It’s been almost a week since my 28th birthday, and per usual, it’s been one of the craziest weeks ever. We went to a Friendsgiving, wrapped up the Annual Campaign after raising $1.4 million dollars ($1.4 million?!), and generally, didn’t get a minute to ourselves. I mean seriously, I fell asleep on the couch twice this week and my hubby had to come get me and tell me to come to bed.
So in this week, and in thinking about what 28 means, and what I want to accomplish in this year. And after having sushi with a friend who told me he likes to set 4 goals each birthday, I decided to do the same, and hold myself accountable for each of those goals.
So here goes, 4 goals for my 28th year of living.
Get my personal trainer certification. It’s something I feel will make me a better teacher. I don’t necessarily want clients, lord knows that there may not be enough hours in the day for that, but anything to make me a better and stronger, I think is worth going for.
Begin some real work on a book. It is my dream to be the black Bethanny Frankel – to write a book on black women, and their health and fitness. Maybe my first book won’t be that, maybe it will be a guide to dating, or something fun and syrupy, but I know I’m destined for it. I don’t know why, but I just know. Plus I need that advance so I can pay down my student loans. (Just kidding! Kinda…)
Utilize my time more efficiently. This is something I’ve really been striving for, but I’m not great at. That’s sort of an abstract concept, but that means squeezing the most out of every moment I can and limiting distractions. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a lazy Sunday, but I don’t want every night when I come home from work to be a flop down on the couch kind of night. I don’t have time.
Do something creative every day. I do my best when I’m given the chance to do something creative every day. Whether that means going to Home Depot and picking out colors, picking out linens, painting, writing (even if it’s just 100 words), or READING, I will be doing this each day.
Okay, and I had to sneak a 5th one in here. I would like to start saving more. I’m starting with an EXTREMELY modest goal of $500, which means I only have to put $41.67 in a separate account each month. But on top of this, I’d like to put all my checks from Aradia into this account. The amount varies depending on how much I work, but the reason why this is hard/important is that I usually like to take that Aradia check and do fun things with it. But it’s time to let that go. I’m really competitive, even if it’s just with myself, so I’d really like to push. Additionally, I’m toying with the idea of “tipping” myself for every workout I do. I’m not sure how much, but I’m playing with the idea of tipping myself 10% in dollar amount for the minutes I’ve worked out. So $3.00 for a 30 minute work out, $6.00 for an hour workout and so on.
The weekend was absolutely bananas though, and it’s not entirely my fault.
So months ago, I got an email from Loretta Bates’ assistant to see if we’d be willing to schedule a training on the weekend of November 14th. Of course, right? We have a great relationship, and I’d love to have Loretta at our facility for the Zumba B1 Training.
So then, I’d scheduled my Body Pump training for the weekend FOLLOWING. (I did it again because I really haven’t used the skills from my first training).
Also, I got word that Stevie Wonder was going to be in Charlotte on the 14th. No worries, I can make this all work.
Well, long long story short, the Body Pump training was inexplicably moved back to the weekend of the 14th. So on Saturday morning, I woke up early, set our folks up for the Zumba training, ran OVER to State to take the Body Pump training, got OUT of the training, and drove down to Charlotte to see Stevie wonder with my dad.
I was exhausted, but the concert was so worth it. It started off a little – and I don’t want to say annoying because that’s not the right word – but it was a little nerve-wracking. Because of the horrible tragedies in Paris on Friday night, security was really nuts, and we ended up standing in a HUGE crowd for a while before the concert started. I actually tweeted the venue, and begged them not to start the show, and they didn’t. I think that’s more on Stevie though. [Before you start to think I’m really narcissistic, the reason why the security was nerve-wracking was because we were standing in a really antsy, quasi-angry crowd, and I was SO afraid of either being trampled, or something else horrible happening. But perhaps that’s just my anxious mind speaking.]
But the show did not at all disappoint. I think my favorite part was when…well dang. I don’t think I can pick a favorite. But I loved the feeling that I was completely lost in the music. I could have stayed there all night, and not noticed. But instead, I had to wake up around 4am, and head back to Raleigh to finish my Pump Cert.
