Status Fitness Magazine is celebrating its 10th year as a fitness publication.  Being on newsstands for 10 years and available in 42 countries is something we are really proud of. During this period, we have promoted many exciting events and we are proud to announce that 2016 is quickly becoming even more exciting!

We recently returned from the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio where we met many of those participating in our popular model search. The feedback has been tremendous as many have taken advantage of the opportunity to meet and mingle and get to know each other a little better. That is a huge reason why we like to include the social media portion of the model search.

We want to thank all of our partners and sponsors for making all this possible. We would like to especially thank VPX SportsGaspari Nutrition and Magnum Nutraceuticals. It is because of companies like this that we can bring you – the athletes and models – these amazing opportunities.

Over the past year we have enjoyed getting to know each person that participated in our model search through emails, chats in person and social media conversations. There are so many inspirational stories, transformations and stories of personal triumph. Everyone participating was not only showcasing their outward beauty but they revealed their inside beauty to us as well. The stories fueled many up and coming models – of every age. We have received dozens of emails telling us how the model search has encouraged people to step outside their comfort zone and pursue opportunities they didn’t think possible only months ago.

The search has been a tremendous amount of fun with many participants finding unique ways of promotion – from TV, radio and newspapers, to gym posters, flyers, fan pages and more. We constantly receive emails and phone calls thanking us for the fun year and the opportunities that have come from the model search – making friends, and making key industry contacts. We are excited to hear your feedback as well at 1-888-304-3201 and at

Since 2009, Status Fitness has provided the platform for new models to follow in the footsteps of industry greats that have posed for the cover of Status Fitness Magazine. Over the years we have seen Jennifer Nicole Lee, Nicole Wilkins, Ava Cowan, Monica Brant, Jelena Abbou, Jenna Renee, Felicia Romero, Chady Dunmore and others grace our covers. Our cover model search opens the door for ladies of all levels to achieve those same exposure opportunities. This dream has come true for the likes of Melissa Morrison, Jen Jewell and more… and you could be next. How exciting is that!!

>>> Melissa Morrison, winner of the 2011 World’s Sexiest Fitness Model Contest <<<

As a top 100 winner, these girls have now earned the right to be in the prestigious category of Status Symbol 2016. Having earned this status, each girl is also entitled to wear the coveted Top 100 t-shirts and tank top. Models, you can get yours HERE!

>>> Lauren Stogner, as seen in Issue 28 (Photo: David Ford) <<<

>>> Nicole Matthews, as seen in Issue 28 (Photo: David Ford) <<<

What do we look for in our model search? We want models and athletes that best exemplify fitness and beauty. We want women that will motivate our female and male readers alike. With the help of each participant, our readers, friends, fans, followers in social media, and our ten industry photographer judging panel, we are confident in showcasing whomever wins because we know she will be beautiful inside and out and will be inspiring.

It is with great pleasure that we showcase the TOP 100 WORLD’S SEXIEST FITNESS MODELS here, in alphabetical order…

Adrienne Ochoa DodobaraAlicia Tena ChiesaAllana JonesAllison Diaz
Alyx UlbrichAmanda KotelAmanda LeaAmber Anne Webster
Amber RobersonAndrea LeipertAngela AdaraArianna Hernandez
Arianne AndradeAshley KaltwasserAshley Lynn PeternellAshley Packard
Ashley TodoseyAudra ThrushBobbie CameronBrenda Lennax
Brianne Megan PerronBrittany BoltCarmen TelfordChantal Van Loggenberg
Christine BogleDanielle CouvillionDiana BelloDiana Skific
Ellierose O’RourkeErica RantucciFiona GrovesGillian Faith McRae
Gina Marie LucianoGurpreet TakharHarj HadaniHeidi Cannon
Jaclyn WilsonJana HareJenna ReneJesse Humphrey
Jesse Lee GrayJessica CromeJill NashKari Lynn Zylstra
Karly Rose PostmaKatrina BrandtKaylee MasciaKayleigh Farrell
Kelly GiffordKhamla BanavongKimberly BassettKimberly McKenzie
Kirsty MasciaLada PlihalovaLani BrittLauren Simpson
Laurie HavensLesley HorwoodLila Tighe PhillipsLindsay Bilyk
Lindsay LylickLindsay PinsonneaultMagdalena CieslakMariah McDonnell
Marlo VandenbrinkMayann AdrianoMelissa Ma ColbertMelissa Morrison
Michelle Desormeaux MerillMichelle JeanpierreNadia Van der HeydenNatalie Luders
Nichelle LausNicky ScottNikii DukePaige Hathaway
Rachael SenkowRachel PalvetzianRobyn GillSally Anderson
Sandy PuniaSara SutherlandSarah FowlerSasha Katrina
Shanell CekoShannon PetralitoShayna YoungStacey Taylor
Stacy RaffertySusan HalcroTamara SamuelTammy Beaulieu
Tea CukTeresa PopowiczTonya EddyTraci Lynn Cowan
Tricia Bold OlsonTula DewaldVendella SoniaYvette Bradley

(Photos and photographer credit/release supplied by the individual models or photographers)

Stay tuned… we will be announcing the Top 25 soon!

The David Ford Choice Award is the biggest and most valuable amateur prize currently awarded in the Canadian fitness industry. At the BCABBA 2016 Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic in New Westminster on March 19, David was in attendance to select one lucky winner. With almost 200 quality competitors to choose from, he definitely had his work cut out.

David is one of the most respected leaders in the fitness industry today. In the early 2000s, he worked with Robert Kennedy of MusclemagOxygen and American Curves. In the mid 2000s David ran the David Ford Fitness Model Search at West Edmonton Mall. In 2006 David began working with Rodney Jang and Status Fitness. Since that time he has offered the David Ford Choice Award at various shows across Canada. This year’s Gold Package prize was the biggest yet, valued at $6999.

