By: Monica Brant

I am getting ready for a competition and I am extremely bored with my diet. Do you have any suggestions for a cookbook or something that may add a little "spice" to my strict eating habits?

Training for a competition is tough enough: add a strict diet to the whole program and it becomes murderous! Throughout my years of competing, I have developed many tasty recipes that have saved me through those tough training days when all I wanted to do was cheat! Some of my favorite recipes are listed on my web site (, including egg white /oatmeal pancakes, turkey/chicken tacos, a chicken and rice bowl, and a few others.

The key is to add flavor without too much sodium or calories-right? For example, many people love ketchup, but you must be careful because it contains a lot of sugar, unless you find the no sugar-added kind! These can add up quite quickly to more calories than we thought. Have fun with some spices such as Mrs. Dashes flavors… garlic, onions, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Just be cautious of what you eat as your competition gets even closer. Make sure you read your food and spice ingredient labels! By the way, Universal Nutrition makes some great soy protein powders that mix with water and you can make pancakes!

I am a kickboxing instructor and I work out four or five times weekly. I train my abdominals every day and I have seen minimal results. I don't understand what I am doing wrong, my diet is extremely healthy and clean-at least I think it is! Can you give me any suggestions as to how I can achieve rock-hard abs?

Training your abs is similar to training other muscle groups. If you want to see results, you must vary your routines. Often people do the same exercises day after day and complain that they don't see results. Try doing some totally different exercises than what you are used to and split your ab training to 2-3 times weekly instead. Maybe look into buying some "AB ORIGIONAL" by Brad Harris. You hook them onto a pull up bar and hanging by your arms, do crunches and straight leg lifts to strengthen lower ab region. It will take some getting used to but you will get the hang of it and soon see results! I like to do 3 sets of straight leg lifts first, then 3 sets of side raises-bent knees, and then 3 sets of straight up-bent knee lifts.. All sets to fatigue with maybe 20-30 seconds rest.

For the last nine months I have had a problem with junk food binges. I've gained 30 pounds and gathered more than my fair share of cellulite along the way. I want to eat clean and sculpt a tight, lean body. Right now I do 45 mins of cardio first thing in the morning (before eating breakfast) and about one hour of weights. I hit cardio six days a week and weights four times a week. How do I get rid of the cellulite on my legs and stomach? My dream is to compete someday, so I want to start looking my very best.

Ok you know exactly what you are doing wrong.. Bingeing! That has to stop first! Secondly, keep up with the training and cardio that you are doing. You will be so surprised with the results you will see if you continue to exercise this way after you stop the bingeing! Another suggestion is to write down everything you eat-this may help to serve as a count ability factor for you to see what kind of calories you are taking in!

For me, I did not want to see any bad calories written down, it would make me disappointed with myself if I cheated. So I ate much better so that the food I wrote down was all good stuff! You may need to slowly "back out" of the your eating habits. Be consistent and disciplined! Maybe ask someone close to help keep an eye on you and your eating log. This may further prevent you from eating bad because you now have a watchful eye!

I also recommend trying some of Universal Nutrition's fat burners. We have many different ones to chose from I suggest you go to you click here to check out all the different fat burners and what is in them. I personally like the Thermostack for the times I just want an easy amount of energy and Ripped Fast II for the times I need a lot of pick me up! Be tough on yourself- you are the only one who can make the difference!

I am interested in your training program for calves. My calves are the most stubborn body part that I have! I have trained them for years and I still don't see any positive results. Please tell me your secret for building nice calves!

I believe that calves can take years to grow! I also believe that they are very genetic too! I am blessed with decent calf size and actually don't take any extra time to train them at the gym. Even though I don't use weights I do A LOT of running- both at the track (sprints) and outside in the soft sand! I also do a lot of plyometrics - all of these exercises not only work your entire legs but also your calves!

So indirectly I am working them! I do suggest "in the gym training" for those of you that want to build and strengthen your calves. There are so many different exercise just pick out a few and make sure you train those calves hard about 1-2 times weekly. Try using the donkey calf machine, seated calf machine, any standing machine or the leg press with only your toes doing the lifting! I would train them hard and use heavy weight. But be very careful when you are just getting started because if you train them too hard then you might be limping for a few days after!

Use full range of motions and do some pre training warm up and stretches! As always I tell everyone to stay consistent and diligent in your training! The body will change but it takes time- so be patient with yourself and thankful everyday that you are capable of training!

I am 22 years old and have been seriously working out for two years. I want to take my training goals in a new direction and focus on competing in the new regional NPC fitness show in my area. My biggest fear isn't training or dieting-it's stage fright! How am I going to perform a dance routine in front of hundreds of stangers? Do you have advice as to how newcomers can overcome this phobia?

This is a very normal thing that you are feeling! Please don't feel alone in your fear! Every time I competed I felt some fear too. I started out in 1991 competing and I remember one of the first contests that I did I ended up with a migraine headache not even halfway through the show! I thought I was going to get sick on stage right during the physique round! Since that horrible event I have learned to channel my fears to use as energy to perform and most of the time it works! Your nerves as supposed to be there to help you through the event so use them to your advantage and take control of them!

Think of them as little kids that need discipline and you will find a whole new attitude about them! As far as getting through your routine, make sure you practice 100's of times before you ever get on stage. I would have your family, friends, trainers, choreographers, (any one around even if you don't know them) come and watch you perform during the weeks before your contest! Have your trainer use a video camera during your practices so that you can watch yourself and be your own critique-be tough! Watch for your facial expressions and make sure you smile, smile, and smile! Think of just how good you will feel when it is over and watch yourself go through the routine in your mind- I did this while I was doing my cardio. It made the time fly by! Listen to your music so that you know it by heart-invest in a Walkman with a tape player if you don't have one now… these things should help your stage fright problem!

If you still feel frightened to do the routine, maybe look for the new NPC Figure contest in your area and do this one first just so that you can get on stage. Figure contest are being described as Fitness without routines! If you don't know where these contest are, click here or at the back of Flex magazine where they list the entire contest. Or better yet, you may come and compete in my 2nd annual Monica Brant Fitness Classic or the BodyRock Figure contest!

*Work It*