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FitbyTiana

My Summer 2020 Challenge

I finally nailed down my two siblings to grab a bite to eat last week. Kahlil picked me up and we met Nicholas in front a strip of restaurants and bars close to my apartment. We had reservations elsewhere, but that place lost power so we needed to come up with an alternative. We tried one spot that is known for having great oysters and small plates, but they had no tables available. We went next door and had better luck there. As we sat down to eat, I announced to the table, “So, I’m on a diet, but…” and the collective groans, eye rolls and a fist slamming into the table ensued. LOL You see, my brothers have watched me voluntarily torture myself with Bodybuilding Competition Diets for years… and after my last show, I told them I was done.

We are smiling, pinky swear!

Over the course of nearly 15 years, many of our conversations started in this fashion and turned into them asking me things like… “why do you put yourself through this? how do you find this enjoyable? who cares what some stranger thinks about your physique? You already look good, why do you feel you need to change anything?” etc… They love me and I appreciate it. But their love and concerns never stopped me from pursuing the goal I once held tight to my chest of competing for the coveted Miss Figure Olympia Title and gracing magazine covers. Sadly, those dreams would not come to fruition. The Universe had another plan for me. My family is grateful for my departure from the stage, after me experiencing a multitude of physical ailments and minor mental health issues, all of which I have gotten treatment for.

Bringing it back to the fabulous Coronavirus-fueled summer of 2020 that we are all enduring together, but apart: I decided to put myself on a mini-cut… or a short-term bodybuilding style cutting diet, for multiple reasons.

  1. I am taking new photos for my website.
  2. I wanted to see what kind of shape I could get myself in with 7 weeks of time to prepare.
  3. I got soft during the beginning of the shut down and I was not happy about it.
  4. This was an incredible test of my mental toughness. I wanted to see if I still had what it takes… and let me tell you, YES… I… DO!

It’s the night before my shoot… I feel really calm and relaxed… I’m hungry for sure, but I am proud of myself. I went off plan twice in 7 weeks, both occasions were planned and both times I didn’t feel great about cheating. I made a plan and I stuck with it. Is my physique where I had envisioned it at the beginning of this process? Sort of… but I don’t regret putting myself to the test. I cut out so many little extra things here and there, trying to eliminate any excess cause for water retention, bloating, and to work towards burning body fat. I will say, body fat is really stubborn, and there were a few times I got on the scale and wanted to throw it out of the window! (I didn’t don’t worry).

My friend that I spend the most time with has marveled at the fact that I have not gone off the rails or had even a morsel of food that I craved. I would routinely send her food pictures, videos, and IG reels from popular food accounts. Yup, the diet must be working. I normally do not get cravings of any kind.

So tomorrow morning, I’ll be back in front of the camera. I am excited. I am nervous. I hope I remember to smile more, to create pretty shapes with my poses, and to suck in my stomach! I gave this personal challenge everything I had to give. I left no stone unturned. I did everything I possibly could to feel comfortable during this shoot. (I even went on a few dinner dates and didn’t cheat!) Thanks for reading. I’ll be sharing the photos in the near future. Cross your fingers for me!

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FitbyTiana life

To Dance or Die

My number one love in life has always been dancing. As far back as I can recall, my body would sway, bop, bounce, jump, tap, shake, whatever you can imagine… to a rhythm pattern, a sequence, a song playing in a car passing by and even commercial jingles on TV. Movement… it’s always been about movement. Show me once, I can mark it… show me twice, I can perfect it… then please give me space so I can do it full out. For my dancers reading this, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I had this incredible ballet teacher at one point that would not allow us to practice in the perimeter of the room while other dancers were working in the center. We had to sharpen our minds and be fully engaged in every word, nuance, and breathe. We would even have to listen to how she instructed the accompanist to play, for it would affect the speed of the sequence.

I started ballet at the old girl age of 15… that’s very late in dancer years, but better late than never for me! Prior to starting ballet, I was at a dance school that focused heavily on the end of the school year recital. We would spend most of our time learning and practicing one tap number and one jazz number. After 2 years of this, and a minor bullying incident with a teacher that hated my enthusiasm and love of dance, I asked my mom if I could find another school where I could learn technique. I didn’t understand (at the age of 15) why it would take some students an entire school year to nail a routine… but when you went into the schools in the city (NYC of course) you learned a new routine at the end of each class. (Mind… blown!)