David Ford has an exceptional eye for fitness talent. He is very much a respected leader in the industry and has seperated himself through integrity and consistent quality work. Leigh and Dean Brandt put on an exciting show and there were many quality competitors. Alia’s hard work and practice was evident when I saw her take the stage and I know she and David will capture some very strong photos that we are excited to share through Status Fitness. Congratulations Alia.”

What does this win mean to competitors? Hear what 2012 David Ford Choice Award winner IFBB Bikini Pro Eboney Chipman had to say when she had a chance to work with David this past summer as she prepared for the Vancouver Pro show.


What does David look for when choosing a winner? We caught up with him and asked him a number of key questions.

The first quality I look for is a marketable face. This goes beyond a pretty or handsome face. I see the potential of a competitor through their expressions, their movements, and interaction with other competitors, the stage marshal and the judges. Many pretty or handsome competitors don’t necessarily make good models. There is something unique that I look for that is hard to express in words but when I see it, I know the potential that awaits.

At the 2016 Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic there were a lot of great looking guys and girls on stage.  Was it hard to choose a winner?

“I quickly narrowed down my list to three girls at this show. Some qualities were similar but after taking in the entire package that was presented on stage I concluded that Alia Dunnill was my choice. Alia is a pretty girl and was very graceful on stage. She was confident but not overly so. She has nice shape and I know she will photograph extremely well with good direction. Alia went on to win her Bikini C class and competed hard in the overall. Rarely has my award winner and overall winner been the same, in fact Chelsea Gunderson would be the only one and she went on to win her pro card two shows later (Provincials and Nationals). Alia will do great in the fitness industry and I am excited for her. She is looking to take a little time and develop a stronger physique which is refreshing as many competitors rush into their next shows without adequate time to reflect and perfect areas so they can successfully compete at a higher level. We will be shooting this summer and Status Fitness will be the first to see what we capture together!


(David Ford, official BCABBA photographer, presenting Alia Dunnill with her rising star trophy at the 2016 Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic.)


Status Fitness caught up with the David Ford Choice Award winner Alia Dunnill after the show.

Alia shared, “Doing the Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic helped me find confidence and perseverance that I didn’t know I had. Through my 16 week prep I learned what it meant to truly put my heart and soul into one goal. I can safely say it wasn’t easy – probably the most mentally and emotionally challenging experience I’ve ever endured. It takes complete dedication and focus when it comes to nutrition, training, and posing. Looking back, though, I can honestly say that every moment, every doubt, every struggle was well worth it.”

(Alia Dunnill lighting up the stage at the 2016 Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic.)

When asked about the show itself, Alia revealed, “The show itself was an inspiration on its own. I met so many incredible people backstage who shared the same passions for fitness that I have, and I’ve never met so many people who were so supportive of one another. Although being on-stage was nerve-wracking and a challenge to all the strength that I had, it allowed me to prove to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to; the only limits we have are those we set for ourselves.”

(Alia Dunnill hits a back pose on stage at the 2016 Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic.)

Well said Alia. What did it mean to win the David Ford Choice Award?

“Having zero expectations going into the show other than knowing I would give it my best, receiving the David Ford Choice Award made for the most memorable moment of my fitness journey. I was literally speechless when I found out I’d been chosen for this award and that I have such inspiring mentors standing behind me and believing in me. I’m so thankful and excited for the opportunity that it brings and what the future holds.”


Alia, you have great mentorship with David and the Status Fitness team. At any time you can reach out and know someone, with your best interests in mind, will answer any questions you might have. That is something special.

Behind every person that steps on stage, there is a team of support behind them. Alia, who would you like to thank for their support over your fitness journey so far?

“Above all else I’d like to thank my incredible family and boyfriend for their support and unconditional love. They were my backbone the entire prep and gave me the courage and motivation to never give up. I’d also like to thank my coaches for everything they’ve done for me as well as my Sandcastle family, friends, and BCABBA for giving me the opportunity to compete in such a fun and rewarding show. Thank you all for supporting me in the most life-changing experience of my life – it’s only the first glimpse of what’s to come and I can’t wait to keep going!”  

(Alia Dunnill takes first place in the Bikini C class at the 2016 Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic.)


Alia’s mother Natalie shared a little about the special day for her daughter.

“Alia has always been the kind of person who, once she decides to do something, she goes full force.  Even when she was really young.  Deciding to compete was no different. Her diet was precise and she did not sway from it one bit. Other than the cheats that she was allowed, every single piece of food was properly prepped and measured and eaten at the right time and every workout was done full on! This entire process was such a wonderful experience for her. I know one of the best things about this show was that she made new friends that had the same goals as her.


As far as winning, she was over the top thrilled. She must have still been on a winning high and not really thinking about much else because the next morning she came to me and said, ”Mom, do you have any idea what I won last night from David Ford?” It took until the next morning for it to actually sink in that this was the big prize that every athlete was hoping for, and she had won it! It was like she had won the show all over again!”


Congratulations Alia on this big win.

We at Status Fitness can’t wait to see the results Alia and David create together later this year. Be sure to check back to see some of the results.

Special thank you to David Aboody and Vicky Lee for providing presentation photos for this news story.


Working to achieve the ultimately chiseled, tight physique is a full-time job. A job that most of us have to squeeze into our spare time; a job for which we are not rewarded. Well, not financially rewarded, anyway. The number of athletes that actually get paid to train, diet, and perhaps compete is very small. And even then, many of them must supplement that income with one or more additional jobs.



