Monday, April 3 marks six days before my first Figure competition and the first day of lean out plan.   I am still taking in six small  meals a day.  Some of the biggest differences are that when I’m hungry I am not allowed to drink protein powder, if I need a caffeine fix I can only sip black coffee, and I have to drink a lot of water.    The purpose of leaning out is to flush the body and to deplete it of excess water making the body appear lean and the muscles more cut.

Below is the meal plan that Emily crafted for me.   There is a science behind the meal plan and I am not recommending this or suggesting this for anyone as a weight loss plan.  This meal plan is restrictive eating and if not done with proper supervision of an expert, in my case Emily, and without the proper supplements, it can be harmful to one’s body .

Upon waking up, drink 160z of water and take regular vitamins.  I take a multivitamin, milk thistle, and a thermogenic (fat loss).

Meal One:  2/3 cup oats and 1 Tablsespoon flax seed oil with 4oz chicken and glutamine.

Meal Two:  60z tilapia and 1o thin cucumber slices

Snack:  4 grapefruit wedges

Meal Three:  3oz tuna rinsed with 1/2 cup diced avocado and 2/3 cup brown and glutamine.   The reason for rinsing the tuna is to eliminate or reduce the amount of salt in the tuna through the canning process.

Meal Four:  4oz flank steak with 10 asparagus spears

Meal Five:  4oz tilapia with 1 cup chopped kale and 10 almonds with balsamic vinegar

Meal Six:  3oz tuna with 1/2 cup diced avocado and 1/4 cup roasted red pepper

Water intake is also critical to the show week meal plan.   The strategy is to maximize water intake early in the week and minimize water as it gets closer to the show depleting water, bloat, and leaning out the physique.

Monday & Tuesday:  Drink 1.5 gallons or 192 ounces of water.  As a point of reference for how much additional water this is, on a regular day I consume 120 oz of water.  It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but I literally had two 30 ounce water bottles filled ready for consumption.

For the next four weeks, I will begin leaning out in preparation for my first show, April 8.   During this phase, I will continue to eat high protein and low carbs.    When I’m hungry, protein drinks (protein powder and water) will be my best friend.

Below is the meal plan that Emily crafted for me.   As with every meal plan that she has crafted for me, she determines what to eat and when based on how my body responds.   This meal plan is not a weight loss plan, and I do not recommend anyone to utilize this for weight management or weight loss as it is not intended for that but for leaning out and defining muscles.   Additionally, due to the restrictive eating of this meal plan there are supplements that I will be taking (see supplements section).

My feedback to Emily such as how I’m feeling, energy level, irritability, and how my clothes fit  is essential to any adjustments she may make to the plan.


Meal Plan:

Wake up:  Drink 16oz of water and take vitamins (multivitamin, Milk Thistle, and Thermogenic)

Meal 1:  3 egg whites, 3 oz chicken, ½ cup tomatoes, 1/3 cup avocado as omelet and take Glutamin

Meal 2:  4oz chicken and 1 cup of vegetables of my choice

Meal 3:  4oz tilapia or cod, ¾ cup brown rice, and ¼ grapefruit and take Glutamine

Meal 4:  5oz flank steak

Meal 5: 3oz tuna, 10 banana peppers, and one plain rice cake

Eat 10 almonds with 2 strawberries prior to training.


One week into this meal plan, my feedback to Emily was that I was drinking about 3 protein drinks almost daily and that my energy level was low.   She tweaked the meal plan as noted below increasing the amount of protein I was taking in.

Wake up:  Drink 16oz of water and take vitamins (multivitamin, Milk Thistle, and Thermogenic)


Meal 1:  4 egg whites, 3 oz chicken, ½ cup tomatoes, ½ cup avocado as omelet and take Glutamine

Meal 2:  4oz chicken and 1 cup of vegetables of my choice

Meal 3:  6oz tilapia or cod, ¾ cup brown rice, and ¼ grapefruit and take Glutamine

Meal 4:  5oz flank steak

Meal 5: 3oz tuna, 10 banana peppers, and one plain rice cake

Eat 10 almonds with 3 strawberries prior to training.

