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Derina Wilson
How I Got Stronger and More Motivated After Breast Cancer

Derina Wilsons Stats When We Talked with Her 💪

United States
40 years
155 cm
(5 ‘1)
50 kg
(110 lbs)

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Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training

Hi, my name is Derina Wilson. I am 40 years old and I am from Long Island, New York. I am a personal trainer, a certified yoga/Pilates/barre instructor, a choreographer, and an IFBB Professional Fitness Competitor…currently ranked 4th place in the world in Fitness at the Arnold Classic 2020.

I’m a breast cancer survivor and am two years cancer-free! I have a beautiful Black English Bulldog rescue fur baby named Bubba.

I started competing in 2015 and won and earned my IFBB Pro Card at my very first competition Team Universe. I began competing after losing my father to kidney failure…my mother passed two years later from heart disease…I wanted a healthy lifestyle and to change the illnesses that took over my families health.

I have competed and/or participated in gymnastics as an elite athlete, dance, cheerleading, fencing, and I received a scholarship for springboard diving at Queens College. I’m also a certified yoga/Pilates/barre instructor and teach classes as well as private lessons. My hobbies include going to parks and beaches with Bubba, hanging with my amazing friends, and cooking and gardening.

My sponsor Nutrition53 contacted me through linked in and once I won my first show they sponsored me immediately by helpline with finances for each show and supplying me with the best protein powders and supplements in the biz.

My other sponsor is Kannaway…a Top 3 in the world CBD company that helped tremendously in my recovery from my double mastectomy with zero chemotherapy, radiation, or Tamoxifen needed because my tumor shrank 75% after using pharmaceutical grade CBD for two months before my surgery.

Another sponsor of mine is Liquid Sun Rayz, which gives me a beautiful glow for the stage. I love my friends and all of the beautiful people I’ve met in this industry.

Many would think of men and women with huge muscles to be mean and intimidating but it’s exactly the opposite…everyone is so kind and helpful and I’m so blessed that have such amazing friends from all around the world that love to flip and lift heavy stuff and put them down lol!

Something that’s true in fitness that nobody agrees with me on is that not everybody takes steroids…hard work and genetics can be confused by most by bodybuilders taking drugs.

Describe a typical day of training

I train five to six days a week and I train 2 1/2 a day but up to five hours when I’m closer to a show.

My training philosophy is proper form and body alignment will prevent injuries and give you better results when you put your mind to the muscle.

My training is split up into Shoulders/Biceps/Triceps, chest and back, and legs. I train five to six days a week and I train 2 1/2 a day but up to five hours when I’m closer to a show. I pay attention to what my coach Lena Squarciafico tells me to focus on and the amount of cardio I should be doing.

Off-season bulking techniques are less cardio and train heavy and my pre competition fat loss techniques are adding more cardio, carb cycling and reducing water a few days out from a show.

I train at FitLife in East Islip, Long Island…I train there because we’re like family. You see the same people every day improving themselves, motivating each other with positive words and I was a member first before working there and I purely love the environment of a family gym not packed with meat heads.

I have been training alone my whole life but for about a year before COVID-19, I worked out with a friend who would spot me and push me to do five more!!

I take a pre workout from my sponsor Nutrition53 before my workout and I eat a clean meal of protein and veggies after my workout or a protein shake from Nutrition53.

In my fitness bag, I have my Bob Marley cordless earphones, my XShape waist trainer designed by fellow fitness sister Kate Errington, my exercise bands, my heels to practice posing, my tiger paws for my wrist for tumbling, a towel, and a clean pair of underwear. ????

My cardio is a half hour every day of either walking, biking, elliptical, or stair climber but it can increase to two to three hours depending on how I’m looking before a show.

My favorite exercises are Tricep pull downs, leg extensions, and any back exercise as I’m always looking to strengthen my back due to bulging, protruding discs, spondylosis, herniated discs, and arthritis. I do not use a pulse watch or a training log…it’s all in my head. ????????

How do you keep going and push harder?

I motivate myself to get to the gym when I don’t want to by remembering the feeling of accomplishment when I leave! And I follow all of my fitness sisters on social media to keep me held accountable for each day but I know when I need to have a rest day. I grew up as a gymnast so it’s embedded in my brain to keep moving!

