Tiffany Monique: Making Her Musical Weight Known
(BlackDoctor.org) — Who is Tiffany Monique? She’s a member of the three-woman troupe of backup singers for Beyonce, famously known as The Mama’s. Tiffany Monique’s newly released and second video, Anytime, centers on unrequited love between a man and a woman, but could easily be the theme of her weight loss journey and pursuit of a solo music career. The lyrics express a sentiment that if you see someone for who they truly are instead of through your own narrowed focus and judgments, you may recognize their value in your life before it is too late.
Anytime’s smooth jazz beat coupled with Tiffany’s equally brilliant vocal delivery appropriately conveys a quiet but powerful lesson in authentic love, such as the plea to “look at the whole person, because you might see that you have someone good that you are about to lose.”
With a desire to be a solo recording artist since childhood, Tiffany studied music and communications at Morgan State University in Maryland. It was there that she began to gain weight on her 5’3” frame.
“I gained the freshman 15 lbs, and then the sophomore 15lbs, the junior and senior. I definitely wasn’t as active in college as I was in high school, so the weight just piled on and I didn’t notice the impact as it was coming.”
While still a student at Morgan, Tiffany was asked to join a musical group with other female singers from the school. The name of the group was On Point, and it was while with them that Tiffany, just a sophomore, experienced her first taste of the music industry image standards that would begin to define her career path. On Point was pursuing a recording contract and company executives began making references to “ the bigger one,” Tiffany recalls, who was now weighing over 160 pounds from her pre-college weight of 105 pounds.
“I started looking around and wondering who were they were talking about? I mean, I wasn’t the tallest one, and I definitely was not wearing plus sizes, so they could not have been referring to me. “ As it turns out they were. In fact, Clive Davis, the founder, and head of Arista Records at the time, bluntly stated that while Tiffany had talent he felt “I did not have the image to compete with the other divas on his roster. The emphasis was fully on my image.”
The situation introduced Tiffany to a reality of how strong the impact of image is in the music industry. “Still, I admit, I was kind of a purist,” she says, acknowledging her naiveté. In spite of the music executives harsh words, “I genuinely believed I had the talent, the background and the experience, so surely these things together would assist me in furthering my career as a solo artist.” But when Tiffany only seemed to realize opportunities as a studio singer or background singer, she questioned why she couldn’t get further as a solo artist. “It always came back to my weight.”
One of those background opportunities turned out to be with superstar, Beyonce. She and her team were seeking high caliber singers who “would push and challenge Beyonce to sing better. “It just so happened that the three of us were big girls!” Tiffany adds. “To this day, we have never been asked to lose weight or change anything about ourselves. I appreciated that they appreciated our talent.”
Tiffany was thrilled to perform with and learn from a major talent, but after several years of touring, and now at 235 lbs., Tiffany began to reassess her career. “I started to analyze what made artists like Beyonce really successful? And, if I wanted that level of success, what steps would I need to take to get there?” Even though full-figured artists like Jill Scott, Angie Stone and Adele have “ushered in a new wave of image acceptance,” Tiffany concedes it is still an uphill battle. “Thin and sexy is still in when it comes to the music industry.”
So, although happy touring the world as one of The Mamas, Tiffany found herself growing increasingly unhappy. “I was no longer comfortable in my own skin. I had borderline high cholesterol, was pre-diabetic, and had knee issues that required physical therapy for nearly a year. I wanted to feel as good on the outside as being in music made me feel on the inside.” Coupled with her desire to get back on track toward her personal career aspirations, Tiffany began to accept what her challenge truly was – she had to lose weight.
“Being a solo artist is really important to me. It’s been my dream since I was a child. And because I knew this was an accomplishment I wanted personally, I started to acknowledge how much it would help me professionally as well.”
Not being able to get the attention of music industry heads fueled her weight loss goals. She surmised if she lost the weight for herself, “they would then have to look me in my face and confirm whether I am talented or not, and not blame the weight.”
With her weight no longer her crutch, Tiffany laid out her plan to overcome it. She’d experienced losing weight over the years on The Adkins diet, The Master Cleanse and through other quick fix diets. “I’d gained the weight over 7 years but I wanted it gone in 7 days!” And when the weight didn’t come off in her time period, Tiffany threw up her hands up declaring her diet of choice was not working, and comforted herself with ice cream.
“So, I had to change my mindset, and there were a couple of things that I had to accept. One, I’m not going to lose the weight overnight. And, if I really want to lose the weight and keep it off, it may take as long as it did to put it on. And two, I can’t get to my goal of 100 pounds if I don’t lose one pound.”
Reading and educating herself through online forums, Tiffany became a student of nutrition and calorie counting. “I learned I was addicted to sugar and lots of it! I didn’t want to totally eliminate it, but I needed to understand what kind of carbohydrates and sugars I should eat – like wheat and grains instead of cookies and candies.”
She also decided to treat her weight loss as if it were a financial budget. “If you are going shopping and you can only spend $100, you can buy a bunch of stupid things and not get as much, or you can make wise choices.” She budgeted her 1500 calorie per day comparably. “I can go and get ice cream and blow 1000 calories leaving 500 calories for the rest of my day, or I can have some fruits and vegetables to eat all day with calories to spare. Once I committed my mindset to that, the weight started to come off.”
Tiffany also incorporated exercise into her regimen by walking a neighborhood park that was 2.5 miles once around. She initially gave herself a 10 minute goal to accomplish at a comfortable pace. Ten minutes became 20, and 20 led to 30 minutes. “Over time,” Tiffany says, “not only are you exercising more, but you are becoming consistent. And the only way we can be successful about losing weight and keeping it off is to become consistent.”
Tiffany admits her weight loss journey has also required a lifestyle change. Because she has conditioned her kitchen at home, Tiffany says it’s not hard to commit to her program. “I make sure that anything that is going to tempt me to eat off of plan or eat too much of is not in my kitchen. That can include healthy foods, too. For instance, grapes are healthy for you, but you’re not supposed to eat the whole bag!”
Maintaining her new lifestyle proved more difficult when on the road performing. “You can’t really plan your meals. You’ll see the lettuce (from catering) but you will also see the cookies a
nd donuts.” And with the temptation of the band or crew sharing how good something is and prompting her to try one Tiffany confesses, “I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t.” But reality would quickly set back in when she gained access to a scale and found her weight loss efforts going backward.
So Tiffany created a new weight loss tool for herself while on the road. “My reputation and how people perceived me have always been important to me. Because I had lost weight and people were noticing and sharing their pride, I allowed their words to motivate me to keep on my program.”
“I couldn’t let them see me eating that doughnut, so I used that as a tool. When I can’t find it in myself to be strong, I find it in the support of others.”
After an 18 month weight loss journey, Tiffany is now comfortably in a size 8 and working toward her first full-length album in her pursuit of a solo presence. With her musical team, including producer Kevin ‘Kwiz’ Ryan, Marlin Smith and Tony “T-Ro” Carter of Digital Khaoss Productions, Tiffany is soaring as an independent artist on her and Ryan’s own independent imprint label, the Rhythm 252 Music Group.
To learn more about Tiffany Monique and her music – visit her website at www.tiffanymonique.com where you can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.