Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Dani Mattisson

A cancer scare sent Dani scrambling. After she knew she was healthy, Dani started to re-evaulate her life. See how she began living the fit existence!

Name: Dani Mattisson
E-Mail: danimattisson@yahoo.com
BodySpace: danimattisson
Facebook: modeldanimattisson
Age: Over 40  Height: 5'8"  Weight: 134 off season / 125 competition
Location: Chicago
Years Competing: 1

How Did You Get Started?

In November of 2010 I was told that I may have cancer. My doctor wanted to do major surgery, as a precaution, and to verify the diagnosis. That news scared me to death but I worked to get into an expert for a second opinion. Thankfully, after several tests, he told me that I was fine, but until I finally got that news I had a lot to think about.

I decided that maybe I was missing out on life and not taking full advantage of each and every day. You don't know how much you have and what you want to be until you face moments like this. So I resolved to make sure I got the most out of every day.

Once I got back on my feet I began going to the gym more often. I was pleasantly surprised by the results and was encouraged by others that I should think about entering a figure competition. Well, I decided to witness a competition in May of 2011 and I was instantly hooked. I wanted to be one of those women on stage and I hired a trainer and we set out to try to get me ready for a show in the fall of 2011.

It was hard at first getting into the routine of working out almost every day, sometimes twice per day. The truly hard part was changing my daily diet. Eating 5-6 times per day takes planning and commitment. Combining better training and diet triggered results I hadn't ever dreamed of and I was able to take a second in the master figure in my first competition.

My early success on stage also propelled me to consider modeling and I am also having a great time getting experience working in front of the camera. Even at my age, working out has opened doors that I never would have considered before and I have to say that I love what my fitness program has done for me and for my confidence.

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

I work out 6 days per week and that seems to work best for me. While the following is a general outline of my week, I do try to vary my workout from time to time to keep my routine fresh and to help me focus better.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

I do watch my diet very carefully and try to get my carbs into me early in the day so they have plenty of time to metabolize. A proper diet is like the trigger to the body's reaction gotten from all the time spent in the gym. Without it, you waste that effort:

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

I really focus on trying to get enough protein into my diet to help get the gains I look for. I have been fitting in the protein bars (small) for some time. They are a great snack food, high in protein, low in carbs and easy to carry around. They go everywhere with me.

I also favor the whey protein. I will have 1 scoop two times per day to get the kind of protein intake that I require.

At bed time I have a scoop of the casein protein mixed with water. The slow release nature of casein protein helps recovery while I sleep. Finally, I take a multivitamin everyday as well.

Why Do You Love Fitness/Bodybuilding?

Well, if I said that I didn't get a thrill from the attention I get, I'd be lying. It is a lot of fun to be on the beach in a bikini or working on a photo shoot and to see people watching. I get a lot more compliments now than I ever did when I was 25!

A lot of women avoid the weights at the gym like the plague because they are concerned about looking too muscular and feel it is less feminine. They just don't realize that you can tailor your results with your weight, reps and diet. Having tone does not mean being masculine.

I also enjoy what bodybuilding does for me emotionally too. Every athlete in any sport always has a great support network of people that make it happen. Still, at the end of the day, the results you see are distinctly your own. I love the competition, the work outs, the sacrifice and all the effort, but ultimately, I love what I can do, finally, even at this stage of my life, to be able to make huge changes in myself. The self-confidence and the sense of accomplishment from that is something I have never felt before and I owe that to this sport.

What Motivates You To Follow A Healthy Lifestyle?

My kids actually got me started with the right diet and help me get into the gym and both are what I would call gym rats. They work out as much or more than I do. Seeing the gains they get from eating right, lifting often and really focusing on their gym time is an inspiration to me too. You might say that we have a pretty focused household on fitness and we inspire each other to do more and more. You are only limited by your imagination and sometimes it just takes someone else to help you see that you aren't shooting high enough into the horizon.

What Made You Want To Achieve Your Goals?

As I said, I had one of those "oh my gosh" moments when I got the news from my doctor. I was lucky in that it was a misdiagnosis but everything happens for a reason and the only thing worse than living through those moments is not learning from them. Everything that happens is ultimately an opportunity to be better than we were yesterday.

I looked at the magazines and saw all the websites and wondered "why not me?" I went to competitions and admired the accomplishments of others and thought, "why not me?" So you see my motivation ultimately comes from everyone that has taken this journey before me. Their hard work and their success inspire us all to do more, to be better and to work harder.

I never, ever, in my entire life, thought I could ever be featured on such a site as bodybuilding.com. This is a really big honor for me and I mean that sincerely. So to all those that have inspired me, thank you so much!

What Are Your Future Fitness/Bodybuilding Plans?

I actually have three competitions planned in the second quarter of 2012. I am also considering a summer competition and perhaps another couple in the fall. It takes a lot to get used to being on stage. You present yourself for better or worse and you do so in front of an audience, so the stakes are high. However, I really enjoy the thrill of competing and the challenge so, while the prep work is difficult, the competitions themselves are great! It is also a blast meeting other women who have worked hard to get to where they are ready to compete.

I would like to really pick up my competitions throughout this year and I definitely want to win now. Second is nice, but not as nice as first and that is where I want to be!

What One Tip Would You Give Other Fitness Competitors?

For those just thinking about getting into the sport I would say that every journey starts with a single step. In other words, just get to the gym - today! The most important thing to do is to start.

The other thing is that you have to dream big and then savor every step on your path to your goal. Don't worry if you don't see your six pack abs overnight. Results take time, effort and the right diet. There are truly no shortcuts or the average couch potato would be on the cover of your favorite muscle magazine next month. Just get at it, keep at it and don't stop until you get where ever it is that you need to be.

Finally, after you dig in and get a goal, get a trainer. It made a big difference for me. I got a lot more out of my workouts and my form improved dramatically by working with a trainer. Plus, I have someone who can push me on those days where I am a little less than enthused and who understands what kind of effort this takes.

Who Are Your Favorite Fitness Competitors/Bodybuilders?

Well, Jamie Eason is my personal favorite. I have been reading publications like Muscle & Fitness and Muscle & Fitness Hers for some time and she is a staple of magazines such as those. In addition to her success as a competitor, I also enjoy all her success as a model too. If anyone is a role model for me it is Jamie. I only wish I could have 1% of the success she has had. It would be a dream come true.

What Features Do You Use On Bodybuilding.com?

I love that there are so many different resources on the site. For instance, the ability to see product reviews is great. It's easy to see what is working for others and what is not. It's always better to learn from someone else's mistakes than to make them myself.

I also enjoy the body groups. It is inspirational and a nice resource to help me focus my efforts and refine my results. Finally, I enjoy the blogs. It's fun to read what is going on with others, how they are overcoming their challenges and sharing their success.

The whole site is setup really well and I enjoy the camaraderie of it all!