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Dana Huggins


Vital Statistics Before Current Photoshoot
Age - 34 -
Height 5ft 3 - -
Weight 211lbs
(at my heaviest)
130lbs
(off season)
119lbs
(Photoshoot weight )

From an Alco-pop lover to a photoshoot sensation, Dana Huggins has undergone an incredible transformation.

It all started with the standard unhealthy lifestyle that we’re all guilty of at some point – loving all kinds of processed food and more than the occasional drink.

But after educating herself on what constituted good nutrition and exercise, she set herself the big goal and cut it down into smaller chunks.

Bit by bit, she accomplished her tasks and nailed her overall goal. However, the cardio bunny life wasn’t for her – so she ventured out into the weights and has not looked back!

We had to find out more about her decisions up until this point.

Dana Huggins

Interview with Dana Huggins

Hi Dana! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Let’s start from the top – tell us all about your lifestyle before you decided to transform yourself.

It is fair to say that in the very beginning my lifestyle was a perfect example of unhealthy.

My diet was filled with refined foods and I was very inactive. Eat, work, eat, sleep was the regime. The change came in baby steps to start with, which saw me join a gym and take up fitness classes.

I was an alco-pop drinker (you can see me sporting a Smirnoff Ice in one photo… Oh the shame) and I loved food! I was ignorant to the fact that high fat and high sugar foods were ultimately my problem.

And I dodged anything that was green in colour, my vegetable consumption was nil unless you count potato.  

Now don’t get me wrong, I still love food but I’m now equipped with better knowledge of nutrition, its contents and quantities. These baby steps armed me with a better understanding of healthier choices, helping me drop from a dress size 20 to a size 6. 

Dana

What inspired you to start changing for the better?

I had been a large child, which I unfortunately didn’t grow out of through teenage years even though I was bullied. I took comfort in hiding away, making bad food choices to console myself and was doing very little physical activity to burn it off.

I was mid 20’s before I gave myself a shake up and by this point it was my mums own ill health that made me look at a bigger picture. Being overweight was having a detrimental effect on her health and I knew this was likely to be my path if I didn’t make crucial lifestyle changes.

And how did you get started on your transformation?

Sadly, my mum passed away - but not before seeing me hit my first goal. This spurred me on to keep going and bringing about a better me. After shedding the initial 7 and a half stone, I found myself really cardio fit.

However, when I hit the age of 30 I realised I didn’t want to be a skinny girl… I wanted to be toned and muscular. I wanted shape and angles. Having done cardio classes for years I made the decision to drop them and I ventured into the weights section of the gym.

I soon found that I loved lifting weights and saw big changes not only in strength, but aesthetically and mentally too. Suddenly I had a focussed and determined mind-set, I wanted shoulders and a smaller waist... who knew?! I've never looked back.

Dana

Can you tell us the full story of your transformation after this moment up to now?

18 months ago, I set myself a new goal and that was to seek out a good coach to help me to transform my body further. My goal was to become stage ready for a body building competition.

My coach updated me weekly with nutrition, tracking my macro’s and gave me training plans to follow. What soon became very clear was that to grow and change physically, I needed to nourish my body and feed regularly.

With his help, I dropped a great deal of body fat and made decent lean gains. I learned not to be so hung up about the number on the scales as this was no longer a big deal, it became about body composition. We worked hard and I grafted day in day out.

As we drew towards the day of the competition, I made the decision that I hadn’t reached my full potential. I knew that I could bring a better package with more time and so with that, I stepped down.

Instead, I arranged a fitness photoshoot at the amazing M10 Fitness Studio in Nottingham with the uber-talented Chris Bailey to document a milestone in my journey. This was a fantastic day.

Nothing quite beats that feeling of literally working your ass off and feeling incredibly proud of the achievement, even though I didn’t step on that stage.

Did you focus on one big goal to achieve, or did you split it into separate smaller goals?

The journey started with a desire to lose weight and become healthier. However, as I delved deeper into the fitness world, I learned about exercise and nutrition.

I surpassed my initial goal of basic weight loss and continued to create new goals to smash along the way. These included wearing a bikini for the first time (at age 30!), gaining lean muscle, building the frame of an athlete, and understanding the importance of nutrition. 

