Painting with a Twist; Anxiety Buster! 

So tonight I pushed past my anxiety. Yes I deal with social anxiety at times and it’s annoying but it’s apart of my life for right now. I never went through this in college weird enough but a lot of that had to do with being a freshman and trying to do it all. You know that wild college student that would be on a table that was me.


Fast forward to after college Toi and now at times I find that meeting up with others is a chore. The kind of chore where I back out quickly and because I have kids sometimes it’s real and other times my kids are my get out of jail free card. My husband is the polar opposite. He’s always been super outgoing and still is. It’s crazy when we go to places. It seems that he’s more inclined to be in the front and I’m content with disappearing. So although I am not the wild child that I once was when I was trying to find myself in college, I’m still just as easy-going as I remember and I am finding that instead of allowing my anxiety to get the best of me, I’m pushing past it and getting out. Maybe not the type of college crazy but the essence of who I am is still there.


A bigger issue with getting out was adjusting to motherhood. My first daughter was a preemie and with asthma too. There were more hospital trips than anything. I kept to myself because no one seemed to understand how I balanced working full-time, being at the hospital all night and with literally no sleep pushing through. I learned how to keep my circle tight. Moving to Philadelphia like I’ve blogged about many times was overwhelming. I relied on my husband for everything. I didn’t even drive for the first months even though I had my own car.


Fast forward to my life now I’m pushing through. Losing weight, being a good mom, working full-time, blogging, and meeting new friends. Slowly but surely I’m getting out and enjoying life. Tonight I had the opportunity to meet up at Painting with a Twist with Mocha Moms. Mocha Moms is an organization that is a support for women of color who are mostly stay at home moms. Now you know that I work full-time and there are other moms who work as well. When I first moved to Philadelphia I wanted to join. I was a stay at home mom then but my anxiety kept me from being apart. Tonight I crushed that fear that I had almost 5 years ago.



Tonight’s meet and great while painting and sipping of course was everything. These women are like-minded, warm and I was myself from the beginning and didn’t feel the need to put on airs.  I’ve been in group situations and you find yourself in the back and connect with maybe one another person, but not this group of women.  Plus who can’t have a good time painting and sipping on wine?!

I am truly grateful for not backing out tonight. I’m super happy to have met these great women. As I drove him thinking of the night, a huge smile came on my face. I turned on my adult music, maybe I could let pre mom Toi out every now and again!! Just maybe!! Oh and who won a gift certificate for the next visit to Painting with a Twist?! Oh yeah!!

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How To Jump Start Your Workouts

The best way to jump-start is to start.  Yes seems simple but can be super hard.  The biggest reason it’s so hard to do is your mind guilt trips you. So you play the start tomorrow game.  Tomorrow comes and you start the next day.  A week has passed and then before you know it a month, and then a year….You are still at the same weight or worse you are at the same weight.  So don’t start later, start now.

So if you are contemplating if you should start today, that answer is wrong its called start now.  You can really do a number on your psyche by literally listing everything wrong you ate.  Even if its 7pm you still have time to make better decisions.  Own your guilt.  Know you made a bad choice in what you consumed and literally make the very next decision better.  So instead of harping on the Snickers you ate, the next thing you consume could be a piece of fruit and some water.  It’s really that simple.  Don’t go and eat that donut after the Snickers and then say oh well what’s done is done.  You are in control of what you eat.  Trust me you want to master this now, before the holidays come in and by New Years you will be defeated making another New Years Resolution that you can be attacking now before 2018 even hits.

