Sweat Diaries

I Prep 30 Healthy Meals on Sundays: A Week in the Life of a Fitness Blogger

The Sweat Diary of Alex Coll.


Photograph courtesy Alex Coll.

Welcome to Sweat Diaries, Be Well Philly’s look at the time, energy, and money it takes to live a healthy lifestyle in Philly. For each Sweat Diary, we ask one Philadelphian to track everything they eat, all the exercise they get, and the money they spend on both. Want to submit a Sweat Diary? Email ccunningham@phillymag.com with details. 

Who I am: Alex Coll, 26

What I do: Graphic designer by day, and blogger at Fitlicity the rest of the time

What role health and fitness plays in my life: Health and fitness is the very foundation of my lifestyle. Without it, my world lacks passion and purpose. I’m a firm believer that prioritizing health and fitness daily allows me to the best version of myself I can be in each and every one of the roles I fill.

Health memberships: I have an unlimited monthly membership ($130/month) to Broad Street CrossFit.

Saturday

At the CrossFit competition. Photograph courtesy Alex Coll.

6:30 a.m. — I’m out of bed before my scheduled alarm with excitement for my first CrossFit competition, an in-house comp at my gym, Broad Street CrossFit. All that was required to register was a partner, a $20 entry fee, and a deep love for pain and sweat. Check, check, double check.

7 a.m. — Before I get my workout in, I have to make sure my puppy gets hers! I take a one-mile easy stroll with Genny.

7:58 a.m. — I’m first in line at my little slice of heaven on earth, also known as Trader Joe’s. I made my meal plan and grocery list yesterday, so I’m in and out in 20 minutes with three bags in my cart and $107 less in my wallet.

8:30 a.m. — I frantically unload the groceries and pour a quick bowl of Joe’s O’s with unsweetened almond milk for my pre-workout fuel.

8:50 a.m. — I arrive at Broad Street CrossFit ready to take on the competition with my partner. The energy is buzzing so much, I don’t even need pre-workout. I take some anyway. I’ve got a long, sweaty day ahead and couldn’t be happier.

11:30 a.m. — We’ve got two WODs (Workout of the Day) down and one to go. I grab a banana (super-green, the only way to eat ‘em) from my gym bag for energy.

1 p.m. — The competition comes to a close and I devour 1/2 of a peanut butter sandwich on sprouted grain bread while saying a silent prayer, “Please go straight to my shaking, aching muscles!”

1:30 p.m. — The scores are in and my partner and I place 2nd in our division! We high five, we fist bump, then we limp to our cars.

2:30 p.m. — I make my favorite protein smoothie to replenish: Blueberry Maple Tahini. Combine one cup frozen cauliflower rice, 1/4 cup frozen wild blueberries, one cup unsweetened almond milk, one scoop protein powder, one teaspoon maple syrup, and one teaspoon tahini in a blender. Blend thoroughly and top with one tablespoon nut butter!

6:30 p.m. — After grazing through my pantry on and off (almonds, the crumbs of a Protein Popcorn bag, my favorite crunchy seed and bean medley from Trader Joe’s), too many episodes of Say Yes to the Dress and another walk with Genny, it’s time for dinner. I whip up a bowl of Banza chickpea pasta with kale pesto courtesy of Hope Foods, and top it with alfalfa sprouts, heirloom tomatoes, steamed broccoli, and paleo turkey meatloaf leftover from last week’s meal prep. I eat it in maybe 60 seconds and decide I will definitely be having dessert.

7:30 p.m. — Dessert inspo strikes from Fit Foodie Finds, and I mix up a quick batch of healthier, no-sugar-added peanut butter cups. I dread the next 30 minutes waiting for the mixture to set in the freezer.

8 p.m. — The peanut butter cups have set! They are more amazing than I imagined, and I already can’t wait to have one tomorrow.

8:30 p.m. — My very sore body is calling it an early night. I spritz my pillow with lavender before cozying up with a book, and am quickly dreaming of PB cups.

Daily total: $127

Sunday

Healthy peanut butter cups. Photograph courtesy Alex Coll.

7:30 a.m. — Today, my body clock does its version of sleeping in, and it feels good! What doesn’t feel good? Every inch of sore muscle. Yup, it’s going to be a rest day.

7:45 a.m. — A quick layering job to prep for the ten-degree weather and I’m out the door for LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio with Genny. Since it’s a rest day, I make it a long two-mile walk to loosen up my stiff muscles.