If you’re one of the less fortunate ones – the people who work as hard at play as they do at work, but still need to work and manage your family life – then your schedule might look something like this:

  • Wake up
  • Morning cardio
  • Eat
  • Prepare meals
  • Rush to work
  • Eat
  • Eat
  • Rush to the gym
  • Wait for equipment
  • Train
  • Eat
  • Go home
  • Prep food for tomorrow
  • Find time somewhere in there for: personal hygiene, family, house work…
  • FALL into bed, where you may or may not finally get to sleep

Heaven forbid someone throws a wrench in your plans… you don’t have time for that!

Living this way is one of the reasons that so many people are suffering from burnout. Fatigue, stress, achiness, depression, loss of sleep, decreased immunity… just a few of the symptoms that you might experience if you’re chasing the dream.

If you’re a competitor, there are often other confounding variables that can be thrown into the mix. Sadly, there are too many contest prep coaches out there that use archaic and downright dangerous methods to get their clients into what they consider ‘stage shape’. But, in all fairness, there are a lot of people who choose to employ these tactics on their own, in the hopes of attaining the ‘perfect’ physique.

Let’s explore those:

1.  Extremely low-calorie diets
Severely cutting food intake will absolutely get you to drop weight. Water weight. Muscle weight. And sure, yes, some fat weight too. But tearing down muscle means three things:

  • As soon as you start cutting calories, your metabolism starts to slow
  • Your body is using your HARD earned muscle mass as fuel.
  • Your metabolism is going to TANK: muscle is metabolically active fuel; you NEED it to optimally burn fat.

2.  Excessive Cardio
There is no question that cardiovascular activity (when executed properly) is paramount to success in shedding fat. But over-exercising: specifically performing insane amounts of cardio (2+ hours daily over a period of 6 or more weeks) is NOT good for anyone. You’re setting yourself up for metabolic damage (see box 2 below).  It’s stressful to the body. And when the body perceives stress, it secretes cortisol from the adrenal glands. Ongoing cortisol release not only contributes to fat storage (specifically abdominal fat), but it can eventually cause adrenal fatigue (see box 1 below) and even adrenal failure.

3.  Overtraining
It’s not just overdoing cardio exercise that causes distress to the body. Taxing your musculature without providing it with the rest and fuel that it requires to recover is also highly detrimental. Not only do you not allow your muscles to repair and grow, but you’re creating an atmosphere of free-radical damage; it’s like a war zone inside your body.

4.  Beating yourself up
Fit-minded people tend to be pretty self-critical. The ladies are never lean enough; the men, never big enough. No matter how hard you work, you think there’s room for more. We spend every spare moment picking ourselves apart, and it is stress-inducing… both mentally and physically. Negative self-talk is pretty tiring; never feeling good enough can weigh heavily, both on the mind and the body.

BOX 1: What is adrenal fatigue? 
Adrenal fatigue (AF) occurs when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. It happens when your body’s adrenal glands are unable to adequately meet the demands of the stress (physical and psychological) upon which they are put. The syndrome is most often associated with long-term, intense stress. AF, like the name suggests, is marked by intense physical and psychological fatigue that does not seem to be rectified with sleep. Tiredness, lethargy, and a general feeling of being unwell are common in those suffering from AF. People experiencing the disorder often use caffeine and/or stimulants just to function ‘normally’ throughout the day.

In serious cases of AF, sufferers have difficulty getting out of bed for more than a few hours. And, as adrenal function decreases, every single organ in the body is more severely affected. As adrenal function declines, there is a decrease in your macronutrient metabolism (the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins), your body’s electrolyte balance, your cardiovascular system, and even your libido. So, you’re working super hard to burn the fat, retain the muscle and look fantastic to the opposite sex, but your excessive efforts are, in fact, working against you.


BOX 2: What is Metabolic Damage?
The combination of a high cardio volume and an ultra-low calorie diet, sustained over the long term, seems to be the biggest culprit in metabolic damage. We see this more in women than in men: the girls have been dieting hard and basically living on the Stairclimber and the fat loss has plateaued.  The answer? More is better, right?! So they dial things up, cutting back some food and adding minutes to the cardio workout. But this only make things worse: much worse. Metabolic damage can take more than a year to repair, and it’s not an easy road. The driven and determined competitors out there are willing to do ‘whatever it takes’. Many under-educated coaches think that slashing calories and jacking up cardio time is exactly ‘what it takes’. So they willingly destroy the metabolism for ONE moment of glory on a stage.

Once your body senses that it’s losing fat, it will begin to decrease thyroid levels and nervous system output in order to stop the weight loss. So cardio goes up, food goes down and, while fat loss will kick-start once again, the body will further lower thyroid levels and nervous system output. It will also decrease levels of testosterone levels and increase levels of cortisol (see Adrenal Fatigue, above) which will soon lead to muscle wasting. Because muscle is metabolically active, the net result is yet another decrease in metabolism.

Why does the body do this to us? Why does it resist our efforts to change? One word: Survival.
If your body allowed you to continue to burn calories at a high rate despite the caloric intake decreasing, you’d end up dead: the fire can’t keep burning if there’s no kindling.


  • Weight gain (especially cellulite, despite dieting and training)
  • Gas, nausea, bloating, cramps
  • Digestive difficulties, constipation
  • Hair loss
  • Brittle nails
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of unwellness

The sad truth to all of this is that, if we don’t make a conscious effort to break the cycle, we will just burn ourselves right into the ground.

The only way out is to make safer, healthier choices. Follow these tips to pull yourself back into a state of healthiness and happiness.

