Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fitness Muscle Action

At the recent Fitness America Weekend, Canadian natural bodybuilder Creg Taylor competed in the MM America MW Class but he made his mark in the new Fitness America Championships Men's Division. The 28 year old personal trainer gave an outstanding performance mixed with acrobatics, dance, strength and other choreographed moves. Creg's two minute routine had the crowd going nuts! All 2012 Regional and National events will feature the Fitness Men's Division leading to Fitness Universe, America and World Championships.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Model America Dance

Newly crowned Model America Champion Angelina Mullins is new to fitness industry but is an accomplished dancer and commercial model. The 26 year old Broadway performer was trained at Boston Ballet School and has performed in West Side Story, Spamalot, Fosse and Saturday Night Fever. Angelina says, "I am fairly new to the fitness world and love it! Everything from working hard in the gym, right to the pay off of being on stage is more rewarding than anything I have ever done." She has also appeared in Reebok and Lady Footlocker print ads, Step 360 informercial and Lucille Roberts commercial.

Fitness Men Launch

One of the highlights last weekend in Las Vegas was the new Fitness America Championships - Men's Division. With incredibly energized routines, these guys literally had the audience standing on their feet cheering! David Zuma (2nd left) from Costa Rica was outstanding with a powerful, athletic, entertaining and fun performance. Taking 2nd Place was Fitness South African Champion Llewellyn Cordier (2nd right) was tall (6'3"), massive, strong but agile and creative. Canadian bodybuilder Creg Taylor (left) threw the ladies into a tizzy with his gyrating dance moves earning him 3rd Place. And, Florida hip hop master Ricardo Sylvester (right) had moves that were over the top rivaling any MTV dance crew. The competitors were judged 50% Performance Round and 50% Swimsuit Round. Next season, all US and international events will host Fitness Universe - Men's Divisions.

50 Women Strong

Nearly 50 women competed at last weekend's Fitness America Championships with Leigha Hervey capturing the Open Division and Trina Wiggins snatching the Classic Division. It was easily the most exciting event in years with incredible talent from the US, Canada, Europe and Asia especially with past FA Champions giving show unparalleled competitive depth. Complete results ae posted at and photo galleries will be posted later this week.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fitness America Weekend

Over 300 amazing fitness women competed at the Fitness America Weekend at the beautiful Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Among the Fitness, Ms. Bikini, Figure, Model and Musclemania Divisions, the talent was the best seen in years with a bevy of new talent from around the world. Over 35 media representatives attended shooting competition highlights, athlete profiles and features throughout the week with coverage in Oxygen, Natural Muscle, USA Today, BBC, ESPN Int'l and many others. Complete photo galleries will be posted soon at

Figuring Her Way

With athletic grace and beauty, New Mexico native Jessica Rinaldi won the Figure America Championships last weekend in Las Vegas. The 5'8", 135 lbs., 29 year old club operations manager has been into competitive athletics for 15 years and training seriously for the past 5 years. Jessica is also the reigning Figure New Mexico Champion, is a loving single mom and planning to marry next September.

Designer Fitness

Congratulations go out to Leigha Hervey, the new FITNESS AMERICA CHAMPION. The 25 year old sportswear designer captured the audience with a stunning dance routine and graced the stage with incredible beauty and personality. At 5'3", 113 lbs., Leigha lost 40 lbs. since February preparing for first competitive season.
She swept both the Ms. Bikini America and Figure America last year stunning her fans and audience. So, now Lori Harder is bumping up her game and will take the Fitness America Championships stage this weekend in Las Vegas. She say's, "This will be ultimate challenge for me. I have been training for the fitness division for a lot longer than last year. It has always been my goal." Since her big wins, Lori has appear in numerous magazines including on the cover and spread throughout Oyxgen and is currently sponsored by Isagenix.

Friday, November 11, 2011

She hasn't been on stage for years, but '99 Fitness America Champion Rousha Kouril is maybe a comeback next week in Las Vegas. The veteran gymnast, dancer and acrobat always brings an exciting routine to the contest stage and invariably a Top 5 Finalist and will be a threat for the overall title.
Former Fitness Universe & Ms. Bikini Universe Katie Uter says's she's coming out of retirement and will be competing next weekend in Las Vegas. "I took off some time, got married and have a new baby girl. So, I started training again to get back into shape and just keep thinking, 'Do I really want to compete again'. The answer was obvious! I am so excited to be back on stage." The 35 year old fitness star will also be shooting for Oxygen magazine while at Fitness America Weekend.

