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Over the past three months, many of Miami’s top chefs, including the Design District’s Dena Marino, have noticeably slimmed down. It wasn’t because of a crazy new diet regime it was because they were all participating in a friendly fitness fundraiser and competition called Fit to Fight.

The event was started by Washington, D.C. chef and restaurateur and Top Chef All-Stars Runner-Up, Mike Isabella, who launched his first Fit to Fight regional challenge in Miami on June 30. Twelve of Miami’s chefs kicked off the weight loss contest to raise funds for Live To Fight, a nonprofit organization that brings together people in the martial arts and mixed martial arts community to raise money and offer additional support for people with life-threatening illnesses.

Dena Marino Flex

But for Marino the competition became a positive life change. While Marino originally got involved to see if she could “push herself” and raise money for a great cause — the competition quickly became a lifestyle overhaul.

She admits she never scheduled much time for fitness and workouts prior to participating in the challenge, but after trying out some of the classes at Flywheel and Sobekick Gym that quickly changed. So much so that her fitness routine soon became to rival those of seasoned fitness buffs.

Dena Marino

“My favorite workout definitely was at Sobekick — the boxing part of it,” Marino adds. “We started twelve weeks ago and eleven weeks ago I was hooked! I would box with Thomas all week and then double up on classes 2 to 3 days a week.”

Marino’s diet got a revamp as well. Although her restaurant MC Kitchen is known for having some of the best pasta in town she learned how to curb her carb cravings opting instead for chicken, fish and vegetables and learning how to eat small meals throughout the day.

Dena Marino

“It was very, very hard especially in the beginning and then it became easier,” Marino notes. “I got used to it and also how to take a small spoonful of cavatelli not to eat the whole bowl!”

Through the competition she lost 16 pounds and helped raise $1,500 for Fit to Fight in the process. She plans to keep up the fitness and clean eating and hopes it will soon rub off on her staff.

“My staff watched me for the past 12 weeks change and conquer maybe they will get on the change with me” she says.


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