How to Beat Gym Culture and Kill Your Next Workout

So, you’ve set a goal for 2020 and you’re ready to start working towards it. You get a gym membership, new sneakers and cute activewear and you head in for your first workout. When you arrive at the gym you start to feel a little insecure about all the people you see. Everyone “looks” to be in better shape and they are “killing” it. You feel as if everyone can tell you’re new around here. Slowly but surely you begin to feel intimidated and overwhelmed and before you know it you’re back at home.

Gym culture. The wrong glance, the snatch of a towel or a not so friendly “Hey, I got next on this machine” can send even the most regular gym goer into a bad place. How will you ever get started if the people are being people all wrong?

Here’s how to beat gym culture and kill your next workout…

gym culture_

  1. Know you belong
  2. Ask for a tour or help
  3. Get a Gym Buddy
  4. Start with classes – Take advantage of the classes held at your gym!
  5. Work your way to the floor – Go out to the floor after attending a class for a few minutes. Lengthen your time with each visit until you’re comfortable.
  6. It’s all about you – Don’t let strangers keep you from doing what’s best for you. Keep your goals and desired results at the forefront of your mind.

Remember that feeling like the new girl at the gym is very temporary. If you keep going you’ll become a regular. Don’t forget what we’ve discussed here.

Now that you’re a regular…

Make space in the sauna when you see a new face and always offer a helpful tip or smile to the new woman you see trying out something for the first time. Your generosity could be the reason she keeps trying and doesn’t give up.

Here’s to 2020, seeing past gym culture and focusing on what you came to the gym to do!

20 Rest Day Activities

Rest days should be a part of every fitness regimen. Muscles need time to recover and rest from all the workouts we’re doing. Rest days are actually where all the magic happens. It’s during your time of rest that your glow up is actually loading.


I believe in one to two rest days a week depending on my goal or the workouts I’ve done during the week. As a fitness instructor, I’ve learned that skipping my rest days are like skipping workouts. It’s on the list of things we’re not about to do.

So, what do I do on rest days? Here are 20 of my favorite ways to get a little R&R…



Rest days aren’t all about staying put. The goal is is to listen to your body by taking your activity level down a notch. I love going for a nice stroll on my rest days. Sometimes I’ll pick a trail or park that I haven’t been to before. You can call it self-care if you want but I also really enjoy slowly running my errands on rest days too.


Take a bath, soak those muscles in a lavender infused bubble bath. Catch up on a novel you’ve been meaning to finish. If you’re a Mom like me (or an equally as tired human being) consider taking a 30 minute nap.

Do anything that puts your mind and body at rest. I hope you’ll try some of the suggestions listed here.

What’s your favorite way to spend a rest day?

10 Tips for staying Healthy in 2020

Want to know how I stay healthy all year long? Staying on track with our goals is a goal that many of us have. This will be the year that we lose the weight, kick bad eating habits to the curb and really figure out what works for us. We can all stay on track by implementing a few healthy practices into our routines.

Long term success is essential for a lifestyle change. I’m sharing 10 tips on how to stay healthy on YouTube this weekend. Check it out!


Salmon Croquette Recipe

Salmon croquettes are one of my family’s favorites. We love them for breakfast and dinner. They go well with just about everything and they are easy to make. Salmon croquettes also make a great burger if paired with a yummy sauce. I grew up eating these delicious patties and I’m so glad my family loves them just as much as I do.

Salmon Croquettes Edited Money Shot

What I love most about making these is that the ingredients for these are very pantry staple friendly. I always tend to have the ingredients for these in the house so whenever my time is low or someone forgets to defrost the chicken these are my go-to.

Serve them with polenta or grits, spinach and eggs or with homes fries as a burger. You simply can not go wrong with a salmon croquette.

salmon croquette

So let’s get cooking…

To make salmon croquettes you’ll need:

2 cans of pink salmon, drained, deboned and flaked

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 an onion, finely chopped

5 tablespoons of flour or seafood breading

Old Bay Seafood Seasoning to taste (I have also used Tony Chachers and it’s just as good)

Fresh or dried parsley

salmon croquette

Now for the directions…

Combine all ingredients and form patties. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium low. When oil is hot cook patties in batches based on the size of your skillet. Do not overcrowd your pan, sis. Everyone likes a little space to become who they were meant to be.

Salmon Croquettes

I usually get about seven large patties from two cans. I have also served these with sautéed veggies and rice for a date night meal. Pair them with your wine of choice and you’ve got a restaurant quality meal on your hands.

If you enjoyed this recipe please share it, pin it and tag me on Instagram if you try it.

Salmon Croquettes

I have put together a curated list of my favorite top 30 meals. This salmon croquette recipe  was originally featured in that meal list. If you need dinner ideas that are inexpensive, healthy and easy to make – I got you! The meal list comes with my pantry staples, tips for grocery shopping, links to 30 recipes and a full grocery list organized by the meal. You can visit the Healthy Habits Program page (click on Tia’s Top 30) on my site or click here to check dinners for 2020 off your list of things to think about.

