My Journey Coaching Myself through this Bulk: Part 2

Part 2 is here, WHOO HOO. If you haven’t checked out part 1 –> GO. In this one, I’m going to focus on what to consider when you increase your macros, when/how often I increased and by how much I increased my macros each time. The best way I can think to do this is to give you the basic information first, and then just jot down the outline of the timeline as an example of what it looked like  for me. Again, this is what worked for ME, you need to find what works for your body. But this is a tool you can hopefully use to learn the basics and then apply to your life. As always, let me know if you have any specific questions!

Factors to Consider:

Most people think the scale is the most important factor, and it can play a big role, but it’s not the whole thing. To start, you’ll want to weigh yourself every morning (or at least most mornings) and keep a journal somewhere where you write the information down each day. Every day there are going to be fluctuations based off of things such as hormone levels (how near you are to the time of the month), sleep (or lack of), digestion issues, water intake, sodium intake/bloating, stress, food, etc. This isn’t to stress you out, this is to help you realize that just because you jumped .5 pounds overnight, does not mean your food intake is too high. The beauty with bulking too is if you do gain a little too fast, you’re still on track because the point is to gain weight–you just know to slow it down going forward.

Other factors to consider besides just your weight is your hunger levels (are you hungry when you go to bed or are you still stuffed when you wake up the next morning?) and your strength/performance in the gym. Eating more won’t magically bump up your performance, but theoretically eating the extra calories should allow for more muscle to be built and therefore increase gym performance on a big-picture scale. For example, my scale was doing some wacky things at one point, telling me that I had gained almost 3 pounds in one week, which I know was not physically possible (I’m also dealing with a lot of hormonal and digestive issues which play a huge role in this too). I didn’t restrict my food, instead I focused on how I felt and gave myself another week to see how it would pan out. There were times my scale was going up like crazy yet after two weeks at the same macros, I was still slightly hungry some nights so I decided it was time to increase.

When/How Often to Increase:

There is no arbitrary number, it’s really going to depend on the person and your individual progress. The rough estimate is every 1-3 weeks, preferably around the 2-3 week range. This gives your body enough time to adapt to the prior macro increase which then allows you to decide how to move forward. If your weight has roughly stayed the same (I used the scale of within the same .5-1 pound) for at least 1.5 weeks, then consider it time to increase the macros. However, still listen and pay attention to the other cues because some circumstances may call for slightly adjusted approach.

By How Much to Increase:

Last, but certainly not least, how much do you increase by each time? Again not a straightforward answer because it highly depends on the person. A good range that I aimed to follow was around 100 calories at first. but more recently I’ve been wanting to step up my game and have being doing 200 calories. This will depend on how much your weight has fluctuated, how close you are to your goal, how high of macros you already are at (i.e. it may be easier to jump from 2300 –> 2500 then from 3000 –>3200). Try either 100 or 200 at first, and then you can decide from there whether that seemed too much or too little.

As far as the individual macro breakdown, there is a general rule of thumb, but you need to find what your body works best on (carbs vs. fats. vs protein). Generally, you’ll increase your fat anywhere from 2-5 g (18-40 calories); increase your carbs anywhere from 10-30 grams of carbs (40-120 calories) (this can vary heavily depending on what stage you are at and your goals); and increase protein either not at all or very little, maybe 3-5 grams (12-20 calories). The reason for the small protein increase is, most people choose their protein level and stick to it–I only changed mine once my weight moved to a significantly different level (my protein went from 140 to 145 to 150 and will stay here)

My Personal Journey/Experience:

Week of November 27: 348c — 140p — 72f

Week of December 4: 348c — 140p — 72f

Week of December 11: 370c — 140p — 75f

Week of December 18: 370c — 140p — 75f

Week of December 25: 370c — 140p — 75f

Week of January 1: 370c — 140p — 75f

Week of January 8: 385c — 145p — 77f

Week of January 15: 385c — 145p — 77f

Week of January 22: 385c — 145p — 77f

Week of January 29: 420c — 150p — 80f

Week of February 5: 420c — 150p — 80f

My Journey Coaching Myself through this Bulk: Part 1

After asking on my Instagram, there seemed to be high demand for me to share my journey and experience coaching myself through this bulk. This of course is going to be a multiple blog series because I have so much to say, but in today’s post I want to go through the basics and outline of my journey thus far. One thing that I want to remind you before starting all of this is that everybody and every body is different. This is my journey that I am working on and what seems to have worked for me so please do not try to exactly copy everything I did/do. Use these blogs as a starting point for you, but adjusting everything to your body, past history, goals, lifestyle, wants/needs, etc. I’m not sharing this to say look at me; I’m sharing it to help those out there who are in the same situation or may be curious about transitioning into a similar situation as me. I know  a lot of people don’t talk about self-coaching because so many people have coaches, which is why I want to put as much content on this subject out there as I can. As always, I am always here to answer questions, talk, or just listen so please do not hesitate to reach out to me: comment below, email me, or DM on Instagram (@beyoutifully.healthy).

