Sweat Diaries

I’m a Pro Weight Lifter. This Is What I Eat During Competition Week.

Including a lot of Japanese squash.


Photograph courtesy Morgan Vozobule.

Who I am: Morgan Vozobule, 30, from South Philly

What I do: Owner and head coach of Liberty Barbell Club, which operates within Subversus Fitness

What role health and fitness plays in my life: I train to be a nationally-competitive weightlifter, and much of my energy is spent setting myself up best for that. I weigh and measure my food every day because I eat a prescribed set of macronutrients to make sure that I’m fueling properly for my sessions, I track my sleep to make sure that I’m recovering well, and I schedule my personal life around making sure that my training comes first. My own fitness is sport-specific, and my career is to coach people towards their own definitions of wellness — so it’s not so much a role that is played in my life, as much as it is my life.

Health memberships: I am incredibly lucky to have 24/7 access to my own gym, free of charge, but I do pay for personalized programming from my weightlifting coach, which is $80/month. For ROMWOD, a daily video prescription of mobility and stretching designed to optimize performance for athletes, I pay $13.95/month. For Headspace, digital meditation sessions with specific packages geared towards things like competition, gratitude, and productivity, I pay $7.99/month

Monday

Photograph courtesy Morgan Vozobule.

5:10 a.m. — Normally I bike to work when I coach the 6 a.m., but the snow has put a wrench in my plans, so I’m up early enough to make sure an Uber ($6.40, thank you PayPal discount) can get me to coach classes on time. Just a thermos of coffee to kick off my Monday morning routine.

9 a.m. — I finish up with coaching classes and working with a nutrition client, then run to Target for an eyebrow pencil because, priorities. I also pick up some ground turkey and three face masks ($21) because I’m a sucker for self love and good packaging.

9:30 a.m. — I go to our weekly coaches meeting at Subversus Fitness. I eat an egg white omelette with two ounces of roast beef that I made last night, knowing I had a long morning at the gym. I couple it with 20g of Quaker instant oatmeal and a single-serve package of cinnamon oatmeal.

12:15 p.m. — Arrive at home and prepare my food for the rest of the day since I know I’ll be back at the gym for most of the night. I accidentally fall asleep, but not before I crush a powdered peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich on pumpkin-spiced bread.

3 p.m. — I’m back at the gym for my own training session. Our most popular classes flank the typical 9 to 5-ers schedule, which means the gym is empty and quiet when it’s the best time for me to get my own programming in. It’s tough most days, but Beyoncé helps. My training session begins after my almost daily trip to 7-Eleven to grab two liters of seltzer and some bananas for my post-session protein shake ($6.82). Bananas are two for $1 which makes me feel like I’m a savvy consumer, but really, 7-Eleven is just the closest place with both bananas and seltzer.

Photograph courtesy Morgan Vozobule

5 p.m. — Finish up my session and make my beloved Earth Fed Muscle protein shake with 3oz of banana, hoping this will hold me over while I meet with a new nutrition client and coach one more evening class.

8:30 p.m. — Finally. Home. Haven’t had a chance to eat any of the food that I had packed for myself so dinner is two meals combined: four tortillas, two ounces of shrimp, two ounces of ground turkey, three ounces of asparagus, cauliflower tots, and five ounces of sweet potato.

9:30 p.m. — I eat a chocolate covered rice cake with three ounces of strawberries and 20 grams of real peanut butter (not of the powdered variety), which is a real treat.

10:30 p.m. — Crawl into bed, pop some ZMA, then fall asleep to a video about ten things to absolutely never do in Bangkok.

Daily total: $34.22

Tuesday

Photograph courtesy Morgan Vozobule.

7:45 a.m. — Wake up slowly since I don’t coach the morning shift, and by slowly, I mean to the dogs climbing all over my face to tell me they need to go out. Barely a sip of coffee in when I realize I’ll need to restock on kabocha, my favorite Japanese squash, if I’m ever going to make it through the day. Luckily the corner store on my block has plenty of it, and I also happen to pick up some whole grain waffles and toilet paper while I’m out because I can never buy just one thing ($35). 

9:30 a.m. — Breakfast is standard: Egg whites, ground turkey, kabocha, and tzatziki. I try to eat without any technology, in an effort to enjoy my meals more, but today is not the day. Instead, I browse through jungle huts with my wife for our upcoming trip to Thailand.

12 p.m. — Skype call with an old friend and new colleague. We’ve got a podcast in the works and are in the beginning stages of hammering out minor details, like guests. I shovel two cinnamon rice cakes topped with powdered peanut butter and jelly down my face while we talk hopes and dreams.

Photograph courtesy Morgan Vozobule.

1:45 p.m. — I’m biking about a mile and a half from South Philly to Center City through the leftover snow to get to work. I’m not complaining though, walking to the train to get work had tacked an extra 30 minutes on to my commute.

2 p.m. — I arrive at Subversus Fitness for my training session. Back to 7-Eleven for my daily stock up on seltzer. No bananas today ($5.35).

Photograph courtesy Morgan Vozobule.

3:20 p.m. — I’m finished with my technical lifts, so I make my Earth Fed Muscle protein shake before the rest of my training, which is pulls and accessory work. This is for energy but mostly it’s a creative way to barter with myself: “You can have a sip of that delicious shake after you finish this set of pull ups.”

5:30 p.m. — I’m finished coaching the Intro to Olympic Lifting class, which means as my club athletes start to saunter in, I can sneak in part of my packed dinner: tortillas, sweet potato, some pork tenderloin, and kabocha.

7:45 p.m. — Finished with my last class, I collapse into our communal kitchen at the gym and finish my dinner: more sweet potato, shrimp, and bell peppers.