Pure After Party

Parties during the Fitness America Weekend include PURE at Ceasars Palace! The Official After Party on Saturday night, November 19 begins at midnight. FREE tickets will be available at the show on Saturday night for all FAW competitors and family, friends and fans are also invited. Have fun, dance, drink, eat and meet the best natural athletes in the world!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Two Chicks Tour

As two of the fitness industry’s most renowned make-up artists, Lori Fabrizio and Valeria Nova’s flawless work graces the covers and pages of Oxygen, Playboy, American Curves and many others. Working with the industry’s top photographers, they have developed dreamy portfolios featuring a wide range of looks and techniques. Now, Lori and Valeria go on tour to teach & personally demonstrate their techniques & knowledge.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Little fitness star Leilani Dixon presented a guest performance at the Fitness Universe Championships in Miami. The 13 year old is a gymnastics competitor and practices 5 days a week. Like her veteran fitness mom, Yolanda Mejia-Dixon, Leilani practices daily.  She explains, "I do gymnastics five days a week and I practice my fitness routine twice a week. I always used to watch my mom perform and practice and it looked like fun. I used to copy her moves and after awhile my mom asked me if I wanted to compete. I was excited to start working on my own fitness routines. Now, sometimes my mom copies MY moves."

Like a more seasoned competitor, food and proper nutrition plays a big role for Leilani.  "I love to eat healthy food like chicken and sweet potatoes but I also enjoy my treats here and there.

Hopefully, Leilani will bring her youthful routines to Fitness America in Las Vegas and show the veteran gals a thing or two!

Entrepreneurial Fitness

Ms. Bikini Universe Tara Arellano just released one of her new media cards. The 24 year old Albuquerque native has a series of local and national sponsors for whom she promotes their products and services. Tara also appeared on the new Hard Rock calendar and promotion campaign. Look forward to seeing Tara in Las Vegas in November.

Tara is currently a certified personal trainer and nutritionist as well as Total Body Conditioning & Boot Camp Instructor at Fitness Kicks MMA Gym in Albuquerque, NM. Tara Arellano Nutrition & Fitness and enjoys showing people how to transform their bodies and lifestyles with custom Nutrition & Strength/Conditioning programs.

Tara was a competitive gymnast, cheerleader and dancer for most of her childhood. After becoming a new mom, she competed in her first show, the 2009 Musclemania & Fitness New Mexico Championships where she won the Ms. Bikini Division.

As the reigning Fitness New Mexico Champion, she is proud to be a young, successful, Hispanic-American mother, wife and female entrepreneur that is moving forward with passion and purpose towards her goals. Tara is proud to represent young female entrepreneurs and new mothers and hopefully inspire women everywhere to move toward their goals with purpose and passion to achieve greatness in whatever they choose.

29 Going on Twenty Two

The 29 year old personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and fitness writer Sian Toal moved to London to launch Twenty Two personal training with co-founder and Model Britain 2010 runner up Jay Benedetti. Sian doesn’t spend alot of time in the gym like you might expect from a competitive fitness model champion and says that using outdoor training equipment is just as effective and a lot more fun! This
ambitious entrepreneur wants to take her person training system to the USA and Australia, but maintains a down to earth attitude with a view that all you need in life is a bit of outdoor exercise, good nutrition and a smile to be happy and prosperous!
After winning her class at the 2011 Model England,  talent scouts absolutely loved her sporty commercial look and like so many Fitness Britain athletes, she was quickly signed by and went on to appear at the Body Expo along with fellow sponsored athlete and Fitness England Champion Maija Kivela. Now a writer for’s  FitMag online health and fitness magazine, she’s building up a international fan base with a personal training clientele that has never been stronger. You can keep up to date with the latest Sian Toal happenings on her new FitnessDiva Blog coming soon to!

English Figure of the Year

Figure England Champion Vikkie Kryzanowski is personally responsible for the success of the Figure Britain show division! The 5’10’’ Scuba Diving Instructor from Dorset was the first to tell us that we had got it completely wrong when Fitness Britian management decided to axe the category earlier this year. After quickly back peddling on the internet forums and re-introducing Figure branding, Vikkie’s coach
said to us at the England Championships “Sorry about that, she’s just a Figure Girl at heart and couldn’t help it!”

Just arriving back from the Scotland Championships, show promoters saw a traditionally small category absolutely explode with new talent. One competitor commented “This isn’t a Scottish event... These girls look like they’re ready for the World Championships!” With competitors like Renata Sulekaite winning the Figure Scotland division and ready for the showdown with Vikkie at the finals, she’s certainly got the competition that she’s asked for. Vikkie has ultra lean physique, but what she lacks in size and muscularity, she has the advantage of coming back from a top 10 position at the Fitness Universe in Miami, just short of 5th place in the world by a few points in her division. With pressure of being among over 500 athletes on a world stage where everyone has a great body, her style, presentation, and the way that she knows how to work the stage with surely give Renata the challenge that she’s after.