Last year, I’d been reverse dieting for a while, but during volleyball season (Late August to early November) it got difficult–we go out to eat a lot, on tournament days I would eat upward of 3000 calories most days, and then of course, I got injured and wasn’t able to workout for a month. So I decided as an athlete I didn’t need to track, and once season I ended I gave myself a two-week hiatus from tracking and working out before starting into my bulk. This was the week after Thanksgiving so I’ve been bulking from end of November to now or a little over two months. I have learned so much about the process, about myself, and this lifestyle in general throughout this. It hasn’t been easy, and I certainly have not been perfect–there have been many days I said screw it I’m still hungry, I’m going to eat. And part of me was okay with that due to my background of an eating disorder, if my body really needed more food who was I to stop it at this stage? It was a tricky balance because I did want to stick to my macros to accurately gauge my progress, but sometimes you have to do what you feel is best. However, overall I have been pretty in-tune and stayed on track so far with my bulk.

Now, I’ll go into the details of how I measured progress, when I increased my macros and by how much, where I started and why, etc. in a separate blog, but here I’ll outline a few things. After working with a sports dietitian for a few months and doing my own reverse diet (attempt) during the Fall, I had a general idea of starting my macros at what equalled around 2600 calories. Every day I tracked my macros, my weight, and how I felt/other important notes. It’s important to understand that bulking isn’t just about what your weight is doing, you have to take other factors such as digestion, tired levels, sleep, hormones, etc. into consideration too. Every week I would look at the previous week, compare it to other weeks and decide what my macros would do going forward. Essentially I did mostly everything a coach would do, minus sending in progress pictures because it was just myself. In this aspect, having a coach can be beneficial because they are an objective eye for progress and then tweak your macros from there–you don’t have to worry about the amount you just follow what it is given. However,  I promise you that progress is possible by yourself too. Now, I am not competing any time soon if at all. If I ever did compete, I would get a coach so that I could be more precise, but as far as my goals for right now, coaching myself is perfectly okay for me.

Lastly, I want to touch some of the things I’ve learned. First, bulking is not just physical. Most people think it’s all about gaining the weight and building the muscle and it’s not. Don’t get me wrong it is a big part of it, I mean essentially your goal in a bulk is to build your physical appearance so that when you cut, you’ll have a better physique. And it’s tough to physically eat as much as people do on a bulk.  People think oh yeah, I’d love to eat 3000 calories or bulking means you eat out all the time and eat lots of junk. First, off you may wish you could eat that much, but it’s hard. And don’t just use “3000” because that could be easy for some people, but those people are bulking at 4000 maybe. The point is that it is hard to shove more food down when you aren’t all that hungry or not even hungry at all. It’s hard to cut and be hungry, but it’s also so hard to eat a lot of food and always feel full or bloated, especially because you don’t get shredded like you do on a cut, you are supposed to be adding weight–muscle and fat. And this is where the fact that bulking adds a huge mental aspect to it too–especially if you’ve come from a background of an ED or body dysmorphia. So what I have learned to do is this: focus on things other than what my body looks like. I focus on my strength in the gym, on the fact that I get to eat a lot of yummy food; I focus on my PRs or the muscle I’m building or the fact that I actually have a booty now. I don’t have a coach to keep me accountable or you know to encourage me when I start doubting, so when  coaching yourself you have to learn to be that for yourself and this is one way that helps. Also, I highly suggest you get support around you whether that be in your family, significant other, friends, social media friends, etc. because they can help encourage you and keep you going.

I know this was long and a little scrambled, but I wanted to get my thoughts out and give y’all the basics. I promise that the next two blogs will be more focused on actually how to coach yourself/increase your macros as well as specific tips on coaching yourself. Please let me know if there is any specific questions, or topics you want me to cover in regards to this. Thank you for everyone who is supporting me on this and I hope you can learn just one thing from my journey too.

