This first week hasn’t been as hard as I expected. Eating the same thing for almost every meal definitely makes the preparation easy. Although I don’t hate the food I’m eating, I don’t exactly love it either…it’s amazing how infrequently I feel hungry when I know my next meal is for function and nor for flavor/taste. Even though I think I am pretty disciplined about eating when I need to and not just when I have a psychological craving, this past week really made me realize how much wanting to have the taste of something drives how and when I eat. The first couple of days were especially hard for me to even hit my daily calorie intake (even though it is relatively low) because it was hard for me to get excited about eating chicken and broccoli for the 4th or 5th time that day.
I usually have to fly out-of-state for my job 2-3 times per month, sometimes just for the day and other times for a night or several nights. My ability to stay on track from a nutrition standpoint during these trips has been mixed at best. This past week, I had to fly to Philadelphia early in the morning, drive to New Jersey for a meeting, and then fly back to Charlotte late that evening. First, I made sure Thursday was not a training day for me this week since I knew I wouldn’t have the time. Second, I packed up 3 tupperware containers of chicken and broccoli in my carry-on and a jar of natural PB. Would the other members of my presentation team think I was weird for eating out of tupperware instead of having breakfast/lunch like the rest of them? Maybe. But most people are pretty supportive once I tell them I preparing for a competition.
The first speed bump came at the airport – TSA confiscated my peanut butter! Apparently, it falls under the liquid/gel rule that you can’t carry it on unless it’s 3 oz or under. So, I forfeited a perfectly good half jar of peanut butter. When I arrived in Philadelphia, I was about 20 mins early, so I sat down in the food court and ate my cold chicken and broccoli. It was tough to choke down, let me tell you. After that I drove with the sales rep to NJ, where we stopped at a diner to prepare for the afternoon’s meeting. I passed on breakfast since I had just eaten at the airport and stuck to coffee with Splenda. A couple of hours later, it was time for lunch – I decided not to go the tupperware route. I ordered a spinach salad with grilled chicken and asked them to hold the bacon and the hardboiled egg and to put the balsamic dressing on the side. I was able to make a good exchange for what my meal was supposed to be (chicken, broccoli, peanut butter).
After a long day, I was back at the Philadelphia airport and starving. The food in my carry-on hadn’t been refrigerated all day, and was sketchy at best. I found a little store in the airport that sold veggie snack packs (raw carrots, celery, broccoli with a packet of lite ranch dressing), grilled chicken caesar salad, and peanuts. So, I ate just the broccoli out the snack pack and just the chicken out of the salad, then had a serving of peanuts equivalent to the serving of peanut butter I was supposed to have. Not too shabby, eh?
I have another trip this coming week to Columbus that is an overnight trip, but I definitely have less anxiety about it because I was successful in staying on track during my trip to Philly this past week. It requires discipline and in some cases, creativity, but it really is possible to eat clean and even follow a competition prep diet no matter where you are (generally speaking).
I have been a little bit frustrated that I am eating like I am ripped, but of course, I am not yet that lean. I know I just have to stick with it and I will get there eventually. Despite my knowledge to the contrary, whenever I begin a strict diet, there’s some irrational part of me that always feels like after 3 days of doing it, I should already look like the cover girl on a fitness magazine. If that was all the time it took, then everyone would look like that! I found a great blog post earlier this week that gives you a very realistic perspective of what preparing for a competitions means in terms of lifestyle, sacrifice, and hard work – you can find it here.
I’ve felt good for most of the week, although I’m finding that doing cardio (even just 20 mins) is exponentially harder with so little carbohydrates in my system. Saturday I was definitely in a carb-deprived haze for most of the day, but since I had a carb re-feed that night, it was only a short period of time that I felt that way. I haven’t noticed any changes in my appearance, but I know that will come with time and continued hard work. I’m ready to kill another week!