So one Saturday morning, my mom took me to a new school… We felt like we were cheating on my original school, but we knew something needed to change. In the interest of me first trying the school to see if I liked it, we stuck with Jazz. I was in way over my head, the teacher used all sorts of terminology I had never heard before… the class moved at a very fast pace… some students doing quadruple pirourettes (I was lucky to get around once lol).. and I kept my game face the whole time. I sucked… I held in my tears… and I knew that this was where I needed to be. Don’t get me wrong, I really hated it in the moment… but what happened at the end of class, I will never forget. The instructor came over and asked me (and my mom) how much ballet training I had. When I said, “none”… the look on his face was priceless. He said, “So everything I just witnessed was raw talent and no formal training? If that’s the case, you have an incredible gift!” and my mom said, “that is correct and that is why we are here.”

I finished my year at the original school and performed in the recital… even though I started training at the new school. That was the first time my mom realized she needed to listen to me a little more. I knew what I needed to grow and to improve. I’ll never forget that day that I was way out of my league in the studio. I gave it my absolute best. I have always been ALL HEART. My point to you is this, don’t keep ignoring that voice inside of you telling you to try something new, or to pursue a new goal or dream. What do you have to lose?

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FitbyTiana nutrition training

June 2020 Update

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FitbyTiana life

Choose the Hardest Thing

Karate. Dance. Engineering. Bodybuilding. Powerlifting. Functional Fitness. Olympic Lifting.

It would appear that everything I did for enjoyment was actually quite difficult.  Was it the activity or was it me?

Throughout my turbulent childhood, I learned so many valuable lessons from my mother.  She and my father were wise beyond their years.  My mother always encouraged me to reach for the stars and to not settle for mediocrity.  “Choose the hardest thing first.  If you succeed, imagine how fantastic you will feel.  If you fail, at least you tried, which is more than what most can say.” This mentality really stuck with me, all my life… even up to this present moment.  Even things that were incredibly hard and scary… like Engineering school, like competing in National Level bodybuilding shows, like singing in front of my new coworkers at a staff meeting (I was dared by the Manager). I still did them!

I have learned over time that strong people typically are not born that way. They become strong through overcoming adversity, beating the odds, having tenacity to keep fighting for something they feel passionate about, and being disciplined enough to say no to the current situation in an effort to hold out for the future situation being developed/manifested.

In college, I cried every single day. I was homesick.  I missed my baby brother the most… and I felt incredibly isolated.  I had a mental timeline established. Graduate college in 4 years, find a job, find an apartment, start to enjoy my independence, pay back loans, and maybe have some fun. I really suffered through college, but I made a deal with myself that until I received a “D” in a class, I would stick it out. I went from graduating very close to the top of my high school class to having a mediocre average. Most of my college classmates were the cream of the crop when they were in high school also. Competition was fierce and the course material did not come to me easily.

I stuck with my major out of fear of being looked at as a failure.  I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, most importantly myself. I had something to prove. Looking back, I wish I had someone tell me it was ok for me to change my mind and that change is not failure.  I was so worried about graduating in 4 years, I could feel the pressure pinning me down, pushing from my shoulders down down down into the ground… I was about to buckle.

I am very proud to say that I did graduate on time. 1 out of 4 women in the Mechanical Engineering program in the Binghamton University Class of 2000. That’s right… the year of the infamous Millenium Bug. We had two ceremonies over the course of a weekend. The first event was a smaller recognition ceremony. My name was called and I got to wear a beautiful pink and yellow flowered dress. The second event was a massive extravaganza of hundreds of people in the downtown arena. I wore my cap and gown and took so many silly photos with classmates… some of whom I have not seen since.

I remember leaving campus. I remember feeling scared. I remember feeling proud. I remember thinking, “Now what?”… and I remember hearing my mom’s voice in my ear…

Choose the hardest thing first.

Categories
nutrition

Top 3 Client Struggles

I want to share the 3 most common things I’m hearing from my clients during this unusual time in history. Here we go:

Number 3: I’m eating everything in the house.

