How I Ate and Exercised to Prepare for My Fitness Photo Shoot - Erin's Inside Job

How I Ate and Exercised to Prepare for My Fitness Photo Shoot

Two weekends ago I had my first fitness photo shoot. Although I was in decent shape before, I knew I wasn’t at my peak because as much as I enjoy working out, I also enjoy donuts and pizza. I decided to spend three weeks prior to the shoot really cleaning up my eating and focusing on my workouts.

Note: this is a recap of what I did to get ready for my photo shoot. It is based on how my body responds to certain foods and exercise levels. Please keep in mind that this is not a one-size-fits-all plan and what works for me may not be right for you.

A recap of a my typical daily eats and workout routine for the three weeks leading up to my fitness photo shoot!

What I Ate

The biggest changes I made to my diet were to cut out grains, dairy, and processed sugar. I already don’t drink dairy milk, but I do love cheese (as evidenced by my mac and cheese problem). I also love bread and pasta, so I wasn’t sure how this was going to shake out. This also meant that my beloved donuts and chocolate chip cookies were off the table.

I made sure to eat whenever I was hungry, which meant that some days I ate more and some days I ate less. I’ve always loved the intuitive approach to eating and it’s one I try and follow on a regular basis. The days I ate more I just made sure to eat whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, or proteins.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of my food staples for those three weeks:

  • baked chicken breasts
  • veggies (broccoli, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes)
  • eggs
  • smoothies (green, protein, etc.)
  • granola
  • fruit (apples, blueberries, bananas)
  • almond butter
  • kombucha

Here is a typical day of eats prior to the shoot:

5:30 am: I had to wake up early several days during the week, which is not enough time for me to make a substantial breakfast. I usually would grab a Pro Bar meal bar to start my day.

8:30 am: workout

10:00 am: get home and make my post workout smoothie: chia, protein powder, one zucchini, LOTS of greens, and blueberries

post workout smoothie

11:30 am: lunch was 3 scrambled eggs with ghost pepper and salt. If I had a day that started later, this would always be my breakfast

11:45 am: tea. Lots and lots of DAVIDs TEA

2 pm: snack of usually Purely Elizabeth granola or I would experiment with new smoothie bowls for Instagram (this is the bowl form of my post-workout smoothie above)

Smoothie Bowl

4:30-5 pm: dinner of baked chicken breast and LOTS of steamed veggies (alternate between broccoli, half a spaghetti squash, or sweet potato) Seriously, learning that I could just microwave an entire spaghetti squash for 10-11 minutes and then cut open and serve changed my entire life.

chicken and veggies

7 pm: night time snack of either an apple with almond butter or sweet potato with cinnamon and almond butter (this is amazing)

sweet potato cinnamon and almond butter

I’m lucky because I love consistency and I had no problem eating the same foods over and over again. I know this can get hard for some people, so try mixing up spices or fruits/veggies to get some variety.

My opportunity trying out Green Blender also fell within this time frame, so I had a lot of healthy juices and smoothies to supplement my meals. If you missed my review, check it out here and make sure to take advantage of the discount when you sign up!

How I Worked Out

Prior to focusing on an end goal, I usually worked out an average of three times a week. I would either work out at Sweat or I would spend some time in my building’s gym with some strength work. I’ve picked up some more classes lately, which allowed me to spend more time at Sweat and work out there more regularly.

I managed to make it to classes Monday-Friday which really made a difference in combination with my cleaned up eating. I think high-intensity will always be my favorite workout ever. I get to incorporate weights AND cardio moves that leave me drenched in sweat and feeling like a million bucks (after I roll myself off the floor).

I made sure to get in enough rest so that my body was able to rebuild the muscles that I had worked out. My diet also consisted of a lot of protein for this reason. I had started out with only eating half a chicken breast at dinner, but I found myself hungry not too long after. Eating the whole thing helped fix that.

What Has Changed

I’ve learned from experience that the longer I eat healthy foods, the less often I crave the unhealthy ones. Since finishing the shoot, I’ve still managed to make it to Sweat five days a week and eat the way I listed above.