I think it's important to have a main goal but setting out smaller ones along the way keeps you pushing. Sometimes reaching for that end result can seem a long way off.

That’s not to say you won’t get there, but being rewarded by achieving smaller goals along the way keeps you driven and hungry for the big one.

Dana

Now let’s move onto the Diet part of this interview. What was your thinking behind the meal plan?

My coach put my meal plan together for me and tweaked it weekly where needed. This comprised of 5 meals a day, to ensure that my body was fuelled at 3 hour intervals - giving me fats carbs and protein when needed.

The plan was high in lean protein such as chicken and white fish and yogurt, a good amount of green vegetables, complex clean carbs such as sweet potato, rice and oats and good fats like almonds, almond butter, feta, eggs and coconut oil.

What are your Muscle Food favourites in there?

I love the exotic meats - ostrich and kangaroo are my favourites. The Tilapia fish is by far the nicest white fish I have had and the chicken is great value for money.

We all have a guilty pleasure cheat – what is yours?

It’s not really all that bad if I’m honest. My go to sweet craving is always Frozen Yogurt with banana… (and about half a jar of Nutella or Biscoffi… oops)

How far ahead of time do you meal prep? And how do you keep yourself motivated to do so?

Preparation is key and I always found my system pretty easy. No one wants to be cooking every day when you’re eating 5-6 times.

I meal prep twice a week, once on a Sunday where I cook and tub 3 days of meals. Then again on a Wednesday evening, where I will either do 2 days so that the working week is covered or 3 days to cover Saturday too depending what the weekend plans are.

The general rule is 2 preps per week, though. It’s not difficult to stay motivated to do it as if meal prep is done it leaves me with quality time to spend with my Mr or with family and friends. Quality and balance are important.

Now for your workout – do you have a favourite exercise?

I love to train shoulders - Arnold dumbbell press and dumbbell rear belt flys are my favourite. I do have a big love-hate relationship with barbell hip thrusts though… I love to hate them!

And one you absolutely hate doing?

Bulgarian split squats. Mum always told me if I couldn’t say anything nice then to not say anything at all and so I’ll leave that there.

Dana

Have you ever fell of the wagon? And how did you keep yourself motivated to get back on?

We all have wobbles, question why we do things, lose faith and have the occasional melt down, it’s human. At these times, it’s important to briefly look back at how far you’ve come, but keep an eye looking forward and know the direction to go.

Take a look at check in and progress photos. It’s important to look at all the positive things that have come from the start and will continue to come as a better you develop each week. I personally like to make an appreciation list, things I am thankful for and this helps my mood.

It includes everything from the things that make me laugh and smile to the support network I'm lucky to have.

Random quick fire! Favourite music to work out to?

I have an eclectic taste in music. It could be anything from Hip Hop to House, Techno to Trance, Rock to Rap or Swing… I quite often fall to Eminem, Dre or Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory for a nasty session though.

Favourite movie?

Woah! Too many to name, but Snatch is up there.

Would you rather go about your normal day naked or fall asleep for a year?

100% Naked for sure! Who wants to miss out on a whole year?! My last 12 months have been crazy adventure filled and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Life is for living, we sleep when we’re dead.

Dana

Last few questions – what are your plans for the future?

Right now, I am really enjoying pushing on with bigger weights and smashing personal bests. I’m going on an adventure to Thailand in January, where I will have the quiet time to reflect on my next goal.

Who knows! 2017 might see me step on stage for the first time. Watch this space…

And do you have any inspiring words for the thousands of Muscle Foodies who read this?

We all have to start somewhere whatever your goal is, but do it for you. It may not be an easy ride but the journey is worth it.

You can train like a beast but you must have your nutrition nailed. You can't out-train a bad diet.

Muscle Food Final Thoughts

Every transformation story featured on Muscle Food outlines that a good diet and a good workout plan are essential to achieving the results you desire. All transformation stories, exercise routines and diet plans are provided by the customer and have not been checked by a nutritionist or doctor. Results may vary for different individuals.