Have you ever had salmon croquettes? What are some of your pantry staple go-to meals?

2020 Bucket List & Word of the Year

It’s almost 2020! Happy (almost) New Year! You know what time it is? It’s time to set our intentions and goals for another 365 day journey. I do several different things to plan for a new year. I make a bucket list for the year, a choose a word of the year, I use a planner to plan all the things and I create a vision board because I need all the help I can get and I believe in the power of manifestation. (run-on sentence probably, don’t care. 😆)

So here’s my 2020 bucket list. You can see my 2019 bucket list here.


I find that making a bucket list really allows me to stay on track throughout the year. I checked off a lot of my goals last year using the bucket list method. It’s easy for me to see what I need to get done when it’s listed in my planner.

My word for the year is one that I hear often. I am going to choose to focus on how blessed I am in the midst of life and it’s ups and downs. I am going to go into the new year claiming that all things in my life are already blessed. In 2019 I became so distracted and disappointed that I forgot to relish in all the good that was happening.

Not this year, Satan. I am blessed in the city. I am blessed at the gym. I am blessed when I come and when I go, ya feel me?!

Word of the year

2019 taught me a lot. In 2020 I’ll use those lessons to push myself forward in a positive and productive way. I want to utilize this space more. Blogging was fun for me years ago and I am starting to feel inspired to create again. Be on the lookout for more from me.

Here’s what you can expect to see on this site and on my social media in 2020:

VIDEOS (Follow me on Instagram and Subscribe to my YouTube channel)

RECIPES (Originals and my favorites from cookbooks and the web)

WORKOUTS (Simple and easy workouts that anyone can do)


What would you like to see from me this year? How can I help you or be a source of inspiration?

Happy 2020! We got this!

Christmas Countdown Fitness Challenge

Last year I had so much fun with my Countdown to Christmas Fitness Challenge that I decided to do it again this year. Follow along and get active during this holiday season. Squeezing in workouts can be tough this time of year so I hope this fun challenge reminds you to keep it moving until Christmas.


Be sure to tag me on Instagram ( @tiavfitness) and use the hashtag #tiavfestivefit. I want to cheer you on!

Merry Fitmas!

Red “Hold the Chicken” Chili Recipe

Last week I made Red “Hold the Chicken” Chili in my IG Story and the meal got such a great response. It’s an easy 30 minute vegetarian meal that uses just a few ingredients. You won’t miss the meat in this recipe at all. Trust me.

30 minute chili

To make this easy 30 minute chili you’ll need the following ingredients:

1 Can Chunky Rotel

2 Cans Northern White Beans

2 Cans Pinto Beans

1 Can Kidney Beans

Chicken Broth

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons ground cumin

Half a white onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Juice from half a lime

Kosher salt to taste


Red “Hold the chicken” Chili-2


Drain and rinse beans. Combine all ingredients except the salt. Use as much chicken broth as you’d like. I like my chili a bit brothy (too much broth will turn the chili into soup which isn’t a big deal if you want soup) so I normally use an entire box of broth. Bring all the ingredients to a boil and let simmer for 30 minutes. Salt your chili to your satisfaction and dinner is done! Consider topping your chili with fresh salsa, corn and avocado. You could also add fresh jalapeños to take the heat level up a little. 

I hope you enjoy this super quick and easy family dinner. 





#MotivationMonday – 5 Reasons to Keep Going

It’s almost February. Almost. January is the longest month of the year so it’s not surprising that most people who have committed to getting in shape (in some form) are slowly falling off the wagon. It happens to the best of us. Here are five reasons to keep plugging away at your new healthy lifestyle goals…

fitness journey

1 – Think about WHY you started…

Did you want to get in shape before your summer vacation? Did you just want to lose a couple pounds? Are you planning to run a race? Are you in a wedding this year? What was the initial motivator that moved you to set your goal? Think about whatever that is and allow it to continue to push you. That event is going to happen whether you achieve your goal or not.

2 – There is joy in the process…

While on your journey to become a more in shape version of yourself you will have lots of victories to celebrate. You’re going to drop pounds and inches. You’ll be able to fit into clothes you haven’t been able to wear in years. People will start to notice your success and they will compliment you. You are going to chase after your goals even harder once you start to feel and see those results.

3 – It’s the right thing to do…

Keeping a promise to yourself is one of the best things you can do. When you commit to change and actively work towards it you unlock so many endorphins. You become more positive and that will trickle over into other areas of your life. You will be unstoppable. To put it quite simply, keeping this promise to yourself is not only the right thing to do but it’s probable one of the best things you’ll do this year.

4 – You’ll discover new adventures and opportunities…

It is my sincere hope that you are currently living your life to the fullest. If you’re one of those people that wait until they lose the weight to do the things then sticking to your goals is huge. There is literally a whole new life on the other side of your goal. Stick with your journey but please do explore some new passions while working towards your goal. Live the life you want today and let your goals meet you where you are.

