Brief Look Back

My last time on stage was in 2013. It was a roller coaster of a year for me as I made a huge career change, said goodbye to my favorite car (it died on me after 10 years), and I made my IFBB Pro Figure Debut… What a ride! These pics are some points along the way… April in the top left, November in the bottom right.  22 weeks and 25 lbs difference.

1456551_10153429638955006_1089832338_n

 

This show was my first show as a Pro and might turn out to be my last.  Although one never knows what the future holds, it is safe to say that going through one more competition preparation might do some major damage to my health.  In 2010, I earned my pro status at the Team Universe show held in Hackensack, NJ.  It was a momentous day and I really put my heart and soul into making my dream come true… What unfolded in the next few weeks post show was a nightmare I thought I would never experience.  Extreme water retention, weight gain, cravings, gastrointestinal issues, irregular periods, aching joints, exhaustion… I went into hiding and hated leaving my apartment for anything.  I had done major damage to myself by overtraining, undereating, and doing way too much cardiovascular exercise… 3 hours per day, 7 days per week for 9 weeks straight… No complex carbohydrates, too much protein, very low-fat… DISASTER!

I worked with several doctors and hired a coach based out of Canada to help get me on track.  We had success and after 6 months of working together, I thought I could try things on my own for a while, which I did successfully.  By fall 2012, when I made the decision to change careers and put an action plan together, I had gotten my body to a place where I wasn’t hating myself anymore, but I was trying very hard to continue working towards the body, the image, the shape that I recognize… the one I feel comfortable in.

Fast forward about 8 months… Now I’m a Personal Trainer working at a gym, running my online business Fit by Tiana, and coaching athletes with their stage presentations at local competitions.  It felt like maybe I could saddle up and compete one more time. Maybe documenting my experience on social media would help build my following and also show clients, friends and supporters how transparent I am… which would ultimately help my business long-term.

So, I jumped into another show prep with the help of a different coach.  We took things slow at first, not a ton of cardio, eating a lot of food, training very heavy weights… A recipe for success, if you will.  I knew this could be dangerous… being as I had already experienced countless doctor visits, MRIs, lab tests, detoxes, etc… I made a deal with myself….

“If I start to feel shitty at any point during this process, I will drop out of the show”

What do you think happened??? 🙂 Yup… I felt fine…. all the way until I was about 3 weeks out.  Can you imagine preparing for 19 weeks and suddenly

… you look 5 months pregnant after every meal?

… most meals make you nauseous?

… you break out in hives or have severely dry skin?

… your energy plummets (like way more than you’ve ever felt before) you can barely lift your arms or keep your eyes open?

… you want to drop out of the show?….. but…… you don’t….

I went through with the competition… not feeling well… not looking my best… not confident… and ashamed of myself… for something completely out of my control.  My body was not happy with me… and here I was having flashbacks and reliving similar bad experiences from 2010.

Was there glory in finishing the process? yes… absolutely! Did my business pick up after the show? yes… it did.  Did I secretly hate myself again for being foolish? YES!

Those few minutes on the stage were glorious in some ways… but the price I paid was not.  So, while I am very proud of what I have accomplished, and I miss the stage very much… I know my purpose is not to compete.. but rather to help other people who want to compete and to aid them in not making the same mistakes I made.  I recently was told by an old acquaintance that she felt competing was “completely self-serving” and “nothing good comes out of it”.  I would have to disagree wholeheartedly.  I learned so much about myself through every single show I competed in from 2000 to 2013… and I would not trade that knowledge for the world.  My clients are better served because of my personal experiences, good and not so good.  The simple fact is no one forces anyone to do anything… we all make choices in life and we need to own them.

Advertisements

What division?

