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

 

Photo Shoot DOs

Your photo shoot is approaching, it’s your first time working with a photographer… Here are some things to consider:

Several weeks in advance

  1. Book the shoot – Confirm the date and meeting time.  Be sure if you are doing your own hair & makeup, you arrive ready to shoot.  If you are getting hair & makeup done by a professional at the site, be sure to arrive early and give yourself time to primp.
  2. Confirm the location – You will need to know if you are shooting outside or in a studio.
  3. Clarify who will be at the shoot – will it be just you and the photographer? will the photographer have an assistant? will you be bringing someone?
  4. Confirm how many looks you plan on shooting – Most photographers have a limit on the number of outfits/looks per shoot.

Week before shoot

  1. Stop tanning or using a spray tan – both can cause your skin to look very dry.  Tanning beds can also cause minor water retention under the muscles, which is the last thing you want the day of a photo shoot.
  2. Eat clean – no need to deplete yourself and get stage-ready (unless you happen to be shooting the day or two before a show).  Often times, the very-depleted look does not photograph great.  Most people wind up showing a lot of wrinkles and dryness because of being depleted in pictures.
  3. Drink water – cannot emphasize this enough.  You have to stay hydrated and continue flushing out toxins to help maintain a clear complexion for the shoot.  GOOD SKIN goes a long way in photos.

Morning of shoot

  1. Eat small meals – cut back on vegetables and anything heavy. Last thing you want is a full stomach or any bloating.
  2. Wear loose-fitting clothing – nothing too tight, including undergarments or a bathing suit.  This will prevent markings on the skin.
  3. Continue to stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water.
  4. Bring something for the photographer to drink – I usually bring coffee and a large water.
  5. Be on time, if not early.
  6. Relax and enjoy the shoot – SMILE!

Top 5 Posing Mistakes

5. Not flexing – All too often I see people on stage that are not tight.  The minute you can see the audience, the audience and judges can see you, and therefore you need to make sure you keep everything tight in the right places.

4. Appearing stiff – The other end of the spectrum of keeping things tight is appearing too stiff.  I have seen people with mannequin arms or walking stiff like a robot.  Please try not to be so robotic.

3. Taking too long to hit your pose – When the judges tell the line up to hit a certain pose, you don’t want to hit the pose too fast, but you also do not want to be the last person in the line to hit the pose either.  The judges can and will overlook you if you are taking too long, and believe me, you don’t want this.

2. Breathing heavy through your stomach – Many people breathe deep and pull air into their stomachs.  When this occurs onstage, you can see a competitor’s waist fluctuate in size.  In snapshots, he or she can look bloated and out of shape, simply because air was being pulled into the abdomen, which forced it to expand.  Practice holding your poses for several minutes and breathing short, shallow breathes through your chest.

1. No smile – The most common queue I give athletes is to remember to smile.  When a competitor smiles, it brightens up the stage and it brings an air of confidence to the posing.  Remember to smile and feel confident about all of your hard work.  The show is the fun part of the experience.  All of the work has been done and show day is a time to strut your stuff.

For more information on competition posing or to attend one of my workshops, please email me: fitbytiana@gmail.com

In the video below, the first 42 seconds, I am the competitor on the left #57…  My posing was good here, but I see areas where I could have improved.