"With a clear vision, unwavering belief, and some fun along the way, winning life will be second nature, and the sky will no longer be a limit, but a point a view" Dani
How is it that some achieve what seems to be impossible to others? How do we push past the point of failure, when it seems there is nothing left in the tank? How is it that we stay disciplined, when temptations are everywhere we turn? Whats up everyone, my name is Dani Reardon but they call me Lil Monstar. I compete in the IFBB as a women’s physique competitor, and I am actually runner up Ms. Olympia. (holy shit btw) I don’t say that to boast, I say that as an example, a credential if you will. I feel what sets the successful apart is their mind. Through my years of training I have listened and studied many of our favorites, namely Kai Greene and Arnold Schwartzenagger. I have found that although I am at least a foot shorter and 100 lbs lighter, a positive outlook and unwavering belief does not discriminate. We have watched many achieve great things, and climb the ranks in bodybuilding, and one thing that remains constant is the power of the mind. I'm excited to share this with you and shed a little light on what I have come to learn and understand about success in the gym, in the kitchen, on stage and in life in general. Listen closely because the best part is, it can be found within all of us.
The stage I feel beneath my feet. The lights are turned up and are blinding. My heart is racing, and my are palms sweaty. They are about to announce the winner of the Ms. Olympia contest, and the butterflies in my stomach are so strong I can barely breathe. After a few suspenseful seconds of what seems like forever, they call my name! The crowd goes wild and I drop to my knees in excitement and begin to cry. Visualization has been proven time and time again through scientific studies and personal experiences to be extremely effective and powerful. I don’t just mean writing a goal down on a piece of paper. I mean a vision of your moment, a snap shot of the future. Close your eyes and use all of your senses to describe how it will unfold. It could be hitting a new weight in the gym, or on the scale. It could be graduating school or finding the person of your dreams. I find the more detailed your moment is, the more familiar you are with it, the easier it becomes to work hard towards making it happen. Often times we forget to define what success looks like for us and we find ourselves putting in effort and gong no where but in circles. This quote sums it up perfectly for me, “If you don’t know where you're going you'll end up somewhere else”.
Belief and Limits
Staying in the belief today, is how you will get to experience your results tomorrow. Think about when you first started lifting weights and eating healthy. The belief that if you kept eating and training, you would eventually have the body you want. Your mind told you that one day you would be bigger, faster, stronger, and guess what? You are. Napoleon Hill, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, he can achieve”. Conceiving ideas and setting goals we all have down pat, the belief aspect is where a lot of us get caught up. Doubt, fear and limitations run rapid, and unfortunately stop us in our tracks. Obstacles, pressure, pain and negativity can be overwhelming and intimidating. Staying in the belief through these times is what makes you a champion. A champion of your mind, and there for, whatever you want! There are two things that help me believe in my self even when no one else does. Especially when no one else does! The first, that anything is possible, the possibilities are infinite here. Which means that there is no such thing as a limit! Limitless opportunities = infinite possibilities. Speaking of limits, beware of this guy, the nay sayer. One of my favorite sayings in regard to this is , "People will see you walk on water and say its because you can’t swim". We all know them, the ones who drain your energy and think of every reason why you cant do something! But they fail to realize all you need is one reason why you can. There is a reason Arnold always said “don’t listen to the nay sayers”. For one reason or another they are bringing you down, and if you listen and believe them, then you will just as soon be joining them in defeat. Its no secret Arnold Schwartzeneggar and Kai Greene, are two very successful people at what they do. Its also no secret that they both had to overcome obstacles that most people would use as a crutch or a limit. Like these two, I truly believe if you don’t listen to the nay sayers and don’t see limitations, they are not, and never will be there. The only person that can set limitations is you, and the only person that can go after what you want is you. “Weather you think you can, or think you cant, you're right”. Henry Ford.