My best hacks for improving in the gym are to remember the weight in which you started your first set out with and increase it to a heavier weight in the future to gain strength.

I make myself keep going and push harder when I think about my past and how being sedentary led to the end of my parents life. I make time for my training because it’s a part of my life but I also include my rescue dog Bubba who’s a black English Bulldog so we can spend quality time together in nature while we walk.

The biggest challenge I faced was getting out of bed while I mourned the loss of my parents and my breasts as a breast cancer survivor.

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

Well, today we’re in a different time so I’ve been quarantined for months making it challenging to workout from home with minimal equipment but I get it done most days. Well, I love Pilates and always go back to this to help with back pain, lengthening muscles and keeping me lean.

My goals for the next five years are to compete as long as I can and physical therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractor visits will help me maintain my flexibility and mobility.

In the next five years, I would love to have a baby! 40 is not old anymore if you take care of yourself …my great friend and fitness pro Ryall Graber is 40 and about to have a beautiful baby.

I wouldn’t change anything if I had to start over. God made my plan of my life and I think it all fell into place. Although quitting gymnastics at 13 was one of the most difficult days in my life I believe it opened up more opportunities for me and actually saved me from two child molesters who are now in jail.

The advice I would give to my younger self is that a coach is not meant to break you down and hurt you…a coach is supposed to encourage you and build you up! Because of my experience with mean coaches in the past, I changed how I am when I work with clients…I’ve been told that I was their favorite coach and that I was kind but strict, which is the best way to train an athlete.

How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?

I believe because of my dedication I’m able to heal quickly.

Hmmmm well, there are no avoiding injuries as I have many from my gymnastics…but getting a double mastectomy from a Stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis after winning 6th place at the Arnold Classic 2018 and then having to take off for two years before returning was extremely tough! This was the first time I couldn’t flip or go upside down since I was a kid. I took this as an opportunity to rest my body as it’s been beaten up for years and to sleep, which is what my body needed most!

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I get around eight hours of sleep each night and I thank my CBD oil from Kannaway for jump starting my ability to sleep again. Injuries can be devastating but doing everything you can to heal quick is important. I believe because of my dedication I’m able to heal quickly.

I loveee to travel and I always have so when changes happen in my schedule I embrace it and enjoy this time to travel. I take CBD oil, which helps incredibly in my recovery…. And I use protein powder from my sponsor Nutrition53.

For recovery at home, I have a Rollga foam roller and a melt method foam roller, I have a Tim Tam massager, and a travel electric TENS unit.

I go to physical therapy once a week, and chiropractor and acupuncture every other week. It took me a very long time to get over my career as a gymnast but I wanted to be an overall athlete but first I had to heal from Ankle reconstructive surgery at the age of 13.

I was accepted to Bela Karolyis Olympic training camp in Texas but I turned it down to heal and compete/participate in a variety of sports.

As an adult it helped to speak to a therapist to understand where my fear of failure came from…which was embedded in me from my ex coach but I had to understand where it’s all led me and now I’m happy where I am.

How is your diet and what supplements do you use?

I follow a basic clean diet of protein (fish, steak, chicken, turkey, eggs), good carbs (brown rice, sweet potato, red potato, oatmeal), and lots of veggies! I’ve been following this diet since 2015 and it’s so important for building the body the way you want with lean muscle.

I do not track calories but I do count protein, carbs, fat, & veggies. It changes from off-season to on-season where I eat more of a variety of colors of fruits and veggies in the off-season and enjoy more cheat meals.

On-season, I limit or cut my fruit to only berries and I stick to greens. When I go out to dinner, I can usually figure it out and the waitress and chef are usually very accommodating when I say I’m a pro fitness competitor and have to be very strict with my diet.

I usually make a joke about it like I’ll pretend it’s your special of the night or something…and if I go to a party depending on who it is, I’ll bring my own meals from my sponsor @fuelchef_frank. I take CBD from Kannaway as a supplement and also take supplements like a multi vitamin and vitamin c from @nutrition53.

