Tifanny Urrea is a strong, independent woman. Qualities that are essential to success in the competitive bodybuilding world. What’s more impressive than her discipline is her determination to smash the glass ceiling in her industry. It’s no secret that bodybuilding is male dominated and is home to a number of gender related inequalities. Tifanny has chosen to use her voice as an influencer to call out the injustices and drive things in the right direction.
Urrea stopped by and told us about what it takes to stay competitive and how she intends to continue making a difference.
What was your favorite toy growing up?
Tifanny: Dear Diary which was this little purple computer. It was the hot toy and no one could get their hands on it. My dad somehow ended up getting it. It was one of those toys that sold out the first couple of days. I’ll never forget my little Dear Diary.
What do you think is the greatest invention of all time?
Tifanny: Cell phones, absolutely. They totally changed our lives. Greatest invention.
What is the last gift you gave to someone?
Tifanny: A picture frame. I have a roommate and he likes to pretend that one of my dogs is his. I was in HomeGoods and I saw a perfect picture frame that said, “I love my dog.” I got a picture of him and my pug, and I let him think it was his dog. When I no longer live with him, he can take that picture with him and then pretend he has a dog, but he doesn’t. It’s my dog. [Laughs]
If you could shop for free at one store, what store would it be?
Tifanny: If I could shop at any store for free it would be the grocery store. You don’t understand how much money I spend on food. If I sat down and calculated my monthly grocery bill, I’d quit bodybuilding. I wouldn’t do it anymore. I just close my eyes and swipe, swipe, swipe. I live at the grocery store.
How many times a week do you go to the grocery?
Tifanny: Two to three times. I drop a couple hundred dollars each time. FML! Sorry.
Which of the seven dwarfs is most like you?
Tifanny: [laughs] Well, since I started this whole dieting thing, definitely Grumpy because I’m usually carb depleted or just hungry. I am definitely Grumpy.
What’s your favorite holiday?
Tifanny: I love Halloween but the cheesy Halloween. I don’t like the spooky Halloween. I like the corny kid stuff. I have friends that are really into Halloween but they’re into the gory, horror movie stuff. I like the cheesy, cutesy Halloween stuff.
If you could eat only three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Tifanny: Chicken, rice, and Japanese pumpkin also known as kabocha squash because it tastes like sweet mashed potatoes to me.
What inspired you to get into bodybuilding and fitness?
Tifanny: I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when I was four years old. I was in remission for 20 years and at 24, I had another flare-up. That’s when reality hit me that I needed to be more health-conscious and take care of myself. It really kicked me in the face where my body was like, “You cannot live like normal people. You can’t go out drinking every week, you can’t eat whatever the hell you want, you can’t be in the stressful situations that you put yourself through.” That’s how it started for me.
I got into healthy eating and tracking my food. I used to play sports back in high school. I’m a competitive person by nature. I was lifting in the gym and just going through the motions and teaching myself how to lift. I met some people that introduced me to the whole bodybuilding industry. They showed me pictures like, “This is what your body can do with lifting and nutrition.” By seeing those pictures, I was completely mesmerized. I was like, “Wow. You can go from this to this just by weightlifting?” I thought that was amazing. The whole process amazed me. I started it in 2014 and I haven’t turned back, really.
How do you go from altering your lifestyle for health reasons to competing?
Tifanny: What made me decide to actually compete was being friends with current competitors at the time. I had the right people around me and they were telling me that I had a good base. I didn’t really understand what a good base was. My body was structured perfectly for bikini. I had the broad shoulders. I had decent development in my legs and I really just had to bring out my upper body.
I had a lot of people that had so much faith in me from the beginning, before I even stepped on my first stage. They’re like, “You’re going to go far. You’re going to win. You’re going to turn pro.” It takes some people a really long time to turn pro. I have people telling me before my first show that I was going to go pro. I was like, “Okay, let’s see if I can. Let’s see where this takes me.” What kept pushing me was seeing the daily changes from putting in the work and doing the diets. I saw results very quickly which is what kept me going, really.
Did anyone within the industry inspire you?
Tifanny: Absolutely not. There were girls that I looked up to at the time. I just looked at their physiques. I’m going to sound like a real asshole but I didn’t care for their personality because there’s a lot of lack of that in the industry. Sorry, it’s honest. A lot of us are duds, all bodies, no minds. Maybe they are but they’re not vocal and they’re not really showing who they are and their true character.
There were physiques that I admired in the industry but there wasn’t one person that I idolized and looked up to and thought, “Oh my god, I want to look like her.” I don’t want to look like anybody. I want to look like myself. I want to have my own specific look.
What do you do to achieve that look?
Tifanny: I make sure to train five days a week which is hard for me to take two days off but it’s so important to rest. I wake up, I have my food already planned for the day. I check in with my coach. I give him my weight. I give him the macronutrients that I hit the day before and he gives me my daily macronutrients. If I’m retaining some water and it’s been some days, either he’s going to cut my carbs or he’s not going to cut my carbs or he’s going to cut my fat, he’s not going to cut my fat.
I adjust my meals for the day which I already have pre-planned. I go to my gym session, and then I just live the rest of my day normally, really. I always make it priority to have my food prepared, planned out, and then my workouts in. There’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about that at all. No excuses.
Is the diet strict and boring?