Weekly Meal Prep

About a week ago, I was searching through my old blogs on meal-prep to send to someone who had wanted to look into meal prepping. The first thing I realized was that I had a lot of them, but that’s not surprising considering what a popular topic it is for me (and I enjoy talking about it!). But then, I also realized that I never really had an example of a weekly meal prep with what I make. I’ve given y’all meal prep ideas as well as tips. I’ve also provided basic information about meal prepping along with recipes. However, the one thing that is missing is showing you how it can all string together–the grocery shopping/what I buy, what actually prepare for the week, and then the easy, healthy, delicious meals that I make for myself throughout the week. I think this would be really helpful information, whether you’re new to meal-prepping or not, and I know I would’ve enjoyed reading something like this when I first started out. I’m going to break down what I typically buy at the grocery store, the exact foods I meal prep and what I leave to cook until I’m eating it, along with a sample plan of the meals I would make based on what I cooked.

Let’s get to it!

Grocery Store Haul

Here I’m going to break down the foods I bought this week at the store. Every week somethings will change, but more often that not, I typically buy the same things every week (unless I already had it at home such as rice or potatoes)

Carbohydrates:

  • Jasmine rice
  • Sweet potatoes & Russet potatoes
  • Lightly salted rice cakes (a staple for snacks!)
  • Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola
  • I had the following carb sources at home: Oatmeal, cream of rice, brown rice

Protein:

  • Lean (99/1) ground turkey (I often buy the 93/7 instead)
  • Chicken breast
  • Eggs (also good fat source)
  • Egg whites
  • Plain greek yogurt

Fats:

  • Avocado
  • What I had at home: Olive oil, coconut oil, almond/peanut butter, cheese

Produce:

  • Fruits: strawberries, blueberries, bananas (also good carb source)
  • Vegetables: zucchini, broccoli, grape tomatoes, spinach
  • What I had at home: frozen peas, frozen bell pepper/onion mix, baby carrots
Meal Prep Time

The following are the items I meal prepped and how I did so:

  • Cooked a big batch of jasmine rice on the stove
  • Steamed the broccoli
  • Sautéed the zucchini on the stove
  • Cooked the ground turkey on a pan on the stove
  • Made crock-pot chicken: add chicken, chicken broth to cover it, and spices. Cook on high for 4-5 hours depending on how much chicken you have

I do not meal prep my veggies such as tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, etc. I either eat these raw or cook as I need them as you’ll see.

1 Day Sample Meal Plan

Meal #1 (pre-workout snack): Rice cakes with peanut/almond butter and banana slices

Meal #2 (post-workout/breakfast): Egg/egg white veggie scramble (bell pepper/onion mix, tomatoes, spinach), Cream of rice (added coconut oil once cooked)

Meal #3 (lunch): Rice “pasta” dish: 5-7 minutes to cook.

In a pan, saute mushrooms, tomatoes & spinach. Then, add the already cooked zucchini and ground turkey (season as you like–I usually use garlic powder). In the microwave, heat up desired amount of jasmine rice. Then, add the cooked veggies/meat to the rice and top with pasta sauce,olive oil, cheese, pesto, etc.

Meal #4 (dinner): Healthy stir-fry: 7-10 minutes to cook

In a pan, I cook the frozen peas and chopped carrots, and add the pre-cooked broccoli and chicken at the end to heat up. I season with Coconut aminos (low-sodium version of soy sauce) and ginger. While cooking this, heat up desired amount of rice up in the microwave. (If I use brown rice, I cook it on the stove at the time I want it.) Add the veggies/meat to the rice. Using the same pan, cook an over-medium egg to add to the top of your dish–the runny egg yolk really makes the dish 100%.

**Another lunch or dinner idea using potatoes**

Using my sweet potatoes, I make my Mexican sweet potato dish found in my meal prep ideas post. Using russet potatoes, I cook it in the microwave (5-7 minutes depending on size). Then in a bowl, I add the cut up potato, meat of choice, veggies, and some kind of fat source for taste (avocado, olive oil) and maybe some slight sauce (not a lot) such as reduced-sugar ketchup or bbq sauce.

Meal #5 (dessert): I always need something sweet to finish off and this is one of my go-tos. In a bowl, mix together greek yogurt and sugar-free, fat-free pudding mix (my favorite is cheesecake flavor). Top with whatever you like–I top mine with strawberries, blueberries, granola, and almond butter.


