Can Dieting Make You Fat? A Look at Metabolic Burnout

There’s been numerous discussions online and we’ve heard the chatter offline about “Metabolic Burnout”. The blame game continues to be played with few players stepping up to take responsibility. We decided to consult with professionals to get their take on the matter and help shed some light on this hot topic.

What is Metabolic Burnout? Are you suffering from it? What causes it? The answers to those questions and more.


Can Dieting Make You Fat?
Metabolic Burnout is a recently popular term used by many women in the competition world.  It is known to occur due to the result of many years of abuse (stress, lack of sleep, prescription and over-the-counter medications, poor diet and exercise patterns) that cause your organ(s), most specifically the adrenal glands, pancreas or thyroid, to work less efficiently. Your internal balance is thrown off and the body struggles to bring itself back into equilibrium.  A few of the most common symptoms include: fatigue or inability to fall asleep, hunger and difficulty losing weight.

This controversial topic embodies the notion that if an individual drops below an intake of about 1400 calories/day (or perhaps 1200), the metabolism will “shut down” and he or she will “hold on to fat” and will not lose weight.  In addition, the extreme low calorie dieting then predisposes them to acquire even more body fat.  This debate underscores the large gap that exists in our understanding of basic physiological laws that govern the regulation of human body composition.  A striking example is the key role attributed to adipose (fat) cells as feedback signals between adipose tissue depletion as a consequence of dieting followed by increases in food intake.  A feedback loop between fat depletion and food intake cannot explain why individuals after dieting begin to overeat well after body fat has been restored to a normal level, and then continue to eat and cause “fat overshooting”. In order to address the credibility of dieting causing predisposition for increased fatness, this paper will examine both the physiological and psychological relationship between dieting and re-feeding.

The Metabolic Effects of Low Calorie Diets
A low calorie diet is a diet that contains between 900 and 1,300 calories a day, while a very low calorie diet has no more than 800 calories per day. Typically a very low calorie diet is for obese individuals on a short-term basis and monitored by a physician.  This type of chronic restrictive dieting may tend to decrease a person’s basal metabolic rate overtime. A study published in the 1987 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was conducted over a six-month period to determine the effects of a low calorie diet, energy expenditure and resting metabolic rate. The 15 women who participated in the study had a reduction in basal metabolic rate in the last three months as well as a decrease in energy expenditure. Another study published in the 1991 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that the participants had a significant decrease in resting metabolic rate in the last two weeks of the three-week study.

As the results of these studies indicate, a low calorie diet may lead to an initial weight loss but could also cause a lowered metabolism that may not necessarily recover to its original levels even after increasing your calories back to a normal amount. So while you may drop a ton of weight fast by minimal calories a day, over time, your body will go into “starvation mode”, decreasing the amount of calories you burn at rest so as to conserve your body’s energy stores and prevent death. It may sound dramatic, but remember, our genes haven’t changed all that much since pre-historic times when death from starvation was commonplace.

Post Low Calorie Dieting and Fat Overshooting
It’s not that dieting makes you fat, but that being fat makes you more likely to diet!  Most competitors fall into this “Post Dieting – Fat Overshooting” category.  This is basically the process of losing body fat and then increasing food intake and decreasing energy expenditure to such an extreme that the person regains far more body weight than needed resulting in body fat overshooting.

The weight rebound that comes after the period of dieting apparently includes an overshoot in both increased appetite and fat gain. People seem driven to eat more than necessary to restore their normal weight, and they gain more body fat than they had prior to the beginning of the diet.

Psychological Causes for Post Dieting – Fat Overshooting
There have been countless psychological research studies concerning the most effective ways to maintain weight loss.  This research has proven that weight loss maintenance has not only a physiological component, but a psychological one as well.  Of course you do not want to attempt to maintain your contest weight and conditioning year round.  However, there is no need to find yourself in a weight loss and gain cycle due to behaviors, which cause you to re-gain all of the weight you worked so hard to lose.

As human beings, we are naturally goal oriented.  A research article published in the 2013 edition of Psychological Review outlines a common internal conflict in those concerned with their weight. This conflict exists between the desire to lose the weight and keep it off, versus the desire to enjoy food. Sports psychology research shows us that staying committed to a task-oriented goal is much easier than staying committed to an outcome based goal.  The goal to obtain a particular physique for a competition is task oriented in nature, and this task- oriented desire to obtain a stage-ready physique can often overrule the goal of food enjoyment and lead to weight loss success.  After a competition has ended, competitors no longer have the short-term, task oriented goal of obtaining a stage-ready physique to drive them to continue with their lifestyle modifications.  The goal associated with their food intake behavior then becomes outcome oriented in that it is not based on a specific event, rather it is based upon the broad outcome of not re-gaining the weight.  The less effective outcome specific goal mixed with an immediate short-term goal of food enjoyment can lead to a behavioral shift.  This shift can cause the individual to completely abandon all lifestyle modifications that led to their weight loss.  Without a task oriented physique goal in sight, this shift in goals can lead to weight gain, which often exceeds that in which they lost.

Research demonstrates that those who regain weight after losing weight during a period of dietary restraint, displays several common behavioral factors and personality traits.  In clinical trials cited in the 1997 and 1998 Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology concerning individuals who experienced successful weight loss and then suffered subsequent gain, the following behaviors were observed; lack of attempt to restrain their eating, marked decrease in physical activity, an increase in television viewing, reports of marked hunger and eating due to depression.  Another very interesting and well-documented behavior found in those who regain weight, is that they often stop weighing themselves once they have reached their weight loss goal.  This statement is not advocating that obsession with the scale is healthy.  However, according to researchers at the University of Hertfordshire, those who were able to keep their weight loss over time found the ability to utilize the scale as a measure of behavioral restraint. These individuals found themselves able to modify their dietary behavior if they observed themselves regaining an abundance of the weight in which they had lost.  Those who were not able to maintain their weight loss were more likely to have either abandoned the scale all together or did not attempt to modify their behavior when observing an increase in bodyweight.

Researchers at Brown Medical School found that there are many baseline personality traits (personality traits observed before the dietary restraint began) to be associated with the regaining of weight after weight loss goal completion.  These factors included a higher baseline level of disinhibition in relation to desirable food, higher baseline levels of binge eating behavior, a self-reported inability to maintain unrelated lifestyle and behavior modifications and a history of yo-yo weight gain and loss.  This does not mean that individuals who possess these personality factors cannot be successful in maintaining weight loss.  Rather, it serves as an alert to these individuals that they must be conscious of their predisposed triggers, which may cause them to have difficulty in maintaining their weight once their weight loss goal has been achieved.

Following a diet that contains too few calories can have some very negative (and possibly permanent) effects on your metabolism and overall health. Not only is it impossible to meet your nutrient goals for the day, but chronic crash dieters or contest dieters are also shooting themselves in the foot in terms of weight loss by slowing their metabolism and thereby making it even more difficult to shed excess pounds in the long-term. In addition, you’ll be setting yourself up for nutritional deficiencies, which can have long-term complications (i.e. anemia, osteoporosis, etc.)

It seems as if those people who are claiming damage from dieting and competing most often “cheat” on their nutrition plans and then attempt to make up for it by increasing exercise duration and cutting back calories even further.  The even bigger issue is that many of these same people will gain 20-30 pounds (or more!) after their competitions by completely ceasing exercising and becoming a stranger to the gym for weeks or months! So when its contest time again they have even more weight to lose!

Competing in a sport based on obtaining a lean, tight, sculpted physique requires dietary restriction.  However, starving one’s self or resorting to extremely low calorie diets is not necessary to obtain a stage-ready physique.  By taking your time to lose the initial weight correctly, the final stages of your competition prep will not be as difficult.  In addition, having a strategy for success after you have left the stage is equally as important.  Honestly assess your personality traits in relation to the research demonstrated concerning those who have difficulty in maintaining weight loss success, and take the steps necessary to assist yourself in modifying your behavior.  Additionally, prepare for how you are going to maintain a majority of your weight loss after your task oriented competition goal has been completed.

This type of “yo-yo” weight loss makes losing weight more and more difficult over time.  In order to be successful and healthy throughout years of this sport, you MUST make this a lifestyle and live it 365 days a year.  Then it won’t be so difficult or dangerous when its time to prepare for a competition.  The intelligent choice is to remain within 5-7lbs (no more than 10lbs) of your contest weight year round.  This lifestyle choice makes competition training and nutrition easier and more enjoyable.  If you chose to be involved in this sport then you aspired to be fit and healthy so why would anyone allow herself to gain 20+ pounds of fat?  LIVE THE LIFESTYLE and be happy, healthy and fit forever!

Tracey C. Greenwood, PhD
Associate Professor of Exercise Science
Eastern University
IFBB Fitness Pro

Shannon Dey
M.S. Heath Education
Doctoral Candidate Sports Psychology
IFBB Fitness Pro

Bacon, L. & Aphramor, L.  (2011).  Weight science:  evaluating the evidence for a paradigm shift.  Nutrition Journal, 10:  9-15.
Dulloo, Ag., Jacquet, J. & Montani, JP.  (2012).  How dieting makes some fatter: from a perspective of human body composition autoregulation.  Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 71: 379-389.
Dosil, J. (2010).  The Sports Psychologist Handbook, Wiley and Sons, NJ.
Fletcher, B. (2011).  FIT – Do something different:  A new behavioral program for sustained weight loss.  Swiss Journal of Psychology 70(1), 25-34.
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Hermen, P. (2008)  Undereating or eliminating overeating?  American Psychologist, 63(10), 202-204.
Kruger, J. et al.  (2004).  Attempting to lose weight: specific practices among U.S. adults.  Am. Jour. Prev . Med., 26: 402-406.
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Stroebe, W. (2013).  Why most dieters fail but some succeed:  A goal conflict model of eating behavior.  Psychological Review, 120(1).  110-138
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Zorbas, YG., Merkov, AB. & Nobahar, AV.  (2001).  Effect of low-calorie diets on metabolism of man.  J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol., 9(5-6):457-65


Hardbody Road To The Olympia: Dianna Dahlgren – Rounding The Booty

We’re in the single digits in the countdown to the Olympia. One of the leading ladies of the bikini division, Dianna Dahlgren gives us an update on her current state of mind and what her schedule will be like this week. Check it out in her post below and see what’s she doing for her final workouts and where you can meet the cover girl during throughout the Olympia weekend.



5 days out
By Dianna Dahlgren

Hello to all my fellow hardbodiess!!!