1.  Give yourself Time
It took you more than a month to put it on; allow yourself the time needed to take it off. Losing more than two pounds of fat per week will be detrimental in the long term (yes, when you start dieting you can lose upwards of five pounds per week for the first few weeks; most of that is water weight). Keeping fat loss slow and steady will ensure that muscle loss is minimized.

2.  One thing at a time
Very small changes to your diet can yield big changes. Just because the scale isn’t moving does not mean that you’re not changing for the better. If it’s been a couple weeks and nothing has changed, try to make one small change, rather than drastically cutting everything back. Your body will start to adapt to each small change, dropping fat as it does so. If you slash your calories and ramp up your cardio in the first few weeks, you’ll be out of tools when they’re really needed.

3.  Cycle the carbs
Utilizing varying quantities of carbohydrates on different days in conjunction with your training will help to keep your metabolic rate elevated. Carbs increase the hydration of cells. When the cell volume is increased, the body believes that it is in a fed state: this will keep the metabolism boosted. Not only that, but as carbs are lowered, the body lowers leptin (fat burning hormone) levels as well. Spiking carb intake once or twice weekly will boost leptin levels, as leptin is very responsive to glucose (carbohydrate) metabolism. Higher carb days can also elicit higher levels of T3 (thyroid hormone) as well as keeping testosterone levels elevated. But if we keep carbs high for too long, the body will adapt quickly and start storing that which is not used. So throwing in some low carb days will prevent early adaptation, allowing for continued fat loss.

4.  Chew the Fat
Cholesterol, which is converted to testosterone, relies on fatty acids for its creation. No fat means low cholesterol which means low testosterone. Without adequate test levels, greater muscle loss will occur, which will lead to a lowering of the metabolic rate. Another intelligent adaptive response that the human body has to chronically low fat intake is to hold on to existing body fat at all costs.

5.  Work Backwards
When the show is over, play smart. It’s not binge time; it’s time to slowly re-integrate calories, and foods, into your diet.

6.  Stay ‘on’ in the off-season
Remember that, come contest time, you’ll have to drop the excess weight that you accumulated in the offseason. Try to stay consistent with clean eating and exercise. Sure, scale it back a bit… give yourself a break… but keep the weight in check and you won’t have to go to drastic efforts when it comes time to step back on stage.

McArdle WD, et al. EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY: ENERGY, NUTRITION AND HUMAN PERFORMANCE. 5th ed. Baltimore, Md.: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins; 2001:188.
METABOLIC SYNDROME.  National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.


Issue 29 is going to be a record-breaker for Status Fitness.  For the third time, fitness celebrity Jennifer Nicole Lee (JNL) will be gracing the cover of the World’s Best Fitness, Bodybuilding and MMA Magazine. We caught up with JNL recently and talked about this history-making cover!

SFM: Jennifer! You are an international fitness celebrity who has built her own empire. You have appeared on nearly 80 magazine covers over the past 12 years (three of those with SFM) – what are your secrets to success and, more so, longevity in this fast-changing industry?
JNL: I think it’s so important to follow your passions before anything else. I have some basic principles that I always go back to:
–    You can’t set your expectations too high
–    You must set realistic goals
–    You can never underestimate the value of hard work. So many people say that they really ‘want it’ but they think it’s going to be handed to them. That isn’t realistic.
I always remember to give back, and help others along the way. We all need help getting through.


SFM: What do you see as being important and trending now in the world of fitness and fashion? What do you see going into the future?
JNL: I really love how we are merging technology with everything now. There are tons of fun and techy fitness apps and trackers that are really user friendly. There so many detailed fitness-related downloads. I’m a total nerd and I could spend hours looking at these things. I really see this as being the way to globally market fitness to everyone and I think it’s definitely going to be continuing into the future.

SFM: You are SO busy: you are a recently divorced mother of two, you run JNL Worldwide, you’re the face of many fitness and fashion brands and the body of fitness products across the world. How do you manage to stay in shape, juggling it all, and keep your sanity?
JNL: I really have to departmentalize my ‘to do’ list. Time management is SO important to me. I’ve learned to say no to frivolous things for the greater good. I really believe in the power of the mind and I focus my mind to see the good and cut out the negatives; we have to tell ourselves that good enough is good enough. We’ll never be perfect. Be good to yourself.

SFM: You are, in addition to so many things, a best-selling author. Tell us about your passion for writing and why it’s important to you to continue writing and putting out great new books.
JNL: No matter what, writing is very therapeutic for me. Going through so much in my life, I find writing to be a way to share and to really leverage information. It’s also about efficiency. I get asked a LOT of questions by a LOT of people. This way I can sort of answer all the questions once and then people have one place to go to get it all. Again it’s about streamlining. I want to have time with my kids. I want to be a good role model. I don’t want to be the frazzled mom. And I think I convey that in my books – I want other moms to see where I was and how I got to where I am now because anyone can do it with confidence, respect and dignity.


SFM: So tell us more about your innovative new online community, Jolt of JNL (!
JNL: I am so excited about this. Wow. It will really Jolt you. It’s an online community geared towards the modern-day busy woman. I have spent a decade putting all this knowledge together that can be found in one place.  There’s fashion, exercise, diet, nutrition… the good and the bad – all your questions answered. We talk beauty, fashion, and provide inspiration and motivation. There are exclusive videos that you won’t find anywhere else. And it’s so much more than just a ‘fitness’ website. It really is a community that I’m hoping will empower women. You can get Jolt of JNL of only $47.00 and then you have access to SO much. It’s seriously amazing.

