Lean Goggles

It is November, we are nearing the end of the bodybuilding competition season… a time that can prove to be a slippery slope for many competitive athletes.  There is an underlying feeling among many that they have to keep things under control, not lose their grip on the lean physique they just recently presented on stage (or presented earlier this season), and the psychosis sets in…

The inner voice may say… Take your weight measurement… Track your food intake… Pack your meals everywhere you go… No days off from the gym… Fasted cardio every morning…

The list goes on and on. Are these things inherently bad?… Some will argue “yes” and some will say “no”.  It truly depends on the individual, on his or her goals, and on the person’s resilience.

You see, for many women, myself included… we work so hard, for months, for years… to attain a certain look.  One that has our bodies at an incredibly low body fat percentage… This look that I love so much… Broad, rounded shoulders, thick veins running down both arms, visible abs, separation of the quadriceps muscles, a small waist, a thinned out face and chiseled jaw line were always the obvious indicators that I was on track during my competition preps in the past.

Many of us will be at the pinnacle point for a few mere days (some even less time than that)… and most lose it in a matter of hours after some yummy treats, salt, and a few liters of water.

It can be devastating… Even if it’s not your first show, even if  you have been fairly warned, even if you have read several posts online about what happens to most athletes and what to expect… There is no greater shock than when you see it first hand… as you look in the mirror and it feels like all of your hard work is out the window.

RELAX… It’s not! That shredded physique is not something you can sustain.  Of course there are some athletes out there with robust metabolisms.  They are genetically predisposed to stay lean, even after putting themselves through the hell of a severe physique cutting phase. BUT most… I REPEAT most athletes are not built that way.

So, why do you feel like you’re the only one that put on weight really fast post show?

Here are a few things to remember…

  1. You are not alone.  Everyone puts on weight post competition.  Some people are honest about it, some people never discuss it.
  2. We live in the Digital Age of people sharing their highlight reels. Many athletes take a stock pile of photos when their physiques are in tip-top shape.  The images are stored and posted throughout the course of the off-season.  So while it may appear that your favorite fitness model or athlete is ALWAYS shredded… chances are, he or she is NOT.  It just appears that way based on social media.
  3. Most professional athletes are contracted to maintain a certain look all year round… even if it is not the same as stage-ready, it is relatively close to that.  They are being PAID… it is part of the job requirements.  You are probably NOT one of these people and are NOT getting paid based on your physical appearance; therefore, CHILL OUT and stop the crazy self defecation because you don’t have abs anymore.
  4. For some competitors a weight fluctuation of anywhere from 10 up to 30 lbs post show is “normal” for them.  Now, if you are a 5’1″ woman like myself, no… 30 lbs post show is not normal at all and is certainly NOT good for your organs.  But if you are a Pro Male Bodybuilder, then yes, 30 lbs up is not a terrible place to be in the off season, especially if gains are to be made.

Please remember that while it is important not to fall off the deep end and let yourself go during the off season, it is recommended to chill out with training and give your body a chance to recover from a show prep.  It’s even more important if you want to put on some muscle size… which most likely will not happen successfully if you try to put on a decent amount of size in a few months (hate to break the news to you).

So, you may not love having some extra weight on your frame while you are in a building phase, but it is a necessity! The body cannot grow if you try to stay in a caloric deficit…. Translation… If you want to add some muscle size, you need to EAT!

You also need to accept that you probably will not have those veins running down your biceps while you are in your growing phase. Perhaps you can enjoy the process of sculpting your dream body and appreciate what your body is capable of.

Celebrate Personal Records of various lifts… Enjoy eating wholesome food and filling meals… Bask in the joy of pushing heavy weight around and appreciate the fact that your incredible body can do so much more than just look good naked.

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Honor Your Day

I am not a morning person. Seriously.

I workout at 6 am two to three days per week. Seriously.

Why? Let me explain.

My workouts are the most important part of my day. Sounds a bit selfish, I know. I am a firm believer that everyone should set aside time each day (or most days of the week) to do some type of physical activity. For me, that glorious time tends to be anywhere from 60 to 75 minutes of lifting weights, getting my heart rate elevated and most definitely breaking a sweat. On rest days, I may go swimming, take a yoga class or go for a walk.

