A Bikini Competitor’s Secrets for Eating Healthy (Even When Your Schedule is Super-Busy)

Here's how to keep your healthy eating habits on track, even when your busy beyond belief

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If only you had more time, right?.

You’d shop at the grocery store more often. You’d stop visiting the vending machine during that mid-afternoon energy slump. Maybe you’d even pack a salad for lunch every day.

For many, when it comes to sticking to health and fitness goals, a lack of time is frequently cited as one of the biggest obstacles.

No, learning and adhering to new healthy habits isn’t easy by any means. But as Kate Osman, member of team Optimum Nutrition, NPC (National Physique Committee) bikini competitor, former NFL cheerleader and LFL player will tell you, it’s totally possible to accomplish — even if your schedule is constantly jam packed.

“For me, sticking to a healthy diet is all about time management. I look at my weekly schedule on Saturday or Sunday to see where I might have pockets of time free to shop and prepare food,” Osman explained. “I also make note of when in my schedule I’m going to be tight on time, so that I can plan meals and snacks in advance. I’ve found that if you’re organized and plan ahead, you can maintain a healthy diet, even when your time is limited.”

How exactly does she do it? Below, Osman shares the healthy eating secrets that she uses to keep her nutrition on track, even when her schedule is super-busy.

The Active Times: What are your go-to healthy, portable snacks on very busy days?
Osman:
When looking for healthy, portable snacks, I keep in mind the lack of resources when I’m on the go. For instance, there’s not always a refrigerator available so non-perishable foods that don’t need temperature control are best. Instant oatmeal is always a great option since it only requires hot water. I even put it in a container ahead of time.  

An even more convenient option is shakes made with Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey™. It comes in great flavors and mixes easily with just plain water in a shaker cup. But each serving contains 24 grams of high-quality protein, so I’m getting good nutritional value. The salted caramel flavor is one of my favorites, and it’s also really good to add to my oatmeal for an extra protein boost.   

Another quick prep-ahead snack is protein waffles. I use a standard waffle batter, and boost it with protein powder, like the ON GS Whey banana cream flavor and some vanilla flavored casein. The sweetness of the protein powder makes sugary syrup unnecessary, and the waffles are really portable and store well for breakfast or a later afternoon snack. If I have a real sweet tooth, I’ll make a dessert version with ON GS Whey’s double chocolate and a small scoop of frozen whipped cream.

Say you have a very busy day and forgot to pack meals/snacks, do you have any suggestions or pointers for healthy options when dining out?
This happens to me most frequently at work. The only restaurant near my office is a pizza shop, so it would be really easy to cave and just order a slice of pizza. Or one would think the only other option is a plain salad. But I have found that most quick-service places, like a pizza shop, have lots of healthy ingredients on hand for menu items like salads, pizzas and pastas.

For instance, the pizza shop has chicken and broccoli they use in their pasta dishes, so I request chicken breast and steamed broccoli and they accommodate the off-menu order. You may get a strange look every now and then, but I encourage people always to ask – you’d be surprised how easy it can be to get a really healthy meal. Keep in mind when you do this, it’s important to ask for your items plain, as you don’t want them to add unhealthy sauces or dressings.  Plain-Jane is the way to go when eating out! Plus, you can always season your own dishes with salt, pepper or other spices, when they’re available.

How does consistently keeping up with your healthy eating habits help to support your performance as an athlete?
When I don’t eat healthy, I feel sluggish, slow and tired. Eating clean helps my overall performance in so many ways – I don’t have a heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach, I tend to sleep better and get up early and I have the energy to keep moving. I’m so busy that I don’t have the time to feel lazy. I think it’s important to think of food as having a purpose – it’s not just about eating for the sake of eating, but about fueling your body.

What sort of things, if any, do you do to plan ahead of time in order to make sure that you’ll have easy, healthy meals to eat during a busy week?
Meal prep and smart grocery shopping plays a key role in being prepared for my busy schedule. I shop both for meals I have to prepare ahead, as well as a good supply of grab-and-go items I can have for snacks.

I usually make items like chicken in large quantities, as it’s a go-to meal for me. I’ll cook it ahead and package it with vegetables, or buy a bunch of the microwave-in-bag veggies for portability. Having it portioned into small Tupperware containers makes it easy to store and pack. When I’m in a pinch and don’t have a lot of time to cook, I’ll buy one of the grocery store rotisserie chickens, peel off the skin (which isn’t so healthy) and divide the meat. With a few steam-in-bag vegetables, it’s a quick and inexpensive meal prep – I can create about three meals for under ten dollars.   

My schedule changes weekly, so I don’t have a standard time set aside for meal prep. But, in general, I aim to do food preparation two to three times per week, including one good prep on Sunday for the week and a few smaller batches throughout the week. That way, I’m mostly prepared at the start of the week, and I avoid things going bad, which is a waste of time and money. 

Do you have any additional healthy eating tips for busy people?
With my busy schedule, I often think of healthy food preparation and eating as a part-time job. It helps me set my priorities accordingly. Know your schedule well, since proper planning is key. And beware of the snacks! The in-between meal times are the toughest part. That’s when you’re likely to slip and grab something convenient, but not healthy, like chips or a sugary trail mix. Always keep protein powder, shakes and bars handy in your bag, your car or your office so you have a go-to healthy snack. 

Bottom line, take the time to treat your body right by giving nutrition the time and attention it deserves – over time, you’ll become more accustomed to it and make it a healthy habit.  And you’ll realize the rewards.

More Reading:

Healthy Breakfasts for Athletes On the Go

How a Healthy Diet Promotes Success in Other Areas of Life
Beware of These “Healthy” Breakfasts that Are Actually Full of Sugar

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