I CAN’T BELIEVE there are only a few days left till the 2012 Bikini Olympia. Time has been flying! This last week is really all about enjoying the process of getting ready to leave and pamper thy self! Every morning waking up and seeing your body be ‘stage ready’ is the icing on the cake! I tend to catch myself slipping to a negative side a lot just because I’m inpatient! I want Friday to be here now! but like I said I remind myself to slow down, and cherish the process. Only a few workouts left as well, of course focusing on my round bootay! Keeping it nice n round and hitting cardio afterwards!

Heres’  a little sample of what I’ll be doing up until Friday:
• Glute Pushbacks, heavy weight, 20 reps, 4 sets
• Standing Glute Pushbacks, medium weight, 15 reps, 4 sets
• Then I stay on the same machine and turn my foot and hip outward so it hits the top of the side and top of the glutes! medium weight, 15 reps, 4 sets

Cardio afterwards consists of the Stair Master, most dread this machine but really it is THE BEST machine for the bootay! I go for 45 minutes and step every 2 steps instead of every step!

The days will be filled with enjoying this final week by packing, mani and pedi and making sure everything is all set for the big show this weekend!

This weekend you can meet me at:
• Thursday Night – Meet the Olympians
• Friday – I’ll be busy competing this day but come watch Prejudging at the Expo in the morning and finals will be held at the Orleans arena that night!
• Saturday – I’ll be at the Expo working with GNC all day!

I’D LOVE TO MEET YOU! Come by and say hi!

Till next time,

Hardbody Road To The Olympia: Teresa Anthony Update

IFBB Figure Pro stops by and talks for the first time where her heads and what it’s like competing before the Olympia. Teresa also talks about the challenge of prepping for a show while working full-time at a “regular” job. She’s just one week out from the biggest show of the year and she’s ready to rock.

1 week out
By Teresa Anthony

I competing in the Tournament of Champion in California as a warm up show, third place…not bad at all. I return from California Sunday afternoon, one show down… one more to go. Rebounding from one show to another is sometimes mentally challenging for me. Getting a little taste of food you have craved for months can be a little tough to give up… so the key is stay focused and keep your eye on the next goal.

The TOC gave me a chance a experiment with a fuller look (for my physique anyway), which I was satisfied with the look I bought to the stage. My main goal for the Olympia is to bring a tighter yet fuller look and enjoy the moment. Here we go…

The week after the TOC has been a challenging one, between work which is always hectic during September because of the end of the Government fiscal year and trying to maintain my training and dieting regime. On Monday, I was back in the gym at 4:45 am doing cardio (working off some good food I had with friends) and then off to my work day and gym again. The first three days after the show has been tough, my mind and body was exhausted but I had no time for slacking. So with that said, I modified my workouts by super-setting my workouts for no more 45 minutes weighting training and 30 minutes cardio (moderate intensity). My thinking was if I could get a little rest for those three days, it would assist me in getting back to my regular regime. By that Thursday physically I was well rested and back on regular regime full speed.

So here we are 1 week out from the Olympia… maintaining my current weight, practicing my stage presence and just trying to stay as stress free as possible is my main goal for the next few day. Check in later y’all…


Hardbody Road To The Olympia: Juliana Daniell’s Juggling Act

IFBB Pro Juliana Daniell joins us on her Road to The Olympia. Juliana will be making her second appearance on the big stage and she’s looking to stay in the top spots. She has one of the more athletic physiques in the division and it can be attributed to her years of swimming as well as her continued work as NBA cheerleader.

atlanta hawks cheerleader

The Juggle, The Struggle, and The Satisfaction
1.5 weeks out
By Juliana Daniell

This year’s Olympia prep for me has been nothing like the last. This will be my second year taking the Olympia stage in the bikini division and it will be an array of emotions when I do. Normally my prep is somewhat relaxed and the only thing I focus on; however this year the word relax and tunnel vision have been no where in my daily routine! But with all the craziness, I have never lost sight of what I want to achieve or lost the motivation to continue.

I do, and am part of, a lot of things outside of competing and usually they all fall into a nice pattern, nothing overlaps, and I can very easily manage everything.But this year, the entire year for that matter, has been completely opposite the norm! It has forced me to become more organized and assign priorities to certain things. I like to give myself ample time in between shows to make sure I stay mentally in the game as well as give my body some rest between prepping for shows. But this year, because of my Hawks (Atlanta’s NBA team) schedule, I haven’t been able to do that.

I recently competed in the Sarasota Pro show and then spent this past week in Biloxi, MS for the Atlanta Hawks Cheerleaders calendar photo shoot! This past weekend I had to attend our team retreat as well as take part in our uniform photo shoot. So between the prep for Sarasota, the travel for our photo shoot (and being away from my gym and kitchen), and the lack of time for myself (and sleep!!) it’s made things a little harder for me than normal. But even with all of the craziness going on in my life, I can honestly say I feel better and more prepared than I ever have before. Competing in Sarasota was actually a great thing for me because it forced me to get show ready early and now I am just tweaking things instead of changing them! Which is a relief mentally and physically. And because of how busy I’ve been recently, sticking to my diet has been much easier than normal because my mind is always occupied. My diet is very similar to last years; lots of fish, chicken, veggies, and very little carbs. My cardio however is slightly more than normal, 2 – 2.5 hours/day, but I’m okay with it because I can see changes already and I love them. I’m planning to come in a little smaller at this year’s Olympia compared to what I was at the Arnold this past March and I’m excited for it.

The only other thing that’s different this year compared to last is I’m a member of Team Bombshell and I love it! =) The support and knowledge that Shannon and Rob provide is just incredible. I know the reason I feel so prepared, mentally and physically, is because I believe in them, their program, and myself. And not to mention I absolutely love my teammates and the friendships I have developed over the last few months. It really makes such a huge difference, at or away from shows, when you have girls you can talk to and lean on when things are good, or bad, or just normal. Because as much as your boyfriend, mom, and friends who don’t compete try to help you, it’s just not the same because they truly don’t get it or understand what you’re going through! No offense y’all! 🙂

I’m less than two weeks out and know that the next few days are critical. Thankfully the craziness that’s been my life recently is lessening and I will be able to rest and focus a little more. But my drive and determination to bring my best package yet is in overdrive and I am excited to show y’all the final product. I’ll check back in sometime next week and give y’all an update! Until then, stay strong, stay motivated, and believe in YOURSELF! And if you have any questions please feel free to leave me a message on my facebook fan page or email me!


If you can’t make it to the Olympia you can still watch Juliana and all the other competitors live on webcast via

Hardbody Road to The Olympia: Nicole Nagrani Juggles Demanding Schedule

Reining Bikini Olympia champion, Nicole Nagrani updates us on what’s happening in her world as she prepares for her title defense. Nicole is a full-time student and en route to medical school. There aren’t many competitors who are taking two college tests the week of a show. She also shares some of her favorite supplements and how they help boost her energy and recovery time.


nicole nagrani bikini champion


2.5 weeks out
By Nicole Nagrani

There’s only a little over two weeks until the Olympia and honestly, I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THE TIME WENT! I really cant believe its almost here!!!!

So, about a week ago I moved into my own place and started attending my FINAL semester of my undergraduate studies! I am applying to medical school, have a full-time course load, and am training for the Olympia so I’m extremely busy! I’m guessing you all know that feeling where you start stressing yourself out because too many important things are going on. You just start to feel completely overwhelmed… well that’s how I feel. But, its time to strap up and go full force! I am so determined to look my best ever and with more things on my plate there is no time for distractions.

I get messages all the time asking how I manage school and training… and sometimes I don’t even know how! I always write back, that its just because I want to feel like every time I put time into something, I want it to be well worth it. I want to commit my energy to things that are productive, things I can look back on and be proud of. Not things that I will say, “dang, I wish I could’ve tried harder or done better.” I most definitely don’t want to look back at the Olympia pictures and think I could’ve done a lot more to look better than I did.

Of course I have a ton of homework, two tests the week of the show, and deadlines for applications. But I can either choose to let myself go crazy or just do it. You can either choose to let yourself be overwhelmed, or just approach everything head on and know your going to tackle it. Your mind controls everything that goes on around you because of the way you perceive it. If you want to achieve in something, then just tell yourself you will, and act like it! Then… you will! I’m not kidding, it really works. So try it next time you have doubts or are thinking negatively about something. The mind is really so powerful and anything you set your mind to you can make reality. There’s a reason we grow up hearing those words all of the time.

There’s a few things on my supplement program that I’ve added that I’m starting to see really great results with recovery and energy. If you’re interested in finding new products here are some of my favorites

All of the listed products are MET-Rx supplements

• L-carnitine – I noticed that I started to drop weight faster when I started taking this product. I also experienced an increase in energy.

• Active woman multivitamin– This capsule contains all of the necessary nutrients I need to get through the intense training.

• HMB 1000 – Ive experienced increased strength which has been helpful since Im lifting heavier for my upper body to put on size

• Super Joint guard – with all of the cardio and intense training, its important to not only make sure you are using the proper form, but taking supplements to support joint protection is always a good idea.

• ZMA – contains zinc, magnesium, and b-6 which is good for energy and metabolism

• BCAA 2200 – muscle breakdown can be a side effect when training really hard. I take BCAAs to prevent this and this product contains nitrogen to support the various metabolic processes within our bodies

• L- glutamine 1000 – helps with muscle recovery and also aids in maintaining a healthy immune system

So I may have a lot on my plate, but I won’t let anything get in my way on the road to this years Olympia. I have a goal in sight, and I will do anything and everything to reach it.

See photos of Nicole here. Follow Nicole on twitter @nicolenagrani and become a fan on Facebook.

Hardbody Road To The Olympia: Canadian Fitness Star Fiona Harris

IFBB Fitness Pro Fiona Harris will be competing in her first Olympia in just a few weeks. She’s already made an immediate impact on the pro ranks by finishing in the top three in both of her pro shows. Even more amazing is that she wasn’t even a pro at the start of 2012. We caught up with Fiona to learn a bit more about her and her background. She shares what it’s like to go from gymnastics to cheerleading and how that’s helped her on the IFBB stage. She shares a sample work out, the importance of having a coach and more. Check it out.


Fiona Harris

Born in:
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Currently Live In:
Welland, Ontario, Canada

Specialist Representative – Pharmaceutical Sales

What did you want to be as little girl?
Like most kids, I wanted to be a doctor.  I always wanted to help people feel better when they were sick.  As I got older, I realized I wasn’t interested in devoting so many years of my life to school.  My current profession still allows me to work closely within the medical field and help optimize patient’s health. It’s a great fit for me.

What age did you start gymnastics?
I started training when I was 4 years old.  I continued my gymnastics career until I was 16 years old.  At that point, I transitioned into cheerleading.