Vikkie was recently voted Figure Girl of the Year by the Britain panel, not only because of her competitive spirit, but her commitment to the sport as a role model for women across the UK. She’s one of those girls that is always willing to help out another competitor when it comes to bikini and shoe selection, tan, or offering tips and advice. While maintaining her competitive spirit, her focus like most competitors is about the journey of self development and being the best that she can be. “I lost over 20 lbs. during the last competitive season, going from 155lbs. to 125lbs as my competition weight in Fitness Britain 2010. Over the winter from Oct 2010 to Jan 2011, I worked very hard to fill out and gained over 10 lbs. of muscle, which helped me to win the England title”, said Vikkie.

Fitness Master

As a 44-year-old mother of four from Florida, Shari Riepe thought she was too old for fitness competitions. "I just started tumbling again in the last year," she said. "I thought maybe I was too old." Shari was inspired by a 61-year-old fellow competitor at an event last summer. "She was tumbling. Maybe I'm not too old." Shari's collected hardware at several events last year, not long after moving to the area from Alaska with her family. Her latest trophy was 3rd Place at the Fitness Universe Pageant - Masters Division in Miami.

A longtime acrobatic instructor, Shari took up competitive fitness when she was 30 and pregnant with her fourth child. Since then, she has undergone five knee surgeries and has been diagnosed with a neuromuscular condition similar to muscular dystrophy, she said. But that hasn't stop her. "I take medicine as needed, but I hardly ever need it," she said. "I really like to encourage people, no matter if they have ailments, through physical condition, you can overcome them. I roll out of bed and hurt every morning. As long as I do all my stuff, I'm OK."

Shari teaches gymnastics and yoga classes and has advice for anyone wanting to take up fitness, regardless of their age. She says, "I eat a high protein, vegetable and gluten-free diet for the most part. I do cardio every morning when I wake up by running a mile outside and I lift weights three times per week at the gym for a half hour. I stay active with teaching gymnastics, yoga and kayaking. Cardio is the most important component for health and training. I hear many ladies tell me they are not motivated to exercise and I tell them to 'put your body first and make yourself exercise every day even when you don't feel like it.' That is the secret to getting and staying fit."

By Beth Jones, Florida News-Leader

Sprinting to the Finnish

At the Fitness England Pageant Championships, Maija Kivela was virtually unknown when she stepped on stage! The 25 year old Finish beauty with the face of an angel weighed in at just over 100 lbs. and had one of the most crowd pleasing performances of the day. With dance moves that were at times matching those that you would expect from a London West End performance, this girl is quickly rising to the top with one of the most stunning bodies on the competitive fitness scene.

Maija moved to London a few years ago to pursue her dream of becoming a fitness competitor and has never looked back. Now getting ready for the ESPN televised Fitness Britain Finals with a dream to compete at international events like Fitness America Championships in Las Vegas this November. Maija’s background as a performer started at age 5 with dance and fitness becoming an ever increasing lifelong passion. She said, “Ten years ago, I was only a 15 year old girl and stepped into a gym in Finland where all the fitness professionals were training. There were pictures of all the winners who were in damn good shape and they were all so serious with their training, which really impressed me. Now finally, step by step, I am getting closer to my dream!”

With the more recent European Cheerleading Championships 2nd Place title under her belt and 10 years of sculpting the perfect body, Maija is preparing for the big stage at the Fitness Britain finals on September 3-4. There’s no stopping this girl!

Dixie Fitness Belle

 Georgian belle Racquel Wright was recently featured in a Bally’s ad wearing The Line Up online styles!  The shot was taken by Robert Reid who shoots for several major fitness publications, and covers all of the professional fitness models and athletes. Racquel is also the reigning Miss Bikini Dixie and a former Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader and Minnesota Timberwolves Cheerleader.  She's an executive MBA candidate and has a masters degree in business communication.  Racquel competed in elementary, high school and college track & field, basketball and volleyball earning gold and silver medals in all sports.  She says, "Everything I have done to date has prepared me for the fitness profession."

Moms Weekend Trip

It seems that the only time I find to update this blog is when I am on a plane somewhere!

I'm going to change that as I feel I have so many thoughts in my head that I should write about more frequently so that I don't end up with all these crazy long entries that no one wants to read!

But... Here goes with a long one! Lol

Just back from Miami where I competed at Fitness Universe. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I was going to be surrounded by some pretty amazing people for 6 days!

The lead up to this show and preparation was unlike another show... And I was not sure if that was a good thing or not!

A great deal of changes have been going on in my life and I found my self as busy in the last 8 weeks of training than I have ever been.

Juggling a home, 3 small kids, one still only in half-days and 2 new job ventures is crazy enough, then throw in training and diet of a competition and you have some stress to deal with!

What could I do, clearly I couldn't do anything about how much my kids need me, to get them to all of their after-school activities, home-work etc..  They are the most important things in my life...and watching my boys play lacrosse, soccer, and baseball keeps me grounded.  And seeing my daughter dance on stage, or get ready for her first ever voice recital makes my heart swell...

I need that balance in my as crazy my time was...I had to be there for those moments.

