Dayana Cadeau is known as much for her good looks and feminine curves as she is for her spectacularly-shaped muscles and razor-sharp definition. The 2004 Ms. Olympia winner in the lightweight divisions fills a flawless physique, has a completeness of mass, symmetry and class few top-line pro bodybuilding champions will ever achieve.
She is always in the competitive mix, holds her own in any line-up. Despite competing as a pro for 14 years without respite she remains a guaranteed draw-card in any pro event she chooses to contest.
Dayana is always a top-tier talent and viable threat to any line-up she enters. Dayana has however, slipped in recent years in her Olympia placements. Once a top-three mainstay, she now battles for fifth, uncharacteristic considering her competition pedigree and the vast potential she showed in the past. While she has the shape and size necessary to win any pro event, her conditioning has lately proven to be her downfall.
She knows she has the look to win, but saddened over her recent run of bad luck, Dayana consulted her doctor. It was made clear that her 14-year pro career had taken its toll. She had simply burned out, with several businesses to run in conjunction with her full-time training requirements. Her physical state reflected in black and white on the judge's scorecards.
Dayana took time to reflect on the stress which thwarted her recent pro contest endeavors. She made some much-needed changes to her hectic schedule and training mindset. After all that, she is looking forward to this year's Olympia. Her 'new look' makes her inclusion in the 2011 Olympia a good move and great news for her many fans.
She no longer strives for size and is keen to present a more streamlined, feminine appearance. She hopes (having adhered to a new and improved stress-free schedule) to once again win bodybuilding's biggest pro women's prize.
Q: As a former Ms. Olympia winner and multiple top-3 finisher, you have over the past few years experienced a rare drop in form.
For the past few years I have been tired and stressed and have worked a lot. I'm not looking for excuses, but people don't really know. They don't see you as a human, they see you as a machine or a superwoman. For some people, all they do is train, eat and rest, then go to the show. Of course, if you do that all day you are always going to be at the top of your game.
I am happy for these people. But for me, I'm a legal assistant and work five days a week and then have to go to the gym before work and after [work]. Then there is cardio, posing, and I'm a promoter with the Dayana Cadeau Classic, which is into its third year. I also have my own personal training business. So it's a lot on my plate. But I thank God every day that he has blessed me with my physique.
Q: How old are you? Do you think your age has had any bearing on your recent placements?
I am 46 and there are certain changes that take place in your body at this age that you may not become aware of unless you visit the doctor, changes that affect the way you feel and the gains you can make in the gym. You may need more rest and less stress in your life; you can take tests to uncover any problems. So I have for a few months been reducing my stress and trying to get more rest this time around [preparing for the Olympia]. These changes are definitely going to show in my physique this year.
Everybody works hard to make it to the Olympia and a lot of women would love the chance to compete at this level, but I know I have one of the best physiques there. I have all the gifts and tools needed to win along with the overall look and symmetry. There were just some lifestyle changes I needed to make and hopefully these will help me at the Olympia. And we will see from there.
Q: Each time I speak with you prior to the Olympia you are focused on being your best and determined to win this contest. Do you still approach the Olympia with the same winning mindset?
Yes, because I know I can win. The only thing that can stop me is what is going on around me. I have been going to a wonderful wellness doctor who has managed to help me resolve some of my personal issues and I am feeling good right now. Even if I don't win, because you never know what is going to happen, I will know what to do for next time.
Q: What physical changes are you hoping to display when you hit this year's Olympia stage?
Well, I don't want to come in big like before. I remember when I won, I was much smaller; I had to add size because the girls were getting bigger and the judges were awarding this look. So even as a petite person I have a lot of muscle and a nice overall physique but that is not the look I wanted. This time I have decided not to follow that; I'm still going to have the muscle but will not project a larger physique. Actually I am going to be little bit smaller.
Q: Smaller compared to 2010?
Yes, but as hard [in conditioning].
Q: What do you expect to weigh onstage at this year's Ms Olympia?
