How to Track Macros over the Holidays

Mike Marconi

Our society as a whole, has a skewed sense of food. Every day, let alone holidays. Food is legal, readily available, affordable, compared to many regions of the world and very, very social. We eat to socialize, to comfort, to get energy, to entertain, hunger, and a million other reasons. During any holiday or event, it is a way that people show love, affection and even the feelings of being able to provide. Why is it hard to 'just say no', because there are so many emotions and feelings wrapped up in celebrations centered on food. Can I say 'no', of course, have I said 'no', of course. Does that mean that I will every time? Of course not. There needs to be a balance and that is a personal matter that each person decides for themselves if they are here and are aware of their weight and changes in their lifestyle!!!

In other words, we are human and thereby are learning to live every day, including holidays, making decisions on how to fuel our bodies!! What is hard for some, is easier for others and Vice a versa. But ultimately the decision is personal and yours to make!! No one else. You can stay on track and log tight if you choose. That’s the Beauty of this whole thing. You learn as you go.... Part of making this type of program/plan really work for you is learning how to cope with special occasions. - if you continuously live in the minutia of singular days and stress out about certain situations that arise, you will always have difficulty seeing the larger picture and a hard time truly making a "lifestyle change" and maintaining in the long-term.


Realistic expectations about your progress and the scale

Truly understanding that this is all a process, and one needs to embrace that process. It's not just about some weight on the scale. It's about embracing the process of becoming a healthier person...eating more healthfully...becoming more physically fit and capable...and in general just living a healthier lifestyle. In my experience, when people focus on these things, losing fat and maintaining a healthy weight tend to be a nice Bi-product.

As coaches one of our main jobs is teaching you about REALISTIC Progress. Understanding the scale. The fluctuations. And helping you stay ON as the scale makes its way down slow. So just know…Stressing over unrealistic expectations and the scale is just going to make things worse both mentally as well as physically as high stress jacks with hormones, particularly the hormone cortisol and can impede weight loss (due to water retention) or otherwise make it harder. I don't know of anyone who doesn't want to lose their excess fat yesterday, but that's just not going to happen. It's a marathon of months and for some people years...embracing that fact can be liberating and you will be much happier going through this process.

Stay positive and keep looking forward! 💪

Coaches are specialized in their fields and work on optimizing desired outcomes for their clients, whether the goal is strength, muscle building, performance-focused, or nutrition-based. Some people prefer doing this all on their own, which is great, however sometimes it’s a lot to juggle when they have to take care of their family, work full-time, and deal with other life stressors. Creating an effective and comprehensive game plan takes a lot of time due to the amount of information and factors that are considered. Hiring a coach will help take this load off of the athlete so they don’t need to spend extra time on this aspect of their life and instead can dedicate more time to their execution. 

What is the role of a coach?

The goal of a coach is to guide their clients down the right path and bring them to their goal in the most effective manner. They remove the stress of creating a plan for the client. Below are some of the main things coaches do, so that you don’t have to:

