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.



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.


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:

Remember… Everyone starts somewhere.  Never give up on your health and fitness goals!


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.


Pumpkin Protein Loaf (Gluten Free & delicious)


4 eggs

3 Tablespoons honey

2 Tablespoons Safflower Oil

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup water

2 Tablespoons chia seeds

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup arrowroot flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 scoops vanilla protein powder

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

Beat together eggs, honey, oil, pumpkin puree and water.

Fold in chia seeds and remaining dry ingredients.  Once all ingredients are moist, beat again on low setting until batter is well mixed.

Pour into greased loaf pan.

Bake for 40-45 minutes.


Holiday Parties

So we are already in the middle of the Holiday Season.  Parties galore, happy hour specials, brunch with friends… it never ends… and if you are anything like me, sticking to “the diet” can be tough during this time.  Here are a few tips that might help you survive without packing on the pounds or losing momentum:

1. If you are drinking alcohol, alternate your adult beverages with club soda or ice water.

2. Go for the raw vegetables and/or salad first.

3. Don’t skip meals prior to an event because you know you’ll be going all out on the buffet.  This may cause you to really overdo it and eat way too much at once.

4. Have a plate full of colorful vegetables and a piece of protein… allow yourself some time to breathe before hitting the buffet for round 2.

5. Skip desserts altogether…. go for fruit, if that is an option.

6. If you do indulge, don’t stress about it or try to make up for it with “extra” cardio the next day… just drink a lot of water and get back into your routine.


Grocery List

Here’s a quick list I put together, since I often am asked what I recommend people to put in their carts and take home, rather than frozen dinners and boxed macaroni & cheese….



  • Lean Red Meat/Wild Game
  • Wild Caught Fish
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Shrimp
  • Lentils
  • Black beans

Green/Fibrous Carbs (Fresh or Frozen)

  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Red/Yellow/Green Pepper
  • Tomatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Peas
  • Edamame (in the shell)
  • Spinach
  • Cucumbers
  • Romaine
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Eggplant
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Artichokes
  • Squash
  • All other veggies

Starchy Carbs

  • Oatmeal
  • Cream of Rice or Wheat
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice, White Rice
  • Red Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Yucca
  • 100% whole grain sprouted breads
  • Low Carb/high fiber tortillas

Fruit: Fresh or Frozen

  • Cantaloupe
  • Apples
  • Tangerines
  • Watermelon
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Melons
  • Raspberries
  • Bananas
  • Citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemons, oranges)


  • Coconut oil
  • Nuts (slivered or sliced), Nut Butters
  • Seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Grass Fed Butter


  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Herbs and spices (fresh and dried)
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Garlic
  • Natural sweetener – truvia, stevia drops

Open Letter to My Competitors

To my girls Krista and Winnie,

I have to say that the past 6 months have been an incredible journey for me.  Over the years, I have given so much of myself to so many people, with little given in return.   The fitness industry is a unique place full of characters from all walks of life, with all sorts of intentions.  I am ever so grateful you both chose me to lay out your plans and help guide you along your path.

Working with the two of you has been such a rewarding experience for me.  You both have taught me so much about myself.  There were times when I worried about you, I suppose like a parent would worry about a child or a teacher would worry about a student.  Never once did I think for a minute that either of you would not make it to the finish line, but there were times when I had concerns that you may question if you are ready or if you are good enough.  Self doubt can kill a dream so fast.  I’m glad you both saw things through.

Helping the two of you helped me get through some dark personal times, and some emotional hardships.  There were days when I was down and out, and I would get a message from one of you showing me your progress, or shouting me out on social media through a joyous message.  Your happiness pushed me and helped me to keep going.  While I never got too deep or personal about my stuff with either of you, I know that you both picked up on what was going on with me and when I got a nice “cheerleader” message or words of encouragement regarding my own training, it helped boost me just as much as my messages helped to boost you.

I must thank Winnie for calling us a “Team”, because I had not looked at it that way until recently.  I love that and I appreciate you both supporting each other the way you do.  I’ve been involved in this industry for 14 years and  there are several people that I met over a decade ago that I still consider my friends and see at shows on a regular basis.  Cherish these relationships and push each other to RISE UP.  Competing is a serious game, and while it is a “one-woman-show” while you are on that stage, remember it is the endless days, months and years of putting in work and helping each other to succeed that brought you to that moment under the bright stage lights.  Many men and women will come and go.  Many will not be able to cut it.  Many will choose other priorities over competing, like a new job or starting a family.  Whatever the future holds for either one of you, 2014 is the year that some things changed for all of us.

