Do you think dieting for a contest is tough? Have you ever thought of how it affects the people around you? What about your family? Did you ever think how they must feel when we act like selfish idiots, grumpy, tired, and mean? What about when we’re constantly preparing our meals but don’t do anything for them? Or, what’s the effect on them when we always make time to go to the gym for a couple hours but say that we’re too busy to pick up the kids from practice? How about us always finding an excuse to not attend a wedding, birthday party, etc. because we are dieting and don’t want to be tempted by the bad foods?
I asked you these questions because at one time in my life I did all of the above. I remember how I was preparing for my first show. It was the year Heidi and I were engaged to be married. Looking back, I wonder why she even went through with it (the marriage), I’ll guess I’ll never know (but, I’m glad she did)! I guess she thought one day I’d get over bodybuilding. But, if you’re reading this you already know that we bodybuilders don’t get over it. It’s in our blood.
I sure wish someone had taught me how to make bodybuilding and family work together years ago. I used to think that bodybuilding was inherently a selfish sport. Now I know different. It’s not the sport that’s selfish; it’s the people participating in the sport (and that includes me). Why? Because we haven’t been taught to achieve the proper balance between bodybuilding, pursuing our career, and most importantly, our family life. But I have good news. IT CAN BE DONE, and I’m going to SHOW YOU HOW TO DO IT!
The strategies I’m about to share with you have allowed me to be just as successful in bodybuilding, and in my case, even more successful, without ever sacrificing what is my top priority -Family!
Strategy #1 Dieting
Let’s start with dieting. Diet is the key factor in competitive bodybuilding. It’s also the number one stress factor. It’s hard enough to just stay on your diet, but you also have to make time to prepare your meals and eat them.
Rather than tell you what to do, I’m going to show you exactly how I got my meals in today. Well, it starts with last night. AFTER I helped the kids (all 4 of them) take their baths, finish homework, eat their snacks, say prayers, and get them to bed, it was time to fix my final meal of the day, 12 egg whites. But I didn’t just make my eggs for last night; I made enough for this morning as well. I cooked two dozen egg whites and included three yolks. I also made my oats for today’s breakfast at the same time. They are just fine to heat back up in the morning. I ate my twelve eggs (with salsa) and a tablespoon of flax oil before bed (I’ll get to my supplements in a second). I saved the other twelve eggs for this morning.
When my alarm goes off in the morning, my breakfast preparation is a simple two minutes in the microwave. If I didn’t prepare the night before, I’d be cooking all morning, when I should be helping get the kids out the door. I also am able to spend time actually talking to my kids and Heidi before I go to work.
STRATEGY #2 AT WORK
Next, I’m at work. How hard is it to reach in my gym bag, which I keep under my desk, pull out a container of Ultra Size and put two scoops in my shaker? (I keep one shaker at home and one at work). I then go to our break room, add two scoops of already mixed (yes, already mixed) Creatine Select and Glutamine Select, with about 12 ounces of water. It takes thirty seconds to drink. I open the refrigerator in the break room and take a swig of Flax oil, and presto, Meal #2 is complete. In fact, no one even knows I was away from my desk!
Now it’s lunch. Tuna. Did I say Tuna? No prep time at all. I open and drain two cans of tuna, add some mustard (some like hot sauce, some plain, some salsa), then I microwave a half-cup of oats for 2 minutes, and Meal #3 is complete. Simple! I just make sure that I always heavily stock the cabinet in our break room with tuna and oats.
Now it’s about 3:00, time for meal #4. Same as meal #2 (Ultra Size and Flax). Again, no one even knows I’m gone 3 minutes tops!
Strategy #3 Back Home Again
I’m home in time for dinner. Now, just because you might not eat what the rest of the family is eating, does NOT mean you shouldn’t be at the table with them. If dinner isn’t what’s on my diet, I can always throw a few of those chicken breasts in the microwave that I made on Sunday. [See, I do take about two hours every Sunday evening (two hours isn’t too selfish!), and prepare some meat for the week such as chicken, or lean beef patties.] So, now I heat up my meat, quickly cook some Uncle Ben’s microwavable rice (takes 90 seconds), or oats again, and eat whatever veggie Heidi makes for the kids. Now, I’m eating a dinner that’s on my diet, but more importantly, I’m sitting at the dinner table learning about my daughters’ and Heidi’s day! I know these years with the kids at home will fly by, and I don’t want to miss them just because I’m dieting for a show or photo shoot!