I think it was the love of Jesus that got me through Sunday. I rocked my tracks, passed the cert, and got one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten in life.
I was told that I had a magnetic personality. Ugh. That makes me freaking tear up. I don’t know why. But it’s nice to hear nice things about yourself.
After I got home (and this is the actual day of my birthday), I poured a glass of wine, noshed on some chips and salsa, and laid down on the couch. Austin came in, sweetie pie that he is, and dropped off some more wine, some kombucha, and a really sweet card for me. But the sweet thing was that he let me SLEEP off the weekend, and sort of tiptoed around the house.
Later, he and my brother took me out to froyo, and later, dinner at a Coquette, a french place here.
I’m not huge on birthdays, but it was so good, and it felt good, throughout the weekend, to be acknowledged. I think it’s really easy to sort of get down on yourself. My house is messy, I can’t get everything I want to get done done in a day, my clothes are rumpled – but it’s so so nice to remember that you’re enough.
You might not have seen Stevie Wonder for the 3rd or 4th time, but what did you do this weekend?
First things first though, I can honestly say I had a new experience yesterday. So, I was contacted by another group fitness director sort of out of the blue a few weeks back.
“Do you teach total body strength?”
I answered yes, and especially since I started taking on a regular Toning since I got my Body Pump cert last year, I feel super comfortable with the format.
What that ended up meaning is that I was signed up for a shoot for the association where I would have to teach a pretend class. The BEST part about it though, was that since we don’t have the rights to any of the music, I had to teach the class in silence, and they have to go back and dub the music in later. So for 20ish minute, I danced and bicep curled and squatted to NO MUSIC. The weirdest experience of life.
I also was told by the photographer (very politely) to put my boobs away. I forget these things get out of control sometimes, and since I don’t necessarily want my boobs plastered on the January mailer, I’m appreciative. I can chalk that up to a new experience.
Why do you work out? You’re a fitness instructor. Doesn’t your class just count as your workout?
Switching gears a little bit, but I get this question a lot. Sometimes when I mention to folks that I’m going to try to sneak a run in or hop on the elliptical for a few minutes before I teach my class (after is usually no good for me), they ask why I bother.
It’s true, when I’m up there leading a class, I’m sweating, and I’m moving, but I promiseyou, it’s not the same as the workout the participants in the class are getting. My energy is 100% fixed on facilitating a good, safe, fun class, and when your energy isn’t focused inward, you don’t benefit as much.
Secondly, and this one is the big one, as an instructor, we shouldn’t be relying on our 5:15pm Zumba for our workout because the class (I’ve said it before) IS NOT FOR US. The purpose of you teaching should never be to get ripped, and honestly, if you rely on your class to get your exercise in, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Fun fact: I was at my heaviest while teaching the most BALLER class every at NC State. You have to do more.
What workouts have you done this week? Try anything new?
I had a friend run the New York Marathon last weekend. She did great, and with the app (which was awesome, btw), I was able to track her every step. As she approached 26, and I knew that she only had the .2 to go, I felt my heart start to beat faster and faster as I replayed scenes from the last bit of the Chicago Marathon in my head. When she finished, and her bubble disappeared from the tracker, I let out a sigh of relief – I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath – and shot her a quick text. She was done, and she’d done it well!
As I chatted with her about how good she’d felt that day, I really got excited about the prospect of possibly doing Chicago again in the fall of next year. As I was prepping for the race, I told myself that maybe I would hang the marathon shoes up, and run for enjoyment. Get back to doing more yoga, cycling, and more hanging out with my hubs. But there’s some part of me that’s dying for the experience of Chicago.
Blue skies. One of my dearest friends of 5 years. Food. Drinks. The Cubs winning things. Texts from friends as I made my way through the course. My husband telling me that I “look so good” 19 miles in. I find myself absolutely consumed with the idea of running through the streets of Chicago, high fiving folks, reading signs, and flopping down in the grass in the park after I run.
If you’re squeamish about periods and stuff, grow up um, perhaps skip to the end and I will put a picture of a cat in a cup so you don’t have to think about menses.
But for you ladies that are active and have a period, let’s chat the shedding of your uterine lining.
