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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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

 

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.

Pumpkin Protein Loaf (Gluten Free & delicious)

Ingredients:

4 eggs

3 Tablespoons honey

2 Tablespoons Safflower Oil

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup water

2 Tablespoons chia seeds

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup arrowroot flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 scoops vanilla protein powder

 

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

Beat together eggs, honey, oil, pumpkin puree and water.

Fold in chia seeds and remaining dry ingredients.  Once all ingredients are moist, beat again on low setting until batter is well mixed.

Pour into greased loaf pan.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.

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.

Stick to the Perimeter

It can be a daunting task trying to navigate the aisles at your local grocery, especially if you just started a new meal plan and are looking to implement some healthy lifestyle changes.  One simple rule of thumb (with a handful of exceptions depending on your plan) is to “Stick to the Perimeter” of the store.  When you first walk in to most grocery stores, you are greeted with vibrant colors and fragrances of fresh produce.  This is my favorite part of the store and I absolutely love taking my time to read where the fruits and vegetables I’m interested in purchasing are grown, harvested, imported from, etc.  I personally prefer organic produce and will go out of my way to find it.  Do I eat organic 100% of the time?  No, I do not.  But I make an effort, more so now than ever before.  Many grocery store chains offer organic options, if the market is not an organic market like Whole Foods, you just have to seek it out.

Pic below is from Mrs. Green’s Natural Market… this franchise carries 100% Organic Produce in their locations.  Takes the guessing work out of the equation when shopping there.

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Even Costco has a great selection of Organic products, and at very competitive prices.   You just need to be patient and take your time going through each aisle and reading labels in the produce, meat, and dairy sections.

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In many stores I’ve been to, the fish market and butcher are next in line, if you stay close to the outer perimeter of the store.  Just after that is the bakery, which may not be totally off-limits if you have multi grain or whole wheat bread in your program.  Some stores may even carry sprouted grain bread and/or rice bread here.  Again, you just have to take your time and read labels.  Try not to get too distracted by the muffins, doughnuts, and scones though… while they look delicious in the case, I’m fairly certain most programs will not have a pastry listed as an approved choice in the plan.  Deep breathe, put the blinders on, keep it moving!

Next up we have the dairy section, which in my local grocery store is huge.  There are so many different types of milk to choose from… cow’s milk, goat’s milk, coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk, lactose free milk, organic milk.  Don’t even get me started on all of the different types of yogurt, cheese, butter, orange juice, and last but not least eggs.

At this point, as you make your way around the perimeter, you might have a cooler or two with beer… and your right back near the registers.  Now, some of you might have things like brown rice, oatmeal, coffee, tea, seltzer, rice cakes… those are typically located within the aisles.  But I warn you… do not pull anything off the shelf that is not on your approved list of food choices.  It’s not even worth the aggravation of reading the label and facing the fact that you just can’t have it.  Stick to those aisles and most of your shopping, if not all of it, is done.

Hopefully this helps you WORK OUT some of the confusion of grocery shopping… Thanks for stopping by!