Learn Why Some of the UFC’s Best Trust Perfecting Athletes When They Need to Make Weight and Perform at Their Best: Episode #65

When UFC fighters like TJ Dillashaw, Tony Ferguson, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Stephen Thompson, Chris Weidman and many others, need to make weight, they count on the ladies from Perfecting Athletes.  Michelle and Paulina have developed a system for helping athletes eat better, make weight and provide a hands on approach that is changing the game.


In this Episode We Discuss:

  • Nutrition Coaching for MMA
  • Providing Support for Athletes
  • Changing Eating Habits at a Distance
  • Shopping, prepping and cooking each week
  • Collaborating with other coaches
  • Fight Week Tips
  • 2 Tips that will drastically improve your health, energy and performance.

Michelle Melaniphy Ingels AP/LAc is a triple board certified primary care Acupuncture Physician/Licensed Acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist, Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) nutritionist, health coach, medicinal chef and co-founder of Perfecting Athletes®. She specializes in reproductive endocrinology and hormones. Michelle is the leading expert on balancing hormones through nutrition and lifestyle changes to optimize human performance.

Paulina Discepolo Indara is a third degree black belt in karate, a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and former co-owner of The Center Martial Arts in Connecticut. During her competitive career, Paulina was ranked 3rd in the world in women’s full knockdown karate. She is a certified Perfecting Health coach, personal chef and co-founder of Perfecting Athletes®.

Learn More @ PerfectingAthletes.com


Full Transcription of Our Podcast with Perfecting Athletes

Interview with Michelle Ingles and Paulina Indara Learning why some of the UFC’s Best Trust Perfecting Athletes When They Need to Make Weight and Perform at Their Best


Corey Beasley [00:00:01]: Hey guys, is Corey Beasley with fight camp conditioning. And I am on the phone with the girls from perfecting athletes. We have Michelle Ingles and Paulina Indara joining us. And ladies, thanks so much for taking the time.

Michelle Ingles [00:00:15]:Pleasure.

Paulina Indara [00:00:16]:My pleasure.

Corey Beasley [00:00:17]: So just to get everybody a little two sense of who you are and what you guys do? Can you guys give us a little two minutes on your background and kind of what you guys are doing for the sport?

Michelle Ingles [00:00:32]:Absolutely. So we from perfecting athletes and we do nutrition and medical for professional athletes, primarily combat sport. I am acupuncture physician. So my medical background is in acupuncture, Oriental medicine and nutrition herbal medicine as well. So I use a medical background to help analyze athletes to help them perform their best. And I primarily use nutrition to as my foundation and then add acupuncture as needed or massage therapy or other modalities as needed. And Paulina works with me as well. And we do a lot of the cooking for the professional athletes during fight week and take care of all of their needs to keep them healthy while they’re in camp.

Corey Beasley [00:01:22]: Very cool. So how did you guys get started in the, in the MMA world?

Paulina Indara [00:01:32]:Many years ago, and this all kind of dates me, but I was actually a fighter and Michelle was my physician. And so she handled everything for me as far as wellness and nutrition and kept me healthy. When I fought and slowly my friends started realizing that I was doing something different than they started asking for help. And I said, listen I would love to take credit but I can’t, it’s actually shown. So they started seeing her and slowly it went from one fighter to UFC athletes to a professional boxer and it just kind of developed and I also worked for Michelle in her private practice. And so before we knew it, it was a lot of athletes asking for our help. And we flew under the radar for a really long time. And TJ Dillashaw kind of pushed us to the forefront and said, people really need this information. You guys have to start educating people. And from that came two books and a website and that kind of stuff.

Corey Beasley [00:02:37]: Very cool. I mean, at least from my experience, this is typically how things grow. I started probably eight, nine years ago working with Ian McCall and literally just from doing well and helping him out, and I mean the flood Gates open and that that’s kind of how that world works. That’s good. I mean, if you people out, people tend to open their mouth. So from your lady’s perspective what would you say would be the number one mistake that you’re seeing for fighters leading into their fights or with the nutrition?