So, I was on the Mirena for a long, long time, and didn’t have a period. When I got into discussions with other women about it, a lot of folks were really quick to let me know that they felt that there was no way that this could be healthy, which I internally rolled my eyes out. I run like a million miles a day, eat rabbit food, and drink kombucha. I’ll take no period, and hope I work out enough to offset the risk. That they claim there is none of, but whatevs.
So after 5 years on the Mirena, the clock had run out, and I got the Mirena removed. It came out about a million times easier than the insertion, and it came out without incident. I had a little spotting, and then, a few weeks later, I had my first period in nearly half a decade. It wasn’t fun, and it wasn’t pretty, and I found myself buying a fairly expensive collection of tampons, some scented, for the first time since camp.
I tried something similar to the Diva Cup some years ago, called Instead, with a lot of issue. My friend Melanie suggested that I try that Diva Cup, as she had been practicing with it in prep for international travel, and tampons aren’t super easy to purchase OR store overseas.
I googled it, and got one from the Harris Teeter, and waited for my next period.
It took like 3 full cycles, and a lot of googling for me to figure out. But I think I’m a fan of the Diva Cup!
A few women I’ve told about it have been really skeptical, almost to the point of disgust as it pertains to a menstrual cup. And then this somewhat ignorant article started circulating, and I realized that I needed to set the record straight regarding menstrual cups.
What are they?
They’re pictured above. Instead of using a pad or a tampon, that absorbs blood, the idea is that the cup collects blood to be disposed of later.
For me, the menstrual cup was a good option because of a really heavy flow. I had this issue as a teen, and it reappeared when I got my period again after Mirena. My period is really heavy. I’ve combated it with exercise and anti-inflammatories, but I was having a really hard time keeping a tampon in for longer than like 2 or 3 hours. The Diva holds a bit more than the tampon does, and if you get it in correctly, you don’t get that terrible string leak that has ruined most of my good undies. They also hold up well with and during exercise, and my tampons just weren’t doing that.
For one, you need to be completely comfortable with your vagina. If you’re not, and you’re grossed out by it, that’s something that needs to change, or you’re in for a really rude awakening. Vaginas are capable of a lot. It’s not something to be weirded out by or ashamed of. For me, that wasn’t hard to get past, but I read that some women are just grossed out by that.
Once you’re passed the vagina bit, you’re looking at this cup, and you’re not sure what to do with it. You can read the instructions, but that’s just not fun. Look at a few blogs, look at YouTube, and you will be just fine.
For me, without getting too graphic, I had to relax, like super relax, and sitting with my bum on the floor of my shower seemed to be the easiest and most comfortable.
Getting it out proved to be another area of learning for me. You don’t just yank it out. There is a little bit of wiggle involved.
And finally, the disposal of the thing is best done at home (in my experience). It gives you a chance to remove, wash, and reinsert with little problem. Of course, you can’t always be at home, and that’s been my largest struggle to date. But it’s doable, and to me, I feel a little bit better now that I’m not spending tons of money on scented “sport” tampons, and I don’t feel gross and leaky all the time.
As an active woman who has struggled with a heavy period, I really needed a change. Doing the Mirena again wasn’t really something I was super interested in – though we’re not super trying for kids, I want my body to do its own thing for a time, and go through it’s natural monthly cycle, which I’d love to talk about more in another post.
Hear me loud and clear. I will never be one of those people who will post repetitive articles about how birth control is the downfall of humanity and blah blah – it did a lot of good for me, but now is not its time for me.
With that, comes my period, and for me, the Diva has been the most sustainable, least messy, and most collective option that there is out there. If you’re skeptical, but looking for a way to manage each month I would really encourage you to check out Diva.
Honestly, middle of the week last week, I thought I wasn’t going to make it to the weekend.
Tuesday evening, I was at work, and attempting a quick dinner. It was one of those evenings when I couldn’t seem to get a second to myself at work, and I got a call over the walkie for like the 700th time. I pushed myself back from my desk, maybe a little too hard, and my laptop cord got caught in the wheels of my desk chair. Before I realized what was happening, the computer crashed to the floor, and I knew it was bad.
I screamed a word that is not considered appropriate to God-fearing people, and the computer worked for about 20 more minutes before it completely crapped out. I immediately contacted IT, but was pretty computerless for the better part of two days, save for an old laptop I was able to dig out of a drawer at work.
