For the woman who has gained herself the nickname ‘The Titan’ things have been pretty quiet on the competing front for Tina Wilson recently. After winning the physique division in the Atlantic States in 2014 and a 4th place in the highly competitive Team Universe the same year and then a win at The Mets last March she disappeared from the stage for a while - though maintained her social media presence and was seen both attending shows and assisting competitors backstage. So where has she been and what grand plan has she been masterminding in her absence? I tracked her down recently to find out just what may be in store for Tina in the months that lie ahead…..
Well Tina the last year has been something of a roller coaster ride for you, but before we get in to all that can you tell us what attracted you to the whole world of bodybuilding?
“Lee, you’re never going to believe this but I was an avid runner before the art of body building came into my life. I lived and breathed the therapeutic pitter patter, so much so that I put myself through 3 knee surgeries to rebuild my battered left knee.
After my third surgery the doctors told me I would never run again, leaving me to fall into a deep depression because running wasn't only my favorite way to get my endorphins going but it was my way of escaping my demons. Being so accustomed to running 8, 10, 15 miles for fun to nothing fell as hard on my emotions as when it was taken away and I started to drink again. (I had an alcohol problem for years that I battled with even when I was running races) My friend had suggested bringing me to a body building show to switch gears but my thought was ‘why on earth would I want to see oily men in thongs on stage if I wasn't at a strip club?’ But I went and as I sat in the audience I fell in love with the energy that the stage brought. That next night I began researching, in typical Titan form, and the next week or so I found a coach, beginning my journey in the sport I love.
I began in figure, seeing that it would be an easy transition from the sleek runner’s body I had but boy was I wrong!!! I was so used to eating and training like I would for a race, carb laden and minor lifting, that when I began to diet for my first show, I contemplated my sanity as I went from 5000 calories a day to a measly 1000...What a difference from everything I had ever known! It tested more of my mental strength than running a marathon ever did .After sweeping my first show (first place novice, first place open and overall figure) I still felt a void and I knew in my heart why. Since the day I went to Team Universe to watch my first show, I had seen Dana Lynn Bailey through my research and was infatuated by her physique.
I kept a photo I ripped out from a magazine next to my fridge and one next to my bed to constantly remind myself to keep pushing. While my coach wanted me to continue doing figure, pushing me to possibly do Miami that year, it just didn’t feel right because I wanted more muscle. Then Hurricane Sandy happened, deterring me from my next show and I realized this was my time to take the time off I needed to REALLY grow. “
So the pinnacle was the Atlantic States 2014 where you took first place then you went on to do Team Universe that same year. What were your thoughts going in to a big show like Team U?
“Winning Atlantic States was HUGE for me, considering it was my first physique show, so I was still riding the high off of that to even really think about the magnitude of doing Team Universe. To tell you the truth, I held it as such a high honor to be able to step on that stage, that I didn't have any expectations for the show. Just step on stage and bring it, so I did exactly that, placing 4th out of I think 23 girls and when I walked off stage I was so happy I was in tears.
Actually a woman back stage came up to me and asked why I was so emotional considering I didn’t win, and I point blank said, I just placed 4th out of all these amazing women at my first show, clearly I have won in my own eyes.”
What were your immediate plans after Team Universe?
“My plans were to GROW and that I did...take time to build my body and mind to fit the sport; to really create the name I had been branded with at La fitness by my homeboys who first called me the Titan. I knew now the grade of competitors it took to go against to get my pro card, which is what I wanted BUT how could I do more? I had been given that nickname for a reason, seeing that in reality I had gone through some pretty tough stuff growing up, so how could I combine the dream and journey to getting my card with creating my brand The Titan with more than just a name backing me?
I soon realized that this goal of growth wasn't going to be just about my own voyage, but about showing anyone who I came across that you could come from the depths and rise to be the best by holding strong.”
Now contest wise you have been pretty quiet for about a year but that does not mean you have not had competition on your mind. Would you care to share some of the obstacles you have encountered in the last year?
“I don’t think you have enough space to cover all the obstacles I came across this year. After winning the Mets in March 2016 I attempted Team Universe and the North Americans but due to developing Cushing’s disease from stressing my body to its limits, my system tanked every time I went to step on stage. Ten days before North Americans, I partially tore my quad in 2 places simply walking on the treadmill, leaving me devastated and feeling completely defeated. Luckily I have an ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE support system, I mean I couldn't ask for more, and I was able to pull myself together to heal my body with therapy.
The disease has really turned my competing career mindset around, making me more self aware of any and all choices I make with my health and even more grateful to be able to get on stage in the future. Every time I've tried to step on a national level stage again my body has given out due to my head pushing too far, blindly following coaches who didn't respect the warning signs that my body and mindset was giving out since competing at universe in 2014.I've learned from every one of these experiences and took the good with the bad, so now I trust intuition over anything because as an athlete we know our bodies better than anyone.
God just didn’t want me in those moments and while frustrating at times I have bettered my life from not doing those stage events. For example, not doing North Americans last year lead me to being a deeper part of the sport I love, expediting backstage for NPC and IFBB competitions which made me even more enthusiastic.”
Even though you don’t have that pro card yet you still have a legion of fans. Anything you would like to say to them?
“Thank you...thank you for constantly believing in me.”
“From the messages I receive and commentary I read, a lot of the feedback has been that I keep things real, not covering up who I am to fit into a sometimes dark industry. It's easy to get lost in social media… the counterfeit reality of the pedestals we put ourselves on but with my mission, I've always wanted to show the rawness of where I came from for it brought me to the reality of now. I respect myself and others, showing that class can also elevate your ‘status’ rather than just posting pictures for likes, if you catch my drift.”
Although you haven’t actually been competing lately you have been active behind the scenes. You seem to really enjoy helping your fellow athletes….
“I had mentioned before becoming an expeditor and damn I really LOVE it. Hard work, I mean I think the bikini girls get to eat more than we do during the 15 hour shifts we work but being in the thick of that energy feels awesome! I truly love it and I'm so grateful for the ability and opportunity to do so. Hey If I can break that fear and anxiety during the moments before stepping under the lights to give the athletes a bit of the Titan spirit, I'm all for it no matter how tired I am.”
What do you think this sport has given you that you may never have experienced without your participation in it?
“Confidence…100% it taught me who I am and what I’m made of. This industry is not for the weak at heart; it will tear you up and spit you out if you're not able to stand on your own two feet. I found myself reacquainted with the girl who was lost in the misery of an eating disorder; discovered the tenacious young woman who was determined to climb out of her drinking problem; resurrected the soul who was thought to be dead from years of struggle and gained the idea that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It's not often that individuals are able to see where they have been so blindly lead… I luckily opened my eyes.”
You compete in the physique division but some may say it may be wise the way things are going at the moment in Women’s Bodybuilding to switch to that division. Your thoughts? (Here I am referring to the lower number competing compared to physique)
“Well I’m very, pleased to see women's body building back in action; Lenda Murray will always be one of my favorites to ever grace the stage. But with the industry and world we reside in constantly changing, our competitive sport is as well. I found my home in women's physique for it reminds me of the early years in Lenda's beautiful career and while yes, I have had some controversy over my size, I am sticking in the division I've found a home in. I'm going to purely focus on bringing my best package and an extremely competitive presence on stage.
So in closing what can we expect from The Titan in 2017?
“Now Lee, if I told you that, Well I'd have to kill you in the gym (laughs) What I can tell you is this, I'm going to continue what I started... and keep on being what god intended, scrupulously and unapologetically me.”