Josephine Dalton is an amazing woman. Not only is she a top bikini competitor, but Josephine is also a winner in life. She has survied battles with depression, alcohol and cocaine. Josephine persists in training despite injury, and aggressively pursues her goals. Currently, Josephine Dalton is modeling, writing a screen play, and trying her hand at acting.
Muscle and Strength: Tell me how you got involved with bikini competitions...
Josephine Dalton: I used to watch the Miss USA & Miss Teen USA pageants as a young girl, always wishing I would grow up to be just as pretty and win pageants. Unfortunately, I was not a cute girl growing up; I had zits, wore glasses, never grew hips or boobs, had bigger muscles than most girls, and in all honesty, I was a Eurasian tomboy misfit who had no idea how to be pretty or ladylike. And when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was someone who should have born a boy. So beauty pageants were just a fantasy for me.
I joined the Navy in 1992. Not long before that, I watched a Ms. Fitness pageant and fell in love. These women possessed the type of body I had and weren't the stunning beauties of traditional beauty pageants. But I knew I still couldn't bother because I couldn't do all the acrobatics these women gracefully executed with such ease. Again, another fantasy.
In 2004, after college, I was hired as a trainer for the Prestige Sports Club in LA. Despite a college education in medicine and exercise science, an ACSM certification, and a military background, I noticed that I wasn't being taken seriously as a competent trainer. My first few months there, I wasted a lot of energy warding off men more interested in getting me to meet them outside the gym rather than meeting me in the gym for a solid training session. And many of the other trainers were calling me an airhead behind my back. I got really discouraged, and found myself lacking the motivation to pursue new clients at all.
I got the idea of going into natural bodybuilding when I got dumped after an initial personal training assessment; an assessment looking for a trainer with a competitive bodybuilding background. The guy had never seen me out of my baggy trainer's uniform. He told me I "looked like a little girl who couldn't possibly know anything about building muscle", and he just didn't find it motivating being trained by someone who "reminded him more of his teenage daughter." STING!
So I decided to look into figure competitions, found the NPC and a nearby show in 6 weeks. I approached a fellow trainer who was an IFBB pro. I wasn't aware she was 2 days out from a pro show, nor about the grueling process of preparing for competition. I got snapped at and called "scrawny", and I walked away with my tail between my legs and totally intimidated by that girl. But I didn't give up; being called "scrawny" when all my adult life I'd been accused of being buff and strong just drove me harder to find something I could do. That's when I came across the Ms. Bikini America website. I entered my first contest (Ms. Bikini Southern California) and took 2nd in my class. And it's been an addiction since!
Although the incident with the IFBB pro created an honest bitterness in me, it was the initial driving force that ignited a new passion in me. If that situation had never happened, I would not be where I am today. Therefore, I am thankful it happened, and sorry I annoyed her at such a bad moment. But I forgive her for her actions, because of my ignorance! If she reads this...she knows who she is (cheers dear...you're still an inspiration).
Muscle and Strength: What drives you now? And what are your goals?
Josephine Dalton: My competition goals is to win at least one Fitness Universe title, whether it be Ms. Bikini, Ms. Figure or Model as well as to become an IFBB or WBFF pro bikini.
As for career goals, I will never want to be or do just one thing. I'd love to make commercial fitness modeling a side job. I recently crossed over into acting with some success. So I want to be a successful actress. I also started writing and am in the process of writing a e-book on diet and fitness as well as a script for a movie idea. I am a woman of many talents and many ideas, so it's hard for me to have just one goal or dream! But while I chase all these mini-dreams, I'd love to have a more stable but part time career where I can help people cross over into the world of healthy living. Personal training and physique coaching is perfect for this!
Motivators: I try to find as many motivators as possible and remind myself of them often.
- My weekend job as a Vegas nightclub VIP bottle server. I wear a glamorous uniform; an all rhinestone bikini top, mini-skirt and high heel boots. Muffin top is NOT acceptable, especially when there are a hundred girls 14 years my junior waiting for me to quit or get fired!
- I hate not looking my best... I guess you could call it 'ego'.
- My significant other is 10 years younger... Gotta keep up ;-).
- Eating clean and regular exercise helps alleviate the symptoms of my health issues, especially insomnia.
- Nothing is worse than being unable or limited to performing normal daily activities due to being out of shape. I love being able to take on a bunch of stair flights or run a block and not be winded. I love being strong, limber and agile.
- I don't like the idea of growing old fast, being confined to a wheelchair or hospital bed at 70, or dying prematurely because of a weak heart. I want to live well past 100 and still be as vivacious as a teenager.
- I love and respect my body and the life I've been blessed with!
- I think having a 6 pack and delts is cool!
Muscle and Strength: What does your training look like? How many days a week do you workout, and what do you do?