What level did you reach?
I competed at level 8-9 provincially.

How did you get started in cheerleading?
My high school had a high level competitive cheerleading team.  Once my coach found out I had a gymnastics background, she strongly encouraged me to join.  I started with the team in grade 10 and then slowly transitioned over the next couple of years from gymnastics to cheerleading.   Gymnastics is a difficult sport to continue as you reach your later teenage years at a high competitive level.  This was a way to continue my love for gymnastics in a new sport.

What did you enjoy more, cheerleader or gymnastics?
Gymnastics will always be in my heart.  I grew up training so many hours a week; it was like my home away from home.  I gained lifelong friends that are still close with me to this day.  It is definitely a sport that teaches you self-discipline and commitment.  I attribute my drive, hard work, strong work ethic and love for athletics to my years of competing in gymnastics. Cheerleading however opened many doors for me.  It enabled me to work all across the United States as a professional cheerleader.  It was an amazing learning experience.

How did you get your start in competitive fitness?  
I have always continued to be an active individual, training in the gym and involving myself in different sports to satisfy my competitive drive.  But, I felt my progress with my physique had stalled and I was looking for a new challenge.  I reached out to my long-time friend and IFBB Fitness Pro Mindi O’Brien to shake things up.  While training with her, I was exposed to her team of figure and bikini competitors.  I was inspired by the dedication and commitment to their sport.  Mindi had always encouraged me to compete, but it took some time for me to come to the self-realization that I had the potential and belonged on stage with these other amazing competitors.  I competed for the first time in November 2010.  My goal was simple – overcome my fears, step on stage and display all my hard work.  Never did I think I would walk away with a first place trophy.  And that was it – one show and I was hooked! The competitive fire was re-lit inside me and it has been burning ever since.

fiona harris routine

Fiona fly high in Pittsburgh

What aspect of your gymnastics background do you feel has helped you the most now that you’re competing as a pro?  
Having a gymnastics background can definitely be an advantage when competing in fitness, but by no means is it a requirement.  Many of the best fitness competitors in the world have little to no formal gymnastics training.  There are so many other important components to the routines such as flexibility, strength and showmanship.  More important than the elements, gymnastics instilled the key qualities that are essential for any successful competitor – drive, dedication, discipline and a competitive fire.

How important is it to have a good coach/trainer?   
Absolutely imperative!  I am a firm believer that you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with.  My success to date has been the direct result of my coaches Mindi O’Brien and Dennis Beitler.  Ask them the same question and they will say it is due to all my hard work.  Honestly though, without their direction I wouldn’t have been able to achieve as much as I have, as quickly as I have.  I have learned so much from them as coaches and as friends.  It is important to have a strong support system around you that knows how to capitalize on your strengths and identify your weaknesses so that you can continue to improve.  Having coaches that can be objective and push you beyond your limits is what makes a good athlete a great athlete.

How often do you practice your routine?  
Typically I train my routine and skills 2-3 times per week.  One of the biggest challenges of being a fitness competitor is finding the facilities to train in.  I am fortunate enough that I can train out of my former gymnastics club, Gymnastics Energy, as well as my high school, Notre Dame College School.  Without their help, it would make competing in fitness next to impossible.

You kinda flew under the radar coming into the Pittsburgh Pro but finished in third. How was it making your pro debut?  
It was an amazing experience!  I had only earned my pro card 7 days earlier.  I had no expectations going into it.  I just wanted to put on a strong performance and have the opportunity to step on stage with the other amazing pro fitness competitors.  I couldn’t have asked for a better result for my pro debut.  It will definitely be a highlight in my career.

Anything you wish someone would have told you that you learned the hard way when it comes to competing?   
Haha … who knew tanning for a show was so involved!  Exfoliate, moisturize, exfoliate, moisturize … cross your fingers it dries properly … is it dark enough … don’t sweat … and God please don’t let it rain!!!  That was definitely something I wasn’t prepared for the first time.  And countless shows later, it is no easier.  Someone definitely has to come out with a water proof, pH proof tanning product 

What’s the key to recovering from intense training and the demands of a fitness routine?  
One rest day during the week is imperative.  Sundays are always my rest day.  Your biggest gains are made when your body is resting, so you’re only defeating yourself if you don’t give your body that time to recover.  Mentally it is just as important.  It is easier to get through my demanding week of workouts when I know I have a day of R&R waiting for me at the end.

fiona harris kiss

Fiona all smiles at her IFBB Pro Fitness Debut.

One supplement you couldn’t live without?   

I would have to say my pre-workout amino acid supplement.  It definitely helps to get me through the tough days when I’ve already put in an early AM cardio session and a full work day before having to hit the gym for my weights and possibly more cardio.

What’s your breakfast typically look like? 
I typically have a shake for breakfast.  It usually includes whey protein isolate, avocado, banana, ice and water.  Yum!

Favorite body part to train?  
I would have to say it is shoulders at the moment.  There is nothing better than the feeling of not being able to lift your arms over your head after a solid shoulder workout!

What would be an example of your shoulder workout?
Dumbbell overhead press superset with cable front raises – 4 sets of 15
Seated lateral raises – 4 sets of 12-15
Bent over rear delt flyes superset with up and backs – 4 sets of 15
Arnold dumbbell press – 4 sets of 12-15

One contest prep food you could live without?   
Lately I would have to say asparagus.  These days I could definitely take or leave it.  A close runner up to that would be fish.  I’ve come a long way though – a year ago, I would never have eaten fish.  Dare I say now I have come to “almost” enjoy it.

One contest prep food you enjoy eating?
Oatmeal.  I love my oatmeal! I would prefer to eat more than the ½ cup dry oats I get, but I won’t turn my nose up at it.  Add some natural peanut butter and it is a real treat!

Rather watch hockey or UFC?  
Definitely UFC!  I’ve become quite a big fan over the past couple of years.  You have to appreciate the amazing athleticism of these fighters.  Georges St. Pierre is by far my favorite.

Favorite quote:
This quote is plastered across the wall in my trainer’s gym: “Pain is weakness leaving the body”.  That mantra will get you through any tough workout!

Number of Lulu Lemon items you own:  
If you ask my husband, he would say too many.  If you ask me, I would say not enough ;)  I’d estimate around 20 items.

Massages are ____?  
“Essential”!!!!  My massage therapist Serena Miresse (RMT) is so talented at what she does.  She can always identify my trouble areas without me even needing to tell her, help me to relieve my aches and pains from my training and keep my muscles moving through full range of motion to avoid future injuries.

How important is it to have a supportive family while competing?   
I can honestly say I would not be competing today without the support of my family.  My husband Steve is my biggest fan!  He is always there with words of encouragement when I hit a wall in my training/dieting and my voice of reason when I am pushing myself too hard.  Each time I step on stage I look to make him proud.  There are a lot of sacrifices made between a couple when competing, so to have such an amazing support system at home makes the world of difference.  He wants nothing more than to see me live out my dreams.  There is nothing more a girl could ask for in a partner!

Advice you’d give to women who are thinking about competing but unsure of themselves?  
The first time I competed, my goal was simple – overcome my fears, step on stage and display all of my hard work.  Trophies were the last thing on my mind.  You have to enjoy the process of competing.  The months leading up to the competition are where the wins are made.  You challenge your mind and body in ways you never thought you would.  You learn so much about your drive and commitment.  Stepping on stage the day of the competition with the tan, glittering suit and heels is just the icing on the cake.  And who knows what will come of it.  My competitive career started out with the goal of checking another item off my bucket list.  Now I’m living my dream!  I wouldn’t change anything for the world.

Where can people find out more info on you?   
I am in the process of creating my own website, so keep your eye out for that.  But for now, you can always find me on Facebook.  Reach out to me with comments and questions.  I love to help others who are looking to get into the industry and share training/nutrition ideas with fellow competitors!

All the best in Fiona! Thank you for you time.

See competition photos of Fiona on and follow her on twitter @fionaharrisfit.

Hardbody Road To The Olympia: Nathalia Melo “Listen to Your Body”

One of the IFBB’s most popular bikini competitors, Nathalia Melo checks in on her road to the Olympia. She talks about the often cliché “listen to your body” and her love/hate relationship with an “evil device”. One thing you can always count on with Nathalia is her keeping a sense of humor even when she’s tired, crabby and wants to chew her arm off during a prep. This latest check-in is no different. Check out what’s happening in Nathalia’s world in this installment of her Road to The O.

Just Under 3 weeks out
By Nathalia Melo

Hello Hardbodies!

We are now just under 3 weeks from the 2012 Olympia and I can easily say that this has been the contest prep in which I have learned a lot about my body and myself!

I had always heard people say how you should listen to your body and if you felt it was begging for a bit of rest then it should be given. For me it was a whole bunch of crap and just an excuse to get a day off! Well… I was 100% wrong on that!

At this point training is getting very intense, the “bipolar” effect is taking over and I feel like I can only remember my name because of Facebook! LOL…

I was stressing out over little things and feeling like things were not falling in place… Thanks to that little device, which I have learned to develop a Love/Hate relationship, THE SCALE! Sometimes you wanna hug it and kiss it, but sometimes you just wanna smash it against the wall! Hold on, hold on… I didn’t do either! Pheeew! I think that because of the stress my body was just like “WTF?”, and one day it decided to shut off on me, and refused to do the things I was telling it to do!! That’s when I realized it needed a BREAK… the famous, “Listen to your body!” was happening to me! No, It wasn’t a bunch of crap or an excuse; it was actually true!

I went home, ate my meals every day and slept until my bed kicked me out of it! Oh it felt good!! The next day I went back to my routine, and when I looked at myself on the mirror and stepped on the “evil device” aka the scale – BOOOM!! Everything was RIGHT ON!! Wohoooo!!!

Contest Prep, just like life, has its ups and downs, but you can’t give up at the first bump on the road! You might need a little break to get yourself together and keep on pushing forward!! Giving up on anything, mainly on yourself, should NEVER be an option and this is another lesson that I have learned on my Road to the Olympia 2012!!

Thank you all for reading this crazy and hungry lady’s blog, and Thanks Hardbody for the space to share a bit of my craziness!

Until next time,
Nathalia Melo

Follow Nathalia on twitter @nathaliamelofit and become a fan of hers on Facebook. Check out Nathalia’s contest photos here.

Hardbody Training: Legs Like Mallory Haldeman

Mallory Haldeman has been lighting things up on stage this year. She took home the overall Figure title at the 2012 NPC JR NATIONALS and has two runner-up finishes as an IFBB Pro. The pair of second place finishes put Mallory in the the Figure Olympia via the Qualification Points Series, not too shabby of a start to a pro career. Mallory has a set of legs that are the envy of many. How does she train her wheels of steel? To fin out we caught up with Mallory’s trainer, IFBB Fitness Pro Tracey Greenwood to get the leg workout she puts Mallory through.

