You want fries with that guilt?

I think the most annoying part about being a vegan or choosing a plant-based diet is the assumption that you’re judgmental of meat-eaters. We’re not all that way. I’ve seen it, granted. Some vegans really go hard for their beliefs. They want to shame you for your decision to consume flesh, hold this I’m-better-than-you imaginary cloud over you, and maintain a self-righteous aura as if their crap doesn’t stink too. But coming from a household of a suffocating religious lifestyle allowed me to accept the pain that judging another for their choices could bring.

I have no desire to go into a full-blown conversation about my decision to convert my eating habits to a plant-based diet. I have zero desire to debate with anyone on why not eating meat is boring or time-consuming. I couldn’t care less about convincing others to do the same when the discussion is really just an argumentative platform for why any other of my vices is just as bad. Folks will really go to great lengths to defend themselves, won’t they?

It’s beyond annoying.

If someone asks, then I’ll disclose. My reason for doing so has a spiritual basis. After learning about the torture methods that meat is produced under and the harsh conditions our demand for their flesh has created for their lives, I couldn’t in my good conscience be ok with it. But I’m not judging you if you don’t. In the words of Jay-Z, “What you eat don’t make me shit.”

In all fairness, I do care about awareness. I don’t mind sharing – if my opinion is asked – but I don’t offer it voluntarily. At this very moment, my barber is reading The Happy Vegan, by Russell Simmons, which I let him borrow at his request. When the topic of food came up, breakfast specifically, he asked if I liked eggs because a spot he goes to every morning has “the best eggs,” to which I simply replied, “Oh, ok. Nah, I don’t eat eggs.” He followed up with “Oh! You don’t eat meat at all?” and when I answered no he wanted to know more.

I keep my explanations very brief. I haven’t been a vegan for long, number one, and no one wants a lecture on diet when chopping up casual conversation (and besides, the introvert in me gets extremely drained by small talk). I prefer to direct people toward the truth and let them take their own action.

At the end of the day, my decision is really more about awareness.

And when you know better, you should do better. Period.

To me, being a vegan is about compassion. And that’s not to say that meat-eaters are not compassionate. I’ll be hitting a year on my official vegan journey next month, which wasn’t easy. At first, I did it because the guy I was dating wanted to. And it was for the wrong reason so it didn’t stick. When we broke up I ran to a basket of lemon pepper wings and fried fish!

As I learned about the meat-processing industry, how our Earth is changing rapidly because of our over-consumption of and demand for meat, and the treatment of animals I was overwhelmed with sadness and guilt. No, I can’t save the ribeye that’s already packaged, or return the milk to the mother of someone’s now burger, but I could control my own carbon print in this world.

We all start somewhere. And sometimes we have setbacks. What’s important is your why, and remembering that everyone has their own truth.

I’ve come a long way from the woman I was ten years ago, and I’m sure the next ten years I’ll be able to say the same thing. But the only person we are required to hold accountable is ourself.

Judgment is neither your job nor your responsibility. This world would be such a better place if everyone was more gentle with one another. I’m an avid supporter of “Do you!” provided such doing doesn’t harm you or others. And you’re welcome to take that however it best pleases your palate.

Be easy.

Cleanse and Detox time!

The last month has been nonstop appreciation for all I’ve accomplished over the past 4 years. Finishing 2 Master’s degrees is a big deal, so it was fitting that I celebrate. And boy did I celebrate! It was basically one party after another. Then, I went on vacation and lived it up some more. I got out of my eat-right routine, was drinking more than usual, sleeping less, and the only sweat I burned was while dancing!

Then, last week I was going to meet some friends at a festival, but was feeling sluggish all day. After finally convincing myself to get dressed and get out the house (about 3 in the afternoon), it felt like more of a chore than a fun Saturday. I walked around the festival streets for a moment, but couldn’t decide on anything to eat or drink – nothing was appetizing. I eventually settled on a local bar and had a veggie sandwich without the cheese, two glasses of water and a glass of cranberry juice. Any other time I’d have ordered my favorite high-gravity, because this spot has an awesome selection of beers. But, I sat at the bar, not wanting to link with friends because I felt awful, but wasn’t sure why. For days I’d been telling my friends “I just don’t feel right.” Then a commercial came on for tequila. There was a table full of shots, and at that very moment I wanted to url. I asked for the check. Ordered my Lyft, and made a resolve I was going on a cleanse. I needed to flush out everything or I wouldn’t get back to myself.