While I am far from an introvert, I am typically very quiet in the early portion of the day.  My mornings start out with me being reflective and establishing my intentions for the day. Thoughts like, “What do I want to accomplish today?” and “How can I fit in all of the things I want to do today?” run through my mind while I sip on coffee and portion out my vitamins.

So why would I voluntarily wake up early and workout at 6 am?

For starters, you may hear many business owners say they have a hard time fitting in time for themselves.  Imagine that, a Trainer with no time to practice what she preaches (the horror)… although it happens way more than you think.  It’s normal for us to want to provide service to our clients and be available… but what good is a service provider to a client that is completely tapped out?  Not much good.  So part of my motivation for working out early is that I KNOW I am taking care of what I could, should and must… AND I’m doing it early in my day so it won’t be hanging over my head later on.

Second, as I mentioned above, I like to set my intention for the day.  Why not start things on a high note? My favorite time is when I’m training, so why not start the day there and keep that wonderful buzz going as long as possible?  In many Yoga classes that I have taken over the years, at the end of class, we put our hands in prayer, bow our heads and say “Namaste”.  We honor our practice.  I really love this concept.  My interpretation of it is that if the session on the mat was great and you felt like you made progress with a pose or flowing through poses, then that is amazing and you honor it. At the same time, you might have struggled with something and although you might not be particularly happy at the moment, you should still honor it because there is a lesson there.  Either way, something good always comes out of the experience.  When I finish my workout, I take a few moments to reflect and thank the Universe for allowing me the time, space and energy to do it.

Third, as a Trainer and Coach it is extremely important to set an example.  Not only should one make the effort to look the part, but remember, your clients are looking to you for guidance and motivation.  I know I have an obligation to set an example.  I suffer through various aspects of my training too, just like my clients.  There are plenty of things that challenge me, that make me want to puke, and that make me question why did I get out of bed that morning… but ultimately, the answer is always the same, “Because I love myself and I love this shit!”

I hate waking up super early…. but I do it.  Because my own training is important to me.  Do I expect everyone to do the same as me? Absolutely not… but a small amount of effort every single day will go a long way.

How will you honor your day?

Collaboration: 3 Bodybuilding Moves Every CrossFitter Should Do!

Hey everyone! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.  My name is Tiana Gonzalez.  I’m an IFBB Pro Figure competitor based out of New York.   I’ve been involved in competitive bodybuilding since 1999 after an old boyfriend convinced me I had good genetics and the right work ethic to get myself ready for a show.  It’s been a roller coaster ride ever since! My last time on stage was in 2013 at the Kentucky Pro Show, in Louisville.  Since then, I have branched out into other types of training and have come to love CrossFit.  It has been a great change for me and one that I plan on keeping in my repertoire for many years to come.

So last week, Johnna shared that the two of us collaborated and had a meeting of the minds when I was vacationing in South Beach recently.  Johnna and I both agree that there are things we each could take from each other, and why not share that with you all?!   Last week, we shared with you 3 CrossFit moves that every Bodybuilder should do.  Today, I’m going to discuss 3 Bodybuilding moves that every CrossFitter should do. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Lateral Raises

Why are these so great?  Lateral Raises help build shoulder strength.  CrossFit is very SHOULDER INTENSIVE, so one could really benefit from doing this exercise to support and strengthen the muscles surrounding this joint.  While lifting heavy weight will certainly build strength, let’s put our ego aside and pick up some respectively lighter dumbbells.  Most people look at me sideways when I hand them 5 or 8 lb dumbbells… until we get into the meat and potatoes of the set… and then they are looking at me with tears in their eyes asking when they can stop (ok… maybe it’s not that dramatic, but you get my drift).

How To:

  • Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand.  Arms are down by your side.  Feet shoulder width apart.  Core is engaged. Shoulders are in a neutral position.  Chest is slightly lifted, think “stand proud”.
  • Raise each arm to shoulder height with elbows very slightly bent.  You don’t want to hyper extend your arms here.
  •  Pause at the top of the movement, when your hands are at shoulder height, and slowly lower down to the starting position.
  • Keep your focus straight ahead and abs engaged at all times.


Want to try it?

Start by using a light set of dumbbells and doing 4 sets of anywhere from 10-15 reps.  Perform each movement with intention using a controlled tempo on the way up and down.