Well I would love to be around 135-140 [pounds], but not 150 like last year. Because I'm the kind of person who gains mass easily. It is not about how much you weigh, but how hard you are. What some people don't understand is it is not easy to be big and hard when you are not naturally a large person. Before I started competitive bodybuilding I was 100 pounds. And my waistline is 22 [inches].
And honestly that [being larger] is not the look I like for myself; I love my physique to be more defined and petite. That's why I'm going smaller and losing size because next year they are going to have the physique class for the pros and that's the look that I'm going for.
Q: You mentioned having to visit a doctor to address changes that affected your stress levels. Can you elaborate on these?
It is nothing bad so I don't want people to think that I'm sick. I don't have any medical problems. If your body is missing certain nutrients you will have a deficiency and tests will reveal what the problems are and what needs to be adjusted. So this is what I had to do. But my main enemy is the stress in my life; if I get too emotional, that is going to drain me and if I'm going to get too tired I will need a lot of rest, but I don't have time for so much rest. So I need to relax more.
Q: Have you made any changes to your training since the 2010 Olympia?
I had to change my training so as to not gain as much mass; and I also wanted my muscles to be more defined. Working my muscles differently causes them to react differently. And because I want to get leaner I am kickboxing three times a week and doing circuit conditioning-type training more often.
Instead of training heavy I will take a 30-second break between exercises to achieve a greater burn in my muscles. With the different exercises and less rest and cardio-style training I find I am using my body more and working harder. This is something I felt I had to do and it's working well.
Q: Are you also incorporating heavy weight to maintain the muscle size you have?
I do but not much, because, again, I gain mass easily. I am just maintaining right now.
Q: Will your final week of preparation be different compared to previous years?
We will see, because I have been working with my friend George Farah, who is now helping a lot of top pros including my ex, Kai Greene. For a year now we have been putting our ideas together, so we will see what we are going to do for the last few weeks.
Q: How big of an influence is George on your current pre-contest prep?
I still do much of the work myself; he is there more as guidance, a second pair of eyes. Even though I know what to do and have always worked on my own, I felt I needed some additional support. Last year I did four shows in a row and my body could not take that. For the New York Pro I was at my best but three days before the show I had my period. So I lost all my definition and ended up in sixth place.
George came to me without knowing exactly what had gone on and said to me that he could help me out. He gives me some nutritional advice and ideas and I check these against what I do and when I compete he is there to assess whether I need to make any changes. Having George with me has definitely helped.
Q: Of course the level of competition at the Ms. Olympia is increasing with each passing year, which makes it harder for you to maintain high placements. Where do you feel you will place this year?
I feel I can get the win. If I come in exactly the way I'm supposed to I will be among the top finishers or I will win; either way.
Q: Should you make it into the top three at this year's Ms Olympia will you again compete in 2012?
I don't know at this point. We will see how it goes this year, but next year I'll be aiming for the physique class and that's where I want to be. So even if I win [the 2011 Olympia] I still want to be smaller; I still want to give people an image that I've been fighting for, for years. Not disrespecting anybody, but right now they don't really want female bodybuilders.
They can't kill it because it's always been there, but it is not really what they want. So if I can bring a package similar to how it was before [in the '80s] and have a more feminine overall look with muscle but not as ripped, I think that will be what I will always represent and it will be a good start.
Q: You have been competing as a pro since 1997. What motivates you to continue competing at the highest level year after year?
I guess I love what I do and god has blessed me. I'm a very spiritual person and he has blessed me with a wonderful physique. I thank him every day for giving me strength and that's why I keep going. I definitely think he can use me to glorify him through what I am doing so I can help other people; because a lot of people would love to be where I'm at. And I'm the oldest [Ms Olympia] competitor now. It's also providing an example for others to show that no matter what age you are you can keep competing and improving.
Q: And you definitely have the muscle maturity to hang with the best in the sport.
Yes I do, but my main thing is no matter what people think I want to let others know that you can have muscle and still look like a woman. That's the image I have been projecting and that's what I will continue to do.
Q: Staying true to what you believe is the best look and not striving for size because everybody else is.