Photograph courtesy Morgan Vozobule.

8:45 p.m. — I’m not hungry, but I’ve got oatmeal and a rice cake left to top off my calorie demands for the day. Debating between watching mindless TV or an inspiring podcast while I decompress. TV wins.

10:45 p.m. — ZMA and collapse.

Daily total: $40.35

Wednesday

7:45 a.m. — I’m up just before my “sleep in” alarm goes off. I’m immediately inspired by a few projects in the works, so I totally lose track of time over three cups of coffee, and it’s not until 11 a.m. that I’m showered and thinking about breakfast. I’m out of egg whites, so it’s back to the corner store ($4).

12:30 p.m. — About 90 minutes before my training session, I eat two rice cakes topped with powdered peanut butter and strawberry jelly. I’ve packed up the rest of my food for the evening and have also thrown a Hatfield pre-marinated pork tenderloin in the crockpot to make sure our household protein sources stay stocked.

2 p.m. — I wasn’t kidding when I said I go to 7-Eleven every day. Two seltzers and two bananas BUT ALSO some Gatorade and a snickerdoodle Lenny and Larry’s protein cookie ($11.46). I have a competition at Garage Strength in Reading, PA this weekend and I’ll need the Gatorade while I’m warming up for the snatch and the cookie before my clean and jerk.

4:20 p.m. — After my EFM shake, I cram a single shrimp and kabocha tortilla into my face before I start coaching the evening CrossFit sessions. My life is a collection of Tupperware meals.

Photograph courtesy Morgan Vozobule.

7 p.m. — I’m finished coaching for the night, and I sit in the communal kitchen again for a quick bite then pack up the remainder to finish at home. Around 7:30 p.m., I’ve pulled out a real plate and am managing to eat my dinner like a human.

8:30 p.m. — I finish off the day with more peanut butter, rice cake, oatmeal goodness, and then when my wife comes home and runs me through a detailed recount of her hectic day, I lose all self-control on some white cheddar popcorn that we had purposefully been hiding away.

10:15 p.m. — ZMA. Happy for the extra 30 minutes in bed, fall asleep reading a book about psychopaths.

Daily total: $15.46

Thursday

Photograph by Morgan Vozobule.

7:45 a.m. — Oh blessed Thursday, my day to be a human again. Since it’s a rest day, I’ve bought back two hours and some mental space for things other than barbells. I eat breakfast (egg white omelette) and drink coffee while reading, and then after two hours of some nutrition check ins, I shower and am ready to start my day. This is usually a grocery store day for my wife and I, but it’s not in the cards based on her schedule, so I’ll need to make a small bike trip for essentials at some point.

12 p.m. — I cook a batch of frozen shrimp and tilapia, eat a kabocha and pork tenderloin tortilla.

12:20 p.m. — I eat a rice cake PB&J sandwich.

12:30 p.m. — I eat another kabocha and shrimp tortilla.

12:33 p.m. — I remove myself from the kitchen.

3 p.m. — I hop on my bike headed for my favorite South Philly secret, which is V&V Foot Massage on Washington Avenue. I pop in for 20 minutes of work on my shoulders since they’ve been asked a lot of lately, and the lovely woman convinced me that I’m so tight I may as well stay for 30 minutes. Who am I to argue with an expert? ($37 with tip)

4 p.m. — 7-Eleven for seltzer, and I think I can hear you judging my addiction here ($7.31).

8:30 p.m. — It’s been 5.5 hours since I’ve last eaten, which is unheard of, and I’m surviving. I cram my evening meals and bedtime snack into one sitting. That’s a tilapia, shrimp, pork, and kabocha tortilla medley topped off with a cinnamon-milk, chocolate-peanut-butter-topped oatmeal.

9:25 p.m. — Hoping my 4:30 p.m. coffee lets me do this thing. Off to bed since I coach the 6 a.m.

Daily total: $44.31

Friday

Photograph courtesy Morgan Vozobule.

8:30 a.m. — I’m finished coaching my morning classes and, in the rain, I bike to Mom’s Organic Market for necessities: egg whites, kabocha, cinnamon rice cakes, tzatziki, and peanut butter cookie dough hummus — like I said, necessities ($29).

9 a.m. — Arrive home and make an egg white and pork omelette, side of kabocha and tzatziki. I am a creature of habit.

11 a.m. — I eat two tortillas, kabocha, pork, and tzatziki.

12 p.m. — I eat a rice cake PB&J.

Photograph by Morgan Vozobule.

1:30 p.m. — I drink some Backyard Beans Nitro because I’ve been up since 5:15 a.m. and won’t clock out until 7:30 tonight. (In addition to my 7-Eleven run, $9.82.)

3 p.m. — Protein shake.

4:20 p.m. — More meat and squash wrapped in tortillas before I start coaching the 4:30 p.m.

5:30 p.m. — Finish off the remainder of my packed dinner.

8 p.m. — Home and exhausted. It takes everything in me to head straight to the kitchen to start packing breakfast for tomorrow. I’m on the road early for the weightlifting meet in Reading, and I need breakfast and post-weigh-in food packed and prepared. While I throw together my travel foods, I eat my final meal of oatmeal, chocolate, and peanut butter. No more water until weigh in tomorrow. Registration for the meet tomorrow was $75 and although I paid for it months ago, I’ll leave you under no illusion that competing is cheap. We’ll hit the road around 6:30 a.m. for an 8 a.m. weigh-in, and then after the meet, it’s right back to the grind.

Daily total: $38.82

Weekly Totals

Money spent: $173.16

Workouts done: 4

Trips to 7-Eleven: 4

Protein shakes: 3

Rice cakes: 8

Egg-white omelettes: 5

Cups of coffee: 7

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