By: Freelance Writer Kaitlin McCabe

In order to reach your peak performance on and off the Turf, you need to fuel your body properly. We believe that Training Like an Athlete goes beyond the physical; it involves having the knowledge and resources to properly fuel your body to rebuild, maintain, and increase lean muscle mass. Our in-House Sports Dietitian, Ryan Turner of Food is Fuel NYC, offers athletes everything from personalized fueling strategies, accountability, educational information, challenge groups, body composition analyses and more. With his guidance and strategic planning, Ryan can help you incorporate proper fueling into your specific goals and lifestyles through continual one-on-one sessions and varying challenges. 

Athlete Tiffany McKenzie recently participated in our Six-Week Nutrition Tone Up challenge for one reason, and one reason only – to get shredded for Burning Man. Already familiar with nutrition challenges, Tiffany was prepared to stay disciplined in order to look and feel amazing while dancing in the desert. However, the strong, sustainable fundamentals she learned during the program evolved her short-term goal into a long-term investment and lifestyle. 

“What I didn’t realize is how much I would learn in such a short period of time that I would be able to use to continue to lose weight and eventually maintain,” she explained. “You really do get a lot of value for the cost of the challenge.”

What did your diet look like pre-consultation? i.e. what did your normal day look like in food?  

I have always considered myself a  healthy eater for the most part, with some binge moments.  The last several years have basically been me attempting a version of a paleo/Whole 30-type diet when I wanted to trim down, but I was constantly yo-yo-ing.  My standard breakfast included hard boiled eggs, veggies and avocado. My lunch was some sort of salad or bowl. My dinner had a protein, veggies and maaaaaybe a sweet potato (because those are somehow the magical exception to carbs being the devil).  Why? No idea. I didn’t ask questions. I also mainly shied away from dairy based on paleo conditioning. I had been losing weight on my own up until the challenge point, but I was constantly thinking about food in a toxic way.

Can you tell us about your diet during the challenge period?  

I have been conditioned to equate weight loss with an elimination (or at least a strong reduction) of carbohydrates.  When I told Ryan my goal was fat loss, and his recommendations came back with nearly FIFTY percent carbs, you can imagine my shock and disbelief that this would yield any results!  The main focuses for the challenge were protein and fiber. Protein, sure, I get that, but I had never even considered fiber. My breakfasts then started also including oatmeal. Lunch might now see lentil soup.  Frozen vegetables were now not only allowed but also recommended.  

Everything I had been subscribing to the last few years was being turned upside down.  I reduced the amount of fat I had been consuming and increased the number of carbs with a focus on those high fiber foods. I felt more satisfied during the challenge period, and I wasn’t dreaming about pizza (as much) because I wasn’t feeling like I was being restricted.  

What was the process of working with Ryan like? How often did you meet, consult with him, etc? How often did you track your progress, and how did you track your progress?  

Ryan’s nutrition plans are sustainable for the long term.  This isn’t a diet or a fad. If you have a specific goal in mind, you’re just going to adjust your intake to a maintenance mode once you reach it.  I learned so much working with Ryan and I would recommend this wholeheartedly. 

Ryan is wonderful to work with.  He is genuine, knowledgeable in the field, passionate about what he does and truly cares about his clients.  He helped dispel popular food fads/myths and is realistic about goals and progress. I had the initial consultation with him, and he checked in with me a couple of other times throughout the six weeks.  There was also a Facebook page for group accountability and Q&A. To track calories and macros, he recommended an app called Lose It! which I found to be very user friendly and helpful for staying on track.

How do you feel this challenge impacted your overall performance on the Turf? In your day-to-day life?  

It definitely it had a positive impact on my performance on and off the Turf.  I had a lot more energy when I started eating differently, and recovery was quicker as well. 

What are the biggest physical and mental accomplishments from completing this challenge? Both at Tone House and in your day to day living?  

Physically, I am feeling very confident right now.  It’s been about ten years since I’ve seen 140s on the scale. My friends and family are noticing my progress, which feels great.  The mental accomplishments are even better though, as I learned so much about food as fuel in such a short time. For the last decade (perhaps longer?) I’ve been afraid of carbs.  Dark alleys weren’t nearly as terrifying as what was sure to happen to my waistline if I indulged in a small piece of bread with my salad (which was most certainly lacking the proper amount of protein).  I have changed my relationship with food because of this challenge for which I am truly grateful. I still go off the rails once in a while, but I have a solid plan to get back to which actually allows for bread – and cheese.  Crazy!

Interested in working with Ryan? Join our next Six Week Tone Up program starting November 4th. Purchase here or email Ryan at ryan.turner@tonehouse.com.

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