I’ve done cleanses before, usually more regularly, but in the past two years I hadn’t really needed to because my diet and drinking choices didn’t call for it – I’d been much more health-conscious and in-tune with my body than before when I’d eat and drink recklessly. I remember (after this past month) how horrible that lifestyle makes me feel. My body feels heavy and drained and weak. My mind is distracted with clutter and doubt and confusion. My motivation is gone; my spirit is negative. We really are what we eat and drink. So, if you consume crap but don’t feel like crap, in my eyes you’re like a super-mortal.

Typically, the quarterly cleanses I’d do would be from 3-5 days, depending on what I need. I honestly can’t tell you what you need – you have to listen to your body. I decided this one would be 6 days. Sure, I could go 7; technically I am if you count the no-alcohol. I’m on day 6 now and I feel absolutely amazing.

Ok. So here’s my ritual.

Mind you, I am not a nutritionist. I also cannot claim this process as my own. Years ago, one of my sista-mommas sent me a very detailed message via FB about her process. So this is my adopted version of it.

I decided to do the 2-day Arden’s Garden detox as my base. It’s a mixture of grapefruit juice, orange juice, and lemon. So, I preface this to say if you hate the taste of grapefruit juice you should probably choose a different detox. The retail price is about $34 for the 2 gallons. You drink 1 gallon per day, as much distilled water as possible, and no food.

I decided on this particular cleanse because I know it’s doable, it’s not harsh, it’s budget-friendly, and I know it works. Sure, the label mentions you will lose weight, but I think this is an automatic effect to drinking only juice for two days – you’re going to urine out some of your weight. I wouldn’t recommend doing this to lose weight, though. So be cognizant of your goals.

I needed a serious cleanse though. Just 2 days was not going to cut it. I am prone to low-sugar headaches, however, so in the past when I’ve tried to do longer juice-only detoxes I was miserable. And I just don’t agree that hurting yourself and benefiting yourself should go hand-in-hand. 2 days on juice-only, my body could take. More than that and my brain is likely to send a trigger “This girl is trying to starve us” and send out the headache patrol. And my headaches are relentless. I can’t suffer through those willingly.

How I Prep

I don’t think you should just jump right into the 2-day cleanse if you want the best results. Unless you’re already on a no-alcohol, plant-based, low-sugar/carb diet, you’ll want to ease yourself into it. Trust me! Even if you aren’t prone to headaches you will be if you just go cold-turkey.

Two days before (or 3 if you really need it, like I did!), and 2 days after are what I call the preparation and re-acclamation phases, respectively. They’re basically there as a buffer to prepare your body for what’s coming, then when it’s over re-adjust your body without jumping in head first. Here is my sequence:

  • 2 days prior: Raw fruits/veggies only. No dairy or processed foods. Nuts OK, but should be limited. Reduce salt and sugar – none, if possible. Water, water, water. Tea is ok – plain only. Even natural sweeteners, avoid those too. Avoid caffeine.
  • 1 day prior: Juice day. Juice veggies and fruits. Smoothies with no added sugars or flavorings. No caffeine boosters. Water like crazy. The more liquids the better. Tea is ok, but limit to 2 cups for the entire day; decaf only.
  • Night-before: Smooth Move (it’s a Peppermint flavored tea, so it’s easy to drink). It’s best to drink this right before bedtime.
  • Morning of: Sea salt flush (recipe below)
  • Day of: To get that salt water taste out your mouth, go ahead and have a half-cup of water with lemon then your first 8 ounces of the detox juice.
  • Day 2 detox juice
  • 1 day after: Juice day. A repeat of the day prior, but light food ok in the evening. Raw-only if possible.
  • 2 days after: Time to eat again. But be easy. Your body just flushed; don’t blow its hard work. Cooked food ok. Try to limit the intake of oils – you might feel like crap!

I started Day 1 on Sunday – the easy, breezy, no-fuss day. I was still in a funk and feeling like there was no way I could get anything to stay down anyway, so not eating wasn’t a challenge for me. All I had the whole day was water and peppermint tea. The peppermint tea eased my nausea. I attempted to eat some bread that night but it just felt like I was chewing a cotton ball. I’m telling you, I was messed up y’all!