Enjoying the process
Enjoying the process is my favorite part of all of this. This is how you make the hard work look easy. If you guys know me, I'm all about the good vibes. I don’t just mean person to person, I mean in everything we do, this is so important. The difference between athletes and champions is that they enjoy, they really love the work that's going into their craft. Good vibes in is good vibes out I always say. You could be eating, training, practicing, driving, golfing, dog walking or basket weaving, and I believe a happy road leads to a happy destination. When it comes to hard grueling, sweaty work there are two sides of every coin, there will be things you can find to love and to hate about what you're doing. It really boils down to where your focus is. For instance, you're in the gym training, last week of prep, your energy is so low are you can barely see straight. Sure, ts easy to focus on being hungry and tired. The difference is that a champion's focus is on how it is all benefiting them, the perspective is switched. Some of the things I try to think about when I have tough moments is that there is a time for everything. A time for exhaustion, a time for work, a time for sacrifice, but there is also a time for reward, and achievement and pride. I say to my self... "The level of conditioning achieved is why its so hard right now, hell yeah... the weight being lifted is hard, but making me better every rep, hell yeah! The harder it is the more energy is going towards my goal. Bring it!".... Any one watch star wars? I started calling myself a Jedi a little while ago. I resonated with the Jedi mindset because I was fighting with what I loved, not what I feared. My love for achievement and winning stomped all over my fear of losing. That took a while for me to fully realize, but once you fight with what you love, you wont do anything any other way. When I am just about to throw in the towel or slow down, that love for what I do and how I do it, is what got me through the toughest times with full intensity. That was when I really started to achieve my best conditioning and packages, and I was able to do so with a smile.
There are many champions on this planet, and many people who have achieved great things in life. What I hope you got from this is that there is no difference between them and you. Its a matter of the mind. With a clear vision, unwavering belief, and some fun along the way, winning life will be second nature, and the sky will no longer be a limit, but a point a view. I sincerely thank you for taking the time and energy to read this.
You are a champion.
All the best vibes. -Dani
This is a picture from my very first Olympia in 2015. This moment I'll never forget. It was the first time I saw a picture of myself from the show, and it was the exact vision I had of myself on the Olympia stage. The O behind me, my best condition to date, a front double thrown up, i'm collected confident, comfortable, and having fun. The vision I had been focused on for years, had just become a living reality. This moment I'll never forget.
" to love yourself so much, to make the right decisions, to be who you really want to be, to be your best ever, and on the day when you show up to compete, step on stage and say “here I am compare me”.
Whats up guys, this post is 11 questions derived from an instagram post I made a little while ago. and 11 answers or words of advice derived from my experiences. The questions range from my favorite cheat meals to managing self love during competition I hope to dispel some myths, answer questions and maybe teach you something new...
1. (@tiph_fit_ knee) “How do you separate the ideas of self-love from the constant comparing nature of competitive bodybuilding? “Well let me first start by saying, the only people that matter, as far as comparing goes, are the judges. The comparison part is completely out of your control, and really no energy should be wasted comparing. Let’s think about what they are actually comparing for a second, your best package and presentation to your opponent’s best package. Emphasis on “your best package”, and be excited because your best, is definitely something you can control. The only comparing you should do is between you, and you. Self-love is all about doing what you need to do to make you happy. Operative word is you. I actually looked up the definition and it said, “regard for one's own well-being and happiness”. To me self-love means competing for you, and achieving for you. Not competing to be better than anyone, or for a trophy, or a certain status. Those things can always be taken from you. Compete for accomplishing your best mental and physical efforts… Your best, no one can take from you. Something that comes to mind when thinking about this is, to love yourself so much, to make the right decisions, to be who you really want to be, to be your best ever, and on the day when you show up to compete, step on stage and say “here I am compare me”.
2. (@icecreamwithmuscles) What’s your favorite blizzard or favorite treat? Favorite blizzard would have to be double, or triple Oreo, cheesecake bites, and reeses cups. But my favorite thing to do for a cheat is hit up a gas station, namely Wawa. First step, order a large Oreo flurricane. Second step walk around and grab the following: more Oreos (6-8 pack) 1 warm chocolate chip cookie, 1 brownie, 1 reeses cup, 1 oatmeal cream pie, 1 pop tart, and possibly a donut. Step 3: make it home with ¾ of the flurricane left… add in most of the ingredients, (while taking bites). Mash up like your 5, and… lose your abs.
