Please check out my YouTube review of the new EatSmart Digital Kitchen Scale! Its sleek and slim design is also lightweight and portable, and the large digital readout is very easy to see.
The ravages of competition prep and impending menopause caused me to hold water in my midsection and hamstrings for over a year, and I became despondent and desperate as a result. Nothing seemed to work. Then I took an ALCAT food intolerance test in January of 2015 and discovered that I had an intolerance to a bunch of different foods, so I eliminated the majority of them.
However, I stubbornly kept whey protein in, and chose to ignore the fact that I had a moderate intolerance to it. I would have been fine if I had just consumed whey protein a couple of times per week, but I was ingesting 60-70 grams of whey protein every single day. What kept me in that vicious cycle was an incredibly busy schedule which made it difficult for me to get all of my protein from whole foods.
In late September, upon Ian Lauer’s strong suggestion, I decided to finally eliminate whey protein powder from my diet. I added more animal protein from whole food sources (mostly from MAW Nutrition), and replaced about 25 grams of whey powder with a serving of Muscle Egg. Two weeks later, the water retention issues I had been struggling with completely vanished. I could finally see the lateral borders of my rectus abdominis clearly, and no longer created a fluid ripple when I tapped my belly.
I’m not saying I am ripped as a result of switching to egg protein, but boy, did it make a difference in my level of leanness! This won’t work for everyone though. If you have an issue with egg protein, the opposite effect may occur. In my case, I discovered that my body processes egg protein quite well. I also became a huge fan of Muscle Egg and now have it in my house at all times. I generally limit myself to one serving of Muscle Egg per day, but I also love the occasional nighttime Muscle Egg crepe with Walden Farms Chocolate Syrup on top for a sweet treat.
One last thing about whey protein: I still consume it on occasion. However, I only eat it in B-Up Bars and P28 Products, and I don’t have any issue with these food items. I have, however, completely avoided whey protein powder for the time being, and hope that my body resets as a result.
It is human nature to allow ourselves little nibbles of so-called “forbidden” foods from time to time. The danger arises when such nibbles become so frequent that a pattern of rationalization over the dietary transgression begins to set in. Bear in mind that even a small indulgence on a regular basis will most likely end up on your waistline. The more control you have over your daily food intake, the greater the chance that you will reach or maintain your fitness and weight loss goals.
Those of you who do not compete can follow a clean diet 90% with the occasional treat and suffer minimal consequences. However, for those of you who are planning on hitting the stage, you need to take your meal plans seriously and follow them as much as possible. Every time you take a small nibble, you risk derailing your contest prep efforts, sometimes enough to push you considerably behind. If you know you are 3 weeks out from a contest, why mess with anything other than your scheduled cheat meal? The best thing to do is tough it out and stick with the program.
Many competitors ask me about condiments and sauces, and whether it is all right to use them on their meals. What I do not like about many condiments is that they contain high fructose corn syrup. Generally, I have competitors (I also advise the same for regular folks) avoid anything containing sugar at all costs. Another issue with condiments and sauces is that they add more calories to your meal. Add such things to a couple of meals a day, and this all adds up.
I have also had competitors ask me which alcoholic beverages they can indulge in on the weekends. Of course my response is along the lines of “none”, but if one insists on having ONE drink over the weekend, vodka based drinks are the cleanest option. You may be wondering if I indulge in libations from time to time, and the answer is yes. I have a particular fondness for wine and sake. What I do is confine my consumption to one weekend evening per week with my cheat meal. Everything in moderation is truly the key.
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Original post can be found at:
The fact that erectile dysfunction is far more prevalent than people want to admit to underscores the importance of discussing the topic, especially within the fitness and bodybuilding world. For some men, the explanation could be flagging testosterone levels, while with others, the use of anabolic steroids can significantly interfere with sexual performance.
Other causes of erectile dysfunction include idiopathic low testosterone levels, alcohol abuse, obesity, smoking, prostate issues, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Such medical issues are exacerbated by the use of anabolic substances, especially when cycled over an extended period of time. If a man is experiencing the symptoms of erectile dysfunction, a full history and physical should be performed along with lab work to determine the probable cause of the dysfunction. It is also critical for the sufferer to disclose the use of any anabolic agents or over the counter testosterone boosters, since any of those substances can interfere with normal sexual function.
