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Daniela Leccisi
How I Stay Strong and Compete in Bodybuilding Despite Having Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Daniela Leccisis Stats When We Talked with Her πŸ’ͺ

New Zealand
36 years
170 cm
70 kg
(154 lbs)

Follow Daniela on Instagram and Facebook

πŸ‘‹ Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training

Hello, my name is Daniela Leccisi and I’m from Napoli (Italy). I’m a 36yo mother of a 8yo boy called Alessandro.

I’ve always been into dancing and exercise in general and I started my career in the fitness industry over 10 years ago, when after a breakup all I had left was my passion for fitness.

I was a Set designer, a costume maker and painter before, but I needed a full change of life and a little after that I found who now is my husband.

I moved with him to London and then to New Zealand where I started competing for NZIFBB in 2015.

I was introduced to bodybuilding competitions by my mentor Massimo Massari in Italy, but I wasn’t mentally ready to commit to all that discipline and to give up food for it, but that idea has been popping up often and I had to do it!

⏱ Describe a typical day of training

A typical off season day of training for me is having a good breakfast, heading to the gym and train an hour and a half later. This is the time where I usually lift weights.

Straight after I have a light meal and a nice hot shower. It might be Monday lower body, Tuesday upper body, Wednesday rest, Thursday lower body and Friday upper body.

My training has been pretty consistent and I used to do on competition time, the old good low intensity cardio and periodized body splits.

My weights sessions are one session heavy weights and one is lighter and more reps.

I don’t take any supplements as I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (an autoimmune disease) and I’m scared to make any extra damage to my body.

During competition time it has been quite frustrating as I had to overtrain to reach the bodyfat percentage I wanted.

This meant 4 sessions of weights per week plus 2 fasted hours of cardio (morning and night) and one at lunch time daily.

I usually train on my own as I don’t like to rest too much between the sets and get distracted, so I need to put my headphones on with disco music and follow the beat.

I’m also pretty particular about the time of the day. It must be late morning when I have the gym all for myself.

πŸ‘Š How do you keep going and push harder?

It’s hard to stay focused and keep on pushing hard. I lost motivation a lot of times, maybe for the diet and the overload of training, but I then learnt that the discipline I had to keep at that time helped me to be a better mum and a better Trainer.

I always try to put a training session when I have free time since family comes first for me, but sometimes for your mental health you have to cut an hour off whatever you are doing to train, because we all know that it’s important.

πŸ† How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today I finally own my own gym Endorphinz Fitness Club and this will be my long term project.

The load of work that comes with it is massive since I’m also a personal trainer and a mum, so I have decided to put competitions on hold as it will be too hard for me to get the right rest to keep my body healthy.

If there is anything I would change in my bodybuilding career is the timing. Maybe competing before having a child was going to be easier. The lack of sleep, working out so tired hasn’t been easy at all!

I also fell in love with Pole Dancing which gives me dance, flexibility and strength in one session πŸ™‚

πŸ€• How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?

I luckily don’t get injured, it might be because I have a very good form, it might be because I’m careful, but I never experienced an injurie due to a training session.

Before owning my gym it was easier to rest as I was taking days off work as well to listen to my body.

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I go to sauna once a month since I don’t have easy access to a sauna now, massage once a week have been a good help for sure, and floating tank once a month. I also use a shakti mat 45 minutes every second day.

To properly function I need to sleep 8 hours per night and this doesn’t happen all the times. My thyroid issue also gives me fatigue, so sometimes I don’t really understand my body πŸ™‚

🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?

I have been researching what to eat to help my body functioning better with Hashimoto’s and I tried: keto, paleo, and AIP (Autoimmune Protocol Diet).

The first 2 didn’t give me the results I had with the AIP. AIP is an autoimmune protocol, very restrictive, very frustrating, but I felt amazing while on it.

Reintroducing foods kind of messed up with my system and I ended up getting all my symptoms back including body fat on my legs.

What I do now is keeping gluten and dairy to the minimum, no nuts as they give me a terrible water retention, and try to eat a good balance of macros.

I still eat 4 to 5 meals per day, I tried fasting and I put on some kilos, so I guess it doesn’t work for my issues.

I don’t use any supplements, I try to get everything I need from food.

My goal is to keep a decent body fat all year as I found my body doesn’t like bulk and cut.

I let myself have some alcohol over the weekend (a glass of wine with good food). I’ve never been drunk in my life, I don’t drink as a social thing. As a South Italian I like food more πŸ™‚

Coffee I pretty much reduced from 8/9 espressos a day to max 2 because I know it’s not good for my thyroid. During comp prep I completely stop caffeine and I feel amazing.

I had cheat days when I was on a diet and I felt so horrible and gross that I totally stopped, it didn’t make sense for me.

πŸ‘ What has inspired and motivated you?

As I was an artist in the past, I always looked at the beauty of the human body, the proportions and the shapes, so building my own body and helping other people doing it makes me feel an artist πŸ™‚ and it motivates me.

I see my clients as a white canvas or a piece of clay ready to be shaped and this is very exciting for me.

✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?

All I can recommend to people starting a fitness journey is to see a trainer in person.

To improve you need to be open to make some lifestyle changes and it might be easier with some help. There is a lot out there and I think the best start is setting up goals easy to achieve to keep the motivation high.

I see a lot of people afraid to ask for advices and it’s pretty sad considering the quantity of information available today, and I think it’s crucial to ask for help to avoid avoid injuries, as they can put people off.

🀝 Are you taking on clients right now?

I’m taking on new clients at the moment as I settled as gym owner and I now have again more time for my clients.

I constantly see people getting online programs, coming into my gym and ending up injured or with very poor form.

I still love the real one to one sessions as at least in my case are 100% customized to my clients needs.

I also do online training for clients have been with me in person (or with a video assessment of exercise form) and I know how they move and I’m sure they will get 100% of what they want from a session.

Depending on the goals a client might trains only 3 months or I have clients that have been with me for 4 or 5 years as they want to keep on learning movement patterns or improve in some other areas.

On my social medias I always get this question: what do you take to get up on stage? And the answer is nothing, just training and eating clean.

πŸ“ Where can we learn more about you?

I’m not so good at keeping the social media up to date, but here the links if you want to find out more
about me, my gym and my team:

About me: Facebook @danielaleccisi and Instagram @danielaleccisi.

About my gym and my team: Facebook @endorphinzfitnessclub and Instagram @endorphinzfitnessclub

Also check out my gym at

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