Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekly Weight loss Recap 01-29-11

Now that my first goal of working out daily for the month of January is quickly coming to an end and I want to incorporate different benchmarks. As such I'll post weekly my week overview. I still plan to workout at least 5 days a week with no fewer than 10 minutes each day and I'm following along with my other challenges.

So here goes my first recap :)

The Bad

*Missed two work outs this week. My new job is kicking my butt! Some nights I got home and could barely keep my eyes open let alone exercise. I would go straight to bed once I got home and did not wake up until it was time for work the next day. I'm sure skipping dinner isn't good for my energy levels :P I've asked that my hours be changed so I can sleep until 7am (this time just works for me) and I can get a good morning work out in.

*Splurged a little too much on Saturday. The morning went well, lunch was awesome but while was out I passed a fast food restaurant which serves my favorite fries with gravy! I got an order and that was suppose to be it...then I returned home to Papi who surprised me with a dinner date at one of my favorite restaurants 0_o Well I went to dinner and ate reasonably well but was then invited over a cousin's house where they had a huge bowl of ice cream waiting for me! Geesh...there were times when I could have said "no" but I didn't and I still struggle in this area. I could have declined the ice cream, I shouldn't have rewarded myself with fast food and when I had the chance to pass on the juice at dinner I didn't.

I'm still a work in progress..

The Good

*Weighed myself just out of curiosity and I'm down 9lbs from my last known weight at the beginning of January. I probably will not continue to weigh myself but it is cool to know I'm dropping pounds

*FINALLY took my measurement..more on this in the coming months

*Despite skipping out on a couple workouts I have tracked my calories EVERYDAY

*I attended a healthy living workshop and got some great tips on raw food, food combinations, recipes and eating for your blood type. Not sold on the blood type diet but I certainly plan to research it

*I'm still very motivated on my journey to health and fitness. For the first time ever the number on the scale is incidental and I'm purely motivated by my desire to feel better, have more energy and live life to the fullest.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Good News :)

Although I've been on the fence about choosing to weigh myself I have decided to start taking measurements. Yet, to date, I've done neither. Honestly I felt taking measurements or weighing myself would discourage me in these initial stages and I just can't take the risk. This time around I REALLY want things to be different, in a good way, so I'm trying a different approach-for now.

My approach has been to gauge my weight-loss based on how well my clothes fit. Lately I could tell my thighs looked smaller, my tummy hasn't been as bloated and I have much more energy! Great, I looked at these benefits as "gravy" but no real difference in my clothing. But..there is always a but...I pulled my favorite pair of pants over my hips this morning only to have them...


YYYYEEESSS! You could have knocked me over with a feather..seriously I'm so accustomed to failing when it comes to weight-loss that in my mind, until today, the idea I might actually lose weight was not feasible. As I've stated before, logically I know this makes sense. Expend more calories than I consume..yadda, yadda, it. However all I know was not and had not been translating into anything I could feel.

In this case, it's something I can't feel-my pants LOL Ok..I know I'm a dork :P

This thing could be for real :)

Good News!!!

Get ready..this evening the big reveal :)

Monday, January 24, 2011


"It always seems impossible until it's done"

-Nelson Mandela

Its the start of a new week and I find myself needing to "calibrate" my actions with my goals and values. There is no better way in my opinion to do so than affirmations. Affirmations keep me focused and when I recite them daily, give me positive energy that last all day. This is my list for the week.

*My mind is clear, focused and present
*Every choice I'm given I make my health and well-being a priority
*I excel in my job performance and easily exceed corporate goals
*My body remains relaxed and calm throughout the day
*I am consistent in dress, tone, performance and in daily functions
*Each day I love papi to the best of my ability
*I live without rules and only operate in purpose

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Slipping, Falling, Gotta get up...

*photo by Trudi Simmonds*

Earlier in the week I touched on my difficulty balancing my health efforts with my new work responsibilities. I can say I have remained consistent in tracking my calories and working out at least a minimum of 10 minutes per day...but I've gone over my caloric limit twice just in this past week alone. What's worst is I can feel it! At the beginning of the week I felt energized, my face looked slimmer and my clothes just fit better. Now, although I'm still adhering to my plan for the most part, I have this bloated feeling and it shows in my face.