If you want legs like Mallory it takes work, hard work. Give this leg workout a try an let us know how it goes. Get HARDBODY!


3 X 15 Leg Extensions

3 X 15 leg press (feet in “V”)

3 x 20 deep squats standing each foot on a riser

3 x walking lunges (with weights) superset with 30 pop squats

3 x 10 on each side lateral barbell squats stepping over a riser or platform

3 X 15 Lying leg curls

3 X 15 Manual leg curls

3 x 15 DB deadlifts standing on a riser

40 second rest between sets but if you really want to get hardbody drop down and do a set of abs. This workout should take no more than 40-45 minutes.

Mallory Haldeman Leg Training
Mallory Haldeman is A HARDBODY!

Follow Mallory on twitter @MalloryIFBB and find out more on Tracey Greenwood’s training programs at



Hardbody Road to The Olympia: Teresa Anthony – The Veteran

Teresa Anthony joins us on our Hardbody Road to The Olympia series. This isn’t first trip to the big dance, in fact it’s her 5th… making her one of the veterans in the line-up. Teresa shares some “Real Talk” and lessons she’s learned along the way. She also shares a sample of her favorite workout & why she decided to add Crossfit to her routine.

Getting Back on Track

Just Under 4 weeks out
By Teresa Anthony

It is that time again…the Figure Olympia. This will be my 5th Olympia and have to admit it is still exciting to have the chance to grace that stage. Now with that said, this year’s prep as been challenging one and I find myself having to dig deeper than ever. In May I lost my best friend, my biggest fan and the love of my life, my Mother to cancer and it is a daily reality check that she is not with us. Right after her passing I spent 3 weeks with my family in Louisiana, and let’s just say I emotionally ate everything that was put in my path. Wow, the scale was not my friend… starting my Olympia prep at a whopping 160lbs which looked awesome in jeans but not so much in bikini. A lesson learned in the situation is that life happens and we must forgive ourselves and move on.

Prepping for this Olympia I decided to do something a little different. I found myself getting bored with the same old gym scene and workouts, so I decided to shake up things with Crossfit, which has been my saving grace. With that said my day starts at 4:30am where I am banging out cardio and training a major body part. Then like many other competitors, I am off to work for 8 to 9 hours and then at my Crossfit facility at 6:30pm.I think I might be one of the grandmothers of the crew… so my main goal for the Olympia is to show these 20 something year old gals that I can still hang.

My biggest challenge going into any Olympia is not looking too stringy and staying fuller. It is always a daunting task with these long limbs… thank goodness for my training coach Kim Oddo. The size game is very mentally challenging for me so this year I have decided to just embrace my skinny limbs and roll with it. Let’s see how that works out.

I am always asked what my secret to dieting is and getting ready for a show… breaking news, there is no secret, it is discipline and will power and a good support team! While prepping I am very, very mean and irritable and I totally dislike silly questions about my diets, etc… sorry just being honest.I totally hate when a person interrupts my workouts… my pet peeve.. go away! Lol

My favorite bodypart to train is back…(shh, don’t tell Kim O, he doesn’t like me to train it that much). Here is a typical routine for back day. Give it a try and let me know how you like it.

• Pull ups (unassisted and weighted sometimes) – 4 sets – 10 reps
• Dumbbell rows or Barbell rows – 4 sets- 12 reps
• Lat Pull downs – 4 sets – 15 reps
• Partial deadlifts – 4 sets – 8 reps (heavy)

I’m competing this weekend at the Tournament of Champions in California and feel like I’m on point. This will give me time to make any changes before the Olympia.


Become a fan of Teresa’s on Facebook, follow her on twitter @FitTeresaNicole and check out her stage photos!

Hardbody Road To The Olympia: Nathalia Melo – The Challenger

Nathalia Melo is on the road to the Olympia for the third time. In less than four weeks, she’ll take the stage more determined than ever to leave with the Ms. Bikini Olympia crown. She was a top challenger last year and she’ll be one again this year. The Florida resident, by way of Brazil, shares what her contest prep is like and how she balances working, college and training while trying to stay sane.



Just Under 4 weeks out
By Nathalia Melo

Hello Hardbodies!
Here we are less than 4 weeks from the Olympia 2012 already! I am going to talk about everyday challenges that we face while in contest prep. I like to say that getting ready for a show is like a sampler of life. It is a roller-coaster of emotions as well as everyday obstacles that we must  overcome.

While training for the Olympia I can’t really stop my life and tell my clients (I am a personal trainer) that I am getting ready for a very important competition, therefore I need some time off to train and focus on it. So, the 2 hrs or more of daily cardio plus weight training need sto be squeezed in between my sessions. I am in college, but again… I can’t tell my professor to go easy on me, nor tell Nutrex (my sponsor) that I am too tired to go do a demo.

What am I trying to say?

I don’t want you to think that I am complaining about it! Quite the opposite, I just want to show you that it can get overwhelming for pro competitors too, and that just like you,  sometimes I just want to pull my hair out, and screeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaam!!! Well… We all know that neither option is going to help. The best way I have found to deal with the feeling of ‘’I AM GONNA GO CRAZY BEFORE I KNOW IT!’’ is to not think too much about what you have to do. Just go ahead and do it!

To make my life easier I always keep a gym bag in my car with workout clothes, sneakers and a towel, so if a client cancels or if I have time in between clients to get part of my cardio in then it can be done.  On that note I feel like my car has more clothes than my closet! LOL… Hey what can I say, I like to make sure I am prepared!  I also have my cooler with me filled with most of my meals, for the safety of the ones around me because Hungry Nathalia = CRAZY Nathalia! By the end of the day,  when I look back at all I have done  I almost feel like I am Super Woman and that feeling of accomplishment is what gives me the energy to face the next day with the same determination and discipline to get everything done again.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and stay tuned for my next  Road to the Olympia update! Thanks Hardbody for giving me the opportunity and space to share my craziness!

Until next time,
Nathalia Melo

Follow Nathalia on twitter @nathaliamelofit and become a fan of hers on Facebook. Check out Nathalia’s contest photos here.


Hardbody Road To The Olympia – Candice Lewis – The Rookie

IFBB Figure Pro Candice Lewis has been on roll this year. She started the season off with a 7th place finish at the Pittsburgh Pro and with a few tweaks to her physique and conditioning went on to win two shows in a row. The win in Omaha qualified her for the Figure Olympia and the follow up win in Chicago solidified her spot as one to watch. Candice “the rookie” joins us on her road to the Olympia.

candice lewis hardbody


4 weeks out
By Candice Lewis

I’m out of bed at 5:15am doing cardio and after a full day of work  I head straight to the gym after work and  train with my trainer, Damian Segovia at 5pm.  Prepping for the Olympia is definitely more stressful than other shows. I want to be in the best shape of my life when I walk on stage. With me competing in the Chicago show the transition was good for me in that I have had just enough time to refocus, stay on top of my game and continue to make improvements. I’m working on improving on my posing. It’s hard dropping bad habits – practice makes perfect! RIGHT? Lol!

I’m competitive when it comes to challenging myself to be better. Each show I want to improve so cheating on my diet and not giving my workout 100% is not an option. I am blessed to be in this position, it’s a lot of hard work and dedication and there are a lot of people counting on me, my trainer, friends and family, and fans of the sport! These are people that believe in me and that inspires me to want to get better each and every show.

My biggest challenge going into Olympia Prep is the process of me becoming  mentally stronger when thinking about my diet. For some reason the froyo cravings are everyday and more intense. In Arizona, there’s a froyo shop on every corner so everywhere you look your reminded of this. I’m always wondering what new flavors I haven’t tried.  I even tried to convince myself I could substitute raw almonds for salty almond froyo. Lol… So yes, it is a mental game at times and can be challenging but you have to focus on the end result.

My favorite body part to workout right now is shoulders. This is one of my routines.

• Push Ups 12-15 reps, 3 sets

• Pull Ups 12-15 reps, 3 sets

• Lateral Raises 12-15 reps, 3 sets

• Dumbbell Shoulder Press 12-15 reps,3 sets

• Dumbbell Front Raise / Dumbbell Alternating Front Raise 12-15 reps, 3 sets

Follow Candice on twitter @icandylewis and become a fan on Facebook. Check out some of her contest photos here.

Road To The Olympia: Dianna Dahlgren – The Contender

Cover girl, Dianna Dahlgren joins our “Hardbody Road to The Olympia” series. The California girl has risen to the top of the bikini ranks and is looking to remain there at this year’s Olympia. Dianna was third at the Olympia last year and is gunning for the number one spot. She checks in with us four weeks out from the show and shares what’s different this year. See what she had to say.

4 weeks out
By Dianna Dahlgren

HELLLLLOOOOO, great to be back on HardBody! So we are about 4 weeks out from the Bikini Olympia and I am soooo excited! This year my prep is different being that my comfort levels have done a complete 180 turn! To have the best success day in and day out through this last bit of prep I decided to pack up and head out to Arizona where I live, breath, eat, sleep, train at AZ Pro Physiques with my most amazing trainer Damian Segovia! I feel like I’ve never had a 100% solid prep because there were so many distractions back in California, so I know in my heart this is what’s best for the time being to be out here in Arizona where I get to hang out with my fitness friends as we all prepare for shows! Having people around me who do the same things and live a very similar lifestyle makes me feel normal again. No longer do I feel ‘odd’ for having all the tupperwares and protein powders with me. I now know the difference in prepping for shows where you have no one around you doing what you do and having everyone around you doing what you do. The change up is amazing! My goals right now in prep are to stay busy! I get distracted too easily, so things I do to stay focused is writing on my mirror, goals, sayings, desires, etc, write them on the bathroom mirror so every morning and night you wake up and BAM! goals, goals, goals!!!! Makes me want to get my ass up, out the door and conquer the day!!!!

For this week, these are they things I am focusing on! I will check in with you all next week with an update and renew my weekly goals!

Talk to you soon!!! 4 WEEKS, LETS DO IT!!!!!

xo, DD

Follow Dianna on twitter @diannadahlgren and become a fan on Facebook. Check out photos from Dianna’s competitions here.



