The shape of my body and my weight change so frequently, it isn't unusual for me to be asked what I do and what I eat to make such a transformation happen. Well, it isn't magic and it isn't a secret. It is, however, extraordinary discipline and consistency for an extended period of time. No fancy dinners out. No frappucino coffee dates. No dessert.
To kick off the New Year, I am going to outline what life is like for me for 12 weeks before a show to the actual day of the show. This should provide significant insight into what it takes to transform your physique from that of a sedentary city-dweller living on coffee and bagels to that of a sleek machine, tight, fit and ready to kick ass. Are you ready?!
I firmly believe that the key to changing your body is nutrition. My training schedule hardly changes throughout the year, therefore, the real stuff happens when I start paying attention to what I put in my body. Generally I start tweaking the diet about 12 weeks before a show. For some it may have to happen sooner depending on your body type. Fortunately, I have a very easy time dropping body fat, so 12 weeks is the magic amount of time for me. For first timers, I recommend 16 weeks.
At this point I begin doing all the typical things you read about: eating 5-6 small meals spaced throughout the day by 3-4 hours, increasing my protein intake, weighing my carbohydrates and moderating my fat intake.
A Standard Day
1 whole egg + 4-5 whites scrambled, 1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal with cinnamon + ground flax seeds, vitamin/mineral supplement, water + coffee
Protein shake (25-30g protein) w/ water or soy milk, 1/2 banana + 1 t. flax oil, water
1 can tuna fish drained with water over a huge salad with red wine vinegar/cider vinegar + 1 t. flax oil, 1/2 cup mashed garnet yams, water
* Protein pancake made w/ egg whites, tofu, plain oatmeal topped with 2 T. sugar-free syrup, water
Same as meal 2
Large salad w/ 1/2 cup kidney beans/chick peas + vinegar dressing, 1 t. flax oil, steamed spinach, water
Of course there will be some variation but for the most part, every meal includes 25-30g of a high-quality protein, 1/2 cup clean, unrefined complex carbohydrate and some fibrous carbohydrate like salad greens or spinach. I also make sure to supplement daily with EFA's (flax oil) as well as a vitamin/mineral supplement. I do not use anything else like creatine, glutamine, glucosamine, turbo this or turbo that. I have trained for competitions for over 3 years now and have done it with the use of additional supplements and without. I have discovered that, for me, it makes no difference except how much money you spend at the end of the day.
Also, when dieting like this, I drink a gallon of water per day. I know this sound like a lot. It is. It's also a pain in the butt. Running to and fro the bathroom can really grate on your nerves, but it's crucial in ridding the body of toxins and facilitating the riddance of unwanted body fat. I also allow myself coffee in the morning because I would die without it. And there you have it. Until the week before the competition, the diet remains the same. The week before is a completely different animal unto itself, which we will get to later in the article.
The rest of the transformation occurs in the form of training. A typical day 12 weeks before a show includes 30-60 minutes of cardio training. Sometimes I go outside and run. Sometimes I take a spinning class. Sometimes I use the dreaded machines in the gym like the cross-trainer or the step mill. There is no rhyme or reason to this except what I feel like doing on that particular day. I just make sure to do something that jacks up the heart rate for the duration.
4 days each week I train with weights as well as some plyometrics. This is standard for me throughout the year. I also enjoy incorporating other styles of training into my arsenal such as kettlebells or clubbells, but my typical training program rarely changes. I use these alternative techniques as an addition, not as a replacement.
A Typical Week
Legs/ abs, 30-60 minutes cardio
30-60 minutes cardio
Legs II/abs, 30-60 minutes cardio
30-60 minutes cardio
I know. This seems awfully dreadful. Well, not really. Think about how crappy you feel when you've been training and sticking to your program for a few days and then you go off by eating an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's. On the opposite extreme, it feels amazing when you continue with your program and start to see the results you're striving for. This requires some sacrifice but the benefits are worth the journey.
So with all that in mind, get ready to start 2004 off right with a plan consisting of proper nutrition and some serious training. You'll be glad you did!
About The Author
Kristin Reisinger is a New York City-based nutritional consultant, personal trainer, freelance health + fitness writer, musician and cynic. She is currently completing her Master's Degree in Applied Physiology + Nutrition from Columbia University and will be sitting for the Registered Dietitian examination through the American Dietetic Association in the winter of 2004. She is also a National-level NPC Figure athlete, former Galaxy competitor, avid snowboarder + rock climber and has been competing for over three years. For more information or to contact Kristin, please visit: http://www.kristinreisinger.com