Josephine Dalton: My training varies and I rarely am able to stick to a pre-written program. Sometimes, I will do a 5 day split, other times 2 days on, one day off. But I try to hit up each muscle once every week. My base is 4 exercises per muscle, 4 sets of 20 reps, throwing in pyramids, drop sets and burnout sets often. I can't go very heavy on upper body exercises due to shoulder instability and a cervical spine issue, nor do heavy squats or leg presses due to plantar fasciitis. So I have to keep most exercises light weight and higher rep. Unfortunately, this also limits my ability to put on size!
Because I started training before all this fancy crap became popular, I stick with traditional natural bodybuilding exercises and machines (because of my weak rotator cuff). You will rarely see me doing any yoga or pilates (although I should). Occasionally I use a BOSU or Thera-ball for abs. I love Freemotion and Hammer Strength machines!
Normally, I don't write anything down but lately I've been using the Gym Buddy application on my iPhone to keep track of my workouts. I can email the workout to whoever and copy/paste it on forums or my blogs. It's quite handy. AND it has a timer so I can't rest too long between sets.
Last week I did:
Monday - Legs
Tuesday - Back
Wednesday - Abs
Thursday - Chest and Legs
Friday - OFF
Saturday - Arms
- Barbell curls
- Dumbbell hammer curls
- Alternating dumbbell curls
- Barbell skullcrushers
- Rope pushdowns
- Reverse grip tricep pushdowns
- Tricep dips
Sunday - Rotator Cuff Rehab Program and Shoulders
I promise this week will be different!
As for cardio, I don't bother with any unless I've got fat to shed. If my joints are up for it, I will run for fat loss. During contest prep, and if my schedule permits, I will do a higher intensity cardio first thing in the morning for 30 minutes or moderate intensity for 60 minutes. Then a 2-3 mile jog 6 hours later, no more than 4 or 5 days a week. The running really burns off fat and jolts my metabolism so I have to be careful not to overdue it or overtraining symptoms set in - or I get hypoglycemic drops throughout the day. If I miss a cardio session, I will throw in a 3-4 mile run on my days off out in the mountain. Honestly, I'd rather run 30 minutes than spend an hour on a machine! When I was in the military, I maintained less than 10% bodyfat on three 1.5 mile runs a week! I'm sure age has kicked in, but my body remembers my old training program; running is the only thing that really affects my bodyfat levels!
Muscle and Strength: What were some of your early training and diet mistakes? What did you do that was a waste of time?
Josephine Dalton: Well, to be quite honest...'everything' I did was a mistake until I finished college for exercise science and took a personal training job at the Sports Club LA in OC. I had no idea about my bad form, my un-met dietary needs, or the lack of structure I had in my programs. Actually, I never did a program. I just went into the gym and had fun throwing a few weights around and impressing everyone with my strength, 6-pack and built legs.
For so long I was blessed with youth and genetics and low bodyfat that even if I quit working out, It would not have mattered. Luckily the training I did do, kept my body strong and agile. I was in the military for 6 years which consisted of three days of 1.5 mile jogs and I always went into the weight room to lift rather than play team sports with the guys! But in terms of aesthetics; I made no progress. I had always read the magazines and fashioned my training style after what I read (which was always targeted towards men). The typical 8-12 reps, 3 sets.... etc. I had no idea of how to apply progression or training until failure or periodization... nothing! And I had no clue about diet. My own diet consisted of 3 normal - and big - meals a day (of whatever I wanted), and I munched on crackers and junk food throughout the day. My favorite was Waverly crackers, KFC for lunch and Burger King for dinner. I was always too lazy to cook at home!
My form was atrocious. Since I learned typical strength training moves from back in high school (those boys didn't know about form and safety), I was doing everything wrong. I eventually lost shoulder strength due to multi-directional instability and ended up having shoulder surgery in 2008 from it all (another one due within a year). My feet have stretched out so bad that I can't do heavy squats. I have lumbar and lower cervical spine degeneration, arthritis in my SA joint. My knees - I am sure - have worn down cartilage. I've broken my left ring finger over 8 times from mishandling 45 lb plates. I could go on and on! I now have to take all this into consideration when I train, or I risk permanent damage. The unfortunate part of all this is that I can no longer lift heavy if I want to put on muscle. All I can do is maintain from here on out.
It wasn't until I started working with other outstanding trainers at the Sports Club that I really started to translate my college education into practical application in personal training, as well as training myself. I knew the information; just didn't make the connection. Then one day, it was as if a light bulb went off in my head AND exploded! It all fell together instantaneously. I then started my own program (wrote it down and all), learned about bodybuilding diet from my manager, Master Trainer and NPC Bodybuilder Caesar Martinez. I didn't know how badly my metabolism was damaged and how lucky I was to catch it before I got too fat. But from January to July of 2004, I went from 155lbs to 130lbs and entered a competition and took 2nd place.
