From Miami Beach, Florida, Tanya Etessam is a celebrity fitness trainer and a professional competitor for the IFBB Figure division. She earned her Pro Card in 2012, just one year after she started competing in figure shows – all thanks to her dedication in the gym, and in the kitchen.
However, Tanya wasn’t always a representation of a healthy and successful lifestyle. She once struggled with anorexia, a serious eating disorder which severely affected her mental, and physical health.
This is her story:
“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.”
Full Name: Tanya Etessam Weight Height Nationality Profession 125 - 135lbs (56.7 - 61.2kg) 5'8" (172.5cm) American Figure Competitor, Fitness Model, Celebrity Trainer Era 2010 Weight 125 - 135lbs (56.7 - 61.2kg) Height 5'8" (172.5cm) Nationality American Profession Figure Competitor, Fitness Model, Celebrity Trainer Era 2010
From Anorexic to Fit
Tanya Etessam was an enthusiastic ballet dancer as a child. During primary, and throughout middle school, she’d take part in dance classes, perfecting her moves.
However, by the time Tanya entered her mid-teens, she became self-conscious about her body-image. It was so serious that she developed an eating disorder, and later, anorexia. As a result, she became disinterested about dance, and life in general.
This vicious cycle of unhealthy living lasted for years, until she turned 19. It was at that point when Tanya stumbled upon weight training and proper nutrition. Desperate to change her life for the better, she began training in the gym, and eating as much healthy food as her mind, and body would allow her.
Needless to say, this process was extremely difficult at first – it took her years to finally look, and feel healthy once again.
Pro Figure Competitor
All her efforts was worth it – Tanya not only became fit in the process, but she also grew stronger as a person. This transformation had allowed her to venture into other challenging areas of her life, such as starting a fitness business, and becoming a Pro figure competitor.
She’s now an inspiration for people who struggle with similar disorders; her story being a great example that there’s always “a light at the end of the tunnel”.
Tanya believes that many people make a mistake of doing too much steady (endurance) cardio. She says that by doing so, cortisol levels in the body rise, which ultimately promotes fat cell storage. Furthermore, Tanya mentioned that long-term aerobic exercise, aka, cardio, lowers the body’s natural testosterone levels, and weakens the immune system.
For this reason, Tanya avoids doing cardio for most of the time. However, if she needs to lose a bit of fat, she’ll opt for a couple of short, but intense weekly cardio sessions.
Tanya’s Leg Workout
- 1th-3rd set: 30reps full ROM wide stance+ 20 pulses at the bottom range
- 4th-6th set: 30reps full ROM closestance+ 20 pulses at bottom range
- 7th-8th set: 20-25reps wide stance (using about 40-50% more weight than 1st 6sets) using a 3010 tempo
- 9th-10th set: 20-25 reps close stance (maintaining the weight from sets 7-8) using a 3010 tempo
- “Repeat same 10set sequence as written above.”
Prone Leg curl:
- “Repeat same 10set sequence as written above.”
“Health is the most valuable gift. Without it we cannot accomplish any of our goals, hopes, or dreams. We need to always remember to cherish our health (both physical and mental) and to do everything in our power to keep it. Once our bodies and our mind are healthy we can take over the world!”
Tanya doesn’t have a specific off-season and in-season diet, but rather sticks to some of her basic dieting principles which she applies throughout the entire year.
These are her principles;
- “Eat to fuel your body, not to satisfy your mind.”
- “Eat whole, natural, unprocessed foods.”
- “Do not be afraid of healthy natural fats; they are essential and we need them to get lean, feel healthy, and look great.”
- “Limit your carbohydrate consumption, but do not eliminate.”
- “Make sure you are consuming enough protein. Too many people (especially women) do not have nearly enough per day.”
- “Drink water. Drink some more, and then have more. Water is so important; I cannot reiterate this enough.”
- “Do not rely on supplements for nutrition. Supplements should be exactly that – a supplement to your great nutrition habits.”
- “Eat a balanced diet full of nutrients. No extremes, no deprivation, no quick fixes.”
- “Eat well, live well, be well!” – Tanya Etessam
Tanya’s top picks in terms of foods are steak and cauliflower.
Even though she preaches the importance of a healthy and balanced diet, which is mostly based on whole foods, Tanya doesn’t neglect the importance of supplements. They play a key component in her diet, helping her with strength, and keeping her lean throughout the whole year.
This is her supplement stack:
- Whey Protein
- Digestive Enzymes
- Vitamin C
- Fish Oil Capsules
Idols and Influences
Although it was Tanya herself who played the main role in her recovery from anorexia, she credits a lot of her success to her family, who’s been with her throughout her entire journey.
“Life is a beautiful mystery, it only takes one day for your life to change. A new business opportunity, a new friend, a new relationship. I wake up every morning wondering what positive little change will happen in my life.”
What we can learn from Tanya Etessam
Tanya Etessam went through some rough patches in her life. The most difficult being her battle with anorexia, which left a long-lasting impact. Tanya said; “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 I have made such great life-changing improvements, always keeps me motivated.”
It wasn’t an easy journey for Tanya, but she never gave up; no matter how hard it might have seemed at the moment. This kind of mentality allowed her to accomplish her goals of becoming a personal trainer, and, a professional athlete.
If anything, Tanya has taught us that we shouldn’t take our life, and our well-being for granted; for someone else may not have what you have, in terms of health. That’s why by being grateful for everything that’s good in your life, will attract even more good things, and ultimately a life more fulfilling.