And taking on a new role at a job means putting in max effort as well, so I was scrambling a great deal between those two alone.

Add on to that a new venture with Visalus and promoting their 90 day health challenge... Which has been amazing and makes me smile everyday to know that I am helping people to set goals and reach for them!  But that required many emails and phone calls at night, when the kids were asleep or in between driving to and from all the activities!

So now... Training!  Not much time left for that... I did what I could, gym at 5:30 am whenever possible,  I missed a lot of gym time though and would get in lunges at the soccer field,  sprints with the kids at the park, shoulder presses of anything I could grab that had some weight to it...

Closer to the competition I was going to the gym at  9:30-10 at night for an hour. Then going to the grocery store at 11 and sometimes having to cook my food still past midnight because if I wasn't prepared for the next day How could I keep my diet in tact!

Then came week of show... Organizing 3 kids and where they need to me when you are not around is no small task as all you momma's know!  It was Tuesday night and I still had not packed for the flight and photo shoot the next day!  This is unheard of for my aries personality!

So needless to say... As soon as I landed in Miami I was stress free.. I knew that I was not in the best condition I had ever been...but what could I do... The show and competing are such a small part of the experience! 

I wanted to rock that stage with a joy of just being there, and getting it done as best as I could with all the other things going on in my life.

I made it my mission to have a blast, get to know more and more wonderful competitors, learn their stories, and try to be that person who helped them have fun, and not be stressed or focused on an outcome or place

I have been on the side of wanting to win...really baldy... And I have won, and it felt great, for that night!

Then the next day I was doing laundry and all the regular stuff as real life goes on!

I have been on the side where I wanted to win really bad, and didn't... And sat shocked and angry....  But I soon realized that the fact that I didn't win, or place well had no bearing on me as a person! 

That on a day to day basis I talk to people who tell me that I inspire them.... To me that is way more important that any trophy!

If I'm not in this for fun then I don't want. To be in it!

So I really feel that that came across on Stage in Miami...I was thrilled.... Laughing the entire time in the dressing room....dancing, taking silly pictures,  in the line-up with the girls...I was pumping us all up for being incredible people for just being there!

I truly feel that is what it is about...

So I am very proud of myself, and I think it is good to be able to say that!  I made it to Miami had a blast...and from what I hear...that showed on stage!

"Believe with all of your heart that you will do what you were made to do." Orison Swett Marden

Miami Road Trip

My journey started on Tuesday June 14th taking the six and a half hour trek to Columbus Ohio to hook up with my friend Gail Mitch. The drive through the US, was my first road trip alone crossing the border, pumped and ready for my most amazing competition event yet.

After arriving, Gail and I hit up a workout and decided to shoot with an amazing photographer by the name of Andrew Nicholson. We got some great shots and had some amazing strut practice. We were happy to have Rebecca Black join us for the shoot.

Wednesday morning, Gail and I flew out to Miami at 6am, pumped, tanned and ready to rock another shoot with the amazing LHGFX. This amazing opportunity included fellow competitors Stephanie Ward, Jen Salamon, and Carol Lama. We shot on the beautiful South Beach of Miami, in the sun and heat. So pumped to see our amazing pictures soon, stay tuned.

My roommate, Jen Strong arrived later on in the evening, pumped and high on life and full of positive energy. Stephanie Ward also stayed with Gail and I, the four friends from all across the country with the same goal and thirst for competing.

Thursday was filled with registration, catching up with good friends, media sessions and a savage shoot. The opportunity to see such incredible fellow team mates and cyber friends was incredible. Such an amazing time.

Friday it was show time, the competition started with bikini theme wear, bikini, followed by the figure tall division. I felt nervous but really enjoyed competing in bikini for the first time. My Canadian snow bunny theme wear made me feel incredibly proud and having my Canadian friends Tanya and Lisa come support me, made it even more memorable and special.

Saturday is was the finals, I was happy to have placed 21 out of a tough 45 tall bikini girls, ranging from 18-34, from all around the world.

Figure was in the later evening, again competing against some fierce woman, I placed 7th out of 14. The support and love I felt from the time I touched down in Miami will forever be my most memorable moment. Stepping on the stage and feeling like a rock star.

I just want to thank all my incredible supporters, team mates, family friends and coaches for allowing me to push through and compete at my best against the best. Love you all…..

What’s next on the agenda, offseason growth time, oh yeah!!!

New Mexico Newbie

At the recent Model New Mexico Championships in Albuquerque, a stunning new competitor swept the show and surprised everyone. Cara Ovis is a University of New Mexico MBA business student and entered the show on a whim and some convincing from friends at her gym. Currently at a striking 5'8", 123 lbs., she actually used to be over weight. But with the encouragement of both her parents whom are both fitness fanatics, Cara lost over 45 lbs. and now has a beautiful presence to match her gracious personality. She is currently preparing for Model Universe in Miami and will face a more seasoned and veteran group of sports fitness models. But, no doubt Cara has an incredible future as commercial agents and talents scouts learn about this new, rising star.

