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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 25, 2002

Steady workout, diet leave Wahine leaner

 •  Chart: Wahine kine grinds

By Ann Miller
Advertiser Staff Writer

When the Rainbow Wahine volleyball season opens Friday, fourth-ranked University of Hawai'i has the potential to be all it was last year and much more.

UH senior Hedder Ilustre enjoys cooking for herself. See what the Rainbow Wahine like to eat.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

• • •

Hedder Ilustre's Whipped Fruit Salad

2 cans of peaches
2 cans of mixed fruit
sliced strawberries
diced bananas
sliced apples
1 tub of cool whip
1 small tub of cream cheese

Mix thoroughly until the cream cheese is spread throughout.

Put in refrigerator for 1 hour or more.

Serve chilled

It is also much less. The Rainbows are approximately 10 percent lighter than they were a year ago.

The most dramatic difference can be seen in Maja Gustin, Margaret Vakasau-sau and Melody Eckmier. All dropped between 10-20 pounds without losing any strength.

Evidence that lean and mean had become trendy came when the team first got back together and ran their mile. Every player came in under the 7-minute requirement the first day — for the first time.

Coach Dave Shoji insists he no longer watches his players' weight. They all receive a workout book to live by during the summer, but it includes no nutritional information. Shoji, whose guilty pleasure is shoyu chicken plate with chili on rice at Rainbow Drive-In, never offers an ideal weight to shoot for.

"If you put pressure on them about a certain number, that's when you can have a serious problem," he says. "We don't want that. We want them to feel good about what they're doing. They know what the ideal weight is for them and they know how to get there."

They go at it in different ways.

Vakasausau spent her summer here, working out religiously and playing everytime a volleyball caught her eye. She traced part of her inspiration to the day she held a 10-pound weight in her hand and saw what it did to her vertical jump.

Gustin, a vegetarian the past four years, made a conscious decision to be more disciplined in her lifestyle last spring. It continued this summer while she was in Europe playing for Slovenia's national team. She and Hedder Ilustre are among the Wahine who enjoy cooking for themselves.

Eckmier has UCLA to thank.

Her sister Angela plays for the Bruins and went to Westwood four times a week to work out with teammates. Melody woke at 5:30 a.m. and tagged along. Once she had access to the campus facilities, she split from her sister and worked out on her own.

"I knew I had to get quicker and stronger to compete for a spot this season," Eckmier said. "I've really been working on my running. Spring was hard, but in a good way. And I had a great opportunity at UCLA. It has a nice track, stadium stairs, a weight room I can use."

Eckmier noticed Gustin's improved quickness the first day of practice, then realized she was also quicker and hitting the ball harder. Her knees didn't hurt as much and she has more stamina.

She didn't set a specific goal this summer, but did give herself a mission: "What I said to myself is, 'I have to go hard all the time. That translates into working harder and it's natural for the body to lose weight when you go hard. And it gives you confidence."

Gustin did not change her diet but did cut back, and "took control" of her health choices. She returned to meditation so she could better "follow her intuition." She wanted to eat more fresh food, so avoided restaurants, particularly in Europe.

"If you eat fresh food your spirit will be good, you will feel fresh, you will feel creative," she says. "If you eat bad food, you don't feel good."

Some Rainbows, like Shoji, are eternally lean. Lauren Duggins and Nohea Tano are always trying to gain strength and weight. Strength has come, weight has not.

Duggins' goal was to maintain the strength she gained last spring, particularly in her upper body, and be able to "go stronger, longer."

She comes by her perpetual 6-foot, 145-pound frame naturally. Her mother, Deb, grew up in Hawai'i and is an avid runner. Lauren tried to keep up this summer and ate as much of her mom's "always healthy" food as she could.

But after dinner, her diet never deviates.

"My favorite food is ice cream," she admits. "Got to have that after every dinner. The real stuff, not yogurt."