If you needed some #fitspo for 2018, this is it. We hit the gym with Daniella Means of EatUP (the meal delivery plan by Ultimate Performance) to see how she keeps her body and mind in tip-top shape.
Dani, as she's known to friends, is a former national rugby player for Hong Kong from 2007-2014, the current national record holder in powerlifting in Singapore and Hong Kong, and a regular Strongman competitor. She'll be representing Hong Kong at the Asia Powerlifting Championships in Kerala on December 7, 2017, so be sure to follow her on Instagram to cheer her on.
When did you first start working out?
This is hard to nail down, as I've always been involved in sports. I was a gymnast from the age of six, which turned into eight years of tumbling and turning and competing. Then I fell into rugby. I knocked a girl out in my first game and was immediately hooked. Playing rugby and representing Hong Kong when I was 17 was my first step into following a proper training program with weights to get strong.
Describe a typical week of workouts for you:
I'm currently training for the Asia Powerlifting Championships in Kerala, India, so I've been doing heavy weight training sessions 4x per week, 2 cardio based sessions per week and I have an active recovery day where I'll do some low-intensity steady state (LISS) cardio, such as hiking.
Those heavy weight training sessions have been focused around the Squat, Bench, or Deadlift which are the three movements in Powerlifting. The way the competition works is that we have to lift the heaviest weight we can for one repetition of each of those movements, and we are categorised by our weight.
What is your favorite workout, class or exercise?
I have a love/hate relationship with the track at Ultimate Performance! Nothing beats a few sets of prowler pushes and sled drags to finish off a workout.
How do you stay motivated?
When you're surrounded by people who are constantly striving to better themselves, and those around them, like my team at Ultimate Performance, it's easy. I might wake up tired and unmotivated sometimes, but as soon as I step into the UP gym, I see and feel the energy on the gym floor and am immediately inspired. I don't mean just physically, but intellectually too. There is constant education and continuous improvement and that's precisely why I love what I do so much.
What do you wear when working out? Any fave brands or stores?
I'm a huge Reebok fan; from their workout wear, combat line, lifting shoes, and their retro Reebok classic line, it's easily my favourite brand! I might be a little biased because my dad used to work for the brand, but my toys growing up were literally glow in the dark rubber shoe soles!
What does your cheat day look like?
What cheat day? Nah, just joking. I eat really well and diligently during the week thanks to EatUP, and on the weekends I like treating myself to one cheat meal which is usually a big English breakfast whilst reading the paper sat outside somewhere. It's my down time.
What’s on your workout playlist?
Nothing beats country music on whilst repping out deadlifts! It's my guilty pleasure. I have trouble getting angry or psyched up before a big lift, unlike a lot of strength athletes.
Favorite healthy foods and restaurants?
I have EatUP breakfast, lunch, and dinner every Monday to Friday. Not because it's my job, but simply because it's tasty, convenient, and something I can easily build my nutrition around. The breakfast meals are my favourite: they have the perfect amount of protein for me to make sure my day is off to a healthy start.
How do you stay fit while travelling?
Exercise is a lifestyle choice for me, and being active and getting my sweat on is as natural to me as brushing my teeth. I personally have a lot of trouble sleeping on planes and tend to stay up the whole time.
Nevertheless, as soon as I land I make a conscious effort to go for a workout straight away—whether it's a light jog or weights session—simply to get the blood pumping. A simple bodyweight circuit in a nearby park, or even wandering around the area in search of a hill for some sprints are easy options.
Advice on starting a fitness regime?
1) Make it as easy as possible for yourself! Don't sign up to a gym that's on the other side of HK and convince yourself you'll go—you won't.
2) Have someone to be accountable to; hire a personal trainer, or start this new fitness regime with a friend who knows what they are doing and will keep you motivated.
3) You can't out train a bad diet; nutrition is key! Get all the junk food out of your house, and set aside some time to meal prep for the week in order to avoid temptation (or simply have it delivered, from yours truly).
A sport you’ve never tried but want to?
I'd really like to properly try my hand at Brazilian Jiujitsu. I've tried a handful of classes but started prioritising strongman and powerlifting when I started competing. I really like that in BJJ, an individual with superior skill could submit a person twice their size—awesome!
Morning or evening workouts?
Morning! Get it done, get it out of the way, and reap the benefits of an endorphin high and energy spike to set up your day. Add in some country music and you're set.
Who is your Fitspiration or sporting hero?
I totally admire anyone that is dedicated to their craft, that can bounce back from a setback, or failure. I am continuously inspired by the women around me, and their stories. It's the everyday women that are my heroes, and I have to say that my mama is one of them who is going on her own fitness journey.
Best Fitstagram (fitness Instagram) to follow?
I love seeing what other women around the world are doing in this industry, and @upfitnesswomen does just that. Women are treated as a niche market by the fitness industry overall and it’s refreshing to see women treated as full human participants rather than an afterthought.
Follow Daniella and her powerlifting adventures on Instagram @daniella.may.lee
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