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Fitness Photographer Natalie Minh interview Fitness Models and Couple Nate Miyaki & Kalai Diamond – Part 2

Bodybuilding / Competition / Diet / Exercise / Featured / Figure / Fitness / Fitness model / Fitness Photographer / Food / Healthy / Inspiration / Interviews / Lose weight / Modeling / Nutrition / Photography / Photoshoots / Training / February 18, 2011

Fitness Models Nate Miyaki & Kalai Diamond

This is Part 2 of my interview with Nate Miyaki & Kalai Diamond. Here, they talk about their diet, training program and competition preparation regime .

If you haven’t read Part 1, you may check it out here: Interview with Fitness Models and couple Nate Miyaki & Kalai Diamond – Part 1. In this interview, we learn about their background and how they decided to compete in their first fitness show.

The Interview

5. Nate, you prepared every aspect of Kalai’s program, which I think is brilliant. There’s nothing like having a coach to follow rather than second guessing yourself in this process.  Please fill us in on what considerations you made for her program, how you wanted to change her physique for show time, the struggles/adjustments made along the way, and your final critique of your results.

It was either brilliance or madness – especially when you’re trying to take cookies away from that crazy Hawaiian girl.  I think I might have acquired a few permanent scars from the late night UFC-style fights.

Well, since I’ve been online and writing a few articles and whatnot, I’ve been getting contacted by several women suffering from the metabolic/hormonal damage and post-contest weight rebound associated with improper contest prep.  Its crazy, 20-40lb weight-gains in less than six-month’s time — on NORMAL food intake and training protocols.  I definitely did not want my wife to do it the wrong way, go through the roller coaster ride of yo-yo-ing, and suffer the adverse health and body image consequences that can become involved with the competitive lifestyle.

And if I can have my Oprah interview moment here:  ladies (and guys too), don’t take any crazy or extreme measures that ultimately damage your normal bodily functioning and overall health just for the sake of winning a trophy.  It may seem like it now, but it’s really not worth it in the long run.  Trust me, I’ve seen what happens on the other side of the equation.  It’s not pretty, and for many it ends up being a lifelong battle. Use a solid plan backed by science.  Train hard, eat like a champ, sacrifice, and use a warrior’s discipline to get into the best shape of your life.  But use an intelligent approach, and don’t take it too far.

Sorry for the tangent, but I think that perspective can help a few people. Back to the Hawaiian Queen.  We also had to keep in mind the fact that fitness is not Kalai’s main career.  She has a full-time job in the real world running departments for the UCSF medical school and graduate research programs.  She couldn’t turn her life upside down just for a moment of fake tan glory.  She had to achieve her athletic goals while still maintaining her ability to function at a high level in an intellectually demanding job.  (Don’t tell her I said this because I don’t want her ego to get too big — but yes, she is a badass).

In my business, I pride myself in the ability to combine scientific research with practical experience.  So I wanted to design a program based on the physiological principles of how a body really loses fat and builds or maintains lean muscle, not just on gym myth or fitness folklore.  A lot of plans are based on tradition rather than science.  Fat loss efficiency is all about using your exercise and dietary programs to positively influence your hormones and metabolism, not simply about calorie burning/calorie counting — that is if you want the results to be permanent and sustainable.

In order not to bore you with the science, the practical side is that we based her plan on high intensity strength training, no traditional cardio, and a relatively higher protein, moderate carbohydrate, lower fat approach.  We wanted the positive metabolic and hormonal effects of strength training without the negative effects of excessive cardio, and of course we wanted a targeted dietary plan to take care of 80-90% of the fat loss puzzle, without going so drastically low in carbs that we suppressed optimal thyroid production or met rate.  The science is complicated, but as you can see the program was simple on paper.  These days its ass backwards, complicated and crazy programs backed by little real science.

I think the biggest hurdle was getting Kalai to trust the plan and not revert back to her old endurance athlete ways of training — you know, tons of cardio with little strength training.  I understand the base of my advice is counterintuitive or even completely opposite of traditional fat loss guidelines.  And she was constantly exposed to the “standard, accepted” fat loss advice via various media channels just like everyone else.  In many ways it had become engrained in her subconscious.

But I believe in my approach and more importantly, as she became more involved and started to consistently implement it, she started to believe in it as well.  Part of the reason she wanted to compete was to prove it worked (1) just as well for women as men (2) and just as good, if not better, than more drastic, extreme approaches.

I was very happy with the results.  Just check out the photos — she looks pretty hot to me.  I’m going to hang one or two of them from the wall for motivation, and for other reasons that I just can’t mention on a family website.  And the best part is because the program did not rely on drastic/extreme measures, I believe the results are sustainable.

And this was her very first shot at this whole fitness competing and modeling “thang”.  She’s really only been focusing on pure cosmetic enhancement (as opposed to performance or endurance training) for 3-4 months.  We know that results are cumulative, and as she continues focusing on this specific path, she is only going to improve.