Protein drink anytime I’m hungry.

What I found on this meal plan is that I am less hungry and need less protein drinks.  My energy level is also higher.

How to Stay on Plan While on an All-Inclusive Vacation

When one thinks of all inclusive resorts, one may think of unlimited drinks by the pool and all you can eat food.

John and I were going on an all inclusive vacation to the Riu Palace Pacifico in Nuevo Vallarta that we had bid on and won back in October at the Highland Park Sister Cities gourmet gala.

At the time of winning this trip,  my new lifestyle (way of eating and doing more purposeful consistent exercise) was not even on the radar.  However, at the time of the trip I am 2 months into my Fit to the Next Level journey.  I am slowly starting to see progress in terms of body composition and how I feel overall.

While this trip to Nuevo Vallarta was one that we looked forward to for months, I’ll admit that I am concerned about how to stay on plan while being on vacation and especially at an all-inclusive resort.  While I definitely don’t want to lose the momentum and derail any successes that I am seeing  by indulging or overindulging, I don’t want to ruin our vacation by being preoccupied with staying on plan.  After all, this is a vacation that we looked forward to for months.

I am so lucky that I have John’s support. He is as committed to my success as I am.  I am confident that he will be continue to be supportive while we are on vacation (and I was right).

Not knowing what to expect in terms of food choices available at the resort, and having learned the importance of planning ahead, I packed and took with me a bag of oatmeal with a ½ cup scoop, almonds, and protein powder.  By taking oatmeal, almonds and protein powder I knew that I’d be able to stay on course. I also brought with me my 30oz water bottle so that I could achieve my daily water requirement (120 oz) minimum.

When I got to the resort, I was pleasantly surprised at the food options available. For breakfast there were fresh fruits, fresh baked breads and pastries, pancakes, pre-made egg dishes, varieties of sausage, ,yogurts, and even mimosas and Bloody Mary or Mimosas if you so choose. Lunch featured a salad bar with fresh veggies, pre-made salads, pasta bar, meat dishes, grilled fish, a carving station of some sort of meat, and a Mexican food station. For dinner one could go to the buffet at any time or opt to dine at one of the four featured restaurants  Japanese, Mexican, a steakhouse, and a gourmet fusion experience.

Every morning, we began our day  at the gym.  I brought a couple work outs with me that my trainer had put me through so that I could try to work at the same intensity level that I have been.  Being on vacation, time constraints are not a concern so the cardio portion of my workout was longer than it would be at home. After the gym, we would go up to breakfast.

On the first morning of breakfast, I went to the omelet station and had the cook prepare a veggie omelet with 2 eggs and one egg white. I noticed that she put oil in the pan. I was not a fan of the oil so I Googled how to say in Spanish without oil. So, the next day I was able to tell the cook no oil. I also enjoyed a piece of multi grain bread on most mornings, but toward the end of the trip, I wanted to be more calorie conscious so I shifted my carbs from bread to the oatmeal that I brought and mixed it with hot water. My lunches were always the same a big salad with protein either fish or beef. If I was hungry for a snack in the afternoon I’d often have a plate of veggies- jicama, cucumber, or whatever veggies were available. Dinners were always protein and based. The restaurants offered appetizer, entrée and dessert which I only took advantage on cheat meal days or said differently rarely.


While I didn’t stay as true to plan as I would at home, I did not deprive myself. I had a daiquiri when we first got to the resort to celebrate our vacation, and a Pina Colada about ¾ way through the trip. I usually had a glass of wine with each meal. One night I had a scoop of ice cream because I had a big sweet tooth.

Before going to bed, I always tracked my food in My Fitness Pal to the best of my ability- meaning that I would sometimes have to guesstimate as to how foods were prepared. I really think that by staying accountable to what I ate by tracking my foods, it helped me to stay on track as much as I could.

When I got home and weighed myself, I only gained .4 pounds and that was with pizza on the way home from the airport(Pequod’s).

