Spring Renewal Part 2: Oh, Kale Yes.

Swinging 4.7.14

 

 

Day 2 was much, much easier. Did I want solid food-sometimes. But the best thing I had today was a cup of green tea that I had right after coming inside after playing outside with my son. It was marvelous. I’m finding that I just get it over with and drink them up it doesn’t seem like a chore. I tried to not be to rigid in my schedule, although, when you do that, you risk getting very, very hungry.

I feel good! I really do. My energy levels are higher and I have found a sense of strength and pride in that strength that I have been able to deny temptation that is literally everywhere. I got to do three wonderful things today:

1. Played outside with my son.

2. Did some yoga and meditation.

3. Took an epsom salt bath while listening to some wonderful jazz music.

Simply wonderful. Now please enjoy the above photo of my swinging at the playground, flying above the lake.  I feel good.

Spring Renewal Part 1: The Detox Begins

 

 

 

Bite JuiceSo I had a grand idea. A juice detox! We had a turrible (just turrible!) winter here in Chicago, I wanted to break out of hibernation and into a Spring Awakening! I also need to focus to propel my personal goals forward, I’m interested in taking my nutrition to the next level…so-why not? I started yesterday-a Sunday. I thought it would be not too tough, serene even. I wanted to incorporate specially selected strengthening and renewing yoga poses for the full experience. I mean, I knew I would be working off of fewer calories so I didn’t want to overdo it.

I woke up with the best intentions-I really did. I started with my Groupon purchased green juice from Peeled, a juice bar here in Chicago. It has kale, spinach cucumber and other goodies that I enjoy in solid form.  Now, I was pleased because I hate pulp and these are pulp free. The taste of the green juice or Green Lantern was alright. Just more salad-y that I am used to at 8 am. I wanted to do some yoga and meditation but my son woke up, so there went that opportunity.

I did however, have an opportunity to set an intention for the day. It was ” Focus on the blessings of the day, remain in the present.” And I did remain in the present.  My mind wandered throughout the day..thinking about..potato chips, barbecue and the like.  Stuff that I haven’t been craving at all before today, now became the object of my desire, presently but it dissipated.  Did I always think about food like this? Did I always mindlessly run and get a snack (healthy or not)? Hmmm..

Before I left out for the day, I journaled 3 things that I am grateful for and my feelings after my first drink. My feelings were journaled in one word. “Apprehensive.” but I noted that I was looking forward to mental clarity.

I went through my day, drank a lemonade concoction, a red drink called “Maroon 5” and another Green Lantern and finished up with the last two drinks of the day “Maroon 5” and Cashew Milk (I liked it because it is sweet!).  I’m not going to lie. I had moments that my skin was tingling and I felt energized. Then I had a few headaches-not sure if it was from the detox or dealing with my son throwing up his breakfast right after church (he’s fine by the way!) I did try to prep for the detox by eating a vegetarian diet and drinking as much water as possible.

Side note: I would also like to note that while my son was throwing up, a woman came by out of nowhere (we left church early (don’t judge me) so no one was outside yet) saw him throwing up and offered baby wipes, tissue and minty gum (brand new pack) to help his stomach!  I was so grateful to her in that moment. So, I did have a little reminder of how to be grateful in the present.

I will say that so far, this detox has me thinking a little differently about food and how I actually think about it. So that’s cool. Did I achieve the mental clarity right out the gate? Kale nawl. But I have two more wonderful days of juicing to go and I am no longer apprehensive but proud that I made it through the first day. Stay tuned for Day 2.

The EnLIGHTenment of Yoga: A Black Female Yogi’s Perspective

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Namaste, y’all.  Not sure if you are aware but I am a yoga instructor. I love yoga. I took yoga occasionally throughout the years and then really started practicing through some tough times in my life and it helped tremendously. I was focused, felt strong and flexible and I fell in love with it. And since I am not a selfish lovah, I wished to share this with others. I am not (yet) a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) but have been certified in Yoga Fit and will continue on until I become a RYT.