SFM: Jennifer, you seem to be living your life to the fullest. When you hold seminars and teach and empower women, what do you see as being the common desire or goal that we’re seeking?
JNL: It’s really simple. We all want to be loved. We all want to have purpose. And having purpose makes a difference. It makes us feel worthy. And the way to change this is by shedding the skin you’re in and realizing that life is a journey to be enjoyed.  You’re stronger than you know. We are all so blessed.  And with technology where it is, we can now inspire others, blog… give and get instant support.  Fitness isn’t just about looking good. It helps you to achieve so many different goals.

SFM: As a famous fitness personality, I imagine you see your share of ‘haters’ and nay sayers. How do you handle that?
JNL: I don’t take it personally.  Taking that stuff personally will ruin your longevity. You know, I grew up in poverty.  Like real poverty. I was a latch-key kid; home alone with two older sisters. I was bullied because I was the kid with darker skin who used food stamps.  I was sexually abused when I was growing up.  The negative comments that I hear pale in comparison to where I came from.  The comments are just distractions. I truly believe that you get what you focus on. I have to just hit delete and move on. I always say if they hate you then you must be doing something right.  I’m really so happy about the anti-bullying movement that’s taking place right now.  Parents need to speak up. They need to talk to their kids about this stuff. I teach my boys that you have to look inside – are you being good to yourself? Are you a good person? Then don’t worry about what others say. Don’t ever be ashamed.


SFM: We are so honored to have you grace our cover for a record THIRD time! You have a long and wonderful history with Status. Tell us about it and share with your fans what Status means to you.
JNL: You know at the beginning, I knew Rodney (Editor-in-Chief) was cool.  He said ‘We’re starting a magazine!’ I saw the birth of it and I loved the idea. It was the first magazine to blend Fitness, Bodybuilding and MMA in one package. He (Rodney) was so hyped, which was really exciting.
I was so honored to be chosen to be on the first ever issue of Status. It means a lot to me because I love to be a relevant part of the magazine and the industry.

SFM: Are you a different person than you were in Issue #1?
JNL: Oh, I’m totally different. I’m more mature, grounded; my eyes are really full of wisdom now.  Experience really is the greatest teacher.  I have learned so much – I used to just throw stuff onto the wall, hoping it would stick.  I’ve grown and I’m much more loud and proud!

SFM: This is going to be your 78th cover! That’s amazing – that’s almost 7 covers per year over the last 12 years.  How do you think another international cover will benefit you?
JNL: I think I give a voice to every day professionals and fitness athletes. And I know that appearing on yet another cover of Status will certainly help to grow my business and my brand.  I really believe in turning your passion into profit.

SFM: What sort of influence do you feel that Status Fitness has on its readers and the industry as a whole?
JNL: You guys are the leaders and visionaries. A publication is only as good as its leader and your leader – Rodney – is amazing.  You have a huge network of photographers and writers, business associates – it’s a huge network of movers and shakers.  And the combination of MMA, bodybuilding and fitness is so multi-dimensional and it’s like nothing else.  Status always has high quality, well-written content.


SFM: Jennifer, thanks so much again for letting Status into your world. I know our readers and your fans are really looking forward to your third cover and feature coming later this year!

Flexibility, as it is most easily defined, is the range of motion about a joint.  It’s the degree to which our joints move freely, in their various directions and planes.  Just as not all joints are biomechanically or anatomically the same, nor is their collective flexibility, necessarily.  Therefore, you might be able to touch your toes, but that doesn’t guarantee that you can touch your elbows behind your back:  Flexibility is joint-specific.

Anyone can improve his or her flexibility.  It is true that genetics plays a small role, but like most things, practise makes perfect.  Most fitness buffs either leave out the flexibility portion of their training programs altogether, or they leave two minutes at the end of the workout to do some quick side bends before booking it to the juice bar.  This is not the way to improve flexibility.  Stretching for a warm-up or cool-down is not the same as stretching to improve flexibility; we must put just as strong a focus on the flexibility component of training as we do, say, resistance training or cardiovascular work.

The Physiology of Stretching To fully understand what happens when we stretch, it’s important to understand what happens when our muscles contract. Let’s start with the Sarcomere.

The Sarcomere When you observe muscle cells under a microscope, you’ll see that they contain a striped pattern, called striations (which you can often see in extremely lean and dehydrated bodybuilding competitors).  The striations are formed by a series of units called sarcomeres.  Think of a sarcomere as a single piece of hay. They are arranged in a stack throughout the muscle tissue (imagine a bale of hay).

Every single muscle cell can be comprised of thousands of sarcomeres. Each sarcomere has various proteins which vary in length, which is what causes the length of each muscle to change.  The sarcomeres contain proteins, which are made up of actin (thin) and myosin (thick) filaments.  When the actin and myosin react together within the sarcomere, it shortens, causing a muscle to contract.  Enter the Sliding Filament Theory.

The Sliding Filament Theory In 1954, scientists published two groundbreaking papers describing the molecular basis of muscle contraction1. These papers described the position of myosin and actin filaments at various phases of contraction within muscle fibers and proposed how this interaction produced contractile force. Researchers observed changes in the sarcomeres as the muscle tissue shortened.

The sliding filament theory states that the sliding of actin past myosin generates muscle tension. Actin literally slides beside myosin and ‘grabs on’, leaving the entire sarcomere, and therefore muscle, shorter; contracted.  Because actin is attached to structures located at the lateral ends of each sarcomere, any shortening of the actin filament length would result in a shortening of the sarcomere and thus the muscle.

So now that you understand how the muscle contracts, or shortens, let’s explore the opposite reaction: relaxation, or lengthening of the muscle.
As the sarcomere begins to relax, there is a decreased overlap between actin and myosin, allowing the muscle fiber to elongate.  Once all the sarcomeres are fully stretched, the muscle fiber reaches its maximum rested length.  If we continue to stretch at this time, there is increased tension and the connective tissue takes up the ‘slack’.

