Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dani Mattisson Interview

Q: First, Dani, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Well, you are very welcome. I very much respect what you are working to do and I appreciate all the help and support that you provide for women in MMA, bodybuilding and fitness! We all greatly appreciate your efforts!!

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself?
A: I have lived in the mid-west all my life. While the winters get a bit too cold for my liking I do enjoy the 4 seasons. I also love the country side, the people and the feeling that you get in all the small towns. I am a wife, a mom of two great kids, a business woman and recently have been involved in modeling and figure competitions. While I got started in modeling and figure a little later than most people I do feel that we all get out of life exactly what we put into it. So, theres really no excuse for not doing whatever we desire, today!

Q: Before the gym were you an especially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: Actually, when I was growing up there were limited opportunities for girls to be involved in athletics. Even at home we didn't do much as far as physical activities go. I have tried very hard to encourage and support our kids in athletics because it does teach so much about team work, overcoming defeat and perseverance. Its an experience that every boy or girl should have. But, for me, I really only started getting involved at the gym a couple of years ago. At one point, one of the trainers at the gym approached me and offered to help me out. Better late than never!

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: My kids are both what is affectionately known as gym rats. They lift a lot and they were very supportive and encouraging to me too. Usually its the parents that try to inspire the kids but when it came to lifting it was the other way around. Now, being at the gym is something that we all enjoy and can share. Oh, and you wouldn't believe the number of jars of protein powder we keep at our house lol!

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: Well, its always a struggle to get over that initial hill but once you start to get going it comes naturally. Now, if I miss a day I feel bad, emotionally and physically. I guess I am somewhat lucky since I do see results quickly but I've always had a fairly healthy diet and that is the secret, I believe. The old adage "you are what you eat" is so true and when you combine hard work in the gym with a good diet I think anyone will see results quickly. I also started working with a trainer which really helped me to improve and understand the proper form and how to arrange my workouts throughout the week. At that point, I saw results come much faster and that is when I began to consider the possibility of entering figure competitions.

Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: I have a friend that I met at the gym that is a body builder. I went to see her compete and was immediately motivated to try to do something for myself. Her inspiration really got me very focused and I got more excited when I saw the results. I decided that I would try taking this effort further and made the decision to enter competitions. It was a little daunting at first to consider competing but I figured if I didn't pursue my dreams they'd never be more than that, dreams.

Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: I am very fortunate to have a lot of support. I had friends and family at both my recent contests and I really thank them for being there. It is very difficult to stand in front of an audience wearing very little while a bunch of judges look you over to find any imperfections. You find out how you do in front of that same crowd too. So having a few friendly faces out there is so important and I appreciate all the help they have given me.

Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it
A: I think the thing that is the most surprising is the variation in judging. Even at the same contest you can have one judge mark you as first and another mark you as last. So trying to figure out what judges are looking for is a little more elusive than I anticipated. Still, I am completely committed to getting all "firsts" at one of my upcoming competitions!

Q: Can you share your contest history.
A: I have been in 2 figure contests during the fall of 2011. I have competed in the masters, open and tall divisions at both of my contests. My best finish is second in masters and open tall but, like I said, I am 100% committed to doing even better at my next competition!

Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: Oh, that is a good question. While I always feel like I could improve something, I guess I am most pleased with my abs. A lot of girls & guys at the gym even ask me for advice so its nice to get noticed for my work. Abs take a lot of exercise but also a lot of good diet and I think people really recognize that, which is nice.

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or a favorite exercise?
A: Yes! It has to be my legs and butt because they are the hardest for me to get to where I want them to be. Walking lunges are my favorite exercise and I love what they do for me! I challenge myself by carrying heavy weights as I lunge. I always get a comment or two from my gym buddies as they watch me lunge past

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: I try to consume 1.5 grams of protein for every pound I weigh. That means eating small meals several times to keep my metabolism high too. It was hard at first to get used to not ever feeling real full but then again I never really feel hungry either. I put my carbs mostly into my first breakfast and limit them the rest of the day. We go through a lot of fish and chicken around our house. I really don't like to change up my diet at contest time. If I shed too much water I can end up looking too striated for NPC figure guidelines.

Q: When someone sees your physique or hears you compete for the first time, what is the most common reaction? More positive or negative?
A: I think their first reaction is that they are puzzled as to what is involved in competing. When I explain what I have been doing to prepare and what I actually do in the competitions they are really excited and proud of me for putting so much into this in addition to continuing with my day to day life activities. So overall things are really positive and that really helps a lot!

