Month: January 2013

Work Your Curves Event Recap – Part II: The Food

As I shared yesterday, the Work Your Curves event was a huge success as it allowed many of us to get back into the exercise game in a comfortable and supportive environment. But, as we all know, good health and weight loss are NOT merely a matter of exercise. You must also fuel your body with healthy eats! That's why I was delighted that Tiffany Griffin of ComoWater.com agreed to be our chef for the day! As she explained on Saturday, her whole philosophy is that if you're going to eat a "vegi-centric" diet (which she does), you need to use ingredients and techniques that will harvest the flavor to its fullest extent. It must not just be good for you, but also look, smell, and taste good "because we don't just eat with our mouths." Now, I must admit that being the ultimate carnivore, I was a little skeptical of how tasty a vegetable-based menu could be. But I am telling you, she threw down and made a full-on FEAST! Here are just some of the foods that she whipped up... carrot salad A yummy carrot salad! And anyone who knows me understands that it truly must have been amazing as I generally do not like carrots. coconut rice and jalapeno cornbread Baked coconut herbed-brown rice and jalapeno cornbread. I loved the rice so much that on the way home I stopped by the grocery store and bought the ingredients and recreated it that night! black eye peas A meat-free pot of black-eyed peas. Now this one REALLY threw me. Black-eyed peas? With no meat? Does. Not. Compute. Turned out, Tiffany had a secret ingredient to provide that "meaty" savoriness . . . secret ingredient Smoked olive oil. This stuff is amazing. You sniff the cap and it transports you to a backyard barbeque. This was another item that I had to retrieve on the trip home. Couldn't find it at a regular grocery store, though. Had to made a special trip to Sapore in Eastern Market. Of course, they were out of the smoked olive oil (apparently an article about it had just run in the Washington Post), but I did manage to pick up a few other tidbits to help me in this journey towards flavorful healthy cooking, like chipotle avocado oil, sea salt, smoked peppercorn, etc.) SAM_0232 But I digress. Back to the event . . . Not willing to leave us with mere water, Tiffany made a pineapple spritzer . . . . sweet tea Finally, Tiffany topped off the meal with a wonderful dessert of truffles - with NO added sugar! truffles As Tiffany explained, it's important not to deprive yourself - that only leads to overeating. So, instead, you need to find a healthier way to enjoy the foods you like. Sounds good to me! we all need chocolate As it turns out, Tiffany actually teaches monthly cooking classes. You can find out more about them here. I think I'm definitely going to have to make it a point to check 'em out!! Well, there you have it, dear readers. Work Your Curves was a huge success! I am so proud and thankful to have had the opportunity. If you missed out, not to worry - we will definitely be doing this again! In fact, if you live in the DC area, Chickaro Martin will be offering a series of six-week bootcamps designed just for us curvy gals! The details are still being ironed out but the first class will be happening THIS SATURDAY, February 2 at 9:00 a.m. If you would like information about how to register, please email me and I'll get you those details as soon as they're available!!!