So after that, I cried to my husband that I did think I could make a wedding we were planning to attend with the pile of emails that were sure to await me.
But, before long, and with me making a trip or two back to our corporate headquarters to drop off my laptop and beg our IT specialist for mercy, I had a fix – the fall destroyed the hard drive, and sweet Jim replaced it for me. Thankfully, Google Chrome saved a lot of the bookmarks I needed for work, and all was not completely lost, and after a few meltdowns, I was comfy to head to the wedding of Kim and Nate on Saturday.
So, this time on our trip to Asheville, instead of getting a hotel, we did an Air BnB. Because we left early enough, we had time to get into the place, a cute basement apartment hanging off the side of a mountain, and I had time to go for a short run while Austin took a little nap. By the time I got back, he showered, and I was in full swing, getting my hair pinned up before I hopped into the shower to make my face look decent.
**Side note** I once read something that Jamie Chung said, something along the lines of the fact that her pre-pretty dress routine is to run, and that always stuck with me. So before a fancy event, before getting into a dress, I like to go for a run as a little routine for myself!
Rentallll! Funny enough, I wasn’t sure if I was gonna be crazy about this one – the inner part of the dress was just tight enough around my getting-bigger butt, and I wasn’t sure if I would look like the dress was riding up. But I think it turned out perfectly!
Adele, pictured here, also rented the runway. She and a friend actually picked this dress out for me when I found myself getting overwhelmed by the options.
Not pictured: this rad cape I got since the ceremony was outside and just a little bit chilly. But it was awesome. and really high fashion. If you saw me in it, you might even think I was a fancy classy lady!
So the wedding of Kim and Nate was really fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed the break. The wine was flowing, and I really enjoyed dancing with friends, as well as this cute little girl we met on the dance floor.
The next day, after I woke up really early and took Aleve and vitamins before the storm hit (praise you Lord for that insight), and prepped to push off and hit brunch with some folks from the wedding, as well as an old friend from Elon.
We were missing part of our crew, and the mystery was solved when Adele told us that they got a text at like 3am from some of the boys, telling us they’d just gotten back and they weren’t going to make it back. Oh well!
After we gobbled up brunch, I sort of rudely invited myself to join Wayne (Elon bud) on his quest to find his sister’s booth at a local flea market.
Can we talk about this flea market for a second? K. Tiny plants. Vintage clothing. Someone told me I had a nice voice. Like speaking wise. Which is hysterical because when I speak I sound like Hilary Banks, but that’s beside the point. I find some old silverware, which is like ME THING, and got to walk around drinking alcohol next to the French Broad River.
WE MET THIS TINY CAT AND THEN WE PUT IT IN A MUG.
I’m not really in the market for any more pets because we’re psychotic and already have like two too many, but don’t let that fool you. I briefly considered stealing this kitten and raising him as my own.
I feel like…there are just not enough hours in the day. I can’t be the only one who feels this way. In fact, I know I’m not, because my mom tells me all the time that she needs more time to do stuff. And I’m 100%, completely in agreement.
Anyhoo, moving right along. My weekend.
So, the weekend started off furiously. Because of a little hiccup at work, I had to pull together a Zumba/Cardio Dance party within a matter of like 5 days. and surprisingly, it came off without a single hitch.
So Friday at 6:30, we started, and danced literally for like two hours nonstop. Surprisingly, coming off the heels of Chicago, I felt really good, and someone from the class even remarked they were surprised I was moving so well. They clearly have not seen my thighs, which, as of 10/19/15, have not fully regained all the skin that used to be on them. Dang chub rub!
So, bright and early on the next morning, I headed down to Elon to start homecoming. I’d skipped the step show the night before, which was probably for the best. Not because I hate step shows, but because that’s a lot of drinking on a Friday night of me. My first official Elon Homecoming event was an inaugural 5k through campus to show off some newer construction. Of COURSE I ran it, and at the finish line, I made some friends in a young couple, one of whom had attended Elon. We hit it off, and I somehow made friends enough that we were able to go freshen up in their hotel room (after we got all sweaty), hit the Food Lion and made it back in plenty of time to start tailgating. We heated up the grill, drank beers, and traipsed all over campus, eventually making it over to the Elon Black Alumni Networks’ tent for food, the Black Cultural Society tent where folks seemed to be hanging out, and eventually, Twisted Measure’s tent, where we had more beers and food. We hung out there until campus security had us wrap it up, and then we walked over to the Twisted Measure house, where we carved pumpkins, I took a nap, and we danced for a good portion of the night, with small breaks to visit others at different houses or parties.