Day 2, Monday I still felt sluggish but not heavy. I think it helped that I was completely empty. I picked up an Everything juice from a local spot downtown – Buenos Dias Cafe. It includes beets, carrots, mango, banana, apple, ginger… I mean I literally cannot list everything but if it’s a fruit or vegetable it’s probably in there, and it tastes so dern good! No juice or dairy added. I had a cup of detox tea (pictured) and stored the juice to have about noon. I drank 2 cups of the detox tea in the morning, then had the juice about noon, followed by more water and tea in the afternoon. My body finally wanted something to eat so I grabbed an apple, tangerine, watermelon, carrots and fresh almonds from the produce store next door, which hit the spot. That evening I had more detox tea, some guacamole on celery – a first; not my favorite. I don’t recommend. But it was something. Screenshot_2017-05-26-12-32-09-1 (1)

Day 3 was very much like Monday, except I had no food. I also made sure not to exert too much of my energy. I knew I needed to keep my stress level down if I didn’t want to find myself with a headache. It went well. More detox tea and water. I picked up another Everything juice, but it seems my body was already prepping for the cleanse. I didn’t want much. My energy level was great. I started to actually feel like a person again. That evening I picked up my 2 gallons of the detox juice from Arden’s Garden. That night, before bed, I had a cup of Smooth Move and was in bed by 9.

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Day 4, I documented everything that morning. It started with a trip to the bathroom and a sea salt flush. I highly recommend doing the flush, if nothing else. My friend likened doing a detox without doing a flush to mopping without sweeping – you gotta get all that gook out first! Smooth Move is a tasty tea that works overnight. You’ll have a great bowel movement first thing in the morning. Then the sea salt flush helps clean out the colon. If you’ve ever done a colon hydrotherapy session, it’s similar to that process. Some do a flush every morning of their detox; it’s up to you. Because I clean my system by prepping 2-3 days in advance I don’t feel the need to. But if you have a diet heavy in salt, meat (especially red meat), or sugar, you might want to flush more than once.  I’d been getting messages from friends about my detox and felt it would be a perfect place to start. Here’s my FB post from that morning:

4:13 Bowel movement. That Smooth Move was Workin through the night!
4:45 Realize I won’t go back to sleep. Time to flush
5:27 Sea salt flush mixture ready – time to drink. Goal: drink all by 5:33
5:35 back in bed, laying on side. Massaging tummy. Gurgling sounds start
6:04 time to release! Mostly liquid
6:12 gonna close my eyes. Alarm set for 20 minutes
6:20 still no sleep. Tummy gurgling a little. Switch to lying on my tummy – that feels great
6:35 No sleep. Just meditative rest lol
6:41 Release two. Mainly liquid. Easy breezy.
6:50 light yoga flow
7:12 take Champ out. It’s raining so he doesn’t want to walk.
7:22 shower and dress for work. And my tummy feels great
7:45 I’m dressed. Time for a nap. Because I’m not a robot
8:23 I pop up and see the time. Crap! I overslept. Because I’m human. But energy-wise I feel incredible. That nap was just what I needed!
8:25 I popped up too soon. A lil dizzy. Last release. Barely nothing – All clear!
8:42 Walk into work. Ah, Tuesday. Let’s do some thangs, yea?

I think that pretty much sums up that first day. A quick note, though, I think I should mention. This does look like a jam-packed morning, and I guess it was pretty eventful. Prepare your mind to prepare your body. Give yourself some time. Allow yourself a few hours before leaving for work to complete this process, unless you can do it on the weekend. Some folks say they can’t do it in the morning because they can’t get up. I think sacrificing one day of rising early for your body is a good reason to wake up, but that’s me… do what makes it possible for You. But the last thing you want is to be sitting in traffic and have your colon tapping on your insides that it’s time to release again. Just my assumption.

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I packed my bag with the jug, grabbed my glass container and a straw (because I prefer to sip it from a straw) and went on with the day. I would encourage you to drink every hour at the same time. I didn’t do this on the first day, which means I had a lot of juice left over in the evening. Drinking that much before bed is not a good idea if you want to sleep well. I was pottying all through the night until about 2, because I was adamant about finishing the juice. Day 2 went much better. I spread it out, and decided I’d have juice on the :30 of every hour, which, incidentally, really helped the day go by pretty quickly! Before I knew it, it was 3:30 and time to drink again.

The evening of the 2nd day of the juice detox is usually the hardest for me because I’ve made it through the hardest part of the cleanse, but I’m anticipating eating again. I needed to meal prep and the biggest challenge was to not taste the food as I prepped. I decided the next day could be a half-juice/half-raw day. Again, listen to your body. I’d been off “real food” since Sunday, so my body was sending me hints it was OK with intaking solid food again. That’s how I knew the cleanse worked!

The two days following have been great. I had some guacamole with unsalted chips last night, and another cup of peppermint tea. Yesterday I made a delicious acai bowl  with hemp hearts, sliced banana and strawberries, and coconut flakes; then a black bean, avocado and mango salad for lunch. This morning I made a smoothie with protein powder, juice, and bananas. I could jump into something heavier now so last night I whipped up a chickpea and potato curry stew to top over long-grain brown rice that I’ll have for lunch. I’m still drinking hella water, but that’s typical for me.

