The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness: Competition Prep and Vacation Don’t Mix So Well…


by Kate Richlin-Zack

I’ve decided vacations are not vacations if:

1)      I can’t run around on the beach in a bikini sunning myself like melanoma isn’t an issue and

2)      I can’t eat whatever the heck I want.

Therefore, this past weekend was not a vacation (good luck justifying that on a timesheet, right?)

I spent a long weekend in St. Simons Island visiting with family and friends. It was a much needed break to a certain extent but unfortunately, I couldn’t unplug and unwind completely. As much as I would have loved to eat my way through Georgia’s barrier islands, I have less than two weeks before the competition and I wasn’t about to let three and a half months of hard work and hard earned kneecaps turn to cellulite over hushpuppies and sweet tea (yummmmm). Somehow, I managed to stick to my diet AND workout despite being surrounded by temptation and stonewalled with challenges.

Let’s start with the gym. I’d like a little (ok a LOT) of credit for getting my ass up at 5:30 AM on Thursday so that I could be in the gym by 6 AM so that I could fit in a workout BEFORE I even left for vacation. If you know me, you know I’m not a morning person that was a feat of epic proportions and I have Keurig and my desire to win this friggin’ thing to thank for that. So go me. But Friday was a different story. There was a fitness center at the resort where I stayed but I learned the hard way while trying to squeeze in a workout that the fitness center is a 10 minute drive from  the room – more if you factor in the number of times I would get lost on my way there because no one bothered to consult a cartographer when designing the resort maps. Since I only had an hour and a half to workout, shower, and change before dinner (and drying my hair has become a major operation recently, especially with southern humidity), I opted to do a bodyweight workout on the balcony of my room. No gym? No problem.

Saturday, I promised myself I would make it to the gym come hell or high water and I did. Barely. I thought I checked the times but at 3:45 in the afternoon, the thought of the gym being closed never even crossed my mind. Gyms are open ‘til 10 PM, at least, no? No. After driving around looking for the fitness center for 20 minutes because the resort map was better suited as decorative wall art, I made it to the gym and was unpleasantly surprised to discover that I had less than an hour to do a full weight training workout and 15 minutes of cardio.  And since I had absolutely no idea what kind of equipment was available, I hadn’t planned my workout yet.

I plan my workouts in advance. It usually takes me about 10 minutes to decide which body part is on the docket (usually whichever one isn’t sore), look back at previous workouts to see what exercises I did the last time so I don’t repeat them, and figure out what amount of weight to start with. It only takes 10 minutes because I’m familiar with my gym enough to know exactly where everything is and I will usually group exercises together based on the location of the equipment so I don’t waste time in between exercises – can you tell I was a process engineer at some point in my life? I’m six sigma-ing my workouts. Nerd alert!

But on vacation in an unfamiliar gym, you have to improvise which is what I did, AND with a limited amount of time, I had to improvise further.

Let’s see… I need to do weights and cardio but I only have 40 minutes. How do I do both? Lift extra heavy, do fewer reps, and opt for interval cardio.

I finished up a total-body weight training workout and 6 minutes of high intensity intervals on the bike at 4:58 PM. Boom. Not exactly what I wanted to do, but good enough.

Then there was sticking to the diet. I’ve said in the past, and I can attest to this statement based on the last three months: diet is at least 75% of being in shape. Which is great because dieting is something you can control but it sucks because when you can’t control yourself, going to the gym isn’t going to “undo” any of the damage you do by deviating from your meal plans.

For those of you who read this column consistently, you’re familiar with my weekly food preparation. I weigh and measure everything so that I know EXACTLY how much I’m eating every day. It takes the guess work out of it and ultimately saves me time. You don’t realize how much socializing revolves around food until your food is restricted. Because it was a family vacation, I was frequently eating at restaurants. In fact, almost ALL of my meals were eaten at a restaurant which meant I had little control over what I was eating, how it was prepared, and how much was put on my plate. I became the substitution queen. Do you have UN-sweetened tea? Can you just steam the vegetables? Do you have ANY “vegetables” besides coleslaw? Does the chicken on the salad come with or without the skin? Is it breaded? Can I have vinegar instead of salad dressing?… Oh. My. God. Yes, I’m THAT person now.

And then I have to eyeball the portions. That looks like about 4 oz of salmon, that plate can probably hold about 3 cups of salad greens but let’s enter 4 cups into the food tracker just to be on the safe side. What are the macros in 10 wasabi peas? Why do they have to put out a VAT of wasabi peas?? I have no self-control! No more than 10 wasabi peas otherwise you’ll be screwed at dinner!!

This is my life..

The wait staff was always so polite about it (I’m convinced it’s a southern thing) but I felt bad inconveniencing them and the chefs but again, I only have two more weeks. TWO WEEKS! And I refuse to let my fear of inconveniencing others and a bucket of wasabi peas ruin my chances.

Despite my best efforts, my meal tracking was probably off. I can’t guarantee that everything was cooked without butter or that it was exactly 6 oz of turkey but I knew that if I remained just a little bit hungry throughout the day, I was probably fine. Why was hunger my indicator? Because the past three months I’ve been hungry all day. On a scale of 1-5, 1 being not at all hungry and 5 being ravenous-teeth-marks-in-the-refrigerator hungry, I’m usually around a 2. So since I couldn’t weigh myself or my food, I had to find another indicator and hunger was the best I had. I will unabashedly admit to making a list of all the foods I want to eat once this whole thing is over and it only took me ten minutes to list all the things I’m having as my first meal when this whole thing is over.

This vacation has been an eye opening experience. It’s taught me that it is possible to stick to a diet and workout plan no matter where you are (no excuses!) but it’s not as much fun as being able to drink pina coladas like they’re going out of style without a care in the world.

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness” is written by the irrepressible Kate Richlin-Zack and runs every other Tues at 10:30AM on She is a former plus-sized model turned fitness enthusiast who lost about 50lbs in the process. She loves food and views exercise as a necessary evil in her quest for looking good and feeling confident in hot pants. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


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4 thoughts on “The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness: Competition Prep and Vacation Don’t Mix So Well…

  1. Lindsay says:

    What are your plans after the competition? This lifestyle can’t be sustainable and neither a competition ready body unless you continue in this perpetually state as you mentioned.

  2. Lindsay says:

    I meant: perpetually state of hunger…

  3. Kate Richlin-Zack says:

    I’ve been talking with my coaches about my diet post-competition but we don’t have a set plan in place just yet. We’ve discussed increasing my daily food intake along with incorporating occasional cheat meals. On the one hand, I don’t want to un-do all the hard work I’ve put in over the last few months but at the same time, I really want a cheese burger.

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