TRANSFORMATION, PERFORMANCE, RESULTS.
Vegan Bikini Competitor
“I need help”, I said as I turned to my husband. I had decided to set the very lofty goal of bodybuilding after seeing a friend compete. I always struggled with my weight and this seemed like the perfect goal to finally achieve the fit body I always wanted and pairing it with my love of weightlifting. There was a problem though, where do I begin?
I’ve been an athlete most of my life; playing softball, soccer, basketball and competing in track. However, no matter how many sports I played, I was still the fat kid on the team who might have been strong but couldn’t run like the others without getting winded or frustrated. And I never looked like any of them. I became vegetarian in high-school and then vegan in college both for ethical reasons but hoped that a pleasant side effect would be weight loss. However, I found out that vegetarianism/veganism and weight loss are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I continued to struggle with my weight.
Fast forwarding to a few years ago when I decided that I needed specific goals in order to keep motivated and to get healthy. I started running and started signing up for progressively longer races; working through a half marathon then a full marathon and running in obstacle races. My last race was a marathon-distance obstacle race on a mountain just a week after I completed my first normal marathon (2nd to last but that’s another story). I barely made it halfway through the obstacle race and needed to be carried off because I had lost the function of my legs and was on the verge of hypothermia.
After that last race I realized that I still didn’t like the way I looked. My diet wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great and I ate large portions thinking all my running justified eating a lot. I had managed to lose some weight but I didn’t have the muscle or strength I really wanted. I was frustrated that even though the races I did were an accomplishment in themselves, I was still the slow runner trying to keep up with the real athletes. Nothing had changed and my training plans never seemed to be right. I decided that I needed to focus on what I really loved, strength and weight lifting. Unfortunately, that became an excuse to “bulk” and gain weight in order to build the strength and muscle I wanted. As has been a recurring theme, I didn’t have a plan and things got out of control.
So there I was, two years ago, sitting in a car with my husband talking about how frustrated I was with being trapped in a body I hated and wanting to be a bodybuilder but not knowing where to start. I realized that I needed help and I wanted to do it the right way this time.
Through some online searching and talking with Giacomo, I was introduced to the majestic creature known as Dani. I’ve been working with her for about two years and it was the best decision I could have made. With her guidance and support I lost over 50 pounds and competed in three bodybuilding competitions where I placed 4th in two of them.
Her personal and professional experience gave me comfort in knowing that she has been through the same struggles and knows how to deal with them. She worked with me to create a diet that used foods I was already eating which made the transition easier and she’s keen to switch it up so that I never get bored. Her workouts were tough and challenging but reasonable and always had something new for me to try. She even helped me improve my form on squats, deadlifts, and bench press. She was supportive and always there when I had questions or concerns, never judging or reprimanding.
Dani has helped me achieve much more than losing weight and stepping on stage in the tiniest bikini you’ll ever see. She has helped me gain self confidence that I’ve never had. Through working with her, I learned what works and what doesn’t work for my body as well as what a healthy diet actually looks like and what normal portion sizes are supposed to be. I’ve built up a level of determination, confidence, and courage through working with her that has spilled over into other aspects of my life in ways that I never could have imagined. By trusting Dani, I’ve in turn learned to trust myself and that’s something you won’t find with any average trainer.
I have worked with Dani Taylor since 2012. Thanks to Dani in the last 4 years I went from being a slightly overweight, slightly out of shape, woman in her early 30’s to a competitive natural bodybuilder. Let me tell you how she changed my life…
I have always been fairly active and went through periods of working out diligently, even completing 2 rounds of p90x, but was never able to achieve the physical look of a “fit” person. I was always strong and could gain muscle easily but I figured now that I was getting older I should just be happy I was in decent shape, I should just give up on trying to look lean and sexy- after all nothing I had done seemed to be working. Had my metabolism just slowed down that much?
I have been vegan a long time and know a fair bit about nutrition, and even taught cooking classes, but didn’t feel as though I had the tools to correct the things in my diet that were contributing to my extra weight. I would workout for a few months at a time and then take a few months off- without much focus or a plan as to what I was doing. In general that describes my entire fitness plan- no focus, no plan. I thought I was eating healthy, and that I should be able to see results with what I was doing, but I never did. I felt pretty powerless to change my body, and didn’t even realize how ingrained that certainty was. I committed to competing in a bodybuilding competition in november of 2012; I had 9 months to prepare. I knew I was in over my head as far as my personal ability to prepare myself for this undertaking was concerned. I would have to gain as much mass as possible and lose about 16% body fat by the time I stepped on stage. I needed professional help and I contacted Dani to be my coach.