9:30 a.m. — Hunger strikes and I opt for an omelette with onion, tomato, broccoli, and turkey. I top it with some almond chive spread from Kite Hill (a new fridge fave) and sprouts. Yum!

10:30 a.m. — Ready, set, meal prep! Let the cooking begin. I write down a checklist of all the dishes I’m prepping (ten!), roll up my sleeves, pre-heat the oven, and bring out the pots and pans. I swear by the power of prep to set me up for a stress-free week of nutritional success.

11 a.m. — I graze on every one of my meal prep ingredients. Especially walnuts.

2 p.m. — The final Tupperware is snapped and the fridge door is closed. In 3.5 hours, my efforts have yielded a delicious and nutritious menu of over 30 meals (none of which is the infamous chicken, rice, broccoli combo).

2:15 p.m. — I reach for the latest Perfect Bar flavor occupying my fridge. The Dark Chocolate Almond tastes like heaven in a wrapper. I savor every last crumb (literally).

5:30 p.m. — Dinner time! All I’ve done today is cook and eat, and I ain’t mad. My cravings and remaining fridge ingredients lead me to make a Brussels sprout and butternut squash sauté, topped with dried cranberries, walnuts, and a light sprinkle of goat cheese. I dip into my meal prep to finish off the dish with my fave healthier breaded chicken (a mixture of almond flour, nutritional yeast, and Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning).

6:30 p.m. — I’ve been thinking about the healthier peanut butter cups since eating one last night and I can’t wait another moment. Is it possible that it’s even better than I remember? My fiancé snags one and I throw him major side-eye.

8 p.m. — I pack my meals for my day in the office tomorrow and eat a spoonful of peanut butter directly from the jar, no shame.

8:30 p.m. — My legs are still screaming from yesterday’s competition, so I spend some quality time with my foam roller.

9 p.m. — My 4:30 am alarm is set, pillow spritz with lavender, and I’m dozing off with my book. But then my gym releases tomorrow’s WOD. I text strategy with my fit-friend/classmate, register for class, and hit the lights.

Daily total: $0

Monday

Cauli-oat bake, Perfect Bars, kale salad, and healthy peanut butter cups. Photograph courtesy Alex Coll.

4:30 a.m. — My first alarm of the day chimes and naturally, I ignore it.

4:45 a.m. — I change into my workout gear, post my ritual wake up dance to my Instagram story, and coax the puppy out of bed.

5:10 a.m. — With brushed teeth and a swipe of deodorant, I grab my water bottle and gym bag and I’m out the door with my fiancé and swole mate, Moses. You know, because “the couple that CrossFits together, stays together!” — or something like that.

5:20 a.m. — Moses and I are 5:30 a.m. regulars at Broad Street CrossFit. We arrive a few minutes early to class to begin our warmup and catch up with our fit friends.

6:45 a.m. — Class was totally brutal in that energizing, can’t-keep-coming-back-for-more kind of way. I need to shake out my legs. I head out for a one-mile walk with Genny as the sun rises.

7:15 a.m. — Hanger sets in, and it’s yesterday’s meal prep to the rescue! I portion out a serving of my original cinnamon raisin Cauliflower Oat Bake and serve it warm over Greek yogurt.

10:30 a.m. — I heat up two Mediterranean egg cups from meal prep and settle into my work day. I run a quick hydration check and make sure I’m on my second 30z tumbler of H2O.

1 p.m. — I am feeling the effects of my workout and need fuel. I eat a massive kale salad (my favorite) with 1/2 diced apple, sundried tomatoes, farro, and the only salad dressing I’ll ever need: Bragg’s vinaigrette.

2:30 p.m. — After a few hours of working (and eating) in an impossibly hunched posture, I get outside for some fresh air and walk around Old City. My FitBit log tells me I venture just shy of a mile.

4:30 p.m. — Meal four is Maple Walnut Brussels Sprouts and Chickpeas (a recipe that finds its way to my weekly menu beginning in September).

7 p.m. — My days consist of eating, and more eating. Dinner is a fiancé-approved (win!) Sweet Turkey and Lentil Bolognese served over zoodles and roasted butternut squash.

8 p.m. — I *almost* don’t have dessert, but that isn’t very like me. A single-serving piece of dark chocolate hits the spot.

8:45 p.m. — My eyes want to shut, but I keep telling myself I just have to make it 15 more minutes to see tomorrow’s WOD and hit the sheets.