This is a common question for many people who are interested in competing in a Bodybuilding show, but perhaps do not know what category to enter.  The more people you ask, the more confusing it can become.  The wave of Social Media “celebrities” combined with the generation of required instant gratification, has really made competing even more convoluted than before.  Here’s my suggestion… After watching a few shows, decide which category you think would be most enjoyable for you to compete in… now I use the word enjoyable cautiously here.  Let’s be straight, competing is NOT all enjoyable, fun, rainbows and gold coins.  It is a lot of hard work.  We know this.  But the only way a person will get any valuable feedback is by going through the preparation process, getting on stage, having some photos taken and getting a critique from the head judge of the show (This is something you would do post show by sending a polite email introducing yourself along with a stage photo showing your number).

Now, if you have your heart set on a specific division, but perhaps you just need more time to develop a certain body part, than humble yourself, put in the work (which may take years) and focus on that end goal of getting on stage in the division of your choosing.  If you decide to keep competing without giving your body ample time to recuperate and develop, you will not evolve and your chances of success may dwindle.  Bodybuilding (and all of the other divisions included) is one of those beautiful hobbies that will afford you the opportunity to improve over time.  The body cannot develop while under a caloric restriction.  So the idea of dieting for a show and trying to “build up” a certain body part at the same time is illogical and foolish.  Hypertrophy (GROWTH) requires proper amounts of fuel and a specific method of training.

If your heart’s desire is to get on stage and you are willing to do a little trial and error until you find the right division for yourself, you might have a little easier time… doesn’t mean you won’t diet as much as the next person, or be able to skip training certain body parts… But you may wind up placing or having a good competition experience because you chose a division that may be the right fit for your body type/structure/build.

Again, it’s about having clear goals and utilizing resources to achieve the best outcome possible… and that term “best outcome possible” I leave to interpretation.  One person’s best might be a Top 10 placing.  Another might want to win an Overall title… and another person might want to just be onstage and bask in that glory.  There is no right or wrong, it’s about personal goals.

Find someone experienced and honest to consult with,  if you feel unsure.  I am willing to give my input.

Email me: fitbytiana@gmail.com

Remember… Everyone starts somewhere.  Never give up on your health and fitness goals!

Journey

 

Bodybuilders Need Patience

It is so disturbing as a veteran in the Bodybuilding world, to see so many people searching for instant gratification and shortcuts to success in competing.  I hate to tell you, but if your body lacks muscle maturity, density, or size, there is no shortcut to develop that.  Of course there are things people turn to in an effort to speed up the process, such as anabolic steroids, but… if used improperly, disastrous and sometimes irreversible, effects will show up… and nothing can be done to go back.  I see it often with women who have trained for a short period of time but want to put on muscle.  Instead of training heavy, eating more food and giving the body time to grow… they take something recommended to them and a few weeks/months later, freak out when their voice gets deeper, the jawline changes, certain parts of the genitalia become deformed, bald spots form on the head, and then unwanted body hair in other places develops… and this is just to name a few of the visible side effects.

Why do this to yourself?

Oh, that’s right… Some guy from your gym told you if you did “just a little” you would be fine.  I’m sure all of his experience with the female body and hormonal system have made him an expert. (insert sarcasm)

It’s tough for me to watch this go on, but I learned many years ago that I cannot get involved, because most of the time the party I’m concerned for will tell me to mind my own business.

Sad… But hey, a plastic trophy and maybe a Pro Card are certainly worth enlarged female genitalia and a beard, right?  I know… Horrible… and yes, very true.

Be patient, put in the work and allow your body to develop naturally… You don’t get any bonus points for being a freak of nature or for getting to wear some t-shirt representing a company that will never be in the Forbes 500.

 

 

Reflect

There is one day left in the year 2014… by the time you read this, there may be even less than 24 hours… I’m not going to go into cliché bits about “looking back” or establishing new goals for 2015… I mean, come on… you’ve heard it all before.  Truth is, if your goals have anything to do with getting in shape for an event such as a mud race or Powerlifting meet or just trying to get lean for yourself… why would you wait until 2015?  Hopefully, you’ve already started!  There are no rules as to when to start a new goal.  There is no right time.  The time is now, no wait… the time might have just passed… but now is the moment you realized it and can get going!

oh… hang on… so, before we go racing off to the sporting goods store to get a pair of weightlifting shoes and chalk for that meet you entered…. or placing the order for that rhinestone-encrusted bikini for next spring’s bodybuilding show….

