Removing the “Golden Handcuffs” and Quitting My Job

Quitting my job is the current thought in my head, all of the time. My fitness instructor career (albeit a volunteer one) is gaining momentum. My classes are getting fuller and people actually love my content. My mind is blown away half of the time by the positive feedback that I’m getting. I’m glad that my song choices and choreography are resonating with people. I want to do it more often so I’m currently studying for my AFAA Group Fitness Instructor certification so I can work at a real gym and get paid.

On August 27, 2018, I will have been at my job for 6 years, but I don’t plan to make it that far. I dread the job, the patients, the phone calls, the doctor, the complaints… I don’t want to deal with it and manage it anymore. So…. I’m planning to quit, very, very soon. My job requires 4 weeks notice, so in order to leave by my anniversary, I need to give notice by July 27. Already, I feel anxiety in the pit of my belly, but I think it’s mainly excitement mixed with some fear.  As of right now, I don’t have a plan (LOL) and I have never quit without jumping to the next job. So really I’ve been working in hospitals for 10 years straight. I know I would be able to survive 2-3 months without a salary. I’ve already been looking for work, but it would be so much easier to look if I had more time instead of working this 9-5pm.

Before I quit, I want to 1) Take a mini vacation 2) Get CPR certified 3) Pay 3 months rent in advance. The rent is the main factor, also utilities and cell phone, but besides that, everything else can wait for my next job.  These golden handcuffs that I’m wearing, which is really just a steady paycheck because I don’t get perks, are making it too hard for me to make progress. Plus the fact that the job messes with my emotions, I feel like I’m treading water. Losing and gaining back the same 5 lbs. Making positive changes and then having setbacks after a bad day. If I stay my current course, I will slowly truck along towards my dreams. I feel deep down in my bones that I need to do something drastic. Like getting the f**k out.

Great blog post below that I plan to read everyday until I give my notice. I’m considering waiting an extra week to give notice, just to get an extra paycheck in my hand, but I’m going to let my heart lead me.

Quit Your Job and Join the Gym

Advice to My Younger Self

I was listening to a podcast just now on regaining weight after losing it. The host asked the guest, if she could go back to a certain age to give advice…. when would she go back to and what advice would she give her younger self… This got me thinking.

I have been overweight since elementary school and have been dieting since that time. That’s one of the “perks” of having older sisters. I was reading Self magazine and admiring tall, thin and lithe bodies like Gabrielle Reese or Veronica Webb since before puberty. I never once thought that I couldn’t look like that if I followed a 1200 calorie plan. I have never liked the way that I look. Never. I have been comparing myself to celebrities and models since the start. When I got my first real crush in college, I started running because I thought that my weight was the only thing holding me back from him liking me. I started running around the track, lost the weight and started putting myself in his line of sight. We never dated. Then I would drink excessively to relax and be more sociable, because men would screw any girl that was there, right? You could blame 90210 and Melrose Place for those ideas. So now, not only was I a problem drinker, but I was eating like crazy to deal with loneliness and shame from drunken escapades. It’s just been a constant cycle of binging and abstinence, never any type of moderation with food or alcohol.

I love to dance which is why I am becoming a certified instructor and teach on the weekends at a church. Dancing allows me to workout every week to stay in some sort of shape and help others stay motivated and in shape. I really don’t like Crossfit, but I like challenging myself. I joined Crossfit to literally whip my body into shape. I loved the results but after being sidelined, I gained some weight back and have been binging ever since. Everything that I do to my body has been to modify the emotions with a substance, get it thinner by starving, making crazy eating rules or exercising until I get injured. I’ve never just loved it for still fucking working. Appreciate it for what it is because it’s as perfect as I’ve allowed it to be. And I should be grateful and I am in this moment.

I have these affirmations on my wall in my kitchen and bathroom that say:

  • I am beautiful
  • I love my body
  • I care about what goes into my body
  • I love myself
  • I care about my body

Is it normal to have to remind yourself of that? Why is my self esteem and self image so distorted? There is no one to blame at this point, but how can I rectify it? I know that finding the answer to this question is the only way to reach a stable and healthy weight. I aspire to love myself and treat my body with TLC. I think it’s time to put my scale away. That’s step #1 for damn sure.

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I’ve changed platforms. You can find my new blog at ——->  Around Your Way Fitness

I will post on the two platforms for a few more posts before heading over there completely. Follow me there

1st Injury and Recovery

Ok. So technically I wasn’t injured doing Crossfit, but I was injured doing a HIIT class at the Crossfit box. I sprained my ankle, mildly, but it got me thinking about what is important in my life. I wasn’t able to teach my dance class on Saturday because I have pain when I put my full weight on my foot. It’s improving with each day and I will be back to 100% by next Saturday.  I fell so deep into the Crossfit and gym buddy culture and mindset, that it’s nice to get a little reprieve, a break from working out. I have been going there  3-5 times per week, and at times taking 2 classes back to back. It was bound to happen.