When a muscle is stretched, some of its fibers lengthen, but other fibers may remain at rest. The length of the muscle depends upon the total number of stretched fibers.  The more fibers that are stretched, the greater the length developed by the stretched muscle.
Now let’s explore what happens when the muscle has reached its maximum length.

The Stretch Reflex When the muscle is stretched, so is the muscle spindle. Muscle spindles are sensory receptors (in the belly of the muscle), which detect changes in the length of the muscle.  The spindle then records the change in length of the muscle from the stretch, and sends signals to the spine2.  This triggers the stretch reflex which then tries to resist the change in muscle length by causing the stretched muscle to contract. The more rapid the change in muscle length, the stronger the muscle contractions will be (think plyometrics).   This basic function of the muscle spindle helps to both maintain the tone of the muscle as well as to protect said muscle from injury.

When we take our place on the mat to stretch (whether via static, dynamic or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation [PNF] stretching) there are acute or short term effects on the muscle.

The acute effect of stretching on flexibility is pretty clear: increased range of motion – which is ultimately what we’re seeking.  This range of motion, on average, will persist for sixty to ninety minutes3.  Holding a stretch for the oft-prescribed 20 to 30 seconds is a good standard because most of the stress relaxation occurs in the first 20 seconds.

The reason that our collective range of motion is enhanced is because of increased stretch tolerance; as we sit and hold a stretch, the soft tissue becomes accustomed to the lengthening, and it ‘relaxes’.

Stretching to Improve Flexibility
As mentioned above, the standard prescription of holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds a few times a week will elicit acute and short term increases in range of motion. But what about those of us looking to improve our long term flexibility? What if we want to increase flexibility, say, permanently? It is essential to incorporate stretching into our training programs regularly throughout the week.  We must devote the time and attention to the flexibility portion of our routine just as we do to resistance training and cardiovascular work.

One of the reasons for holding a stretch for an extended period of time is that by doing so, the muscle spindle becomes accustomed to the new length and reduces its signaling to the spine (remember ‘Stretch Reflex’). Eventually, you can train your stretch receptors to allow greater lengthening of the muscles, thereby increasing flexibility.

Various reviews of research on stretching a variety of muscle groups report significant improvements in range of motion with 3 to 6 weeks of training3,4.

Does stretching decrease muscular performance?
Clearly, stretching can improve both short and long term flexibility, and for that reason is a key component in the training regime.  However, overstretching a muscle or muscle group can cause performance problems in the weight room

If you recall the Sliding Filament Theory from above, you will remember that the stretch reflex counters the contraction that occurs within the sarcomeres of the muscle.  So, basically, we stretch in opposition to contraction.  It follows, then, that too much of a stretch in a muscle would inhibit, or certainly lessen, the contractile properties of the muscle in question.  It is clear that from the standpoint of maximizing muscular performance, stretching creates an acute decrease in performance, therefore significant stretching should not normally occur prior to exercise,  but be programmed during the cool-down after resistance training.

FACTS and FALLACIES: When should I stretch?
It is a still-heard, decades old debate: Warm up before a workout? Stretch before a workout? Or just get right into it?  Well, as you’ve read here, and here’s Lesson One: stretching prior to a workout can decrease your performance.  But please don’t underestimate the importance of stretching after a workout session.  And the science is also very clear on the importance of being warm before stretching.

I always use the analogy of the rubber band in the freezer.  If you pull it out after being in there all night and try to stretch it, it’s going to break.  But if you roll it between your hands, allowing it to warm up and then gently try to manipulate it, it will stretch without rupturing.  Lesson Two? Warm up before you stretch. So now that we have that out of the way, what can we consider a warm-up? Basically, it’s anything that can actually increase the temperature of your soft tissue.  Any dynamic movement will work – walking, cycling, jumping jacks… you name it.

1 Clark, M. Sliding filament model for muscle contraction. Muscle sliding filaments. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology 9, s6–s7(2008). 2 Huxley, H. E. & Hanson, J. Changes in the cross-striations of muscle during contraction and stretch and their structural interpretation. Nature 173, 973–976 (1954). 3 Knudson, D. The Biomechanics of Stretching. Journal of Exercise Science & Physiotherapy, Vol. 2: 3-12, 2006. 4 Duchateau, J. and N. Guissard. Effect of static stretch training on neural and mechanical properties of the human plantar-flexor muscles. Muscle Nerve 248-55 (Feb. 2004).




Amount Per
% Daily
Fat0 g0%
Saturated0 g0%
Cholesterol0 mgN/A
Sodium190 mg7%
Carbohydrates6 g2%
Fibre1 g4%
Sugars2 gN/A
Protein20 gN/A
Vitamin AN/A0%
Vitamin CN/A0%
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Carbs? You eat Carbs? NO! You can’t eat carbs and lose weight! Or wait… maybe that’s complex carbs. No, it’s all carbs. Carbs are the enemy! Aren’t they???

Poor misunderstood carbohydrates.  How did they come to get such a bad rap? So many people out there are under the impression that carbs are what cause weight (fat) gain and that simple elimination of the nasty substrates will alleviate the problem.  But if you’ve ever been on a carb-free diet for any length of time, you know that isn’t always the case.

Fuelling your body and mind properly is the only way that you will not only perform at your best but also look your best.  Starvation or complete elimination of food groups will not, in the long run, do anything for your adrenal system, your metabolism, or your psyche.

