LYNDHURST, N.J.–Diana Zarillo of Lyndhurst doesn't consider the other bikini-clad, National Physique Committee (NPC) participants her competition – and not because she's cocky.
“I compete against the person I was the last time I was on the stage," Zarillo, 29, told Daily Voice.
When she's up on stage, she's being judged on her appearance, proportion, symmetry, hair, make up, stage presence, and posing routine.
But it goes beyond looks for the 2004 Lyndhurst High School graduate, who won the Steve Stone Metropolitan competition in March.
“I feel like I'm being judged for my work," Zarillo said.
She works out six to seven times a week – heavy lifting, she said – focusing mainly on her glutes and shoulders.
As for her diet?
"It's not fun...eating the same foods that are absolutely terrible on a daily basis," said Zarillo, who eats six meals a day.
But such is life for a fitness competitor.
“It takes a very, very strong focus," said Zarillo, a former personal trainer who currently works as a temp.
Being in the spotlight is nothing new for Zarillo, however. As a child, she sang and starred in school plays when she wasn't on the soccer field or softball diamond.
But it took her two years to get on stage because of the dedication it required. She took fifth place in her first show, allowing her to compete nationally. She'll do that in July at an event in Teaneck.
Before that, she worked for Scribe America, relocating to Texas, Vermont, Indiana, and Ohio.
“It’s definitely not like here," she said. "Everyone is more laid back than they are in the tri-state area. But it was a good experience."
The travel and 80-hour weeks took their toll and Zarillo “decided it was time to come home and settle down.”
Despite going a different route after earning her master's in Education, Zarillo wants to become a history teacher.
"I love history. I want to share that passion with students," she said.
Being in the classroom would put competing on the back burner, but Zarillo is okay with that.
“It's a struggle in between shows to keep your body where you want to be," she said, "You can only do a few months out of the year.”
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