4 weeks of dieting down…it still really is a breeze! I am hungry occasionally, but I was hungry during my off season too. As soon as I eat, I am satisfied! The part that I like the most is the fact that outside of my online ‘world’, very few people know I am prepping. I love bodybuilding, but I also have a life outside of it and am working exceptionally hard in my career too as I really want a promotion within the next 6 months. I also have many friends and family members who have zero interest in bodybuilding so I like to express my passion online and in the gym and, outside of these avenues, I talk about it very little. So far, dieting has not hindered me once!

Weight loss: 0.9lbs. Mid-week, my weight was up again. It made me feel a bit frustrated as my cardio had been upped, but I got told that weight loss at the start is often slower as your body adjusts. I can’t say I feel any leaner since I started dieting, but most of my clothes fit a bit better.

Cardio: 2 x 7 HIIT intervals. I used battle ropes again – these will be the death of me! The gym is always way too busy to be doing sled pushes, and, personally, I am terrible at HIIT on a bike – I definitely don’t fully push myself and spend too long faffing about with the resistance!

Calories: 2 x refeed days a week (carbohydrates increase to 255g, fats and protein remain the same). Regular days my carbohydrates have been reduced, but are still 190g.

Dieting approach: flexible dieting. Check out my Instagram to see what I have been eating.

Training: 6 workouts a week.

How I am feeling: Feeling great! I made a benchpress PR this week and the rest of my lifts have been solid too. I am striving for progressive overload every session and don’t feel like I am deprived of fuel to be able to do so. I am still consuming 50g carb powder between pre and intra workout as I am a big advocate of carb powders for intra-workout fuel. Next time my carbs are lowered, I will probably take it out of the carb powder and see how my workouts respond. For me, trying to reach the balance of great workouts, satiety and zero cravings is my goal!

My nutrition and workouts are programmed by New York Muscle Radio go check these guys out and search for their Podcast on iTunes or YouTube.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

12 weeks out: Not every week is a weight loss week

Week 3 into prep… not sure why this week has left my hands ripped to shreds from deadlifts, but they are very painful! My legs are also really bruised, which detracted my attention from my workouts on Friday and Saturday. I have woken up ready for breakfast towards the latter half of this week, but still feeling good!

Weight loss: didn’t happen….0.3lbs weight gain. If this is your first time dieting, you may expect to lose weight every week. I know that this doesn’t happen sadly and this is why it is so important to measure success in other ways. Ordinarily, I would say that I would look to what I have achieved in the gym this week as an indicator of success, but, on prep, my success indicators need to be aesthetic. This is where progress pictures and measurements are useful. Indeed, my waist has decreased 1cm this week, with my glutes remaining the same as when I started prep.

Cardio: 2 x 5 HIIT intervals. I used battle ropes this week again. My immediate thought whilst on interval 2 is,’do I really wanted to be lean?!’ These battle ropes are amazing for HIIIT, but also so difficult!

Calories: 2 x refeed days a week (carbohydrates increase, fats and protein remain the same). Regular days my carbohydrates have been reduced, but are still around 200g.

Dieting approach: flexible dieting. Check out my Instagram to see what I have been eating.

Training: 6 workouts a week.

How I am feeling: Feeling positive and enjoying the journey (just my hands wish they could be girly hands and not calloused hands!) People sometimes seem to get bogged down as soon as they enter ‘prep’. I am definitely expecting the road ahead to test me, but if you don’t enjoy the journey the majority of the time, why bother!

My nutrition and workouts are programmed by New York Muscle Radio go check these guys out and search for their Podcast on iTunes or YouTube.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

7 healthy hacks for meal prepping

I get a lot of questions about how I plan my meals and what I do when it comes to cooking, so I thought I would share with you my guide to meal prepping. Personally, eating out of Tupperware doesn’t bother me, as I know what is inside the Tupperware is delicious and tailored to my preferences!

1. Go to the grocery store with a plan. I never go to the supermarket without an idea of what I want to make. If you are a bargain seeker, look up your favorite supermarket online to see what they have on promotion that week so you are not swayed by every ‘BOGO’ sign you see. With that being said, I may change my mind when I am in the supermarket and be swayed by something that is on offer or looks delicious, but I still go with meals in mind.

2. Chop up all your veggies in one go. I hate chopping and although I am meticulous about lots of things, dicing vegetables is not one of them. I chop up all my vegetables in one go and store in ziploc bags or plastic containers. That way, when I go to make a meal, the chopping is already done.

3. Cook your carbohydrates in bulk. If you are as impatient as me when it comes to food, you will appreciate the pain of waiting up to 20 minutes for your rice to cook. Brown and wild rice especially seem to take forever to cook, so with rice, quinoa, pasta and lentils, I cook a big batch in one go. Sometimes, I cook more than I need for the week and freeze the leftovers.