Hardbody Road To The Olympia: A Competitor’s Life – Nicole Nagrani, The Champ

The defending Ms. Bikini Olympia Champ, Nicole Nagrani joins us to share her Hardbody Road To The Olympia. Nicole is one of the few women who has competed in each Bikini Olympia. She was third in 2010 and took top honors last year. After finishing third at the 2012 Bikini International she regrouped, refocused and won the Tampa Pro. She’s looking to carry that momentum into Vegas next month. Check out what the champ had to share in her first installment of “A Competitor’s Life”.

nicole nagrani bikini champion


4 weeks out
By Nicole Nagrani

Wow, here we are about 4 weeks out from the 3rd Bikini Olympia! I really can’t believe this year will be the third time I’ve been honored with gracing the Olympia stage! As a child when I would watch the Olympia on tv every year with my parents and never dreamed that I would be on the stage, yet alone crowned Ms. Bikini Olympia in 2011.

Now that I have earned the title of Ms. Bikini Olympia, it’s time to come back in 2012 and defend my title! This makes prepping for this show a lot different because I have earned the top spot already.  Three weeks ago I competed in the Tampa Pro where I placed first!!! I thought this was a good idea to get my head on straight and gain some momentum coming into the Olympia. By getting in competition shape a few weeks out from the Olympia and being able to critique my pictures, I can see what I need to improve and have time to do so. I also brought a different package to the stage in Tampa and it seemed to get a lot of positive feedback. This package is a lot more mature. I turn 21 this year, and Ive noticed that not only has my body matured, but also I have as a person. This becomes evident through my posing primarily because posing in the Bikini division is such a good indicator of the personality of that individual. I am a lot more confident, a lot wiser, and I have a greater appreciation for all that I have accomplished. Every time I take the stage, I approach the situation differently. I used to be so nervous, even though its such an enjoyable experience. Now I’ve learned to take everything in and enjoy every second of being in a competition. I think a lot of competitors tend to get lost in all of the craziness of prepping for a show, and especially on the day of the show. If they learned to not make everything such a big deal, just treat the prep like a lifestyle, it all becomes a lot more enjoyable. When youre not so consumed in being so uptight and nervous, it’s a lot easier to take note of everything going on and allows you to enjoy the journey. The journey to a show is an experience that not a lot of people will ever know the feeling of because it takes an exceptional individual to withstand weeks of harsh training, dieting, and the mental fatigue of constantly trying to improve. So make sure to live it up and not let it pass you by.

Coming off the Arnold with a third place finish after winning the Olympia has definitely given me some motivation to put 150% effort into prepping for this years Olympia. People always ask if I was disappointed with the outcome of the Arnold and my answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. First off, I’m competing in the most prestigious shows in the world, the Arnold and the Olympia, next to the most beautiful women with the most incredible bodies…. It wouldn’t matter if I placed dead last!  On the other hand, I was able to take the critique from that show, learn from it, and improve. If you are willing to take steps toward improvement and never settle for what you may think is your best, then you become a winner in my eyes. Striving for perfection, which is generally unattainable, is not easy. So the perseverance, dedication, and motivation that fuels the passion to better one self are all characteristics that make you a better person. I am a better person in all aspects of my life because I compete. I am a stronger woman with high expectations for myself because I have set goals for myself to be the best I can be. This all stems from the goal of IMPROVEMENT.

With that being said, I will hope to improve my physique, my posing, and myself on the road to this years 2012 Olympia. GAME ON!

Here’s a good shoulder workout that’s aided in my improvement off season…

The key to obtaining the result you want, is training according to your desired “look”. If you want to put on size, lift heavier and do less reps. If you want to lean up, grab waits that you can do lots of reps with but aren’t to easy to lift. You also have to find out what kind of training works for YOU! Experimenting is one of the most time consuming and annoying things to do when you want result right away, but when you find out what works best for your body type its well worth it.

In my case, I tend to lift a little heavier to put on size on my upper body. I’ll grab the 20 lb dumbbells instead of the 10 lb.

Remember ladies
It’s harder to put on muscle than you think! 5lb dumbbells wont do the trick, and lifting heavy will not turn you into a monster

I generally allow for 30 seconds of rest in between sets. That way, I’m not wasting time, my metabolic rate is elevated, but I’m not burning out too quickly. I try to go up in weight.

5X 12 Arnolds
5X 15 Shoulder Press
5X 12 lateral raise
5 X 12 rear lateral raise

See photos of Nicole here. Follow Nicole on twitter @nicolenagrani and become a fan on Facebook.

Behind The Hardbody: Juliana Daniell Makes Atlanta Hawks Team

One of our favorite Hardbody women, Juliana Daniell has been keeping herself busy. She qualified for the 2012 Olympia at the end of the 2011 season but has been active on the competition scene this year. Juliana recently competed in a different competition and like the pro bikini stage, she more than held her own. Juliana recently made the Atlanta Hawk’s NBA Cheerleading team, for the third year in a row.

I caught up with JD to get the skinny on the tryouts, if she thinks cheerleaders are athletes, what’s next for her competition wise and more. Check it out.

How many years have you tried out for the team?
This was my third year trying out and the third year I made it!! =)

What’s the official name of the squad?

Atlanta Hawks Cheerleaders; we used to be called the A-Town Dancers, but the owners wanted us to be called cheerleaders for some reason.

Are you considered dancers or cheerleaders?
Well, we are actually made up of both. We are all one team but divided in two sub groups, cheerleaders and dancers.The main difference is the dancers do more dance choreography and the cheer girls do more tumbling/gymnastics and stunts during the game. I am on the cheer side!

You’ve cheered/danced for other teams, right?
Yes, I have cheered for the Atlanta Braves (MLB); 2008 and 2009 seasons. And cheered/skated for the Atlanta Thrashers (NHL) 2010-2011 season.

Last year you were the captain, right?
Yes!! =) I was captain of the cheer side.

Juliana on the cover of FitnessRX for Women magazine.

How is that decided?

That is decide by our coach and bosses.

How many girls tried out this year?
There was about 225 girls that came to auditions.

Wow. How many make the team/squad?
A lucky 26 girls made the team which is the same number as we had last year. And we had 15 girls from last year’s team trying out again and we all made it back!!!!

What’s it referred to?

It’s referred to as a team. Well I guess it really could be both, but we are called a team but were like family!

Did you practice for it – if so what’s involved in practice?
We absolutely practice! We have practice two times a week; sometimes more depending on what we have to learn and how the games fall. We have to learn the different choreography for the dances as well as our sidelines that we perform during each game. We also have work outs (a combination of weights, cardio, and plyometrics) prior to our practices.

Do you have any restrictions while on the team?
It’s more like what is expected of us rather than what we can’t do. They wouldn’t tell us we couldn’t do something; we just wouldn’t be picked for the team to begin with. For example being an adult entertainer/dancer or a club dancer is not something the organization would want us to be doing. Not saying that those jobs are bad, it’s just not who they want representing the Atlanta Hawks or the Cheerleaders. And for the most part the members of the AHC (Atlanta Hawks Cheerleaders) have very respectable outside careers and we are strongly supported. But we are required to have another job or be a student to even be considered for the team.

Does the team have a fitness plan?
Absolutely! We have trainers that work us out every Tuesday and Thursday for an hour prior to our practice. Its a combination of free weights, plyometrics, and cardio. We also have the option to set up private workouts with the trainers as well. Some girls do this on their own and some are told they have too.

Can you get kicked off for not “making weight”?
For us it’s not really about a number, it’s more of if you look the part. The AHC’s have a certain look we have to uphold; being healthy, fit, and in shape. We are all different shapes and sizes, but individually we know when we look our best and when we don’t. If there is ever a girl who is lacking or falling off the fit train, she will be suspended and asked to see the trainers. This is because we have to wear very tiny, revealing uniforms at times and if we don’t look good wearing it or it doesn’t fit it reflects negatively on the entire team.

Do you have to weigh in?

Yes, we have weigh-ins and body fat tests once a month.

Obviously you are in great shape – do girls ask you for advice?
Yes they do and I love it!! They usually ask me for certain exercises to get their booties in shape! 😉 But a lot of times they want to know what I eat and how they should eat!

You were a competitive swimmer in high school and college, so obviously an athlete. Do you think cheerleaders are athletes?
110% YES we are athletes!!!! I have to work just as hard now as I did in college to be good at what I do. Doing a standing back tuck, back-handspring, running tumbling, stunting, isn’t something the average person can do and I’m pretty sure you would be considered an athlete if you could; and I can!

Do you follow the Olympic Swimming?

Ya know, the past couple Olympics I really didn’t follow it as closely as I had previously, but this year has been different. I actually watched some of the trials and kind of missed swimming and being in the pool. And I plan to watch some of the Olympics as well.

Who will you be rooting for or following how they do?
Well I was, and will always be, a sprinter. And in college I mainly did freestyle, butterfly and the relays. So I will probably tune into the 50 and 100 freestyle, the 100 fly and all of the relays. And I mean I will obviously be rooting for all the Americans, but no one in particular! 😉

Juliana with her rose after being selected.

When will we see you on stage again?
SARASOTA PRO SEPTEMBER 8TH!!!! I am super excited about this show and can’t wait to get back on stage. After the New York Pro I knew I had some work to do and I’ve been working hard since. And of course I have the Olympia at the end of September!

Where can people stalk err find out more about you?

Hahaha!! In Atlanta!! 😉 Or you can just go to my fan page (Ifbb Bikini Pro Juliana Daniell) on facebook! I am planning to get a twitter account but can’t decide on a name! LOL any suggestions?? I am also in the process of putting together a personal website and blog; I just need more hours in the day to get it all done!

Any roses lately?
Baaahahaha! That’s funny! 😉 And the only “rose” I have gotten recently was from my Hawks coach Donni after she called out my name as a member of the 2012-2013 Atlanta Hawks Cheer-leading team!!

Thanks for your time JD and congratulations.

Thanks Isaac

Behind The Hardbody: Libby DiBiase – Mom, Crossfit Athlete & More

Libby Dibaise is a HARDBODY. She’s built rock solid physique with years of gymnastics, soccer, track and crossfit. Libby not only looks the part of a hardbody but she also lives it. We caught up with the Omaha native to learn more about her background, how she became sponsored by Reebok and Gaspari Nutrition and insight into the world of crossfit. Libby also shares some advice for moms and whether or not Omaha Steaks live up to the hype.

Libby DiBiase

Nutrition Consultant, Team Gaspari Athlete, Reebok Crossfit Athlete

Born in:
Omaha, NE

Currently live in:
Omaha, NE

What’s the best thing about living in Omaha?
We have all four season’s here, it’s not too small of city, but not to big either. I love it.

What’s the one thing you wish you could change about the Big O?
Winter. It get’s way to cold here for my liking.