I understand being stuck in the house every day, all day has it’s downsides… one of them being you can have your hand in the honey wheat braided pretzel jar in less than 4 seconds from any corner of the place. Yes, you know the one… on top of your refrigerator.

I give you exhibit A… from the top of my refrigerator!

So what do you do? Eat at least 3 meals a day. Plan them out so you are not grazing while trying to decide what to eat. If you have gotten that far into your hunger, you are doing damage! Also, drink more water. After you have a tall glass of water, ask yourself, “do I want that snack? yes or no?” and if yes, have at it, leave the kitchen and don’t beat yourself up for it.

Number 2: I don’t have time to exercise.

We are all juggling many things, simultaneously, with moving targets. I get that it’s challenging, but you CAN move your body a few times a day. Get your kids involved. Play a game. Throw on music and have a dance party while cooking dinner. Just move!

Number 1: I need motivation.

Motivation is garbage. What you “need” is discipline. Once you see results, which are an after effect of the discipline you instilled, then you will be motivated to continue. Make sense? So do whatever you need to do, use whatever you have at your disposal, even if it’s your two feet, a pair of sneakers and the road outside your home, and get moving!

I believe in you!

Let’s make the best of this!

If you need help, send me an email: Fitbytiana@gmail.com or find me on my socials. @fit_by_tiana

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life

Control The Controllable

In New York State, we have been “sheltered-in” for over a month. Today is day 34 to be exact. Some of us have been staying home longer than that. In a town less than a 10 minute drive from where I live, there is an area labelled as a HOT ZONE, and those folks have been in lock-down for 2 weeks longer than the rest of us. Who would have ever imagined this state of affairs? Not me! Well, we are in it. Like it or not. It is temporary, but it is unsettling and has thrown us off.

I’m certainly no expert on politics, infectious diseases, or homeschooling… all things that seem to be regular topics of discussion among your social network “experts”… (I bet you don’t have to scroll down far to see this in your news feed). But, I do know a thing or two about overcoming adversity. It’s 3 simple words:

Control the controllable

What does this mean? First, I will say there is a blurred line between logic and emotion. This line is not in the same place for any two people. Nor is it always in the same place for the same person. There are several variables that come into play. What appears to be a black or white question for me, may require quite a bit of soul searching for another… so remove judgement, particularly harsh self-judgement you may have placed on yourself.

Maybe today you need to cry in the shower while your kid is banging on the locked bathroom door. Maybe you didn’t get outside for some fresh air last night, something you declared you were going to do every day until this shelter-in is over. Let it go.

Think about the things in your life that are important. One thing I know every human has to think about is food. So let’s start with that and break it down. Controlling the controllable requires you to ask yourself a series of questions to come to a conclusion. Once you reach this conclusion, you can create an action plan and then execute.

Do you need to eat every single day? Yes. Do you have food at home? If yes, do you have an idea of what you are going to eat today or are you going to wing it? Is your food already prepared or do you need to freshly prepare each meal? If the answer is “No, I do not have food at home”… are you going to the store today? Have you allocated time to do grocery shopping? Do you have face protection to wear inside the store? Do you have a list so that you stay on budget? And how about your reusable bags, do you have them? If you’re planning on ordering food, do you know where you want to order from? Do you know if the establishment is open for business? Do you know if they deliver or if you have to step out to pick up your order? You get the drift.

Am I oversimplifying this process? Sure! But I feel it’s incredibly important to simplify things. We have so many complex situations in our lives. What is within your control and what is important to you?

I’m happy to continue this conversation with you if you need help. You can email me: fitbytiana@gmail.com.

Thanks for your time!

Categories
life

Stop being a victim

What happens in your life and how it unfolds has a lot to do with your mindset.  How you view an obstacle, a challenge, a roadblock will have a direct effect on the outcome. I have a handful of training clients that seem to be magnets for drama.  Things are always “happening” to them, and I hear statements such as, “I just can’t catch a break”… repeatedly.  Do you think that perhaps you might have had some small contribution to the mountain of shit that just landed in your lap?  I think you do.

