I get asked that question all the time by clients and members of my gym. People always want to know what I eat and what supplements I take. Everyone always assumes I follow a strict diet, and while that is partially true, I wouldn’t necessarily call my diet “strict”.
Quick backstory on me before we continue: I used to eat like shit. Growing up I was always really tiny, one of those girls that could eat whatever she wanted without ever gaining weight. So that’s what I did-I ate whatever I wanted. Lots of bread and cheese and pasta and other “unhealthy” stuff. I rarely touched vegetables or fruits, my parents usually had to sneak them into my food somehow.
I only started gaining weight in college, and that’s when I realized I couldn’t keep eating like I did as a growing child. Things needed to change.
When I first graduated college and started working in the health and fitness industry, I knew very little about nutrition. I had taken one nutrition class in college, but it was just general nutrition and didn’t focus on sports, athletes, or fitness at all. I didn’t really ever talk about nutrition with my clients, because I knew that I didn’t “know enough”.
Last year, I did the Precision Nutrition Level 1 course, and I can honestly say that changed my life. I was no longer in the dark when it came to nutrition. I learned about nutrition programming and coaching. Obviously, doing this certification was good for my career, but it also helped my personal life so much.
Over the course of the past four years, I’ve tried many fad diets and supplements. IIFYM, Paleo, vegetarian (this only lasted 2 weeks), carb-backloading, gluten-free, low-FODMAP, intermittent fasting….I’ve done them all. Supplements I’ve tried include creatine, protein, CLA, fish oil, biotin, pre-workout, BCAAs, vitamin D, and Advocare products.
SO….what do I eat now?
I’m currently low-FODMAP, gluten-free, and (kind of) dairy-free, due to my IBS and the issues I had with that last year. Everything I put in my mouth is carefully thought out, because one thing could easily set off my stomach and cause me to look like this:
Super cute, right? I don’t drink too much anymore, because alcohol tends to set off my stomach and I haven’t found a type that doesn’t. And I don’t like being bloated when I’m dressed up at a bar!
My doctor told me to stop taking creatine, pre-workout, and BCAAs because of all the chemicals those typically contain. She thinks using all that stuff is what destroyed my stomach in the first place. I might never know if that is actually true, but I know my body and I know those supplements never made me feel good. So I stopped.
Here’s my basic supplement protocol now:
-Multivitamin, Vitamin D, Biotin, and Fish oil: all taken in the morning
-Multivitamin and Vitamin D were recommended by my doctor. My last 3 blood panels showed extremely low Vitamin D levels. I take gummy vitamins because a) I have trouble swallowing pills and b) they’re way more fun
-Biotin for my hair, skin, and nails. I’ve always had long hair and this helps keep it healthy! I always tell people who want to grow their hair out to start taking this!
-Fish oil because I don’t eat fish at all and my GI doc insisted I start taking this for the omega-3s and healthy fats.
I do have one protein shake a day, and I use About Time protein. It was tough for me to find one that would fit into my diet and not make me sick….pea protein and vegan protein all tasted disgusting. AT is the best I’ve found. It tastes amazing, has a great macronutrient profile, AND has the shortest list of ingredients I’ve ever seen in a protein powder! I’ve tried both their regular protein and their vegan protein and both are good. The vegan one needs to be mixed with Almond Milk, though, it doesn’t mix well in water! Check out AT if you’re looking for a great healthy protein powder!
And now…what I eat. Full disclosure, I am a creature of habit and my diet is pretty consistent and has been for a year or so. A typical day for me looks like:
Breakfast: 3 hard boiled eggs OR scrambled eggs with spinach and red pepper and oatmeal with sugar-free maple syrup and vanilla protein powder (2x a week).
Snack 1 (typically pre-workout): Vanilla Greek yogurt and 3 oatmeal-banana cookies (homemade)
Snack 2/Lunch: protein shake and 3 cups popcorn (home popped)
Snack 3: sliced cucumber and baby carrots (sometimes with hummus)
Dinner: some combination of chicken, vegetables, and rice or quinoa
I eat all of that every single day. That never changes. What DOES change is that sometimes I find myself snacking at home (usually because I’m bored) or being really hungry after work and stopping to get something on my way home.
For example, on Tuesday I was at work for 12 hours. I worked my usual 8-hour shift, had 2 hours to kill, then taught 2 boot camp classes. Before the classes I had a sugar-free Red Bull and a small bag of Welch’s fruit snacks. After work, I went to the Red Sox game where I ate French fries and chocolate soft serve and drank a Diet Coke.
Obviously, that’s not a typical day.
I usually plan for two cheat meals a week. If I know I’ll be going out to dinner or lunch with friends, that will automatically be one cheat meal. The other is a “freebie”…meaning it can happen whenever it needs to happen during the week. This week, one cheat meal was planned for Tuesday at the Sox game. The next is planned for Saturday night when I’ll be at a fundraiser (not sure what food options will be there).
I enjoy trying new recipes for dinner on the nights that I’m home early enough to make it. This past Monday, for example, I made this chicken and broccoli pasta dish that came out AMAZING. I used Ancient Harvest Quinoa and Lentil pasta (gluten-free). The full recipe will be posted in next week’s Friday Faves article! It was boyfriend-approved, so you know it’s good! 😉
I also really enjoy pizza, like a lot. I usually eat pizza (gluten-free, but with real cheese) a few times a month.
Snacks are usually veggies with hummus, cheese and crackers, cheerios and almond milk, gluten-free toast with peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a protein shake or fruit smoothie, cookies and cream coconut milk ice cream (my FAVE), or some kind of protein bar. I don’t keep snack food in the house because I don’t want to be tempted. This also helps prevent “bored eating”. I don’t have a car, so when I’m bored and want to snack on something, that means walking to the grocery store for a special trip…and I usually decide it’s not worth the effort!
I’ve found that with two cheat meals a week, I can maintain a lean physique and a comfortable body weight. And I’m ok with that!
If you take a look back at my daily food intake, you’ll notice I’m more of a “snacker” than a “meal-eater”. The only full meals I usually eat are breakfast and dinner, and the rest of the day is usually snacking with no real “lunch”. That’s just because my days are pretty crazy and I don’t work normal hours. Like I said, this works for me, but it may not work for you!
I hope this gives you some insight on how a fitness professional eats. We’re human too, and we enjoy food just as much as the next person! Everything can be enjoyed in moderation. Never deprive yourself of something you love.
This is something I always teach my clients. If you want to fit certain foods into your diet there are always ways to do it! One bad meal isn’t going to make you fat, just like one good meal won’t make you skinny.
If you need help with your nutrition, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I am always happy to help and I do currently have openings for online coaching!
Featured image via http://www.dohafamily.com/healthy-habits.jpg