I have a confession: I am a black woman, and I work out

 

I’m a black woman and I work out.

Actually I work out a lot, and I am damn proud of it. So yes, black women do work out. I almost killed myself in the midst of my kick ass cross fit workout  this morning, so again, yes black women do work out.

Recently, there was a large stir surrounding a NY Times opinion piece insinuating that black women want to be fat. Black Women and Fat, was written by Alice Randall, a writer who has embraced her own weight loss journey. Randall states “many black women are fat because we want to be.” With that point I would have to disagree. I know many black women who are overweight, but  they do not WANT to be that way. Not to make excuses, but to lose weight and keep the weight off requires a true lifestyle change, many black women are not yet ready for that lifestyle change.

As the article proceeds, I can completely understand what Randall is saying. Though the title may have turned off a few readers, she actually makes good points. As a black woman I embrace my curves and thick figure, black men love that. Black men love that my hips are thick and that my butt is big. It is what makes me sexually attractive as a black woman. I accept that. I have never had a man tell me that I need to lose weight, or I should eat less. In fact since I work out 5 days a week, and 6 days on a really good week,  I am often asked why I work out so much, or I get the “you’re trying to lose weight?”, in a sideways crazy sounding voice.

Obesity truly has been a generational problem in many African-American families. The problem stems from years of unhealthy eating and lack of exercise. My grandmother used to make fried pork chops, butter grits with cheese, and biscuits  when we would visit her at her home in Georgia. When we would go to the south I would drink the sweetest iced tea, and lemonade I have ever tasted in my life. Full of flavor and loaded with sugar, it was delicious.  Subsequently my mom would cook the same way. Food wasn’t good if it wasn’t friend, or soaked in butter. I remember my mother used to put a slab of pork fat into collard greens to add flavor, and yummy it was.

But it also kills you.

My grandmother died from heart disease, both my parents have type  2 diabetes, my father has high blood pressure. I don’t want to die before I have ever had the chance to live.

So yes, I work out a lot.

Eventually my mother did start to change the way that she cooks, no more fried everything (awww I miss those days). No more full sticks of butter used on food, for now on it is baked or steamed, which I have grown to enjoy. With healthy eating, I also feel a hundred times more healthy.

Not only do I work out, I eat healthy. The combination increases overall health and happiness.

No matter how much I work out, I will never be a size 2 or model thin. Actually I don’t ever want to be. Curves are what make me a woman. I have had a personal struggle with weight all my life. Yeah I was the “fat kid” in school. It sucked. When I was in college I lost a lot of weight, nearly 40 pounds, everyone thought I was sick, how ironic. Well I actually did start to look sick, so I gained some weight back. Since then I have felt great.

I truly enjoy working out. It is a lifestyle requirement for me. To kick start my day, I start with a work out. It gets me going. To fight my periods of depression, I turn to working out. I am a true believer that a great consistent workout it better than any anti-depressant.  I get bored easily, so my workouts always change. I recently added cross fit to my regiment. While doing cross fit, I have periods of feeling like I either want to die or vomit. I am still alive, and no, no vomit yet. I get out of breath, winded, my muscles are screaming, but it is great! In a few short weeks I have started to feel stronger, I am eager to go back, ready to do it again. Despite the unbearable soreness, and my screaming quads I always go back for more.

My goal: to go longer, stronger, harder, faster.  I also do spin classes, yoga, running, and when I need a quick filler workout I’ll even hit the gym and run on a treadmill. However when you live in Hawaii, running on a treadmill at the gym can get very old, very quick.

The key to sticking with a workout out routine is to do whatever works for you. Find something you like and grab on tight. It may not be the same as what everyone else likes, or what everyone else is doing. Once you find it, continue with it. Watch yourself improve, the improvement will keep you going.

I suck at cross fit. I have absolutely no upper body strength and can not do 1 pull up. My personal goal is just to do one pull up. Just because it is hard at first doesn’t mean that I won’t get better at it. Each day I return, is one more day of improvement.

