This article was first seen on the Huffington Post. For this installment, we are joined by Gina Aliotti.
Let’s start off with a general introduction. How would you describe yourself, what are you all about and how did you get involved in health and fitness?
I was born and raised in Monterey (California), now living in Carlsbad (California) with my beautiful children David and Nicolette and incredible husband, Michael. I am a renowned fitness and lifestyle expert whose life mission is to inspire and teach others how to stay devoted to this healthy lifestyle in a realistic way. Proving that it doesn’t take much to reach and maintain your results.
I received my BS in Foods and Nutrition from SDSU in 2007. While most of my classmates were going to college parties, I was taking the fitness industry by storm. I earned my IFBB pro-card in 2005 and quickly became one of the world’s top figure competitors, winning many titles including Miss Figure International at the prestigious Arnold Classic and runner up at the Figure Olympia 3 years in a row.
As a busy full time working mom of two, I have been able to maintain consistency with my fitness by being flexible and utilizing the tools I call “the foundation” for long-term success! I teach these foundational principles in my online fitness plans, VIP Virtual training program, social media outlets and line of nutritional products.
Gina is the co-founder of Devotion Nutrition, helping people stay #Devoted4Life with incredible high quality products. It is her proven ability to inspire and create permanent lifestyle changes through a less is more, flexible and inside out approach. Through Gina’s plans, she is able to help thousands of people, all over the world, learn how to dig deep within themselves and create a fit, happy and healthy life!
Tell me about your mission to inspire and teach others how to realistically live a healthy lifestyle?
Growing up in a very health conscious family, set the foundation for my fitness. I have always been very interested in food and exercise. As a young girl, I had a nighttime routine I would do before bed. I slowly started integrating my habits and passion into my everyday life. My father who has been very instrumental in my journey, introduced me to weight lifting and would actually put me through a mini dumbbell workout before I would head off to school.
Later, he inspired me to compete and we actually competed together in my first figure show. From there, I started competing and fell in love with the journey to the stage. Being able to push myself and prove to myself all that I was capable of with determination, persistence and devotion to a goal. These common lessons rolled over into all areas of my life and to this day I use them for myself and in my coaching.
While I was competing and climbing up the professional ladder, I completed my degree in Food and Nutrition from San Diego State University. While I was getting my degree, I started my own fitness business, coaching people from all over the world and personal training locally. I fell in love with helping others reach their goals and being the best version of themselves. As my life evolved and I got married, I retired from the competition stage but have continued to evolve not only as an individual but also as a coach.
It was through my own journey and working with others, I became very big on creativity in the kitchen. Learning how to make healthy foods fun and delicious rather than bland and boring. I became known for my recipes. It was during this time, my best friend and now business partner, collaborated and decided to bring to market what we thought was a huge necessity for those seeking flavor in their food!
We wanted to help people stay devoted to living a healthy lifestyle by making their food more fun which would in turn keep people on track with their goals and indirectly living a happy, healthy and fit life. As two busy fit moms who have a passion for health and fitness and entrepreneurial side, decided to start our own Nutritional Company, Devotion Nutrition. It has been such an amazing journey and evolution from a young girl with a love for food and fitness to climbing the ranks as a professional, getting my degree in the field, being able to work with so many from all over the world and now offering products we are believe in wholeheartedly.
The keyword being realistically – why is this so important and what expectations do you set for your audience and clients?
What motivated me is wanting to share with everyone the feeling you get when you live a healthy lifestyle. There is no better feeling than feeling your best. I have learned the tools that work and want to share them with everyone! I feel that people are so jaded by social media and all the “quick, short term, fads” out there and it is my mission to help people see the light and start finally LIVING their life.
I have a very realistic approach to fitness and want to share my experience, knowledge and tools with anyone who is willing to learn and listen. I am so passionate about keeping it simple yet effective. I also get so motivated and inspired by seeing others thrive and catch on to a new way of viewing fitness. Fitness and living a healthy lifestyle carries over into all areas of your life.
I am so motivated for others to see how the simple tools of fitness will open up so many doors in every area of life. I am a big believer in working with the grain and not going against it. I love helping people find how to work with their situation rather than against it. So in summary, what motivates me is wanting to shed the light and a different approach that is realistic and will allow for the LONG TERM results people are after. It is through my 101 coaching and online programs that I help show people the simple things they can do on a daily basis that will yield to great results. It is my mission to prove to people it doesn’t take much but it does take heart, passion and consistency.
You’re also a mother of two – I’m always curious to learn more about how top athletes and trainers educate their own children on living a healthy lifestyle – what’s been your approach and how soon is too soon?
I believe it is NEVER too soon to start educating our children on how to live a healthy lifestyle. I believe more in teaching through example versus preaching. I think children, and people in general, learn more by what we do than what we say. Doing what I do on a daily basis, eating healthy, working out and focusing on positivity in all areas of my life, is the example I want to be for my kids. I involve my kids into my home workouts and healthy cooking to teach them through doing. It is interesting to watch them become interested in what I am doing, because I am doing what I do vs. preaching and hoping they take on my way of living.