Dinner is over, along with homework, baths, kids to bed...etc., and only after they are put to bed, it’s back to cooking my eggs and oats for the day’s final meal and the next morning.
Strategy #4 Supplements
I know that I can’t get close to my best condition without losing a lot of muscle if I skimp on supplements. But, supplements take time. Here are my secrets! When I get new bottles of Mass and Ultra 40’s I get out two empty bowls. I pour half of each into one bowl, then the other half into another bowl. I mix them up in the bowls, and then pour each bowl back into one of the bottles. This way, I can leave one container full of both Ultra 40’s and Mass at work and one at home. No need to carry them with me all of the time. With each meal, I grab a handful, making sure I get about 4-5 of each.
#5 Strategy Attitude
I hope my nutrition secrets help you save some time so you can keep your priorities straight. Now let’s look at those attitudes some of us get when we are dieting. If you really believe dieting is an excuse to be nasty, then here are a few things to consider.
Do you think it’s OK to drop thirty pounds in 16 weeks? It’s not. That’s too much weight to lose in that amount of time. Pick another show that is twenty or more weeks out, so you don’t have to starve yourself. Losing too much weight too fast is going to cause you to give up muscle anyway. Either pick a show that allows you to diet longer (so you can eat more), or don’t get so darn out of shape. I stay about ten pounds from contest weight. A good rule of thumb is to not allow your weight to get more than ten percent above contest weight. Then you can eat enough calories to support your lean muscle mass and the only reason you’ll have for a bad attitude will your struggles with the self-discipline of dieting.
Remember, dieting is no excuse to treat people bad. Your coworkers will support you to the max when you do a show, but don’t test their patience by whining and complaining, or going to work each day as if all the burdens of the world are on your shoulders. It’s not their problem you’re on diet. This goes double for your family. If you can’t handle dieting for a show, then you really should choose another sport. Suck it up, put on a happy face, and enjoy life.
Strategy #6 Training
Talk about our workouts
People don’t believe me when I tell them I only work out four days a week for sixty to ninety minutes (at the most) each workout. I can tell you, if you’re spending any more time weight training in the gym, you are either over training, or just there for the social aspects. Now, when should you workout? I’ve decided dinnertime is for the family (just my opinion). Either get up early before work, or go after you put the kids to bed. Or, have a meeting with your boss, and ask to go during the day. Sell the benefits. Tell her or him that you will work the extra hour each day, and feel that after your workout you will be much more effective the rest of the day. It’s true!
What about cardio? I feel that if you need to do tons of cardio for a show, then your diet is not right, or you’re trying to lose too much fat in too short a period of time. Again, pick another show, or don’t get so out of shape in the off-season. Is cardio important? Sure it is. If I want to do some cardio, I have many other options than spending countless hours in a gym. Invest in two mountain bikes. Get one for you and one for your spouse. Or, coach one of your kid’s sports teams, and when it’s time for them to run, run with them. Even an after dinner a walk with your family can work as cardio. Cardio doesn’t always have to be done alone in the gym!
Strategy #7 Live
Lastly, I want to address us bodybuilders who crawl in a hole and never want to do anything for the 12-16 weeks we diet for a show. LIVE.
Have fun at your cousin’s wedding. Enjoy your niece’s birthday party. Simply have your protein with you in the car. Take the few minutes at the reception to go to the car, chug your shake, and swallow your Ultra 40’s and Mass. Go back in and enjoy life!
Here’s a tip you may not know. You can make a shake with Ultra Size and a little heavy cream or flax, even a few frozen strawberries, put it in the freezer before you go to bed. Then take it with you when you leave for your family function and it will slowly thaw out while you’re there. Ultra Size tastes awesome when it’s not completely thawed out and you just bring a plastic spoon and eat it instead of drink it.
Let’s give bodybuilding a good name. Let’s show people that we can be good people, keep our priorities straight, and at the same time be successful in one of the greatest sports of all time!