Daily total: $0

Tuesday

Blueberry Maple Tahini smoothie. Photograph courtesy Alex Coll.

4:30 p.m. — Alarm one. Snooze. Alarm two. Wake up dance!

5 p.m. — I’ll need a little extra energy for today’s WOD, so I grab an apple-oatmeal mini muffin that I stashed in the freezer from a previous meal prep batch.

5:15 a.m. — All of my hype songs play en route to CrossFit, I can tell it’s going to be a good class.

6:30 a.m. — A MetCon of Toes To Bar and Alternating Dumbbell Snatches does not disappoint. I am sore and need a recovery meal! But first, a walk with Genny in the snow.

7 a.m. — I blend up my favorite Blueberry Maple Tahini smoothie despite the below-freezing temps. I scoop a heaping tablespoon of my favorite crunchy chia and flax peanut butter on top.

10:30 a.m. — I pop one of my favorite muffin recipes into the microwave for my mid-morning snack: paleo zucchini banana bread (adapted from Ambitious Kitchen) with cacao nibs.

1 p.m. — I’m back in the office kitchenette to heat up another meal prep victory: improvised spaghetti squash stew with organic chicken sausage.

5 p.m. — I am very late for and important date — with my afternoon snack. For a quick on-the-go meal, I portioned out a custom trail mix featuring Square Organics Protein Popcorn, roasted and unsalted mixed nuts, jumbo raisins, and unsweetened coconut flakes. It’s the perfect mental boost to power through what’s left of the work day.

7 p.m. — Dinner is a health-ified quinoa shrimp paella. It tasted as amazing as it smelled.

7:30 p.m. — All I can think about is eating one of my healthier peanut butter cups as I pack up my meals for tomorrow.

8 p.m. — A peanut butter cup is had.

9:30 p.m. — After veggin’ out with some mindless TV, I register for CrossFit, hit the lights, and pray I wake up less sore.

Daily total: $0

Wednesday

Peanut butter picked up at Trader Joe’s. Photograph courtesy Alex Coll.

4:30 a.m. — Update: I am still very sore.

4:45 a.m. — The morning routine goes down, complete with wake-up dance and mini-goal setting, a ritual I implement each morning that defines a small goal for each CrossFit class in an effort to support my long-term goal of improved endurance.

5:30 a.m. — It’s a brutal conditioning WOD but I successfully surpass my mini-goal of completing more reps in the last round of the workout than the first round. I think this calls for a victory meal.

6:45 a.m. — Genny and I take a new route on our daily walk, clocking in 25 minutes of LISS cardio.

7:15 a.m. — The victory meal is warm cauli-oat bake paired with Greek yogurt and my favorite peanut butter. Pro-Tip: I put the peanut butter in the microwave for just a few seconds to bring it back to its liquid state for the perfect drizzle. Divine.

10:30 a.m. — I get in another decent serving size of protein from two soft-baked Mediterranean egg cups. I can almost feel it repairing my muscles.

1 p.m. — Since I do not appear to own any Tupperware large enough to carry my 2.5 cups of kale, I lugged my favorite mixing-turned-salad bowl to work for lunch. It’s the last serving from my meal prep, and I savor every bite of sundried tomato, dried cranberry, farro, and that oh-so-good Bragg’s vinaigrette.

3:59 p.m. — I can’t wait one. more. minute. to eat my beloved maple walnut Brussels sprouts. I love how filling this dish is for an afternoon snack, and the carbs give me the perfect boost of energy and focus.

7 p.m. — I pull perfectly-roasted butternut squash out of the oven and serve it with zoodles and my meal-prepped sweet lentil turkey bolognese. I eat to the tune of Fittest on Earth, a Netflix documentary series that covers the 2016 CrossFit games, and get all the feels.

8 p.m. — I mean, why’d I even meal prep the peanut butter cups if I don’t have one every day, right? I promise to pack my meals before snagging one from the freezer.

8:30 p.m. — I’m not sure if it’s the protein or the hype from watching Katrin Davidsdottir win the title of Fittest Woman on Earth, but suddenly I don’t feel so sore! It’s off to bed just in time to put in my seven hours of reparative sleep.

Daily total: $0

Thursday

WOD at Broad Street CrossFit. Photograph courtesy Alex Coll.

4:30 a.m. — Yes! I am finally not sore! Usually my muscles recover more quickly, but this week was something special.

4:50 a.m. — Wake up dance goes down, Nike Metcon 3s go on.