It is important to bear in mind that when exogenous (outside of the body) testosterone is used, the body’s own production of endogenous testosterone ceases. This might be acceptable for the man who is suffering from clinically low serum testosterone, since he is truly unable to manufacture the amount of testosterone necessary for normal male function, but there are men out there with normal testosterone levels who foolishly decide to supplement with exogenous testosterone in an effort to glean the energy and mass boosting benefits which it promises. What often happens is that libido and physiological sexual response take a nosedive.
Other culprits in the loss of sexual function include anabolic substances, T3, diuretics, and estrogen blockers. Yes, that’s right…the substances which bodybuilders often turn to in order to optimize muscle growth will often rob them of the ability to perform sexually or even have any inkling of sexual desire. While some men might not care about such a loss of desire or function, others are devastated. A bodybuilder might have such a “nose to the grindstone” type of attitude with respect to training that he might not address the issue until a frustrated partner decides to bring the issue up and demands that he address it.
So why is testosterone so important anyway? Testosterone is a vital component in the production of erections. Though this is overly simplified, low testosterone essentially often equates with poor erectile response. Another phenomenon which occurs is that low testosterone levels abolish the ability of the body to aromatize some of the testosterone to estrogen, which activates the brain’s sexual arousal centers and also causes a corresponding vasodilation in the male member.
The great irony in all of this is that bodybuilders who look like they are the ideal representation of virility are often sexually debilitated as a result of androgen manipulation. When anabolic agents are taken over the long term, natural testosterone production plummets, the testes atrophy and erectile dysfunction often results.
For bodybuilders and non-athletes alike, the key is to obtain bloodwork from a physician who is experienced in diagnosing endocrine disorders. For non-athletes, serum studies are often more straight forward and reveal either low testosterone, high serum glucose, high cholesterol, or abnormal thyroid function. In contrast, a serum panel for a bodybuilder who has been flirting with anabolics for an extended period of time may have a cold dose of reality after seeing the results. At any rate, it is well worth the effort to ferret out the root cause of erectile issues.
The following article is featured on SportsNutritionSupplementGuide.com as well:
Those of us who compete are well aware of the critical importance of following specific meal plans which are designed to optimize lean muscle mass and promote fat loss. However, these meal plans, especially during cutting phases, can be extremely restrictive. In our quest for attaining the ideal physique for whatever division we compete in, we may find ourselves in a spiral of obsessive nose-to-the-grindstone adherence to foods we may have grown to abhor, intertwined with strong temptation to deviate from the plan and indulge in forbidden foods, only to berate ourselves afterwards for doing so. After all, we are only human, and after weeks or months of eating clean, we may be so exasperated with daily servings of asparagus, tilapia, chicken breast, and sweet potatoes that our emotional food triggers may kick in and undermine our contest prep efforts.
With orthorexia, there is an unhealthy fixation on clean foods and one’s moods are dictated by how rigidly a clean diet is maintained. So how is this different from what competitors do in the weeks leading up to a competition? The mentally healthy approach is to regard food simply as fuel and to dismiss any emotional association with particular items. I have been witness to and a participant in the fantasizing of forbidden foods in a manner akin to lustful, sexual craving. I have heard competitors talk backstage at length about all the foods they were planning to indulge in immediately following their final visit onstage for the night.
What I find interesting about such food fixations is how they are distinguishable from anorexic behavior. When I was 19, I battled anorexia, dropping to 85 pounds on a 5’5’’ at my lightest. With anorexics, they have a clear and complete aversion to calorie-rich foods and have successfully turned off any interest or cravings for such items, whereas with bulimics, orthorexics and many healthy competitors in contest prep mode, coveting indulgent foods is rather commonplace. Among all these groups, there is a propensity for obsessive and compulsive behaviors. One may argue that such obsessions and compulsions are a vital component of contest prep and that without such tendencies a competitor will lack the focus necessary to succeed.
It seems apparent that competitors as a general rule, are dangerously close to that fine line which separates a healthy relationship with food from orthorexia. I remember quite well how rigid I was about the food I ate when I was anorexic and even kept a daily food journal in which I wrote down the calories and fat grams of every food substance ingested. I also recall how horrified and ashamed I was of myself when I would reluctantly consume a food I regarded as fattening.
Over 20 years later, I have a healthy relationship with food and for the most part regard it as fuel. Yet I am immersed in the world of contest prep and like many other competitors will balk and grumble about the clean foods I must eat. There are times when the mere thought of eating another spear of asparagus seems like the most disgusting activity in the world. On the rare occasion that I find myself in a restaurant, I find it an alien concept to peruse a menu and actually be able to order whatever I want from any part of the menu. There are also times during which my metabolism is in hyperdrive and I could eat almost nonstop for the duration of the day.