Here are a few tips in getting started right away:

  1. Own your food-write it down.  You can use a notebook or an app but write it down.  The more you own it and can see what damages you are doing the better at fixing it.
  2. Change what you are consuming right away.  Replace, replace, replace.  If you really love something so bad you feel that you must have it, than replace it with a much healthier version.  For some it may be taking a king size to a bite size and truly sticking to the smaller size.  Or it could be finding healthier ingredients to achieve the same purpose.  I have a sweet tooth so to combat that especially with things like ice-cream I choose Halo Top and add fresh fruit instead of chocolate candies and syrups, and only scoop out enough for a cup.  The replacement is to calm the sweet tooth but not having to eat all of the small pint in one sitting. Also not eating out of the Halo Top container helps me control the portion.
  3. Switch up your workouts.  I used to only rely on cardio, and cardio is good but adding weights and resistance is good too.  Variety also is necessary to achieve any goal.  Your body will get used to the same ole thing and if you switch it up, it tricks the body into performing at its best.  This is why you see people talk about leg day vs arms.  It’s all in the switch up.
  4. Get good music.  Yes music is life.  After while even with the shuffle feature you have to be able to make multiple changes to your workout music to get in done.
  5. Wear tighter clothes when you work out even if you can’t wear tighter clothes in real life.  When I first started Weight Watchers they instructed or at least my coach told us to wear form-fitting or tighter clothes.  The reason, you see every lump and bump.  If that don’t motivate you, nothing will.  Wearing bigger clothes only makes you look that much more bigger.  You can’t hide under baggy clothes.  So for the first few weeks I looked horrible but I was out of the plus size clothes that were drowning me anyway.  After time of wearing the clothes got so big I almost lost my pants at work and had to make a make shift belt.  That gave me a boost that was unbelievable and I kept on going.
  6. Get an accountability partner.  Mine is my girl Kyla.  She is a beast when it comes to working out.  I hope to be like her when I grow up.  In all seriousness, she literally pushes me because as she posts her videos and we video chat each other it reinforces the idea that for me to push past an excuse.
  7. Get Consistent-make the choice to love yourself enough to do it.  It may seem small but do it.  You are important for you not to fit in clothes, not just to look better, but because the world needs less of you in a better way.  Every time I left my Weight Watchers meetings, my coach would say, see less of you next week.  It wasn’t encouraging us to not come, it was encouraging us to bring less of ourselves the next week.  The classes have ended but I still have another fitness coach that comes and weighs me weekly.  This accountability is crucial for me to maintain.
  8. Know you can build in cheat days.  This is good so you don’t diet.  I am not for full dieting.  I am for healthier lifestyle changes.  At this point I know how many points I am eating for most of my items but I also know that every now and again I got to eat a little something I enjoy but just in smaller portions.  I realized that some people will throw caution to the wind when they have cheat days.  You can have in moderation what you want.
  9. Start now-I will keep saying this but the time to start is now.  For me now it’s almost the end of my day, I have been eating the things I needed to but lets say I hadn’t.  At dinner I can control what I ate, start with that since that would be my next meal.  Not stop at McDonald’s on my way home, get fries and start tomorrow.  Just make a change now!
  10. Change what you have around you.  Eating healthy is expensive. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t.  I could get me a 4 for $4 and be in hamburger heaven at Wendy’s but to go to Fresh Grocer and spend 20 on fresh veggies, fruit, etc.  I am always having to buy more to get more out of what I eat.  However the benefits out weights my debit card swipes.  If I add up my Starbucks trips over the years I could have been in model shape by now.
  11. Cut the excuse.  I can say its easier for me to work out during my lunch time because my gym is attached to my job.  However when that wasn’t an option I could use YouTube or my kids as weights.  Yes, you have to be creative but if you want to look different from its time to get moving and make it count. So if that means waiting for your family to go down to get down and get that work out in, do it.  If that means getting up at the crack of dawn, get it done.  Especially for those making excuses before the Winter comes.  All this fresh Fall air and not one workout will be done and then Winter comes and it’s too cold.  You will always have an excuse if that’s all you accept from yourself.  It’s too cold, too hot, your too tired, you don’t have time, you need a partner, you can’t do some of the workouts, you are too big, can’t do big gyms, can’t do little gyms, how about accepting that the only word that is lost in translation is YOU.  You can be your biggest cheerleader or your biggest hinderance.  Choose wisely

 

SO today, right now, make a decision. It only takes one step towards bigger steps.  It takes some moving things around but you can do it.  The sad part is if you learned how to eat better even if you didn’t work out, you would lose the weight you wanted to.  I mean not just changing a few things in your diet, but literally controlling how much or what you put in your mouth would change your life. I mean that in all ways….. Change RIGHT NOW!!