Married to Fitness

Recently popular fitness photographer Natalie Minh photographed an amazing couple who exemplify true fitness and healthy living. Nate Miyaki has always been an achiever in life including graduating first in his high school class, All State Gymnast, University of California scholarship athlete, 2009 MM America BW Champion and much more. His beautiful wife Kalai Diamond is a rising Ms. Bikini competitor whom is training for Ms. Bikini America in Las Vegas.

Here's Nalatie's interview covering everything from the inside of a marriage made for fitness:

"This couple I had the pleasure of working with (my first HAPA couple, amazing looks) chose me to photograph them recently and I loved their story. Kalai has a high level education in psychology, 38 years old and not a professional fitness model at all. Nate is also educated on the nutritional side of health, which is rare for most personal trainers and a former pro wrestler (more about that later!).

This detailed interview is broken up into three parts. It covers their background, how they chose to compete, and their journey along the way. Their banter and chemistry had me laughing throughout the dialogue.

1. Tell me about yourself Kalai – where are you from, your educational background, where it took you around the States, and what you do today.

I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was important to my parents that I go away to college; not just away, but far away, so that I could experience life and learn to be independent in a new environment. I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago, where I received my bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a specialization in Public Policy. I was a member of the women's volleyball team, and our matches took me to towns throughout the midwest, as well as cities like New York, Boston, Atlanta, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Rochester (on that trip we drove to Niagara Falls!), places I probably never would have made it to otherwise. I was so fortunate to have that opportunity.

After graduation I moved to New York City and got my Master’s Degree in Psychology from New York University. From there I decided to move to San Francisco, to live in a city that wasn’t quite so cold and be a little closer to my family (who all still live in Hawai’i); that’s where I met Nate.

Today, I work at the University of California, San Francisco, where I administer a variety of programs and services for students in medical school.

2. Nate, tell us a little more about you as well – where are you from, professional/educational background and specialties, your focus today.

I grew up in a small beach town in Northern California - Half Moon Bay. We’re known for the Mavericks big wave surfing contest. I guess that’s why I won’t get a haircut, and get a real job you know? It’s a perfect match with Kalai since she grew up in Hawaii. We’re just two laid back, beach bum surfers enjoying life, although neither of us surf — go figure?

I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley and post baccalaureate studies in Kinesiology at San Francisco State University. It’s all been self-education since then: tons of personal reading and research, along with various training and nutrition certifications. I can’t believe it, but I’ve had my own training business focusing on physique enhancement/body composition transformations for 10 years now.

Currently, I’m transitioning more into fitness writing. I’m writing articles for various websites, and Kalai and I have our own new blog/website where we are focusing on fitness training, nutrition, and psychology topics. Eventually I’d like to put out some books in order to reach more people and share some of my philosophies.

So my current focus? I’d say writing in the industry, but I really can’t focus, that’s part of the problem.

3. Nate, now what’s up with you being a former professional wrestler?? LOL Give us the juicy details.

Haha – the legend of the Kamikaze Kid lives on! The video highlights are up on my YouTube channel if anyone is a pro wrestling fan.

In college, I started training with a Capoeira group. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art involving a lot of acrobatic moves. We used to go to a gymnastics studio to practice the advanced moves — flips, aerial kicks, etc. One day this dude saw me training and told me I should go check out a pro wrestling school/promotion located in the area. I was a huge pro wrestling fan growing up as a kid — the Ultimate Warrior was my hero. So I thought why not? You only live once.

Next thing you know, I’m touring up and down California as the Kamikaze Kid. The independent pro wrestling scene was a wild ride. It really is a crazy life. It was a lot of fun, but super tough on the body. It’s fake and scripted and all that, but the impact of the stunts is very real. As a small guy, the injuries began to pile up quickly, and after a couple of years I decided it was time to move on. Every once in awhile I regret that decision because I see a few of the guys I was coming up with are now performing with the WWE and TNA Wrestling.

4. Nate has always been into fitness but not the case for Kalai. Kalai, what was your fitness background, family perspective in health/nutrition (given that you have Hawaiian roots), and your driver to make the decision to compete in your first show.

I haven’t always been in into fitness per se, but I started playing sports in middle school, and continued to play volleyball well after college. As an athlete, my exercise programs had always been performance-based, and my primary goals were to be strong, fast, and agile. After college I got more into endurance sports, completing a marathon and a 6-day AIDS Ride. Because of my athletic background I was always comfortable in the weight room, but when given the choice I would usually go for a run over lifting weights, since I had bought into the idea that cardio would keep my weight in check and give me the lean, healthy body I desired.