3. (@dinoclark) “What do I do to calm sweet tooth cravings during contest prep?” Well, let me tell you the craving struggle is real haha something I have found that has really brought them down a lot is my focus. When I stare at cookie and donut porn on Instagram, watch cooking channels, purposely walk down the candy isle, I find my cravings are terrible. Almost untamable. It’s like I do it to myself, which if you think about it is stupid and its torture. The way I see it, I decided to do a show, so the answer to my sweet tooth is no. Out of sight, out of mind. And it’s really helped. I believe thought become things, if I keep thinking about sweets it won’t be long before it ends up as a thing in my mouth. I also do my best to make my food taste amazing. So, my focus is on what I do get to eat, and appreciating every morsel. Not what I don’t get to eat, resenting every bite I should be taking. For me it boils down to focus. I will be honest, easier said than done, I’m def not perfect with this, and give in here and there. A little secret I do is of course gum, and I have a little bottle of diet soda in my fridge. I’ll go take a swig of that as my sweet fix. But I find the less value I place on the sweet yummies, the less power it has over me.
4. (@holliemcvittie) “I am getting prepared for my first show, and losing weight in my chest, kind of making me sad… what are your though about implants?” Awesome question… and I have been through this thought process at one point in my life. Here is my thought first about losing weight in your chest pre-contest… your boobs are fat. The name of the bodybuilding game is muscle mass, and burning fat. The smaller I am up top, the leaner I am, the happier I am. When I have boobs, I don’t have abs. Its really about your goals. My thoughts about breast implants… I went to get fitted and tried them on… and woe am I glad I did. It took me seeing them on me, for me to realize, that was not who I am, at least not right now. I looked unathletic, a little heavy, and truthfully, I didn’t look like myself. That appointment helped me see that I needed to reevaluate my reasons and intentions and who I was trying to be. That’s just me though I’m not knocking the knockers! Almost all my friends who have them love them and are very happy. Bottom line is doing what makes you happy because you want to do it. You’ll know as soon as you try them on.
5. (@wp_Brookefoy) “How do you know if your coach is right for you?” The fact that you are asking me that tells me the answer. In my competition and cheerleading career, I have had the pleasure of working with many coaches. A coach can make or break your mindset, health, contest prep and career. Here is what I have learned, every coach has a purpose in your life for the time they are there. As we move though different phases of our lives, we need different tools to help us progress. The tough part is recognizing and making the jump. There is a total difference in having faith in your coach, and having hope in your coach. It boils down to trust. Look at these two sentences… “I hope my coach can get me where I need to go” and “I have faith my coach will get me where I need to go”. You know when you have total faith in your coach, because no one else’s methods matter, and they can do and tell you no wrong. If your coach tells you to eat dirt and you have absolute faith in them, you do it. But a hopeful coach you would question the whole way through (my cortisol is rising just thinking about it). Questioning is no way to prep for a show. Think about the trust you have in your coach, if it’s not absolute, time for a change.
6. (@kcxena8) “How much do I play with macros during contest prep, carb cycling?” I play with macros as much as my body needs me to. Usually ill start a basic prep eating about the same macros each day, and then move into carb cycling closer to the show. I totally believe in carb cycling and eating for what your body needs. I mean think about it, on days when you need more energy like legs and back, you would likely consume more nutrients. On smaller muscle group days like arms, less food is required. Of course, there are little tricks like refeeds and cheat meals that can be incorporated as well. All of them have their efficacy and perfect timing.
