Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Leah Dattilo Interview

Q: First, Leah, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this.
A: Thank you for giving me this opportunity better introduce myself in the fitness industry and to share my story with other athletes like myself!

Q: Can you start out by telling a little about yourself.
A: Born and raised in Saint Louis, MO. Birthday is June 11th, 1985, 26 years old. I come from a small family, one of three sisters. I am an identical twin! :) We have always been pretty active throughout school, but I took a "relaxed path" for a few years when I married in 2008. I ended the marriage in 2010. I picked up the weights to train for my 1st bikini competition in Dec. 2009. My sister Angela Coleman competes with me, but in figure. I have worked as a Sedation Certified Dental Assistant for 8 years. Nationality is mainly Sicilian and Aztec Indian.

Q: Before the gym were you an esepcially athletic person? Play any sports or anything?
A: In grade school I played basketball and track. Junior high, I played volleyball and ran track as well. Never really got involved in High School sports.

Q: What initially led you into the gym?
A: After graduating high school in 2003, I got into a "comfort zone". My sister would always ask me to workout with her, but I lacked motivation to go consistently. I gained weight over the years and didn't like the way my body was changing. My former husband wouldn't let me join the gym or go workout with my sister because "I had nobody to impress". Unhappy and tired of being told what I "can" and "can't" do because of another's insecurity. I set my personal goal to lose weight, sought the help of my sister and Team In-Shape Nutrition coach Kit Kitson, who also encouraged me to compete in our 1st bikini / figure comp. together in 2010. I answered to no one but myself at this point. December 2009 marked the training and diet process for me. All my ex- husband's stressful, negative, unsupportive comments kept me working harder and longer in the gym to reach my goal and prove to myself that I can stick to it. I competed in the NPC Midwest Classic April 2010 and WON Bikini class A!! My sis won figure overall!

Q: Was training something you picked up fairly easy? How long before you started to see results?
A: Weight training and cardio was hard starting out, but I adjusted pretty fast. The endurance and strength levels weren't quite there. I was very unstable with movements and had to work on my form constantly. Upper body was very easy for me to build. It's harder for me to bring up leg development, so we have to hit them pretty hard. We incorporate a lot of heavy super-setting and plyos. Practice makes perfect though! We have been very blessed with great genetics as well! It doesn't take much for our bodies to take shape and to respond to weights. I put on 2lbs muscle while prepping for the show in April! Body fat dropped drastically! Every week we could notice great differences in my physique. Between Dec. 2009 and Feb. 2010 I put on 10 lbs of LBM. Now I'm told to "ease-off" the upper body training! LOL!

Q: What made you decide to compete for the first time?
A: After setting my short term goal to lose weight, my sister planned on competing with her husband in the 2010 NPC Midwest show, but later, her husband was deployed in Jan 2010. With that happening, she still chose to go through with the show to keep her focused off the time her hubby would be gone. She encouraged me to compete with her and support each other through the diet. It was really something special to be there for her, do our first show together and place so well! :)

Q: Is competing something your family and friends supported?
A: At first, no one knew what to expect, including me. Each week brought changes in diet and training. It confused people at first. My family asked us why we can't have certain fruits, meats, carbs and veggies. Some friends would say "you are barely eating anything!" What most don't understand is that this diet is to achieve a certain look and is not meant to be followed long-term. We simply would have to say "It's not on our plan." Despite everything, the respect they had for our discipline and training out-weighed other feelings. We know who are truly proud of us. They support in the best way that they can relate. They know it is a passion and that it makes us happy. :)

Q: Was competing what you expected or did anything surprise you about it?
A: I believe with every show, there is always going to be something unexpected. You never know who is going to show up or who will get over-looked. What look are the judges favoring with each show? Lean or soft? It always changes. You just have to be your own worst critic and do your personal daily best! Competition also has alot of exposure opportunities! To name a few... modeling, sponsorships and photoshoots to expand a persons fitness portfolio. Worry about sculpting your best package and impressing your judges... no one else.
On the national level, it is much different. There is such a huge turnout with some of these shows! I often wondered how they can judge these huge classes! I feel politics and "who you know" play a role in the shows as well, but this is the game we choose to play. There is so much hard work that goes into each competitor's routine. Everyone is a winner to me and I am proud to belong to such an elite industry! One thing that surprised me with contest training is how different the body can respond with each diet. The body finding it's "normal" state again after a contest. My cutting proccess was slower this time around. I felt that each diet got harder with every show I trained for last year.

Q: Can you share your contest history.
*2010 NPC Midwest Classic: Bikini class A- 1st
*2011 NPC Muscle Mayhem: Bikini class A- 2nd
*2011 NPC Jr. Nationals: Bikini class A- 14th-16
*2011 IFBB North Americans: Bikini class A- 11th-19
My long term goal is to become an IFBB Bikini Pro. For 2012, my goal is to make Top 5 or better.

Q: As far as body parts, what do you feel is your best one?
A: I feel that my arms are very well sculpted. The tushy as well! They say shows are won from the back! ;)

Q: Do you have a part you most like to train or favorite exercise?
A: I love training hammies! SLDL are my favorite movement for these babies!

Q: What is your normal training routine and diet like and how do you alter it for contest prep?
A: Off-Season: I perform weight training 4 days a week and 5 days of moderate cardio sessions. I eat clean 5 days, carbs / calories are higher, also I have 2 cheat meals a week.
Contest Prep: I still perform 4 days weight training, cardio is 6 days kicked up a notch, sometimes it will start with 4am fasted cardio sessions. Mood changes can occur... some days are better than others LOL! but I make myself aware of my attitude! Diet is solid with no cheats, lower carbs / cals. I am allowed 1 cheat meal during contest prep.