Sunday, after something of a late start, I took some time for myself, without the noise and hustle and bustle of seeing tons of people you haven’t seen in forever, and walked around campus by myself. I went to the campus store, to an old sandwich shop I spent a lot of time in in school, and drove through town before winding my way back to Raleigh.
I know it sounds corny, but there is just something so special about seeing folks who knew you when you were a baby. Some of us are married now. Some of us have fancy jobs. Some of us have kids. And it’s so cool to see someone that knew you as a baby, see you when you’re just a little bit more sure and confident.
So, back it up to Friday. Friday, I went to work, and had to actually do stuff, but I was really really preoccupied with getting things together for the race. Did I have shoes, did I have shoes? Did I have a little something to carry water in? Had I glanced through the participant packet?
So Saturday, we woke up and it was cloudy and gloomy here. We packed, cleaned the house, and called an Uber to take us to the airport for our fight to Chicago. I’m not a great flier, so I passed some time on the plane when we were waiting to take off by making fun of how poorly designed the safety cards were.
I’m not 100% on who did this artwork, but NO REMOTE CONTROLLED CARS ALLOWED! Bummer, right?
Once we touched down, we took an Uber to the expo, where I was able to pick up my packet. I have to admit, even though I’m smiling in photos, I was not in the best mood. We sat in some traffic, and my anxiety was really starting to get to me. I’m incredibly social, but something about being that the expo was a lot for me. There was a lot of noise, a lot of people, and I found the expo a little confusing to navigate.
After the expo, and after we got a chance to get our bearings (we took a dumb pointless trip on the Metra, a stupid train that we had no business on), we hopped on the blue line to Logan, and met my friend, Lindsay, who let us stay with her.
First-off. Lindsay is amazing. We met at camp like 5 years ago, and were like, immediate besties. She has a cute place, a cute french bulldog, and allowed us to stay at her cute place FOR FREE. It was SO nice to sleep in a bed that wasn’t a hotel and spend time with friends.
So the night before the marathon, Lindsay took us to an AMAZING pizza place. And it wasn’t a regular pizza place, it was Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder. So the place featured a delicious salad with amazing dressing (my favorite was the poppyseed), a flat bread, and a pizza pot pie, none of which I could finish. We headed home, set clothes and an alarm out, and I was in bed by 11pm the night before the marathon.
The Day of.
The day of the Chicago Marathon, I didn’t sleep well. I don’t think you can before a race. I woke up a few times, for fear that I may have overslept, and finally ended up getting up a bit after 5. I’d laid my clothes out, and only needed to jump in the shower for a rinse. I put on some BB cream and some mascara, and headed out to Lindsay to our metro stop.
AND THEN REALIZED I FORGOT MY BIB IN OUR ROOM AT LINDSAY’S.
I need to take this second to apologize to my girlfriend, Linds, who went BACK to her house, grabbed my bib, and basically single-handedly saved the race.
So I have my bib now.
Austin and I rode to the start, and I started to feel myself getting a bit more anxious once we started walking toward my corral. The night before, I’d purchased a men’s shirt for like $4.99 from Walgreens, so I was somewhat warm(ish). I hung around with Austin long enough, and then got into the corral before they told us we couldn’t do it anymore.
By the time I got to the front line, nearly an hour after the race had started, it was about 8:18am, and the sun was up. I started with some music, and the first song I listened to was Stevie Wonder’s “All I Do”. I tried to take it all in. Even now, I don’t think I will ever forget the streets, the shade, the sun. About 4 miles in, I decided to ditch the shirt, and laid it neatly on the side of the road. 6 miles in, I had a Shot Blok with extra sodium, as the temperature started to climb to the mid-70s, and then the upper 70s really quickly.