Work Your Curves Event Recap – Part I: The Workout

Last Saturday, I hosted Work Your Curves!, a workout with Chickaro Martin of Project Fitness and chef Tiffany Griffin of ComoWater.com. While the event was conceived out of my shame, it birthed into a phenomenal event that fostered sisterhood, health, and fun! We started off the day with some simple assurances from Chickaro, who promised to challenge us, but not push us. And that's exactly what he did. The workout was difficult at times, but definitely doable. More than anything, there was something amazingly comforting about being in a room with other women who share in the same struggle. We were all starting from the same place. There was no competition; only support. And knowing that allowed me to push through the workout more than I ever have if I were just the fattest woman in the gym. Knowing that no one else was looking at me funny or wondering why I was there gave me the courage to do just a few more reps when I thought I couldn't . . . and it also gave me the relief to take a water break without fear of being judged. After the workout, we had a mini-rap session and the consensus was clear: we were feeling more motivated than we had in a good long while. We are so motivated, in fact, that we are planning to workout together again soon. Very soon. Like REAL soon. Keep your eyes on the site for more deets ;) Anyhoo, enough with my rambling. Here are some pictures from the event: [caption id="attachment_5722" align="aligncenter" width="336"]Chickaro getting us prepped for the workout. Chickaro getting us prepped for the workout.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5721" align="aligncenter" width="336"]See? He's not nearly as mean as he looks in his headshot :) See? He's not nearly as mean as he looks in his headshot :)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5720" align="aligncenter" width="336"]Feelin' the burn! Feelin' the burn![/caption] [caption id="attachment_5719" align="aligncenter" width="336"]Team Picture (I'm behind the camera!) Team Picture! (Where am I? Behind the camera, silly!)[/caption] Oh, and what kind of fashion blog would this be if I didn't highlight some of our wardrobe choices? [caption id="attachment_5718" align="aligncenter" width="336"]MyFashion & Fitness T-Shirt from Skinny Minority. Want one? Just click this picture! My Fashion & Fitness T-Shirt from Skinny Minority. Want one? Just click this picture![/caption] [caption id="attachment_5723" align="aligncenter" width="336"]Emily's AWESOME headband! Wanna read her recap of the event? Click this pic! Emily's AWESOME headband! Wanna read her recap of the event? Click this pic![/caption] I want to give special thanks to the sponsors of our raffle prizes! My friend Sara won a $50 giftcard from Uncommongoods.com. Meanwhile, Vivi won the Maxi Dress in Mystic from Fresh Produce Clothing. My favorite giveaway, however, went to Nae. As I stated at the event, when you decide to put on something like this, you have this little voice in your head that says, "What do you think you're doing? Nobody is going to come! Quit playin' yourself." Well, Nae was the very first one to register - she did so within mere hours of me advertising the event. It was for that reason that I gifted her a free personal training session with Chickaro. It was a tender moment. We got in our feelings, y'all. *sniffle* Stop by tomorrow to hear about the rest of the Work Your Curves event ...it was yummy!

Monday Morning Memo – Passion is the Genesis of Genius

monday morning memomonday morning memo"Passion is the genesis of genius." - Tony Robbins   I'm still reflecting on last Friday's question - "Are you ever too old to dream?" Just thinking a lot about what it means to dream BIG. To really go after what you want in life. No apologies. No excuses. I am still figuring out what my big dreams are, both personally and professionally. Could I someday have my own business? What about writing that book? Oh and don't forget the dream house, complemented by the handsome/loving/faithful/fun husband and perfect/darling/well-behaved children (smile). This past weekend's Work Your Curves event was a major step for me in moving closer to my dreams. Tomorrow, I will post a recap about all the awesomeness that went down there. In the meantime, I'm wondering - what are YOU dreaming of, dear readers? And how are those dreams fueling your actions? Have a great week!

Do You Ever Grow “Too Old” to Dream?

bucket-list

bucket-list

Recently (and by recently, I mean two days ago) I stumbled upon this amazing blog post basically asking whether you can ever grow too old to achieve a dream. The author of the blog - BeQuoted - begins by asking herself this question after comparing her own achievements with that of the young and successful African American author Helena Andrews. She states:
Supposedly “you’re never too old to learn.” Granted, I’m not old – actually a couple years younger than my literary crush – but I feel like I may be beyond the age and point in my life where I can make such a drastic change in my career. Comparing what I seemingly don’t have to someone I don’t even know created a strong, and maybe a healthy (?), sense of doubt....Can I really change the course of my life? Can my dreams truly be realized in a such a competitive market as journalism, writing, and the likes or does my lofty dreams equate to that of a 30-something dude still hoping to become the next great rap star (c’mon you know a few)? Thing is, some of those 30-something dudes do make it – 2-Chainz, what up? Can I do it (not become a rapper, a writer/author)? How?...I’m not sure that I fully believe that this dream can come to fruition.
This blog post struck me because it reminded me of myself a few years back. I don't remember precisely where, when, or why, but one day, out of the blue, an alarming thought popped into my head: "If I haven't become who I'm 'supposed to be' by now, then I never will." I was 33. Nearly two years later, I'm still not who I'm "supposed to be" - rich, famous, renown, etc., etc. And, maybe I never will be. (Seriously, unless a lotto hit is in my future, I don't see the rich part happening anytime soon.) The dreams of my childhood (to be an actress or a singer) don't quite fit into the reality of my adulthood, which includes student loans, housing, and car payments. (Plus, there is also the issue of a lack of talent *giggle*) I've actually made peace with this...yet, it's lead me to ask myself anew: What exactly IS my dream and how can I achieve it? I ask myself these questions almost everyday. Through all of my navel-gazing . . . er, blogging, I think I'm getting closer to finding an answer. But I wanted to toss the question out to you, dear readers. Can you grow "too old" to achieve a dream? How have some of your dreams changed over time? How have you incorporated those dreams into the reality of your life today?