  • Performs a “needs analysis”
    • What does the client need? What are they doing now? What are they not doing?
    • This allows the coach and client to discuss goals and set milestones.
  • Analyze data and trends
    • Example for nutrition coaching:
      • How much weight was lost? Was there any muscle gain/loss?
      • What impact did more carbs have on the body? 
      • What has been the trend over the past 6 months vs. the past 2 weeks?
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses
    • This is vital. Many times, we are not aware of our own strengths and weaknesses. Coaches provide that outside perspective and can be honest with their view, and use this to set a plan that’s tailored to the client and improving their physique/health/performance.
    • I’ll use myself as an example here. I have always been upper-body dominant because I liked training it more. I never realized how lagging my lower body was until I worked with a training team a few years ago. When we had lower body focused workouts together, it was then I realized how far behind I was. The coach of the team made sure to point it out, which I needed. If it wasn’t for that experience, I wouldn’t have realized that weakness and I would have continued training the way I was. 
  • Create a game plan for the client
    • Creating a solid training and nutrition plan takes hours, if you’re doing it right. You have to look at data, consider life situations, 
    • Things nutrition coaches look at:
      • Weight vs. time (weight vs. weeks, months, years)
      • Macros/nutrition approach and how it affects the body
      • How to adjust nutrition plan to reach goal
      • What factors need to be improved and what changes must be made to the plan to correspond to those needs.
      • Were there any roadblocks that prevented the client from reaching their short-term goals for the week/month/year? If so, what can we address and/or change to the plan in order to make it more suitable to the client?
    • Things coaches consider for their training clients:
      • Training Volume: What’s the training volume? Does it need to be increased or decreased?
      • Goals: Are the selected exercises tailored to the person’s training history and goals?
      • Joints and Injuries: How are the joints and body feeling? Are there any injuries that need to be addressed?
      • Deload: Is a de-loaded needed? Are there any life stressors that need to be considered? 
        • For example, if someone has a big event coming up, training volume may decrease in order to create more of a life-balance for the client so that they are not stressing about training as much. 
      • Weaknesses: What are the lagging body parts and what exercises should be added to address these weaknesses?
      • Data: If strength is the goal, what is the trending data showing?
      • Sustainability: Is the training suitable for the client? Are they able to continue on or is it not fitting their style?
  • Communicate with the client to answer questions
    • If you are having a hard time with something or have questions, reach out to your coach and discuss it with them! This is what they are here for, to provide guidance and answer questions.
    • Great coaching is based on effective communication. You do not need to talk to your coach everyday, but you should be providing them with as much data as possible through myfitnesspal/trainerize/whatever platform you use. 
  • Remind clients of the goal, successes, and areas of improvement

Nutrition and Fitness Coaching at Sharks

Sharks Gym specializes in nutrition. We have clients from all over the country and goals range from general weight loss to competition prep. The team is composed of knowledgeable and educated coaches who have experienced competing themselves and have guided many people to their goals. Our mission with nutrition is to educate our clients on how to approach nutrition in a healthy and effective manner to reach their objective(s). We offer the following:

  • Access to the Trainerize Platform 
    • This App/Platform is the main mode of communication between client/athlete and coach
    • We have a group chat on this platform so that you can communicate with the rest of the team
  • One-on-one coaching with one someone from our team
  • Individualized macronutrient based plan
  • Weekly updates and feedback
  • Correspondence/communication throughout the week as needed

We also offer personal training/coaching for lifestyle clients and athletes. We have several trainers on deck with a wide variety of styles!

Preparing for any type of competition, whether it’s bodybuilding or a performance sport, will take a toll on most people. Preparing for a sport requires time, effort, and sacrifices.

At Sharks, we prep our athletes for bodybuilding shows all over the country. We coach our athletes through their contest prep by analyzing and manipulating their Nutrition, providing guidance for proper contest prep execution, coaching support, and training. However, one thing we encourage but have no control over is discipline and execution. Ultimately, that is up to the athlete.

You wanna prep? Cool. How bad do you want it? That is the main determining factor of one’s discipline.

Before you start prep, you should be aware of everything it entails. If you go into it blindly, you’ll be hit with some curveballs that may deter you from continuing. If you have a good understanding of prep, then you can confidently answer the question “how bad do you want it?”

Being contest lean is NOT healthy and sustainable. Bodybuilding is an extreme sport and requires you to get to very unhealthy levels. For many people, their hormones will not be optimized, their body is being pushed to extremes, and they may experience things like headaches, low energy, and increased hunger to name a few. Further, women may experience amenorrhea, which is the absence of the menstrual cycle.

The goal with contest prep is to get lean for the show by taking the healthiest approach possible. In some cases, it will be extreme. In other cases, it won’t be too bad. If you get truly contest lean (which not everyone does when they go into a show), you should not stay that lean after the show. Once the show is over, that lean body will not be sustainable, and you should start a “reverse diet” that focuses on increasing calories back up. This will help you get your energy levels back up, prevent muscle loss, and restore your body functions to optimal levels.

