Soldier balances bodybuilding with Army life

By Staff Sgt. Neysa CanfieldMarch 15, 2018

Soldier balances bodybuilding with Army life
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Second Lt. Angela M. DiMattia, family readiness leader for 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, conducts an arm workout, Feb. 23, 2018, at McKibben Physical Fitness Center on Fort Carson, Colorado. DiMattia, a native of Fort Benni... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Soldier balances bodybuilding with Army life
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Second Lt. Angela M. DiMattia, family readiness leader for 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, conducts a dumbbell workout, Feb. 23, 2018, at McKibben Physical Fitness Center on Fort Carson, Colorado. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sg... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

While most Soldiers are waking up and preparing to drive into work at 4 a.m., 2nd Lt. Angela DiMattia is already starting her day with an hour of high-intensity cardio.

The cardio session was only a small portion of a grueling 14-week workout and diet regimen the family readiness leader for 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, followed in preparation for the Arnold Classic bodybuilding show held in Columbus, Ohio, March 1, 2018, through March 10, 2018.

DiMattia's regimen consisted of at least one hour of cardio twice a day, a lifting routine, and six planned meals throughout the day, in addition to juggling the responsibilities of being an Army officer, she said.

"I have to keep my heart rate at a certain number when I do cardio," said DiMattia. "I usually don't know what we will be doing for physical training (PT), so I have to do my own workout and whatever we do for PT is just extra."

In order for DiMattia to look her best on the stage, she has to follow her workout and diet plan meticulously.

"I'm still a Soldier, so I have to go to (field training exercises), ranges or have to work early days or late nights, but I always have to be one step ahead of things I can't control," she said. "On those days I'm tired and it's been a long day, I tell myself, 'You just have to focus on the finish.'"

DiMattia is no stranger to the stage.

"This will be the fourth show I've competed in, but my first national pro qualifier show," said DiMattia. "My first show, in 2015, was really small and located in my hometown, but since then I have mixed a little bit of all my (fitness) experiences into one."

Although DiMattia's passion for the stage began in 2015, her commitment to nutrition started much earlier.

"I was 2 years old when my mother was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes," said DiMattia. "As long as I can remember

I watched her (inject) herself with insulin and monitor her carb and sugar intake. She made me very aware of how important it was to take care of yourself."

Her knowledge of nutrition was quickly followed by her passion for fitness.

"I ran 5Ks since kindergarten and I started playing softball at 5 years old," she said. "My first research paper in sixth grade was about the importance of nutrition and exercise. I even made a video of me doing push ups and eating celery."

DiMattia played softball throughout college and slowly progressed into more endurance-based exercises such as marathons, ultra-marathons and ultimately participated in the Iron Man marathon.

But that was not enough for DiMattia, she needed a new challenge.

"CrossFit was really big and new back in 2012, so I joined that community," she said. "I started lifting and got stronger; I was having so much fun."

She was still involved in endurance sports and began volunteering in her hometown's annual Soldier marathon as the fallen hero coordinator.

It was then that DiMattia's interest in joining the military grew. Her grandfather was a retired Army first sergeant.

"So I was no stranger to the military," said DiMattia. "I have journaled my entire life and the military was a common pattern throughout the years, but after volunteering and seeing the names and the history behind the fallen Soldiers it struck a chord in my heart that I could no longer ignore."

DiMattia ended up enlisting into the Georgia National Guard and going through the Army ROTC.

Following an injury three years ago, DiMattia turned to her now coach, Thomas Wade.

"He and I are on this journey together, and I don't want to share it with anyone else," DiMattia said.

A bodybuilder and Strongman competitor, Wade saw her potential immediately.

"When I first met (Angie) and she told (me) about her athletic background and that she was military, I quickly knew she had what it took to push herself when things got difficult," Wade said.

He said bodybuilding takes dedica­tion, discipline and competitiveness and DiMattia showed all those qualities.

Wade said bodybuilding takes a lot of physical strength and it is extremely important to have mental toughness.

"You have to be strong mentally, for this sport, because at the end of the day regardless of how many people you have behind you or what is going on in your life at that moment, you have to make the decision to push yourself that extra mile," Wade said.

Mental toughness was something she was able to derive from her fitness experience.

"(Mental strength) is a good quality for a Soldier and leader in the Army," said DiMattia. "You have to be resilient in times when you think you can't push yourself anymore because as a leader the straighter line you walk the more you can influence others."

DiMattia said she enjoys helping friends, families and Soldiers fulfill their fitness goals.

"There is nothing more rewarding than helping someone with their own health, lengthening their life and giving them tools to become a healthier person," said DiMattia. "I truly believe that fitness and health are the foundation of happiness and your effectiveness to living."

DiMattia's goal for the near future is to earn her International Federation of Bodybuilders professional card, which allows her to compete at higher levels and be supportive of the Families and friends of the Soldiers with 2IBCT.

"If I can help the Families here, so that the Soldiers downrange can do their jobs in order for everyone to come home safe, I will be happy," said DiMattia. "And if any Family members need advice on fitness I am definitely happy to help."