I choose to work with Dani because she instills confidence in me. She understands real bodies- not just people who have always been athletes and always been in shape, but those of us who let ourselves go a little. She really understands women’s bodies in particular which is something I didn’t know if I could trust a male coach with… From diet related hormone issues to a slower metabolism, and womanly dispersion of fat I knew she could relate to me, wouldn’t judge me, and would know what to do to get me to my goals. Dani is super realistic and straightforward. She encourages me and supports me but still pushes me to try harder and doesn’t cut me any slack with my diet or workouts. I know that if I follow her plan I WILL succeed and I have complete faith in her as my coach. In the last several years of working with Dani I have competed in several natural bodybuilding shows winning my class or taking overall in the Women’s Bodybuilding category the majority of the time. I have made changes in my body I never thought possible. I have lost over 10% body fat without losing more than 2lbs of body weight. I have visible muscle definition, increased strength, and most importantly increased confidence. Feeling like I finally have control over what my body looks like has changed my entire mental state. I feel empowered in all aspects of my life and have a more positive outlook than ever. I think that the confidence and motivation I have gained has been an even greater gift than the physical changes. Over the years I have watched my shape and size continue to improve and we have fine tuned many of my areas that are stubborn. You don’t need to wait for something to force you to take control of your health and fitness. I would recommend a coach to anyone, regardless of your goal. Not only do you have an expert helping you to optimize your training and diet, but you also have someone to be accountable to- which can be even more important. Whether you need help setting up an exercise routine, or need to fine tune your nutrition, the vegan proteins team can help you! Coaching has been the number one key to my success over the last 4 years!
Vegan Bodybuilder & Powerlifter, PlantBuilt team member
Working with Dani for the last two and a half years has been quite a journey. From the moment I signed up under her as my coach in September 2013 until now, January 2016, I can only speak highly of her ability to coach. Despite having ups and downs through my journey, Dani has always done a superb job on ensuring that I was always taken care of. I have competed in two bodybuilding competitions while under her supervision; I placed third in my first competition and second in my second competition. My body fought me tooth and nail during both contest preps, but we strived to overcome the hurdles that we faced, with me as an athlete and her as a coach. It has been quite the learning experience for both of us.
Her coaching strategies for exercise programming and nutrition manipulations is backed by her knowledge over years of keeping up with the latest articles and gained experience from other clients. I am proud to call Dani my coach, friend, and teammate. To say that I am anything but excited for what the future holds for both of us would be an understatement. I highly recommend her to anyone looking to make great progress as an athlete, competitor, or as an individual looking to stay fit.
Vegan Bodybuilder, PlantBuilt team member
Vegan Proteins client Kari MitchellI began working with Dani in the summer of 2014 and I can honestly say that working with her has changed my life. She opened my eyes to the importance of pairing exercise with nutrition in a way that I had never able to see on my own. I had always been in decent shape but loathed my body and was never able to achieve the look that I so desperately wanted: fit, lean and “toned.”
I originally came to Dani for help in competing in my first bikini competition. Expecting a quick 12-week plan, I was shocked to hear Dani say that I needed to lift consistently for a year, build more muscle and EAT! I was convinced that this was incorrect but reluctantly, I listened. Day after day, I lifted heavy weights in the gym and greatly reduced my cardio – something that my “cardio bunny” background hated. My normal restrictive diet of coffee, fruit and salad was replaced by lots of nutrient-dense vegan food, which, over time, restored my metabolism and gave my body the reset that it needed.
Yet I still felt like I was not making any progress and I put myself down at every chance. Focusing solely on aesthetics, I constantly whined about what I saw in the mirror. But with every complaint came reassurance from Dani, pep talks and reminders about what was truly important. She really encouraged me to love myself and cheered me on. She was the voice of reason that I needed when my head was so focused on self-loathing and fear of failure. When I would inevitably slip up on my diet or miss a workout, she kept things in perspective and did not reprimand me. She was my biggest cheerleader and I will be forever thankful.
After a full year of working with Dani, I competed in my first bikini competition – and won first place! While winning my competition was amazing and an experience that I will never forget, the greatest reward that I’ve gotten from working with Dani is the reminder that I can do so much more than I give myself credit for and that self-love is the most important element. Once I stopped focusing all my energy on the appearance of my body, things started changing.