As for nutrition, there are many factors that influenced my eating habits and thoughts about health growing up, but I’ll just mention a couple. The first thing that comes to mind is the practical: because nearly everything has to be imported, food in Hawaii (like just about everything else) is expensive. When fresh food is expensive, you end up eating a lot of things that you think give you more bang for your buck, like fast food “value meals” and plate lunches (which are take-out dishes typically comprised of two scoops of white rice, one scoop of macaroni salad, accompanied by some kind of meat that is usually breaded and/or fried, or covered in some kind of sauce or gravy), as well as foods that are cheaper in bulk like ramen, spam, and rice. Not the healthiest options, obviously, but what you think you need to do to get by. In time, these become commonplace and comfort foods.

On a more personal note, I grew up in a family where food was equated with love. For example, my grandfather knew how much I liked chocolate, so he brought me chocolate covered donuts every Saturday morning, and kept our freezer stocked with chocolate ice cream so that I could have it for dessert every night if I wanted (and I did). He knew my sister’s favorite was chicken cacciatore, so when she came home from college on breaks he would always make it for her. He did these things with the best intentions – because he loved us and wanted to make us happy – but the result how this kind of “love” was shared throughout my family is that I have many relatives who are overweight, and some who suffer from long-term health issues that are directly related to their weight problems. I suppose the path I have chosen – initially through athletics and now fitness – is my way of changing my “destiny” and having a hand in my own wellness and health outcomes.

There were a number of factors that went into my decision to compete. First, I was looking for a goal and purpose to guide my diet and exercise goals. For the past few years, other than when I was preparing for my wedding, I had just been working out to work out. This made it too easy to flake when I was lazy, or indulge in food and drink more often than necessary (I have a HUGE sweet tooth). Second, I wanted a challenge. I was curious to see what I was capable of and how much I could change my body composition if I truly dedicated myself to a plan. I have always admired Nate’s discipline and focus when he trains and wanted to see if I could do the same, following the theory and methods that work so well for him. Signing up for a contest – especially one that Nate was doing too – would hold me accountable. Once I paid the registration fee, there was no going back! Finally, we were coming upon the end of the year, which was stacked with back-to-back celebrations and holidays (November = Hawaiian vacation/family wedding, Thanksgiving, and my birthday; December = Christmas, Las Vegas wedding, Nate’s birthday, and New Year’s). I knew this would be a recipe for disaster when it came to my diet, workouts, and waistline. By signing up to compete in late January, I would need to eat clean and train through the holidays, and would thus avoid the otherwise predictable weight gain.

5. Nate, you prepared every aspect of Kalai’s program, which I think is brilliant. There’s nothing like having a coach to follow rather than second guessing yourself in this process. Please fill us in on what considerations you made for her program, how you wanted to change her physique for show time, the struggles/adjustments made along the way, and your final critique of your results.

It was either brilliance or madness – especially when you’re trying to take cookies away from that crazy Hawaiian girl. I think I might have acquired a few permanent scars from the late night UFC-style fights.

Well, since I’ve been online and writing a few articles and what not, I’ve been getting contacted by several women suffering from the metabolic/hormonal damage and post-contest weight rebound associated with improper contest prep. Its crazy, 20-40lb weight-gains in less than six-month’s time - on NORMAL food intake and training protocols. I definitely did not want my wife to do it the wrong way, go through the roller coaster ride of yo-yo-ing, and suffer the adverse health and body image consequences that can become involved with the competitive lifestyle.

And if I can have my Oprah interview moment here: ladies (and guys too), don’t take any crazy or extreme measures that ultimately damage your normal bodily functioning and overall health just for the sake of winning a trophy. It may seem like it now, but it’s really not worth it in the long run. Trust me, I’ve seen what happens on the other side of the equation. It’s not pretty, and for many it ends up being a lifelong battle. Use a solid plan backed by science. Train hard, eat like a champ, sacrifice, and use a warrior’s discipline to get into the best shape of your life. But use an intelligent approach, and don’t take it too far.

Sorry for the tangent, but I think that perspective can help a few people. Back to the Hawaiian Queen. We also had to keep in mind the fact that fitness is not Kalai’s main career. She has a full-time job in the real world running departments for the UCSF medical school and graduate research programs. She couldn’t turn her life upside down just for a moment of fake tan glory. She had to achieve her athletic goals while still maintaining her ability to function at a high level in an intellectually demanding job. (Don’t tell her I said this because I don’t want her ego to get too big — but yes, she is a badass).

In my business, I pride myself in the ability to combine scientific research with practical experience. So I wanted to design a program based on the physiological principles of how a body really loses fat and builds or maintains lean muscle, not just on gym myth or fitness folklore. A lot of plans are based on tradition rather than science. Fat loss efficiency is all about using your exercise and dietary programs to positively influence your hormones and metabolism, not simply about calorie burning/calorie counting — that is if you want the results to be permanent and sustainable.