Michelle Ingles [00:03:23]:Probably the number one thing that most fighters are doing right now is not eating enough, because we’re in weight driven sport. So combat is a weight driven sport. Everybody has to make weight, everybody has to still compete. And it’s usually making weight. It’s something that’s far different than what you’re walking around at. And so everybody they’ve got this natural ability and they’ve got these great coaches and they’ve got this great training camp and they’re doing everything right. And then when it comes to nutrition, they think, well, gosh, if I need to lose five, 10, 15, 20 pounds, I might as well just cut how much I’m eating either stop eating or eat less or eat a tablespoon of olive oil a day or do that to make weight. And then as soon as I make weight, I better just go eat pizza, put as much food in my face as I can possibly do to get the weight back on. And unfortunately, by doing that, they’re really shortening their careers because they are damaging the very muscles and tendons and ligaments that they need to perform optimally in their sports. And so our goal is to hopefully educate them a little bit about nutrition and help them to find foods that support their weight goals, but also support the best training and the best recovery and the best performance that they can possibly have and to do so in a way that makes their career longer so that they can compete for it as long as they would like, instead of compete until their body gives out.

Corey Beasley [00:05:01]: Right. I can’t tell you ladies how many people, I mean, I’ve interviewed people all over the world and mainly strength coaches, but a lot of athletes and stuff as well. And when I asked them the mistakes that are being made in combat sports and whether its jiu jitsu or wrestling or MMA or boxing, any of these sports that are very similar but every single answer has been from a strength coaches’ perspective, just the grinding. And then from any nutritional stuff, it’s always just been, it all comes down to a lack of organization and just having a plan of attack. So that’s great. I mean, just getting those basics and educating people so that they can apply better concepts is awesome. For you guys, when you starting with an athlete now, are you guys, you say you visit people for fight week and you do actual cooking for them during that fight week are you guys consulting people at a distance as well?

Paulina Indara [00:06:05]:So for a tremendous amount of our athletes and I say tremendous amount, I’m going to go out in the same, maybe 95% of the athletes we have, we are with them throughout the year. So it’s not just camp, it’s throughout the year. And Michelle will serve to do their medical advice if they’re sick or if they need to have questions on food throughout the year because as fighting is not seasonal. You’re in one camp, you have a couple of weeks, then you’re in another camp. It’s not like football and baseball and basketball where you have a set time that you know, okay, for these couple months, I don’t have to do anything for these couple of months and for these couple of months is seasonal eats very different. And with fighting as you know there’s always that opportunity that somebody is going to get injured and you’re going to get called up. So you can’t sit on the sidelines and do nothing for three months and expect that your career is going to flourish and blossom and you are going to be this amazing athlete. It’s not that way. So for the majority of our athletes she, we’re in contact with him often. Some athletes like to talk to us literally every single day for every single meal. Other athletes like every couple of days, other athletes every couple of months. But it’s pretty much once they’re established patients or clients, Michelle said, if they have a question, they know that they can call, text, email, whatever at any time. And for a lot of athletes that have families, she also takes care of their families the child gets sick, the wife, the girlfriend, the boyfriend, et cetera. Something happens a lot of times. She is not first phone call. So it’s not just fight week. It’s all year round.

Corey Beasley [00:07:50]: Yeah. How cool. Well, that’s a great resource for these guys to have, right?

Paulina Indara [00:08:00]:So nothing checking us off guard, if an athlete says, three weeks ago I had a cold and it’s affecting my ability to make weight. It’s not one of those things that Michelle and I was like, had I known? No, she already knows. We’ve already been working on it. She’s already been telling the athlete and how to get better quicker, what foods to incorporate into their diets, so to boost your immune system, et cetera.

Corey Beasley [00:08:22]: Now when you’re starting out with an athlete, somebody wants to work with you guys and they call you up, where do you guys start?

Michelle Ingles [00:08:41]:Usually what happens is they’ll contact Paulina and we’ll find out what they’re looking for. what is it that you need? What is it that you’ve done in the past, what do you have up and coming and then we figure out how we can help them meet those goals. And for a lot of our clients, because they are distance, we start with phone calls, we start with a phone call and we do an intake, what are you eating? How are you feeling? What is your training like, what is your daily schedule like? And we kind of go through everything head to toe so that he’s got a good idea of what they’re looking for. And then I can put together a plan or a program that helps them meet that. And then we decide do you want a nutrition plan? Do you want a meal plan? Do you want somebody there for fight week? Do you need to lose five pounds? Do you need to go up a weight class down a weight class? And then we really tried to personalize it for whatever their needs are. And then we can work together. If we’re local, we’ll visit them locally. If not, we manage through phone or text or email or Skype.

Corey Beasley [00:09:45]: Very cool. All different resources that are available these days make it so easy to communicate with people all over the place.

Michelle Ingles [00:09:51]:Exactly. And it doesn’t matter what time zone, what country, what city, what state we can always communicate. It makes it very convenient.