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Sunday Message: Get What You Need 

So it’s no secret that I don’t always make it to church. I would love to be there every week and do make an effort, but life happens and sometimes we miss the mark. Today I was able to get into the building. Today was the 100 year celebration of the church and school. It was a lot of people today.  Standing room only type of crowd.

What I noticed most was this woman to my left who inspite of what everyone else was doing was tapping in for what she needed. Growing up I was always taught that if you can’t hear from the preacher, then maybe the choir will move you. If the choir won’t move you then maybe a greeting or hug will. I’ve been that woman in church today where life is going on but with tears streaming down my face I needed something more.  I don’t pretend to know what that woman was praying, crying, or seeking for what I do know is I get it.

In the world of wants there will come a time where you will have a need.  We all have had those times. You are no longer worried about the things that don’t matter as your mind and heart is bogged down that you shift your thoughts to only what you need. While you are in this mindset, you could care less who’s talking and why, who don’t like you or agree with you-you just have a need. Life has a way of humbling everyone to this place.  Like that woman, you get quiet, and the issues of your heart start to overflow.

Learn to tap into what you need more often. We are taught to be not be selfish but you will have to learn to have selfish moments. This is why women and mothers struggle with the balance of giving and pulling back. The struggle of the word no is important. Doing more for others who need to do for themselves, being a support to someone when you need support, giving your last and never being able to receive in your time of need are all examples of times when we have to learn to not always give in but find what we actually need.

Today you need a nap-take it. Today you need a break-take it. You need a bill paid and no money in sight but you can shift some things around and be a better steward of your finances. You need companionship but you really need to find out who you are, what you need and that will guide what you want. 

Like that woman who tuned the service out; tune out negative vibes, negative folks, even negativity that you bring to the table and focus!! This is why self-care and self-love is super important. Practicing this daily helps for when life knocks you down. You’re better equipped to be able to tap into your needs. When you’re off balance you have to be reminded of what’s important than if you had actually only focusing on the necessary things in life. 

Support

Happy Monday to you.  I’ve been missing in action and I stated that I would be. I’ll give all of the updates from my trip later this week. However I am back and back in the blog flow. I wanted to talk about this Monday is about support.

Support is the act of being there for a person. Support is supposed to be unconditional. If you have the right people in your life that show love without question it is an amazing feeling. Everyone in their own way wants to feel supported. Keep in mind that support in numbers may be super small. Support isn’t about a number but about quality of the support received.  

For me support looks different now that I have changed my perspective of what I thought it was supposed to look like. It’s no surprise that when I moved from my family, I wanted support to mimic what I had left.  Now on the real the man power of people I had readily available was scarce however I had to get to the point of learning that I could accomplish anything on my own. I felt after I learned that lesson slowly but surely my support system shifted.

I am not interested in people who just want to be a spectator in my life. The world can do that from a safe distance.  However to give someone a front row seat in my life who didn’t earn it makes no sense. I had to learn that through break ups with people, getting hurt, and disputes. I had to get to the point of realizing those who support you don’t mimic that negative behavior. So now although my circle is super small it’s occupied by the right people who have been tried and true and that I give the same level of support in return.  I couldn’t be a bad friend and expect to get superior friendship in return. Also with family yes they are supposed to be there no matter what but that’s not always the case either. Sometimes you have to love family from a far as well. I feel too with family you can’t take people for granted.  Treat people well. I can say that I haven’t treated people well, in return have lost friendships and relationships with family. If you have ever found yourself in this situation the best way is to change. You may not get the relationships back but if you treat others right you can find others to replace what you lost. A lost isn’t truly a lost unless you don’t learn from the situation. 