I believe the best way to teach your kids and allow them to embrace the lifestyle is through watching you and being a part of what we do. I know for me, so much of my success, is due to the fact that I was surrounded by exercise and healthy eating my entire life. I would say, I didn’t know any different. Teaching our kids sooner than later and being that example will allow them to do what we do because they don’t know any other way. In summary, it is never too soon to start being the example to our little ones.
You’ve also done extremely well as a top competitor in the IFBB. What drove you to wanting to compete and what have been some of your biggest lessons in doing so?
Being an IFBB pro means more to me than obtaining a pro card. It always carried a deeper meaning. In anything we do, to make it to the top, you have to give your all and not let anything get in the way.
Competing, especially at that level, was icing on the cake for all the hard work and effort it took to achieve my goals. Competing really gave me such a different perspective of what I was capable of achieving in so many areas of my life. What one would think would be a single goal – to compete and step on stage your physical best – really was such a small percent of what it really meant to be to be a top competitor.
The life lessons I learned that continue to carry over into all aspects of my life were monumental for me. The mental strength gained and carried out today are huge, because of my years as an IFBB pro. Being able to compete at this level and at such a young age really set the tone for the years post competition. I will forever give a huge part of my success to the lessons learned while competing and taking my body and mind to another level.
These are just a few of the many lessons I learned and continue to carry on into my everyday life as an entrepreneur and mother;
The Power Of Visualization; Having a clear vision and knowing exactly what your goal(s) are is huge. With the power of that vision, anything is possible.
Consistency; This continues to be a huge part of my coaching. I believe wholeheartedly in consistency. Focusing on doing something daily all adds up to big results. Competing and having a daily task that was achieved day after day not only led to incredible results but added to the solid foundation I have now that allows me to be more flexible with my efforts.
The Power And Importance Of Goal Setting; This is huge and also a huge part of my coaching! Setting goals and being specific with those goals will allow you to actually achieve them rather than just “dream”.
Creativity In Both The Gym And The Kitchen; Creativity has always been the name of my game. Whether I am getting creative with my cooking or workouts, being creative is what has kept me in the game mentally and physically, no matter where I am in my journey.
The Power Of Mental Strength; This is HUGE. The mind has a way of either taking you to the top or pushing you down. If you learn how to dig into your mind and use its power to work for you, it is a powerful force! Competing takes your mental strength to another level. It was during these days of extreme dieting and pushing my body past it’s limits that I learned the concept of mental strength. Having the ability to tap into this strength when you need it, has been huge and continues to be a powerful force in my day to day life.
You Are Your Own Judge; Regardless of what others say or think, being your own judge and doing what is best for you is what matters. In a world focused on social media, I think it is really important to keep this in the forefront of our minds. It is more important to use ourselves as our own judge than allowing others opinions and thoughts to influence our actions.
The Magnifying Glass Theory; This is huge and really has been an important lesson. While competing at that level, having a very clear focus and not straying from that focus or goal allows you to actually let that goal manifest. When we are all over the place we are not focused on one focal point. The magnifying glass theory has been really helpful in having that laser focus, that helps us to concentrate and be more productive with our goals.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about women lifting weight?
The primary concerns women have when it comes to fitness weight training are, “I don’t want to get big or bulky”, but this is a fear NO woman should have! It takes so much time, work, dedication, proper food and training to gain even a pound of muscle that it is impossible for a normal woman to get “too big”. We just don’t have the hormones in our bodies to allow for that.
With the right training, nutrition and guidance, fitness weight training will actually make your muscles hard and lean. The more lean muscle you have the faster your metabolism and therefore the faster you will lose body fat. There is no other way to do this than to start a resistance training program in combination with the proper nutrition and cardiovascular regiment. Without one or the other, your results will not be as quick or superb. With a realistic fitness program, there is no way your muscles are going to grow “too big or bulky” but rather you will shape up and look fit. I understand women’s concerns but free yourself from your fear and start weight lifting to achieve your ultimate goals!
What I loved about you when preparing for this interview is the wide array of sports that you have experienced. Crossfit, yoga, marathons, fitness and figure competitions just to name a few – do you feel this gives you an edge as a trainer as well as an athlete and if so how?
Since fitness is such a big part of my life and has become the (only) way I know how to live, I have carried on the same foundational principles into my life, no matter where I am. After competing, I started exploring other areas of fitness such as yoga, running, crossfit and circuit training. Depending on where I am in my life, I have been able to mold my fitness around my life and what is realistic with where I am.
From competition to pregnancy to post pregnancy and now busy mom of 2 working 2 full time jobs, I have evolved my fitness and coaching, proving that no matter where you are in your life, with a solid passion for something you can accomplish anything. From gym workouts to now only home workouts, I am so passionate in helping people see that there is no one way to fitness. You can evolve your fitness and mold it to fit your life, no matter where you are.
It is through my journey, I hope to inspire others that once you create that solid foundation, you can go in any direction with your fitness. It is when you learn to mold your fitness and have this solid foundation, you then see how realistic your goals truly are! I do feel this sets me apart because I can take any client or individual and mold their program based on their needs.