My goal is to do my absolute best to push myself but still have enough patience to know 1.Things aren't going to change instantly and 2.Understand I have started a new job so this in and of itself is a huge stressor simply because of the lifestyle change. Admittedly I'd like to think I have it all together but it scares me when old work habits sneak back in....

Like, COFFEE! Me and coffee have this thing. I can't explain it but having free coffee and flavored creamers at my disposal is not a good thing. In one day I went through 200 calories within an hour from my coffee/creamer combo. Wednesday I skipped breakfast...big NO NO. I was able to withstand the vending machine cravings but I overate at lunch and nearly blew my calorie budget for the day.

This week
I'm arming myself with pre-everything! LOL I'm deep treating my hair as I type this, veggies are cut up and baggied, there is an entire pan of baked chicken cooked and in the fridge, wheat pasta is cooked and tonight I'm making 8 salmon steaks to use during the week. To top it off my gym clothes are out and my work clothes are ironed and hanging in the closet.

I'm trying! Any suggestions?? I'd love to hear what you're doing to help make health and fitness a priority in your busy life.

booty shaking playlist

I love listening to music during the day. Nothing sets the mood better than music and I usually have it playing in the background when I'm cooking, cleaning or doing other things *wink, wink* :) I thought it would be fun to see what other songs you all might listen to in order to get hype for a good walk/run. I have to admit I am in a but of a musical rut so not much I can offer on this one..yet.

My Top 10
1.Jay-Z: On to the next one
2.Nicki Minaj: Moment 4 Life
3.Rihanna: Oh na na
4.Beyonce: Crazy in Love
5.Outkast: Hey ya
6.Jay-Z: I Know
7.Kanye West: New Workout Plan
8.Michael Jackson: PYT
9.Outkast: Bombs over Baghdad
10.Lenny Kravitz: Are you gonna go my way

See what I mean by rut?? LOL This list is showing my age! I hardly ever listen to the radio but I'm sure there has to be some awesome songs by different artist that are banging right now.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Back to Reality!

Getting back into the groove of corporate america is doing a number on me! I'm struggling to stay balanced right now...being awake at 5:30 in the morning again is just different LOL Despite the change in my schedule I've managed to track my calories and work out everyday except for yesterday despite having a slight injury (nothing major, just a blister).

Having my time monopolized by the 9-5 thing really keeps things in respective for me. Love on papi, make $$, find ways to make $$ without the 9-5, health and fitness, family, friends, spirituality, fun and then let the chips fall where they may! The list isn't really in any particular order but daily I'm doing something tied to each one of those areas. Planning and preparation is KEY but of course this is easier said than done. Daily I must find the balance between pushing myself and being patient with myself-The Middle Way.

In the past I made my job my priority and if I couldn't perfect my exercise routine I just quit, flat out. If I couldn't be perfect I didn't want to do it. This time around I'm completely convinced I am fully-equipped, ready and able to manage my career, love life, health and finances with excellence (not perfection) without letting anyone one thing spiral out of control. I'm ready!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Miss You Guys!

With the snow storm last week and starting my new job this week life has been...BUSY. I have all sorts of things I want to talk about so I plan to post this evening.

Hope life has been grand!


Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Minimalist Braid-N-Curl

If you haven't noticed already I am completely hair obsessed :) On any given day I'm researching hair stuff, playing in my hair or giving hair advice. Lately I've been on this minimalist kick and pushing myself to achieve an awesome style with only 1 product all on a budget. I am a reformed product junkie so this is a feat for me! LOL I can be very heavy handed with product and in the past loved layering products but ended up with crunchy, dry, dull hair :P Well, I was able to get exactly what I wanted this time but with 2 products-Organic Coconut Oil and Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut. Coconut oil acted as both a moisturizer and sealant. My favorite cheapie condish, Suave Tropical Coconut was the styling product and the silk amino acids in it make my hair feel like silk. Prior to this set I deep conditioned with "Diez en Uno" on freshly washed hair for 4 hours with 1 hour using heat.

