Dana Lynn
Birth date: June 18, 1980
Hometown: Scotch Plains, New Jersey

At the age of 12, I began working out with my mom when she was diagnosed with severe degenerative disk disease. Her doctor told her she could choose between surgery and be in a full body cast until it healed or she could strengthen her abs so they supported her back. She opted to begin working out with a personal trainer and we would go to the gym together for her training sessions. Each day, I followed behind her and quickly learned the machines and proper techniques. During this time, I also learned that fitness was my passion!!

In high school I discovered competitive sports and played tennis and softball. I was eager to excel and I began training during free periods in the small basement gym at the school. My weight training coach, “Coach Mac”, noticed my determination and worked closely with me to get in shape. As it turned out, I was being trained by the man who held the World Record title of all natural power lifters! Coach Mac trained me how to bench press, squat and deadlift with proper form and I quickly began to see the results in my physique.

My extra time during my high school years was spent in the gym and finding ways to get more involved in fitness and bodybuilding. I continued to play tennis, but only because I knew the after school practices were great workouts that would supplement my late night training in the gym. I was reading every fitness magazine I could find and was constantly trying one diet after another.

As my activity level increased, so did my appetite. As my appetite grew, I became more and more confused about the dieting aspect of building muscle. I had no idea how to control what I was eating and all my hard work in the gym was being covered up by the body fat that I was accumulating. My weight began to climb and my constant battle with food was born.

Despite my frustration with my weight, my passion for fitness grew even more when I moved to Miami to attend the University of Miami and was certified to teach Spinning classes. Even with the increase in cardio and my focus on weight training, I continued to put on weight. My stress level was increasing from pressures at school, relationships and life – food was my constant friend and coping mechanism. I rationalized that I deserved a lot of food because of everything that I was going through! My portions were huge and my 5’4” body was hovering close to 150 pounds. I was tight, but I was BIG!

I was also spending a lot of time working in the Exercise Physiology Lab to help people learn to eat and workout properly. To the average person, I was healthy and in shape, but I was always looking for that next level. I wanted to shed the body fat to see what my physique really looked like! I trained by myself during the school year and trained with Rowdell Petterway, a former Natural Bodybuilder, when I went home to New Jersey for the summer. He taught me to train harder and more efficiently and I used what I leaned from him to train myself during the school year.

One day during my senior year at Miami, I was waiting at a salon for my appointment. In walked the most amazing body I had ever seen in person! She sat down next to me and I quickly grabbed my Oxygen magazine to make sure I was right and then smiled and asked if she was Jenny Worth. Indeed it was and she was prepping for the Olympia. She told me that I had a great structure and I looked a lot like she did when she was offseason. We talked about our individual struggles with weight loss and fitness and found that we had a lot in common. Soon after that, I began training with her and Dodd Romero in their Florida-based studio. The training was a whole new level of intensity! I was finally getting into the best shape of my life and I loved it!!

While I was training with Jenny and Dodd, I was struck by tragedy for the first time in my life. A dear friend of mine was killed in a car accident. I was very close to this person all during college and I was completely devastated. I fell into an awful depression and lost all of my motivation and drive to do anything. The weight I had lost began to creep back on as I used food to fill the void in my life. Within a month or so, I was up to 170 pounds and absolutely miserable. Even my baggiest sweat pants didn’t fit!

My mom came to my rescue and we decided that it was time for me to get help. I spent a month away from everything in a special counseling center where I learned to heal from the inside out. Learning how to cope with my grief and deal with my eating disorder was the best thing that I could have done for myself. Rather than using food for comfort, I learned techniques and tools to help get me through the tough times in life.

In 2002, I moved from Miami to Boca Raton where I put all of my time and focus into opening a restaurant. My fitness aspirations had taken a back seat at this point and I always felt that something was greatly missing from my life. Luckily, I soon became great friends with a power lifter named Jon Landau. He appreciated my love for fitness and soon encouraged me to begin training again with him. He re-ignited my fire and trained me in everything from weight training, plyometrics, power lifting, dead lifts, sprint work, pulling weighted sleds, etc. We did it ALL! I was on fire and at it again!

Despite all of our intense training, I still hadn’t found the diet that worked for me. I remained frustrated because I still couldn’t get the weight off. No matter how hard I tried, I always looked like I had a layer of baby fat covering my muscles. In 2005, I decided that I needed a huge change in my life and we sold the restaurant and moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and fitness modeling. I didn’t care what it took, but I was determined to finally train and diet correctly to be able to show off my muscles that I had worked to develop all those years.

In 2006, my mom encouraged me to sign up with Kim Oddo of the Body by O studio and after sixteen weeks of intense contest prep, I competed in the L.A. Figure show in July and placed 7th in my class. To me, I couldn’t care less where I placed. I was a winner for just getting through the 16 weeks and finally attaining my weight loss goals and dream of stepping on that stage.

In October of 2006 I began training with IFBB Figure Pro, Pauline Nordin. We trained at the Gold’s Gym in Venice, CA and I absolutely LOVED the focus and intensity of our workouts. Pauline had me training with a different approach than I used my first year as a figure athlete. Rather than the high reps, moderate to low weight, we are using heavy weight --- as heavy as I can handle —and low reps. During that time, my strength skyrocketed and I saw huge changes in my physique. However, as many times as I tried to get back into prepping for another show, I just rebelled because my heart wasn't in it this time. I felt like I was missing out on too many other things I wanted to be doing right now. Also, I still hadn't found that balance I was looking for.

Finally in Jan of 2007 I made a fresh start. I'm now training on my own and have a new approach to my diet. I have never felt better! My diet is healthy and balanced, my approach to training is always fresh and exciting and my personal life is in a much better place because of it. Right now, I have no plans to compete this year. I don't know what the future will hold however I can say that my ultimate goal has never changed. I want to be fit and healthy and thats just what I'm doing!