IFBB Figure Pro Tanya Etessam Talks To M&S

What is your athletic background, and how did you get involved with figure?

I grew up as a ballet/contemporary dancer. I got seriously into weight training and eating properly/nutritiously when I was about 19 years old (after struggling with anorexia for many years). That is when I began to educate myself about food and resistance training; my life has changed for the better ever since.

The best thing about my sport (which is not competing in figure, but is exercising my body and keeping it fit and healthy for ME) is the way it makes you feel and ok, ok… the way it makes you look is a wonderful added bonus as well! Ha-ha.

Tanya EtessamBy living an active and healthy lifestyle, you become a healthy fine tuned machine that can do whatever you want… competing, modeling, etc I do not eat well and exercise to compete or model. I model and/or compete BECAUSE I already train hard and eat clean 24/7, so why not!

What keeps you motivated?

Overcoming anorexia was a very long and slow process; it literally took years. Like anything else, it took a lot of time and persistence to battle the eating disorder. I have a wonderful family who was there to help and support me (and still does).

Although my body is healthier than ever, I still struggle psychologically from time to time. Anorexia is a constant battle, but knowing that I have come so far and have made such great life-changing improvements always keeps me motivated.

What are some of the most common mistakes made when someone is trying to get ripped?

I often find that when people want to “get ripped” they do WAY too much steady state/endurance cardio. By doing excessive steady state/endurance cardio the body raises cortisol levels, which if chronically elevated, will store fat instead of burn it.

Long term excessive aerobic exercise also weakens the immune system, increases adrenal stress, and lowers the natural testosterone levels in our bodies which all make us fatter, not leaner.

Tanya Etessam

Do you have any gym, muscle building or fitness pet peeves?

Yes! When people stand in front of the dumbbell racks to do their exercise. All they need to do is take a few steps back. 😛

What does your post-workout nutrition and supplementation look like?

Immediately after my workout I have a 100% whey protein shake (Love Top Secret Nutrition 100% Whey Vanilla) blended with ice and water. I also typically have ¾ c quinoa along with my shake.

What are some of your best diet, nutrition and supplementation tips for someone who wants to get ripped?

Tanya Etessam

Best advice: stop going on a DIET. “Diet” refers to a short-term/ quick-fix solution that actually ends up doing more harm than good in the long run. For both competitors and non-competitors, my answer is the same:

  1. Eat to fuel your body, not to satisfy your mind.
  2. Eat whole, natural, unprocessed foods.
  3. Do not be afraid of HEALTHY natural fats; they are essential and we need them to get lean, feel healthy, and look great.
  4. Limit your carbohydrate consumption, but do NOT eliminate.
  5. Make sure you are consuming enough protein. Too many people (especially women) do not have nearly enough per day.
  6. Drink water… drink some more, and them have more. Water is so important; I cannot reiterate this enough.
  7. Do not rely on supplements for nutrition. Supplements should be exactly that… a supplement to your great nutrition habits.
  8. Eat a balanced diet full of nutrients… no extremes, no deprivation, no quick fixes.
  9. Eat well, live well, be well!

What does your current supplementation plan look like?

Tanya Etessam

What are your favorite meals and foods?

I am a carnivore… I LOVE steak! I also have a slight obsession with cauliflower 😛

What are some of your favorite motivational quotes?

Tanya Etessam“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss

If someone wants to connect with you, where can you be found?

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