In order not to bore you with the science, the practical side is that we based her plan on high intensity strength training, no traditional cardio, and a relatively higher protein, moderate carbohydrate, lower fat approach. We wanted the positive metabolic and hormonal effects of strength training without the negative effects of excessive cardio, and of course we wanted a targeted dietary plan to take care of 80-90% of the fat loss puzzle, without going so drastically low in carbs that we suppressed optimal thyroid production or met rate. The science is complicated, but as you can see the program was simple on paper. These days its ass backwards, complicated and crazy programs backed by little real science.

I think the biggest hurdle was getting Kalai to trust the plan and not revert back to her old endurance athlete ways of training — you know, tons of cardio with little strength training. I understand the base of my advice is counter intuitive or even completely opposite of traditional fat loss guidelines. And she was constantly exposed to the “standard, accepted” fat loss advice via various media channels just like everyone else. In many ways it had become engrained in her subconscious.

But I believe in my approach and more importantly, as she became more involved and started to consistently implement it, she started to believe in it as well. Part of the reason she wanted to compete was to prove it worked (1) just as well for women as men (2) and just as good, if not better, than more drastic, extreme approaches.

I was very happy with the results. Just check out the photos — she looks pretty hot to me. I’m going to hang one or two of them from the wall for motivation, and for other reasons that I just can’t mention on a family website. And the best part is because the program did not rely on drastic/extreme measures, I believe the results are sustainable.

And this was her very first shot at this whole fitness competing and modeling “thang”. She’s really only been focusing on pure cosmetic enhancement (as opposed to performance or endurance training) for 3-4 months. We know that results are cumulative, and as she continues focusing on this specific path, she is only going to improve.

Damn Natalie, when you asked to interview us I bet you didn’t realize how much of a rambler I am. Sorry about that.

6. Kalai, what did you think of Nate’s program? Where there any difficulties on working together since taking instruction from a partner can sometimes be a power struggle. What did you learn from this dieting/training process about yourself and furthermore, general nutrition?

I thought the program Nate prepared for me was perfectly reasonable. He explained everything to me, like why he kept the carb amounts moderate, why he took out certain foods when he did, and why he selected certain exercises; everything had a specific reason. We were always checking in to see how I was feeling on the diet, and make sure I was able to get my workouts in, since I had started a new job. In fact, I felt lucky that I wasn’t famished all the time, or about to pass out from doing multiple workouts in one day.

We both have pretty laid-back personalities, so in general we don’t get into tiffs very often. When it comes to training for a physique competition he is the expert, so I told him I would do exactly what he said to do, no questions asked. The only difficulty we experienced was when I was struggling mentally (fighting cravings, etc). Nate always has my best interests at heart, but at those times he didn’t know if he should respond to me as my husband (empathetic and loving), or as my Coach/Trainer (and tell me to just suck it up). I often didn’t know what I wanted him to be either, so that didn’t help. I think just recognizing his dilemma as a confounding factor during those moments helped us come to a resolution much quicker.

Goodness, I learned so much! The end result showed me that I am capable of getting in much better shape than I ever imagined, without having to go to extreme measures that I heard so much about. I learned that I shouldn’t compare myself to others, but I could instead “compete” with myself to be the best “me” that I can be. I also found that while I initially missed going on runs, I found a similar peace and enjoyed “alone time” by just putting on some headphones and lifting weights in the gym.

I don’t think you have enough time in this interview for everything I learned about health and nutrition while preparing for this contest. Some of the key takeaways, however, are that –

(1) you don’t need to cut out all your carbohydrates to get lean,

(2) nor do you need to do 2 hours of cardio in addition to your weight training sessions.

However, perhaps the most significant thing I learned from this experience is the importance of mental fortitude when you are dieting. Our bodies can adapt fairly easily to the changes in caloric intake, but it’s how you deal with the mental and psychological challenges – even those posed by physical hunger and discomfort – that ultimately drives your success.

7. Nate, what did you do differently during contest prep in your regime? For example, what did your regular fitness/diet schedule look like and then contest prep? What were your goals to achieve and putting your knowledge to the time test (fixed contest deadline) did it work out for you?

To be quite honest, my diet and training plans don’t really change that much through the year. I like to stay in shape year round. I’ve found that it’s better for my training business, and my career as a wannabe fitness model. No one wants me (especially Kalai) to look like a fat guy - I mean a bulking bodybuilder - 90% of the year. Plus, my fragile ego couldn’t take it. My 5 older brothers used to call me Baby Sumo because I was a fat kid. If they started calling me that again, I’d probably cry. I guess that childhood torture is why I’m so obsessed with the fitness lifestyle as an adult. Thanks guys, you’ve scarred me for life.

I know it would probably be beneficial for my physique to go through a few heavy bulking phases, but I just don’t see the need. I have no delusions or aspirations of being a professional bodybuilder. I just like the discipline and focus necessary in the training and dieting process leading up to the show. It makes me feel like I’m still somewhat of an athlete. So my goal is to continue putting on muscle slowly throughout the year, while always remaining within striking distance of competition or photo shoot conditioning.

