Being a black woman in America is hard. We’ve been demonized, sexualized, and envied. Maya Angelou has managed to uplift many women across races, and I presume some men also. She’s inspired a nation. She was a prolific writer, poet, and orator. She had the best quotes EVER.
I love today’s prompt because it made me go to my home library and reread 2 of my favorite poems,’Phenomenal Woman’ and ‘Still I Rise’. When I was much younger, I read her autobiography, “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” I don’t know what happened to that book and I’m not happy about that.
Race, social justice, poverty, discrimination, family, joy, hope, beauty, self-love…she had a way of writing that illuminated the pages and my mind.
Bloganuary Day 21: Who is your favorite author and why?
These three words have been ringing in my ears: “DO HARD THINGS”. I know it’s easy to do “familiar things” and “comfortable things” but what about “hard things”? Well, silly rabbit (nod to the Twix cereal commercial from back in the day), there’s a reason why doing hard things is hard, but there are also benefits.
What comes up often in my job is being asked to present to groups of various sizes and audiences on programs I oversee. This was a task I could delegate to someone on my team though public speaking is one of my responsibilities. Like many people, I do not enjoy public speaking because I’m mostly an introvert, preferring to be behind the scenes. However, I’m strong in representing my programs so when duty calls, I often perform.
There are people on my team who don’t like public speaking even more than me. I decided I would do the presentation with backup. As I was reviewing the presentation content with my backup, I literally said “it’s because I do hard things”. I don’t recall the exact thought that led me to say it, but she agreed, with relief. Otherwise, she would be the speaker for the presentation.
Some may think it’s not difficult for me to do public speaking because I do it well, but OH CONTRARE. I’ve learned long ago if I wanted success as I’ve defined it for myself, then I had to do things I didn’t necessarily want to do. This means I do activities to ensure I have a successful outcome such as preparing and practicing. Doing hard things doesn’t mean it gets easier over time either. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it’s hard EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Deciding to undergo a major surgery with the hope that I’ll have a better quality of life on the other side of it is a HARD THING. The anxiety, the pain, the discomfort, the lack of control, are what I’m working through now, I believe it will be worth it. (See more information about my surgery in the post Fight).
As you embark on this day or week, think about what hard things you will tackle. The hard things may be just what you need to boost your confidence so you can do more hard things.
In 2021, I invested a lot of time and work on myself to reduce stress and manage my health. Since I focused my energies on this work, I didn’t do much blogging in 2021. I’m the type of person who if I don’t feel well, I don’t feel like I have much to offer others. I’d rather retreat into my own world until I get better. However, I think there is something inspiring about taking people along on a journey with you, especially those who may be experiencing similar circumstances.
I love Phillipians 4:8-9 because it gives me so much hope and peace. I meditate on it when I feel stressed, out of control, and/or need to change my thinking pattern. You see, I can ruminate on thoughts incessantly. And I’m not the only one in my family who has or does deal with this. One time, I texted my mom this scripture when she was struggling with depression. There is also so much going on in the world so these scriptures help keep me focused on how God wants me to think.
Since I’m a visual person, I’ve decided I need to see the words of those Bible verses whenever I wanted and not just on my Bible app on my phone. So I removed one of my college degree diplomas out of the frame (used to be in my work office but I telework now), typed and printed the Bible verse, placed it in the frame, and put the frame on the wall in my bathroom.
Now, I get to see and read it often because I spend a lot of time in my bathroom. Sometimes, I stand there, saying the words out loud, slowly, so they can penetrate in my mind and spirit.
I’ve been thinking of other Bible verses I will aesthetically display in my home.
Here’s to practicing activities in 2022 that improve your spiritual, emotional, and mental health.
Just because 2020 is coming to a close doesn’t mean it’s too late to shake things up in your life and try new things. Every new year, I position myself for growing and conquering new things. I’m a constant learner. 2021 will be no different despite experiencing the worldwide struggles and pain in 2020. In November, I completed a 7-Day Vegan challenge and posted about it for the full 7 days. I immediately followed with a 1-week ‘no spend challenge’. You can read about the impetus for why I chose to do that in the post No spend challenge. I will likely do another ‘no spend challenge’ in January as I build up my savings.
Also in November, I decided to challenge myself by trying new exercises. I don’t mind exercising at home as I’ve done that for years (yes, prior to COVID-19) and have had results. I own a variety of exercise DVDs plus with YouTube, there are many free options for exercise. My goals have been to increase the number of calories I burn, reduce my resting heart rate, increase flexibility, increase my daily steps, tone my muscles, and increase muscle mass.
Since teleworking, I’ve really been enjoying YouTube. I subscribe to a few exercise channels that uplift me, but I still tend to gravitate toward the same types of exercises. My favorite is anything cardio, particularly dance. I also enjoy kickboxing, free weights, and step aerobics.
