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?

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!

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.

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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.

Eating Clean May Not Get You Lean

Everybody thinks they “Eat Clean” and some that “eat clean” feel it’s pointless because they do not see results.  That term is used too often and means something different to every person you ask.  For some people, not drinking alcohol on weekdays or not having any dessert after dinner is what they consider eating clean.  For others, they might follow a plan that is gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb, paleo, or some other type of dietary lifestyle and that is what those people view as eating clean. Again, too vague of a term to define.

If you want results, you need to be accountable.  First, establish your goal(s).  Are you looking to lose some body fat? Do you want to perform better when you go to your Crossfit box? Would you like to add some muscle to your body?

After you determine your goals and determine which type of nutrition plan you want to follow (if you are not hiring a Nutritionist or Coach) you should examine your current intake so you can make adjustments where necessary.  Keep some type of log… use a journal or one of the many free smart phone apps that will not only keep a log of your food intake, but also break down all of the macronutrients and micronutrients.  I tend to go for the latter of the two.

Few more simple tips that will help you dial in on your nutrition…

Make a list prior to going grocery shopping – this will help you stick to the new plan and not buy snacks/foods that you should avoid.

Prep food in advance – I’m not big on making an entire week’s worth of food, but I do like to have enough prepared food in my refrigerator to last 2 or 3 days.

Pack and bring your food with you in a cooler if you’re away from the house for several hours – Some people might view this as extreme, but if you want to be sure to eat on time and avoid impulsive eating, having your own food is the best option.

One more thing… When you do embark on a new Nutrition plan… I strongly suggest sticking to the plan 100% for 2 weeks before determining that something isn’t working and making any changes.  COMPLIANCE is usually the biggest issue for people… and it doesn’t matter how flawless a plan is, if the individual is not following said plan.

Big Legs

As a miniature person, standing tiny at the height of 5’1″… it has been a never ending battle with my weight as far back as I can remember… From the early days of being in ballet class and getting my booty swatted because my instructor thought I was tilting it back and arching my back (meanwhile, it was tucked under as much as I could possibly tuck it) to the later days of Competition Prep after Prep where my coaches would tell me that the back of my legs are a “Problem” area and need to “COME DOWN” or I’m not going to place well.  Yes, it’s safe to say having a naturally muscular build with freakishly developed legs has been a battle, particularly when you are genetically predisposed to hold a little more bodyfat on top of that muscle.

When a person is as shrimpy as I am, even a gain of 5 pounds can look like a lot… I mean, come on… I am short, so where is that weight supposed to go?  I recall being a Junior in Highschool and weighing close to 140 lbs (this was before I ever picked up a dumbbell) and my mother saying to me, “Oh Tiana, you have such a beautiful face, it’s too bad…”….. excuse me? TOO BAD WHAT?  Oh, that’s right… It’s “too bad” I’m overweight, right?  Imagine being 16 years old and  your mother telling you this… or even better, the time I came home from a football game my Senior year wearing my boyfriend’s hooded sweatshirt and my mother asking me if I was pregnant…. No… I am not kidding.

The messed up part of all of this is no matter what I weigh, how tight my pants fit, or how many positive (or negative) comments I get from clients, friends, members of the gym… My feelings about myself are not going to change much… what makes it even worse is when someone points it out.

“Damn, you have huge legs!”…. No shit dude…. tell me something I didn’t know and don’t already stress about all day everyday from the moment I wake up, to the minute I need to squeeze into a pair of pants, to the constant tugging, pulling, stretching I do all day at work, to the moment I am going to sleep… no, not once at all did I think to myself, “wow, I need to lose some weight”…. (INSERT SARCASM).

Can’t wear baggy clothes, because that makes me look fat… but I can’t wear tight clothes without people giving their unsolicited opinions… some of it is jealousy and some if it is just stupidity, because pointing out the obvious is the only thing some people know to do.

I wish more people knew how to be kind… how to bite their tongue and show respect… Everyone is fighting private battles, so try to be nicer the next time you want to remind someone of the obvious.

Hip Hop Workout Playlist

So, this entry is a little different from my usual blog posts.  I decided to share some of my favorite Hip Hop Tracks…. now, this is just a little taste, and nowhere near comprehensive…. but I think this would make a great playlist to workout to:

LL Cool J – Doin It

 

Busta Rhymes – Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See

 

Missy Elliot – Get Ur Freak On

 

Noreaga – SuperThug

 

Eric B. & Rakim – Juice (Know The Ledge)

 

Naughty By Nature – Uptown Anthem

 

Big Daddy Kane – Ain’t No Half Steppin

 

Chubb Rock – Treat ‘Em Right

 

Wu Tang Clan – Protect Ya Neck

 

Dr. Dre – Next Episode

 

Mobb Deep – Quiet Storm (clean version)

 

Method Man – Bring The Pain

 

Gang Starr – Mass Appeal

 

Last but definitely NOT LEAST….

Notorious Big – Unbelievable

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!