But today, something caught my eye. A piece written in XO Jane (see it here if you are interested in reading), by a self proclaimed “skinny white girl”, stating how a fellow student, new to yoga made her quite aware of her “whiteness” and made her cry or something. The new yogi happened to be a “heavyset black woman”.  Now, I get it, the author doesn’t see a lot of black people in yoga class. The new yogi was heavyset. She couldn’t the poses. It made the skinny white girl cry (Girl… BYE!). The author’s account of her ordeal, her hardship through downward dog and other extraness offended a lot of people (see here and…here) including me. And while I found it offensive and need her to have several seats, it wasn’t for the reasons people may think.

First off, yoga is about inclusiveness. So, if you see a fellow, especially new,  student struggling near you, HELP. THEM. Share your experience instead of running to a corner to cry. Show them Child’s Pose. Pull you mat next to them. Do something!

Second, who said that yoga cannot accommodate someones body type? Anybody can do yoga. Anybody. You might not do Scorpion, or Crow or stuff like that, but uh,I have a question: Do you like to sit in silence? Yoga has a pose for that. Can you lay on your back and do nothing (one of my favorites!) ? Yoga has a pose for that. See? Everyone can do yoga.

But most important, her essay highlights a fact. Black women are minimized in the world of fitness. I think the author makes a great point. Yoga, the world of fitness in general is displayed as being very white. I mean, of course she was hyper-aware because every, single fitness publication she, and everyone sees, has a plethora of “skinny white girls”, and swole white men and a few black men. I get equipment catalogues all the time and very rarely see a black female inside of them. If that is all I see and I am actually LOOKING for black women, what does she see?

Yoga and fitness has been there for me through difficult times, made good days better and provided an plethora of challenges for me to enhance my overall wellbeing. It is a gift and I love to share it with any and everyone who wants it. I know many dedicated, fit, black women, I am a part of some awesome Facebook fitness and motivational groups that highlight black female accomplishments in fitness, even if it is a slow mile or a healthy breakfast (I’m looking at you Fit Girlz Clique and Black Girl Run!). Black women do work out! We do exist!

But I digress. To the yogi who wrote that essay, I say think about why you love yoga and practice it so much. Think of those you can help and share this gift with, no matter the perceived ability, weight or race of the person. Remember that it takes courage to step out of your comfort zone and try something new and its nice to have support when doing it in a judgement free zone. So practice some deep, cleansing breaths, do a few sun salutations and know that the spirit of yoga, self love and overall wellness is capable to be within all of us.

Namaste.

Fitness Adventures: 6 Reasons Why Pole Fitness Is Awesome

Pole Fitness

 

I am a part of a wonderful Facebook group called The Fit Girlz Clique. If you don’t know about it, go  to Facebook and getchu some! It is a wonderful community of women who encourage and motivate either through pictures, words or both.  The page always has great challenges and fitness events that are always changing and seem fun.  For my first event with this group, I decided to join a Pole Fitness class.  It was held at 8 am on a Saturday at Good Gyrrl Studios in the Bridgeport Arts Center on the South Side of Chicago.  The instructor, Coach Robin of Alpha To Omega Wholistic Therapeutic Services is fantastic and I want to tell you why this pole fitness class was awesome.

1. This class was located in the Bridgeport Arts Center which is a huge warehouse/loft style building on the South Side of Chicago near US Cellular Field/The Cell/Comiskey Park. It mostly houses artist lofts, but also hosts another gym and a poetry lounge to name a few.  The outside has a really nice courtyard area with a mosaic lined walkway and a big silver horse which goes along with the courtyard. I’m not gonna lie, me and a few others got a little turned around finding the actual studio but when we got there, we found the Good Gyrrl Studio to be cute, not too girly and sensually decorated with leopard print, velvet covered seats and four poles in the middle of the room for the pole fitness class.  I also saw some hula hoops and weights so I am sure that other interesting courses are taught there and since a few of us (yes, me too) forgot our mats, there were several mats available for our use.

2. Some of us were a little late, but once we got there, we found Coach Robin ready to go. She got us warmed up, was detailed and informative in her instruction and made the workout accessible for everyone. On another note, girlfriend has some serious pole skills. I was in awe and quite impressed. i learned quite a bit in that one class, such as the use of a product called “tack” that you can rub on your hands and in my case, on my inner thighs to keep from slipping on the pole.