I got injured in a class that is taught by a coach that isn’t my favorite. Coaches have different personalities and motivation strategies, but this one seems to think that if you say you can’t do it or are struggling, you just aren’t pushing yourself enough. Which is ironic because I usually am out of breath in his class, which is 100% plyometrics, ladder drills and sprints. Plus I paid $225 per month to be there and am taking 7-8 classes per week, believe me I’m trying.

They also all assume that you are trying to get in shape for “the summer” when I’m just trying to get in shape for life. They don’t know that I’ve lost 44lbs so far, so yes I am one of the largest folks in there at a size 14, but I’ve come a distance. Some also don’t pay attention to limitations. But in the end, if you get injured, it’s your fault. Even though folks are screaming at you to go harder, you are supposed to ignore it or tell them that you are having pain. So with that realization…… I’m going to start running my own race and paying attention to what I can and can’t do. I also will only listen to the trainers that I trust. Some trainers see when you are having difficulty and tell you to modify, others tell you to push harder. I’m going to stick to the former teachers from now on.

Can we also talk about peer pressure and gym buddies for a minute? In my previous post, I said you are who you hang out with, BUT if your gym buddy wants to work out 6 days per week, you have to just say no if your body can’t handle it. I’m going back to 4 days a week (S,M,W,TH) and my gym buddies can go together on the days that I can’t.

I started the post saying that I know what is most important now and it’s not working out at the Crossfit gym, it’s my dance class. They were unable to find a substitute for my dance class on Saturday, so due to my decision to take a HIIT class, they were teacherless. The site manager sent me a pic of the ladies dancing to a video of me that one of them recorded in order to practice at home. I am making a difference in these women’s lives, I feel it, and I don’t want to spoil that trying to do suicides sprints and box jumps. This internship, which is over in maybe 3 months, is the top priority for me now and I really need to take care of my body and add more rest to the mix. So I made a new rule, no more HIIT training on Fridays at all so I can be 100% on Saturday.

If I feel OK for the rest of the day, I will return to “the box” tomorrow morning, then rest on Tuesday and then do a double on Wednesday. If my gym buddy says anything, I will just tell her to kick rocks… in the sweetest way possible.

You Become Who You Hang Out With

I had a bad week. Everything that I could’ve done wrong last week, I did. I had take out, twice a day, everyday, and the scale is 5lbs greater than the week prior . I’m at the point of existence, where I know what I should be doing, but I allow a crazy work day to cause me to tailspin. Please note that I said allow because I’m not a victim here. My favorite line from Ferris Bueller’s day off is “Sooner or later everyone goes to the zoo.” It was as if I fell down, couldn’t regain my balance and everything that I reached for pulled me back down.

The week started off bad with an interaction with my boss that pretty much happens multiple times per day. He refuses to see a patient that was referred to see him, sometimes for a good reason and other times not so straightforward, and I have to relay the message to an angry person that yells at me or vents their frustrations about the process. This makes me, and many of my coworkers, turn to food.  Some days I am better able to deal with the complaints but last Monday it put a spotlight on what is wrong with my job. No one, not even my administrative manager, cares about the position that this puts us in. Or the stress that this has on my mental health and my body so after 5 and a half years, I’m done. I looked at my previous weight logs and it’s the same cycle, I lose weight, gain it back plus 15, lose weight and gain it back plus 20. I won’t do it again so I made the decision to quit and actually move forward with it. I’m giving myself until August to get a job in the public health/wellness field or save enough to quit. I’m also planning to apply for a Masters program. Luckily I missed the application deadline for the program this year, so I don’t have to use the excuse of tuition reimbursement to stay at my job. I will pay for each credit out of pocket just to quit my job.

But how did I get out of my downward spiral of french fries and veggie burgers? I went to dinner and happy hour with two of my Crossfit friends and it really opened my eyes to what is possible. One woman quit her 200K job due to her mental health and has multiple job offers coming in. The other woman is the creative type that just got her first paid role in a play, she has a successful podcast and constantly has meetings in her craft.  She asked me what I wanted to do and at first I was hesitant but I said.. “I want to help people lose weight but I know that there isn’t much money in that.” She got excited and said “Wow you have so many options, you can open a studio, do coaching, there aren’t a lot of black women that are losing weight doing this. People would follow that, let me know if I could ever help you”. I woke up on Saturday with a whole new attitude. I was positive and didn’t feel hopeless. Which brings me to the title of this post.