5 – Your goals will be met…

Well, this is obvious but if you stick with your goals you’ll get the results you want. Hard work definitely pays off. Over this year you will see yourself change in a way that you may have thought was impossible but you made it happen. This is the most rewarding reason to stick to your goals. I want you to win. When things get tough throughout this year think about the feeling you will have when that goal is met. There really is no better feeling (other than the love of Jesus). You did that! You made that happen. It was all you! 

Keep going until you get there. When you feel like quitting, remember why you started. What’s your fitness goal for the year? Share them with me and I’ll cheer you on.


2019 Word of the Year & Bucket List

When the New Year began I immediately knew what I wanted my word of the year to be. I prefer a theme to the new year over making resolutions. Creating a bucket list for the new year is also something I started doing instead of making a vision board. 

Giving myself a theme or word for the year helps keep me focused and motivated throughout the year. The bucket list serves as a to-do list of adventures and goals. I highly recommend making a bucket list for the new year. You’ll be able to see in plain sight exactly what it is you want to accomplish.

When you can easily see your goals you are more likely to achieve them.

2019 word of the year

This year I plan to stretch myself even more than I did last year. Last year I did all the things that I was too afraid to try. I lived fearlessly. This year I’m going to build on that by stretching myself in my career and my personal life. 

To ensure that I am living up to my theme for this year I have created a bucket list to help me. This year I would love to stretch myself by doing the following things:


Do you have a word of the year for 2019? Have you created a bucket list? Share you must-dos of the year with me. I’d love to hear how you plan to stretch yourself this year!



10 Tips for Passing The ACE Fitness Group Fitness Instructor Exam

If you’ve ever considered becoming a Group Fitness Instructor with ACE. These tips may help you pass the exam on the first try.


As you may remember from my old blog I became a Cize LIVE! Instructor about two years ago. I’ve been teaching ever since. Teaching that class made me realize that I wanted to take my love for fitness to the next level and become a certified Group Fitness Instructor.

There are many reasons why this path was right for me. I wanted the freedom to create my own workouts. I wanted the ability to teach wherever I wanted and most gyms require that you have a GFI cert. I also wanted the knowledge that came along with being nationally recognized as a fitness professional.

After studying for about 5 months I was able to pass this exam on the first try. I want to share my best tips, advice and experience with you. It was very hard for me to fit studying into my life with a husband and three kids but I am so glad I was able to make it work. 


Before we get into studying tips let’s talk about why I chose ACE. I chose ACE because they are accredited and you get tons of benefits as an instructor (interview guarantee, discounts, USReps registry) I also loved the fact that they offered a payment plan. And to be honest that’s what made me choose them. 

So how did I go about studying for this thing? Here are the steps I took to pass the exam on the first try…..

1. I read the textbook all the way through and completed the online classroom activities and quizzes along the way.

2. Then I read the textbook again while making notecards for every bold keyword and tables.

3. I read chapter 3 over and over and over again. And again. And again. And again.

4. I used the exam outline located in the back of the textbook for a checks and balances guide.

5. I made sure I could apply the keywords to actual scenarios I might face in class.

6. I memorized as many keywords as I could.

7. 30 days out from my exam date I began taking the practice test in the online classroom. I took the test several times to see as many types of questions as I could. (And I would also like to add that you must take the test several times to see different questions because you get the same questions on each exam with a few new Qs sprinkled in.)

8. Two weeks out from the exam I made sure that I was strong in Domains II and I.

9. I created notecards for muscles groups and common exercises.

10. I never left the house without my notecards. Any time I had a moment to skim through them I would.

Now with all that said let me give you my thoughts on my ACE Fitness experience as a whole…

My exam had a little something from each chapter on it. (I’ve heard that some exams don’t have any anatomy) I would say that the exam was moderately difficult. There were definitely some questions on the exam that I wasn’t prepared to answer. I’m not sure where anyone would’ve learned that information because it wasn’t in our textbook or the online classroom. This is one of the biggest gripes that I read about in the reviews on FB too.

I think most people can past the test with no problem if they study for a couple hours daily for three months or so. The Facebook study group that they offer is absolutely useless. That place could be a gem if it were fully utilized. The online classroom is helpful but it doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the test since the quizzes tend to be keyword (memorization) based. The majority of the test was application style questions so it’s very important to study with  that in mind.

I did use the phone tutor assistance that they offer. I’m not sure if it actually helped me or not, LOL! The woman I spoke to was nice though so that’s a plus.

I would recommend ACE to anyone looking to obtain a fitness certification. For the GFI cert you may not need the most expensive package (the one I used with all the extras) to pass. In my opinion you could absolutely pass with just the textbook and some notecards.

Good Luck! If you have any questions about the exam or about my experience with ACE I would be happy to answer them.