Before I close I’d like to also mention my activity during the fast/detox/cleanse. This, in addition to a physical transformation, takes on a spiritual purpose for me as well. I generally don’t go out or socialize much during this time. Not only because it’s annoying to carry my juice everywhere and have to urinate like clockwork, but it’s a great time to just be still and be quiet. While my body’s working on repairing, I’m giving it proper rest and peace. If you can afford me-time, I suggest it. If there are others in your household, I’d encourage you to emphasize the importance of this cleanse for you and how for a few days you just need some ultra-me-time. I find meditation, prayer, yoga, and walking are awesome complements to this period. If you’re active, like me, you may need to cancel your gym or workout classes during this time. Conserve your energy. You are consuming only juice, by the way. Yes, it’s full of nutrients but it’s not necessarily a fuel-pumping mixture.

I’ve left the recipe to the sea salt flush below.

Let me know if you have any questions about anything above or left out.

Peace, y’all. Be kind to yourselves, and others.

Love.

Sea Salt Flush

1 liter (32 ounces) of warm water (salt will not dissolve properly if cold, but you don’t want it scalding)

2 teaspoons of sea salt (not iodized salt; pink Himalyan salt works and gray Celtic salt)

2 squeezes of fresh lemon (will help tone down the salt taste)

Place all ingredients in a large glass container with lid, and shake until contents are one. Drink the entire mixture; try to get it all down in 5 minutes. This process produces optimal results when done first thing in the morning, and on an empty stomach. Once you finish the water, lie down on your side for 30 minutes. Massage your sides – this helps to get everything moving, and is definitely more comfortable. Try if you can to allow the full 30 minutes before releasing, to give your body time to absorb the salt. If you go to the bathroom immediately, it’s only passed through your systems and won’t fully do its work. In about 30 minutes you’ll be good and ready to release!

Happy flushing!

Ten-Minute Tacos

I’m in grad school. I think I’ve established that with you all already. But what that means, if you haven’t done it before, can seem like “Oh, so you read every now and then,” right?

Skip down to if you’re just here for the tacos

Let me tell you what my day looked like today: Alarm goes off at 6. I always turn it off instead of pressing snooze and let my body decide if it needs more rest or if we can jump into the day. I dozed back off and woke up at 6:15 – time to get up. That means I got all my rest (I’ve been waking up this way about a year now, and it really eases the morning tension I see so many folks walk around with. I do, I should also mention, aim to get to bed before 11; actually, 11 is pushing it way “late” for me, so the 6 a.m. isn’t such an issue. I admire the 4 a.m.ers that talk about how much they can get accomplished that early. Nah. I’m good. 6 works for me haha!) so I stretch in the bed before my feet hit the floor, then after brushing teeth and washing face I set out for a jog. The air was a little crispy this morning, so that served as my morning coffee – because I don’t drink coffee. I did 25 minutes in a walk/job mix. When I get home I take Champ out for his walk, because dogs need exercise too (but I can’t get my heart rate up with him stopping at every bush and hydrant). When we get back, Champ eats and I set out to transform myself into a working adult – shower, lotion, dress, mascara, you know, nothing fancy. Typical. I whip up my morning smoothie. Today was 2 scoops of almond protein powder, 8 ounces of almond milk, a tablespoon of chia seeds, half a banana and a dash of cinnamon. I may have thrown 2 or 3 ice cubes in there since warm smoothies make me want to url. I pack my lunch and head off to work. The drive in this morning wasn’t bad. When I left my place the car clock read 8:11; I parked at 8:28. Then catch up on emails, break for a little Facebook interaction, water, tea, emails, reports, audits, answer questions, voicemail catch-up, water, water, socialize with colleagues, water, emails, lunch, water, audit review, more socializing, more emails, meeting with faculty, answer questions, before I know it, it’s 5:15. I’m home by 5:40ish, walk Champ. It’s Wednesday night, which means I have class, back up at the university I’d just left, at 7:15. I’m so hungry I could eat a baby. Thanks to all the water I had countless bathroom visits, and I’m on E. Insert: ten-minute tacos! I whipped up those bad boys, changed my clothes and dashed out the door a little past 7. Ugh. Always running late for this class! Class is over at 8:30. Then I’m off to Vertical Joe’s to take a 9 p.m. cardio class, “ATL Bounce,” which uses the new trendy kangoo jump boots. Except, I lied. Tonight I didn’t make it to Bounce. I came straight home. And I’m drinking a glass of wine. Whatever Don’t judge me! But usually, yes, that’s what I do. I actually needed to prepare lunch for tomorrow and getting home at 10:30 to do that didn’t feel like a good idea. And since I’m trying to limit how much I eat out, missing Bounce for once wasn’t going to break me.