I eat about every three hrs and enjoy cheat meals more in the off-season and sparingly in season. My cheat days usually include the things I don’t usually eat like bread, cheese, and chocolate! And yes, I’m a chocoholic. In season I’ll have a spoonful of peanut butter and Nutella to curb my craving.

My stage weight is 110 but off-season I’m a normal 120-124 lbs. I stay pretty small throughout the year with yoga, Pilates, barre, and eating clean most of the time.

When I’m cutting, I’m carb cycling, I’m doing longer amounts of fasted cardio, I’m limiting carbs, and limiting water closer to comp day. I handle hunger by drinking water, and snacking on cucumbers and greens with lemon…if that doesn’t work I go to sleep or take a nap because I know my energy is low.

I love coffee, tea, and alcohol. I love a lil creamer in my coffee in the off season and either black or with a couple stevia and cinnamon in season. Tea I enjoy plain and my alcohol of choice is tequila…lower in carbs and sugar????. I’m known for taking a shot of tequila before going on stage to relax and enjoy the moment.

What has inspired and motivated you?

My parents have inspired me and motivated me. They’re old way of thinking about you can’t teach an old dog new tricks led my parents health to decline rapidly.

My father passed away at 64 from kidney failure and my mother passed at 69 from heart failure…too young. My sister Desiree Sparrow and I did not want to live like that one day so we chose diet and exercise to help us lead healthier lifestyles than we were taught.

I also listen to podcasts to motivate me and my favorite is Chalene Johnson. When I’m training I usually listen to reggaeton and sometimes you can catch me dancing a Lil.

The best advice I’ve ever received was to put myself out there…you’ll never know unless you put yourself out there and face your fear.

My IFBB Pro fitness competitors inspire me everyday! They’re all from different walks of life from all over the world with the same dream living and working through injuries and adversity. And of course, I follow all of my fitness sisters as we learn from each other and because they’re the bomb!!

Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?

The majority of people don’t know how to slow down and let go of their ego.

If I was new to bodybuilding/fitness, I would ask a professional for help. Just like you get a plumber to help with your toilet you should find someone who can help you with the basics of fitness…diet and exercise.

I would try different fitness classes and different modalities to keep me interested and figure out what I like. I’ve seen some pretty strange and interesting people in the gym who don’t know how to use equipment or don’t use it properly and if the timing is right now I’ll help them out but I feel like they will be offended I’ll leave them alone.

The majority of people don’t know how to slow down and let go of their ego. They’ll pick a heavier weight and swing it to help it up but are risking injury. Won’t they don’t know is that it’s better to lift a lighter weight with better form to get the most benefit.

”Put your mind to the muscle” is what I always say. I combine bodybuilding and fitness with yoga, Pilates, and barre and I’m happy with the results of long, lean, strong, and flexible muscles!

In my life I’m played/competed in gymnastics (highly competitive elite gymnast), Volleyball, cheerleading/co-Ed cheerleading, dance, fencing, and springboard diving and I believe that my gymnastics background has helped me tremendously with all of the aspects needed to be a great athlete…and muscle memory is a fabulous thing as I’m now 40 years old and feel like I’m 25.

Are you taking on clients right now?

Yes! I’m taking on clients right now! In spite of the pandemic, I am now safely training clients in the safety of their homes. I specialize in giving the client what they need…from fitness to yoga, Pilates, barre, water aerobics, hands on stretching, help with diet, etc.

My style of training comes from an understanding and compassionate place. I listen to the clients struggles and what they want to improve on. I understand their strengths and know the weaknesses that they want to improve on. I listen to what outside struggles they have and will always lend an ear when my client needs to vent.

I have recently been doing Zoom sessions online with private clients and they’ve been working out fabulously. The most common question I get asked is if I lift heavy will I get bulky? And I stand up at 5’1 and all of 110-125 lbs of me and say “Do I look bulky?”

I used to be heavier at a size 7 but I was lifting heavy and not dieting …so moral of the story is you have to eat clean and exercise in order to get the body that you want.

Where can we learn more about you?

My website is
Instagram: @ifbbproderinawilson
Facebook: IFBB Pro Derina Wilson
YouTube: Derina Wilson

My main channels are Instagram and Facebook but I would like to get more into YouTube.

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