Is the steak really good or a myth?
Oh yeah, no myth, Omaha Steaks is where it’s at.

What’s the best cut to order?

What sports did you play growing up?
I started out in gymnastics and soccer and slowly transitioned into track and field leading up into high school.

Favorite sport to watch?

What was your favorite event in track?
4x100m Being part of team is so much fun no matter what sport, I always felt like I ran a lot faster than individuals races since I had other people depending on me. Also, the 100m and 300 hurdles. Nothing over 400m, that’s way too long.

Are you a girly girl or more of a tomboy?
A girly girl. Even though I throw around heavy weight and get sweaty and nasty when I workout, I still like to get my hair done and put my makeup on. A girl’s got to look good right?

Who am I to argue with that?

When did you first start lifting weights?
My sophomore year of high school.

What would you tell other women who think weights will turn them into looking like dudes?
Genetics largely determines how we look, so it would sure take a lot to make any women look like a man without genetics and/or drugs. Lifting weights makes you strong and being strong keeps you young.

What’s the silliest comment a dude has said to you about being buff?
Did you get arrested today?
No, why? For having those guns.
Seriously, this was said to me.

Did that line work?
No, absolutely not, that’s no way to pick up a girl.

How long have you been crossfitting?
Around 6 years

When someone asks what crossfit is how would you describe it to them?
It’s difficult to explain without experiencing it, but in short, it’s weightlifting mixed with track and field and gymnastics. We also use rowing, plyometrics, and strongman implements as big part of our training. It’s different everyday, it’s intense, and most importantly it actually works.

Were you skeptical at first or loved it from day one?
No, I loved it. I get bored so quick so that’s why I kept coming back, since it is different everyday, I was hooked.

What do you say to the people who claim crossfit promotes bad form and you are more prone to injuries?
I think that people watch videos on the internet of people doing crossfit workouts, and they think that’s crossfit. Crossfit does not promote bad form, but crossfit does promote results, with that being said, when people push for maximum intensity in sport and strength and conditioning technique is not going to be perfect. The best crossfit athletes and the best coaches view technique as the most critical piece to intensity and intensity is the most critical piece to results. New athletes will always move like new athletes and new coaches will always coach like new coaches so there will always be some bad technique out there. But doing functional movements with bad technique is still safer than not doing them at all. Obviously we would like to have functional movements with good technique. All sports have injuries. Is football dangerous? Is soccer? Gymnastics? Hockey?…..etc.

Is the head band part of your signature workout attire?
Lol haha Yeah, Since I started I’ve always worn a bandana or headband. Usually I just cut the sleeve off a t-shirt and wrap it around my head, total jerry rig.

Will you be coming out with your own line of headbands or just keep cutting off sleeves whenever you need a new one? 
That’s a good idea, but in the meantime, yes, I will keep cutting off sleeves until I find something else I like better!

Do you follow the paleo diet and live and breathe the crossfit culture?
For the most part I eat paleo, but I add in oatmeal and protein powder. I’m not super strict. I found the best way to eat healthy is to just have those foods in your house. If you don’t have any sugar, starches or processed foods, you won’t eat them. It’s the best thing I’ve discovered.

Do you eat differently before a competition then your usual day – if so what changes?
Nope I eat the same. I might eat a little more than usual since we might have multiple workouts in a day.

Any experience on what to avoid on game day?
I have learned to not over analyze any workout. Grandit there is strategy involved in some of the workouts, but if I think about them too much it ends up hurting me rather than helping me.

Favorite crossfit workout?
Anything with heavy thrusters and muscle up’s

Least favorite?
Rowing and farmer’s carries.

Will we see you in the individual or team games this year?
Well, our regional was just a fre weeks ago. They took top 60 from sectionals. I went as an Individual this year and I wound up getting 9th overall. They take top 3 to the world games. I wasn’t disappointed in my performances since physically I knew I did the best I could. Obviously there were little things I could of done better in some of the workouts, but it does sting not making it, it just wasn’t my year. It gives me a whole year to get stronger and work on little things. Our team, Crossfit Omaha got 4 th as a team in regionals. They take top 3 also for the world games. They just missed the podium. This year will be the first year I haven’t’ gone to the games since 2008, either as an individual or on the team. But, I think this experience for all of us at regionals will mentally make us stronger and hungrier for next year.

Do you think the competition is getting tougher as more people discover crossfit?
 Yes, every year someone comes out of the woodwork, that’s going to happen. Since Crossfit linked up with Reebok, more and more people know what it is,and know you can compete. The purse for the games is also getting larger. So, I think we might see professional athletes from other sports dabble in crossfit too.

Gym you train at?
Crossfit Omaha

Why that gym over others?
This was the first Crossfit gym affiliated in Nebraska. It started out in the strength and conditioning gym at the University where I ran track. They accumulated so many clients that Ricky Frausto and Joe Westerlin, the owners, decided to open there own crossfit box. So I have stuck with them ever since. The coaching there is phenomenal. To me, that is what set’s apart this gym to others. It’s the little things they help us with (technique, efficiency, and transitions) We have had a handful of individual and teams qualify for the games also.

If I’m joining a crossfit gym for the first time – what should I look for?
Crossfit is not a franchise that is why every gym is unique. You have to find the best fit for you, to make sure it’s a welcoming environment and that technique is always taught prior to workouts.

If someone is new to crossfit how often would recommend they do it?
I would tell them to not be intimidated or scared to start. Everything is universally scalable, so everyone can do it. If they are new and starting out, I would still recommend 3 days on one day off.

Which of your athletic background has helped you the most in Crossfit?
I would say probably gymnastics. There is a lot of different gymnastics movements involved in crossfit and you use a lot of upper body strength in a lot of the workouts.

Areas you need to improve?
I always have areas I need to improve on. Mostly Olympic lifts,endurance, and grip strength. My hands are the size of a five year old boy, so I’m constantly working on ways I can improve grip for heavy lifts.

Ha. So  man hands is an advantage. Gotcha.

How many days a week do you crossfit?
3 days on, one day off.

Do you lift weights other than your crossfit workouts?
No not usually. If I don’t do a crossfit workout I’ll usually just do Olympic Lifting. But, I’m up for most anything, everyone started out lifting isolation or doing the normal one body part at a time workout. So anything to keep me active and is fun. I’m down for.

You competed in Figure before, ya?
Ya, once.

Ever think about doing another one?
No, I Iike food. Just not for me. But I am very impressed with anyone who does that, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.

What female athletes do you admire – past or present?
I have 2 right now. Annie Sakamoto. She is basically the original OG of crossfit. I watched her in videos back in 2007 and thought; I wish I could be as good as her. She never competed until last year, she made it to the games, and she made it this year also. She has 2 kids, and most of all she always has a smile on her face when she’s competing. She has fun, and that’s what it’s all about. The second one would be Ronda Rousey she is a fellow Team Gaspari Athlete, and a MMA Strikeforce champ. Basically she can beat up the guys, and you wouldn’t want to mess with her, she’ll kick you’re a**.

Reebok Crossfit, Gaspari Nutrition & Atlas Power Wraps

What advise would you give to women who are seeking sponsorships or what has helped you not only get but keep your endorsements?
Well, this is what I love to do, and If you do what you love, people will catch on and start noticing. Put yourself out there, you have nothing to lose.

How did you connect with Reebok?
Reebok actually just contacted me at work one day. They just called me up and said they were interested in meeting with me, and told me all about what they were doing with crossfit, and how it was going to move forward.

Gaspari found you at an event, right?
Ha, yeah. It was a very random way I met everyone from the company. I was competing in a team crossfit competiton at the UFC expo in Houston. The phone I had then always died. I really needed and outlet so the closest booth was Gaspari Nutrition. So I walked over and asked if I could “borrow” their outlet for a little bit. Struck up and little conversation with them and a month later I was linked up with the company. It’s crazy how things happen and who you end up meeting!

Favorite Gaspari product?
Myofusion Probiotic Chocolate. Great to cook with, Also, detonate, should be out soon, just wait.

I read somewhere that you cross fit up until your pregnancy with your son – true?
Yes, that is true. I worked out until the day before I went into labor. I’m pretty sure that a workout I did put me into labor. It was called “The Inducer” Funny right, someone from the gym found it a told me to try it. I was 38 weeks when I did the workout, so the baby was completely developed. Anyway, it was 7 rounds of 7 pullups and 7 wallballs at #12. The next day I went into labor, I really didn’t think it would actually work! I’d have to say working out my whole pregnancy helped me get through labor pretty easily.

What’s the most challenging part of being a mom and getting your workouts in?
The hardest thing would definitely be time management. I have to carve out time later in the day just to get to the gym. Between working full time, training and doing my other random jobs it does get a little overwhelming and frustrating. But, it is all worth it in the end. I love being a mom and my son is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

What piece of advice would you give other mothers who say they are too busy?
You are never too busy for your health. If you can find even 30 minutes to do some sort of physical activity it will help you tremendously.

How important is it for moms to lead by example in health and fitness, in your opinion?
Very important. It starts when you are little. The reason I am so active and eat healthy is because of my parents. You learn what’s around you. So, if you are surrounded by it, you live it. They way children eat when their growing is crucial. It can not only affect them physically but mentally, and also the way the act (attitude, and demeanor) Exercising and eating healthy is something you have to choose to live. It’s worth it.

Did you golf in Boise earlier this month?
I sure did. We were down there for the expo and a couple of us from Gaspari Nutrition golfed in a charity golf tournament for the Jayden DeLuca Foundation. We had ALOT of fun. Let’s just say I was a little rusty, but got into the groove of things after a couple holes. But, I think all of us need to stick to what were good at, and that doesn’t include golf!

What’s one thing you’ve yet to do that you’ve always want to?

One thing that scares the hell out of you?
Watching Criminal Minds by myself in my house.

Anyone you’d like to thank?
Oh yes. I would love to thank Reebok. For all of the gear and letting me travel to all these places that I’ve never seen. Gaspari Nutrtion, for all of the new friends that I have made and products they let me try, and giving me chance! Atlas Power wraps, for giving me the best wraps possible to protect my wrists. Also, my parents who help so much with my son Cruz. I am lucky enough to go to all these great events, so I need someone to watch him. They are always there to help. I am truly blesse and thankful for all of the sponsorships and people I have in my life. I couldn’t do it without them.

Where can people find more info on ya?
On facebook: Libby DiBiase
Twitter: @LibbyDiBiase1
and I blog on, you can find it here:

You can see Libby in the newest Fitness RX for Women magazine on sale now!

Lead image courtesy of Gaspari Nutrition, Inc. by Ian Spanier.
Other images via Libby’s Facebook.