My program was strict. Two cardios a day 4-5 days a week, which almost always included one 1.5-3 mile jog. Meals every 3 hours no matter how long I was up for, breakfast within 30 minutes of awakening, eating clean, nature-made carbs. I trained each body part once a week. I switched from 8-12 reps sets to a base 4 sets of 20-25 reps with weights high enough that the last 2 sets ended in failure. I would follow this for 3 weeks, then the last week I'd follow a totally different routine; like ballet for core and legs as well as one legs day for all compound movements like lunges and squats, more compound movements versus isolation exercises.
I did a lot of jogging; using techniques I had researched to make sure my heel strike was appropriate, my gait was good, my breathing was well timed, and most of all, my posture was perfect, so the impact was distributed correctly through my body. Some days, I could jog for 3 miles and it felt like my ponytail never moved! By the end of the summer, my body was lean again, my 6 pack was back and full force, but most of all, I had a more feminine curvy body versus the blocky athletic shape I had in my 20's. I was 100% pleased with the results and had never felt so sexy in my life! If I had not known what to do correctly, I would have not gotten these results, and probably never went into fitness modeling nor competing!
Muscle and Strength: What advice can you provide to younger lifters, female or male, so that they don't waste precious time and wear out their bodies?
Josephine Dalton: If you want to do this right, my best advice would be to hire a trainer for the sole intent of learning how to lift properly and put together a program. A good trainer will be eager to educate you. if you cannot afford a trainer, start subscribing to fitness magazines that pertain to your gender. Also look into local colleges or community centers that might offer classes on weight training. You could also consider teaming up with a buddy who is knowledgeable.
Whatever you do, don't jump in head first or just watch what everyone else in the gym is doing. If you must, see out a well certified and educated personal trainer and watch him/her instead. There are also plenty of websites that offer education on proper lifting techniques.
Muscle and Strength: What's your favorite, and least favorite thing about training others...and why?
Josephine Dalton: My favorite thing about training others is just helping them out. I think most trainers do what they do because they just love helping people get results and becoming more healthy. It's like a religion... we worship the gospel of good health and fitness and are just dying to spread it! I really don't know of any trainer who got into it just for money or any other reason. Another thing I love about training is the feeling you get when you walk away from a client after you just spent an hour kicking their butt... it's motivating for your own workouts :-) And to be honest, I just love being in the atmosphere with others addicted to fitness and working out! People who work out regularly understand the big picture and are not judgmental of anyone who steps foot in the gym; even newbies.
As for my least favorite part of training; it's dealing with shoving the truth into the faces of people who have been poisoned with bad information they get from TV, bad trainers or people they know who know nothing about fitness. Like confronting women about lifting weights; I have found it difficult to convince many of them that lifting weights won't make them look like Arnold, so they don't want to lift more than a 3 lb dumbbell or be pushed harder.
Another issue I have (and this could be just me, and not other women) is the prejudging potential clients indulge in when seeking a personal trainer. Often I am prejudged as inferior based off my appearance. People have no idea how much I know about the human body, medicine and health in general, and how it applies to personal training. Maybe it's because I'm rather small, or female with a smile and outgoing personality, and some people associate that with lack of intelligence and education. Maybe it's because I have no problem showing off what I've worked for and people write me off as desperate for attention. Sometimes I get bitter about this, but most of the time I feel sorry for them because I know what they are missing out on... a real trainer who can get them results!
And my third least thing about training is dealing with cheap people who think training is cheap. Last month a lady hit me up, wanting me to train her, do her diets, AND prep her for an NPC figure competition....at $100 a month! Either she had no idea what all was involved with such a task, or she just placed no value on the professional help required to help her reach that goal. I know there are trainers charging like $25 a session. But $100 a month? OMG!
Muscle and Strength: As a trainer, what are some dieting myths that just won't die? Or, are there certain dieting practices that people follow because they believe they're doing the right thing, when in reality they're not?
Josephine Dalton: The biggest one I fight is women and their fear that lifting heavy will make them bulky. It's almost as if they "want" to believe that myth.
A dieting myth that just irks the heck out of me is: It's truly possible to lose 10 lbs in less than a week. What they don't understand is that the majority of that weight is water weight, and you will put it right back on when you consume more water and sodium. One pound of fat is roughly 3500 calories for the average person and a safe weight loss rate is 1-2 lbs per week, meaning you should put your body into a 500-1000 calorie deficit daily. Anything more than that is too big of a shock to your system and lifestyle, and will be very difficult to maintain after the weight has been lost.
Another myth that I can't stand is that "if it's fat free, you can eat as much as you want and not gain wait". I think that myth is finally dying with the onset of the carb-scare. Many people have come to believe that you can't get fat off eating carbs. I guess they are finally learning the truth.