Corey Beasley [00:10:02]: So you guys, you’re obviously gathering information about that athlete, you’re communicating with them, learning their schedule, their intensities, all that type of stuff that they’re going through each week. And then you guys fully customize a plan of a tech for them. Now moving forward, I know you kind of alluded to it a little bit earlier, but on a daily or weekly basis or monitoring them, how do you kind of stay in touch and monitor progress?

Paulina Indara [00:10:33]:Fight camp. The difference between fight camp being in camp and out of camp is probably just the frequency that we touch base. Again, unless the athlete, we have some athletes that even out of camp texts us every day just to say, Hey listen, this is where I’m going to have, I’m craving something with chocolate. Do you have a healthy recommendation? Because they realize that as they start following the nutritional recommendations that Michelle makes that they feel better. And so we have a couple of fighters that have said, you know what, I treat every week. It’s fight week now. I make sure that when I put in my body is clean and overall they feel better. Just in general, they have more energy. So it’s not just about having energy during camp, it’s about day to day activity. So we have a thing that Michelle says that you are careful with what you eat and you make the best decision possible 90% of the time and 10% of the time life happens. You want to go out and want celebrate a birthday, an anniversary of your child’s birthday of your child wants to bake you a cake and you want to eat it. Okay, eat it. Perhaps not the entire cake, perhaps a slice of it, but you make the best choices you can. There’s a best choice, a better choice, a good choice, and a 10% of the time choice. And that’s how you look at it. It’s very difficult for anybody, not just an athlete, but even Michelle’s private practice clients for them to say, you know what? Every single day I’m going to have X that doesn’t exist. And it really truly doesn’t. And for people that say, I could never cheat. Well the word never is kind of strong. You know what I mean? And it’s not cheating. It’s enjoying life. You can’t say, I’m going out to dinner and I can never have a glass of wine or I can never have that piece of candy or I can never have a piece of cake that my child, just make it to me. Something like that. So 10% of the time, okay, 90% of the time make the best choice possible.

Corey Beasley [00:12:34]: I think that’s good advice. I think with a lot of the diet stuff that’s out there, it is too black and white and it doesn’t take into account there’s an individual on the other end of that advice and people do need to live life. They do have different cultures and different foods as they grew up with and stuff like that. And if you pigeonhole people too much, if they think that it’s boiled chicken and broccoli, there’s what they need to do, then they just won’t do it.

Paulina Indara [00:13:01]:It’s never a boiled chicken. I could promise you that. Never boiled chicken. You have to enjoy what you’re eating, where it takes the fun out of it, then it’d be, you don’t want it to be home a struggle.

Michelle Ingles [00:13:13]:And one of the things that I think does make it super easy is when somebody has a question, we will frequently say, take a picture, take a picture of whatever it is. If you want to eat and show me the ingredients or take a picture of the menu at the restaurant that you’re at. And I will tell you, here are the better choices. Or you can have this that maybe only have part of it or balance it with what you’re eating later. So it’s really easy we text, I don’t even want to know how many thousands of times a day to people. But it’s quick and it’s easy.

Paulina Indara [00:13:48]:50,000 pounds for text a month individually. Yeah, it’s crazy.

Michelle Ingles [00:13:54]:But it’s super easy. They can show me, you know, if there’s a question about, is this the right proportion? Take a picture of your plate. Show me what you’re eating if there’s a question of am I cooking it right, let’s Face Time it and see it. It really makes it so easy so that we’re almost there holding their hands the entire time and that they never feel like they are alone or have to worry about whether they’re making the right decision. If you have a question, you text us, you let us know. We answer it. Super simple.

Corey Beasley [00:14:26]: I mean honestly like just knowing how many people, just fielding questions on the website can get a little overwhelming on certain days. Not to mention personally consulting and helping that many people on a very personal level. There’s a lot of times its just information that’s out there or a book or an online program or whatever. And the fact that you’re taking the time to answer the little things that pop up on a daily basis is awesome.

Michelle Ingles [00:14:58]:But the more that we can help somebody understand why they are making those choices, the more likely they are to make those choices for the rest of their life. And so I always feel like if you just invest a little extra time at the beginning, it makes it so much easier for the rest of their career or the rest of their lives.

Corey Beasley [00:15:18]: For sure. Now, from your experience and you dealt with so many different athletes a lot of times there’s shopping lists. You can tell them the types of foods they need to take in ratios portion sizes, there’s a lot of different variables there, but when it comes down to bringing all that stuff home and actually cooking it, I do you guys have any advice for people that are completely foreign to the kitchen and when they walk in there, they’re just like, dude, I haven’t really no idea what to do here. So but I have this shopping list of stuff. Where do you typically start with people like that?