Behind The Hardbody: A Dancer Named Swann

I ran across Swann Cardot on Facebook and her look caught my attention. I checked out her web site and you could see from her photos that this woman had something special. During the Olympia weekend I had the opportunity to photograph Swann and she was stunning. Swann, without question, has one of the most promising physiques I’ve seen in some time. If you doubt me just take one look at her competitive resume and you’ll see the judges agree. Swann has won her height class (and overall) in every show she’s entered. I caught up with Swann to get to know the woman behind the Hardbody.

Name: Swann Cardot

Born in: Paris

When did you move to the USA:
About 3 years ago.

Currently live in: New York

Any brothers or sisters? I have 1 sister and 1 brother, both much older then me.

Number of languages you speak: French and English

How old were you when you starting dancing? 4 years old

How many different dance disciplines have you participated in – which ones? Ballet, Jazz, Contempory, Salsa, Theatre Dance and Hip-hop

Favorite one: Jazz

Do you consider yourself an artist:

While dancing how many hours a day did you train?
3 to 6 hours, sometimes more.

Do you watch dancing with the stars?
I do sometimes. At the moment, I follow the episodes of Born To Dance.

How old were you when you started weight training?

What lead you to working out? I had the feeling I needed to flip my whole life around. I had the desire for a new drive.


Swann at the Olympia.

How did you get started in the competition world?
I discovered this world during the 2010 Mr Olympia weekend in Las Vegas. I was completely amazed and fascinated by everything I saw. As a dancer, I already had the inner strength to be disciplined and dedicated. I was used to physically challenging myself. I loved performing on stage so I knew it would be something I would enjoy.

Competition show history:
2011 NPC Bev Francis Atlantic States – NY
2011 NPC Europa Battle of Champions – CT
2011 NPC NJ East Coast Championship – NJ
Coming up: NPC Easterns USA – NY
**Update – Swan won her class and the overall at the 2011 NPC Easterns keeping her undefeated streak alive.

Swann has won every show she entered and continued her winning streak at the 2011 NJ East Coast Championships this weekend where she won her class and overall once again.

So you’ve done pretty damn good in Figure to say the least. What’s been the biggest challenge for figure competitions? Figuring out the best diet plans for myself on my first contest preparations was a very hard and stressful challenge. I did not know much about nutrition at the time and was constantly doubting or wondering if I was doing it right.

What lead you to the NPC? As I was searching for my first competition date, I discovered the National Physique Committee online, I looked further into it and it appeared to be a very well organized community, with high quality events.

Do you think your dance background has helped you with competing now? I believe it has for sure. Aside from training I think my dance background has helped me with my performance on stage, posing, posture and confidence.

What’s your breakfast consist of:
Oat meal, egg whites or protein shake.

Do you lift heavy or light and high reps?
Heavy, 10-12 reps.

Favorite exercise to train? Shoulder presses (favorite body part to train: shoulders & back)

Your favorite body part? Shoulders and abs


Swann wins the Overall Europa Hartford

What comment do you find you get a lot from people? “Jacked” (blushing) this is the best comment I get, I love it because this is the look I always wanted to get and have worked for.

Favorite competitor:
Ava Cowan is the first athlete who caught my eyes, I also admire Dana Linn Bailey.

Supplements you take and would recommend to other women:
CLA which I have been taking daily. Protizime peanut butter is my favorite protein shake, I look forward to it every day.

Best advice anyone has given you? “Follow your guts”

What do you do for your job now? I am a personal trainer and group fitness instructor.

What’s your long term goal in the fitness world?
Turning pro, building a name for myself as a competitor and fitness model.

Favorite place you’ve visited? I don’t think there is any place like New York but I adore this little city called “Namur” in Belgium. The architecture is beautiful, lots of artisanal places to eat and unique boutiques for shopping!

How much does your weight change between shows? 5 pounds most.

Have you carried a gallon of water to the gym before? Yes, I force myself to do so every day.

Where can people find more info about you? Facebook or my website

Anyone you want to thank?
First of all, I would like to thank my two best girl friends who have been best supporters all the way. Thanks to Fakhri Mubarak who helps me today on my prep and diet, he is The Best and I am very grateful to have him and his believe in me. Big shout out to my sponsors “Natural Body Inc” and “Life Health & Fitness” and everyone who have come my way on this new road. I never thought life could be so fulfilling!

Keep your eye out for Swan in the Fitness magazines. You’ll be seeing a lot more of this Hardbody woman in the months ahead. Swann will be competing at the NPC Easterns next weekend where she will look to earn another overall title.

Dianna Dahlgren Recaps Her Road to The Olympia

IFBB Bikini Pro Dianna Dahlgren is headed to her second Olympia and is carrying the momentum of a victory into the big dance. She takes a minute to share her thoughts on the past few weeks and what’s up in the days ahead. Dianna has successfully positioned herself as one of the top contenders in this year’s Bikini Olympia.

Hello again!!

Thank you to Isaac & for allowing me to do another blog before heading into the BIG SHOW! I’m so happy beyond belief and can’t wait!

The Dallas Europa was a BLAST to say the least! I hadn’t competed in almost a year, so this was a “come back” party that I had for myself. LOL! My goal was to be happy no matter what. I figured… the judges hadn’t seen me in so long who knows if they will like me or what I have changed in my physique! The weekend ended with a 4th place finish and I was so excited because I qualified for the Olympia! The top 3 girls were all qualified coming into this show so when that happens, the 4th place finisher will qualify.

I was lean in Dallas so I knew that for Phoenix I could relax a tad bit and be fuller 🙂 It was a 2 week time period before I would be on stage again so I didn’t do too much damage with my diet. I always do cardio the morning after a show, my goals are always to stay on somewhat of a regimen, but to be honest with all of you I am so physically and mentally exerted from the weekend that I am out of whack for 3-4 days. After that I have to put the pieces back to the puzzle and keep going!

I enjoyed lots of fats headed into Phoenix, when I say fats: steak, nuts and almond butter… YUM! By the time I was ready to hit the stage again I was nervous! Even though my trainer was saying I was ready, I didn’t feel like it just because I am used to seeing my abs shredded, its just genetics. But in Phoenix the overall goal was for them not to be so hard. Very pleased with what happened because I ended up walking out of there with a win! My 2nd pro win and it was great to just enjoy that. Ever since last summer, I dealt with a lot of personal issues I was having with myself, family and work, I just couldn’t pull myself together for anything, so for me to come back, qualify, then win is very surreal for me and I really want to thank the Lord, my parents, and the people always sending me love and encouragement. THANK YOU! It really does mean the world to me 🙂

So now, I am 8 days away from my 2nd Olympia and can I say I wish it was here already! I’m working away until then and I can’t wait! Nothing crazy this show and my goals are all set. I can’t wait until next Friday comes and the judges call my number! TIME FOR SOME FUNNNNNN! 🙂

I hope all of you tune into the live webcast and follow along on twitter or better yet, ATTEND the Olympia! It’s such an amazing place to be, tons of people, tons of action, never a dull moment! Helloooo LAS VEGAS!! Friday September 16th is my Prejudging and Finals WOOOHOOOOO!! Keep me in your prayers and I will update you after THE BIG SHOW!!!

Thank you so much 🙂

Gina’s Meat Pick’n Tips

Gina Aliotti gives some tips on choosing healthy meat and what her favorite type of meat is. Do you have a rule of thumb you follow for picking out meat? Share it in the comments field.



Not all red meat is created equal. There are definitely ways to enjoy beef without all the fat. Go for lean and extra lean cuts. These would include round steaks, strip, tenderloin and top sirloin. Look for steaks with the least amount of visible fat (the white marbling). Select grass fed over corn fed and look for “select” rather than “prime”, as prime is fattier and higher in unhealthy saturated fats. Looking for another low fat option… My favorite is Bison (aka Buffalo) which is very low in fat but high in protein. For a 3 oz serving it only has 2 grams of fat!

Have a great day!

Gina Aliotti
Nutrition, Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant

Healthy Homemade Croutons from Gina Aliotti

Gina Aliotti has a healthy tip on how you can make your own croutons for your salads. I admit, I’m intrigued and will have to give it a try. Check it out and if you decide to make these let us know how it goes.

We all love croutons and the added crunch and flavor they give to our salads but watch out they can be deadly. Store bought croutons are typically processed white bread made with cheap unhealthy oils and other unwanted ingredients. Make your own croutons to get that added crunch without the added fat and calories. Making your own croutons is really simply and allows you to enjoy that little crunch with every bite! Try my Herbed Croutons and give your salad a healthy guilt free crunch!

Herbed Croutons
• 3 slices multi-grain bread (I typically use Ezekiel Bread)
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 tablespoon dried basil
• 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice bread into cubes. Place cubes in mixing bowl and add olive oil and herbs, generously tossing to coat all cubes with oil. Place on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. At about 5 minutes gently move around cubes and allow to continue cooking. Then turn on the broiler** for about a minute and allow them to get nice and crispy.

** When on broil, watch closely as these get crisp really fast!

Gina Aliotti
Nutrition, Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant

Erin Stern Crushes Dumbbells on Incline Bench

The Figure Olympia is only 4 weeks away and the defending champ, Erin Stern is training harder than ever. If you’ve doubted the strength of a champion female competitor, watch this video and think again.

In this video clip Erin easily presses 50lb dumbbells for six, controlled, full range repetitions. She shows why she has one of the best hardbody physiques in the world. Check it!

Follow Erin on Twitter @ERINFAST and subscribe to her YOUTUBE Channel to see more training clips as she heads into Vegas to defend her title.

Weekend Wisdom with Gina Aliotti

Gina Aliotti has a tip for you as we head into the weekend. Check out what she has to say in this installment of G’s Tip of the Week.


Weekend Wisdom with Gina Aliotti
Headed out to a restaurant this weekend? Before you head out the door, it is always smart to check out the restaurant’s website and view their menu and nutritional information. It is important to have an idea of what it is you will be ordering so when you arrive, starving, you don’t find yourself choosing something completely off your nutritional plan. Not only is proper planning important, to stay on track, but you would be shocked to find out that the salad you thought was a “healthy choice” was actually higher in calories than the pasta dish you wanted but decided against! Before you head out to eat, be sure to check the menu and save yourself on calories and confusion! Have a great weekend!

Thank you, as always!! Enjoy your weekend!!