3. I love a challenge which is why I chose this class.  The challenge of pole fitness is first a test of your body weight strength. We worked our core, upper body, inner thighs..outer thighs..every.thing. No weights, only using the pole for support. We learned a few basic spins, one was called The Cradle, as well as how to a Handstand. This workout was fun and no joke!

4. The ladies that participated in this class were wonderful, open minded and even though I had never met any of them before, were some of the friendliest women I have ever met.  We all had varying levels of fitness ability, but we all were there to exercise and experience something new.  Because of the different things taught in this class, some people found some new found ability, others found flexibility and we all caught a little sexy cuz, well, frankly we all were to begin with.

5. I loved the music!  I am a huge Prince friend and one of the warmup songs was “Sexy Dancer”. From the first few bars of that song, I was all in for the rest of the class.  We also took a musical interlude break when Sugar Hill Gangs Apache (Jump On It) came on.  If you know that song, you know the dance that Will and Carlton from the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” did. Yes we did it. And it was glorious.

6. The pole is your friend.  If you take a class like this, you must remember that. It is there to support you and help you do fun, amazing spins that you did not think you could do. And don’t think that because you are not your ideal weight that this is out of reach for you.  If you want to do it, go for it.  You might find something that you didn’t know was there.

There you have it. Despite some light inner thigh chafing and some soreness the next day, I am totally and completely in love with Pole Fitness and will enthusiastically do this again.

Feel fitty!

XO,  Amber

I Am Black Fitness Today

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Today, I am very proud to announce that I have been named an Ambassador to Black Fitness Today (BFT)!   blackfitnesstoday.com is a premiere website that showcases fitness trends, articles and success stories in the African  American community. As an ambassador, I will continue to promote fitness as a lifestyle and ensure that everyone has access to fitness resources and information that will continue to motivate on the path to wellness.

Check out blackfitnesstoday.com and take a look at the I am BFT Campaign! I am honored and excited to take part in this campaign and get the word out!

Feel Fitty!

XO, Amber

So You Think You Can Move: Fitness to Maintain Sanity While Moving

ImageEvery time I get ready to move, I swear that I am going to get movers. And every time I move, I think “Well..we can do this on our own!” and off to U-Haul I go.

Big mistake. I swear. I will be using movers next time. It was exhausting, frustrating and just over all a pain in the a!$. But, of course I did not waste my moving experience! No! I used it as an opportunity to get a full body workout so that I could enjoy that all important pizza break when you are done moving! I also came up with a workout to prepare for my move and thought I would share with those of you who are moving soon  or are just looking for ways to do some quad, hamstring and lower and upper back strengthening.

Warm Up:

20 Jumping Jacks

15 (each side) Dirty Dogs (on all fours, lift leg to the side like a dog doing a #1)

15 Wall Slides (Back on the wall, slide arms up and down)

15 (each side) Lunge and Twists

Workout:

15-20 Squats

15-20 Deadlifts (with or without weight)

15-20 Push Ups

Repeat 2x

15-20 Scorpions (All Fours, lift leg in the back, squeeze glutes)

15-20 (each side) Russian Twists (Seated, with out without medicine ball or weight, cross ankles, lift legs and rotate core from side to side)

15-20 (each side) Opposite Arm/Leg Supermans- (Lying on stomach, arms and legs straight, lift one arm and opposite leg off the floor, repeat)

Repeat 2x

Cooldown with a few stretches and try to fit in some meditation time. Trust me it will help get your mind right for horror that is moving on your own. Don’t get me wrong, I love my new place. But, next time, I getting movers.

Feel Fitty!

XO, Amber

The Warmup: Motivational Music Mondays-Keep On Moving

I have been out of the game for good reason, but time to get back to work! This song is mostly appropriate for cooldowns-but um..And? So What? Its motivating!  It is also a appropriate for a preview for tomorrow’s post. Stay tuned!  Happy Monday! Stay motivated and Feel Fitty!

XO, Amber