Michelle Ingles [00:16:02]:Well, there’s a bunch of different places the thing is, to never be afraid. If you don’t know what it is, you can A for us, they can call us or contact us and we’ll walk them through it. B, you’ve got the internet at your fingertips. You can go on Pinterest and find any, pillion ways of learning things. But never be afraid. Like if you try something and you don’t like it, don’t throw that food away. Just try it a different way. There is inspiration everywhere and there is support everywhere. And we obviously have some very simple recipes and menus on our website and in our books. We try not to have anything that takes longer than 15 minutes to cook or prep because most of the time those are things that we’re doing in hotel rooms when we’re cooking for people. But we get inspiration from other people too. We look at Instagram and you look at Pinterest and you look at all of the different places on the web where you type in, I have kale, what do I do with it? Type in kale and you’ll get a million different ideas in there so that there’s always something and you can pick the ones that look appealing to you. And if you know basic tenants of what we teach about portion size and good foods and good cooking methods, you can take those and make them into any millions of different ways of cooking them.

Corey Beasley [00:17:29]: Well, I think that’s it’s a good point because I think a lot of people get overwhelmed with information. But I mean we have the world at our fingertips if we’re willing to just kind of dig in and look and it couldn’t be any easier to find stuff. So I mean that’s just the simple good tips. When you’re talking with somebody about when laying out their week and you’re talking about somebody that maybe practices a couple of times a day, they’re married, they got kids, they got all these different things going on. How do you have like recommend having cooking days where they could prep their meals a few days in a head or how do you help them kind of organize the week that way?

Michelle Ingles [00:18:09]:So I think with that, it’s pretty individual and we all do it in different ways. I find for me personally, and for a lot of clients it’s easier to just go out one day a week. I’ll go out on a Sunday, I’ll do my grocery shopping. I don’t even put anything away until like chopped it and sliced it and prepped it. I try and do all of my cooking done or as much as possible, throw it in the refrigerator so that during the rest of the week when I’m crazy busy, I can grab and go. And I even do that on the road. I go to the grocery store, I grab everything, I prep it, and then I put it in the refrigerator. It just makes my life easier. There are other people that say, I don’t want to spend three hours doing that. I’d rather send 15 minutes a night. So it’s really just whatever suits you. Some people like to pick up their groceries every day. Some people like to shop once a month. It’s whatever works easiest in your lifestyle. And then figuring out and then being consistent with it so you know that you’ve got that time every day at night I’m going to prep my food for the next day or every morning I’m going to put stuff in the crockpot so that it’s ready for dinner or every Sunday or Monday I’m going to prep food for the week. It’s figuring out what works best for your lifestyle and then doing that.

Corey Beasley [00:19:24]: Very cool. Now when it comes to the strength side, there’s a lot of collaboration that needs to happen with the skill coaches and other people that are involved with that athlete to make sure everybody’s on the same page. How much time do you guys spend communicating with other coaches or other people that are involved in that for the athletes?

Paulina Indara [00:19:47]:So it varies different with each athlete that we have some athletes relay the information to their coach. And a coach will send us a note once a week. And there are other coaches depending on the athlete that we have a tremendous amount of communication with. An example is Joanna Jedrzejczyk her three primary coaches especially Mike Brown, we talked to him all the time and we say, how she doing, how’s she feeling? What’s your energy like? If she is struggling or she’s tired, I might get a note from the wrestling coach, Hey listen, she’s probably a little tired what do you think about keeping her out of practice or something like that or her energy is crazy good right now. What are you guys doing because let’s mimic that, that kind of stuff. And then there are other coaches that we only speak to during fight week. So it really depends. And that goes to the same for the girlfriends or the wives or the boyfriends or the husbands that are part of this athlete’s camp as well. We’ll get feedback from the athletes. There are some athletes that we have that we deal with the partner primarily when it comes to cooking. Hey, he was kind of moody today, or she was kind of moody today or he’s not really sleeping well or he’s doing amazing what do we need to do, et cetera. So it’s a team effort. It may be a very individual sport, but it definitely is a team effort. And it’s not just the fighter that we rely on for that information. It’s all the feedback. Michelle definitely does said say, the more information we have, the better. So if somebody wants to literally give us a daily diary at the end of the day, awesome. Most people don’t like to do it because they don’t have time to keep track of whatever. And so they’ll have their partner, Hey, can you text them? And say this or et cetera. So the more information we have, the better. And just help Michelle keep track of the athlete and kind of goes into their files slash chart and that way she can reference it for future fights. So depending on the athlete, sometimes it’s a lot of contact with coaches and family. Sometimes it’s once a week type thing.