Gina Aliotti
Nutrition, Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant

Dianna Dahlgren Does Dallas

IFBB Bikini Pro Dianna Dahlgren has positioned herself as one of the top models in the biz and now she’s looking to do the same on the competitive stage. She hasn’t competed since last year’s Bikini Olympia and she was a little off her best there. What will we see from the California girl this weekend in Dallas? Can she bring the same swagga she shows in her photos to the stage and overtake the Bikini Olympia champ, Sonia Gonzales? DD checks in as she heads into this weekend’s Dallas Europa Super show.


Wow! I can’t believe where the time has gone! Is it really August already!? Right now in my life I am very happy!! I’m closing in on the last days of prep before I head into the Dallas Europa and I am so ready for it! I have been working very hard for the last few months and I’m excited to see what will happen next weekend! For those of you who keep up with you will know that I was supposed to do the New York Pro back in May and unfortunately I couldn’t pull myself together in time! It was very heart breaking for me, I am very hard on myself for things I don’t do when I say I am going to do them. But NY Pro was not the right time for me and I am so ecstatic that I have chosen Dallas Europa as my first show of the year! I have not competed since last year’s Olympia, so my overall goal here in Dallas is to just have fun! Get on that stage, work it, and wait for those judges to call my number! 🙂

The past few weeks have been some of the hardest, mentally. Nutrition and diet is the most important during your prep and I tell everyone that this is my biggest challenge of competing! So during this prep I have learned so much about dieting and what works for me. Learning your triggers and what to stay away from, I haven’t had to do this in over a year! So I forgot what it was like in some situations. I travel a ton for work, my second home is an airplane and a hotel room LOL but I have surprisingly made it work great for my program and didn’t make excuses! Got it handled!! So here we are, only a few days left of workouts before I fly out to Dallas. I’m finalizing all the ‘TO DOs’ of competing in a show. Flights, Hotel, Hotel Roomie (Brooke Mora! YAY), Tanning, Make up and Hair, Suit, Shoes… and POSING POSING POSING!

I’ll keep all of you updated on the show so make sure to follow me on twitter! @diannadahlgren or you can go find me on Facebook! I’m just so thankful, my support system has been amazing and Ive been treating myself very well, so I feel great headed into Dallas, not a worry in my mind! See you all there!


Follow all the action here on hardbody as we cover one of the biggest shows of the year. User #EuropaTX for your hastag if you’re tweeting about the show.

Gina Aliotti’s Top 5 Contest Travel Tips

Gina Aliotti has assembled her top five tips for staying healthy while traveling for a contest. Gina knows because she did it for a number of years as one of the top IFBB Figure Pros. Check it out.



This week is designated to all those competing this weekend or anytime in the future.

Here are my Top 5 Contest Travel Tips:
1 – Pre-cook, pre-measure, wrap and freeze your lean protein to ensure they stay fresh and cold!
2 – If flying, be sure to carry on your essentials with you on the plan. (suit, heels, or anything you need to step on stage)
3 – If flying, be conscious of passengers and chose a “less smelly” protein option, if possible. (tip: slightly broiling your fish not only adds for great texture but takes away most of the smell)
4 – Beware, you cannot bring a jar of nut butter with you on the plane. You must check it since it is considered a liquid! The last thing you want is to throw away your nut butter so be sure to check it!
5 – Forgot your nuts… don’t think you can pick up a pack of nuts from the airplane or airport to replace yours! They are most likely loaded with sodium and not going to replace your no sodium kind!

Good luck to everyone competing at the USA’s and all other future shows!!

Gina Aliotti

Nutrition, Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant

G’s Tip of The Weeek: Honeydew Cucumber Smoothie Recipe

Gina Aliotti shares her latest tip on how to stay cool when the temperature heats up. Check out her honeydew cucumber smoothie recipe and let us know how you like it.

It’s that time of year where things are heating up and with the sun comes the desire for quenching fruits and smoothies! With only about 50 calories, no fat and is a significant source of Vitamin C and Vitamin B in each serving, honeydew can be a forgotten fruit. This season is just beginning to heat up with ripe honeydews. Next time it is hot and you are craving a healthy, fruity treat, give my favorite Honeydew Cucumber Smoothie a try and you will be sure to satisfy both your thirst and sweet tooth! Enjoy!!


• 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
• 2 cups cubed honeydew melon
• 1 cup non fat vanilla Greek Yogurt
• 8 sprigs fresh mint, or amount to taste
• Juice of one key lime
• 2 cups crushed ice
• Stevia to taste

Combine in a blender and blend until desired consistency. Pull leaves from mint springs and add to blender. Blend mixture until smooth. Pour and enjoy on a hot summer day!!

Gina Aliotti-Silva

Nutrition, Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant

Gina Aliotti’s Tip “Eat your garlic, Daily!”

IFBB Figure Pro Gina Aliotti is back with her G’s Tip of the Week. I can say I don’t follow her tip but do you? Check it out and share your thoughts in the comments field.

Eat your garlic, Daily!!
Aside from being a great-tasting ingredient on just about everything, literally, garlic has so many other powerful benefits. The two main medical ingredients in garlic are allicin and diallyl sulphides have so many health benefits from preventing the common cold and flu to managing high cholesterol levels. Garlic also detoxifies your body, especially your liver, and has powerful antioxidant effects! Did you know that only two cloves of garlic can be as effective as some cholesterol-lowering drugs? Add Garlic to your daily nutritional program to reap all the powerful benefits! Just be sure to chew on parsley or mint or simply keep a toothbrush handy, to avoid that treacherous garlic breath.  🙂

Gina Aliotti-Silva
Nutrition, Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant

Tell G you saw her on

Gina Aliotti Talks Organic

Gina Aliotti shares her tip of the week and this weekend she tackles the top of organic foods.

We hear so much about organic and whether or not to buy organic. Unfortunately, non-organic fruits and vegetables are grown with potentially toxic chemicals, including pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Those chemical residues remain not only on the skin of the fruit, but also can be absorbed into the inner flesh. Even low levels of pesticide consumed, over time, can be problematic. I am sure with the amount of veggies that we eat, it is not all that practical to eat all organic but there are definitely some types of fruits and vegetables that are more contaminated and should be bought organic. Spend the money and save your health when purchasing the following fruits and veggies: apples, bell peppers, celery, strawberries, kale, lettuce, collar greens, spinach, peaches, pears, cherries, grapes and cucumbers. Where you can save your money and opt out of organic are those fruits and veggies with a lower pesticide level such as: onions, avocados, pineapple, mango, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, watermelon, broccoli, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. It may not be realistic to buy all organic but try to be aware of the pesticide levels in fruits and veggies and buy wisely!

Gina Aliotti-Silva
Nutrition, Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant

Gina Suggests Tabata Training – Find out Why

G’s back with a tip of the week. This time she shares a tip on Tabata training. What The Freak is that? Check it out.

Say you don’t have enough time to workout or don’t think a few extra minutes can get the job done, reconsider with Tabata training! Everybody has an extra four minutes on hand. Tabata training is a quick, fun and intense way to gain amazing results. The full Tabata program is four minutes long but may be the longest four minutes of your life. Tabata intervals follow this structure:

Push hard for 20 seconds
Rest for 10 seconds.
Repeat this eight times.

You can do this with exercises, preferably large muscle exercises, such as front squats or better yet, I love to use Tabata training for sprint work! Of course, this will not replace every cardio/workout session but for a change, when you have limited time, get in and get out with Tabata!

Gina Aliotti-Silva
Nutrition, Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant


After reading G’s tip, I was intrigued to find out more on the Tabata workout. Here’s an except from

The Tabata workout routine was discovered by Dr. Izumi Tabata, along with a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. The team studied a speed skating coach’s workout that consisted of six to seven 20 second full speed sprints that were followed by 10 second rest periods.

During the study, men who performed the routine five days a week for six weeks improved their maximum aerobic capacity by 14%. Aerobic capacity is the measurement of the body’s ability to take in oxygen. The more oxygen a person can take in, the longer and harder a person can run. Not only did it improve their aerobic capacity, but it also improved their anaerobic capacity by 28%. Anaerobic capacity is the measurement of your speed endurance.

Read more on the workouts and the thought process behind it here.

G’s Tip of the Week – Avocado Oil

Gina continues to show the avocado some love. This time she discusses avocado oil. Check it out.


Last week was all about the avocado and this week it is all about the oil. Avocado oil is a healthy alternative to vegetable oils. It is rich in monounsaturated fats just like olive oil and it is stable at high heat, which makes it great for cooking. It adds delicious flavor to sautes but also also makes a great base for salad dressings. High in beta-carotene, Vitamin E, and lutein and with such a delicious flavor, pick up some avocado oil and add it to your favorite dishes.

Try my favorite Avocado Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

• 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• pepper to taste
• juice of one whole lime
• 1/2 cup Avocado Oil

Mix all together and drizzle over salad.

Gina Aliotti-Silva

Nutrition, Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant

G’s Tip of the Week: Benefits of an Avocado

Gina Aliotti has a helpful tip this week for all you avocado lovers. Check it out!


It’s that time of year again, March through September is avocado season! This rich and wonderful monounsaturated fatty acid has so many powerful benefits, including being associated with lower cardiovascular disease and encompassing so many vitamins, including potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins, folic acid and fiber. This delicious fruit can be added to your favorite salads or even eaten by themselves! Try adding them to your protein shake or smoothie for a touch of fat and added creaminess.

Tip: To speed up the process of ripening an avocado, place it in a bag with some other ripe fruit. To slow down the process, place it in the refrigerator.

Gina Aliotti-Silva
Nutrition, Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant

G’s Top 10 Cinco de Mayo Tips

Gina Aliotti has some helpful tips to help keep a hardbody while still celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Check out G’s Top Ten List and enjoy the day!

G’s Top 10 Cinco de Mayo Tips:
1. Go for corn tortillas over flour.
2. If you are indulging in alcoholic beverages, stay away from mixed drinks. Opt for a skinny Margarita. (lime, tequila, Cointreau and a touch of triple sec)
3. Avoid the chips of death and if you just can’t, opt for corn chips or better yet flax!
4. Go for black beans over re-fried!
5. Watch the cheese. If you must have cheese, go light or go home!
6. Don’t go crazy with the guacamole. Yes, avocados are a great fat and so good for you but a little goes a long way!
7. Salsa, pile it on! This is a completely Gina approved food and can be added to any dish and better yet, makes a great salad dressing!
8. Go grilled and not fried.
9. Absolutely stay away from Cerveza, aka beer!
10. A great super healthy appetizer to tide you over for your meal is civiche or shrip cocktail.

Enjoy and Happy Cinco de Mayo! 🙂

Gina Aliotti-Silva
Nutrition, Fitness & Lifestyle Consultant

Disclaimer: Reader discretion advised, please consult your physician before beginning any exercise or diet program.