Ok. The tacos. When I tell you they’re easy, listen. I mean, you just don’t get easier than this.

What helped was I had a container of pre-cooked quinoa in the fridge. Quinoa is an excellent source of fiber and protein. Get you some! I make a big batch of it, with no seasonings so it’s versatile, throw some in an airtight container for the fridge then freeze the rest. That’s really the only part you have to prep with these things.

The rest is cutting up produce. The sauteed kale and spinach was in a pack I got from a foodstand next to my job. But you can use whatever greens you have on hand. If it’s just kale, or only spinach, or even mustard greens, I mean really it can be whatever. But try to incorporate some greens in every meal. Your body will thank you.

After chopping up everything, while the greens were sauteeing I just threw everything into a taco. When I took the greens off heat, that’s when I added the cooked quinoa. There’s no reason to recook it. What I love about quinoa is it adapts to whatever you flavor it with. Since the greens had flavor, I tossed the quinoa around in the greens so the grains could soak up all the juices – Voila!

What I love about these tacos is there is plenty of superfood goodness to keep you fueled and full. The quinoa and avocado make it filling; the sauteed greens get you your fiber, and the fresh tomatoes and mango were a pleasant delight and contrast with the greens. Yum! And fast.

No lie. I turned on the eye on the stove at 6:31; I was eating by 6:42 – that includes adding it to the plate.

Of course, as far as flavor goes, I didn’t have much time so I kept it basic. But that doesn’t mean they were bland! I’m a garlic lover. For me, onions and garlic are the staple to any savory meal. You just can’t go wrong with them. It was a no-brainer for me. Had I more time, I would have added some bell pepper, maybe squash and zucchini mix, or asparagus. Really, any greens you’d like to add you can plop in those tacos! And for seasonings, I like to play with mixes. I have a smoked chipotle rub that probably would’ve set those tacos off! It really depends on what kind of flavor you’re going for, but in tacos you usually can’t go wrong with chilli powder, salt and pepper, and a topping of fresh cilantro.

So, here you go! Enjoy!

Ten-minute Tacos

1 cup cooked quinoa

2 whole wheat tortillas

2 handfuls of spinach/kale mix (or preferred greens)

1 T olive oil

1/4 C yellow onion

2 garlic cloves

1 Roma tomato

1 avocado

1/2 mango

Dash of salt and pepper to taste

In a medium skillet set to medium heat and add your olive oil. Add the onion and garlic cloves until the onions are transparent. Layer the kale/spinach mix on top of the onion garlic mix and stir to combine. Lower heat slightly so your greens don’t scorch. You want them soft but not wilted – the more you cook, the more nutrients you lose!

While the greens are cooking dice your Roma tomato, avocado, and mango into pieces.

When greens are ready (about 2-3 minutes), remove from heat and toss in the quinoa and stir until it combines with the juices from the green mixture.

Heat the wheat tortillas on one side to make the torillas soft and bendy (about 30 seconds on medium heat – any longer and you’re going to have chips!) Then load those babies up! Greens/quinoa on first, then avocado, tomatoes, and mango – Serve!

You will notice I did not add seasonings to this recipe. You may add salt and pepper to taste (I recommend sprinkling a tiny bit to the greens once you remove them from heat), but I was actually content with the natural flavors not to have to do this.

You will also likely enjoy some salsa on the side. I downed these boys right before class so I didn’t have time for another plate, but I looooove salsa. And guacamole! YES! But, these are ten-minute tacos for a reason!

That’s all folks.

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So, here it is 10 o’clock and it’s time to go to bed. Except my internet won’t let me be great because I’ve been trying to send a picture of these tacos from my phone to this laptop for.. oh, about 30 minutes now. Guess who won’t be getting out the bed at 6:15 tomorrow morning!

If you try these out, I’d love to hear how they went for ya. What did you like, what did you do differently, what did you omit/add? Thanks for checking in!

No excuses, M,kay?

I started off on a fitness journey – seriously – last year. I guess it was a new year’s resolution, which I typically don’t do. But I wanted to commit myself to a better lifestyle, for good.
I don’t have “small” genes in my family. To the contrary, I have an inherent fat gene that loves to pronounce itself, unfortunately.