I exercise 6 days a week in the mornings before work and have done so for years. I’ve said to people many times that exercise functions as my coffee because I don’t drink coffee. Exercise perks me up and helps me feel accomplished. It’s not just a habit, but exercise is an essential part of my self-care practice. I’ve exercised for years without losing loads of pounds because losing weight hasn’t been my primary goal. Being and staying fit and healthy (mind, body, and spirit) is my ultimate goal. HOWEVER, if I’m being honest with myself, I do want to tip the scale in the weight loss direction, even by as few as 10-15 pounds.
There is so much information on the best approaches for weight loss and I’ve got to tell you, many of it is conflicting. For every article I’ve read or video I’ve seen about managing food (portions and types) as the most effective component to weight loss, there are articles/videos indicating exercise is the key. For every point of view that indicates eat less and move more, there are points of view that indicate it’s all rubbish. What about hormones? This is a strong consideration especially for women over 40 like me (I’m actually closer to 50).
What I find the most confusing is that ‘they’ claim science and research is behind it all. Though I spend a lot of time reading about nutrition and fitness, I’m not claiming to be a nutritionist or exercise coach, so you can take my advice with a grain of salt. What I do think is that people need to educate themselves and learn what gets them the results they are looking for. In this post, I’m sharing my approach on determining what works best for me.
Earlier in 2020, I found Kukuwa Fitness on Youtube and I instantly fell in love. Every time I did their African dance routines, I was smiling and motivated. It also provided me with a lot of steps which helps me reach my daily step goal. My challenge in November excluded doing my normal routines whether from my video library (except for those I hadn’t done in at least a year), Zumba Fitness, or YouTube. This meant I had to put Kukuwa Fitness on hold because it became part of my routine though I only started with them in early 2020.
For this challenge, I wanted to try exercises I had never done before mixed in with different versions of weight training and cardio. So for two weeks I tried new fitness routines.
I’ve never been flexible, but I notice I’m even less flexible as I’ve gotten older. Part of a healthy fitness regimen is to stretch the muscles and allow time for recovery. I used to incorporate Yoga into my weekly routines, but I’ve relaxed that over the years because I’ve gotten addicted to high intensity dance and cardio. I appreciated the lengthening moves in Barre. My body needed that. YouTube was my first introduction to Barre.
I enjoy strength training with free weights. I even dance with very light dumbbells at least once a week. The routine in the picture worked muscles from different angles which I appreciated. What I noticed with weight training is that I don’t get many steps. I think this is another reason why I favor certain routines – I can clock in more steps with dancing or fast walking rather than being mostly stationary with heavier weights. My Fitbit has been successful at ingraining in me the need to get my daily step goal. I need to figure out a balance because weight training requires proper form and technique. It’s not about getting the steps in. Perhaps on weight training days, I will also walk to get the steps.
Dance is my all time FAVORITE exercise and even with the variety of dance I do, there is the risk of repeatedly doing the same moves. Different moves challenge muscles in different ways. Though I’m very familiar with Latin dance as a previous Zumba Fitness instructor, every instructor has their own style and flavor. This routine was fun and effective in keeping my heart rate high and providing ample steps. Did I mention how much I love Pop Sugar Fitness on YouTube? They have a library of many types of exercises and variations.
I first came across Xtreme Hip Hop on my Facebook page. Back when step aerobics was popular (maybe late 1990s and early 2000s), I loved it. I was excited to see someone bringing back step aerobics with a new flavor. For Christmas 2019, my husband, Bryan, bought me a new step bench because I had gotten rid of mine years ago. I had talked about wanting to get into step aerobics again. Despite watching for months, November 2020 was my 1st time trying Phil’s routine on YouTube. It was fun and effective at keeping my heart rate high and providing lots of steps.
Walking is a great exercise for getting in steps. I also find walking is great as a recovery exercise. From the spring through early fall here in Austin, Texas, Bryan and I enjoy long walks and hikes on different trails several times a week. Once the weather hits below 70 degrees, such as now, I don’t like to walk outside because I’m sensitive to cold air.
I recently found a new walking platform on YouTube which helps me complete my daily step goals. I’ve added these walking routines at the end of the day. Even though I exercise in the morning, I’m still not able to get all my steps in by the evening, especially when I’m in meetings all day. A 15-20 minute walking routine in my living room led by Rick helps me accomplish my step goal.
What I’ve presented in this post are just a few of the new routines I tried. I learned the body gets very comfortable with the same old routines. It’s up to me and you to shake things up to get the most benefit from exercise, to increase fitness, and challenge the body. I have many other goals with fitness besides just losing weight.
I found that this challenge inspired me to continue to try new exercises although there are definitely some I don’t like or prefer. It’s about balance and doing routines that will keep you motivated and delivering the results you’re looking for. I hope this post inspired you to be more thoughtful about exercise and try new routines. Keep moving!