Have a vision of what you want to accomplish. Maybe you want to get stronger, maybe you just want to fit into old clothes that you have in your closet. See your vision in real life. Become that vision. Make it a realistic vision. If you dream of looking like a model…well that may not happen. Work with your mind and body on what you want to become. If you see that mental picture, believe it, stick to it, your body will follow.

At 30 I am now in the best physical shape of my life. Who would have thought. I never thought that I would be signing up to run races, and continuously look forward to running the next race. By the way, I still hate running, but I love competing against my own personal best time. Each time I race, I want to beat my time from the previous race. That keeps me motivated. I am excited I have realized what I could really do. I am doing activities that would have been an easy, “no, never, get the hell out of here” a few years ago. So far this year I have ran an 8 mile race, and two 6 mile races, with more to come. Slowly working my way to that half marathon.

I love being able to walk, to move my limbs, to run fast, to hike, to struggle while trying to do pull ups. I am working now to prevent years of having to be on medication for diabetes, or heart disease. I am working now to do my part in staying alive.

So yes, I am a black woman and I work out! And I love it. 🙂

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

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I am afraid to sleep at night because I am scared of my dreams

dramatic dream
dramatic dream (Photo credit: unNickrMe)

I am afraid to sleep at night because I am scared of my dreams.

I never thought that anyone besides me would ever get what that means, but I recently told a friend that, and she understood it completely. Now I’m wondering to other people experience the same thing?

Again, I am afraid to sleep at night because I am scared of my dreams.

Honestly, I love sleep. I think sleep is a great thing, one of my favorite pastimes, however I’m not really good at it. I am not a good night-time sleeper. Now you would sleep would be something that is easy to do. You don’t have to learn how to do it. Babies are born with the innate ability to sleep. It is a natural body response. Sleep. You can’t go too long without sleeping, and if you try to stay awake past a certain amount of time, your eyes get heavy, you mind gets delusional, and your body begin to take your whole self into a forced shutdown.

So why is it so hard for me to sleep?

My dreams. My dreams make it difficult for my body to rest. At night my body and mind are ready to sleep. It wants to sleep, and my mind is begging for a shut down period after running in overdrive to an over extensive amount of time. However once 11:00 pm to midnight come along, my body starts to despise sleep. It fights with sleep, goes into panic mode. Not an anxiety driven panic mode, but an avoidance  panic mode, ready to do anything else besides sleep.

My dreams are intense, they trigger intense emotion that have caused me to wake up in the heart of the middle of the night crying, anxious, worried, scared, and angry. My body responds to the dreams. My heart starts beating fast, if I am having an argument with someone I wake up angry with the biggest migraine because I am upset. Even though the emotion comes from the dream world, in the real world the effects are very much real.

I have intrusive, somewhat annoying dreams about ex-boyfriends. I am working on keeping the past in the past, but when the past pops up as a reoccurring item in my dreams it sends my mental state into a zone of chaos and confusion. This then takes a number of waking hours to recover from. I feel like I went from past to present real quick.  I wake up with the thought of wanting to make a phone call or send a text, but I often find myself fighting to stay grounded, it is not a good idea. It was just a dream.

My dreams have caused to me worry about my family. The realness of when someone dies, or when someone gets hurt in the dream world makes it hard to separate that from reality. I wake up with real tears, with real shivers, with a real feeling of emptiness. I become afraid in real life.  Once I know that everyone is ok, then and only then can I return to a state of calmness.

Am I crazy?

Probably just a little bit. Every once in a while, I have a very dark and frightening dream about being involved in a shooting massacre.  I know this is going to sound very strange. But this dream is reoccurring, and I am not sure why. I am always at a public place, the place my be different each time. It may be a school, a mall, or just outdoors. There is a mass shooting, one shooter is involved, I watch other people get shot, then the gun is pointed towards me, I am afraid, I feel the fright through the dream. I never get shot. As many times as I have had this dream, the shooter never shoots me. My life is spared. Then I wake up. I wake up in shock. It feels so real but, I have never been in an experience like the dream, but the dram is vivid.  The tears and rapid heart beat return, I can feel that intensely. That is real. I am alive. That is real. The dream was just that, a dream.