I am so proud of you both and I cannot wait to see how great you both look in your shows.  Krista, you have a few more days, and then it’s show time.  Winnie, a few more weeks and you’ll be rocking out.  This letter is to say Thank You to you both for choosing me to bring you to the stage and I hope we have many more seasons and great experiences together.



Please watch!

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Fit by Tiana Video Clip

Thank You

FitbyTiana nutrition

Healthy Eats Can Travel

So that big vacation is coming up soon and while most people would be excited to get out-of-town for a few days or a week, you are having a mini panic attack because you’re not sure how you’re going to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle while you are away.  Speaking from experience, both good and horrible, I can share some helpful tips to help you prepare for travel and not fall off the deep end.  Whether you are weighing out all your food portions with a scale and counting calories, or you perhaps eat a specific way like Gluten-Free, for example, here are some helpful tips that will assist and allow you to enjoy your vacation/travels.

Research grocery stores and restaurants in the immediate vicinity of the place you’re staying.  I typically will jot down the names of places along with all the info I can find like store hours, address, etc.  Sometimes, I will call restaurants after looking up the menus online to confirm the food choices.  Usually, once I check in to the hotel, I run to the grocery store right away and stock up on things like fruit, water, and yogurt (if I have a refrigerator available for use).

Bring some things with you.  You can always bring protein powder, nuts, dried cereal like oatmeal, canned salmon or tuna (or in the tear-off top pouch), beef jerky, canned beans, rice cakes, and nut butters, just for starters.

If you have a mini-refrigerator, you can even cook food and bring it with you.  I have traveled during a Contest Prep, which is not easy, but can be done.  I cooked all of the chicken, fish and beef portions ahead of time, weighed everything out to the correct portion sizes, then used small Ziploc baggies and brought it with me.  Once the food cooled, I froze it and then carried it onto the plane in my cooler.  It was still frozen when I checked in to the hotel and remained fresh throughout my trip.  I made sure to have extra portions of everything I needed and labeled all of the baggies.

Below is a photo of my protein portions, which I cooked, portioned in baggies, labelled, froze, and brought with me to Las Vegas back in September for Olympia Weekend.

Protein Baggies

There have even been a few times that I had to use the bathroom sink and fill it with ice (putting the baggies of food in the ice and continuously adding more ice around the clock).   This definitely was a lot more involved, but the hotel was out of mini-refrigerators and I needed to stay on track.

Does this sound like a lot of work?  Well, maybe it is the first couple of times you do it… but once you fully embrace a certain lifestyle, this will become second nature to you and you won’t ever travel having food/diet anxiety again.  So what if you have to do a little bit more work up front?  At least you will have peace of mind that the restaurant across the street offers food choices that suit your palate.


Food Prep Essentials

We spend countless hours working on our fitness goals.  Whether it’s sweating like crazy during a cardio session, punching a heavy bag, throwing weights around, taking classes, or a combination of all of the above, the time we spend on our physical activity should be complemented with a diet suited to help us achieve our goals.  Why leave the nutrition aspect, which is most critical, up to chance?   What am I saying exactly?… You are going to spend a lot of time in the gym, but you’re also going to be in the kitchen quite a bit.  In order to find success, food prep is a priority.  Your kitchen will need some basic tools to get you through food prep with ease. Some people like to cook food in bulk 1 or 2 days per week, and then store everything in large containers.  Others, like myself, prefer to cook more frequently, 3 or 4 days per week, in an effort to eat food that is more fresh.  This approach still requires an arsenal of plastic storage containers of various sizes.  Here is a quick list I put together of kitchen essentials to make food prep easier:

  • digital food scale
  • measuring spoons
  • various size plastic storage containers
  • plastic baggies – snack, sandwich, quart size
  • multiple large frying pans/skillets with lid or mesh splash guard
  • metal baking trays
  • ceramic bakeware
  • aluminum foil
  • spatula
  • large spoons – plastic or wood
  • cutting boards – I prefer wood for veggies and fruit, plastic for raw meats
  • various size cutlery – the sharper the better
  • thick oven mitts
  • timer
  • coffeemaker
  • Optional – Radio/iPod docking station – Music is a must for many people

Of course, this list may be missing some items, but it is a good starting point.