These are just a few examples. since I am in college, I have time to prepare these meals at my apartment. However, they could easily be made the night before, thrown in a tupperware, and heated up at work, school, after practice, etc. You can also make more than 1 servings of these by adding in more protein and veggies to what you cook. I hope this gave you an idea to try for meals this week, and will give you inspiration to create your own healthy, easy, and delicious meals!

Are supplements necessary to succeed?

Just about the first and main question that people seem to ask if you’re even semi into lifting, weights, fitness, etc. is this: what supplements are you taking, are supplements necessary, what are the best supplements? Supplements, supplements, supplements. If I had a dollar for every time I saw or heard the word supplements regarding the fitness industry, I’d be super rich. In their defense, in our current society everywhere you look there is a new advertisement for some diet pill, juice detox cleanse, magic fat-loss drink promising to instantly get you the results you want. But the only way to get the results you want is to work hard and be consistent with your workouts and nutrition over time. Progress takes time, not popping some pill into your mouth or drinking a detox and being good to do. However, there are certain supplements that can aid in things such as digestive health and muscle recovery. Supplements can definitely help, yet understand that none of them are necessary. Let me repeat this: supplements are NOT necessary in order for you to succeed. Having a good diet filled with a variety of foods, getting in your micronutrients, being strategic in your training, and taking proper time to rest and recovery can all help you reach your goals just as much as some supplements might. But if you choose to look into supplements in this post I am going to breakdown some of the main supplements you might have heard of into what their purpose is and why someone might take them.

Pre-workout: The purpose of taking this supplements is to increase energy, and enhance workout performance and efficiency. This can be done because most pre-workouts are filled with caffeine which keeps you awake as well as activates epinephrine and norepinephrine (think fight or flight response) which wires your body. I understand it may seem tempting to chug pre-workout, especially when you feel sluggish; however, you should not be solely reliant on pre-workout to power through–this can be detrimental to your overall health in the long-term. An active, healthy lifestyle, diet, and good sleep can do just the same. Instead, focus on using it every now and then.

Creatine: Creatine supplements are thought to be responsible for improving strength, increasing lean muscle mass, and helping the muscles recover. It does this by converting into creatine phosphate in the body that which helps make adenosine triphosphate (ATP)–the energy muscles store up and use to produce work. Many people take this either intra-workout or post-workout to help with recovery. However, creatine is a naturally-occuring substance found in meat and fish and other sources of protein.

Glutamine: Glutamine is the most common amino acid found in your muscles. Studies have shown that it can aid in minimizing breakdown of muscle as well as improving protein metabolism. Again, many take it either intra-workout or post-workout, even with mixed with creatine for extra muscle recovery. Glutamine can be found in foods rich in protein, legumes, and certain vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, and beets.

BCAAs: Branched chain amino acids are the essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are “essential” because you’re body does not produce them on its own, you have to get them through foods (again protein-rich foods such as meat and eggs) or supplementation. BCAAs are the building blocks of protein, therefore, helping you fuel your muscles properly as well as help enhance muscle protein recovery. This is the reason people take this during or after workout.

Protein Powder: Protein powder is a supplement that is just as it sounds–provides protein. There are different types such as whey, casein, egg, plan-based, etc. and which is best for you will depend on your dietary needs and the way your body digests each. This is actually one supplement that I do take; however, I ensure that the bulk of my daily protein comes from whole foods (meat, eggs/egg whites, yogurt, cheese, etc.) rather than all protein products (powders and bars). Protein powder can definitely be sued to help reach your protein goal for the day, but again, don’t majorly rely on it over natural sources.

Vitamins: There are many vitamins essential to our body’s health (Vitamin A, B, C, D, K to name a few) and with a diet rich in a variety of wholesome foods, all these vitamins can be received in ample amounts. Vitamins should not be supplemented unless there is a known deficiency–otherwise get them from a proper diet of nutrient-rich foods. For example, in past blood work I have been shown to have low levels of both B12 and Vitamin D, so I’ve been taking supplements for both of those.

Digestive Health: Digestive health supplements are things such as probiotics or digestive enzymes. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that your body needs. Our bodies are filled with bacteria–both good and bad–and probiotics helps keep your gut health with good bacteria. This can mean aiding in digestion, and helping balance out your good/bad bacteria for gut health. I take a probiotic every morning to help with digestion. Digestive enzymes on the other hand are usually more geared to treating symptoms of things such as acid reflux and IBS.

Let me know some of the supplements you take below and why you take them!