I applied a quarter amount of Suave to each section that was first dampened. I braided my hair halfway and smoothed the remaining hair over a gray perm rod after sealing the ends with coconut oil. In the end I had 12 braids.

I removed the perm rods and unraveled the braids all with coconut oil on my hands to prevent frizz. There is still some frizz in the back because it was not completely dry (big NO-NO) and the hair in the back is naturally more frizzy anyway-just a part of being natural.

So far I love the final product. I'm a fan of full, voluminous hair anyway so this style just fits me. I'll update this post if I find my hair drys out or loses its definition quickly. My hope is to still have defined, soft hair even after working out and sleeping on it, by Wednesday.

Next up is this style with 1 product. I'm thinking coconut oil?? Any suggestions...leave me a comment.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Importance of Sleep for Health

One of the most slept on gifts of this world is SLEEP. For my purposes, some good REM sleep is hands down the best thing I can do for my body. Without it everything else in my life lacks. I learned this the hard way when almost five years ago my life spiraled out of control after I had a major bout of insomnia. The insomnia quickly manifested into a weakened immune system, inability to manage the huge stress load I was under, a 25lb weight gain in 6 months and severe depression. The depression was so intense I eventually took time from work to seek treatment. After trying different medicines for close to a month I finally decided to take a holistic approach. Although I lacked the energy initially, I exercised, only drank water and changed to a raw vegan diet but most importantly I realized my sleep patterns returned to normal when I wasn't working crazy hours anymore. The diet and exercise helped but the significant changes in my mood happened once I SLEPT.

I can recall one morning in particular, waking up naturally to the rise of the sun and not an alarm clock. This morning I awoke to this lightness which reminded me of my old self. In that instance my mind was clear, I felt energetic, I smiled. To this day I NEVER play when it comes to my sleep. It is my body's time to heal, recuperate and rest. Below I've detailed how I keep my sleeping habits in check.

But first, the stages of sleep....

Stage 5-REM Sleep

Most dreaming occurs during the fifth stage of sleep, known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is characterized by eye movement, increased respiration rate, increased brain activity. REM sleep is also referred to as paradoxical sleep because while the brain and other body systems become more active muscles become more relaxed. Dreaming occurs due because of increased brain activity, but voluntary muscles become paralyzed.

Sleep does not progress through these stages in sequence, however. Sleep begins in stage 1 and progresses into stages 2, 3 and 4. After stage 4 sleep, stage 3 and then stage 2 sleep are repeated before entering REM sleep. Once REM sleep is over, the body usually returns to stage 2 sleep. Sleep cycles through these stages approximately 4 or 5 times throughout the night.

On average, we enter the REM stage approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep. The first cycle of REM sleep might last only a short amount of time, but each cycle becomes longer, so REM sleep can last up to an hour as sleep progresses.


My Top 5 Sleepy Time MUST:

1.My bedroom is only used for sleeping and baby making (or practicing in my case LOL)
I have strict rules about what can and can't get into my bedroom. NO bills/paperwork, NO T.V., NO Computer, NO kiddie stuff and I'm sorry but NO family photos! Seriously, I treat and decorate my room like a sanctuary. When you walk into your room you are no longer daughter, Mom, accountant, president, soror or whatever title(s) you hold. This is your time to read your bible, meditate, stretch, read a calming book, pray, envision your dreams, study your vision board..whatever relaxes and edifys you.

2.Turn the heat down
Especially now in the winter it feels good to be nice and toasty under the covers but ultimately this can keep you from resting deeply. I try to keep my bedroom temperature between 65 and 70. It is a little chilly when I pull the covers back in the morning but I sleep so much better.

3.No excessive drinking, heavy meals or stimulants before bed
Basically don't go for a 3 mile run, eat dinner, drink soda or chug down a frozen margarita right before going to bed. Ok, the margarita part sounds fun but trust me your body will thank you for passing.