7. (@greggyred) “Fav body part to work on?” My favorite muscle group to train is simply whatever I am lacking. Here is the way I see it, we are only as strong as our weakest link. The name of my game is a strong, non-weak from any angle, physique. I train with my greater good in mind. A lot of the time people shy away from their weak body parts, and then they always stay weak body parts. I think the weaker the body part the more room I have for improvements. It’s exciting because once you put focus and energy (such as a workout) into making something better, it gets better! It’s rewarding and makes it more of a positive experience. Right now, my back has been my favorite thing to train. For a while I was having trouble connecting with it, because my arms would take over. Finally, I feel as if I am making some headway and connection, and now I am always eager for back day.
8. (@shirwarr) “Do you have any advice on what to bring and what to expect for first show day?” Your first show day… wow what a memorable time in your contest career. Expect to be slightly overwhelmed, but super excited and accomplished. Expect nervous butterflies and a minor state of panic. But don’t worry it’s all in good fun. My advice would be to first be proud of yourself for getting to this point. . Second, don’t look around and start comparing, it does no one any good. Respect the athletes for their hard work, be lighthearted and make friends! One of the coolest things about being backstage is that everyone feels like you do, so you might as well make fun of it. Be prepared!! Nothing sends us into a tizzy faster than not being prepared. Have your food ready to go, bands for pumping up, hair and makeup done before you get to the venue. Have all your shredded little duckies in a row… The last thing I’ll say and maybe the most important part of body building… is learning. Come into the show like a little sponge. Realize this is your starting point. From here you build your competitive formula. Reflect on the prep, the show, the mistakes, the successes, the good and the bad, all the lessons you learned mentally and physically that got you to this point. Whether you are at your first show or your last, there is always room for improvement. With a learning mindset, failure is never an option. Get up there as your best, smile pretty, and pose like you mean it!!
9. (@fit_nation_live) “Regarding injuries, and how common they are in the fitness industry, what do you do to stay motivated and keep going when you can’t really do much?” I’ll be honest, I’ve only been injured and unable to train once. And by unable to train, I really mean causing a sort of depression. Mine was more of a nerve issue caused by inflammation and excess weight than it was a broken limb or something like that. I believe I have thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) but no diagnosis yet… in short pretty much anything that would cause an inflammation response, namely eating bad and training, my arms and hands would be extremely painful. I lost many nights of sleep to this, was unable to train and became depressed... even though there were many things I couldn’t do at the moment, there were something’s that I could do! I could do cardio! And cardio not only gave me a release of energy, it also helped me lose weight so my nerves were not as bad. In the heat of the moment I was only focused on what I was not able to do, training. It wasn’t until I changed my focus to what I could do, that everything started to get better. Inside and out. So, in your question you said “when you can’t really do much” to me that says, there is still some that you can do. It may not be much, but it’s something. Try to focus on what you can do now, and when you can do more focus on that. It is the progress that makes us happy and motivated to get to the next level and keep going. No matter where you are, no matter who you are, progress is something everyone can do. Bring your focus into where you are now, in this moment.
10. (@mymotivatedmuscles) “What is your biggest tip for someone beginning their bodybuilding adventure?”. Enjoy what you do. If you don’t love it don’t love it don’t live it. The fact that you are even starting your bodybuilding journey means that you already found a sport that you love. Which is great. The other great thing about bodybuilding is that there are many ways to get to your end goal. From nutrition to training to cardio there really are so many combinations. I find that really enjoying your process and everything about it is crucial to your attitude, your longevity, your work ethic and thus, your success! Here are some of my examples… I don’t like fish, it stinks lol so I never use it for contest prep. I don’t like the elliptical, so I do the steps for cardio, I don’t like lifting heavy, so I focus on volume training. I believe good vibes in equals good vibes out. If we all must work and bust our ass we might as well do the things we enjoy. Imagine this, working hard with joy as your force or working hard with hate as your force… If you don’t love it don’t live it.