I’d decided not to run with my GPS, so I was just keeping track of things really loosely by the folks around me, the 4:40 group, and keeping an eye on where I was at each hour. Because of how warm it was, and how quickly it warmed up, I refilled my little handheld often, and I chewed a lot of margarita-flavored Shot Bloks with extra sodium to avoid cramps, stomachaches, barfing, and pooping. Just keepin’ it real.
The first 13.1 miles flew by. The crowds were amazing, and I gave a lot of high fives, smiled a lot, and made it through my amazing playlist. After 13.1, I focused on 19, where I knew two things. One, that I’d made the Paul Ryan Finish, and two, that I’d get to see Austin. So I focused on making it to 19 in good time, while I refilled my bottle, grabbed vaseline, and generally, watched my speed as the temps climbed close to 80 degrees.
Mile 19 came, and a few tenths of a mile in, Austin waved me down.
My dear, sweet husband found a friend. Dawn was not super comfortable with public transit, so Austin and her rode all over Chicago together on an unlimited pass that I clearly was not using at the time. She was so sweet, she opened my Coke for me, and told me how pretty I looked when I got there. She wins.
Miles 20-26.2 sucked, but idk what to say about that because it’s gonna suck and it always will. It was really warm at that point, and I really focused on drinking and staying limber.
Mile 25.5, I was like ::side eye:: but I knew the end was nigh, and decided to chug along. The ONE thing I will say that made me sad, was that as we came to the end, the crowd was pushed further and further out for security reasons. By the end of the race, after we had climbed a small hill, there was no one but volunteers left, and it made me sad to think that two idiots had changed the entire game for everyone.
But I made it to the end, trotted through the finish, and took it all in!
Covered in salt, and sweaty, I made it through, and hiked another mile or so to catch my dear husband, who wasn’t allowed anywhere near the finish line (no one was).
BALLER. Do Chicago. Do it. It was amazing. I want to move there. Minus the freezing cold in the winter. Everything else. The food, everything. It all can stay.
Yesterday, the world of pop culture, my world was ROCKED by photos of Justin Bieber on vacation in Bora Bora.
Should I have been probably biting my nails to the quick in prep for Sunday’s marathon?
Yep, probably. But instead, my friend Mollie and I set about assaulting as many people has we could with photos of Justin Bieber *ahem* enjoying some time in Bora Bora, and gauging reaction. Reactions ranged from ::eyes looking emojii:: to “leave me alone!”
I’d say, all in all, my day was a success as far as that was concerned.
For dinner tonight, I was on my own since the Austin Samps was playing volleyball with some friends. I made a tofu steak and a teeny sweet potato. I bought the regular sweet taters, and not the ones you get at the farmer’s market. For some silly reason, these babies are grown smaller (and less soily) so it’s really like eating a little bite of baby potato. I only can eat half of the ones from the farmers market.
I got some more Qalo. Mostly because Austin’s ring was starting to get a little stretched, and I had my eye on the athletics collection. But I love this color. I’m hoping to partner with them on a post soon. Cross your fingers!
Jen posted these photos from the Headbands of Hope fashion show I did a few weeks back. In every pic, I look like I’m having the time of my life. ALSO, I look like my butt is huge. Whatevs. I squat a lot more than I have ever squatted in my life. I generally can say, eating differently, my chest, arms, and booty are much more beefy. I’m still shaped extraordinarily like my brother. Tall, long, and lanky. It comes from the Jonassaints. My brother’s brother used to have to bend down to get into doorways. But I’m definitely starting to pack more muscle onto my 5’8″ frame.
Ok. So time for a serious question. I will blow this up on social media.
I don’t think I’m listening to Spotify for most of Chicago on Sunday. Maybe for a first few miles, just because I struggle with anxiety during that “pre-race chatter” part of a race. BUT for those first few, I will take suggestions from some of you beloveds. I need something that makes me smile. Not something that was on my wedding playlist, because I’ve been known to cry (hard) when I’m being really physical (bawled during ‘Roar’ and ‘Run the World’ during a race because I appreciate what Queen Bey and Katy Cat have done for me and women). But, all that said.
What songs would you suggest for my marathon playlist?