Here’s the thing: if I indulge in something that is not part of a contest prep meal plan, I don’t flog myself. Rather, I allow myself to enjoy the rare treat and move on. If you find yourself wallowing in extreme anxiety and prolonged guilt over ingesting a food item which is on the banned list, beware. This could signify the beginning of a food-related psychopathology.
Originally published on RxGirl on Sunday, 06 April 2014
I cannot tell you how many times I have been at a contest and have heard other competitors mention all the things they forgot to pack in their luggage. Such oversights can make an already stressful time almost intolerable, especially if the contest location is far from one’s home and unfamiliar. Over the years I compiled and updated a packing list which has served me very well and has relieved all the stress of remembering what to pack.
Every time I pack for a contest, I have copies of my packing lists and check off each item as it is packed. Instead of having one list, I have three: a main list, a food and supplement list, and a makeup list. I have even gone to the extent of specifying which items go in my checked bag or handbag and which items go into my carry-on bag. I am adamant about having my competition suits, clear heels, jewelry and all makeup items in my carry-on bag so that I don’t have to worry about being separated from those vital items.
Even if you are hiring someone to do hair and makeup, I still recommend packing all the makeup and hair items you would need if you had to do it yourself, because you never know what might happen. I have heard of competitors who got stuck without a makeup artist for one reason or another, then had to scramble to borrow makeup or quickly find a makeup artist to come to the rescue. It is NOT worth the stress to take that chance!
Here is a breakdown of the items I recommend packing for a contest:
Checked Bag –
• Body lotion
• Sugar scrub (make sure container is leakproof!)
• Regular toiletry stuff (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, face moisturizer)
• Umbrella (I have caught myself in unexpected rainstorms, so this is a MUST)
• Loose pants (for post-tanning)
• Big button-down shirt (for post-tanning)
• Dark socks (take several pairs to avoid staining sheets and in case of wet weather)
• Dark hand towels (I usually pack two for showering purposes)
• Dark t-shirt (makes a great pillowcase after tanning)
• Gym apparel (make sure to count how many days you will work out, remember bras, shorts, socks and sneakers)
• Hair clips and ties
• Hairspray, hair wax, hair gel
• Shampoo and conditioner
• Hair styling tools such as hairdryer, flatiron, curling iron
• Comb, brush
• Flip flops (great in hot weather and post-tan)
• Business cards (VERY important for networking)
• Extra Ziploc bags
• Food storage containers
• Small sewing kit
• Safety pins
• Cotton swabs (handy for cleaning up makeup too)
• Makeup remover towelettes
• Outfit to sleep in
• Outfits for daytime (count how many days you will need clothes and pack accordingly)
• Underwear (dark colors recommended, plus pack extra pairs)
• Shoes for daytime
• Cute dress or two to go out in
• Nice heels to go out in
• Sweater or coat
• Bikini bite
• Touch-up tanning solution, gloves and tanning puff
Carry On Bag –
• Phone charger
• Jewelry for contest
• Clear heels
• At least two competition suits (ALWAYS bring a backup!)
• Makeup items from Makeup List
• Food from Food List
• Lidded beverage container
• Food from your plan
• Primer (foundation and eyeshadow)
• Eye shadows
• False eyelashes
• Lash adhesive
• Small scissors
• Fine tip tweezers
• Small mirror (I recommend one about 4 inches in diameter which folds up)
• Translucent loose powder
• Lip liner
• Eyelash curler (if your lashes are straight, I would recommend this)
Now that I have everything broken down in list form, let’s look at the best way to do all this packing. Generally, I like to pack my food a few days in advance since it is the most tedious portion of the packing experience. Each meal is placed in a sandwich sized bag with a day and meal number (eg: W 1), then that bag is placed into a gallon sized bag which is labeled for the day (eg: W). This way, I can grab one of the large bags and know that all my meals are in there. Wet ingredients or vegetables which tend to leak (asparagus is notorious for this) should be double-bagged. I refrigerate the day’s meals for the day that I will be traveling, while the meals for the other days go into the freezer. You can expect food packing to take at least a couple of hours, so make sure you have a decent pocket of time to do this.
One to two days before the contest, I pack my other items. Lotions, gels, and creams should be placed into a Ziploc bag in case they leak. Since tanning solution is especially prone to leakage, I will put masking tape over the seal before placing it in the bag, and will also place the bag into a rigid plastic container for more protection.
As long as you take a systematic approach and take your time with packing, as opposed to waiting until the last minute, you will be well prepared for your contest.
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