The Old-School Approach
Cut carbs. Shed weight. Protein and vegetables. All-day long.
Most weight loss methods and fads WILL work, in the short term.  But there are a couple of things that you have to consider:

1.    What kind of weight do you want to lose? Because ultra-low calorie diets or elimination diets will certainly have you losing water weight at the outset. And if you have the willpower to stay on these diets for any length of time, your body will actually begin metabolising your own muscle. That’s right, the hard-earned muscle you brag about will get eaten to keep you alive.

2.    How long do you think you can live like that? Chicken and broccoli for every meal. Salads, salads and more salads. Rabbit food. Unless you live in a cage, it’s eventually going to get to you.

The brain’s preferred source of fuel in humans is carbohydrate.  Without cyclical consumption of carbohydrate, your brain doesn’t work as well. It’s just that simple.  Now, there are other ways of dieting (without daily carbohydrates) that can maintain your ‘normal’ brain function, but that is a topic for another article.

Society seems to have an all-or-nothing approach to shedding weight: if I cut it ALL out then I’ll lose even MORE!  Or, if I’m having a slice of garlic bread I might as well have the loaf!

Moderation tends to fall by the wayside when it comes to weight loss.  But it’s been proven time and again that moderation is, in fact, the key to success.

One excellent example of moderation in dieting is the recently-popularized ‘carb cycling’.
Though its basis is scientific in nature, carb cycling is not a terribly confusing concept.  It’s really nothing more than eating more carbohydrates on some days versus others.  The ‘more’ days help to promote muscle anabolism while the ‘less’ days minimize fat gain and even promote fat loss.
The reason that we choose to manipulate carbohydrates (and not fats or proteins) is because carbs have been shown to have the most influence on overall body composition and aesthetics, which is what most of us are seeking to improve upon.

How does it work?
When we decrease carbohydrate intake, the muscles release stored carbohydrates (muscle glycogen) as energy.  Generally speaking, when glycogen gets depleted, the body increases its ability to burn fat.  So decreasing carb intake will enhance fat burning – in the short term.  Cutting carbs back by 1/3 to ½ of your daily intake will kick-start your furnace.

Everyone is different, so you may keep dropping fat at these carb levels, or you may plateau after a few weeks. This is when cycling becomes effective.

If you see that you are no longer getting leaner, it’s time to throw in a couple days of even lower carbs. If you cut back to about 100 grams of carbohydrate for two days (best done on non-training days), you’ll be lowering your glycogen levels further, and kick-start the fat burning process again (which will have curtailed with extended dieting). Again, if you find that your fat loss is tapering off at two days, you can increase to three or four low carb days to keep burning.

There is also the option to add in zero carb days.  It’s VERY important to understand that no carb in this instance means NO STARCH and NO FRUIT.  Fibrous carbohydrates must be consumed during your ‘zero carb’ days (see list below for options).  But don’t forget this is a CYCLE: we still need to talk about the HIGH carb days!
When you’re consuming such little carbohydrate (100 grams daily) over an extended time period, you will need to re-feed the muscles AND the mind.  Your muscles will be flat and depleted and you need to fill them up.

When you’ve reached this point in your low carb journey,   it’s time to re-feed.  Take the number of grams of carbs that you’re currently eating and double it. Again, this might take a few days for some or a few weeks for others.  You most definitely don’t want to get to the point where you are losing muscle, and it’s counter-productive to keep your carbs so low and for so long that you’re always fatigued.

The fear that many have is that this ‘re-feed’ will undo all the fat stripping that occurred during the low carb phase.  As long as you wait until you need the carbohydrates, you don’t have to worry about this happening.  In fact, it should make you even leaner.  This step will both re-ignite your metabolism and help you to hold onto your lean mass.


The ‘Pros’ of carb cycling
As I just explained, carb cycling allows you to put on muscle while also leaning out. The process of roller-coasting the carbohydrates makes it very difficult for your body to get used to the way you’re eating, so it takes significantly longer to plateau.  The body gets confused and reacts very positively to the continual changes.

The ‘Cons’ of carb cycling
It’s pretty clear what the biggest ‘con’ is here: the low carb days! Not consuming carbohydrates means that your food selection is limited. Not only that, but your body will long for those starches when it doesn’t get them.  Because carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of fuel, you could find your energy levels dwindling.  This is why I recommend doing the low/no carb days on your ‘off’ days or on low intensity training days.

Benefits of High Carb days
–    stimulates an insulin response that shuttles nutrients in your muscle cells, causing them to grow
–    replenishes glycogen stores to feed your muscles
–    increase your energy and feelings of well-being

Benefits of Low Carb days
–    promote fat loss by sending your body to pull from fat cells instead of glucose from ingesting carbohydrates
–    keeps your body receptive to insulin (if you overload on sugars the ability of the pancreas to secrete insulin can decrease and become sluggish) which improves anabolism

What about the rest?

Protein is very important in this diet, as it doesn’t change much at all, no matter how high your day’s carbohydrate intake is.  You should consume between 1.0-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, and can go up on your no/low carb days.  Be sure that there is protein at every one of your meals.

Fat does not necessarily make you fat.  We NEED fat.  The reasons are too many to mention here.  And as is the case with all diets, it’s important to keep your daily fat intake moderate.  Cutting fat out will NOT lean you out faster in the long term and will actually work against you.  Consuming 15-20% of your calories in healthy fats will not only keep your metabolism elevated, but it will also help to curb your carbohydrate cravings on those no/low carb days.

How do I do it?
There are countless combinations that you can use when cycling.  You can use high, low and no carb days and you can truly cycle them any way you want: if you’re not leaning out at the rate at which you’re happy, then you should add in another low or no carb day.

As I mentioned earlier, you may choose not to use the zero carb days at all; if that works to achieve your goals then great! Everyone’s bodies adapt and react very differently to different substrates so you’ll have to experiment to find the cycle that works best for you.