HOW DID YOU DO IN 2014?

If you feel brave, leave a  comment below telling me what your goal(s) for 2014 consisted of and how you did.

Ok, I’ll go first… My goals for 2014 were the following:

1. Master Olympic Lifts – Started learning various lifts and by April, I made a hard left and got into Powerlifting.  I entered and won my very first Powerlifting meet in July.  Great experience.  Can’t wait to do another one next year.

2. Improve Cardiovascular Endurance – Made noticeable/measurable improvements so that can be marked off as COMPLETED!

3. Earn Nutrition Certification – Still in the process of studying.  I did not receive my course book and materials until the 2nd Quarter of the year, so I did have a slight disadvantage.  Plan is to complete this certification by the end of January 2015.

So, I was honest…. Are you honest with yourself?  I really would love to hear from you… you can leave comments in the comment section below or find me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FitbyTiana

And before we say Goodbye to 2014…. I would like to wish you all a very

Happy New Year!

Grocery List

Here’s a quick list I put together, since I often am asked what I recommend people to put in their carts and take home, rather than frozen dinners and boxed macaroni & cheese….

GROCERY LIST

Proteins

  • Lean Red Meat/Wild Game
  • Wild Caught Fish
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Shrimp
  • Lentils
  • Black beans

Green/Fibrous Carbs (Fresh or Frozen)

  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Red/Yellow/Green Pepper
  • Tomatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Peas
  • Edamame (in the shell)
  • Spinach
  • Cucumbers
  • Romaine
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Eggplant
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Artichokes
  • Squash
  • All other veggies

Starchy Carbs

  • Oatmeal
  • Cream of Rice or Wheat
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice, White Rice
  • Red Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Yucca
  • 100% whole grain sprouted breads
  • Low Carb/high fiber tortillas

Fruit: Fresh or Frozen

  • Cantaloupe
  • Apples
  • Tangerines
  • Watermelon
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Melons
  • Raspberries
  • Bananas
  • Citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemons, oranges)

Fats

  • Coconut oil
  • Nuts (slivered or sliced), Nut Butters
  • Seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Grass Fed Butter

Miscellaneous

  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Herbs and spices (fresh and dried)
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Garlic
  • Natural sweetener – truvia, stevia drops

Power… Powerlifting

13 weeks ago, I decided to do something new.  A challenge… one I felt I needed in order to get over a huge mental, emotional and physical hump.

After the last Figure competition I did in November, my body was shot.  Adrenal fatigue settled in over the weeks leading up to the holidays.  It started with slight weight gain, insomnia, then exhaustion during the day, then loss of appetite, followed by slurred speech, stuttering, short-term memory loss, extremely dry skin, and severe water retention around my joints.  I was a walking mass of miserable-ness, working at a new gym, trying to build my business, all the while, I could barely piece sentences together because my brain had checked out.  It was like watching a movie.  I knew what was happening, yet, I couldn’t stop it.  Training became near impossible…. For starters, there was no way I was going to be able to lift anything considerable because I was falling asleep standing up… I also had no desire.  All I wanted to do for weeks at a time was lay down and sleep.  Not fun.

In April, I decided that the only way I was going to get myself out of this slump was by pushing myself.  I started going to a different gym, surrounded myself with new people, started training a different way… and after a few days (literally), I decided to take on this new challenge.  So I committed to training for this Powerlifting meet.  Having 17 years of weight training under my belt, the strength foundation I have is solid.  It’s all been a matter of learning technique, not backing down from heavy weight, and pushing myself beyond mental limits.

