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Just Have Fun With It

10 Sep

have_funI’m an editor at a newspaper. When I began my career at a small publication outside Atlanta, I had one of the perkiest bosses known to man. This was strange for two reasons: 1) I don’t really like perky people and 2) perky people aren’t usually found in newsrooms. We’re a grumpy, cynical bunch.

Whenever I’d come across a story that just didn’t make sense or a headline that was giving me trouble, she’d say, “Just have fun with it.” At first, this annoyed the hell out of me. I’m in my early 20s working late hours at a cruddy newspaper writing headlines for sometimes shoddy work, and she wants me to have fun with it. The hell?!

One day, I decided to let go of my grumpy, cynical armor and “just have fun with it.” I started writing better headlines. I started making sense of non-sensical copy. I even started to warm up to her. She’s really a nice person, and we’re Facebook friends to this day.

I took that mantra of “just have fun with it” with me when I began my weight-loss journey. In the beginning, it was absurdly difficult. I’m the woman who had at least three tubs of ice cream in the freezer at all times, complete with fudge sauce just in case. I kept boxes of brownie and cake mix in the cabinets because you never know when you need to bake a cake. I would come home after my late shifts and wind down like most people: fix a plate, watch some television, cuddle with my dog and go to sleep, only to start the cycle all over again.

Taking an active role in my health not only shook up my routine, it wasn’t a lot of fun. Burgers are more fun than kale. Television marathons are more fun than actual marathons. But the “fun” things weren’t doing me any good. I had to find the fun in order to continue on my weight-loss journey and achieve my goals.

My first step was playlists. Nothing keeps the body moving like a good playlist. Everyone has their preference. Mine goes somewhere between Beyonce and trap music. Either way, I need a good beat from a familiar song to keep me moving. And if I’m humming along to some Mike Will Made It beat, then I won’t be so focused on the sweat dripping in my eyes.

The next thing I did was make sure to try new things. It’s so easy to fall into a rut (see above with the burgers and TV). The gym, while beneficial, can seem like a scene from “Office Space,” with the fluorescent lights, horrible music and monotone instructors. I try to keep my gym visits to once or twice a week. In between, I’m running, at spin class (much different from being on the machines in the gym), swimming, yoga, etc. I avoid doing the same workout two days in a row so I don’t become too used to a routine and to shock my body with another workout.

Another way to keep the fun quotient high is to have a buddy. I have my workout nanny. You could have a friend who looks up to your good works. Or a relative who, well meaningingly, makes snide comments about your appearance and you want to shut them up. Or you and your significant other share a passion for CrossFit. Whatever it is, it’s best to have someone in your corner. There’s a reason there are people on the sidelines at races cheering people on. Because when you’re on a never-ending hill, it’s nice to look up and see someone telling you to keep going.

There’s fun to be had on this journey, especially when you reach your goal. Take it serious enough to understand how your body reacts to different workouts and diets, but not so seriously that you can’t find the joy in it. Just have fun with it.

A Period in Time

17 Aug

kiran-ghandi-1-435There’s this thing that happens when you run. It’s called sweating. Those of us with overactive glands tend to look like we’ve just gotten out of the pool or some demented wet T-shirt contest.

For people like myself, we sweat everywhere. Think of every nook, cranny and crevice on your body. Think of the skin behind your knees. Think of the roll on your back. Think of that area on your neck that your earlobe tends to graze. Now think of your body temperature the last time you had the flu. That’s where I sweat. And many of my fellow pavement pounders do the same.

Now, think of women. Think of those of us who say, “Screw you, Mother Nature! You sent your monthly visitor to mess up my routine and to that I say, kick rocks.” But your period can’t kick rocks. It’s a thing that has to happen. So you can choose to wallow in the pain with a tub of Talenti, or you can run though it. I usually choose to run through it. (No judgement if you choose not to, though. Those cramps can be debilitating.)

Here’s the thing when fighting Mother Nature: she can be an ornery bitch. She will find ways to continue to make you uncomfortable. Sanitary items will move and jostle. Your breasts will ache more than usual just because today’s the day your sports bra decided to act a donkey. You’re so bloated you feel like running 10 more feet will make you explode. But you do it anyway because most times the aches and pains are just mental. Or they subside after your body has a chance to focus on new challenges.

We are all warriors in this battle of the bulge. And that’s why I can’t be too mad at our fellow road warrior Kiran Ghandi who decided to run a marathon without any sanitary aid. I’m a little mad, but not too mad.