I am still a work in progress. Everyday I am growing and I still slip into moments of self-doubt and not loving the way my body looks. The difference is that now I know that I can do it; I’m not stuck. If I want change then I need to put my head down, do the work and make it happen with Dani’s guidance and emotional support. I look forward to working with Dani this spring to compete in my second bikini competition. But the best part of working with Dani…? I’m so much stronger and I eat so much more food…!
Vegan Bikini Competitor
Vegan Proteins client Jillian Salomone I have been working with Dani for almost 3 years now! When I first met Dani, I was new to the vegan world and had just begun my fitness journey. I was lost when I first started, however it was a good thing I found Dani when I did! She taught me how to eat a healthy plant-based diet and achieve my fitness goals at the same time! Dani coached me through two contest preps, and I am so grateful that she did. In my first competition ever, I took 3rd place in my division and 5th place overall. I then joined the PlantBuilt team and took the stage in in Austin, TX where I took 2nd place!
I do not know where I would be if I didn’t have Dani by my side. To this day, Dani continues to coach me in order for me to achieve my new fitness goals. She is one of the sweetest and most down to earth people I’ve ever met. Dani is more than just a coach to me; she’s a very good friend. What makes Dani so different then other coaches is that she gives me her undivided attention and is always there when I need her. I’m so grateful to have her in my life!
Vegan Bikini Competitor, PlantBuilt team member
Vegan Proteins client Brian HamillFor 10 years I have been suffering from Gout. In the begining my attacks would last a day or two and doctors were not sure what it was. They would tell me it was a pinched tendon or nerve, put me in a camwalker and send me off. It was not till 5 years later the attacks were so severe that it brought me to the Emergency Room. I’ve been to the emergency room on 4 separate occasions, had my knee drained 4 times with 16 cc’s of fluid aspirated each time from my knee. When they drained my knee the first time they tested the fluid and saw crystals and that’s when I knew I had Gout. The Gout would travel from my left toe to left ankle to left knee and then over to my right side. I would have to sleep with wrist braces on because my thumbs were constantly in pain from Gout attacks. Doctors told me that I had severe arthritis in my hands and eventually would have to remove the arthritic bone so that I can be functional. Towards the end the gout attacks would last one to two months at a time. I would take off work and limp everywhere. I saw over 10 rheumatologist, 5 orthopedics, 3 general doctors and several nutritionist. When doctors tested my blood, my uric acid levels would fluctuate between 8.8 and 10.0. (Normal person is between 4.0-8.0) The nutrionists would tell me I could eat meat and shelled fish in moderation and I could also drink on occassion. They clearly did not understand the disease. They would also google foods to eat and not right in front of me. All of which I knew inside and out. Every single doctor would tell me that I need to go on medication, allopurinol. I was not a fan of medication as it only masked the real problem. They also told me that I can still get Gout attacks while on medication so I declined. I would rather get to the source of the disease and take a chance of getting a gout attack by listening to my body and understanding the disease. Once I understood what needs to happen I would only fuel my body with the proper nutrients and vitamins. After speaking to an intergrated holistic medicine doctor he said that I can beat the Gout, but would have to make a big change in my lifestyle. My sister and brother-in-law were already eating a plant based lifestyle with Dani Taylor and also had a very regimented work out routine. At this point I was ready for anything as long as I did not have to go on medication. I reached out to Dani and that is when my life changed. I started with Dani on February 14, 2015. Dani had me fill out a detailed intake form so she can get to know me better and what my goals were. When she found out I had Gout she was on board and told me we would beat this. She spent time doing research on the disease and formulated a balanced plan that has cured me. She was so energetic and loved the challenge of beating this with me. Having Dani’s eating plan was the foundation of me getting passed this protein disease. 1 year later I am now Gout free. I have not had one attack in a year working with Dani. Pre-Dani I would get 5-8 attacks a year which is way too many and my body would ache. My blood levels for the first time in 10 years is with in range at 7.5. My goal is to get it down to 6.0 which would be a healthier range for someone who has a history of frequent Gout attacks. I signed up with Dani for my health and not only did I get healthy I also got the body I always wanted to have. I never thought I was fat, but when I looked at my (3) month progress picture I realized how out of shape I was. I was in the best shape of my life both inside and out at age 31.