4.White noise
I absolutely LOVE using my fan for white noise. The fan is on year round and I have yet to catch a cold from having it on :) However,this is tricky only because you may not be able to fall asleep if you don't have the source of the white noise available (think vacation). As a solution I've found my phone (iPhone) has apps that actually sounds like a fan or my second favorite white noise-rain- that I use when I'm traveling. By the way, the app is called "Sleep Stream" and there is a free version.

5.Stay consistent!
I generally do the same things in the same order leading up to bed time each night. This includes going to bed at the same time. Since I've implemented these "rituals" my body starts to instantly relax and prepare for sleep.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Thanks to Snowmageddon 2011 what should have been my first day at my new gig turned into a Snow Day! I figured since I would be home bound today I'd at least get a kick-butt workout in and that's exactly what I did.

It went something like this:

50 minutes of The Biggest Loser Boot Camp DVD with Bob-INTENSE

20 minutes Kickboxing from Exercise TV-Don't know who the trainer was but this lady had me sweating like a pig LOL

and to boot....I cleaned the house from top to bottom. Dusting, vaccuming, mopping, the whole nine.

I have had so much energy since committing to working out daily. Although I plan to pull back a little as the year goes on, right now I'm totally convinced this is the best thing for me at this moment.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Learning how not to Cheat Myself

Cheater, Cheater Pumpkin Eater!!

Only a few days into this health and fitness thing I find myself struggling with a reoccurring theme in my previous health attempts-cheating! I know almost 0% about the origins of my desire to sneak/hide/cheat when it comes to my food options but it has some kind of stronghold on me.

Yesterday was a struggle.

I adhere to a 1,400 calorie limit and try to plan my meals in advance to keep impulses or hunger pangs from guiding my food decisions. Yet, I'm notorious for eating breakfast, leaving the house around 11am and being without snacks or even water sometimes for hours. I rush home in the afternoon and now my empty belly is deciding what I should eat and not me. Yesterday was sort of one of those days only this time by dinner I was in hunger panic mode..long story short I had a great dinner but since I was starving by the time I ate it my resolve had weakened. I was allowed 1 piece of 50 calorie dark chocolate after dinner but I wanted a second piece...and it was CALLING my name.

All types of things were running through my head..."It's only another 50 calories", "You worked out really hard today so you deserve it", "I could just borrow from tomorrow's calories and it'll even out in the end". Actually a couple of those arguments hold a little weight but by giving into this impulse I'm breaking the rules and guideline I put in place.

By eating an extra piece of chocolate I was only cheating me.

This was such a revelation to me. Yes, I know this logically and even if I were to examine someone else's life and saw this behavior I would pick up on it instantly but policing my own behavior..not so much. Even worse was the fact that not only did I want the extra chocolate I had an overwhelming urge to hide an eat it. I did neither and opted for a cup of tea instead. By bedtime I gave myself a good pep talk for not indulging and even did I quick yoga session to boot.

Why I do these things or feel this way...I don't know? I can only speculate that after years of being the chubby girl, and especially knowing how people treat heavy women, I don't want to be "that" girl scarfing down huge amounts of food in public with no shame (yes, there is a lot of shame involved!). So the obvious solution is to hide and eat right? Of course not but this is the kind of unconscious lunacy that has held me and my body prisoner for so long.

My ultimate goal is to be able to eat on the "up and up" around friends, family, co-workers and strangers alike. I want to take words like "cheat day" out of my vocabulary. I want to be less concerned about what other people think of my dietary choices. I'm a work in progress. I find solace in knowing each day, and each time I stick to my plan my resolve gets stronger, the decisions get easier and I become more and more free.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gold Stars Everywhere!!!

Please ignore the complete lack of artistic ability

Ok maybe not everywhere..but today I had the special honor of getting my very first gold star! It was hard but I'm already in love with the adrenaline rush :) Yes, I'm easily amused lol

In total I did 45 minutes of cardio,elliptical/treadmill, and 15 minutes of light weightlifting. I kept my calories in check with a total of 1,383 putting me 17 calories under goal.