4. Make family sized meals. I always make a family sized meal so that it makes me 5 lunches for the week. I know some people don’t like eating the same lunch 5 days in a row, so you can either make a couple of different large meals, or, you can use the same staple ingredients and ‘accessorize’ differently. For example, you can cook a batch of chicken and pasta, then add chopped tomatoes and herbs to some; feta and spinach to another; turkey bacon, broccoli and cream cheese to the remainder. This will give you three completely different meals without all the hassle of cooking three different meals from scratch.

5. Don’t under-estimate bread as a carbohydrate source. I have been there where I feared bread was a ‘bad’ food and avoided eating it, but bagels and wraps form a staple part of my diet. Making wraps and sandwiches are both really easy and time efficient.

6. Set aside time to meal prep. I normally use about 2 hours on a Sunday morning to prepare for the week ahead. I cook all my snacks (if cooking is required) and lunches and normally prepare a couple of savory dinners too. For the rest of my dinners, I make on the day I eat them. When I do this, I typically opt for oats or bagels followed by Greek yoghurt and peanut butter as these are very simple to prepare and quick to cook.

7. Remember that meal prep can be as simple, or as fancy as you like. I vary the complexity of my meal prep depending on time, motivation and inspiration. Eating simple food and eating fancy food will get you the same results; make meal prep suit YOU.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

Spanish chicken and yellow rice

Until I moved to Tampa, I don’t remember really seeing ‘yellow rice’ before. Here, however, due to the Hispanic influence, yellow rice is common in restaurants and supermarkets alike. I had never cooked it before but was inspired by both the colour and the delicate fragrance. With the temperature being a little cooler recently, this recipe is both warming and nourishing…and has a bit of a kick!

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Macros per portion (based on 4 portions): 255kcal; 28.2g protein, 34.2g carbs, 0.2g fat

Ingredients

  • 1 lb raw chicken breast
  • 2 oz red onion
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups yellow rice (preferably with saffron included)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (preferably with chili added. If not then add 1tsp dried chili flakes in addition).
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.

Method

1. In a medium pan, bring the water to the boil and preheat your oven to 425 fahrenheit.

2. Chop the red onion and green pepper and add to the boiling water.

3. Chop the chicken breast into roughly 2cm cubes and add to the water mixture. Reduce the heat to allow the mixture to simmer.

4. When the chicken is cooked through (after approximately 10 minutes), add the chopped tomatoes, paprika and black pepper and stir thoroughly. There should be plenty of excess water.

5. In a medium sized baking dish, pour in the uncooked yellow rice. Top the rice with all the chicken mixture and transfer to the oven.

6. Cook in the centre of your pre-heated oven for 40 – 45minutes. The rice should absorb all the liquid.

7. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve immediately or portion out for a Mediterranean lunch!

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

13 weeks out: Choose the right coach for YOU

So my second week of prep has past and it was the first week back at work for me, after almost 2 weeks off. I started work at 5am for the first half of the week, doing heavy manual labour. That, and the shock of being back at work, has unfortunately left me with a cold. Other than being sniffly, the week has been good. I have added reps to my lifts this week, so strength is still increasing.

Weight loss: 1.7lbs. I am surprised at how much I have lost this week. I am guessing being back at work, and therefore more active, I have increased my calorie expenditure.

Cardio: 2 x 5 HIIT intervals. I used battle ropes this week and I am terrible at them, but they are so good for HIIT. I think I will carry on with these as I am so out of breath when I am done.

Calories: 2 x refeed days a week (carbohydrates increase, fats and protein remain the same). Regular days my carbohydrates are still in excess of 200g.

Dieting approach: flexible dieting. Check out my Instagram to see what I have been eating.

Training: 6 workouts a week.

How I am feeling: I am definitely seeing the benefits of working with coaches who know their stuff. I chose to work with Pete & Anthony and leave my previous coach as she only believed in ‘clean eating’. I had, for a long time, been calculating the macros of her rigid meal plan and using these macros to follow flexible dieting, but I always felt guilty that I wasn’t adhering strictly to her stereotypical tilapia and broccoli bodybuilding plan. Now, she had done a great job at increasing my calories, but I didn’t want to enter prep being forced to follow ‘bro dieting’. I know this works for a lot of people, and I am not knocking that approach, I just know that, for me, it results in an unhealthy relationship with food. Now, I don’t have to hide what I eat, I stress less about food and I am prepping without remotely feeling like I am.

My nutrition and workouts are programmed by New York Muscle Radio go check these guys out and search for their Podcast on iTunes or YouTube.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x