I’ve been fighting against it my whole life.

Which leads me to the issue I take with body shaming. Most folks’ makeup include factors beyond their control. And it’s not fair to criticize one’s place in their journey. You never know what someone is battling.
So back to my commitment, I decided to start eating better; which mainly consisted of eating out less, incorporating produce more, and limiting processed foods. I wasn’t vegan yet, but the decision was definitely a step in that direction.
I also upped my fitness game. I’ll be honest. I hate working out. Ask my girl I used to work with together with our personal trainer. I practically bitched the entire time.

But I’ll finish hahaha Kickin n screaming.

So I had to alter my relationship with fitness. It felt like a struggle because it felt like work. And I didn’t like working so hard for results that took too long to see. For what? Just to be sore in the morning and say I did? Nah son.
I respect folks that have that “beast mode” in them. Admire it, really. You know the ones that actually look forward to the gym. Yea, that’s not me. BUT I know my faults, I know my body, and remember that fat gene I was talking about? Yea, that’s not just gonna go away by eating fruits and vegetables and grilled chicken or tuna. Trust me. I tried. And I was starving. So I was cranky. And anyone who knows me without food knows it’s not a good idea – for me or those around me.
So I reshaped my idea about fitness. I have to be active. I have no choice. So if this is going to happen, I need to make it something that I enjoy doing that serves the same purpose.

That became dancing, running, and poling. Not all at the same time, but those three things.
I love to dance. Zumba, reggae, and House are my favorites to get me moving so I started there.

Look what a pinterest search for “zumba” returned! It’s just too easy, y’all.

zumba

Running. Aw man. I hated running. Hated the idea of it. Hated treadmills even more. But I knew running was great cardio. I started off just going 5 minutes at a time, alternating with fast walking, 3-4x a week and slowly increasing the length of time I ran consistently. I got up to running 30 minutes straight and damn near beamed from ear to ear with pride. Because I was never a runner. And I’d hated it. But I created a bomb playlist, and that kept me going. Eventually, I didn’t hate it anymore. I actually looked forward to it!
I still needed to incorporate strength training in my routine somewhere. Because I wanted to return to pole I knew I’d need to build my core, upper body and flexibility back. So I found videos on Grokker and incorporated strength training moves into my weekly routine, usually 2-3x per week. I like Grokker because you can find videos on whatever fitness topic you want – yoga, cardio, HIIT, etc., and can do them in the privacy of your own home. I was in grad school, which took a great deal of my time, so carving out time for going to a gym was not realistic. Every minute was valuable.
I purchased the basics I’d need to be able to do a variety of exercises at home – a yoga mat and a plyo mat (more support for the back), 2 sets of dumbbells  (1 light, 1 heavy), an exercise ball, and eventually added in resistance bands.

I haven’t run in a while (few months). Actually had to pull back on it because of knee pain. But walking is Still as effective, and actually (according to several readings I’ve come across is as effective and healthier because it’s gentler on the joints)
Walking became therapeutic for me. It was quiet time. I completed two audiobooks while walking, first thing in the morning, for 30 minutes every morning. Not only was I getting in activity but starting my day off that way really changed my attitude before work. I actually had More energy. I’m in bed no later than 10:30 is the goal to be up by 6:30 and out the door by 6:45. I’ll admit it’s been more challenging in the cold. I haven’t been as consistent because I hate cold. Don’t judge me. I’m human.
The point is, you have options. If you suffer from what most Americans do of “I don’t have time” syndrome, see if you cam realign your priorities. Go to bed earlier. That may mean not watching that late show. So you can get up earlier. Your body will thank you. I promise when you finish you won’t wish you’d stayed in bed. I’m not a coffee drinker, and actually realized I was far less tired when I started my day with a workout.

You really can do a full body workout without equipment. That’s even a category on Grokker! (FYI I’ve been a member on Grokker for a while but I don’t recall paying for it. If when you go on you have to pay, you can easily find the same videos on YouTube. Bam.)
There are some no-fail standard exercises you will see repeatedly. If you’d like to start your own routine but not ready to commit to a gym or (like me, hate gyms) create your own workout with these. You got this! No excuses, k? I have no fitness background. None. All that’s required is a desire to do better.  #startsomewhere

Burpees
Pushups
Plank
Squats
Jumping Jacks or Inch-worms (for warm-up)
Mountain climbers
Crunches
Lunges
High-knees (great cardio!)
There are so many variations in exercises there’s no limit to what you could possibly do.
These are some of my favorites I always try to incorporate. And by favorites I mean in execution. Because, remember : hate working out. Would rather be napping or reading. But, goals. Or whatever 😁

So, below I’ve uploaded some at-home workouts you can do to get you started. Maybe even mix them up! Throw in some booty shaking (twerkin, mind you is great exercise!), or even salsa – between JLo and Pitbull, just start with a radio station of either of them on Spotify and you’ll be good for at least 30 minutes! I started by finding ideas on Pinterest, that has now grown to several boards targeting the workout area I might be interested in – total body, core and abs, upper and arms or lower body – feel free to follow me on there so you get updates on my pins!