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: This is really easy "you are so lucky / its easy for you". That is usually followed up by asking what kind of diet I am on. Now, I do feel very fortunate that I have the opportunity to focus like I do on the gym. A lot of people are working two jobs just to make ends meet. What I do does take a lot of time and while I know I am not perfect and want to improve every day I have to say that there are just no short cuts to getting into contest shape. So, I try to take those moments as an opportunity to help spread a little experience and knowledge, maybe even help someone reach their goals.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: Some people think it is just a physical thing. It surely is not. It is about living healthy, knowing my body, enjoying and feeling really good about myself. Unfortunately, a lot of us women are so hard on ourselves and have very low self esteem. I was like that for a very long time and it kept me from even dreaming of what I could do. Through my journey to my first competition, I have gained a self confidence that I hope always shows positively in every facet of my life.

Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: Well, I really like weight training. Its a lot of fun and the feedback is instantaneous. You know exactly how many reps you did and how much weight you were able to lift. You can chart your progress really easily. The thing I like the least is the aerobic work, like getting on the elliptical for instance. It seems to go very slowly and the feedback is a lot more nuanced.

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I bought some DVD's and a book from Julie Lohre and that information really helped me out a lot. She also sent along a nice hand written note to me, which is special. I've also really been inspired by Jaime Eason. I have seen her in M&F several times and also seen her online. I really admire everything she has accomplished and also how she has molded fitness and modeling so seamlessly. She is something very special.

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: I can pass up on the sweets, no problem. I guess what I really enjoy a little cheat with is a nice wine on the weekends and some really good cheese. I guess when it comes to my diet I try to do everything in moderation, even moderation itself lol.

Q: If another woman told you she wanted to start training, what is the one piece of advice you would most want to give her?
A: Just get started, today, not tomorrow. Don't worry about buying the right clothes or picking out the right class, get to the gym. Being involved is infectious and you cant get that unless you are there. Also, I would say that you must pay yourself first. By that I mean that you cant always put your needs last. I know that most moms would likely agree that their family comes first. I certainly understand, support that and feel that to the core of my being. But, I firmly believe you have to set aside some time for yourself every day to keep healthy. Not only is it very important to feel and be healthy but it helps inspire your family too, and isn't that what kids really need? If your kids don't dream big, they wont achieve the best they can be either.

Q: Do you think its becoming more common for women to use the weights as opposed to just doing cardio and things?
A: Some women watch me lift and no doubt think I am nuts lol. What they don't understand is that you can control how lifting affects you. By controlling the weight, the number of reps and your diet you can tailor your work out to give you exactly the look you want. I've seen a lot of women that strictly diet and don't lift at all. Thin is nice and thin is good but I tend to think having good tone is better. You cant get that just going to spin class.

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
A: I love modeling. I am very lucky to live with my main photographer and in the course of a year we can do more than 20,000 pictures together. Our pursuit of the perfect picture takes us traveling all over the world and I've been very fortunate to work with other really gifted photographers as well. I am very much hoping to keep expanding my modeling options. It lets me live out the artistic side of life that I otherwise would never get a chance to experience.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Dani Mattisson.
A: Well, I am normally up around 5:30am and I get breakfast ready for the family. After everyone leaves I am off to the gym for a couple of hours. I use a trainer a couple of times a week and the other days I work out on my own. I normally finish up around 10 and then I am off to work until dinner time. We make dinner and then I take care of the bills, kid stuff and my modeling site and fan page on Facebook. It is a busy day but it is a lot of fun too! I love going to bed feeling like I made a difference.

Q: Describe Dani Mattisson in five words.
A: Driven, Fun, Happy, Loving, Confident.

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I surely hope it is my age!!! lol

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I actually am considering three different contests around the Midwest this spring. It is always nice to be able to combine at least two competitions back-to-back since it takes a lot of effort to get to contest ready shape and you like to get all the use out of that you can before you have to step back for a bit to recharge again. I am also working on a number of modeling projects that will take me to Mexico twice, the desert southwest and perhaps to the southeast as well. Its a new year and the possibilities for all of us are endless!

Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote?
A: Thank you so much for this opportunity. I do have a fan page at I am working to get some workout videos produced which will be available on the page for free as well as other dietary info. I am hosting a chat room on my page and of course sharing some of my modeling photos. People can also follow me on twitter @danimattisson. All of my efforts are designed to accomplish just one thing, to try to pay back to someone else the inspiration that I have received. Truly, my fondest dream is that someone, someday, lets me know that I helped them make a big change in their life, just like someone did for me. I wish for nothing greater quite frankly.

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Dani Mattisson the athlete and competitor?
A: I am always looking for ways to help spread the message about fitness. I am very driven, focused and genuinely want to help others reach their goals. If that interests others, my email is People can also reach me on Facebook or Twitter as stated above or if they are members they can find my modeling portfolio at

Q: Dani, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: I just want to thank you again for having me. I am deeply moved that you would consider me but even more so that you do so much for helping to promote so many women. This is a really great thing you are doing and I am humbled to be included in your efforts. Thank you sincerely!!! Dani Mattisson


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