A new day awaits ladies...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Nikki's New Workout Plan

Happy New Year!!!

I'm excited about all the things I have planned for 2011 and topping that list is my Reset Project- getting my health and fitness in order.

My Health Idol-The Oldest Body Builder Ernestine Shepard

As promised, I'll be documenting my journey this year. All the ups, downs and even those monotonously boring, normal days that make sticking to this goal possible. I'm just recovering from all my holiday-ing and ready to get back to the grind.

I've joined two challenges and created one of my own to keep me motivated throughout the year.

1 month: 30 days of exercise for the month of January. This means I will work out daily for a minimum of 10 minutes with an average of 45 minutes the entire 30 days. Weekly I will rotated between DVDs and the gym for my cardio. During the week I've scheduled weight-lifting for 30 minutes 2-3 days a week. Coupled with the exercise I have incorporated clean eating and a minimum of 48 oz of water daily. The goal for January is to cement working out as a habit.

6 months: I'm tagging along with the ladies from and their "Weight Loss Challenge". I'll be checking in on the website with my progress twice a month.

12 months: I've joined the "I Commit to ____ Workouts in 2011" challenge on (yet another hair website lol) I've committed to 250 workouts for the entire year, about 5 per week, with a minimum 10 minutes and average of 45 minutes per workout.

I'm thinking of adding in some goals at 3 and 9 months but haven't thought of anything creative yet. Also have to figure out what kind of rewards I'll get once I reach exercise goals :) Most likely will be something to do with a hair product, clothes or shoes hahahaha

To top it all off I've used the lovely school supplies above to create a calendar for myself where I'll keep track of my exercise. My favorite find today was *drum roll* GOLD STARS!!! Actually I have red, blue, silver, green and gold stars and will use a different color depending my water intake, calories consumed and minutes committed to exercise.

Let's do this!!!

**By the way, I referred to myself as Nikki today but I generally go by Danni...both are my names, kind of-my real name is Danielle Nicole. So no I don't have multiple personalities or anything LOL Guess I was just feeling more Nikki today than Danni :)"

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What I've learned in my 3 yrs being natural

My Story:

I stumbled upon the natural hair scene mostly by accident. From 2005-2006 I toyed with the idea of going natural but found little support online or in my community. Slowly I started stretching my relaxers (taking 3-4 months between relaxers) and wearing my hair in what is now are known as transitioning styles like braid/twist outs and tight roller sets. By 2007 I knew I couldn't continue to relax my hair because I was experiencing severe dandruff, my scalp ached and burned all the time, my hair was balding in spots and all the burns on my scalp after a relaxer just made my heart hurt. By 2007 there was much more online support and I became stronger in my resolve to wear my hair natural even if this meant having "nappy" hair as my family warned (this self-hate needs an entire post!). I joined and found the support I needed as I transitioned for 7 months. In early July 2007 I cut my hair from Arm Pit length to Neck length and 2 weeks later cut my hair to about an inch long. Two and a half years later, even after some major setbacks, like the big trim of 2008, I've gone from an inch of natural hair to past Arm Pit Length (APL) and well on my way to my 2011 goal of Bra Strap Length (BSL).

What I've learned:

1.If you can't fully accept whatever hair type grows from your scalp then you are not ready to be natural...or at least not yet.

Deciding to wear my hair natural has been far less about my hair and more about my perspective of my hair. Having had relaxed hair as far as I could remember I didn't know what to expect once I did the Big Chop (BC). I was expecting very tightly coiled hair but got curls, coils and waves with a patch of kink. So I thought, okay curly hair=Tatyana Ali type hair right?? Wrong, although my hair was curly (like 98% of most people of African descent)I had yet to understand that hair density, porosity and curl size all play a part in hair texture. For the first year I struggled trying what seemed like a thousand products seeking this elusive silky Shirley Temple type curl when my hair is puffy, the curl pattern is not very defined and my hair has sheen and will never have shine. Now I accept my hair for what it is and it has flourished since I let it be what it is. Don't worry if you struggle with this notion at first, and even years later because most natural women have, to some degree, struggled with complete hair acceptance. Some women go natural only to relax later and then go natural again with more knowledge, conviction and determination to embrace and love the kinks/curls/coils sprouting from her hair.