I have told that dream to other folks but no one has had that reaction that it was actually possible or that I had options. Her reaction literally made me excited and I started planning what to do. They say that you are the sum total of who you hang out with, whether it’s weight, salary, or attitude. This is reason number 1736 that I am glad that I joined this gym. The soon to be employed lady is encouraging me to go to grad school and the creative one is someone that I can sound off ideas to. Yes, in the perfect world I should be able to be self motivated all the time, but it’s not always the case so now I have friends to keep me accountable and motivated, not just in the gym but outside.

Current mood: Grateful, motivated and positive AF

Vegan Weight Loss and Smoothie Recipe

I’m back with a food prep blog. I went to the gym this morning and went hard. A little too hard and have some tightness in my back, either from a deadlift or clean/press. I work for a back doctor, so I know what is going on and tomorrow will be a rest day for sure. Which is great because I need to start goal setting for next year and figuring out what is next in life. Here is the gym pic…

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Too many weights…

Now I am not a perfect person, but one thing I have perfected, is my breakfast. It is easy to get overwhelmed by choices (and  sugar) so I try to have the same thing everyday. I really do and people think it’s weird, but SO many specialists recommend automating 1-2 meals per day for weight loss because it makes life a little easier. For breakfast, I make a simple smoothie.  Since I am in the process of losing weight, I try to intuitively keep my calories down, without actually counting calories.

For instance, my morning smoothie could easily become a calorie bomb. When I started plant-based eating, I would have 2-3 bananas, 4-6 dates and a cup of berries in my smoothie and believe me, it was DELICIOUS. As someone who loves sweets, dates and bananas are a godsend and as someone that loves caffeine, I was bouncing off the walls from the sugar rush. However, after I met with a nutritionist, I realized it was too much sugar and too many unnecessary calories. When you are trying to lose weight, every calorie counts, even as a vegan.

There is a great article in this month’s Women’s Health magazine titled, “Losing Their Veganity”. Many women become vegan to lose weight yet they end up gaining weight so return to eating meat. One nutritionist quoted in the article said that one of her clients was consuming a smoothie bowl for breakfast that was 700 calories after the calculations. Some of us, myself included, follow these folks that are eating 4-5 bananas in a smoothie, but we go to sedentary jobs while they run and bike all over the city. It doesn’t matter if you are eating meat or not, calories count and do not let anyone fool you. If you are gaining weight, you might want to count for a few days or see a nutritionist. And here is my breakfast smoothie!

Vee’s Breakfast Smoothie -~300 cals*

  • 1.5 cups lemon water (3-10 calories depending on where you look. I just juice a lemon and put it in a mason jar and keep adding filtered water so it maintains its lemony goodness. Discard the lemon at the end of the week.)
  • 1 large banana (120 cals, less if smaller)
  • 2 cups kale (66 cals)
  • ~1 cup mixed berries (70+ cals)

*The lemon water cuts the kale’s bitterness and makes it so I don’t need almond milk, peanut butter or any other calorie additive. I usually have an apple as a snack mid morning and am ready to go for lunch at 12pm. My lunch and dinners are usually substantial (rice bowls or pasta) so saving 200 cals in breakfast helps a lot because I sit most of the day. If your job is more active, you could add chia seeds, peanut butter, or even omit the lemon water and use a milk substitute.

I prepare the bags on the weekend. I take one out the night before and put it in the fridge that way it defrosts a little. (I find if I blend straight from freezing, the kale doesn’t blend all the way through). You can change up the berries or the fruit for variety (I added peaches and nectarines in the summer). You can even change up the greens. When I get bored of this, I have some oatmeal for a few days and return to this. Try it!

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Lemon Water
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Packing the bags
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Storing it in the freezer

Instagram Food Pics?

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I think this is a great idea for weight loss, lifestyle changes and diet improvements. I’m just not sure how my current followers would feel about seeing my food pics all the time. My sister started a second Instagram which has a lot of followers, but some of them are from her main Instagram. When you create a second Instagram account using the same app, your new account is suggested to the followers of your old account. But thinking about it now, I guess there really isn’t anything wrong with it. My weight loss and fitness instructor journey is kind of a side project. I have been a secretive person in regards to my goals and what I do in my spare time, and no I’m not a drug dealer. I’m finding that even as I discuss my veganism with coworkers, I am becoming more articulate and my soundbites are becoming clear and have actual facts. In addition, discussing my goals will give me more accountability because people might ask  how things are going.

Speaking of which… My gym membership is $69.99 per month. I am setting a goal of 4 times per week or else I am cancelling the membership. I have another membership that I had to sign up for (6 months for $75!) in order to do my instructor training, so if I’m unable to follow my schedule, I’m canceling the pricey by the end of October.