Journey to the Stage 5

Food and Nutrition- Staying happy on a restrictive diet

Journey to the Stage - Food and Nutrition
This is it, the 12-week countdown. No more a little taste of this or a little sip of that. It’s time to stick to the nutrition plan, lift as heavy as I can and push myself as much as possible in my cardio workouts. This week, my focus is on meal planning and nutrition. How I am going to remain happy and satisfied as my diet becomes more and more restricted?

In a way, I live a contradicting lifestyle. There are two things that I am incredibly passionate about—food and fitness. While food and fitness are by no means contradicting, the way in which I am passionate for each seems to be contradictory. Let me explain…

I LOVE food. I subscribe to all the magazines, read all of the blogs, collect cookbooks from all genres, and explore new foods and techniques in the kitchen. The “foodie” culture and the fitness competitor lifestyle do not necessarily go hand in hand—and that is why I sometimes feel like I’m living a double life. I would love nothing more that to be working with the best cheese, the most decadent meat and perfectly baked loaves of bread. However, this love for food is matched by an incredible passion for staying fit and improving my body each and every day.

So, how can I be a food lover and explorer while building a stage-ready physique? That’s what I am trying to figure out. There must be a way to combine my creativity and vast knowledge in the kitchen with the dietary restrictions of a competition diet. So, I’ve embarked upon my latest project—spicing up lean meats and creating culinary decadency with vegetables. I’m hoping this keeps the next 12 weeks unpredictable and fun. I have started with chicken burgers. It’s a simple dish that is easily manipulated to suit one’s palate, whether you like bold, in-your-face spices or subtle, herb-infused flavors. This burger is a blank canvas, and here is how you make it.


• Ground chicken breast or turkey
• Shredded zucchini
• ANY spices you would like (i.e., salt, pepper, thyme, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, curry powder, Berbere spice, etc.)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl making sure to capture any juices that have accumulated from the zucchini. Do not mix too much or the meat will become tough. Form your burgers and broil on high for about 10 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

Each burger contains roughly 130 calories, 3.5g fat and 21g protein.

– The ratio of chicken to zucchini can vary, but it’s roughly a 2:1 ratio. For example, if you have 1lb of ground chicken, you would want about .5lb of zucchini. You can shred the zucchini either with a box grater, or if you are making large quantities, with a food processor.

– These burgers are versatile and can be cooked and frozen until you are ready to eat them. They are good by themselves or with roasted veggies and avocado. I hope you enjoy! I will be sharing more recipes as I create them.

In other contest prep news, I tried on a suit! Wow, what an experience! Those bottoms sure are tiny. While the suit is skimpy, seeing myself in that sparkling two-piece helped me to envision how I will transform. It’s exciting to visualize where the muscles will pop, and how I will look when I am on that stage.

Even more exciting, at my most recent check-in with my coach Kristi Tauti, I learned that I’m down almost three pounds and a little more than .5% body fat. I am off to a great start! But, I cannot become complacent—I want to step on stage with all the confidence in the world and proud of what I’ve accomplished. I have to reach from within and push myself as hard as I can.

Rachael Olkin

Rachael graduated from UCLA in December 2010 with a degree in International Development Studies. She is currently working towards admission to nursing school, where she hopes to obtain both a Bachelors of Science in Nursing as well as a Masters of Science in Nursing.

Rachael is also preparing for her first Figure competition and will share her journey along the way, including her goals, aspirations and struggles.

Find more of Rachael on:

Muscular Development