This couple I had the pleasure of working with (my first HAPA couple, amazing looks) chose me as their fitness photographer the day after their first physique show and I loved their story. Kalai has a high level education in psychology, 38 y/o, and not a professional fitness model at all. In fact she did the IronMan Naturally with her husband Nate to support his personal training business. Nate is also educated on the nutritional side of health, which is rare for most personal trainers and a former pro wrestler (more about that later!).
This detailed interview is broken up into three parts. It covers their background, how they chose to compete, and their journey along the way. Their banter and chemistry had me laughing throughout the dialogue.
1. Tell me about yourself Kalai – where are you from, your educational background, where it took you around the States, and what you do today.
I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i. It was important to my parents that I go away to college; not just away, but far away, so that I could experience life and learn to be independent in a new environment. I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago, where I received my bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a specialization in Public Policy. I was a member of the women’s volleyball team, and our matches took me to towns throughout the midwest, as well as cities like New York, Boston, Atlanta, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Rochester (on that trip we drove to Niagara Falls!), places I probably never would have made it to otherwise. I was so fortunate to have that opportunity.
After graduation I moved to New York City and got my Master’s Degree in Psychology from New York University. From there I decided to move to San Francisco, to live in a city that wasn’t quite so cold and be a little closer to my family (who all still live in Hawai’i); that’s where I met Nate.
Today, I work at the University of California, San Francisco, where I administer a variety of programs and services for students in medical school.
2. Nate, tell us a little more about you as well – where are you from, professional/educational background and specialties, your focus today.
I grew up in a small beach town in Northern California — Half Moon Bay. We’re known for the Mavericks big wave surfing contest. I guess that’s why I won’t get a haircut, and get a real job you know? It’s a perfect match with Kalai since she grew up in Hawaii. We’re just two laid back, beach bum surfers enjoying life, although neither of us surf — go figure?
I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley and post baccalaureate studies in Kinesiology at San Francisco State University. It’s all been self-education since then: tons of personal reading and research, along with various training and nutrition certifications. I can’t believe it, but I’ve had my own training business focusing on physique enhancement/body composition transformations for 10 years now.
Currently, I’m transitioning more into fitness writing. I’m writing articles for various websites, and Kalai and I have our own new blog/website where we are focusing on fitness training, nutrition, and psychology topics. Eventually I’d like to put out some books in order to reach more people and share some of my philosophies.
So my current focus? I’d say writing in the industry, but I really can’t focus, that’s part of the problem.
3. Nate, now what’s up with you being a former professional wrestler?? LOL Give us the juicy details.
In college, I started training with a Capoeira group. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art involving a lot of acrobatic moves. We used to go to a gymnastics studio to practice the advanced moves — flips, aerial kicks, etc. One day this dude saw me training and told me I should go check out a pro wrestling school/promotion located in the area. I was a huge pro wrestling fan growing up as a kid — the Ultimate Warrior was my hero. So I thought why not? You only live once.
Next thing you know, I’m touring up and down California as the Kamikaze Kid. The independent pro wrestling scene was a wild ride. It really is a crazy life. It was a lot of fun, but super tough on the body. It’s fake and scripted and all that, but the impact of the stunts is very real. As a small guy, the injuries began to pile up quickly, and after a couple of years I decided it was time to move on. Every once in awhile I regret that decision because I see a few of the guys I was coming up with are now performing with the WWE and TNA Wrestling.
Nate Miyaki is a Natural Fitness Athlete & Model and winner of 2009 Musclemania America & World Championships – Bantamweight Division.
Kalai Diamond competed in 2011 NPC Iron Man Magazine Naturally Bodybuilding, Figure and Bikini Championships and came in 3rd Place in Bikini Class C and Bikini Masters.
4. Nate has always been into fitness but not the case for Kalai. Kalai, what was your fitness background, family perspective in health/nutrition (given that you have Hawaiian roots), and your driver to make the decision to compete in your first show.
I haven’t always been in into fitness per se, but I started playing sports in middle school, and continued to play volleyball well after college. As an athlete, my exercise programs had always been performance-based, and my primary goals were to be strong, fast, and agile. After college I got more into endurance sports, completing a marathon and a 6-day AIDS Ride. Because of my athletic background I was always comfortable in the weight room, but when given the choice I would usually go for a run over lifting weights, since I had bought into the idea that cardio would keep my weight in check and give me the lean, healthy body I desired.
As for nutrition, there are many factors that influenced my eating habits and thoughts about health growing up, but I’ll just mention a couple. The first thing that comes to mind is the practical: because nearly everything has to be imported, food in Hawaii (like just about everything else) is expensive. When fresh food is expensive, you end up eating a lot of things that you think give you more bang for your buck, like fast food “value meals” and plate lunches (which are take-out dishes typically comprised of two scoops of white rice, one scoop of macaroni salad, accompanied by some kind of meat that is usually breaded and/or fried, or covered in some kind of sauce or gravy), as well as foods that are cheaper in bulk like ramen, spam, and rice. Not the healthiest options, obviously, but what you think you need to do to get by. In time, these become commonplace and comfort foods.
On a more personal note, I grew up in a family where food was equated with love. For example, my grandfather knew how much I liked chocolate, so he brought me chocolate covered donuts every Saturday morning, and kept our freezer stocked with chocolate ice cream so that I could have it for dessert every night if I wanted (and I did). He knew my sister’s favorite was chicken cacciatore, so when she came home from college on breaks he would always make it for her. He did these things with the best intentions – because he loved us and wanted to make us happy – but the result how this kind of “love” was shared throughout my family is that I have many relatives who are overweight, and some who suffer from long-term health issues that are directly related to their weight problems. I suppose the path I have chosen – initially through athletics and now fitness – is my way of changing my “destiny” and having a hand in my own wellness and health outcomes.
There were a number of factors that went into my decision to compete. First, I was looking for a goal and purpose to guide my diet and exercise goals. For the past few years, other than when I was preparing for my wedding, I had just been working out to work out. This made it too easy to flake when I was lazy, or indulge in food and drink more often than necessary (I have a HUGE sweet tooth). Second, I wanted a challenge. I was curious to see what I was capable of and how much I could change my body composition if I truly dedicated myself to a plan. I have always admired Nate’s discipline and focus when he trains and wanted to see if I could do the same, following the theory and methods that work so well for him. Signing up for a contest – especially one that Nate was doing too – would hold me accountable. Once I paid the registration fee, there was no going back! Finally, we were coming upon the end of the year, which was stacked with back-to-back celebrations and holidays (November = Hawaiian vacation/family wedding, Thanksgiving, and my birthday; December = Christmas, Las Vegas wedding, Nate’s birthday, and New Year’s). I knew this would be a recipe for disaster when it came to my diet, workouts, and waistline. By signing up to compete in late January, I would need to eat clean and train through the holidays, and would thus avoid the otherwise predictable weight gain.
Check out Nate Miyaki’s days as the pro wrestler
Check out Interview with Fitness Models and Couple Nate Miyaki & Kalai Diamond – Part 2 , where they talk about their diet, training program and competition preparation regime.
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