One of the biggest variables of contest prep is food. Your caloric intake and expenditure will determine how lean you will get. One of the main ways to get contest lean is to decrease the caloric intake through decreasing macros, primarily carbs and fats. Due to this, you will have to be extremely accurate with your macros-- this means you will have to track your food and weigh everything carefully. Do NOT cheat yourself. The best way to tracking effectively is to do the following:
Meal prep for the week. This will prevent you from having excuses on why you didn’t stick to the meal plan.
Pre-weigh your food and bring it everywhere.
Be familiar with foods that are “macro-friendly”. There are a lot of options out there that help with contest prep, like sugar-free Jell-O and low-calorie tortilla wraps.
Follow the exact macro plan your coach gives you. This will allow them to see how your body reacts to the plan and make adjustments accordingly.

You will be limited on your macros during contest prep. Your main focus will be sticking to your macros/diet plan. This means you will most likely not be able to eat out. Also, you may feel lethargic and may experience some hangriness. Due to this you may experience a hit in your social life. Going out to eat will cause temptations that deviate from your plan, at some social events you won’t be able to bring all of your prepped food with you, and you may not have the energy to be going out late to socialize. Plus, staying out late isn’t the best option since you should be focusing on maximizing your sleep time for optimal recovery.

For reference, I started my 2018 contest prep mid-October and missed the following: my birthday, my husband’s birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, and my first wedding anniversary. I did not go out on weekends and my Sundays consisted of grocery shopping, cardio, and preparing my food and workouts for the following week. Was it worth it? In my opinion, yes…I really wanted to do it and it was a goal. I knew it would be tough beforehand, so it wasn’t a shock.

I recommend telling your family and friends that contest prep is an extreme and it is temporary. Give them a heads up and let them know you’re still available but may be a bit busier. It also helps too because many times they will be supportive and will help you during those rough patches during prep.

Prep isn’t cheap. Be sure to allocate a good amount of money. Below is a list of things we want you to consider when heading into prep.

Show Bikini (Female Division only)
Bikini: $150-$175 (rent) – Amanda Louise Swimwear
Bikini: $500-$650 (buy) - Amanda Louise Swimwear
Nails: $35-$50 (No need to go crazy)
Jewelry: $30-$100 (
Heels: $50-$80 (Amazon: Ellie)
Posing: $25-$50/session

Tanning & MakeUp
Tan, Make-up & Hair Package: $269-$400 (extensions extra) (Lashes included)
Regular Tanning/Oil: $110-$120
Make up: $99 (lashes included)
Upgrade to Senior Makeup Artist: $20/day extra
False EyeLash Application: $20/day
Hair Style: $75/day
Hair Extensions: $15/day
• Halo: $500
• Tape Extensions: $500 (Purchased) $150 (put on) $50 (take off)
• Clip-In: $80-$150

NPC Competition
NPC Card: $125 (for one-year membership)
Entry Fee: $110
Addition Division: $60 per division

OCB Competition
OCB Membership: $72.50 (for one-year membership)
Entry Fee: $69
Addition Division: $49

Other considerations
Hotel Stay
Nutrition and Training Coaching

One of the biggest reasons people do not continue contest prep is due to the mental toll it takes on you. It is hard, you will be tired, most days you will be hungry, and you may not want to train. There will be times you will want to go out to eat and drink with friends, but you won’t be able to. Your hormones will also be all over the place too, which will play a role in your emotional state.

This is why you truly have to want it and be aware of what it takes. When you’re deep into prep, your mind can easily take over and tell you to quit. You will be hungry, and your mind can easily convince you to just forget the plan and grab a donut-burger with extra-large fries and a large milkshake. If you don’t want it bad enough, you will succumb to that pressure.

When you see someone on stage and admire their physique, take time to realize the sacrifices they made and the work that it requires. It’s truly impressive what the mind and body can do, when you want it badly enough.

It’s pretty obvious that Sharks is dedicated to fitness and training, specifically for physique-centered sports like BodyBuilding. When you walk into the gym, you’ll find a different vibe than you would anywhere else and you will find people training in various ways...but which way is best? Which way is most effective? That’s all dependent on your specific goals, your training experience, and you as a person.

