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.

Latina

As I get older, my roots, the blood in my veins, and the music that plays in my heart echo louder and louder… as if my ancestors are reaching out to me from their graves… I have always been very proud of the name Gonzalez and of who I am…  but due to circumstances out of my control I was not immersed in my culture as a child and adolescent… Both of my parents worked very hard to break recurring cycles that passed on from generation to generation, and while I am proud of them both for providing a life for me that was different from each of their respective lives, I always felt disconnected from my culture, from my extended family, and from mi orgullo (my roots).  Now, I’m in my mid-30s, seeking out people to practice my Spanish-speaking skills with and constantly listening to Spanish radio stations, partially to get up to speed with current music, but also to listen to commercials and the DJs between each song to test my comprehension.

It is not easy, but it is so worth it.  Puerto Rican culture is so rich and my family history is something I’m sure I will always have questions about, since I now have only one living Grandparent.  I do wish I was raised bilingual, but if it takes me the rest of my life to get there, so be it.  It’s worth it.

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.