I am afraid to sleep at night because I am scared of my dreams. Does anyone else feel this way?

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

No more first dates please!

So I have a confession: For the first time ever in my life I ran out on a date. I didn’t even say goodbye. I just left. I had enough. I wanted to scream. To avoid screaming, I made the most non under dramatic exit possible. Like a superhero I bolted out the door with lightning flash speed (we were at the movies, I ran out on the movie. Who does that?) The first,  hopefully the last and only time that I will ever have to engage in such a act. But to be honest, I couldn’t take it anymore, I just had to go.

The details of my bad date aren’t really that important. Since I left, trust me it was bad. I am 30 years old! In my own right, I have a higher standard of dating. To engage in a date with a drunk guy at the movies is not on my to-do-list. Yet it happened. So long story short: he was drunk and obnoxious, I was mortified and sick to the pit of my stomach, and I bolted towards the end of the longest two hour movie date of my life. I was tempted to walk home at nearly 11:00 at night, yeah it was that bad. Lucky for me, I have awesome friends who are willing to rescue me from the horror of my dating life (thank God, maybe the heavens do like me!). I was saved from walking, the night ended with great laughs, and another story to add to the book.

I never fail to get that all too common reminder as to why I hate dating.  When I seem to have a memory lapse, suddenly it comes back to me, the reasons why I can do without a first, second, or third date. In fact I have come to this conclusion: I never want to go on a first date again! I feel the need to be saved from the pain of having to endure the torment of horrible conversation, or sitting across the table from someone who should probably be at the nearest AA meeting than out in public with me.

Yup, its official, I am throwing in the dating towel. In a perfect world I would just be able to bypass all the mundane initial date “stuff” and move to the actual relationship. The relationship, the stage where we are exclusive. The stage where we are comfortable with one another.  He tells me how much he loves my smile, he knows what to say to make me laugh, I do sweet girlfriend things and  he enjoys listening to my useless tidbits that should probably land me a spot on Jeopardy. That stage where I don’t have to shave my legs every single time we go out because he is fully aware that hair grows on them, and if I want to sit around that house in sweatpants, then fine! Sweatpants are perfectly acceptable attire, he doesn’t care.  I would much rather prefer that stage, than the stage of the awkward first, second, third, fouth…..date.

Who said dating was fun? They lied. The truth, it sucks. No wonder speed dating is so popular, the commitment only lasts for 8 minutes. Short, sweet, and to the point, to me that equals perfection. If I can’t stand you at minute 8, we can part ways and never have to speak to each other again. So much better than waiting for minute 120 or 180, those minutes seem to last forever.

If only life had a fast forward button. If I could close my eyes today, and be in a completely monogamous relationship tomorrow, well I’ll take it. We know we will work, we have what each other are looking for, and we want the same things in life. Sounds good to me. Oh wait, life doesn’t really happen that way. I must endure the pain of a first date to get to that point.

Did anyone watch “What Chilli Wants” on Vh1? I see now why Chilli’s list was long enough to circle the entire earth…twice. To go out on a date and have an utter sense of disappointment is a pure waste of time and energy. At least if you know what you want to can see, attack, then conquer. Well maybe not so harshly, but you get the point.

To move to the relationship stage, dating must come first. If anyone knows a way around it, trust me I am open for ideas. As I eagerly hope for that amazing date that happens with ease involving  great conversation,  encompassing moments that I hope can last just a little bit longer, and a feeling of utter calmness, I will do what I can to stay positive. I will still go out, after a through screening process 🙂 Believe me the screening is not that bad.

At 30 I have a new take on dating. No wonder it is far more difficult than when I was 20. I am in a new realm. I have evolved. I have higher standards, I have expectations. Yup, dating is more complex now than ever. But, as with everything else in life, the more I try, the closer I am to getting it right.

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences.