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The Ups and Downs of Contest Dieting [Insider Preview]

Bitching about the weather is as popular in New England as being a Red Sox or Patriots fan, but this summer was giving everyone good reason to complain. Somehow, we were experiencing the soggy, rainy weather normally associated with Seattle—which was bad news because it was not only setting us up for an infestation of brooding teenage vampires with stylish hair as in Twilight but also limiting our already sparse number of possible beach days.

On a recent Sunday when my wife had the day off, we decided to head to the shore for some fun in the sun. It turned out to be a terrible idea, as several million other people also had it. Just finding a parking space, even taking it up the wazoo at 30 bucks for the day, took more than an hour, which gave my wife ample time to remind me several dozen times how this headache was all my fault.

Because I was dieting for a contest, we couldn’t leave until I had popped a dozen capsules of BCAAs with a mug of coffee and headed to the gym for 45 minutes of cardio. Then I had to come home to cook and eat breakfast, which is easily my largest and most complex meal of the day. Along with oatmeal, I have eggs scrambled with sliced up asparagus, tomatoes and strips of chicken breast. Sometimes, there are so many ingredients in the pan, I have to check twice to make sure I haven’t chopped up our shih tzu and tossed her in there too.

The benefits of cardio go far beyond melting bodyfat and strengthening the heart and lungs. It also builds your capillary density, so you can train harder and longer with weights.

Once we had staked out our tiny piece of sand amid the legions of other beachgoers, we had a nice, relaxing time. I had all my meals packed up inside a cooler, and I stayed right on schedule, eating every two hours on the dot. Behind me from the boardwalk wafted the tempting aromas of fried dough, pizza and fried clams. It was nice to imagine I was eating those instead of cold chicken breast, salmon and green beans.

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