From Bookworm to Bikini: Week Nine

By Caroline Gick

Last week was all about training. This week, I want to talk about my diet. I’m at the four-week mark—in terms of time remaining until my show—and my challenge over these next thirty days will be to lean out in certain areas while not getting too hard and vascular in others.

To lean, or not to (too) lean. That is the question.

We all know spot reduction doesn’t work, so the goal here is to use training to maintain—and possibly even build—my shoulders, back, and quads. At the same time, I’ll use my diet to drop some more fat between now and show day, tweaking things week by week—and maybe even day-to-day—based on how my body responds. This will be a trial, and to be perfectly honest with you, I’m nervous.

The remaining fat I have to lose is in my legs and glutes, and I’ll need to tighten up some in my abs and upper body before I get on stage. These will be my finishing touches heading into the show.

The Method

Using the Shockwave Protocol and The Carb Nite Solution enables me to build muscle and stay lean at the same time, so I don’t go through bulking and cutting phases the way most competitors do. I continue using both of these methods throughout my entire preparation period, albeit customized versions of them. I used both for my last show, too, and I came in too hard—so while I’m using the same framework, my approach will have to be at least slightly different. I don’t know for certain what’s going to happen as I go along.

Based on my progress until now, the things I still need to do, the time I have remaining, and a long history of knowing how my body responds, my coach (Kiefer) tweaked my diet plan for this week:


If you want to see exactly how this differs from the plan I’ve been following so far, you can find it here. It’s not vastly different. Here’s a summary of the changes:

Shifting caloric intake: I’m at about the same caloric intake as before (approximately 1700 grams), but it’s been shifted slightly to consume a bit more post-workout, rather than pre-workout. I’m condensing my afternoon snack and lunch into one midday meal, while not eating again until dinner—where I’ve increased calories. I’m also upping the intake for my pre-bed protein shake, too.

Shift in sources: Again, slight shifts here in my protein and fat intake throughout the day. I’m no longer putting coconut oil in my coffee pre-workout. Instead, I’m upping the amount of MCT oil in my post-workout shake. I’m sticking with lean meat (chicken or turkey) as my main course at lunch, but I’m adding a second piece of bacon for additional animal protein and fat. For dinner, I’m now focusing on fattier meats—either sirloin or ham steak—along with the same serving of low-carb vegetable, cooked in just one tablespoon of butter or coconut oil. I’ve also doubled the amount of protein in my pre-bed shake to 20 grams.

The Carb Question: I’m continuing with carbs post-workout, but the amount has been reduced to half of a ripe banana, rather than a whole one. I’m still doing one carb nite per week, keeping it as-is for now. You can read about this here.

Admittedly, I was hoping for an additional carb nite or refeed—at least a small one—but this was obviously wishful thinking. I didn’t want this because I’m feeling depleted or in need (with one exception, that I’ll address below). I wanted this more because I just want other foods.

This is where things start to get challenging, and the reality sets in that I’m in contest prep and doing something difficult. This is where discipline and willpower really come into play. The desire to succeed and the ability to concentrate on the end goal has to overcome your cravings for pizza or Chinese food—or for “just one” cookie. The things I want don’t even have to be decadent to be tempting. Sometimes you just want something that’s not on your meal plan.

My willpower has won lately, with one exception:

Sundays Suck

Until recently, I’ve loved my Sunday mornings. Actually, I still love them. It’s Sunday afternoons that get me down. I have my carb nite on Saturday, so I feel full and relaxed on Sunday mornings. I’m able to sleep in and go to the gym without anything else competing for my time.

coreI think of Sundays as “off” days in my training, but they really aren’t, because I work my glutes, core, and abs, and I’ll do 30 minutes of HIIT. Over the past two weeks, I’ve added about 45 minutes of posing practice, too, because the cardio room in the gym is free at that time. If you’ve ever done any posing, you know that it can be as physically tiring—or even more so—than training itself. You have to do it, though.

While I’m doing it, I love it. My strength and endurance are good throughout my sessions, and I feel happy, positive, and energized. As challenging as I find posing, I’ve been enjoying the practice, and I’ve been seeing improvement. Like I said, I love Sunday mornings.

When I get home, however, it hits me. I’ve used a ton of energy, and I’m depleted for the rest of the day. This has happened the past two Sundays. Unfortunately, last Sunday, I hadn’t cleared my house of carbs from the night before—so temptation was staring me in the face. The desire to comfort and fill myself won out, and I downed some leftover banana chips and cookies before I caught myself and threw the rest of it in the trash. That slip really got me down.

Eggs to the Rescue

How am I planning to address this over the next few weeks?

First, I’m recognizing the pattern. I know this will likely happen on Sundays because of my training and practice schedule. This helps, because I can mentally prepare for it.

Next, there are dietary steps I can take when I feel depleted like this. Here’s where that wishful thinking comes into play again. I was hoping for approval to have something yummy, carby, and comforting, but I was given something else instead: Eggs fried in butter and coconut oil. Huh?

You read that correctly. When you’re feeling depleted, fry a couple of eggs. Eggs will give you a small insulin spike. I knew this, but I’d never thought of using them to combat depletion. This insulin spike will help you feel better, and it’ll also suppress ghrelin so you won’t feel hungry anymore. It doesn’t exactly satisfy a craving for sweets—as you can see, I most often associate sweet and carby foods with comfort—but it’s a way to get through feeling down, and to feel better, without sabotaging yourself. Right now, this is the best possible solution for me. That, and to remember not to ever leave carbs around the house the day after a carb nite. Lesson learned.

Now that my diet and training’s been tweaked, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens over the coming week(s). Have a great week, everyone, and remember to stock up on eggs.