Single Leg Glute Bridge

Single Leg Glute Bridge is an amazing movement for building power in the gluteal/hip region.  Have you ever seen a professional athlete with pancake ass? I didn’t think so.  That is because most of your power comes from your posterior chain (Rear end, hamstrings, calves).  So yes, building powerful glute muscles is all good all around.

How To:

  • Start Laying on the floor with one foot resting on the edge of a bench or box.
  • The other leg is extended towards the ceiling with the foot flexed.
  • Lift the hips up towards the ceiling while you visualize touching the ceiling with your heel.  Contract the glutes at the top of the movement for a brief second (pause), then lower down to the floor.
  • Make sure your glutes touch the floor before you start your next repetition.




Want to try it?

Start by doing 3 sets of 15 reps on each leg.  This movement can be done prior to lower body work, for example if you are going to do barbell squats.

Banded X-Walks

Banded X-walks are fantastic for working the abductor muscles and activating the glute muscles prior to doing movements such as squats and deadlifts.

How To:

  • Start by placing both feet inside of a loop-band.  You want to use one that is 1/2″ to 1″ thick.
  • Crisscross the band, so that the band is creating a figure 8 shape in front of your legs.
  • Pull the band so that there is some tension. This can be adjusted as you begin your repetitions.
  • Keep knees soft, chest up, core engaged, focus straight ahead.
  • Choose which direction you want to move in, left or right.  If moving left, step to the left with your left foot, then step your right foot in to return your body to the same width between feet that you started with.  Repeat this movement on one side, then begin stepping with the opposite foot back to your starting point.
  • Keep both feet parallel to each other, with toes pointing straight ahead.  Also try to stay at the same height for the entire site, so you’re keeping tension on your entire lower body and not moving up and down as you move side to side.

 

 


Want to try it?

Start by doing 3 sets of 20 steps on each side at the beginning of your workout.

Give these movements a try and let me (and Johnna) know how it goes! We would love to hear some feedback from you! If you would like to subscribe to my blog go to: http://www.fitbytiana.wordpress.com

THANK YOU and STAY WELL! 🙂

Progress Not Perfection

One of the recurring undertones in my profession, both with my in-person clients at the gym as well as my contest prep clients, is the desire to see results faster.  People… please! If there is anyone that understands this, it is me.  A woman that has been on top of the mountain and had her dream physique, only to lose it in what seemed like an unfair pull of the rug from underneath her feet.  What feels like a never ending battle to find perfection can be so frustrating.

I say these things daily… “It takes time”, “Be patient”, “The things you want to get rid of didn’t get there overnight”, “Be realistic with yourself”, “Enjoy the process!”

What I will also tell you is this: There are things you can control and things you will have to learn to deal with.

What can you control?

  1. How you exercise – intensity, frequency, duration
  2. What you consume – quantity, frequency
  3. How you cope with life stress – we all have stress and we all must cope
  4. Prioritizing yourself – your workouts should be a priority, if they are just something you do when you “get a chance” you will struggle finding results.

What will you have to learn to deal with?

  1. Managing your time
  2. Juggling your priorities such as work and family responsibilities
  3. Sleep – or lack thereof and how to improve sleeping habits
  4. The process of reaching your goals

Although it can be frustrating, patience is something we all need in the pursuit of our goals.  Find comfort in things such as a better athletic performance, like lifting heavier weight, running faster, being able to climb a flight of stairs without losing your breathe… etc.  The final outcome is a culmination of many small, mundane and sometimes boring habits repeated over and over for an extended amount of time, perhaps much longer than  you care to recognize.  The time will pass regardless, so why not stick with the plan and charge forward?

Bodybuilding

Bodybuilding doesn’t define me, but it most certainly is a very big part of who I am as a woman, an athlete, an entrepreneur, a fighter, a hustler, a survivor. The path I have walked my entire life is one that is paved with very difficult challenges which I had to work hard to conquer… From Karate to Ballet to a Mechanical Engineering degree to Bodybuilding to taking up CrossFit… each of these things involve putting in a lot of work… countless hours upon hours of focused, detail oriented work.

My first karate class, I learned how to do a front kick… just a front kick which in Japanese is mae geri keage (snapping front kick). For one hour, I practiced that kick.  I was 7 years old and that was my first real taste of life.  What an experience.  Sometimes in life we have to do one single thing over and over and over until it is perfect and then what happens next? Well, do it on the other leg of course! and after that? do it faster, do it while transitioning from another stance, do it while hitting a still target, do it while hitting a moving target… So, you get my point right? and this is how my life has unfolded before me.