Dani is such a genuine and caring individual and has her clients best interest in mind. She works so hard and does her research and was determined to help me beat my disease. So grateful for meeting Dani. I have more energy than ever and look and feel more confident than ever.
Vegan Proteins client Erin Fergus
I had been a vegetarian for 12 years and competed in endurance sports from 2007-2010 before finally transitioning to veganism and training for bodybuilding in March 2013. They were both things that I had wanted to do earlier in life, but I had never been ready to fully commit before then. I had been encouraged by a coworker to try bodybuilding, and I know there was no better way to represent the vegan community. I went into it blindly without any coach, and I didn’t even attempt to hire one in Greenville, SC, because veganism isn’t exactly popular here. I competed in three shows that year, and the results were mixed. I relied a lot on eating minimal carbs, doing lots of cardio, and using fat burners until I thought I looked good enough to be on stage.
As someone who was new to veganism and bodybuilding, I went online to learn as muchas I could. I found Dani because I was intrigued by the message and presence of Team Plantbuilt. After applying and being invited to join the team in 2014, I realized I needed to take the sport seriously enough to hire a coach. I had little interaction with Dani before signing up for her coaching, but I was impressed by her thorough questionnaire and quick and professional communication. I teach college students how to be personal trainers, so I was going to expect a lot out of anyone I hired. The first time we talked was an hour Facetime conversation that flew by. She immediately made me feel comfortable, and it seemed like we had already been working together.
I have had issues with food in the past, and Dani listened to my concerns, empathized with me, and kept that in mind when she coached me. I didn’t want to count my calories or weigh my food, and she assured me that I could complete my plan with a measuring cup and spoon. The best part was that she had me track a couple typical days of eating so she could build a plan around the foods I already ate and enjoyed. I really appreciated not having to redo my pantry and fridge! I also like using the online portal for check ins, because I can tell her how things are going along with my measurements and pictures. During this 2016 prep I can compare myself to where I was in last year’s, and it’s motivating to see progress and changes side by side.
Dani not only took me through healthy and successful 2014 and 2015 seasons, including every detail of peak week, but she has coached me into healthy offseasons. With her I still eat plenty of calories and carbs to fuel my workouts, I do HIIT sessions and some steady state cardio, but never more than 30 minutes a day. Her guidance and support has changed me from someone with body image issues to someone who can’t believe how much she’s improved her body and connection to it. I am high achiever who likes to make people proud, and Dani is an incredibly supportive person to have in my corner. She responds to me quickly and always has encouraging things to say. I trust her to be honest with me, whether it’s something I want to hear or not, and I also trust her because I know she puts time and effort into researching and putting together a strategy that will work best for me. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am without her, and I wouldn’t want to move forward without her.
Vegan bodybuilder/physique competitor, PlantBuilt Team Member
I first started working with Dani in October 2013. I had been vegan for 7 years , but I had no clue how to eat right and my body showed it. I was tired all of the time and felt weak. I definitely was not giving my body what it needed. I had also been working out for quite awhile but I really was not seeing the results that I wanted. So, I started thinking about hiring a trainer. However, being in Myrtle Beach, S.C. , it is near impossible to find a trainer that understands a vegan lifestyle.
I found Dani on Facebook , even better I found out that she did online coaching. I signed up for coaching with Dani and right off the bat , I knew that I did the right thing.
I had a lot of food hang ups that Dani helped me work through. Once we had meal plans dialed in , I felt great. I had more energy than I had, had in a long time. I did slip from time to time . Dani helped me realize that everybody has slip ups and that it was okay.
My workouts were an important part of my program as well. Dani made the workouts challenging , but never overwhelming. I had incurred a knee injury training for a half marathon. Dani was able to work my program around the injury and I came back stronger than ever. My strength training program has had a huge positive impact on my martial arts training . I got through my Black Belt testing with no issues at all. I attribute my success to the strength and muscle that I gained working with Dani.
Working with Dani has had a positive influence on more than my body. From day one , Dani felt like an old friend. She’s so easy to talk to and always quick to respond to any questions. I learned to be more confident and not live by the numbers on a scale. Nine months after I started working with Dani, I wore a bikini for the first time ever in my life ! I definitely had a lot of ups and downs with my training, a lot of self doubt. Dani was there every step of the way telling me that I could do this ! She has inspired me to take steps in my life towards my dreams. She’s one of the nicest people that I have ever known. I can’t say enough how much this woman has inspired me.