I’ve included three lists, which highlight some of the best food choices from each of the macronutrient groupings.

Carbohydrate (starch and fruit):
Oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, barley, sweet potatoes, potatoes
Blueberries, apples, bananas, pomegranates
Fibrous carbohydrates:
Broccoli, asparagus, spinach, kale, squash
Protein (lean sources):
Chicken (white meat), tuna, white fish, egg whites, whey protein isolate
Turkey (white meat), venison
Protein (fattier sources):
Lean beef, salmon, whole eggs

Sample carbohydrate cycle:
If you want to give it a shot, a basic ‘cutting’ cycle would be:
2 High carb days
3 Low carb days
2 No carb days

The biggest problem with fad diets and crazy methodologies is that most of them end up causing some level of metabolic damage to those who try them.  When your goal is to shed fat and keep your hard-earned muscle, a ruined metabolism is a huge hurdle to overcome and it can take years to repair.  Carb cycling offers a science-based, logical pattern of eating that provides your body with the nutrients it needs to perform, while allowing the dieter to achieve the physique that he or she seeks.  If the potential carb cycler can manage the occasional low energy day and lethargy, the rewards can be many.

1. Brown Fat is Where it’s At!
Just when you thought fat was fat… Humans have white, brown and beige fat; each type plays a different role.  But brown fat is where it’s at.  Brown fat contains a high concentration of mitochondria, which produces energy within cells.  This fat is usually located in small areas around the neck and upper back, and along the spine.

Instead of storing calories like its white counterpart, brown fat helps to burn calories. Obesity researchers are hoping that stimulating our brown fat (environmentally, pharmaceutically or nutritionally) will increase calorie burning and help us to lose excess body fat. While limited evidence does seem promising, my advice for stoking your metabolic fire is to ramp up your workouts and go for the burn!

2. Arsenic in Old Rice?
Arsenic is highly poisonous at high doses. But chronic exposure to even low levels increases the risk of heart disease, infertility and various forms of cancer. In September, Consumer Reports released results of its analysis of more than two hundred rice samples.  Almost all samples were found to contain both inorganic (cancer-causing) and organic arsenic (considered less, but still harmful).

Follow these tips:

  • Cooking: Use 6 cups of boiling water for 1 cup of dry rice. You will reduce arsenic residue by up to 45 percent.
  • Buying: Choose rice grown in California and imported basmati and jasmine rice (they’ve been shown to have lower arsenic levels)
  • Avoid:  foods made with brown rice syrup
  • Consider: other grains in place of rice

3. Boost your Broccoli
Broccoli is a nutritional superstar. Like other cruciferous vegetables, it’s rich in vitamin C (one cup of broccoli has as much as a medium orange, for only 30 calories!), folate and fiber, and also has vitamin K, and beta carotene.

Studies have linked broccoli (and other cruciferous delights) to a decreased risk of several cancers (due to their unique phytochemicals). Broccoli in particular is a very good source of sulforaphane, which is formed from another compound called glucosinolate, when the vegetable is cut, chewed and digested. Sulforaphane exhibits anti-cancer and anti-microbial properties.

What are you waiting for? Jump on the Broccoli Bandwagon today!


1. Fit to Fight Alzheimer’s
Exercise may improve cognitive function in people at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (University of Maryland’s School of Public Health). Developing Alzheimer’s disease is one of the greatest fears among older adults. While some memory loss is normal as we age, a diagnosis of ‘mild cognitive impairment’ indicates more severe loss of memory and a greater risk for Alzheimer’s, for which there is no cure.

This study is the first to show that older adults with mild cognitive impairment, after following a prescribed exercise program, improved not only with memory recall, but also brain function. The findings are published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. No study has shown that a drug can do what we showed is possible with exercise.

2. Is Runner’s High Real?
If you’re an avid exerciser, you may have experienced “runner’s high.” It’s described as a feeling of euphoria during or immediately after sustained exercise. But does it really exist?
One theory is that runner’s high is due to endorphins (neurotransmitters that bind to the same receptors as drugs like morphine or heroin). Increased endorphins are found in the blood and spinal fluid of regular exercisers.

Exercise also increases levels of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, which positively affects mood. Endocannabinoids (related to cannabis, much like ‘natural’ marijuana) have gotten increased attention recently as a major player in runner’s high, as they stimulate the same area of the brain as marijuana.

Need a mood-booster? Get moving!

3. Intensity is Where it’s At!
Every minute of high intensity exercise counts in the battle of the bulge (University of Utah). Researchers discovered that a brief bout of intense exercise has the same effect on preventing weight gain as the current recommendation of 10 minute (or more) sessions. The intensity they are referring to is equivalent to walking at three miles per hour.

The take-home message? The intensity of the activity matters more than the duration when we’re trying to prevent weight gain.

Sucralose (Splenda)
–    An altered sugar molecule; passes through the body undigested (0 calories)
–    Straight substitute for regular sugar
–    Leading sugar substitute
–    Though often promoted as a “natural,” substitute, it’s a synthetic compound.

Stevia extracts (such as Truvia and PureVia)
–    Comes from the shrub Stevia rebaudiana
–    Number two brand of sugar substitute
–    Touted as “natural,” though the leaves have to be highly processed to isolate the compounds.

Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal)
–    Made from two amino acids
–    Unsafe for people with phenylketonuria (PKU
–    Safe for humans, according to exhaustive reviews by the FDA, WHO and other authorities.

Acesulfame Potassium (Sunett and Sweet One)
–    Compound passes through the body unchanged (0 calories)
–    FDA has repeatedly reaffirmed its safety, as has the WHO and the European Union. Nearly 100 studies have given it a clean bill of health.