Corey Beasley [00:22:18]: Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, that’s pretty common across the board. You’re going to have people that communicate more or less. But it is, I mean it’s a sometimes it’s a juggling act. But it sounds like you guys are really getting your hands dirty and getting in there and really on a personal level with a lot of your clients, which is why you guys are doing so well. When you guys do come down for fight week, and somebody needs to weigh in, let’s say on Friday and be a certain weight. I know that there’s a lot of a lot of busy-ness. And if you’re talking about MMA and UFC and the high level athletes, there’s a lot of noise that week. There’s a lot of demands and responsibilities and all kinds of stuff going on. How do you guys kind of approach fight week when they have X amount of pounds? I need to cut worked they need to do and stuff like that. What’s the kind of the general, I mean just a few tips that you guys use during that week to get them on point?

Michelle Ingles [00:23:23]:I think probably the biggest tip that we have is don’t stop eating. You know, we are a big advocates of whatever you are doing during your training camp is what you also want to be doing during your fight week because you’re not going to change up everything that you’ve ever learned from your coaches just because it’s fight week where you, the fight don’t change up everything you’ve done nutritionally. Your body knows how to train and compete using certain nutrients and getting certain amounts of sleep. Keep with it. You’re under even more stress during fight week. So you can go into fight weekend suddenly say, Oh my God, I’m going to not eat for three days and sit in the sun for 12 hours. It’s not reasonable. You haven’t done that during camp. And it’s also incredibly unhealthy. So, you know, our approach is let’s keep you on the schedule. Let’s keep track of, you know, what foods and drinks made you feel and perform your best during camp and let’s give you those during the week. And hopefully you’ve been keeping track. How much water are you sweating out in a typical day or during a typical training so that we have an idea of what we can expect from you during fight week. And we try not to put the body under too much stress, our advice is keep it real simple and also don’t go crazy just because you’ve weighed in keep it steady and following the same protocol all the way through the fight. Because until you’ve won that fight, it’s not over. If you’re changing everything just because you’ve weighed in and you’re eating something that you haven’t eaten in six weeks and suddenly you’re stuffing your face full of it maybe you’re not going to feel so good during your plate or you’re not going to perform as well as you could and you don’t want that sitting in the back of your head. So we always say, keep check of what makes you feel your best. Keep doing it, and you would all the way up til the fight, once the fights over go crazy and enjoy.

Corey Beasley [00:25:21]: Yeah. Well that’s good advice. I mean, it’s true. There’s a little bit of an underlying eating disorder type of stuff that’s going on with a lot of these guys because starting all the way from when they’re young wrestlers or athletes do in other sports and having to weigh in with bad habits and if nothing changes, nothing changes, right? They can be 35 years old and still be making the same mistakes. So I think that’s great. Simple advice, if they’re eating well, they tend to be closer to their fighting weight anyway they’re probably a bit leaner, they don’t have to have these massive, drastic cuts that in my opinion, that doesn’t make them more competitive. So that’s good. It’s good you guys are doing that. So do you have any other tips or things that stick out in your mind as you’re dealing with all these different people the things that’ll help them this week moving forward to kind of get make better choices and eat a little bit better?

Michelle Ingles [00:26:29]:I’d say the first one is drink plenty of water and don’t try and drink it all at once. Just drink it slow and steady throughout the day. And one of the big things that we really advocate is eat your vegetables, not just because your mom you to, not to because it’s advertised on TV that it’s good, but because they really give you a ton of nutrients, they give you any accidents and vitamins and minerals and electrolytes and they help you function really well with minimal calories and easy to digest. So I think that the two simplest things that people can walk away with to see huge changes are drinking water throughout the day, all day, every day, and increasing the total quantity of vegetables, whether they’re raw or cooked or frozen or canned or steamed or whatever. But just increasing that you will see huge changes in your energy, in your sleep, in your recovery and in your weight very quickly.

Corey Beasley [00:27:27]: Yeah, absolutely. Michelle, Paulina, for anybody that’s wanting to get more information on what you ladies are doing, what’s the best way for them to reach out?

Paulina Indara [00:27:38]:You can always check us out on our [email protected] Instagram is perfecting_ athletes. And Twitters perfectingA and you can send us an email @infoatperfectingathletes.com.

Corey Beasley [00:27:56]: Awesome. Well, ladies, thanks again. It’s a tremendous info and I’m sure it’s going to help a lot of people out, so thanks again for joining us. I appreciate it.

Paulina Indara [00:25:04]:Fantastic have a good day.

Michelle Ingles [00:28:05]:Thank you so much.