I hope this helped some. Let me know what you do! I’d love to hear back from you and even share workout ideas.

Hurt so good

pole

So, I got my first pole injury tonight…

I know. Maybe “injury” was too strong a word. But, this captures what happens in pole. There will be bruises and scars. There will be pain. There will be challenges. But, we keep going anyway.

My obsession with pole started back in 2012. I was introduced to the pole world by my long-time friend, Stephanne. She  invited me out to a “recital,” of which at the time I had no idea what the meaning was; I just went to support. Because I love her, and that’s what love does.

To say that I was amazed would be an understatement. I was blown away. The ladies I saw perform that night – from the beginners to the veterans – was inspiring and empowering. I was moved, and I didn’t even know much about pole beyond what I’d seen at strip clubs. To my surprise, my admiration and respect only grew.

Fast forward, I showed up at an open house she invited me to, and again, love made me do it lol I said, “Ok. Let’s see what this “studio” thing is all about.” Step and I have been friends since the very first day in high school. I knew her background lol We ate hot fries, chocolate chips, and Fruitopia together! But what I saw in her was strength, confidence, and sexiness. It was contagious. I wanted that too!

Open House day – the studio put on a SHOW. They gave you a taste of the different classes they offered, from fitness classes like zumba to sexy pole choreography. I was hooked. I signed up for a series where I met some beautiful ladies who are still friends of mine to this day.

Fit Candy Studio was my first pole studio, and to this day I call it my pole home. The ladies there are outstanding, but what made it home was the culture of sisterhood. Everyone is encouraging, uplifting, and positive. The owner, Kee, is a gem among gems. I can’t speak more highly of her. She’s a sister, a friend, and an inspiration. She’s built her studio from a foundation of love, is a strong believer in her higher power, and a bombshell, ok?! If you ever see her perform, your breath will be taken away. What I love most, though, is that she is so incredible, but so approachable, accepting, loving, and welcoming. She has built that studio with her spirit, and you feel it from the moment you walk in. The sisterhood in that place can’t be faked – it just is: genuine and real.

For me, FitCandy was the only thing keeping me on the eastside – Yes, I love it just that much! But I needed to transition to the city. I work in the city, I was always in the city, I had a house that was just too big for me and my dog; we needed to make a move. BUT if you’re on the eastside of OTP-Atlanta (Decatur/Lithonia/Conyers) and you’re a lady (sorry; no boys allowed – women’s only fitness playground!), do yourself a favor and follow them on Facebook so you know when the next open house is. I’m telling yo. If you don’t get all the feels after being there your first 15 minutes I want you to let me know!

Oh, and I’m not advertising for them, by the way lol Just giving my honest to goodness testimony.

Since moving to the city, making the drive to Conyers was challenging. It might not be so hard if I didn’t hate driving. But when I tell you I hate driving, listen. I am willing to turn my work parking pass in (18 minute commute to work) for a MARTA breeze pass which will take my commute to about 25-27 minutes. (I know, I know. Less than 30 minutes. That’s why I moved to the city!)

I went on a pole break when I started my Master’s in 2013. Pole is not the type of hobby you can jump in and out of like Zumba and not miss a beat as long as you have rhythm. Pole takes practice, practice, practice. That’s the only way you get better. That’s how you get stronger. The skills and techniques build off one another. It’s very much a commitment to growth type sport. Take a few weeks off if you want- what you could do effortlessly will be “Why can’t I get it?!” moment the first session back.

After I got into my school flow I was ready to pick back up with pole. I missed the burn! (oh yea, I think I mentioned pole is painful. You get over it. Or at least I do. You gotta hurt for the werk!) I found a Groupon for Polelateaz. The address wasn’t too far from my condo, so I tried it out for 30 days. I liked the versatility in their class offerings. My primary purpose up front was to get into a regular cardio routine, which they offered. Then I sampled some pole classes. With the encouragement of a few ladies I’d met and made friends with, I decided to join. It felt different. Not as warm and fuzzy for newbies as FitCandy, but I enjoyed their selection – I had enough dose of challenge, sexy fitness, and flexibility courses to keep my attention. I started a pole series with a couple ladies I’d met there, and enjoyed it for a while. The drop-ins were more appealing to me, though. They kept a wide-ranging rotation of classes to sample from yoga-inspired to fierce cardio, floor work to twerk workshops – crazy cardio!