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: My reaction I get almost everytime is: "Oh! So you're into that bodybuilding stuff, huh?!" and "So you're a bodybuilder?"
Mostly positive! I like to explain bikini as a "fitness" competitor. I also say that it's like a beauty pageant for fit women! We have our hair, nails, makeup, and tan done along with posing presentations on stage too... only with more meat on our bones! LOL! ;)

Q: When they see it that first time, what is the one question or comment you are most sick of hearing?
A: I received comments like "You looked so skinny!" or "Why can't you maintain that look year round?" LOL! Do you want to know what I ate to look like that?... I am supposed to look tiny and lean for this sport. There is a diet that will get you that look, but it is not balanced, therefore it is not meant for long term.

Q: What is the biggest misconception about women who train and compete or the one thing you wish people understood?
A: Whether it is Women's Fitness, Bikini, WP, Figure, or WBB... We ALL bust our butts in the gym and diet just as hard as everyone else to get in our best possible shape, whatever the challenge may be for each... Some think Bikini is a joke and we don't train or diet hard like other women divisions. It's not when you are performing 2 hours of cardio a day 4 or more days a week to get in shape, consuming less than 1100 calories weeks until show time. Everybody has their personal struggles with each week of diet. It may be easier for some to lose faster than others. We all hit the weights hard, but with different training methods for each division. Some methods may work better than others for each individual. You and your coach will find what methods will benefit your physique.

Q: What is the best and worst part of training for you?
A: I love the feeling of accomplishment in a hard cardio / weight training session! Love the structure of training and diet each day. I feel very organized and on track seeing my coach weekly on progress and knowing my physique will be taking on a leaner look. I feel the most challenging part of contest prep is carb rotating or re-feed cycles. I feel less energy in my workouts, also recovery and endurance isn't as good. That's when you keep faith and keep pushing... Keep your eye on the prize... Be positive!... Envision your time to shine on stage for the judges. NO EXCUSES!!! If it means that much to you, it will not feel like a job!

Q: Do you have any favorite competitors or any you admire?
A: I admire IFBB Bikini Pro Jaime Baird for all of her inspirational, positive blogs!
IFBB Bikini Pro's Nathalia Melo and Amanda Latona!- Great presentations and physiques! New 2011 IFBB Bikini Pro's India Paulino and Roya Tehrani- I love the exotic look they bring to bikini!

Q: Do you have a favorite cheat food?
A: First cheat food I think of is sushi! I LOVE sushi! I love the fried rolls! ;) Sweets would have to be ice cream or cheesecake. Anything with chocolate, marshmallow, caramel and PB too! :) Second cheat would be Chocolate / PB Chip Pancakes with choc. syrup and a meat lovers omelet with cheddar cheese! Pizza is third! Chicago Style Meat Lovers Pizza... Mmmmm!

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: Set a short term goal. Then see what you are made of! Don't talk about it... Do it! Train yourself physically and mentally for your goal! You will be amazed by what your body is capable of if you decide to unlock your potential!! Believe in yourself!

Q: Do you think its becoming more common for women to use the weights as opposed to just doing cardio and things?
A: Most women are afraid to lift weights because they don't want to get "bulky". There is a diet and training method that goes along with building muscle. Weight training burns more calories over a longer period of time even at rest, as opposed to cardio. Weights help shape and sculpt! Cardio is an effective way to burn fat and tighten up too, but burning more calories for longer. weight training comes out to be more beneficial. ;)

Q: Outside of training, any other hobbies or activites you enjoy?
A: I enjoy family and friend time- very important to balance everything when in and out of training. Outdoor activities, Shopping, Parades, Seasonal Festivals, Cooking off the menu! LOL! Movies, New restaurants to try in my off-season!

Q: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Leah Dattilo.
A: In training: 4 am cardio, work, train, cardio, cook, eat, pack and sleep... Repeat! Don't forget! Gotta find that balance on the weekends though for friends and family!

Q: Describe Leah Dattilo in five words.
A: Driven, Focused, Strong, Structured, Relentless until my goal is reached!

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I am not a high maintenance girl. I am simple, down to earth, that has respect for everyone. I consider myself outgoing! I do not judge people. I treat people how I want to be treated! I am focused in the gym and might come off unapproachable, but I train in the gym towards a goal. Not for a long social session, I like to talk too, but also be productive with my time in the gym. I have a routine after the gym too. :)

Q: Any set plans for the near future as far as competing or anything else?
A: I plan to compete at the JR. USA's in May to start. I will start my prep a bit early, aiming towards the end of January. My sister will be competing with me as well! Look for both of us there!

Q: Anything you want to take this opportunity to plug or promote>
A: Please follow along on my new athlete page on Facebook: Leah Dattilo- NPC National Bikini Athlete! Follow along with me as I ready for prep with Team In- Shape Nutrition and update towards the NPC Jr. USA's! Please check out my sister Angela Coleman- NPC National Figure Athlete as well! We appreciate all the support!

Q: Are you looking for sponsors? If so how can they reach you and what are they getting in Leah Dattilo the athlete and competitor?
A: I am available and would love a chance to help and promote a company! My e-mail is I would appreciate serious inquiries only! :) Also, please visit my athlete page on Facebook: Leah Dattilo- NPC National Bikini Athlete. I would love to become a valuable asset to one's company! Would love the chance to travel to work the sponsor's booth to represent! I would love to stay up to date on my athlete profile, blogs on contest prep, Q&A and experiences!! :)

Q: Leah, again, I thank you for taking the time to do this. Any last words before you go?
A: I want to thank all my friends and family. S 2, All of Team In-Shape Nutrition coaches and athletes! My sister Angela Coleman for being my other half! ;) best supporter, best friend and new trainer! ;) I am ready to make my 2012 a success!


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