We all have different needs, styles, and interests when it comes to fitness so having a well rounded approach to fitness and being well versed in many areas has helped me cater my plans to each individual. It also allows me to work in different components of fitness from conditioning, strength, flexibility and endurance so people can become well rounded with their fitness and not just good in one area. My style of training, based on my experience has allowed me to pull in several areas of fitness to create my own unique style of training, which sets me apart from so many.
Tell me about your “less is more” approach and your thoughts on training at a gym versus the alternatives.
My Less is More approach to fitness is something that really sets me apart from others. So many people feel they have to workout for countless hours and most feel a gym is necessary to reach your goals but I am here to prove quite the opposite. It is through my experience (personal and professional) that I have proven that when you focus on the “Foundational Principles” I mentioned, and create a solid foundation, you can get away with so much less! I focus on small daily goals and effort that lead to big results. I feel that when you are realistic with your goals you are more likely to stay on board. If you stay on board, you are more likely to see your results and maintain them, which is the ultimate goal.
I am BIG on the less is more approach and love shedding the light to others that it really doesn’t take much but it does take being consistent, day in and day out. This is a very refreshing way of seeing training because so many people are turned off by the fact that they don’t have the time to devote hours and often don’t have access to a gym. It has been through my quick and efficient home workouts that often are done in less than 20 minutes, I have been able to prove that this approach truly does work!
Despite your wealth of knowledge and experience, your certifications and degrees – you write on your website that your most important qualification is your ability to listen and empathize – can you elaborate?
Throughout my competition years and working on building my own solid foundation, I found my true passion in helping others reach their fitness goals. I do believe that one of my most important qualifications is my ability to listen to others and empathize with their unique challenges. What I mean by this is my ability to take my experience and knowledge and mold a more personalized plan based on not only someone’s goals but truly hearing their challenges and coming up with ways to help others overcome roadblocks that may be the one thing holding someone back from reaching their goals.
Rather than just providing a nutrition or training plan, I help others identify barriers and work on a much deeper level to work on creating a solid foundation rather than focusing on the superficial elements of a plan. Anyone can give a diet or training plan but not everyone can truly empathize and identify the true barriers that may be holding someone back. It is my passion to work on a much deeper level with my clients. I also refer to this as an inside out style of training. I like to dig deep within my clients to help them on a much deeper level. So many people do things for the wrong reasons or often don’t even know why they are doing something. I love to help others discover their purpose and wake up inspired and ready to take on whatever it is that may present itself.
Would you be willing to share a bit about your e-book series and the educational efforts you’ve been rolling out?
Yes! I offer several e-books depending on where you are in your journey. They all serve a different purpose and build upon one another. My Ultimate Weight Loss Plan is my foundational book that offers all the tools, tips, how to get started, stay motivated, eat out, grocery shop, cooking ideas, recipes and much more. It is a great reference book and what people call their “fitness bible”. It includes my principles that have worked for me and thousands of others in your shoes.
My Second e-book is my Ultimate Shred 365. This is a yearlong plan that includes a new training and nutritional plan for each month! It is an excellent plan to follow for life! It offers a refuel meal once a week and lots of variety to keep you on track, healthy and making progress! The workouts incorporate both gym and home options and are a mix of steady state and circuit workouts. It is a great plan to follow for live.
My Ultimate Accelerated Plan (UAP) is a 6 week Accelerated Plan that does not require a gym! The workouts listed are circuit style and really focus on my “less is more approach”. It includes 6 weeks of nutrition, grocery lists for each week, recipes and more. It was designed with the busy mom in mind so a great plan for those (especially moms) that don’t have a ton of time.
My 7 Day Body Blast is my most recent plan that is a great kick starter plan for when you need to detox or feel like you have hit a plateau with your training. It includes both nutrition and circuit style home workouts that will produce results in only 7 days.
I also offer a plan for those expecting. My Ultimate Pregnancy Plan is an all inclusive plan to take you step by step throughout your pregnancy! It includes circuit workouts (with videos), nutritional plans, tips and tools that worked for me, recipes and so much more!!
My latest project is my VIP Challenge Program which is a way for me to hold people accountable. I offer workout videos with instruction, a private VIP facebook group page where I offer live events, Q&A, support and so much more. I found that people need a set plan AND the accountability to stay on their plan so created a way to offer continued coaching. I also offer challenges through my VIP program to keep people on track with my “less is more” style of training. We have created such an amazing network of others all after similar goals who share, support and inspire each other to dig deep each and every day.
What are your biggest goals for 2017?
2017 is going to be an amazing year, I can feel it! My personal goals; better my yoga, spending more time on my mat to take my yoga practice to another level. I also want to spend more time clocking out and reading more for fun, rather than for work. 2016 has been a really busy year growing and evolving my fitness business and birthing my new business, Devotion Nutrition so I have had less time to focus on yoga and doing the simple things like reading a book. I am excited to get back into both and focus on that special time to just BE more and DO less….
Business goals; grow my VIP Virtual Coaching program to help more people discover that inner fire and learn the foundational principles for long term success and share my “less is more” approach to fitness. I want to share with as many people how they can reach their goals in a very realistic way!
Where can people go to learn more about you online?
Stay tuned for the next interview of Real Talk Real Women!