When I found out that I would be interviewing the woman who helped take Tosca Reno to the next level, I was beyond ecstatic. I have admired Tosca for years and all that she has accomplished, but there was something different that seemed to transform when she started to train with her trainer and coach Rita Catolino. As I followed their journey and read Rita’s own story of personal struggle, I couldn’t help but have this urge that I wanted to experience this transformation too.
After contacting Rita for our interview (She is so sweet and genuine by the way), I began to think what if she could train me. I have said this before and will say it again, there is something about having a positive force in your corner helping to drive you. I started to post pictures of Rita for daily inspiration and during my first phase of my contest prep, used her encouraging words as I pushed harder at the gym. Rita’s physique is what I envision as my set goal.
With Rita and Tosca’s drive, determination and motivation speaking loudly in my ear, I decided to pursue hiring Rita as my Coach. Lucky for me she said YES! We will begin our training the beginning of June and with the help of following the Eat-Clean Diet lifestyle and Rita’s program I am sure to discover a new-found strength and take it to the next level.
Having the opportunity to interview 2 of my role models was something beyond words. I am very grateful and blessed to be able to share this interview with you. May it inspire you to conquer your fears and live the best life you can. You only have the now, so why not make the most of it. Here is (in Rita’s own words) how things came to be and the incredible journey that lead her to where she is today~ Confident, Strong and Beautiful!
“It’s ironic to see the title of my web page – Rita Catolino, Fitness Model! This would have looked much different 6 years ago when fitness, nutrition and posing in a bikini or fitness wear was the farthest thing in my life. My fitness journey started after having my little girl in 2007. I grew up watching my own mother experiment with every diet on the market. I watched as she lost and gained weight uncontrollably and realized as I matured that this aspect of her life in turn, affected every other. I didn’t realize that I could be heading down that same path if I didn’t do something about it. It was this huge milestone that pushed me to change. This new “precious package” in my arms made me realize that I wasn’t happy with my health choices. I needed energy and a positive self-image to be able to pass that on to my daughter and break the cycle of yo-yo dieting in my family.
I went to the gym, started doing group exercise classes, picked up Tosca Reno’s The Eat Clean Diet and was on my way! Okay, it wasn’t quite that easy. Initially, I struggled to make it to the gym, often caving in and eating my white pasta and cheese. Did I mention wine? Weekends (Thursday- Sunday) were still my cheat times, and I struggled with the new commitment of motherhood. But, the hard work paid off. Slowly and steadily I started to see progress over the months, and so did my friends. A friend of mine who noticed my progress recommended I get started on a free weight routine and offered to show me some workouts. After that first session, I was hooked on iron! I loved the pump and aggression of lifting weights. I started putting on lean muscle mass and toning my body quicker than I thought was possible, and Angela suggested I sign up for my first fitness competition…and I did. In May of 2009, I stepped on the stage for the first time. I didn’t win, nor did I place in the top 10, but I felt like a winner and I was hooked.
Now, 4 years later, competing and fitness modelling are part of my lifestyle. They keep me focussed and motivated. I am constantly training to evolve and become a recognized presence in the fitness industry. I am now a certified personal trainer and eating clean is a huge part my life, as well as my client’s and family’s. I still find time to enjoy the odd glass of full bodied red and some yummy Gorgonzola cheese, but in moderation. I hope to continue learning on this journey and inspire people to do the same.” ~Rita Catolino
BB411~ You struggled with your weight, what was the turning point when first getting into shape?
RC~ There wasn’t one specific moment; it was an accumulation of moments in time that led to my decision of taking my life back into my own hands. The most prevalent were the birth of my daughter and wanting to be a healthy role model for her. I also didn’t want to fit into the stereotypical “mom” role of “letting yourself go” after having kids. I had a desire to be strong both mentally and physically for this new being for which I was responsible for. ~Rita Catolino
BB411~ How did becoming a Personal Trainer/Fitness Coach and Fitness Model come to be?
RC~ I never planned on becoming either. It was passion that brought me here. As I started transforming my own body, women at the gym would ask for my help. I started guiding them and found that the nurturer and teacher in me (I was an ESL teacher and preschool teacher) were unleashed. I decided to leave my teaching career and jump head first into a new industry and soak up all that I could! The modelling came after doing a few fitness shows and being approached by photographers. I slowly worked up my portfolio and voila!
BB411~ How did you meet and come to work with Tosca Reno (How did the Eat Clean Diet change your life)?