5:25 a.m. — We make it to CrossFit just in time for a long EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) workout that cumulates to 100 pull-ups and over 100 snatches. Something tells me I’m going to be sore all over again.

7 a.m. — Genny and I hit the pavement for 30 minutes of meditative LISS.

7:45 a.m. — I’m halfway through blending my Blueberry Maple Tahini Smoothie when I realize I’m out of Maple Syrup. This could quite possibly be my worst nightmare, but I won’t let it stop me. I add it to the grocery list so I don’t forget and swap a date into the recipe for sweetness.

10:30 a.m. — I packed an extra zucchini banana bread muffin in my lunch, knowing it was going to be a hungry day from all that conditioning. I thank past me as I devour both muffins in a total of four bites.

12:15 p.m. — The sun is shining — a rare sight these days — so I head out for a 30-minute stroll around Old City to get the blood pumping and the creative juices flowing.

1 p.m. — I heat up a heaping portion of meal-prepped spaghetti squash stew. While it spins in the microwave, I experiment with how many air squats I can do in one minute intervals and hope no one passes me in the kitchen. I also ponder if everyone gets as excited about food as I do.

3:58 p.m. — I try my best to savor my protein popcorn trail mix but alas, it’s gone in a short matter of minutes.

6:30 p.m. — I have a Mediterranean tray bake on deck tonight complete with roasted sweet potato, bell pepper, onion, artichoke, and olives, all served with harissa chicken. I know these potatoes are going to take some time to cook, so my fiancé and I decide to move our new love seat up a flight of steep stairs to our office while they sizzle. Functional fitness at its finest, I’m counting this as a HIIT workout.

7:30 p.m. — After 40 minutes of delicious smells tantalizing my taste buds, the potatoes are roasted to perfection.

8 p.m. — Dinner was a little spicy for my palette, so I wash it down with a peanut butter cup, of course.

8:45 p.m. — One more sleep until Friday! My brain is already buzzing with meal plan ideas, and I’m ready for a fun morning WOD.

Daily total: $0

Friday

Cauli-oat bake. Photograph courtesy Alex Coll.

4:30 a.m. — Something about Friday makes it that much easier to spring out of bed, especially when pre-workout, front squats, and deadlifts lie ahead.

4:45 a.m. — I set an ambitious mini-goal whilst performing my ritual wakeup dance.

5:30 a.m. — Spirits are high, squats are low, and weights are heavy during a packed Friday class at Broad Street CrossFit. It’s my favorite kind of workout: equally challenging and empowering. (And despite not quite achieving my mini-goal, I PR my front squat!)

6:50 a.m. – Knowing I have a busy work day ahead (too busy for Friday standards) I embrace every step of my morning LISS with Genny — until she decides she’s more in the mood for HIIT sprints.

7:20 a.m. – I scoop the last serving of my cauli-oat bake from the ramekin. As I drop my plate in the dishwasher, my peanut butter jar is staring at me from the counter top, begging me to take one last bite.

10:30 a.m. – I enjoy my last two Mediterranean egg cups with a large tumbler of H2O as I put the finishing touches on a big project.

1 p.m. — My spaghetti squash stew takes an unbearable four minutes to reach the perfect temp, but it is so worth the wait! Soups and stews are so easy to prep, they hold a place in my meal prep rotation long after winter fades.

4 p.m. — Here goes the last of my maple walnut Brussels and chickpeas.

6:30 p.m. — I peruse (read: raid) the pantry to hold me over until my 8:30 p.m. dinner reservations at Zorba’s in Fairmount. I fully picture myself enjoying a platter of lemony shrimp while I munch on Trader Joe’s crunchy Seed and Bean Medley.

9:30 p.m. — As my Shrimp Poseidon is placed on the table in front of me, it occurs to me that I’m usually already asleep before even taking a bite of this dinner. Yet nothing, not even a midnight reservation, could stop me from Zorba’s authentic greek fare. The shrimp is butterflied, seasoned to perfection, served with a double side of veggies at my request, and well worth my $33.50 share of the bill.

11:30 p.m. — It is officially way past my bed time, but I can’t skip over the ritual of ending my day with peanut butter. I pop a peanut butter cup into my impossibly full stomach and crawl into bed as dreams of tomorrow’s WOD dance in my head.

Daily total: $33.50

Weekly Totals

Money spent: $160.50

Workouts: 6

Walks: 10

Smoothies:  3

Peanut butter cups: 6

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