I have a favorite turkey chili recipe that is my go to for a quick and delicious weekday meal and a go-to for Super Bowl parties.  It is also on the healthy side. Actually, it is a recipe that I got from Humana, the healthcare company.

Below is the recipe from Humana.  I have asterisked the ingredients that I replaced, and put in parenthesis  what I replaced them with to make it more compliant with the nutrition plan that I am on.


  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 2 T cumin ( I omit this because I don’t like the taste of cumin)1
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T chipotle in adobo minced  (optional- I opt out)
  • 1 T all-purpose grill seasoning (I use Lawry’s)
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups chopped veggies (red/orange/yellow peppers, mushrooms- you can add any veggie you like)
  • *1/2 can beer  (remove this for the on-nutrition meal plan)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 small can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • *2 T BBQ sauce (I now replace this with 2 T McCormick BBQ flavored seasoning)
  • 1 can beans of choice (pinto, black, light red etc)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn (I omit this because I don’t like corn in my chili)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I omit this)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (I omit this)
  • *1/2 cup of orange juice (I omit this to be more compliant with the nutrition plan)


  1. Heat large soup pot over medium high heat with non-stick spray
  2. Add turkey and spices (cumin through grill seasoning) and cook for 6-8 minutes
  3. Add onion, garlic, and vegetables and continue cooking 6-8 more minutes until veggies are tender and turkey is starting to  get really brown. (Do’t be afraid to walk away from the pot. We want the meat to carmelize and turn very brown-almost like it’s burning.)
  4. Add beer and orange juice to deglaze the pan and scrape up brown bits on bottom of pan using a wooden spoon. (Skip this step if you are not using the beer and OJ)
  5. Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, BBQ sauce or BBQ seasoning, and bring to a boil.
  6. Add rinsed beans (and corn)
  7. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  8. Simmer for 20 minutes or longer and garnish (if desired)

Every week, I am allowed one cheat meal.  A cheat meal is categorized as a meal that would be considered an indulgence.  Such choices may include a cheeseburger, pizza, pasta, whatever it is you’ve  enjoyed eating and are currently not or something that you are craving.   Think of a cheat meal as a way to reward yourself of the hard work and discipline you’ve been putting in.

However, don’t let your cheat meal derail your weekly progress and overall progress.  To do that the cheat meal should still be tracked to the best of your ability.  By tracking your cheat meal, you are still accountable for what you’re eating.  Megan recommended that based on my goals and my meal plan that my cheat meal not put me at more than 300 calories over for the day.

I had made plans to go with my family for pizza.  This was something I was looking forward to not only because I get to catch up with my family, but because we were meeting at Pequods. Pequods Pizza is not like any other pizza.   Their pan pizza is cooked in a black pan and the cheese goes to the end of the pan so that the crust becomes carmelized cheese.  It is an indulgence.

This was a true cheat meal. In the past my cheat meals have gone off course but not to the level of pizza.  I have been looking forward to Pequod’s for weeks.

To save as many calories as I could for dinner, I planned what I ate during the day.  When I was hungry, I turned to veggies which is a low calorie filler.  I also stayed busy and out of the house.

In the past, when John and I have gone to Pequods we would get a large pizza with pepperoni and mushroom (so we can have left overs) and a couple beers to wash it down.  This time, we downsized our pizza- taking home no left overs. We kept the toppings we usually order because it is a cheat meal. Instead of washing it down with beer, I had one glass of wine.

Pequods was definitely worth it and gave me new definition for what a cheat meal truly is.  Surprisingly, when I logged my food into My Fitness Pal I was only over by 307 calories which is actually pretty good considering that I had two pieces of pizza.

For the next three days, I will be traveling for work. I thought about how my travel could impact the meal plan I have been on to achieve the results that I’m looking for. Staying on plan in terms of my nutrition and raising the bar on my fitness is a priority. Preparation is key. I knew that I could not control every meal, but I could do the best to control what I consume to the best of my ability. While I was staying at a hotel that serves free breakfast in the morning, and I could find healthy options such as hard boiled eggs, yogurt, and fruit, I knew that I could maintain the eating plan that I have been on by packing certain foods from home.