So to the group of folks who feel like there isn’t anyone in your corner, don’t wallow in what you don’t have. Do for you and in time those who are supposed to be there will be. Be honest about your mistakes. Learn from them and focus on what you need to do. I honestly know that the way life is set up if you try to drink water, workout, get healthy, be kick assed in your relationships, find your passion, and try to be your best version of yourself you won’t have time to do the extra things that don’t produce greatness. Stop wasting your time and energy into the things that will not get you to your next level.  People are always talking about a glow up but won’t grow up and be their best selves. 

Support real people. Be there like you want those to support you. Admit where you fall short. Be okay with making amends for where amends need to be made. Drink water, eat right, raise good kids, be a blessing instead of a headache and you will continue to grow!  

What are you Grateful for?

The only time we talk about gratefulness is around Thanksgiving.  You hear everyone repeat what they are grateful for.  If you come from a big family as I do, by the time Aunt Sally speaks her gratefulness you’re almost tapped out.  Do you know the power of speaking what you are grateful for out loud?  It refocuses what you have and less on what you don’t.  It will renew your mind to go after what you don’t have without negativity.  It will allow others around you to get good vibes as well.  When you see grateful people they seem to smile more. There lives may be in shambles but they know that trouble don’t last always.  They seem perkier.  They seem almost too unreal.  The reason they seem unreal is because the world is full of life suckers and negative vibes.  Choose to be the light in a dark world. Sometimes a simple smile can do it for someone. I watched my kids energy in a simple Snapchat video and it reminded me to slow down and relax.  Or when I see my daughter accomplish a goal she thought she couldn’t its gratefulness that makes me stop and reflect.  I look and see the Vegas devastation and some of the stories of heroism or the stories of how a man lost his wife but he was grateful for her smile everyday.  Can you say the same?  Will someone look back at the time you were here and say, they were genuine and loved life?  If not you can change it.  Life sucks no doubt, but if you change the lens you will be able to conquer anything thrown.

So I’ll start it out for you, what are you grateful for?

I am grateful:

  1. My life
  2. My health
  3. My husband
  4. My kids
  5. My job
  6. Good credit
  7. No debt
  8. Ability to love
  9. Ability to receive love
  10. This day
  11. My friends
  12. For my grandparents still being alive
  13. For my nieces
  14. My siblings and siblings in love
  15. My parents
  16. For working my marriage
  17. For good food in my home
  18. For the ability to have gas in my car
  19. For healing
  20. For a sound mind
  21. Loving love
  22. Being quirky
  23. For loving to celebrate daily days
  24. Being an organized person
  25. For being creative

The list can go on for pages and pages, what are you grateful for?  Speak it and sit back and enjoy the blessings that God gave you as you speak it and list it.  It changes you when you learn to live from a grateful heart.  Be grateful!

I Need My Legs Back; Black Girls Run

So today was the day. I completed a 5k with the Black Girls Run organization. So what is Black Girls Run anyway?

Well it’s an organization that was founded in 2009 by Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks-Rocha. The premise is to encourage African-American woman to live a healthy lifestyle. They wanted to be able to combat obesity that plagues the African-American community most.  It is open for all but it definitely encourages African-American women to make health and fitness a priority. There are many chapters all over and membership is free. To find out more about Black Girls Run click on the link and get active. 


This weekend was their Sweat with your Sole conference and 5/10k race and brunch. This also included New York best seller author, Luvvie Ajayi as the keynote speaker. Women from all over came together in the pursuit of fellowship, fitness and fun. 


So Black Girls Run is an organization that made sense to me. I have to admit before finding them by chance on Twitter, I had no idea that they existed. I of course am on a challenge to get healthy and I am finding I gravitate towards those who share in that same interest. Let’s be real for a second, outside of when I was in track and field since junior high school, I haven’t found a group of runners to connect with. It’s not shade it’s fact. Running is and has always been my heart. It was how I stayed slim and trim in college. My freshman dormitory was behind the gym and I found myself there often. When I graduated college I would run here and there but then dropped off the running map as I had my oldest daughter. Like I’ve said before my youngest is 3 what I had on my body was beyond baby weight. It was laziness, lack of commitment, and over eating.