11. (@wrestling addict) “The number on the scale how does it affect you? Do you rely on weight or measurement numbers or how my body looks?” OK awesome question! First, I’ll start off by saying, I don’t do measurements. And I’ll be straight up with you, I don’t do it because it doesn’t matter. Onstage we are never measured or even weighed. So, the numbers… not as big of a deal as you think. The number on the scale is used as a guide. It’s hard especially at first to not let it effect you. I do this all the time when I begin prep. The problem with weight is that it’s like BMI. It does not take muscle mass into account. Sometimes when we begin a plan we lose fat but gain muscle and the number on the scale doesn’t change, essentially because one replaced the other. There are other means of measuring that I believe tell more than the scale does. For example, progress pictures. As your body composition changes form, the number stays the same on the scale but the person in the mirror changes. Normally from pictures is it more noticeable. Think about this, on stage we are judged on appearance, not numbers. Use the numbers as a guide but that’s all they are. Your physical appearance is what matters most. This is also where staying in the belief comes into play. Even if the number is not changing, all you need to know and all you need to do is the right thing. Follow your plan to a T and to the best of your ability. As long as you know you are not getting worse and sticking to the plan, it’s only a matter of time before your body reciprocates your efforts. Be patient, and stay in the belief. The moment you slip out of belief and start worrying, your progress slows. Just focus on right thing, right time and the rest will take care of itself.
Check out my you tube video on these questions too!
"We all have a light and a dark side. What I have learned and what I try to get better with every day, is the taming of the two. "
What’s up everyone… My name is Dani Reardon, but some call me lil monstar. If you are new to me, here is a run down… I am 27 years old, gratefully engaged to Ian Schofield (the date is 11/11 😊 I have a Masters in Exercise Physiology. I am a luminous being, a jedi, and I compete in the IFBB as a women’s physique competitor. I am currently ranked 2nd in the world, or better said, runner up Ms Olympia. Woa, goosebumps every time I say that. Writing this down on paper makes me realize that I am literally living my dream. My thoughts are turning into things, my dreams are manifesting into reality and I feel extremely grateful for everything.
But hold on, don’t get it twisted, the reason I am writing this blog and sharing this information with you is to not to brag and boast. I am writing this because I believe along my journey I have acquired many valuable experiences and lessons, that have helped me really succeed and change my life. My hope is that from this blogging, I can teach you and help you succeed and become the greatest happiest person you’ve ever met. I would love to share the lessons I’ve learned and what’s helped me succeed most... The insight I’ve gained about the power of the mind. Bits of knowledge about the body and how it works. And my personal favorite, a combination of the two, words of wisdom from the experiences I’ve had.
The reason I am pumped for this is because I have not always been in this position, which is where all the gratitude comes from. I’ve been through many high peaks and many low valleys. Among them, a few nights in jail, a few in the hospital, shamed publicly, worried about my career, afraid to get on stage, losing sponsors, falling off the wagon, and self sabotage. Yet the same girl, graduated with a masters degree, has the man of her dreams, has the best tribe around her, including you, and competes on the biggest stage in the world. It seems like two different people doesn’t it? . In many ways it is. It took me losing my balance or light, and finding it again. I realize my two examples are very extreme, but I believe we all, at some level are like this. (for every action there is an equal and opposite, just sayin) We all have a light and a dark side. What I have learned and what I try to get better with every day, is the taming of the two. Like everybody, I went through, and still go through many trials and tribulations both physically and mentally. But those peaks and valleys made me who I am today, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Body building has done many many things for me, the obvious and external is the accomplishment and reward. More importantly is the ability this sport has to be a dream for someone, and a saving grace. MOST of all though, bodybuilding has been my greatest teacher. My Socrates. My Yoda. The wisdom, the knowledge, the discipline and the skill I have acquired are things I can take with me and share to everyone forever. I will tell you though, my most favorite and most recent discovery, that I can not wait to talk about is the real power of energy, belief and positivity.
I have many things to share with you all; recipes, exercises, perspectives, positivity, mindfulness, intensity, passion, anatomy, love and contest prep guides, you name it lets talk about it. You already know I am an open book, all I ask is that you have an open and curious mind to listen and question with...