I Ate Like a Personal Trainer For a Day…while craving donuts (vegan-friendly)

Lately I have been on a serious podcast grind. Specifically, podcasts where influencers in the health, wellness, and fitness industries are being interviewed and exchanging valuable information. Many of these episodes showcase personal trainers, nutrition experts, and all types of health coaches who pride on building marvelous brands that thrive on aiding others to become the best possible versions of themselves…starting with some physical activity and a green smoothie.

However, my main issue with many of these interviews is the insane amount of variability in advice. We have one group of influencers who encourage people to eat dates, consume five meals a day, and drink wine. Then there’s the other group that intermittent fast, eat bread in Europe but not in America, and discourages you from adding more than 1/4 cup of fruit to a smoothie.

A QUARTER OF A CUP. Let that sink in.

I don’t have a photo of a smoothie that’s very recent, but I do have a photo of myself drinking sweetened mango green tea with rainbow jelly. I’m sure the sugar content would have been the same, I guess.

Truth of a matter is, like most people, I am seriously sick of fads and restrictive diets. On the other hand, my curiosity genuinely has been sparked and I did research as much as I had the time to dissect what many personal trainers abide by. Eh, I have to articulate that this was no easy feat. Everyone’s day of eating looked radically different from the next. One personal trainer has a protein shake for dessert and the other has coconut milk ice cream. There’s a trainer who ate less than 1,500 calories and another who ate more than 2,000 calories. Do NOT even get me started on what personal trainers “don’t even touch”.

What I ended up tackling on was a mixture of what several personal trainers in America recommend to their clients and what they consume on a daily basis. Additionally, I consumed only vegan foods for the blatantly obvious reason that I am vegan myself (no whey, jose…ain’t got beef with anybody). But enough with the spoilers–you’ll view for yourself below!

After the whole recap of the day, I included some thoughts on my personal experience with this meal plan and offered pros, cons, and words of advice on whether it’s worth eating like a personal trainer. The results may surprise you or it might not.

PRE-WORKOUT

  • Well, according to Hollywood trainer Robert Higgins, breakfast is overrated. Kelly Ripa agrees given that eating first thing in the morning overthrows her focus and doesn’t eat until around ten o’ clock. Hence, I started my day off with some decaf coffee sweetened with Stevia and a cup of almond milk for extra calcium and pH balance as a pre-workout drink.
    • Honestly, it’s nothing radically different from what I usually do. Personally, I like to intermittent fast twelve to sixteen hours every day depending on my schedule. If I know I’ll be eating early in the morning one day, I just have an early dinner the evening before. Then again, if I don’t intermittent fast, it’s not a biggie to me.

POST-WORKOUT

  • You have no idea how horrifically hangry (yes, hungry and angry) I was after my workout, which is why I exercise alone. On another note, you have no idea how brain-dead I felt after researching what personal trainers consume post-workout. I genuinely wanted to stick with a very basic approach–thank goodness for Mark Langowski, who confirms that protein powder, ideally vegan, is the best go-to. Simple yet fabulous.
    • Again, this is not entirely divergent from what I generally consume after a workout. Having said that, I found that most post-workout shakes come in the form of smoothies that contain frozen fruits like berries or bananas along with nut butter or coconut water. Unfortunately, I had absolutely none of that in the house (our last apple went rancid) aside from my True Nutrition maple pecan soy protein shake (protein powder + water + Stevia), two servings of Fiber One cereal (because let’s be real, you shouldn’t over-eat it), and five servings of Lesser Evil’s Himalayan Sweetness kettle corn. Ugh, I know personal trainers will rat me out for consuming too much sugar after a workout. But come on. It’s kettle corn, a high-fiber whole grain snack that provide a mixture of complex carbs and simple carbs. How can you pass on those?

DINNER

  • SNFC personal trainer Sharaya Poulin has been geared towards inspiring others to empower themselves with fitness. I found a wonderful break-down of what she eats in a day, specifically where she’s trying to lean out. Given that her dinner was the only meal that was vegan, I decided to follow her footsteps in that path. In the article, she showcases that her dinner is a platter of tofu topped with tahini, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast along with two types of salads that include tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots, and broccoli.
    • My dinner ended up being a bowl of air-fried tofu with eggplant and spinach sauteed in a spritz of Chosen Foods avocado oil and a serving of Trader Joe’s hickory barbecue sauce (I ended up adding a little bit of Himalayan pink salt because the sauce got watered down throughout the eggplant). Note that I did not have any rice with my meal because Sharaya did not have any with hers (for some of you that’s okay, but for a couple of you, that may be a FML moment). This makes sense because many personal trainers eat most of their carbs post-workout. My healthy fat was sourced from the avocado oil, protein from the tofu, and fiber and micro-nutrients from the eggplant and spinach. Balanced otherwise!