One day a few months ago I was talking to my husband about how I needed to branch out and socialize more. However with that I didn’t just want to have any old friendships. I found a way to fuse both. Keeping me accountable in my everyday life and stepping out of my comfort zone. If you have been following me you know that I’ve been pushing myself out of the I can’t mentality. It hasn’t been easy but its definitely worth it.

For the last two months on my own I have been training for this 5k. This means pushing myself to the gym to do cardio and weights. This mean denying over indulgence of any one thing. Working hard and seeing what my body can do. I am happy to admit that it showed me that I can finish in 39 minutes and 17 seconds!! Won’t he do it?! Now let me just say I had no time goal. To be honest I only had a finish mentality and don’t embarrass myself or my family.


Last night I did a cancer walk that was in Lancaster Pennsylvania. I then got up at 4am and traveled back to Philly to complete this race. Shout out to my parents who made sure I was up and ready to hit the road. Some asked me why? One it’s about making a commitment. It was about not making an excuse once I saw that the two events were close together. It was also about not letting any form of anxiety have me back out. So I did both events back to back. 

Was I scared to race? No. Nervous yes but not scared. When I ran out and cleared the first half of the race I was feeling good. However to finish it seemed as if the finish line was so far away that I wouldn’t make it. I kept going. My legs felt like spaghetti noodles.  However as I finished I wanted to shout. I wanted to Tootsie Roll if my legs would have cooperated. But I was proud as hell.  They played Cardi B’s Bodak Yellow at the beginning of the race and by chance my own playlist played it again as I ended.  No better feeling in the world.  



It didn’t matter that my legs feel like mush. It mattered to me that I set a goal and achieved it. It mattered that my kids were able to know that when I say I’m going to do something that I follow through.  As a mom I am able to keep myself up and show them how to keep health as a priority.  I definitely plan to be active with the Philadelphia chapter. I plan to keep this going. I do have another 5k in November. So I will continue to train and in the end I’ll keep myself lifetime fine in the process. Sounds like a win to me!!

Shake Shack Virgin

So for quite some time I’ve been seeing Shake Shack and never went. I would say everytime how I was going to stop but didn’t. So on a random Friday as this past Friday was, I decided why not?

Soooo. I get there and the menu is big but yet small enough so my anxiety doesn’t kick in. Oh and I went by myself. I’m on this whole push to do the things I want even if I go by myself. Soooooooo I ventured out. I grabbed my keys and went. Now I’m glad I decided to go to the one near Drexel University especially since I work on a campus already the atmosphere was more laid back. It was extremely busy.  I enjoyed watching the students playing games, talking, and enjoying the 80 degree weather.

So happiness  sunk in and I was ready.  I ordered the vegetarian burger or the Shroom burger which is a fried portobello mushroom, melted muenster cheese, with lettuce, tomato and shake sauce. I added their to die for fries and a salted caramel milkshake with pretzel and I was in heaven.  Like eating it made me feel like I was in a whole other place! 

Now let me say what I liked about the experience:

1. Fast service-they give you one of those light up wait your turn line lights 


2. Friendly staff-funny story so the cashier was super nice and trying to hit on me. No offense taken but he couldn’t get my name right so I said Toi. When I went to pay he looked at my debit card and saw my name but more importantly he saw my husband and kids picture on it and have a look of damn. It was hilarious!!


3. College atmosphere-with working on a campus it gives me constant nostalgia. Makes me miss my Penny Packer crew! 

4. Fries-I almost went back and took that 20 minute drive. They are that good. 

5. That shake-they ain’t the Shake Shack for nothing; complete bliss!! 


For my parents this is not a spot I would regularly take my little ones. In the words of my Cousin Mark this is much too premium for children unless it’s a special event. My meal alone was 17 dollars which ain’t breaking the bank but this is an indulgence that is strictly a Mom thing only! Well at least for me it will be. 


I can’t wait to go back again. I really want another shake. It was worth the drive! Thanks to the staff at the Drexel University Shake Shack who were over the top pleasant and made my first experience one to remember.