I’ve been criticized by many people, including some that were outright rude to my face or on my social media posts, telling me things like, “Oh, I guess you don’t want to try to lose weight anymore”… or “Stick with what you’re good at, you don’t want to be manly”… or “You’re gonna get a thick neck and waist and start looking like a man”… Nice supporters, huh?  Little do they know the private battle I deal with day in and day out… How every single day when it is time to  leave my house, getting dressed is a huge ordeal because I have no clue what clothes fit and what doesn’t.  How even now, since I’ve lost over 10 pounds during this prep, I still have moments when I see my reflection and it stings.

Figure competitors typically fluctuate in weight at least 10 pounds… some 15 and some even more than that (which I personally thing is not healthy)… but it is common.  I know what my personal goals are and quite frankly, it’s no one’s business!

What is great about these past 13 weeks for me is that I have shut a lot of people up.  The weights I throw around speak for themselves.  The incredible progress I have made in such a short time is outstanding and I am very proud of myself.  No, I’m not ripped up with striations in my shoulders or lower abs…. Guess what? I really don’t care…. Most women my age and size can’t touch me when it comes to strength and that is something that is not going away anytime soon.

I did this all while treating my body, working with a doctor, a nutritionist, my chiropractor and several friends to get myself back on track… For the first 45 days of this prep, I was on a detox and could not have anything with caffeine or stimulants in it. I also was on a restricted diet, eliminating foods that cause inflammation… and yet still, throwing around weights with the boys that had jaws on the floor.  The interesting part is, I don’t want to go back where I once was… been there, done that… I’m ready for new places, new discoveries, and a new comfortable happy place.

Powerlifting may not be the end all, be all for me, but it certainly will remain my training style for a long time to come.  I have incredible support behind me NOW and for the first time, I’m not too concerned about my abs showing or the tiny bit of fat on the back of my legs showing…. What a world of difference from Figure Shows!

As the meet draws closer, it’s in 3 days, I am remaining calm and focused on what I need to do.  It is so exciting to do something for the very first time.  I know this entry is rather long, but I’ve got a lot to say! Thanks for your time and I will be posting a Post-Meet Blog reflecting on the experience.

Thank You so much for your support!

Support

Yesterday was a huge day for one of my Figure clients.  She graced the stage in her blinged-out custom-made bikini and high heels and strutted her chiseled and stunning body  for hundreds to see in her first competition of the season, Atlantic States.  It is perhaps the biggest Regional Level show in the Northeast each year.  I heard there were approximately 450 competitors that participated in the event.  For me, the day was very special for many reasons.  For starters, I was there to provide support for my client, who trained with me for 7 months in preparation for the event.  Secondly, I did the very same show 5 years ago and did very well.  But the most special part of the day, for me, besides what took place on stage, I was reminded how incredibly important it is to have a reliable support system.

I’m sure many of you that compete are nodding your head right now and either smiling because you are fortunate to have great supporters  in your corner…. or maybe you’re sighing and slumping down in your seat because at some point someone let you down or you feel kinda lonely on your pursuit.

My client’s family was at the show from start to finish.  Her younger brother was up before 5 am to drive her to my house to finish up her tan and do her makeup, then he drove her into the city and stayed by her side the entire day.  He spent the extra $50 and got himself a backstage pass just so he could be there for her.  When her parents got there, they saved seats for me and her brother so we could watch together.  It was 4 hours from the time the show started until she actually got onstage.  Of course we all grabbed food together before finals and more people joined the party at the night show.  I appreciated that so much.  I love how close the family is and the number of hours they put in to see her onstage for less than 5 minutes, wow!

It reminded me of when I competed in Team Universe 2009.  My performance and placing was nothing to brag about, but what made that show my absolute favorite was that both my mom, dad, boyfriend at the time and my two best friends were in the audience for finals.  We all went to dinner together and I kept getting really quiet and just stared at everyone at the table.  My parents split when I was young and I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw them sit next to each other at a table.   They were all there for ME.  I felt important and it was great.

1914398_289991980005_2849003_n