Generally I train 4 days a week using a typical body-part split, with traditional volume/hypertrophy-based training as my foundation. Nothing fancy, you know the drill: basic dumbbell/barbell exercises, 3 sets of 8-12 reps, 3-5 exercises per body part, lots of yelling, spandex, and of course, sunglasses during late night training are a prerequisite (I hope you know I’m kidding).

My diet is essentially 5 meals a day combining a serving of lean protein (eggs, chicken, fish) with a serving or two of complex carbohydrate (potatoes or rice) and maybe some veggies. I’ve been writing a lot lately on T-Nation about a Paleo/Caveman meets Sports Nutrition approach. That’s basically what I follow.

One major difference is that we usually have a cheat meal during the offseason one day a week, usually Saturday night so we can at least pretend we have some sort of a social life. That generally gets cut out 4-6 weeks away from an event. And I do miss that cheat meal. I love those freaking M&M’s. Ah man, the crunchy shell with the milk chocolaty center, but I digress.

8. What was your experience like for stepping on stage the first time? I believe that my first show was my most exciting because so many unknowns going in and the rush is unlike anything else I’ve experienced. What tips would you give to those stepping on stage for the first time?

You are right that there were so many unknowns, and I was winging it for the majority of the day. However, I had no problem making it known it was my first show and asking questions, and people were always willing to help. I was fortunate to meet another competitor early that morning when we were both waiting for one last spray tan; she was so friendly, and kind of took me under her wing. It was nice to have someone to get last-minute advice from, or just chat with throughout the day, which helped me to forget how nervous I was!

Being on stage in and of itself wasn’t that bad. I grew up dancing the hula and had performed as a soloist in front of large audiences before, so I knew I’d be able to handle the eyes on me. I don’t think the magnitude of what I was doing hit me until we were in the finals and waiting to hear the winners. Then, in a flash, it was all over, months of preparation, all for a couple of minutes on stage. Crazy!

For anyone stepping on stage for the first time, I would recommend the following: (1) PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Learn how to pose from someone who has done it before (and is good at it), and practice walking and posing in your heels. A lot. Not just in front of a mirror, but without a mirror as well (since obviously you won’t be able to see yourself on stage). I recommend having someone take photos or video of you walking and posing so you can see what the judges will see. With practice comes confidence, and you absolutely need that! I would also recommend NOT focusing on the final rankings or results, but just enjoying the experience for what it is, everything that you’ve learned throughout the process, all that you’ve accomplished simply by being there. It may sound hokey, and I’m just as competitive as the next person, but your success as a first-time competitor shouldn’t be measured by where (or if) you place. If you enjoy the experience, there will be lots of time to train again and improve for the next show.

9. How have your friends and family responded to your contest prep? Kalai I know that you had mentioned that your sister may have had some positive influence from your preparations. What easy tips could you give to others taking that first big change in diet/exercise?

I’ve done it enough times that they get it now. They still don’t completely understand why I want to shave the legs (among other areas), slap on a fake tan, and strut around in panties (and dudes, lets not try and mask what they really are – they’re not “posing trunks”, they’re frickin’ panties — so wear them with pride and be done with it). But I think they respect it. And many of my family members come to me when they have health or fitness questions. Using my nutritional philosophies, I even helped one of my brothers reduce his cholesterol levels enough so that he could get off medications that were damaging his liver.

The first set of easy tips I have given to family and friends are:

(1) cut out sugar from your diet. One of my friends did only this, and lost 15 pounds for her wedding; and

(2) Measure your portions, especially of starchy carbohydrates. You have no idea how much you are overeating until you get out a measuring cup and use it. You will be surprised at how little a ½ cup is on your plate, but how it is just enough to make you satisfied (but not full).

As for exercise, my two pieces of advice are:

(1) Do something – anything – on a regular basis. If you don’t feel like going to the gym, go anyway. Whatever you do will be better than nothing, and you will always be happier that you went; and

(2) Let go of the notion that you must do hours of cardio to lose weight and be lean. When I was getting ready for my wedding, I would spend up to 90 minutes in the gym, which included 45-60 minutes of cardio after lifting weights. Even with all that activity, I was nowhere near as lean then as I was after preparing for this competition, for which I did no formal cardio activity whatsoever. You need muscle to be lean, and in order to build muscle you need to weight train.

10. What’s next on your plate? Future plans, etc.

We are excited for this upcoming year. We are trying to gear up our competitive plans for 2011. I've convinced her that Musclemania is a much better fit for us than any other organization, but I'm not sure of the difference between the bikini and model divisions (she is definitely not a figure girl). I think my wife is going to do one of the Fitness California shows to get some practice, and then we are both going to come out to Vegas for the MM America."