Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Week: Elspeth Dana

Amateur Fitness Competitor of the Week: Elspeth Dana! - Pics and info and more!
Q

How Did You Get Started?

I was at a crossroad in my life that could have easily gone either way. Luckily for me I had a friend who flat out told me the truth, whether or not I wanted to hear it: my healthy wasn't so healthy. This woman introduced me to the Fitness world, and trained me for my very first show: a show I would never forget. Not because I won, (I was far from that), but because of the many beautiful, truly healthy, women I was surrounded by: I was so inspired.

Suddenly looking like a bean pole wasn't so appealing anymore. It was a slow journey: years of bad eating habits had to be changed, but 2 years later I feel like a changed woman. I've gained 15 pounds and will tell anyone who will listen that clean eating, exercise, and loving yourself for who you are, is the way to go.



What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

I've played sports my whole life, but it wasn't until about 2 years ago that I discovered the magic of weights and strength training. I used to dread it, but now I look forward to it. I love how it has completely changed my physique! I weight train 4 days a week, and how my workouts are stacked varies from month to month. In general I do a lot of supersets to keep my heart rate up throughout the workout, and I lift moderate to heavy. I also dedicate 1 day a week to a specialty weight workout- whether it is for shoulders, butt, abs, etc.

This workout is for whatever muscle group I feel needs a little "extra love" that week. For cardio I do 5 days a week for 30-40 minutes, varying steady state, interval, and high intensity. I try to mix it up, always keeping my body guessing. Running sprints, (on the track or treadmill), intervals on the stair master, kickboxing, walking at an incline, and high intensity elliptical workouts are currently on my list of favorites to do. I also include one functional day that includes agility drills, plyometrics and other crazy functional moves.

Below is an example of a weekly workout schedule:

Workout Plan
  • Day 1: Push Weight Workout/Cardio
  • Day 2: Legs/Glutes Weight Workout/Cardio
  • Day 3: Functional/Agility Drills
  • Day 4: Pull Weight Workout/Cardio
  • Day 5: Full Body/Cardio
  • Day 6: Cardio
  • Day 7: Off
Day 1: Chest/Shoulders/Triceps
Superset
1
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip

Pushups

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Pushups Pushups

Superset
2

Dumbbell Flyes

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Dumbbell Flyes Dumbbell Flyes

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Dumbbell Shoulder Press Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Superset
3

Tricep Dumbbell Kickback

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Tricep Dumbbell Kickback Tricep Dumbbell Kickback

Triceps Pushdown

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Triceps Pushdown Triceps Pushdown

Day 2: Legs and Glutes
Superset
1

Leg Press

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Leg Press Leg Press

Smith Machine Squat

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Smith Machine Squat Smith Machine Squat

Superset
2

Lying Leg Curls

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Lying Leg Curls Lying Leg Curls

Stiff-Legged Deadlift

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Stiff-Legged Deadlift Stiff-Legged Deadlift

Superset
3

Standing Calf Raises

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Standing Calf Raises Standing Calf Raises

Leg Extensions

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

Day 3: Functional and Agility
circuit: 2 rounds
1

Pushups

maximum reps in 1 minute
Pushups Pushups

Dumbbell Rear Lunge

maximum reps in 1 minute
Dumbbell Rear Lunge Dumbbell Rear Lunge

Rope Jumping

maximum reps in 1 minute
Rope Jumping Rope Jumping

Sit-Up

maximum reps in 1 minute
Sit-Up Sit-Up

circuit: 2 rounds
2

Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip

maximum reps in 1 minute
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip

Bent Over Barbell Row

maximum reps in 1 minute
Bent Over Barbell Row Bent Over Barbell Row

Reverse Crunch

maximum reps in 1 minute
Reverse Crunch Reverse Crunch

circuit: 2 rounds
3

Plank

hold for 1 minute
Plank Plank

Air Bike

maximum reps in 1 minute
Air Bike Air Bike

circuit: 2 rounds
4

Dumbbell Lunges

maximum reps in 1 minute
Dumbbell Lunges Dumbbell Lunges

Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension

maximum reps in 1 minute
Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extension

Mountain Climbers

maximum reps in 1 minute
Mountain Climbers Mountain Climbers

Burpee

maximum reps in 30 seconds
Burpee Burpee

Rope Jumping

maximum reps in 30 seconds
Rope Jumping Rope Jumping

Day 4: Back, Biceps, and Abs
Superset
1

Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

Seated Cable Rows

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Seated Cable Rows Seated Cable Rows

Superset
2

Hammer Curls

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Hammer Curls Hammer Curls

Standing Biceps Cable Curl

3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Standing Biceps Cable Curl Standing Biceps Cable Curl

Superset
3
Knee/Hip Raise On Parallel Bars Knee/Hip Raise On Parallel Bars

Plank

3 sets of 1 minute holds
Plank Plank

Day 5: full body workout
triset
1

Underhand Cable Pulldowns

3 sets of 20 reps
Underhand Cable Pulldowns Underhand Cable Pulldowns

Pushups

3 sets of 8 reps
Pushups Pushups
Triceps Pushdown - Rope Attachment Triceps Pushdown - Rope Attachment

