Steak, Brussels Sprouts, and Ice Cream: What a Personal Trainer, Gym Owner, and Off-Season Figure Competitor Eats in a Day

All photos courtesy of Virginia Kinkel.

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Who: Virginia Kinkel, 32
Lives: Arlington
Does: Personal trainer and owner of Bodymass Gym

I currently begin training at 5:30 AM and end at 8:00 PM every day. Between small group training and one-on-one clients, I train about seven to ten hours a day, and in between I’m doing all the gym ownership/management stuff:  cleaning, folding towels, marketing, community outreach, member growth, trainer hiring, and development.

Throughout the day, I’m always drinking water. I usually get about two to four liters, depending on how much I’m training. I don’t believe in following any specific diets or styles of eating other than a general rule of thumb: Get protein and veggies at each meal and pair with either fat or carbs. I don’t deprive myself from fat or carbs, I just eat them relatively independent of each other. I find this is easy to follow, whether you’re eating at a restaurant, getting a grab-and-go meal, or making something at home.

I’m also a figure competitor and have competed in 13 competitions over the past six years. This is the first year I’m not competing so I can focus more on the development of Bodymass Gym. I find many people use nutrition as a series of rewards and punishments, and most people who try to follow any strict way of eating generally go completely off the wagon. When I’m not competing, I never deprive myself—I just fill up on the good stuff so there’s not much room for the bad stuff. I also don’t measure food out when I’m not competing. I think it’s important to be able to listen to your body. If you’re hungry, it’s time to eat. If you’re full, it’s not. If you allow yourself to eat, without having certain foods as “off-limits,” it becomes much easier to listen to your body. This food is reflective of what I eat when I’m not competing—it’s a lot more flexible.

Meal 1: 5 AM


Coffee with creamer and oatmeal mixed with a scoop of protein powder and a peach. I always start with a cup of coffee, then take more with me when I head to work. One of my all-time favorite things is coffee creamer. Unless I’m getting ready for a show I do the regular stuff (sugar and all) in any flavor.

Meal 2: 10 AM-ish

Santa Fe omelet with avocado, chicken, cheese, peppers, onion, and salsa from a breakfast place near the gym (my husband will grab me something while I finish my early clients). I love omelettes because I can get different types. I’ll usually aim for higher fat—things like bacon, cheese, avocado—and whole eggs.

Meal 3: 1 PM-ish

Leftover stuffed pepper insides: ground turkey, brown rice, diced peppers, cheese, and tomato sauce all blended together. Usually on Sundays I’ll make food for the week to grab when I have a short period of time between clients or meetings.

Workout: 3 PM

I drink three different things and mix each with around 20 ounces of water: ‘Merica Labz right before I workout, GlycoFuse (a carb supplement) intra-workout, and Core ABC (BCAA mix) immediately post workout. I’ve always had the same routine of supplements during my workouts, whether I’m getting ready for a competition or not. I use the supplements not just for an energy boost during the workout, but also to help with recovery.

Meal 4: 5 PM

Asian blend veggies stir-fried with chicken, brown rice, soy sauce, and Sriracha. Post-workout I aim for a high-carb, high-protein meal. Usually it’s something I make from home, or I’ll go for a Sweetgreen Harvest Bowl or CupBop from a Korean place by our gym.

Meal 5: 9 PM

Steak and Brussels sprouts. At night I stick to fatty protein (usually salmon, steak, or pork) and green veggies. I really like to drink Mio drops mixed in my water. I love having a little bit of flavor and something cold to drink in the summer.

Snack: 9:30 PM

Ice cream. I eat the real stuff. Not no-fat, no-dairy, no-carb anything. When I’m not competing I probably have it five to six days a week.

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Kim Olsen

Kim Olsen ([email protected]) is a freelance writer in Alexandria.