And of course my favorite one is the use of saunas, steam rooms and sauna suits thinking they "melt fat"! Did it ever occur to people that if you have to turn on the burner to get bacon to fry (and shrink it's fat cells) that maybe your 105 degree sauna ain't going to be hot enough? Or better yet, that if it was fat you were melting, then why does your sweat feel like water instead of oil?
Muscle and Strength: Would you mind sharing with us how you overcame your battle with depression and addiction?
Josephine Dalton: First off, I believe there is a major difference between self-esteem and self-confidence. A person with low self-esteem does not feel worthy of what he or she wants in life; whether it be happiness, success, love, etc., but might feel capable of achieving anything. They question and doubt that they deserve anything. Most people would say a confident person feels "capable" of achievement, it's more like they are free of limiting thoughts and beliefs that prevent them from achieving.
I've never really had an issue with my self-esteem; I've always valued my being and felt worthy of the things I've always wanted in life. But I knew I was trapped in a limiting mindset because I was torn between following my own heart and doing what I thought was expected of me... which often was to act substandard so not to threaten anyone. It was almost as if happiness was something 'others' didn't think I deserved. I am often perceived as intimidating, especially by average men. I am not quite sure exactly why but I've heard others' reasons and I can feel that none of them were true. Deep down, I know it's because I both different in image, and different in mindset.
My depression really started in 1997, when I was medically discharged from the US Navy for severe migraines. After having decided on a long term career as a Naval Master At Arms, my discharge was swift and abrupt. I was then left on my own. Being an eccentric person, I never really learned to deal with people well, so I spent most of my adult life as a loner, drifting from city to city until I found somewhere that I could safely plant my new roots.
In the meanwhile, I endured 3 bouts of cocaine addiction, alcoholism, a string of bad relationships, then finally an attempted suicide when I mixed a bottle of wine and prescription sleeping pills. That was in February of 2006. I remember waking up and wondering how the heck did I get home from my trip to LA? That was when my jerk of a boyfriend at the time informed me what I had done. At the time I didn't believe him and went about my business because I just never felt like I needed to kill myself.
Two weeks later, he blessed me with a broken nose and ankle and threatened to ruin my FAME Golden State Fitness Model Championships and won...yes, on a broken ankle and a 5 week program with no cardio. I felt reborn.
But not long after, I woke up on a beautiful sunny Las Vegas morning and recalled many things that had happened during my brush with death. That night, I had tried 3 times to end my life; each time miraculously failing! The final moment was my throwing up a bottle full of pills on the floor of my then boyfriend's new Porsche! But what was ironic was it was HIM who had actually saved me. If he had not attempted to deal with me, I would have indeed died. All the thoughts I could gather up on that night started to eat at me. That afternoon, I sat down with myself - obviously when I needed help the most, nobody emotionally came to my rescue. So that means that I need to learn to save myself. What is it that I really want in life? Why do I feel it is not OK for me to be happy? What is it about me that makes others want me to not be happy? Why, why, why?
Someone once said that men go through life knowing what they want to do, and they don't apologize for anything. Women on the other hand need that moment... it's that revelationary moment when the angels strike a chord note in her soul and she realizes that it's OK to not be selfless anymore. That it's her God-given right to be happy. She is sick and tired of being sick and tired and welcomed to please herself and tired of wanting and never receiving. A change must be made and it's up to her to make it happen! This famous someone called it the Feminine Epiphany. Mine happened that day.
I had lived my entire adult life trying to please everyone else, and putting myself last. Instead of putting my foot down and standing up against others, I opted to avoid their demands. I ran and hid from the world. I made few friends, depended on no one and drifted through life with no aim. Aimless because I was uncomfortable doing what "I" wanted to do, and uncomfortable doing what everyone else wanted me to do.
Ironically, it took me 3 and a half years to figure out what I really want to do with my life and feel comfortable being me. I live in Las Vegas (economy sucks here) and I am in a situation that would make most people rip their hair out. But I'm handling it very well. I am not even worried about anything. I've learned to live within my means, to show gratitude for everything I have, not yearn for useless things I don't have. I don't define myself with material possessions. I don't envy others who have more than me.
It's hard to believe it has taken so long, but I am now on a good path. And if I were to die tomorrow, the only thing I think I would regret is not jumping out of plane to skydive or get up on a stage in front of thousands and sing! I think I will do that next summer! Best of all, I live a life most people are too mediocre to consider. I model at the age of 36. I started acting, taking on roles of characters 10 years younger than me. I work at a night club on weekends and I get to wear rhinestones and heels! I am single and no children to hold me down right now. I get up when I want, go to sleep when I want, and have enough time to sit here and type the answer to the above question in one sitting :-) ...with only a cat and a Nintendo Wii downstairs to distract me.