RC~ The Eat Clean Diet was recommended to me after approaching a girl at the gym who had the body I had always dreamed of. I approached her and asked; “which exercises should I do to look like you?”- She laughed and responded with heavy weights, but my secret is the Eat Clean Diet. I don’t think I have ever run to Chapters so fast. I bought the book, read it front to back, and changed my life from that moment on. No questions, no excuses, no adapting. Something about the way it was written and laid out made it seem attainable and doable. I became a die-hard Tosca fan from that moment. After years of hard work and dedication, I was called on by Oxygen Magazine to shoot as their fitness model. I became to grow close to the photography team and make-up artists. When Valeria Nova, one of the artists inquired about getting a trainer, I jumped on board and started working with her. As Tosca’s makeup artist, it became aware to Tosca just how much Valeria changed her body. Curious to how, Tosca asked how she sculpted this new body. A month later, I had an email from Tosca asking to help prepare her for a Fitness show in honour of her late husband, Robert Kennedy. The rest as they say, is history.
BB411~ Where does your drive and focus come from?
RC~ I think it is an innate character trait. I have always been very self-demanding from as young as I can remember. I believe it is an intrinsic quality that can be improved upon, or forgotten about. Luckily for me, I had the example of two incredibly hard-working parents to follow by their example. My father came to Canada from Italy when he was 18, and had to work extremely hard to fit into his new culture. He taught me tenacity, dedication and to never give up through his own actions. My mother, intrinsically a very passionate woman, instilled in me at a very young age that anything was possible. I thank them both for helping nurture an already feisty soul.
BB411~ If you weren’t in the career you are today and you could be anything in the world what would it be?
RC~ I would definitely be an actress. I grew up going to special theatre schools and music schools. I would have loved to be a theatre actress, or even do movies. I love calling out my alter ego and being able to become another character.
BB411~ Which fitness and athletes did you admire growing up or do today?
RC~ I grew up in a culturally rich household where cooking, traditions like wine making, tomato sauce and sausages kept us busy. Music, theatre, piano and violin lessons were all part of our spare time. I don’t remember having any specific fitness or athletes that I looked up to. I do remember watching the Nadia Comaneci biography as a young girl and being very inspired by her. I went on to dabble in gymnastics because of her. Nowadays, I look up to Rafael Nadal for his amazing work ethic and of course in my industry, to Tosca Reno for her being one of the biggest motivators for my own personal journey.
BB411~ What is your fitness regimen what supplements are important to take when training?
RC~ My training is always changing depending on the season, if I am competing, travelling, or if I have an upcoming shoot. Generally speaking, I strength train 2 times per week (heavy dead lifts, squats, ring pulls, push ups, sled work). I also train my posterior chain 2 times per week, upper 2 times per week. I like to incorporate hot yoga 2 times per week. When I have the time, I will do HIIT (high intensity interval training). There are many supplements on the market. I stick to fish oil, vitamin C and D and Branched Chain Amino Acids (Rivalus). I also take a good probiotic for healthy gut flora.
BB411~ Favorite body part and favourite exercise to do?
RC~ I love to train shoulders. Such a beautiful body part, especially on a woman (the best accessory to any top). The Overhead push press is my favourite right now.
BB411~ Are there any key points you would give for someone prepping for a fitness competition?
RC~ Give yourself enough time to train for a show- if it is your fist time, don’t try to smash it all into 8 weeks. It takes time to build a physique worthy of stage. Hire a coach and get some proper guidance.
BB411~ What are the top reasons you would recommend an individual hiring a Coach?
RC~ It takes the guessing out of the equation. It is very hard for people to self-evaluate. There already comes a lot of self-doubt with the process, but if you have someone on your team reassuring your, telling you what to do and when, it makes the process and journey that much more enjoyable and doable.
BB411~ What has being a Mom meant to you?
RC~ EVERYTHING! Aside from the joy and daily pleasures I get from this amazing little being, I am also given daily lessons. If you really sit and listen to young children, they can teach you so much. They have uncensored thoughts and have not been jaded by life or circumstance yet. They are the truth and they will tell you like it is. She keeps me grounded and reminds me that at the end of the day, no matter what happened, I have her and she has me. It is the best relationship.
BB411~ How do you stay motivated with life’s daily stresses that come up?
RC~ There are days when I just want to stay home, stay under the covers and ignore the world- but those are precisely the days that I need to push extra hard and prove to myself that I CAN DO IT. I know the feeling of post workout endorphin rush- that feeling is undeniably the best feeling in the world. Every time I leave a session, I feel better, more energized and ready to tackle the daily list of things to do. I try to remember those feelings when I just don’t want to get to the gym.. I also give in to those feelings from time to time as well- and that is okay too.
BB411~ Have you always been in love with fashion and beauty?
RC~ YES I can remember from a young age sitting for hours with my mother’s jewelry and shoes and just being in awe of their wonderful colours and shapes. Growing up we visited Italy every summer, and as a young teenager, that is where my true love of style, fashion and beauty began.
BB411~ Describe your style?
RC~ A mix between boho-chic and euro classic. My go to is black, but it is not rare to see me in coral, green, yellow….
BB411~ What does beauty mean to you?
RC~ Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But the most beautiful woman is one with confidence.