Side Note: Even if you plan to straighten your natural hair know this will still be different than managing and styling relaxed hair

2.K.I.S.S Keep It Simple Silly

This principle applies to SO many things in my life but I find I use it more in reference to my hair than anything else. I can not tell you all times I've layered product upon product hoping to achieve some look I probably saw online to only end up with a crunchy, dry hot mess lol. Generally when I keep my products per style under 3, focusing on moisture,I get fluffy, soft, moisturized hair every time. In the beginning it will be necessary to try different things to figure out what works for your hair type but after about the first year being natural you should fall into a "groove" of a few products that just work. The same holds for hair styles and regimen. Most days my hair will be in a bun and if I'm feeling really excited you will find my hair in a twist/braid out. I wash, do deep treatments and trim regularly. I use the same 5 products pretty much weekly and straighten every blue moon. That's it!

3.Hair Growth is almost entirely about those ends

Unless you have a medical condition that would prevent your hair from growing, everyone is pumping out about 1/4 inch to 1/2inch of new growth monthly. I find many African-American women have the misconception that our hair won't grow or that some miracle product is needed to do so. The thing is if your ends are breaking off at the same rate it is growing you will net a whole 0 inches in length. Yes, genetics play a role in hair growth but is far less an indicator of potential hair growth than things you do have control over. To see your hair grow to new lengths you must keep those ends moisturized, do protein treatments as needed to reinforce the hair structure, trim split ends as soon as they appear and by all means keep the ends away from the elements that strip them of moisture or tear them. These elements include extreme cold, extreme heat (especially heat from flat irons/blow dryers/hot combs), combs/barrettes/brushes that tear your hair and in my case my constant needs to touch my hair LOL. As a natural you may also experience knotting of your hair that appears as "Single Strand Knots" or SSK/Fairy Knots/Pixie Knots. In my first year these darn knots caused me to cut almost 3 inches of hair because they are in essence split ends. To prevent these pesky things from popping up I always moisturize, use oil on my ends and stretch my ends with rollers to prevent the hair from balling up on itself and causing knots.

4.Results may vary

Yes, that girl's hair looks awesome after she used X product but this by no means translates into the same results for you. Every natural has probably at least 2 different textures of hair on the same head and considering things again like porosity, density, curl size, products will work differently. This shouldn't stop you from trying different techniques, hair styling tools or products but be sure you are doing it to achieve the best look for your hair and not trying to mimic someone else's curl pattern.

5.Be prepared to commit time and $$...especially at first

If you don't want to or can't find time to thoroughly research natural hair or try different things on your hair then again, being natural may not be for you. The time and money is relative but inevitable. For about the first 1-1/2 years I spent numerous weekends researching natural hair, trying new hair styles and purchasing products that for the most part didn't work for my hair. Luckily now natural hair information is readily available and many products you could only buy online are now in stores and beauty supplies in most cities. For the past year I've had a solid regimen and spend no more than $20 a month on products but the first year I easily spent $50/month including products and styling tools.

6.Be patient

Understand you are learning how to handle your hair ALL over again. Things won't happen over night but the pay off is tremendous. There will be times when you become ridiculously frustrated with your hair but remember it is all part of the process. It takes a certain level of courage to be everything you are in this society so don't be afraid to seek support to keep you encouraged. Understand choosing to wear your hair natural is a choice just like choosing to relax or texturize. If by chance you decide to relax again it is not "giving in" but a choice. We all have to choose the path that works best for us.

There are a TON on online resources for natural hair and I'm lazy now (LOL) so I don't feel like listing 30+ websites, youtube channels and twitter pages I frequent so I've listed a few of my favorites below: