Mirella Cotella - Bodybuilder
My name is Mirella Cotella, I am 61 now...I started to compete in late 1979...my husband opened in 1971 with one of his brothers the first gym in the Province of Cuneo, in Mondovi (lovely small town near the Ligurian coast and the French border), and he instilled love in me for sport and bodybuilding. Having in mind Zane, Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, and after reading Christine Zane books and admiring the beautiful bodies of Rachel McLish, Gladys Portugues and all the first Miss Olympia, I kept on competing till I won the Italian Title in Figure Class in 1993, in NABBA Federation in which my husband and me were representatives for Piedmont, Liguria and Valle d'Aosta and national and international judges for 15 years.
I competed till I was 56 years old, after the victory in Miss Universe over 45 in Sapri (near Naples) I participated in the most prestigious contest in Italy, Due Torri, and then in Menton (France) in the World Championship. Currently I work out only for pleasure...and I'm a full-time aunt of an amazing little nephew...I Finally I devote my time to my passions and interests, Art, Photography, Physics, Archaeology (I was a high school teacher)...and cats!!
We live in the country on an isolated hill in Langa (Southern Piedmont) known worldwide for landscapes, wines, vineyards and cuisine, and we gave home to a lot of stray cats...My husband and me wrote a very well known book in Italy, "L'Alimentazione Vincente"(The Winning Nutrition) and we are called to conferences. My husband is a Zone Consultant for Enervit (do you remember Dr. Barry Sears, leading Research scientist & author of the #1 New York Times best seller, The Zone, which started anti-inflammatory nutrition in 1995) and he is lecturer at coaching classes for gym instructors and personal trainers all around Italy.
For what concerns the specific diet I was following, my diet did not change a lot from off-season to pre-contest because I love aesthetics, beauty and physique, and performance. I hate the lack of discipline, and I was extremely careful and tried not to take pounds during the period off season (or at least as little as possible). I reduced the carbs and ate mostly vegetables and protein foods preferring chicken and fish.
For the competition I started dieting about three months before. I trained five days per week and did cardio when I woke up and about 40' absolutely after weight training. Usually when I woke I added half an hour of buttocks and abs training (before breakfast, having only a cup of coffee without sugar...). My caloric intake fell from 2000 or more calories to 1200 approaching the contest, with the percentage of protein in the range of 2.5 grams per kilo of lean body mass. Offseason I normally allow myself to enjoy favourite naughty foods but with moderation, usually I did not eat pasta, preferring vegetables, or sometimes brown rice, whole grain gluten-free flours, fruits, potatoes,beef, chicken and fish. Here in Langa and in the countryside we have a lot of chances of finding high quality seasonal and safe healthy foods, unadulterated.
When I was close to a show or if my body was not progressing I restricted my carbs level intake. I tried several times precontest diets without carbohydrates such as metabolic, but I ended up being emptied, without muscles, looked flabby...so I kept a bit of them, usually only at breakfast. My favourite supplements are omega 3, multivitamin pills, vit.C ,BCAA, glutamine and polyphenols.
I made a little modern dance and theater as a girl, just a bit because at that time my parents were not able to take me to town to take lessons...but enough to give me a bit of confidence with the stage.
At school I was good and pretty determined and resolute. So school tests and competitions were not a problem, but...it was hard to come back on stage after menopause and a period in which I was unmotivated.
For what concerns the diet, still I make five small meals a day, but never use protein powders or bars because I'm intolerant and just can not stand the taste of sweeteners...even now alternating periods in which use large loads and basic exercises, and periods in which I use techniques and strategies to increase the intensity of the exercises, very different...I had to change training a lot because years ago I very badly torn biceps femoris. and I suffered a severe subluxation of the left shoulder, therefore I have decided not to compete more...because it is difficult to maintain now in shape the upper part of the body, which before was great...more generally, the old age... puts at a disadvantage...in Italy there are only contest classes (for women) till 45 years.....at 61...you can only compete for fun...you have to add the very high level of contests today, frankly even exaggerate, and sometimes unaesthetically and unpleasant. I think we should also be an example of a model to follow for those attending gym.
Even now I follow the principles of the Zone Diet, combining them with those of the diet based on the Blood Type Diet of Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo and trying to always maintain a good acid-base balance and blood pH levels from the point of view of antiaging.
I would rather emphasize beyond diet, training and integration, the fundamental importance of being brave, go against the cliches, cope with and overcome adversities...ours was the first bodybuilding gym in Cuneo province in the middle of seventies...first year we register only TWO women against two hundred men...and all were curious, but negative and disapproving...from the second year, after having seen training benefits, women matched men...we must add that unfortunately our family was not supportive, indeed..except my father, former athlete at a very good level in skiing. They said that we would not resisted more than a couple of years...we have not asked for financial assistance help to anyone, we just committed to do our best, trying to improve and travelling a lot to learn...Finally, our gym was the best known for his competence and frequented for 35 years!!!!
In my opinion, your enemies are those that bring you to give the best!! Basically I have always followed the teachings of quantum physics and Eastern religions...think positive, avoid like plague negative people and situations, be indifferent to their gossip and their continuous attempt to steal energy...
We NEVER WATCH T.V. ,We never read the crime news of the newspapers. Always ask yourself goals to achieve and go step for step with humility.
We try to recover quickly from illness without obsessing too much and we believe very little in official medicine. It is better to associate with positive people, we need to be on the same wavelength with someone ...have a laugh whenever you can.
Ultimately "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams" and "Great minds discuss ideas, mediocre minds discuss events, small minds discuss people." ELEANOR ROOSEVELT.
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