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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Absence

One of my former bosses used to always say to people he had not seen in a while, “you are conspicuous by your absence”

And, no… I have not published a blog entry in a few months… partly because I am working on restructuring the format, reworking the content I present, and also I’ve been doing a lot of writing/saving entries… just have not felt the push to post anything.

I also have been thinking about my own image/portrayal… How do I want to be received? How do I want to be remembered? I have a lot of experiences to share, views on things related to life and fitness more specifically… yet, I do not feel this drive to shove my views down the throats of my social media followers and blog subscribers.

I have been posting less, sharing less, taking less photos, talking less… spending more time reading, reflecting, learning, and of course, exercising.  You see, while I know I am completely transparent, honest, and express myself freely… I also realize that not every thought needs to be expressed exactly at the moment in which I think it. Maybe I’m analyzing too much… but the more nonsense I see being put out into the world, particularly on social media… the more inclined I am to remain quiet and focused on the things that truly bring me joy, happiness, a sense of fulfillment.

So have no fear… I have not disappeared… I have not gone anywhere, except the Jersey Shore for 2 days at the very end of the summer (that was the first and only time I felt sand in between my toes in 2015)… Just rethinking EVERYTHING!

~ Namaste

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.

Bodybuilders Need Patience

It is so disturbing as a veteran in the Bodybuilding world, to see so many people searching for instant gratification and shortcuts to success in competing.  I hate to tell you, but if your body lacks muscle maturity, density, or size, there is no shortcut to develop that.  Of course there are things people turn to in an effort to speed up the process, such as anabolic steroids, but… if used improperly, disastrous and sometimes irreversible, effects will show up… and nothing can be done to go back.  I see it often with women who have trained for a short period of time but want to put on muscle.  Instead of training heavy, eating more food and giving the body time to grow… they take something recommended to them and a few weeks/months later, freak out when their voice gets deeper, the jawline changes, certain parts of the genitalia become deformed, bald spots form on the head, and then unwanted body hair in other places develops… and this is just to name a few of the visible side effects.

Why do this to yourself?

Oh, that’s right… Some guy from your gym told you if you did “just a little” you would be fine.  I’m sure all of his experience with the female body and hormonal system have made him an expert. (insert sarcasm)

It’s tough for me to watch this go on, but I learned many years ago that I cannot get involved, because most of the time the party I’m concerned for will tell me to mind my own business.

Sad… But hey, a plastic trophy and maybe a Pro Card are certainly worth enlarged female genitalia and a beard, right?  I know… Horrible… and yes, very true.

Be patient, put in the work and allow your body to develop naturally… You don’t get any bonus points for being a freak of nature or for getting to wear some t-shirt representing a company that will never be in the Forbes 500.

 

 

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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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