What has changed is that I am back to adventuring and eating my way around Chicago on the weekends. I don’t focus on calories or food groups, but intuitively ask myself what I’m in the mood for and eat it. Some days that is a burger covered in mac and cheese and other days it has been continuing the same pattern of healthy eating. Since I stuck with eating clean for so long, my body doesn’t crave sweets as much as it used to and I’m often feeling lethargic after eating them. I’ve found that I look forward to that chicken and veggie dinner or a sweet potato for dessert (seriously, try it!).

I don’t know if this trend will continue, but I know I won’t fly too far off the tracks. I’ve always been mindful of my health and eating well a majority of the time was my routine before focusing on this photo shoot goal.

Whatever your goals are, make sure they are realistic and you pursue them in a healthy way. I know for me it can be easy to fall back into destructive habits, so I make sure not too be too strict or hard on myself when it comes to exercise and food. It’s all about finding that balance and learning what makes you feel strong and capable.

Sweat photo shoot


  • Have you ever changed your eating and exercise habits to prepare for a goal?
  • What’s one food you can’t live without?

32 comments on “How I Ate and Exercised to Prepare for My Fitness Photo Shoot

  1. I’ve definitely tweaked my eating habits before races–usually to fuel up the glycogen or to reduce fiber (you know I am all about the veggies). I already eat such a stupidly healthy diet that it isn’t so hard for me to be, well, healthy πŸ˜€ I think that you went about this the right way: balance, satisfaction, and making sure to keep the (majority of the) things that you love incorporated into your diet and workouts.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Running by Feel vs Running by PaceMy Profile

  2. Love that you ate intuitively and didn’t restrict! Other than processed foods πŸ™‚ The only thing I’ll need to ditch is my half a bar of chocolate a day at this point, and ease up on the pasta now that my longest marathon training runs are done. Because marathon prep trumps photo shoot prep any day!
    Bri recently posted…The neurology of behaviour change: How personal trainers can use brain science to help clients achieve their health and fitness goalsMy Profile

    1. Totally! I find now that I can’t even eat as much as I would though beforehand. Hopefully I can keep that up

    1. I definitely noticed a difference. I’m pretty short so any weight fluctuations are noticeable. For the most part everything tightened up and my stomach was less puffy

  3. I’ve seen you mention or allude to (photographically) using zucchini in your smoothies before, and I think I need more information. Does this add a lot of water to the smoothie? Is the taste more or less innocuous than spinach? I love cooked zucchini, but putting it in my smoothie would never occur to me.

    1. Hey Paula! I just cut up a raw one and toss it in. Since its raw there’s really not much water addition and it doesn’t change the taste at all! I just love that I also end up eating a whole zucchini without even realizing it

  4. Pretty fascinating! The only time I ever changed how I ate was when my dad got diagnosed with colon cancer, I decided to go all raw food for a month. It was SO HARD, especially if you know how much of a nutritional nightmare I usually am!
    Suzy recently posted…Week in Review: Beep BeepsMy Profile

  5. I am with you on cutting sweets, and you crave them less. I’ve been in a serious eating funk the past several weeks just having whatever I want. I am a sugar addict so the less I have it, the better! I have had sweet potato ice cream, but never a sweet potato for dessert. I’ll have to try it!
    Erin@BeetsPerMinute recently posted…PossibilityMy Profile

    1. It was really good! A couple months ago I was eating candy like it was going out of style. Then my teeth hurt πŸ™

  6. That smoothie bowl looks delicious. It inspires me to test/try new ideas a little more. Oh and that your arms look amazing in the pic you shared. I’m sure the adjustments were well worth it!
    Mecca recently posted…TuesdayMy Profile

    1. I know! It was glorious. I’m hoping my new routine doesn’t get crazy again like it was before. ALL DESSERTS ALL DAY

  7. Hi there Erin, when I first saw the post, I expected you to talk about how you restricted but it seems you were just eating well, which is how it should be in my opinion. I love the balancing of the diet and your whole approach to this. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Restricting got me in a lot of trouble in the past so I’m super careful about it now. I was a little more strict than I usually am but I definitely had a cupcake or two in there πŸ™‚

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