Bodybuilding was very similar for me. I started lifting 20 years ago. I studied magazine articles and stared in awe at the fit women I would see in the gym.  I had a long way to go, but I knew it would take a dedicated effort and I couldn’t miss scheduled gym sessions.  One summer that I was home from college, I used to walk  a few miles to the gym if I missed the bus or couldn’t get a ride.  I would be totally drenched in sweat and exhausted by the time I got to the gym, but that didn’t matter to me.  I wanted to look like Monica Brant and would stop at nothing to get there.  For those of you who may not know who Monica Brant is, she is the most photographed woman in fitness.  She has been featured on more magazine covers and in more advertisements than any other woman in the world of bodybuilding and fitness.  Please, allow me to share THE PHOTO that kicked my butt into high gear…

monica_brant

So, I ripped this photo out of a magazine and taped it onto my wall.  This was my motivation then and I still absolutely adore her physique to this day.

I will never forget my boyfriend at the time saying to me, “You know, you have a really good shot at looking like Monica some day.  Your body types are similar.  Even though she is taller than you, your structure is almost the same.”…. Are you kidding me? That was all I needed to hear.  The bodybuilding addict was born!

For years, I would lift weights 5-6 days per week… I did a little cardio, but not much and if I only had time for weights or cardio, but not both… I always chose the weights.  It was a love affair between me and the weights, especially once I started to see results.

Now, I still love my weights, but a few years back I did start to notice that I wasn’t as enthusiastic about my training.  I was bored working out alone and I was not enjoying staring at myself in the mirror every which way I looked in the gym. At this time, I started dabbling in other types of training such as Boxing, Powerlifting, Yoga and CrossFit.  The latter of this list has really captured my heart recently.  I love the constant new challenges and I love working out with a supportive group… but don’t get me wrong, I will always be a bodybuilder at heart.  So, while I may not train like the bodybuilder I once was, it is a very big part of who I am.  Right now, my fitness goals are different… and that’s ok.

3 months

My transition into CrossFit has been interesting and exciting.  The perfectionist in me has such high expectations, high standards, and a relentless drive to not only succeed but excel.  The 20 years of bodybuilding I once loved and adored have made this transition very challenging… I have a lot of stiff muscles and joints with a limited range of motion.  So I suppose some of you are wondering where did things change.  When did I walk away from my romance with bodybuilding? And what is it about the controversial sport of CrossFit that I like so much?

Well, it all started with a promise I made to a friend over 3 years ago.  She was a former cardio queen who, in her quest to find a new challenge, found CrossFit and got hooked!  Ironically, I know the owner of the affiliate location.  So, I joined her a handful of times, but it just didn’t grab me.  I was still hung up on my weight and what I looked like. A lot of the movements were challenging for me and my health was not 100% after competing so many times.  I also was not sure how to incorporate that style of training into my bodybuilding training split.

Fast forward to July 2015… Things started to fall into place for me with my health and I gave CrossFit another chance.  The first workout was FILTHY FIFTY which is one of the brand’s well-known workouts.  Although it was brutal, I had a lot of fun.  When I was able to join my friend, we would have a blast.  In fact, I liked it so much, by the time March 2016 rolled around, I rearranged my schedule so that I could attend WODs (Workout of the Day) regularly.

After today’s WOD, I was sitting with my friend talking about where I struggled during our workout and what I need to improve.  The owner asked what we were chatting about and I clued him in as to how my cleans suck and the main issue is upper body tightness  (which we all know I’m working on daily).

He said, “Well, you’ve only been coming here on a consistent basis for about 3 months… You gotta be patient.”

He’s right!

It’s the same thing I tell my clients… The body will only do but so much and sometimes you just have to give it time to adjust, to change.

Everyday there is a new challenge for me to tackle.  My weaknesses are exposed and nag me, but my strengths are equally present and give me a fantastic sense of accomplishment when I conquer!  I love turning a weakness into a strength, so facing these challenges during workouts does not discourage me.  Some things are improving faster than others… I just have to keep working hard and get better. NEVER GIVE UP!