You have to take control of your life.  It is your obligation to look at the hand of cards you are holding and review each one… What can you delegate to someone else? What can you say NO to? What has to be done by you and you alone? What issues can you get some help with? Be honest with yourself. Often times you take on way too much out of fear of someone not doing it “your” way or the way you think it SHOULD be done.  Sometimes you truly are the only person that can handle a specific task. And there are other times when you say YES to something because that’s the way it has always been and you feel it’s “easier” for everyone if you handle it than to hand it off.

If you keep taking on jobs or projects, eventually your plate will be full and you may not have the energy or resources for an unexpected demand, perhaps even one that is important to you.  You will eventually burn yourself out.

First thing to do is stop saying or thinking, “Why does this always HAPPEN TO ME?”… I literally cringe when I hear people say these words.  Guess what, they happen to you because you expect them to.  You’ve already made it up in your subconscious mind that things are not going to go well… so let’s just kill it now before anyone else has the chance to disappoint you. I mean, really… why get your hopes up?  (insert sarcasm)

What this is really saying is you don’t believe you deserve what you want.

When shit does happen to you, because let’s face it, sometimes things may take a turn we’re not thrilled with…. Figure out what you can control…. and what are the options you have at hand. What I have learned over the years is most people feel helpless because they are so busy staring at a closed-door, or an obstacle in the way.  Take a look around, throw out some “help” calls and see what opens up.  There is always more than one way to solve a problem or resolve an issue and your pride may need to simmer down so that you can get some help and move forward.

Life doesn’t stop or slow down.  Things keep moving forward and you have to also.  How do you view issues or problems?  Do you see the opportunities? There are lessons in everything, you simply need to open your eyes and ears. Put your ego in check, stop being proud… ask for help.  Sometimes just making a list and writing down what you can control vs. what you “need” to do will help.  Stop being a victim and take control.

Categories
training

Lean Goggles

It is November, we are nearing the end of the bodybuilding competition season… a time that can prove to be a slippery slope for many competitive athletes.  There is an underlying feeling among many that they have to keep things under control, not lose their grip on the lean physique they just recently presented on stage (or presented earlier this season), and the psychosis sets in…

The inner voice may say… Take your weight measurement… Track your food intake… Pack your meals everywhere you go… No days off from the gym… Fasted cardio every morning…

The list goes on and on. Are these things inherently bad?… Some will argue “yes” and some will say “no”.  It truly depends on the individual, on his or her goals, and on the person’s resilience.

You see, for many women, myself included… we work so hard, for months, for years… to attain a certain look.  One that has our bodies at an incredibly low body fat percentage… This look that I love so much… Broad, rounded shoulders, thick veins running down both arms, visible abs, separation of the quadriceps muscles, a small waist, a thinned out face and chiseled jaw line were always the obvious indicators that I was on track during my competition preps in the past.

Many of us will be at the pinnacle point for a few mere days (some even less time than that)… and most lose it in a matter of hours after some yummy treats, salt, and a few liters of water.

It can be devastating… Even if it’s not your first show, even if  you have been fairly warned, even if you have read several posts online about what happens to most athletes and what to expect… There is no greater shock than when you see it first hand… as you look in the mirror and it feels like all of your hard work is out the window.

RELAX… It’s not! That shredded physique is not something you can sustain.  Of course there are some athletes out there with robust metabolisms.  They are genetically predisposed to stay lean, even after putting themselves through the hell of a severe physique cutting phase. BUT most… I REPEAT most athletes are not built that way.

So, why do you feel like you’re the only one that put on weight really fast post show?

Here are a few things to remember…

  1. You are not alone.  Everyone puts on weight post competition.  Some people are honest about it, some people never discuss it.
  2. We live in the Digital Age of people sharing their highlight reels. Many athletes take a stock pile of photos when their physiques are in tip-top shape.  The images are stored and posted throughout the course of the off-season.  So while it may appear that your favorite fitness model or athlete is ALWAYS shredded… chances are, he or she is NOT.  It just appears that way based on social media.
  3. Most professional athletes are contracted to maintain a certain look all year round… even if it is not the same as stage-ready, it is relatively close to that.  They are being PAID… it is part of the job requirements.  You are probably NOT one of these people and are NOT getting paid based on your physical appearance; therefore, CHILL OUT and stop the crazy self defecation because you don’t have abs anymore.
  4. For some competitors a weight fluctuation of anywhere from 10 up to 30 lbs post show is “normal” for them.  Now, if you are a 5’1″ woman like myself, no… 30 lbs post show is not normal at all and is certainly NOT good for your organs.  But if you are a Pro Male Bodybuilder, then yes, 30 lbs up is not a terrible place to be in the off season, especially if gains are to be made.