Tifanny: I’m a flexible dieter. It’s strict in the sense that I stick to a specific set of macronutrients and calorie intake but I can swap out foods. I can eat whatever I want as long as it’s within the macronutrients or within my caloric intake. If I want to fill up my day with Oreos, which is stupid and I’d be starving I can, as long it’s within the caloric intake. I’m strict with my calorie intake; my food choices, not so much.
What’s your favorite cheat meal?
Tifanny: I hate to use the word cheat meal because I can eat whatever I want. A cheeseburger or a pizza is like a cheat meal to people but I can fit that into my macronutrients daily. When I don’t want to track and I don’t want to worry about anything, I have quite the sweet tooth. I love cookies and ice cream. Ice cream. I love ice cream.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about your industry?
Tifanny: There’s so many misconceptions. A lot of people looking from the outside think health and fitness people just eat boiled chicken and broccoli all day long, or tilapia. It doesn’t have to be boring. It doesn’t have to be painful like that. It’s a sacrifice but it’s not as bad of a sacrifice as some people make it out to be.
Is body maintenance difficult and are the fluctuations stressful?
Tifanny: 1000%. It takes a long time to be okay with the changes that your body goes through as a competitor. If you have body image issues before you get into competing, it’s just going to get worse. You really need to go into it already with a strong mindset, which a lot of us don’t.
Going back to a healthy weight is really tough. I competed back to back. When the competitions are done you have to transition back into your normal weight. You cannot remain at competition weight. It’s so bad for you, your hormones and mentally, it screws with you.
To go from stage weight back to healthy weight is such a mental challenge. The year that I took off I was like, “Okay, I’m up 20 pounds from stage weight,” which 20 pounds, it sounds like a lot but I was a normal weight. I was a normal weight but to go through that whole, “Oh my god, the number 20, the number 20,” and I’m seeing fat in places that I hadn’t seen in a long time. That was really tough. That’s something that all of us competitors go through. It takes a lot for us to accept our body in all shapes and forms.
Tell me about the Olympia experience.
Tifanny: The Olympia was an amazing experience. It’s something that as a bikini competitor you strive for it your entire career. That’s the main stage that you work for. The Olympia, is a beautiful stage, very prestigious. I was amongst the top bikini girls in the entire world. All of the women I admired when I was starting off. I was like, “Wow, I’m standing next to three time Miss Bikini Olympia and this one that I was just watching on Instagram and now I’m here standing next to them.” Just being around legends in the industry was amazing.
What would you say the biggest challenges are participating in a male-dominated industry?
Tifanny: I have to deal with a lot misogynistic shit. It’s just a male-dominated industry. Although a lot of women participate, there’s still very little respect for us. I’m not saying the men are going around disrespecting us to our face but just little things here and there that you see. The money is not that great for us and that’s just a fact. The men get paid significantly more than women to the point where we have to find other ways of making money because we can’t do it competing. The men can make a living from competing, women can’t.
I am really outspoken, feisty and prefer just being who I am. I insist on staying true to myself. I’m getting a lot of people in the industry that are not used to it. Everyone is too scared to talk or be themselves. They’d just rather stay quiet. Here I am, all out, and people are just like, “Oh my god,” completely offended by me. I could just stay quiet as a mouse like everyone’s used to, but I won’t. I never will be. I won’t be quiet.
What would you say was your favorite career moment?
Tifanny: I would have to say my favorite moment was when I turned pro. I turned pro at a national show in Vegas and I beat about 40 something girls in my class. I went up against the class winners of everyone else and I took the overall. It was really big national show that I had won and turned pro. That was my favorite moment.
Do you have a most embarrassing career moment?
Tifanny: [laughs] Yes, I do. My top flew off. It was amazing. We turned around to do our back pose. Competition bikinis are these thin, Swarovski crystal, snappy things. I go to hit the back pose and you have to arch a little bit and it went “ping” and just totally came off.
Luckily, at that moment, the girls walked off. Right from the back pose, we were able to walk to the side for them to call out the awards so I was able to hold on, run to the side and then I was frantically trying to get my bikini back on. They were calling the awards and I couldn’t get it on. They were like, “Fifth place winner is. Fourth place winner is. Second,” and I’m like, “Oh, shit. I can’t freaking buckle this right now.”
Finally, I got it buckled and there I am running and the emcee is like, “What happened over there?” He totally put me on the spot. I was just like, “Shut up and just give me my trophy.”
Any advice for a fellow young woman who is looking to get into this industry?
Tifanny: If you’re wanting to get into the industry, please do your research. Do your research on who’s coaching you, who’s giving you your workout plans. Just don’t trust anybody. There are so many people in the industry that are just trying to make a quick buck, that are totally just trying to take advantage of the vulnerable and the- I don’t want to say ignorant but the newbies, somebody that did one show and is now all of a sudden a nutrition coach or a prep coach, they call themselves.
Please, just don’t trust anybody. Don’t rush into things, just take your time, do your research, and please do things the healthy way. No crash diets, everybody is different. If you’re going to a coach that gives the same meal plan and the same caloric intake to everybody, that’s a huge red flag. You just got to be careful with who you trust because, literally, your health is on the line. You can completely destroy your body if you do it the wrong way.
Anything else that you would want to go OnRCRD?
Tifanny: I want to go OnRCRD and say that I am me. I am Tiffany Urrea. I will not conform. I will not be who you think I should be. I will not act like how you think I should act. I am going to do whatever the hell I want. I am paving my own path, like it or not. Thanks.
To keep up with Tifanny Urrea follow her @tifannyurrea
See the video here.