Dana Lauro - Figure Competitor

Background: Long Long story! I started training in 2008 and decided I was going to try and compete my last year of college in 2010. I got in touch with a somewhat reputable coach and quickly started dieting down. Long story short he did not know what he was doing and I was consuming almost 2 gallons of water a day with zero sodium. I was on the road to a meltdown and ended up in the ICU with hyponantrimia (which is overhydration) I was very sick and my metabolism took a huge hit. Depressed, I began eating and put on 30lbs from my attempted contest weight to a whopping 170lbs. I looked horrible and felt even more poorly. I then decided to lose the weight I would get with one of those online coaching programs to compete and lose the weight. I really don’t recommend online coaching for newbies because you really need someone who can SEE YOU in PERSON not through a bathroom selfie to truly evaluate your progress and how well you look to get onstage.

I began dieting down in July of 2010 and did compete in the NPC Kentucky Muscle. I placed DEAD LAST. I was so disappointed after 20 weeks of grueling training- yes I got the weight off but did not look like the other competitors. To top it all off my picture was floating around on Facebook and some woman made a comment to her friend a competitor next to me and asked who the “chunk chick to the left was” referring to me. I was hurt and decided not to compete again.

5 years passed by and I moved 3 times, started a new career and began graduate school. Competing wasn’t on my immediate radar despite being in the gym every day training like I was competing. One day while at the gym- a woman I somewhat knew based on brief Hello’s asked me about competing and said she wanted to help me. She was a Pro level athlete herself and said she could see I had what it took to compete and do well. I sat on it for a few months and when my boyfriend decided he was going to compete I said we should both go for it together since dieting alone can be difficult. Kim and I worked together the entire 16 weeks and slowly but surely the muscle started peeking through with NO EXTREME Measures no diet pills, no fat burners no diuretics no starving myself and no 2 rounds of cardio a day! I stepped onstage on May 23rd, 2015 and came in 2nd place out of 36 women in Figure Novice and 3rd place in the Figure Open Category. It was a day I’ll never forget and is one of my proudest moments. I owe most of my success to her coaching me not for any financial gains but truly out of the goodness of her heart to leading me the proper way.

Diet and Training

Since I am not a sponsored athlete or a pro level athlete (at least not yet) I do not follow a strict diet in the off season. 16 weeks out of the year I am 100% laser focused with following macros and getting my numbers in. In the off- season I have a relatively clean diet but don’t measure out my food. Most days I take in about 4 meals and incorporate 2 shakes. I would estimate I take in about 2000-2300 calories per day and don’t forgo meals out on the town with my man and friends. During contest prep the most effective way for me is HIGH CARBS throughout the season. I never once went below 100 grams of carbs per day even towards the last few weeks of prep. During prep, I tend to eat around 150 grams per day and then we would alternate high carb/low carb cycle days. On high carb days, I would take in around 200-300 grams per day. Fats are moderate and never dropped below 30 grams. Protein was also around 150 grams per day in total.

Failed diet: The online coaching was not effective and quite frankly in my mind was a total cookie cutter formula. For 16 weeks I had ¼ cup of a carb and ¼ cup of a fruit for the ENTIRE PREP 3x a day… I am a heavier woman how on earth does this sustain the workouts PLUS CARDIO. You can’t question what you don’t know though so I followed it and obviously, my progress spoke for the way I was eating. My last prep with my last coach was the BEST I had ever looked and I ate ALL DAY and high volume meals. All I can say to future competitors out there is to do your research when hiring a coach. As a figure/physique athlete you should also not follow a bikini prep diet the two bodies are completely different and should be treated as such.

I train 5-6 days a week depending on how I feel and my schedule. I am also in graduate school now so 1-2 days a week are a required rest day since I cannot miss class. In the off-season, I am not the best with cardio and tend to wind it down to maybe 1-2x per week. My workouts are very intense though so cardio to me isn’t as critical in my off-season considering I can still see abs. I train split body parts with a different one each day. I tend to shoot for 8-10 exercises and 8-10 reps. I always go as heavy as I can and have been trying to break some person records with putting up more weight this season. My week is like this:
Saturday: Glutes/Hamstrings
Sunday: Back
Monday: Chest
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Legs (heavy squat work)
Thursday: Shoulders
Friday: Accessorial Back Day/Deadlifts
I don’t have a separate "arm day" either since I utilize these muscles throughout all of my other training days.

On Stage

After my first 3 failed attempts, I knew whatever I did this most recent time had better be my 100% full effort and commitment. Getting on stage you are putting yourself in front of complete strangers to judge/critique you. I’ve always had the belief that even the juiciest peach someone will not like peach and being a competitor is not any different. What you bring to the stage may work for some judges and not for others. To build self-confidence you must walk the walk and practice practice PRACTICE! I would put on the suit in my room, in the aerobic room at the gym and just keep walking to music. The more comfortable you are with wearing close to nothing the easier it is getting on stage for game day. The morning of the Lehigh there were a lot of girls in the dressing room with “teams” and I was there with my sister my boyfriend and my Coach Kim. I wasn’t intimidated and knew in my heart I was bringing my BEST effort and at the very least if I didn’t place I still had a phenomenal physique to be proud of the rest of the summer.

My latest contests were two National Level shows (Junior USA’s in Charleston, S.C. and Team Universe, Teaneck, NJ). These two competitions were SO INTIMIDATING. Another piece of advice I have for competitors is for national shows make sure you are 100% READY (mentally, physically, emotionally) because these competitors are nothing less than extraordinary and to put it in perspective each competitor has placed either as good as you or BETTER in their respective regional shows… food for thought that if you are going to invest this much money (yes it is very expensive) to really make sure you are prepared in all sense of the game. Going into Charleston into the dressing room- I was very intimidated and knew it was going down… the suits, the glamour, the muscle… the women were very intimidating and it does play with your mindset. The pump up room is where everyone can size you up and see what you are bringing to the stage.

Getting on stage you have 30 seconds to wow the judges and show them what you are made of. Considering it was a national level show- I was not dialed in to the level of the other athletes and know next time what I need to do to really bring it home. Stage presence also goes a very long way- you may not have the best physique BUT if you can show the judges you do- you will place higher than a fellow competitor.

My plans for 2017 are to requalify for an NPC National Show. I will begin training for the 69th NPC Lehigh Valley Competition for Memorial Day Weekend May 28th and hopefully be able to compete at Team Universe again this upcoming July!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dana.lauro
Email: beanpot20@gmail.com

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