SNACKS

  • Okay FINE. I admit it. The fatty hankering kicked in a bit after my post-workout meal. But instead of reaching for a cup of roasted peanuts and almonds, I decided to have a homemade two-ingredient sugar free peanut butter cookie (recipe linked here–it still remains one of my favorite recipes in the world!). Let’s be real though: I had two. ASnacking is not entirely demonic, but it really isn’t necessary. Having said that, I still never fail to enjoy a delicious dessert, just as Kelsey O’ Brien does in the evening! She’ll usually reach for a homemade treat of her own like a cookie or a brownie, but sometimes coconut milk ice cream is involved. Count me in, then.
  • There was an event for my Thai and Vietnamese club where we all gathered around in our pajamas to watch Your Name and enjoy amazing company. What I ended up snacking on was the rest of my Lesser Evil Himalayan Sweetness kettle corn. There were about two servings in the bag. Again, pulling out the card for the argument showcasing popcorn as a healthy snack.

WORKOUT

  • Forty-five minutes of working with TRX bands, fifteen minutes of jump roping, and thirty minutes of weight training

HYDRATION

  • Not including my decaf coffee, I drank four thirty-two ounce rounds worth of water.

PROS

  • Following guidelines forces you to use discipline. What’s incredible about the presence of a personal trainer is that this individual can keep you accountable of your actions. Never assume that nobody will notice you sneaking in a bite of this or that or not going to the gym, because your personal trainer will know.
  • You eat more wholesome food. Most personal trainers advocate for smashing in all the greens, the hydrating fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, and nature’s perfect foods, all of which provide beneficial micro-nutrients and macro-nutrients. There are barely any recommendations that are excessively refined or processed with the exception of some protein powder and other packaged snacks for convenience.
  • Also, you cook more. Restaurants often have recipes for miles similarly to how packaged products include ingredient lists for miles. Most restaurant lines just don’t publish them publicly, which is kind of a sin if you ask me, hence you’d have to ask, which can be a hassle. But if you whip up most, if not all, of your own food at home, there’s no necessity to request for the ingredients of a dish since you’ll know them all! You’ll end up using less salt, oil, and sugar in your dishes out of health consciousness in the process. Talk about winning!
  • The placebo effect works in your favor. Titular-wise, “personal trainer” sounds incredibly healthy and fit. If you exude the part, you’ll look and feel more like a healthier person. It definitely appeared so in the gym from personal experience!
  • Recommendations are often quite liberal. Contrary to popular belief, I find that personal trainers are very encouraging of more integration of whole food. Now this may not be ideal, but not all personal trainers are registered dietitians. For the most part, personal trainers just want their clients to feel their best, even if they’re fueled off of Starbucks and sandwiches. Having said that, many of these trainers still have a fair share of what they avoid as much as possible, which you will see in the list of downsides of this challenge.

CONS

  • Your favorites may generally be a no-no. You have NO idea how hard it was for me not to break Steve Vicera’s ban on anything excessive in refined sugar–and yes, he specified donuts too. While walking around town, I passed by SLO Donut Company and suffered from an internal meltdown because, my gosh, their donuts were looking FABULOUS today. Luckily, the craving faded away once I hauled myself out the door. But still. The donut craving has been real.
  • Food is often on the mind. Given that this is a challenge, more planning than usual was mandated. On the other hand, food ideally should not consume all your cognitive energy. Food is only a small fraction of my responsibilities and I experienced more stress from strategizing about this challenge days ahead of time–specifically, unnecessary stress.
  • Believe it or not, I was hungry. H’yah. Then again, the fact that I walked eight miles and it was raining outside with 40-53 degree weather in the evening are also to blame. Just as I addressed in my 20,000 steps challenge, the more physical activity you practice, the most calories you burn. In turn, you may feel hungrier, which is most certainly what happened for me. Fortunately, I realized this was just a pseudo-hunger pang and felt much more cognizant once I drank hot tea and changed into warmer clothing.
  • Information is incredibly overwhelming. Diet advice is intrusive and it holds nothing back. I genuinely was concerned that my choices would clash with some tips that a personal trainer could have published on the Internet. No popcorn, stay away from peanut butter, or stop consuming nightshade vegetables, for example. Here’s the main issue: if everything has a downside, what left is there to eat? (Because let’s be real, I ain’t doing no water fasting)

OVERALL

Would I say that I completely finessed at eating like a personal trainer? To be frank, I have to withhold my judgment on this one. Some personal trainers might look at my diet and either think “Great job!” or “You could use some work, boo boo“. The matter truly depends on who you’re speaking with. What I found the most difficult about this challenge was not what I could eat, but what I could not eat. My issue with much of the advice we see on social media, the news, the Internet, any medium of that matter, is the demonizing of any food product we can get our hands on.

Having said that, personally, I believe that I could have afforded to eat more fruits and legumes, but this ultimately is just one full day of eating out of countless. There are days where I eat half of my entire day’s worth of food in fruit, multiple servings of legumes, and copious quantities of nuts and seeds. But then again, I always have my moments where I try to justify bread as a vegetable. At the end of the day, anybody can eat like a personal trainer. It all boils down to how well one can justify their dietary choices, how they train to good use, and how much confidence they can display along the way.


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