Polelateaz’s instructors are serious about their art. From dance to stretch, tease workshops and pole, I was impressed by every instructor in that facility. It felt clique-y to me; being an introvert it was difficult for me to want to converse outside of being polite, but once I open up I’m warm bubble of Heyyyyy. Polelateaz rarely made me feel I could step into that zone outside of my regular classes and series. If I tried a new class for the heck of it, I felt brand new from scratch all over again.

School started to become a little more hectic. In addition to that, I was losing my love for pole, so I decided to take a break. At the moment, pole was feeling like a chore, and if you know anything about graduate school, the last thing you need is another thing you have to do. So I took another “pole break”, for about a year and a half (or maybe a little more). Until now.

I finished the program that took so much of my time this past summer. And these days I just want to get back into pole life. Almost aching for the challenge again. And the way I operate, once I meet a challenge, it really bothers me not to be able to again. Imagine that.

I used to hate doing pushups. And could only do 5 (regular; not “lady pushups”) with correct form and no stopping. I worked up to doing 10 straight, then 15, then 20. I was PUMPED. I love achieving goals. I don’t need outside pressure – I put enough on myself!

addiction

So when I reached level 4 at Polelateaz and could do a number of spins, conditioning moves, and do them fludily, it was a big deal to me. The thought that I’d have to possibly start over was unsettling.

My good friend has been interested in starting pole classes. I promised her I’d support and join if she’d start, and that I’d start at level 1 (partly for support, but also partly because I feel like I need to after being gone so long!). She was my motivation to start again. But we had to find a place that was convenient. Remember, I don’t like to drive! After doing some searching, I saw several reviews about Vertical Joe’s. I liked that it was less than a 20 minute ride from my place. And an even shorter distance for my friend. They offered a promo that allowed us to try out the dance workout and pole classes – score! We could do both, try samplers, and didn’t have to commit a lot upfront.

So, that’s where I am now. So far so good. The instructors are awesome. Their enthusiasm and talent are pretty freakin on point. My friend and I were talking earlier about the instructors and said, “I love Bunni”… “I know me too”… “but Allure too!” .. “I know right! I love her! And…” lol it just keeps going, so suffice it to say, we love all of them! Shout out to Southern Comfort in ATL Bounce! FiyaStarta (I believe she’s the owner; she’s at least the president) has an awesome team of staff. Everyone is helpful, and friendly, and professional. I appreciate that. It helps me want to come back and keep going.

So, yea. That’s a real quick run through of my pole journey. It’s definitely a journey. And this time it’s my goal to keep going. Even when it gets hard. Even when I have reasons not to. To face the challenges.

pole-work

It’s that challenge, that grit, that focus that keeps me going. So, I’ll heal by Sunday I’m sure, then I’ll be back to hurting somewhere else by Wednesday. That’s how this thing goes. I won’t die from it. But I will grow from it – and that, I can’t explain it. It’s addictive. You may just have to experience it for yourself.

I’ll post videos of my progress/fails as they come. I’ll laugh. Cry. Fall. Get up. And do it in 6 inches or higher and boy shorts. Because, that’s our uniform. hahahaha

If you’ve never tried pole fitness I invite you to try it out. Start with a Groupon whereever is closest to you. Just see how you feel. Go in with an open mind and ashy legs (by the way, ash is good; ash will save your life. When you’re trying to stick to the pole, the last thing you need is lotion! So, yes my picture above I’m ashy. And that is why.) What I can promise you, if nothing else, is your respect for stripper life will dramatically increase. This ain’t no games, folks. Climbing a pole is work. Twerkin in 7-inch platforms is work. Keeping your cool, and your hotness, in a bra and thong is art. Respect the chrome. Tip your strippers. And be respectful. Some of us do it for fun; some of us do it for sport; some do it to make that money honey. The why, frankly, is none of anyone’s else’s business. What’s not ok is shaming. Body shaming. Work shaming. Judgement at any level is not ok.

At the end of the day, I believe this is a discipline that will only develop through the years. I’m just as in awe as I was on day one. Sooooo, let’s see if I stick in it – cause Oooooo, the burn! Go ahead. Try it! #startsomewhere 😉 See you on the floor!