Vegan Proteins client Ashlee HarrisonI cannot say enough about how invaluable it has been working with Dani as a competition coach. I have worked with Dani for over two years now, and though I have issues with doubting myself, I have never once doubted Dani and her ability to help get me to my goals. Dani is smart, sensible, kind, knowledgeable and thorough. The thing I love most about working with Dani is the opportunity to shut off my brain while training for competitions. Dani takes the guess work out of everything! I put in the time, I put in the work, but all I have to do is follow directions, Dani does everything else! I don’t have to think about, stress about, or worry about what I need to train harder, or how I need to adjust my macros, that’s what she is there for! It is physically impossible for me to look at myself without bias, therefore I am my own worst critic (which I think is true for most of us). The beauty of working with Dani is that she does just that! She is able to look not only at the present, but also can start seeing how things will change down the road and adjust your plan accordingly. It’s a privilege and honor to call her my coach, teammate and friend.
Vegan figure competitor, Plantbuilt Team Member
Vegan Proteins client Paul SalomoneInitially when switching to a vegan diet, I lost a considerable amount of muscle and strength. I did not have any knowledge about fueling myself with proper nutrition, however knew there had to be a way to build muscle and get strong on solely a plant-base diet. I was committed to the vegan lifestyle, however watched as my hard earned muscle from years past started to wither away. I refused to fall into the old vegan stereotype of being weak and skinny. Around the same time, my wife began to work with Dani Taylor. Dani coached her on both plant-based nutrition and fitness. I watched in amazement as my wife’s body began to transform into a bikini competitor! I knew Dani was the answer to my problems, so I asked her to take me on as a client. I have never looked back since!
When Dani took me on, she asked me what my goals were and I told her I wished to gain lean muscle and become a competitive power lifter. I knew this was no easy request, however within a few months, not only did I get my muscular physique back, but I was more muscular then every before! On top of that, I found myself lifting heavier weight then I had ever imagined possible! My squats, deadlifts, and bench-press number shot through the roof! I competed in my first ever powerlifting competition at the Naturally Fit Games in Austin, Texas, where I finished 4th place overall. After that competition, I continued to work with Dani and came in 1st place a few months later in Newark, NJ!
What makes Dani so amazing is that she always takes the time to listen to my fitness goals…she literally turned my dream into a reality and continues to work with me very closely. She is extremely knowledgeable about nutrition and fitness and always available for support. I have learned so much about fitness and nutrition, something that will stay with me for a lifetime! Throughout this experience, I have gained a lifelong friendship with Dani and her husband, Giacomo. These two are the real deal when it comes to fitness, nutrition, and being all around awesome people. I highly recommend working with Dani for anyone looking to achieve his or her fitness and goals.
Vegan powerlifter, Plantbuilt Team Member
Vegan Proteins client Bridget FlynnPrior to training with Dani, I’d been vegan for 7 years and had been a competitive athlete my whole life. I competed in half-marathons, rock climbing, taekwondo, Tough Mudder. I decided I wanted to challenge myself to compete in a bodybuilding competition. I began lifting, but realized I had no idea how to eat for my bodybuilding goals.
I found Dani through the PlantBuilt team; upon reading her story, I got the sense that she was honest and trustworthy right away. After reaching out I was thrilled (and a bit nervous) that Dani was going to take me on as a client.
The intake questionnaire was thoughtful and educational even to me – to consider what foods I liked and didn’t like, when I wanted to train and for how long, all these aspects of life I hadn’t even really considered. It was clear that she would push me, but also work around my life and my goals.
Eventually we decided to pick a date for my first figure show. Knowing nothing about the sport or what was required my entire life was in Dani’s hands. Throughout the process, I didn’t know what I was going to look like or if I was going to be ready, I had to just trust in Dani and her expertise. I was totally amazed that in less than a year I could go from a “normal-”looking girl to a figure competitor.
It was such a relief to work with someone knowledgeable about veganism, sympathetic to the challenges of the female body and eating disorders, and someone who could be direct, opinionated, and honest – while also being caring and have my back. Dani clearly demonstrated that she cared about my health and wellbeing beyond my physique goals. I am now training with Dani for my second show. I appreciate the online portal for training, food, and check-ins, as well as the client networking opportunities. I’ve learned so much with Dani and would recommend her to anyone looking to ramp up their bodybuilding goals with a supportive coach.
Vegan Figure Competitor