If you haven’t read Ghandi’s story, she completed the London Marathon sans tampon, pad, cup, sponge, hell even a balled up piece of toilet tissue (trust me, it works in a pinch). She completed 26.2 miles with blood running down her thighs. This coupled with the body sweat couldn’t have made for a comfortable run.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, wouldn’t a tampon or pad have been more uncomfortable for such a long run?” The answer is a resounding no. NO, no, no, no, no! Runners who’ve been doing this for a while know just what kind of sanitary aids to use so they don’t impede their time or comfort levels on a long run.

No, Ghandi chose to have the lining of her fallopian tubes shed down her running pants to show solidarity for women and girls around the world who don’t have simple access to feminine hygiene products. She chose to be unhygienic to raise awareness about hygiene.

“You see, culture is happy to speak about and objectify the parts of the body that can be sexually consumed by others,” she told People. “But the moment we talk about something that is not for the enjoyment of others, like a period, everyone becomes deeply uncomfortable.”

And she’s right. There’s an organization called Days for Girls that is dedicated to educating and getting girls access to free feminine hygiene products. Girls can miss sometimes up to two months of school because they need to stay home. This creates a long list of problems in the long run. So kudos to Ghandi for helping to shed light on this issue.

Could I have done it myself? Probably not. I don’t like the feeling of being without a tampon. I’d be concentrating moreso on my discomfort levels than on my breathing and pace. But now that this issue is in the spotlight, hopefully more people will pay attention to the simple needs of others.

Black Girl Magic

11 Aug

11231849_10155925756280268_3757726510498463682_nI don’t know what’s changed recently, but I’ve noticed a trend. I didn’t so much see it coming as much as I was so caught up in the whirlwind of it that I couldn’t see what was happening around me. But others did. They saw. They noticed and made sure others did. And it’s amazing.

Not one, not two, but three amazing fitness goddesses are gracing the covers of magazines this week. Not just any goddesses–black goddesses. These women are the epitome of black girl magic. And they are working it!

These three women exemplify what Black Girl Magic is–black women working hard and accomplishing the goals they’ve set out for themselves. It’s not often that the world gets to see such power, atheleticism and elegance exemplified by black women on the covers of national magazines. It’s uplifting and remarkable to see. I know I’ll be picking up my copies and learning more about these phenomenal women.

Serena Williams

11817170_10153516713484826_5534474984263977955_nMy love of Serena is well-documented on this blog. I don’t have to remind you of how her dedication to her sport is awe-inspiring. I don’t need to reiterate how watching her repeatedly defeat her opponents in such swift manner gives me the giggles. I shouldn’t have to tell you again that her body is my life’s goal.

What I will tell you is that she will head into her fourth and final Grand Slam of the season at the end of the month. I’ll fill you in on the fact that if she wins the U.S. Open, it will be the first time in decades a woman has completed a calendar-year Grand Slam. I’ll spill some tea about how Serena has learned to stop being so hard on herself and just enjoy the game. That glee at just being a part of the sport she loves so much has allowed her excel far more than anyone would have expected this far into her career.

And when she takes the court at the end of the month, I’ll be watching as many matches as possible. Because my hero deserves it.

Misty Copeland

misty_essenceJust as I have used a great amount of server space fawning over Serena, I’ve begun to notch out some room for Misty. I love dancers. I loved dancing as a kid. I still have impromptu dance parties by myself in my living room. The freedom of expression through movement is such an incredible craft to master. And Misty has done that in spades.

Like Serena, Misty was met with odd comments about her body. She is muscular, where many of her contemporaries are not. But she is athletic. She can take difficult choreogrophy, attack a move and still make you think she’s moving through the air like a feather. Because she’s awesome.

Essence magazine thought so, too, when they gave her the cover of September’s issue. In one of her spreads, she’s surrounded by several young black ballerinas who are looking up to their role model: the first black principle ballerina for the American Ballet Theater.

Misty is an inspiration to millions of young dancers who may not be the perceived ideal of what a prima ballerina looks like. She is the new ideal.

Ciara

ciara_shapeCiara’s had it rough in the press this summer. Not because of her album. Not because of any diva tirade she’s gone on. And not because of any scandal she’s created. She is an adult involved in a romantic relationship with another adult that doesn’t involve sex. This news would have blown over swiftly if it hadn’t been for her ex-boyfriend questioning her as a mother and her relationship decisions.

Instead of clapping back (as I would have), she took the high road. She ventured a couple of little subtweets and moved on having fun with Russell Wilson.

Then she went on to release the video that makes “Ride” and “Body Party” look like Kidz Bop videos.

Now, to top it all off, the mother of one is on the cover of Shape magazine looking like she’s ready to fight. Ciara has always had a great body. Like Misty, her body is her instrument. She’s an amazing dancer and keeps her body healthy to maintain those physical demands. Like Serena, she has studied the greats and uses that knowledge to make herself better.