Please remember that while it is important not to fall off the deep end and let yourself go during the off season, it is recommended to chill out with training and give your body a chance to recover from a show prep.  It’s even more important if you want to put on some muscle size… which most likely will not happen successfully if you try to put on a decent amount of size in a few months (hate to break the news to you).

So, you may not love having some extra weight on your frame while you are in a building phase, but it is a necessity! The body cannot grow if you try to stay in a caloric deficit…. Translation… If you want to add some muscle size, you need to EAT!

You also need to accept that you probably will not have those veins running down your biceps while you are in your growing phase. Perhaps you can enjoy the process of sculpting your dream body and appreciate what your body is capable of.

Celebrate Personal Records of various lifts… Enjoy eating wholesome food and filling meals… Bask in the joy of pushing heavy weight around and appreciate the fact that your incredible body can do so much more than just look good naked.

Categories
life

Honor Your Day

I am not a morning person. Seriously.

I workout at 6 am two to three days per week. Seriously.

Why? Let me explain.

My workouts are the most important part of my day. Sounds a bit selfish, I know. I am a firm believer that everyone should set aside time each day (or most days of the week) to do some type of physical activity. For me, that glorious time tends to be anywhere from 60 to 75 minutes of lifting weights, getting my heart rate elevated and most definitely breaking a sweat. On rest days, I may go swimming, take a yoga class or go for a walk.

While I am far from an introvert, I am typically very quiet in the early portion of the day.  My mornings start out with me being reflective and establishing my intentions for the day. Thoughts like, “What do I want to accomplish today?” and “How can I fit in all of the things I want to do today?” run through my mind while I sip on coffee and portion out my vitamins.

So why would I voluntarily wake up early and workout at 6 am?

For starters, you may hear many business owners say they have a hard time fitting in time for themselves.  Imagine that, a Trainer with no time to practice what she preaches (the horror)… although it happens way more than you think.  It’s normal for us to want to provide service to our clients and be available… but what good is a service provider to a client that is completely tapped out?  Not much good.  So part of my motivation for working out early is that I KNOW I am taking care of what I could, should and must… AND I’m doing it early in my day so it won’t be hanging over my head later on.

Second, as I mentioned above, I like to set my intention for the day.  Why not start things on a high note? My favorite time is when I’m training, so why not start the day there and keep that wonderful buzz going as long as possible?  In many Yoga classes that I have taken over the years, at the end of class, we put our hands in prayer, bow our heads and say “Namaste”.  We honor our practice.  I really love this concept.  My interpretation of it is that if the session on the mat was great and you felt like you made progress with a pose or flowing through poses, then that is amazing and you honor it. At the same time, you might have struggled with something and although you might not be particularly happy at the moment, you should still honor it because there is a lesson there.  Either way, something good always comes out of the experience.  When I finish my workout, I take a few moments to reflect and thank the Universe for allowing me the time, space and energy to do it.

Third, as a Trainer and Coach it is extremely important to set an example.  Not only should one make the effort to look the part, but remember, your clients are looking to you for guidance and motivation.  I know I have an obligation to set an example.  I suffer through various aspects of my training too, just like my clients.  There are plenty of things that challenge me, that make me want to puke, and that make me question why did I get out of bed that morning… but ultimately, the answer is always the same, “Because I love myself and I love this shit!”

I hate waking up super early…. but I do it.  Because my own training is important to me.  Do I expect everyone to do the same as me? Absolutely not… but a small amount of effort every single day will go a long way.

How will you honor your day?

Categories
training

Collaboration: 3 Bodybuilding Moves Every CrossFitter Should Do!

