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.

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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.

All or Nothing

That is my personality… it is my way.  I loathe mediocrity and laziness.  That doesn’t mean I demand 100% uptime all day and night.  Everyone needs down time, of course. But when I venture into something new, I dive right in and do a lot of homework.  Yoga is my latest addition, and I must admit, this is one that is staying long-term.  It is one month into my practice and I am in love with my journey thus far.  Of course, there is so much I don’t know… like the names of poses… but I follow along in class very well and having a good sense of body alignment/positioning, we call it proprioception in Personal Training, has truly helped me cruise along.

I am still lifting weights and doing HIIT cardio 3-4 times per week, but the Yoga is really my priority at this time.  Some days, I do both types of exercise, and it has been really interesting.

I implore you to try something out of your comfort zone, even if only temporarily… You just never know, there could be something you wind up truly enjoying… Go for it.

Yoga – The Beginning

2015 started out with some interesting twists and turns pertaining to my health.  I managed to keep things under wraps for the most part and only shared what I was going through with a handful of friends, clients and family.  Rather than get into all of the details, I will just say that the worst is behind me now and I am on the road to recovery, Thank Goodness!  During the days that I was home resting, I realized that it was time for me to take action with one of the goals I set for myself for the Year 2015…. Start practicing YOGA.  Over all the years that I have studied Dance, Karate, Bodybuilding, Strength Training and Powerlifting, I have not spent much time taking care of my Mind/Body and stretching out all of the tightness I created.

I have taken a handful of Bikram Yoga classes, which are the classes conducted in the heated studios, as well as some Hatha Yoga at the gym where I work.  So far, I am loving the way I feel.  It is rejuvenating to say the least.  I am more clear, more at peace and more complete.  I will continue to share my experiences, observations, and anecdotes as I see fit.  Thank you for being a part of my journey.

 

NAMASTE

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Visualize

On your quest to that goal you established for yourself, remember to visualize yourself already there.  This is a technique I used often during my competition preparations.  While I would spend time in the mornings doing my cardio, I would often imagine myself standing on stage, posing, smiling, and then being awarded 1st place!  Well, guess what?  It worked!!!  I know you might think that this is fantasy  or day dreaming, but if you truly believe what you are visualizing, you will call it into being!

 

So, what have you got to lose?  Try it.  Do you want to get that promotion at work?  Visualize yourself in your new office, receiving a paycheck with a higher salary, being recognized for your hard work, having colleagues congratulate you on a job well done, etc… This shouldn’t take the place of the efforts and work required on your part… but start believing the promotion will come!

I found the image below on Bob Proctor’s Facebook page, and I love it.

 

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!

Holiday Parties

So we are already in the middle of the Holiday Season.  Parties galore, happy hour specials, brunch with friends… it never ends… and if you are anything like me, sticking to “the diet” can be tough during this time.  Here are a few tips that might help you survive without packing on the pounds or losing momentum:

1. If you are drinking alcohol, alternate your adult beverages with club soda or ice water.

2. Go for the raw vegetables and/or salad first.

3. Don’t skip meals prior to an event because you know you’ll be going all out on the buffet.  This may cause you to really overdo it and eat way too much at once.

4. Have a plate full of colorful vegetables and a piece of protein… allow yourself some time to breathe before hitting the buffet for round 2.

5. Skip desserts altogether…. go for fruit, if that is an option.

6. If you do indulge, don’t stress about it or try to make up for it with “extra” cardio the next day… just drink a lot of water and get back into your routine.