triset
2

Leg Press

3 sets of 10 reps
Leg Press Leg Press

Jump Squat

3 sets of 15 reps
Jump Squat Jump Squat

Dumbbell Lunges

3 sets of 12 reps each leg
Dumbbell Lunges Dumbbell Lunges

giant set
3

Superman

3 sets of 15 reps
Superman Superman

Mountain Climbers

3 sets of 50 reps each leg
Mountain Climbers Mountain Climbers

Burpee

3 sets of 10 reps
Burpee Burpee

Exercise Ball Pull-In

3 sets of 15 reps
Exercise Ball Pull-In Exercise Ball Pull-In

Day 6: Cardio
Day 7: off

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

I cannot stress the importance of nutrition enough: it truly is everything! Eating healthy has not always come easy to me (actually it's been quite the challenge) but through dedication and Tosca Reno's cookbooks, I've found my way to a healthy diet and lifestyle. I eat "clean" as Tosca Reno puts it. I eat 5-6 small portioned meals consisting of lean proteins, veggies, fruits, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This helps fuel my active lifestyle, maintains a consistent blood sugar level, and leaves me satisfied all day long. Below is an example of a typical day of eating:

meal 1: protein pancake

egg whites 1/4 cup


oatmeal 1/4 cup


applesauce 1/4 cup


whey protein 1/2 scoop


broccoli 1/2 cup


meal 2: post workout

whey protein 1 scoop


kiwi 1


vanilla extract 1 tsp


spinach 1/2 cup


skim milk 1/4 cup


almond butter 1 tbsp


wheat wrap 1 small


meal 3

chicken 3 oz


sweet potato 1/4 cup


broccoli 1/2 cup


banana 1/2


meal 4

tuna 3 oz


whole wheat pasta 1/4 cup


mixed veggies 1/2 cup


meal 5

ground turkey 3 oz


stir fried veggies 1/2 cup


1 tbsp xmeasurementx


meal 6

chicken 3 oz


asparagus 1/2 cup


What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

I think the greatest gains have simply come from eating clean, but I do also supplement with a pre and post workout product.

pre workout

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

I love fitness and living a healthy lifestyle because it brings a sense of control and calmness to my life. There is so much change in life that it is easy to believe that we have no control: wrong. You, I, have a choice: the choice to live, or to suffer. The later, to suffer, is much easier to succumb to; and for many it is a struggle they will deal with everyday of their lives. But the light is in the choice: the choice to live.

Fitness has taught me so much about life: determination, dedication, balance, strength, the list goes on. Though I did not realize it at the time fitness was the good habit that changed my life. As I look back now I can see that I was trying to replace my bad habits with good ones, but was unsure on how to put the answers together. It hasn't been till recently this past year that I realized what was missing to my equation: to have true for love myself for who I am. As I have come to realize this my life has dramatically changed, and for the better.

I still have my doubts, but I have learned healthy ways and habits to cope. I see now that I don't need acceptance from everyone, I don't need to please everyone: I just need to know that I must have love in my heart for myself. And this radiates into every aspect of my life: from my health, to my work, and my relationships.

As I look back now, I can see the parts of my life where I would give in to mediocrity, where I would quit when there was no reason to quit, when I would give excuses for my inexcusable behavior. And I'm ok with it: for once in my life I can say that I am ok with my mistakes. If I continue to live in the past, there will never be a future, or an enjoyable present for that matter. For me, eating healthy and exercising has helped me realize the love for myself.

What began as a journey to find perfection in physical beauty, has ended in the realization of internal beauty. And I am so blessed to have realized it. I can now proudly say I am disciplined and strong, and that has led me to realize how strong and disciplined I can be in all areas of my life.

What Motivates You To Follow A Healthy Lifestyle?

I am most motivated by the endless options that life holds in the future. I have so many ambitious goals and plans for the future that I can't help but be excited and motivated for what lies ahead! I am accountable for my future, so I have to be my own biggest motivator if I am going to succeed. I also love reading other peoples' journeys about how living a healthy lifestyle has changed their lives. I could read a thousand transformation stories and it would never get old: I get motivated (and a bit emotional!) every time.

What Made You Want To Achieve Your Goals?

Plain and simple: I love it. There is nothing more in life (other than my husband and family) that I love more than the adrenaline rush I feel working out. I love sprinting with my music blaring in my ears. I love the burn of pushing out one more rep. I love seeing my physique change as I push my body harder.

I love the discipline it has brought to my life. I love getting glamorous for a day and stepping on stage and feeling like a rock star for 45 seconds. I love feeling healthy. I love finding new recipes. I love helping others discover all these feelings and more. I love it all! When you love something, achieving your goals becomes second nature: it's a challenge I greet with a smile.

What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

I am currently adding a new career to my resume: ISSA certified Personal Trainer and soon to be ISSA Nutritionist as well. I am also a certified AFAA Group Exercise instructor and am enrolled at CALU of Penn to finish my BA in Nutrition. And as for competing, I just qualified for Nationals in the Bikini Division and am ready to rock the stage in 2011 to try and earn my Pro Card. Right now I'm looking at my life with a big smile on my face: I'm so genuinely grateful for everyone and everything. I can't wait to see what this year brings!

What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

Always, always have faith in yourself! You can accomplish so much more than what you think you're capable of!

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?

There are so many amazing women competing and in magazines right now. They're all inspirational, and I have immense respect for anyone willing to put that much dedication towards their goals. One in particular though, which I'm sure many agree, is Jamie Eason. She does it all! A column in Oxygen Magazine (my favorite btw), spokes model for some of the best products/companies out there, has an amazing physique, and she still has time to write back to everyone's questions on Facebook! Smart, beautiful, and kind-hearted, does it get any more inspirational than that?!?!

What Features Do You Use On Bodybuilding.com?

Bodybuilding.com has so many great tools to help reach your goals. I love that I can track my progress, learn from others on the site, receive feedback, read articles, purchase products, blog, and connect from people all over the world! I guess you could say I use most of the features on the site. Bodybuilding.com is an amazing key to success, and serves as a great source of motivation for me to keep working towards my goals.