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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 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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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life

Validation

The path you walk is yours to walk alone…. while it would be nice for your friends and family to offer support and encouragement, they do not NEED to agree with you 100% of the time or even understand why you do what you do.   You are the one living your life and it is up to you to make the most of it.  For years, I tried to live a life that I hoped my family and peers would approve of… no, be in awe of… and the thought of being successful revolved around how many zeros were in my annual salary… WRONG!   Guess what… I decided in 2012 to change my life… and while I wound up taking a HUGE pay cut, I am much happier… It was a big risk to shift gears into Personal Training from working in Corporate America as a Property Manager for nearly a decade (total nerd with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering)… But my passion for LIFE kept pushing me in this direction.  Here’s a side note, I still have the admiration and awe of my parents and friends, because I had the courage to take the leap.

Many times, it is best to move in silence, and let the outcome speak for itself… I believe following your passion is a good starting point, but make sure you plan a few steps and can pay your bills… Then…

let it go!

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life

Service

We don’t have bad days

We smile and are courteous to our clients even on the worst of the worst possible days.

We stand on our feet all day long.

We shovel food in our mouths like animals, most of the time cold, out of a tupperware, and usually just standing in the locker room because there is little time for eating.  Most of us live on protein shakes.

We service clients that want to train early in the morning as well as late at night, many times on the same day.

We scramble to do things like grocery shopping and laundry in between appointments on our “light” days, which could be any given day of the week, but most definitely not Saturday (which is when all the weekend warriors want to train).

We work hard to maintain a professional tone throughout our sessions, even when clients tell us very personal things like stories about their spouse, kids, work, etc.

We generally work hard to accommodate our clients’ needs.

We drink a lot of coffee and/or tea to remain alert and focused for our clients.

We do get tired at times.  We are human too.  We like to workout also and love our private time to do that, even when you interrupt us on our own time.

We want you to succeed and accomplish your goals.

We often become emotionally invested in your journey.

We appreciate your “thank yous” and loyalty.

Be nice to your trainer.

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life

Visualize

On your quest to that goal you established for yourself, remember to visualize yourself already there.  This is a technique I used often during my competition preparations.  While I would spend time in the mornings doing my cardio, I would often imagine myself standing on stage, posing, smiling, and then being awarded 1st place!  Well, guess what?  It worked!!!  I know you might think that this is fantasy  or day dreaming, but if you truly believe what you are visualizing, you will call it into being!

So, what have you got to lose?  Try it.  Do you want to get that promotion at work?  Visualize yourself in your new office, receiving a paycheck with a higher salary, being recognized for your hard work, having colleagues congratulate you on a job well done, etc… This shouldn’t take the place of the efforts and work required on your part… but start believing the promotion will come!

I found the image below on Bob Proctor’s Facebook page, and I love it.

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life

Reflect

There is one day left in the year 2014… by the time you read this, there may be even less than 24 hours… I’m not going to go into cliché bits about “looking back” or establishing new goals for 2015… I mean, come on… you’ve heard it all before.  Truth is, if your goals have anything to do with getting in shape for an event such as a mud race or Powerlifting meet or just trying to get lean for yourself… why would you wait until 2015?  Hopefully, you’ve already started!  There are no rules as to when to start a new goal.  There is no right time.  The time is now, no wait… the time might have just passed… but now is the moment you realized it and can get going!

oh… hang on… so, before we go racing off to the sporting goods store to get a pair of weightlifting shoes and chalk for that meet you entered…. or placing the order for that rhinestone-encrusted bikini for next spring’s bodybuilding show….

HOW DID YOU DO IN 2014?

If you feel brave, leave a  comment below telling me what your goal(s) for 2014 consisted of and how you did.

Ok, I’ll go first… My goals for 2014 were the following:

1. Master Olympic Lifts – Started learning various lifts and by April, I made a hard left and got into Powerlifting.  I entered and won my very first Powerlifting meet in July.  Great experience.  Can’t wait to do another one next year.

2. Improve Cardiovascular Endurance – Made noticeable/measurable improvements so that can be marked off as COMPLETED!

3. Earn Nutrition Certification – Still in the process of studying.  I did not receive my course book and materials until the 2nd Quarter of the year, so I did have a slight disadvantage.  Plan is to complete this certification by the end of January 2015.

So, I was honest…. Are you honest with yourself?  I really would love to hear from you… you can leave comments in the comment section below or find me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FitbyTiana

And before we say Goodbye to 2014…. I would like to wish you all a very

Happy New Year!

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life

Keep Going

No matter how alone or afraid or helpless you might feel… If you have found yourself in a difficult place, you have to keep going.  There is light at the end of the tunnel and there is a way to get out of that tough situation… Never Give Up!!