Hey everyone! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.  My name is Tiana Gonzalez.  I’m an IFBB Pro Figure competitor based out of New York.   I’ve been involved in competitive bodybuilding since 1999 after an old boyfriend convinced me I had good genetics and the right work ethic to get myself ready for a show.  It’s been a roller coaster ride ever since! My last time on stage was in 2013 at the Kentucky Pro Show, in Louisville.  Since then, I have branched out into other types of training and have come to love CrossFit.  It has been a great change for me and one that I plan on keeping in my repertoire for many years to come.

So last week, Johnna shared that the two of us collaborated and had a meeting of the minds when I was vacationing in South Beach recently.  Johnna and I both agree that there are things we each could take from each other, and why not share that with you all?!   Last week, we shared with you 3 CrossFit moves that every Bodybuilder should do.  Today, I’m going to discuss 3 Bodybuilding moves that every CrossFitter should do. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Lateral Raises

Why are these so great?  Lateral Raises help build shoulder strength.  CrossFit is very SHOULDER INTENSIVE, so one could really benefit from doing this exercise to support and strengthen the muscles surrounding this joint.  While lifting heavy weight will certainly build strength, let’s put our ego aside and pick up some respectively lighter dumbbells.  Most people look at me sideways when I hand them 5 or 8 lb dumbbells… until we get into the meat and potatoes of the set… and then they are looking at me with tears in their eyes asking when they can stop (ok… maybe it’s not that dramatic, but you get my drift).

How To:

  • Start by holding a dumbbell in each hand.  Arms are down by your side.  Feet shoulder width apart.  Core is engaged. Shoulders are in a neutral position.  Chest is slightly lifted, think “stand proud”.
  • Raise each arm to shoulder height with elbows very slightly bent.  You don’t want to hyper extend your arms here.
  •  Pause at the top of the movement, when your hands are at shoulder height, and slowly lower down to the starting position.
  • Keep your focus straight ahead and abs engaged at all times.


Want to try it?

Start by using a light set of dumbbells and doing 4 sets of anywhere from 10-15 reps.  Perform each movement with intention using a controlled tempo on the way up and down.

Single Leg Glute Bridge

Single Leg Glute Bridge is an amazing movement for building power in the gluteal/hip region.  Have you ever seen a professional athlete with pancake ass? I didn’t think so.  That is because most of your power comes from your posterior chain (Rear end, hamstrings, calves).  So yes, building powerful glute muscles is all good all around.

How To:

  • Start Laying on the floor with one foot resting on the edge of a bench or box.
  • The other leg is extended towards the ceiling with the foot flexed.
  • Lift the hips up towards the ceiling while you visualize touching the ceiling with your heel.  Contract the glutes at the top of the movement for a brief second (pause), then lower down to the floor.
  • Make sure your glutes touch the floor before you start your next repetition.




Want to try it?

Start by doing 3 sets of 15 reps on each leg.  This movement can be done prior to lower body work, for example if you are going to do barbell squats.

Banded X-Walks

Banded X-walks are fantastic for working the abductor muscles and activating the glute muscles prior to doing movements such as squats and deadlifts.

How To:

  • Start by placing both feet inside of a loop-band.  You want to use one that is 1/2″ to 1″ thick.
  • Crisscross the band, so that the band is creating a figure 8 shape in front of your legs.
  • Pull the band so that there is some tension. This can be adjusted as you begin your repetitions.
  • Keep knees soft, chest up, core engaged, focus straight ahead.
  • Choose which direction you want to move in, left or right.  If moving left, step to the left with your left foot, then step your right foot in to return your body to the same width between feet that you started with.  Repeat this movement on one side, then begin stepping with the opposite foot back to your starting point.
  • Keep both feet parallel to each other, with toes pointing straight ahead.  Also try to stay at the same height for the entire site, so you’re keeping tension on your entire lower body and not moving up and down as you move side to side.


Want to try it?

Start by doing 3 sets of 20 steps on each side at the beginning of your workout.

Give these movements a try and let me (and Johnna) know how it goes! We would love to hear some feedback from you! If you would like to subscribe to my blog go to: http://www.fitbytiana.wordpress.com

THANK YOU and STAY WELL! 🙂