Blackened Mahi Mahi Chopped Salad + Pre-Contest Musings

So little time, so much to do.

Thus is the feeling halfway through PEAK WEEK of my bikini preparation!

With my big weekend approaching faster than a HIIT workout on 5 cups of coffee, I am reminded of all the things I had hoped to share with you along the way and all the things I have yet to do.

Staring down the barrel of a large cup of Bulletproof coffee.  1 tsp coconut oil + splash of half + half to get me through an otherwise low-cal/ no-carb morning.

Staring down the barrel of a large cup of Bulletproof coffee.  1 tsp coconut oil + splash of half + half to get me through an otherwise low-cal/ no-carb morning.

The latter is, fortunately, the shorter list.  Still, finding time to check everything off the myriad needs of a bikini competitior for show day has been challenging.  

Manicure, pedicure, photo shoot, assembling day-of items, packing my day-of bag, spray tan (not to mention tan preparation - yeah, it's a thing), posing practice, final workouts, figuring out the last week diet (SO many opinions out there on dieting/water consumption), figuring out when and where I need to be, getting mentally prepared... and probably several other things I've forgotten and need to do.

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And I've got THREE whole days before I step on stage.  If I didn't have such a flexible schedule, I think I'd have taken the week off entirely.  Major props to those who stuff everything into their peak week including kids and work!  I'll be needing life-bootcamp from you ASAP.

But, as I said, that's the short list.  Much has transpired in the what, 16? weeks now that I've been working toward this crazy dream-goal of mine.  Part of me thought it would take half as long, and part thought I could never hope to see so much as an ab muscle.  

Also, I sincerely thought that giving up my twice - who am I kidding - quadrice - that's not a word - weekly glass of wine would be physically impossible.  And baking?  What's baking without sugar?  Any sugar?  How in the world am I supposed to blog about baking without eating carbs?  

Gaining muscle?  Do I need to?  How much?  I mean - how much did I even have at the beginning?  My arms looked sorta like... Playdough.  How long would it really take to go from 20ish% body fat to 12-13ish%?  Weeks?  Months?  Or would my body just fling itself on the floor against my will and tell me, no, I will resist!

I mean, I was sorta flying solo in the process from the get-go.  I have been doing my own training plan and diet, which means, even though I am a certified personal trainer and have had a lot of basic nutrition training, I have had to spend many many hours deltoids-deep in the archives of Bodybuilding.com, on YouTube, and everywhere else, trying to figure out the right course of action for substantial fat-loss and muscle gain.  You know, without hurting myself. 

And yet, 16 weeks ago, I decided to get ready for a bikini competition.  And I've been surprised - as much surprised at how fast the time has gone as I am surprised that... I've done it.

Well, okay, I haven't yet walked on stage yet.  I haven't yet done my glorious walk across the stage with potential face-plant (which will be equally glorious.)  But I have, definitely, done all that I set out to do from day one.

Before you start to think I've gotten a little too proud of myself, what I've done is not a streamlined, flawless plan for perfection.  There were so many times I had to check myself and re-evaluate my plans.  What I've done is more a journey of personal exploration and self-discovery.  Yep, just like the corniest of songs and movies.  I put myself through a big challenge to come out the other side  a little different, and hopefully better for it.

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And, though I didn't work with a team or a regular trainer, I did have a lot of help and support along the way.  I really can't understate how grateful I am for that help, and can't deny that I'd be far worse off without them!  Official thank-yous will be in order immediately following the show!

Pre-contest brunch at the Good Egg with the super-supportive cycling class friends!

Pre-contest brunch at the Good Egg with the super-supportive cycling class friends!

In the next couple posts I'll be talking more specifically about my dieting and workout journey, as well as current prep for this weekend.  After the show, look for photos!  You'll FINALLY see some progress and finale pics!

Now - to avoid keeping you from this fancy, yet quick, salad lunch any longer, let me introduce a late-bikini prep low carb meal I whipped up in just minutes.  I honestly made this just for a quick, everyday kind of lunch, but it looked so pretty I thought I'd share.  Plus its actually really tasty regardless of dieting or not!  Hope I didn't make ya wait too long!

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Blackened Mahi Mahi Chopped Salad

Ingredients:

Canola oil or other high heat cooking spray
4 oz filet Mahi Mahi, raw
Garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, black pepper
3 oz spinach (fill up a dinner plate) chopped
40 g carrots, chopped (roughly 1/2 cup before chopping)
40 g broccoli florets + stems (1/2 cup ish) - unless this causes bloating; sub chopped celery if you wish 
1 small spicy red pepper (10 g) minced - remove seeds first if you like spice, but not too much
2 T. apple cider vinegar (preferably organic and unfiltered for best nutrition)
1 tsp. olive oil (extra virgin organic preferred)
Add any and all of the above spices + red pepper flakes as desired

Directions:

Season both sides of the fillet with as much of the seasonings as you like.  (And make more at the same time if you like, for an even quicker lunch next time!)  

Heat a cast-iron or high-heat non-stick skillet over medium high.  Spray the pan generously with oil.  After a few minutes, when the pan is very hot, place the fillet on the pan and allow it to cook without moving it for 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness.  You'll notice it becoming opaque on the bottom side.  Flip it once, and cook the rest of the way through without over cooking once more.  (This gets easier to guess when it's done over time.  I like it when both sides are slightly blackened.)

Chop up all the veggies and put them down on the plate in that order, so you can see all the pretty colors!  Dress the salad, pouring the cider vinegar + EVOO + shaking the spices across the top.  Lay the blackened Mahi Mahi right in the middle!  

Om nom.  Gourmet lunch in 10 minutes.

Makes 1 entree salad

Nutrition: 189 calories; 6.1 g fat (0.7 g saturated); 9.6 g carbs; 4 g fiber (for 5.6 g net carbs); 25 g protein (Bonus: 265% DV vitamin A; 100% DV vitamin C; 12% DV calcium; 21% DV iron)