When I’m home, I eat 1/4 cup of almonds on my way to work as a snack so that I’m not starving, and I eat oatmeal and a protein drink for breakfast once I get to work. In preparation of my travels, I packed 2 containers with 1/4 cup of almonds each and two containers with 1/2 cup of oatmeal.

Since I knew that I would be in meetings when I would typically eat the oatmeal breakfast, I started my day with oatmeal and a hard boiled egg (as my protein), and I saved the almonds for a snack later in the morning. As for dinner, my flight lands at 8:30p.m.. By the time I would get my bags and get to the hotel it would be around 9:30p.m. which was way too late to be eating. Instead, I packed myself a turkey sandwich (two slices of wheat bread, mixed greens, mustard, and 4 slices of deli turkey) to take with and eat on the plane. I also packed two scoops of protein powder in a bag so that I would be able to have a protein powder to drink at any time. By planning ahead, I am able to maintain the new lifestyle way of eating.

Valentine’s Day is a day of love and indulgences. It is a day identified by champagne, chocolate, and dining out. For Valentine’s Day, I had plans for brunch at a great tapas restaurant with my boyfriend, John. These plans were made a couple weeks before I started my “next level of fitness” training program. I know that I am allowed one cheat meal per week, but I still don’t want to derail any progress that I may be making. At the same time, I don’t want to deprive myself or be anti-social.

So, how do you eat on plan when dining out? Plan ahead and do your best to make smart choices. I like to plan by going to a restaurant’s website and seeing what items are on the menu. I can then see how items are prepared, which are higher in protein, and know what I want to eat before dining.

Brunch started with a basket of muffins and Mimosas. We celebrated Valentine’s Day with a toast. I took a sip of the Mimosa, but then gave it to John so that I wasn’t tempted to finish it. I am allowed one cheat meal and three glasses of wine per week. Mimosas while not off the list are calorie laden and for me are not worth it.

Brunch was a buffet with unlimited food choices from bacon wrapped dates to seafood paella and delicious salads some of which had cream based sauces and some of which had oil & vinegar based sauce. While this was a cheat meal, I wanted to still make good choices. I know that cream based sauces tend to be higher in calories than oil & vinegar based sauces. I also know that if I wanted to taste something I wasn’t going to deprive myself. My choices were protein based options like seafood salads, smoked salmon, and veggies. Delicious!

The below meal plan is based on the customized workouts that have been crafted for me.

I went to Costco and stocked up on lean protein, veggies, almonds, and yogurt. I also went and bought a 30 oz water bottle because mentally for me it is easier to drink 4-30 oz bottles of water as opposed to 6- 20 oz bottles of water.

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My fitness coach, Megan, advised that the meals are suggestions.   I can substitute a lean meat with a different lean meat I just need to make sure it’s the same amount of calories/ macros give or take ( turkey, chicken, lean beef, egg whites etc) same thing goes for veggies and carbs. I can  have pretty much any veggie.   Megan’s go to choices are broccoli, any sort of lettuce greens, green beans, asparagus, bell peppers, cucumber, and squash. There is no such thing as too many veggies.  So if I am still hungry I should eat more veggies.

As far as the carbs, sources should be (sweet potato or regular potato, oatmeal, whole wheat bread ( at least 3 grams of fiber per slice, brown rice or brown pasta) —- make sure all serving sizes are correct per calorie amount ( ex- 1 medium sweet potato 110cal= 1 slice multi grain bread 100cal) all exchanges should be roughly the same +/- 10 cal

MEASURE EVERYTHING! This is especially important when you are learning the correct portion sizes. I have a scale and measuring cups.  Megan shared that where people go wrong is with the serving sizes.

On this meal plan, I am  allowed one cheat meal a week ( i.e. going out, to a party etc). Plan your day around the cheat meal, however the meal should still be tracked so I should leave extra calories for that meal so that I don’t go over my macros by a ton that day, no more than 300 cal over.

As for drinking, it shoudl be kept to to my cheat meal only or not at all- it’s ok to enjoy a glass or 2 of wine, but measure it and track it.