Damn Natalie, when you asked to interview us I bet you didn’t realize how much of a rambler I am.  Sorry about that.

Fitness Model Kalai Diamond

6. Kalai, what did you think of Nate’s program? Where there any difficulties on working together since taking instruction from a partner can sometimes be a power struggle. What did you learn from this dieting/training process about yourself and furthermore, general nutrition?

I thought the program Nate prepared for me was perfectly reasonable. He explained everything to me, like why he kept the carb amounts moderate, why he took out certain foods when he did, and why he selected certain exercises; everything had a specific reason. We were always checking in to see how I was feeling on the diet, and make sure I was able to get my workouts in, since I had started a new job. In fact, I felt lucky that I wasn’t famished all the time, or about to pass out from doing multiple workouts in one day.

We both have pretty laid-back personalities, so in general we don’t get into tiffs very often. When it comes to training for a physique competition he is the expert, so I told him I would do exactly what he said to do, no questions asked. The only difficulty we experienced was when I was struggling mentally (fighting cravings, etc). Nate always has my best interests at heart, but at those times he didn’t know if he should respond to me as my Husband (empathetic and loving), or as my Coach/Trainer (and tell me to just suck it up). I often didn’t know what I wanted him to be either, so that didn’t help. I think just recognizing his dilemma as a confounding factor during those moments helped us come to a resolution much quicker.


Goodness, I learned so much!  The end result showed me that I am capable of getting in much better shape than I ever imagined, without having to go to extreme measures that I heard so much about. I learned that I shouldn’t compare myself to others, but I could instead “compete” with myself to be the best “me” that I can be. I also found that while I initially missed going on runs, I found a similar peace and enjoyed “alone time” by just putting on some headphones and lifting weights in the gym.

I don’t think you have enough time in this interview for everything I learned about health and nutrition while preparing for this contest.  Some of the key takeaways, however, are that –

(1) you don’t need to cut out all your carbohydrates to get lean,

(2) nor do you need to do 2 hours of cardio in addition to your weight training sessions.

However, perhaps the most significant thing I learned from this experience is the importance of mental fortitude when you are dieting. Our bodies can adapt fairly easily to the changes in caloric intake, but it’s how you deal with the mental and psychological challenges – even those posed by physical hunger and discomfort – that ultimately drives your success.

business training resource for fitness and sports professionals

7. Nate, what did you do differently during contest prep in your regime? For example, what did your regular fitness/diet schedule look like and then contest prep?  What were your goals to achieve and putting your knowledge to the time test (fixed contest deadline) did it work out for you?

To be quite honest, my diet and training plans don’t really change that much through the year.  I like to stay in shape year round.  I’ve found that it’s better for my training business, and my career as a wannabe fitness model.  No one wants me (especially Kalai) to look like a fat guy — I mean a bulking bodybuilder — 90% of the year.  Plus, my fragile ego couldn’t take it.  My 5 older brothers used to call me Baby Sumo because I was a fat kid.  If they started calling me that again, I’d probably cry.  I guess that childhood torture is why I’m so obsessed with the fitness lifestyle as an adult.  Thanks guys, you’ve scarred me for life.

I know it would probably be beneficial for my physique to go through a few heavy bulking phases, but I just don’t see the need.  I have no delusions or aspirations of being a professional bodybuilder.  I just like the discipline and focus necessary in the training and dieting process leading up to the show.  It makes me feel like I’m still somewhat of an athlete.  So my goal is to continue putting on muscle slowly throughout the year, while always remaining within striking distance of competition or photo shoot conditioning.

Generally I train 4 days a week using a typical body-part split, with traditional volume/hypertrophy-based training as my foundation.  Nothing fancy, you know the drill: basic dumbbell/barbell exercises, 3 sets of 8-12 reps, 3-5 exercises per body part, lots of yelling, spandex, and of course, sunglasses during late night training are a prerequisite (I hope you know I’m kidding).

My diet is essentially 5 meals a day combining a serving of lean protein (eggs, chicken, fish) with a serving or two of complex carbohydrate (potatoes or rice) and maybe some veggies.  I’ve been writing a lot lately on T-Nation about a Paleo/Caveman meets Sports Nutrition approach.  That’s basically what I follow.

One major difference is that we usually have a cheat meal during the offseason one day a week, usually Saturday night so we can at least pretend we have some sort of a social life.  That generally gets cut out 4-6 weeks away from an event.  And I do miss that cheat meal.  I love those freaking M&M’s.  Ah man, the crunchy shell with the milk chocolaty center, but I digress…

Read Part 3 here: Interview with Fitness Models and couple Nate Miyaki & Kalai Diamond – Part 3, where they  talk about their first stage experience, diet & exercise tips and future plans.


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Natalie Minh

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