I have been training for a while now, and my training style has varied over the past ten years. Each style had a different focus and intent. When people catch me doing snatches, box jumps, muscle ups, airbike sprints, they make the assumption that I am on a muscle-building journey just through being associated with Sharks. But actually, it’s the opposite. The work I am doing now, which is very different from the training I have done before, is performance focused and less on physique and aesthetics. To be honest, I think I’ve lost muscle over the past year but it was expected since I knew I was taking a big deviation from my norm. Art and I have had long talks about this, during our weekly nerd-out sessions about fitness. 

Let’s say you want to build muscle, which is the Sharks Specialty; then, the best “bang for your buck” is hypertrophy training. 

Hypertrophy Training Science Basics

Hypertrophy is the growth of muscle cells. Hypertrophy training refers to the act of resistance training, primarily through the use of weights, with the intent of muscle growth. The muscle grows due to an increase in the size & number of myofibrils (actin and myosin) in the muscle fiber. There are two types of muscle fibers, Type I (slow twitch)  and Type II (fast twitch). Type II muscle fibers are the ones that experience most of the growth in muscle size. Type I fibers are the muscle fibers involved mostly in endurance sports. For example, a person who runs marathons has more Type I muscle fibers, which are highly resistant to fatigue and have slow contraction times. However, if you look at a sprinter they tend to have more muscle than a marathoner. This is because they have more developed Type II muscle fibers. These muscle fibers are the ones involved mostly in strength sports. They fire more quickly, provide a lot more strength, but fatigue a lot more easily as well. 

When you do resistance training for muscle growth, your muscles are being damaged. This damage causes hormones to be released to force the body to recover properly and return to homeostasis. This ultimately results in the body to go through supercompensation, thus building itself back up to a higher ability to withstand the stress it incurred during the training session. In short: lift weights → damage muscle → body releases hormones to repair and recover → muscles grow. 

Hypertrophy Training Optimization

To optimize gainz through hypertrophy training, don’t overcomplicate it. There is no need to get fancy with movements right away, maybe later in the future as you approach your genetic potential, which takes many years. 

Training Age

A big thing to consider in your training for muscle growth is your training age. This is the amount of experience you have training. I usually break it up into three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. People have different perspectives and thoughts, but a beginner is anyone from 0-5 years of training, intermediate is 5-10 years, and advanced is 10+ years. In the table below, you’ll see the difference in training programs: 

Beginner IntermediateAdvanced
Rate of ProgressHigh (Newbie gains)Medium Low
Complexity of ProgramLowLow-MediumHigh
Coaching Coaches should focus on technique, form, and basics with beginners. Get the athlete acclimated and provide guidance to instill consistency and discipline. Coaches should focus on fixing any technique issues and imbalances, start learning how to push the athlete appropriately. Coaches should be individualizing the program very specifically; will take more attention to detail. 

You will see that it doesn’t take much for a beginner to gain muscle. Their program doesn’t need to be fancy, they just need to lift weights and focus on being safe in their routine, but essentially any program will work as long as they’re adding a new stimulus to their body. Muscle and strength gains come quickly for the beginners. Intermediates enter a more realistic realm where muscle growth doesn’t come as quick; this means they will need to start paying more attention to their training program. Advanced athletes have the slowest rate of progress because they are close to their genetic potential (shown in the graph below). After years of training, you’ll see that the graph labeled “hypertrophy” plateaus and the rate of progress is minimal. By this point, they have mastered the basics and their body has reached a point where building more muscle isn’t as easy, since the stimulus of resistance training is no longer “new”. For this reason, their training is very specific with loading, peaking, and deloading. 

Figure from Sale et. al 

Training Style

  • Focus on mind muscle connection. Form is IMPERATIVE! This is not an excuse to keep a low weight for each exercise.
  • Go heavy as needed, go low in weight as smart and know when to push and when to back off. This is where coaching is crucial, especially for beginners. 
  • Be consistent but vary exercises to prevent imbalances.
  • Don’t overcomplicate it. Focus on compound lifts and supplement with accessory work. Compound lifts tend to be heavy, accessory work is lighter weight (relatively speaking) and slower movement. 
  • Track your progress through numbers (sets, reps, weights lifted).
  • Remember, if your goal is to gain muscle, don’t start doing movements/exercises that won’t benefit muscle growth. 