BB411~ Are you involved in any charities that are close to your heart?
RC~ I support St.Joseph’s Hospice in London Ontario. I also donate and volunteer for many local based charities whether it is by emceeing, being a model or by giving monetarily.
BB411~ What does it mean to you to give back?
RC~ I have the honor of being able to help women daily with their self-image and confidence. After struggling myself, and now being on the other side, I feel blessed to give back to women and share my strategies and secrets to get their lives back and become the best version of themselves.
BB411~ If you could tell your younger self something you have learned and know now what would it be?
RC~ To not worry so much about what others think and follow your own passion. Stay true to yourself and your goals.
BB411~ 3 words that best describe you?
RC~ Passionate, Driven, Nurturer
BB411~ What is your skin care regime?
RC~ I am now obsessed with eye cream. I wash my face before bed with NeoStrata, use a Clinique toner, Estee Lauder Advanced Night repair Serum, Night Cream by Dr Renaud and Estee Lauder eye cream. Morning consists of day cream, eye cream and once a week a mask from Dermalogica. I try more as I get older as I am started to see changes….eek!! I go to the gym everyday and I don’t wear foundation but I do put the Dermalogica Skin-Perfect Primer on everyday.
BB411~ 3 beauty products you carry with you always?
RC~ Christian Dior Addict Lip Glow (Lip gloss brings out the natural hue of your lips, perfect for the gym), Bath and Body Works Vanilla body spray, Bert’s Bees hand cream (For cold Canadian winters). I can’t leave out YSL’s Touche Eclat.
BB411~ #1 beauty product you could not live without
RC~ Guerlain Bronzer/Highlighter
BB411~ Do any certain scents remind you of your childhood and what is your favorite fragrance?
RC~ Yes. My nonna (grandmother) used to wear an Estee Lauder sparkly scented powder in a crème box that she kept in her bedroom. I loved her so much as well as the scent. I can’t find it anymore, but my mom had one for years; I used to stick my nose in it all day when she passed. I love intense smells, chocolatey with cinnamon, coffee and patchouli notes. Angel is my favourite winter scent, while POISON by Dior is my current scent.
BB411~ Do you have a best kept beauty secret that has been passed down to you (say from your Mother or Grandmother)?
RC~ My Father’s mother, Lucia who recently passed and lived in Italy, swore by Olive Oil. She used it on her skin, hair and nails. Whenever we had dry knuckles, elbows and nails growing up, my mom would slather it on my sister and I.
BB411~ Fun fact that your fans may not know about you?
RC~ A lot of my fans don’t know that I speak fluent Italian and Spanish and that I lived in Spain for over 5 years. I also have my grade 8 piano and played the violin for 7 years. I also am a foodie who loves to cook!
BB411~ Favorite food?
RC~ Seafood (scallops).
BB411~ Favorite cheat meal?
RC~ Charcuterie board with artisanal cheese, pate and spreads.
BB411~ Favorite smoothie recipe?
RC~ Spinach, beets, ginger, apple, avocado, cinnamon and some pure cocoa nibs.
BB411~ #1 thing you want to cross off your bucket list?
RC~ Write my own book.
BB411~ Favourite Quote?
RC~ I don’t have one I’m not a quote girl, but Tosca said something to me last week when we were at lunch. I was thanking her for everything she’s done for me, even though I was prepared she gave me the opportunity. She said “Success is when preparedness and opportunity meet”.
BB411~ What has been your biggest Aha Moment so far in life?
RC~ I think when I left Canada to study in Spain for a year by myself with no real knowledge of the Spanish language. After living there for a year and fending for myself, having immersed myself in the language and conquering my fears, I knew that there was nothing in life that was impossible. It gave me the confidence in life that I had lacked until then.
BB411~ What advice would you give entrepreneurs starting out that are following their dreams?
RC~ Do it headfirst without looking back. Make sure it is something that you are truly passionate about. When you work for yourself, you will be working at all hours of the day, days of the week. No 9-5 ~ Your brain is constantly working. This is great if you LOVE what you do, but if you don’t, then you will end up regretting it.
BB411~ Where do you see yourself in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years?
RC~ I see my online program growing to include more videos, tutorials and expanding to reach more women worldwide. In 5 years, I see myself becoming more internationally known, especially in Spain where I am just starting to break ground. I envision the Spanish community welcoming me as their fitness expert. A book will definitely happen too; that could happen in 1, 5 or 10 years. I will continue to evolve and stay current in this ever-changing industry with the ultimate goal of helping people, specifically women, find their optimal self. I am here to stay!
BB411~ When I say the words #lovethis, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
To keep up to date on Rita be sure to follow her on Twitter , like on Facebook, check out You Tube, Pinterest and Website.
Remember to check back in and follow my journey as Rita helps me take it to the next level!
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I look forward to hearing from all of you, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply leave a comment here
Much Love, Beauty Buzz 411