To keep it simple: sleep enough, drink water, keep stress as low as possible, and eat well. We’ll dive into this in later blogs 😉

There are a ton of ways to train and exercise. Be smart in your approach and tailor your style to your goals. Sharks is ready to help in any way we can, feel free to hit any of us up with questions!

Weight loss plateaus
Granted a weight loss plateau can vary depending on the circumstances. But...usually a true weight loss plateau (when you have body fat to lose ) is around 2 weeks with no movement on the scale or no visual changes happening. Many people interpret a weight loss 'plateau' as a sign of lack of progress, and not a sign of progress. All a true plateau in weight loss means is that you've lost enough weight that your current program has to be reassessed and altered. Is that bad? No. It can likely mean you've lost sufficient weight that the current calories are now putting you into the weight 'maintenance' realm instead of a fat loss realm. It can mean that you've gotten more efficient at your exercise routine that the current difficulty isn't causing enough calorie expenditure or, the most common reason is simply it means that maybe things aren't being tracked as well as you think, and you just need to really dial it in with tracking and confidence in food choices/logging. All that being said; again...don't think of a weight loss plateau as a failure. Look at it as a time to possibly reinvent your current plan with some possible “tools in your “tool box” with nutrition and/or training, or just simply get back to the nitty gritty basics of counting those numbers silly tight and being patient.

Keep looking forward...
Coach Mike Marconi

Let's talk motivation! I don't know how long you all have been in the fitness industry or listened to motivational videos but I've heard them all. For someone that says motivation doesn't mean shit is full of shit themselves. Motivation is often crucial for the long term but won't get you there alone. We've all been in a position where we watched a movie or witnessed an act and it inspired us. We've all listened to a motivational speech on youtube and hastily made the decision to act on something. We feel unstoppable! THIS IS MOTIVATION. Motivation often times acts as the spark to a fire. Anyone can make a spark but how do we make the flame last? How do we continue to fuel that fire? ROUTINE!! You all have ignited the spark by starting this program. Something motivated you and now your flame is burning! Like anyone we all have a certain amount of time before that flame starts to dim. THAT'S WHEN ROUTINE COMES IN! While you have the motivation it's very important to piece together a plan and schedule that you can adhere to. PRE-PLANNING YOUR WEEK IS KEY! TAKE TIME BY THE FIRST OF THE MONTH TO MAKE NOTE OF ANY GET TOGETHERS OR OUTINGS YOU ABSOULTELY PLAN ON MAKING. Be aware that there will always be a weekend, holiday or birthday in the horizon. Sacrifices will sometimes have to be made in order to remain in the "groove". It's completely up to all of you on how close you plan to adhere to the program. The classic term "You get what you put in" or " The plan doesn't work unless you do" come in mind here. Once your routine is created you will see the consistency over time will start revealing results but even that will come to a halt. When a child gets his/her favorite toy they are soooo excited! They play with it everyday, but then one day they throw it in a corner and have no desire for it. They are bored with it and want something new. We are that child and the program is our new toy. Our new toy feeling will wear off. This is when we resort to MOTIVATION again! We revisit what sparked that flame. We remind ourselves why we started this! We begin to set short and long term goals to hit and arrange our routine in a way that gets us excited. What is your MOTIVATION? Why did you start this? What are some goals you have and are you ready to make the necessary sacrifices? The choice is yours!!!! Happy Hump Day! * DISCLAIMER: I'm not a published author but wont the Young Authors contest in 4th grade. There WILL be punctuation errors. Be gentle!


Look at the different just in his face!My man Paul came to me weighing around 223lbs and we managed to get him down to 176lbs! That’s 47lbs down. This did not happen overnight! It took a lot of hard work and dedication and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Sky is the limit for this man! Let’s give it up for him! Coach: Gabe Cordova


Shark Sports Fitness and Training

3540 N Oracle Rd #106, Tucson, AZ 85705
(520) 393-8200


Sunday: Closed
Mon - Fri 4:30AM – 9PM
Saturday 7AM – 7PM

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