Teach Me Your Way: Curvy CEO’s Interview with Tiffany Griffin of ComoWater.com

Tiffany Griffin of ComoWater.comI hope you are all getting excited for this Saturday's Work Your Curves event! I know that in addition to the workout with Chickaro Martin, I'm really looking forward to the cooking demo and food tasting with Tiffany Griffin of www.comowater.com. As I am an absolute beginner when it comes to cooking, I was delighted to have the opportunity to chat with Tiffany about her recommendations for how to get started in the kitchen. Check out our interview below! What inspired you to start your website? I began my website in 2010 on my birthday. I was inspired by a question I had been asked semi-continuously for almost two decades, “How did you make this?!?!” Not one to typically measure, more often than not, I had no answer for my friends and family for whom I had prepared food. So, in 2010, I decided to start documenting my kitchen adventures. It started as a “service” for my loved ones, a repository of sorts, and it grew from there! How long have you been "a cook"? Literally since I was about 5 or 6! When other kids were watching Saturday cartoons, I was watching PBS (no TV Food Network back then!). Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, The Frugal Gourmet, Ciao Italia, I loved them and they inspired me. How cool to create I thought, and I’ve been hooked ever since. [pullquote]Be gentle with yourself. Wherever you are in the spectrum of living a healthier lifestyle, remember not to judge yourself too harshly....We can all do more to be healthier. So focus on the things you do right, on what you are doing now, and treat yourself with the same empathy and patience that you would treat your best friend.[/pullquote] As someone who is not a cook, I'm wondering what are some beginning steps for someone just starting out? I would say, 1. Learn from someone “real,” from someone who’s not a chef. Chefs, even when they try really hard to keep things simple, tend to be pretty complicated. I think that’s why a lot of folks resonate with Como Water. Everything I prepare, I prepare in a home kitchen with minimal special tools. 2. I would start with simple dishes that take less than 30 minutes or so to make. Think to yourself, "What’s my favorite side dish?" Start there! :D And 3. Take a cooking class. They are really fun and help build community, which is always a good thing in my opinion. What are some of your favorite tricks and tips to make what might ordinarily be an unhealthy meal one that is more nutritious (e.g., ingredient substitutes, cooking techniques)? Being a vegetarian, you have to find ways to extract as much flavor as possible from your ingredients. For me, this usually means—1. Cooking your spices and 2. Roasting or caramelizing your veggies. Folks want to eat food that tastes good. And so, I try to emphasize taste as much as health and wellness in my dishes. You’d be amazed how much more flavor you can get if you cook spices and/or roast/caramelize your veggies. You seriously will not miss meat or fat. Also, to get a great cheesy flavor without the dairy, I use nutritional yeast! It’s pretty awesome stuff ;) Tiffany Griffin of ComoWater.comHow can my readers keep up with you online or otherwise? Oooo, la la, I’m so glad you asked! You can find me of course at my website, www.comowater.com. I’m also on facebook (www.facebook.com/comowater), twitter (@como_water), pinterest (@comowater, and instagram (@comowater). If all else fails, shoot me an email at tiffany@comowater.com. Is there anything else you'd like to share? Actually, one thing. Be gentle with yourself. Wherever you are in the spectrum of living a healthier lifestyle, remember not to judge yourself too harshly. We are all trying to be better people—to ourselves and to others. We all have vices. We all have hangups. We can all do more to be healthier. So focus on the things you do right, on what you are doing now, and treat yourself with the same empathy and patience that you would treat your best friend. When negative thoughts come into your mind, stop them, take a step back, and show yourself some kindness. It’ll go a long way in the end! Trust me.

More on Overcoming On the Job “-Isms”

Pay attention A while back, I shared a quote as part of a Monday Morning Memo from veteran journalist Carole Simpson about how to overcome on the job "-isms," most notably racism. Her advice was simply to excel:
“It is difficult for an employer to slam the door in your face if you are among the best. I have seen too many of my people blame every problem they have on racism. There’s no doubt it exists and one of the best ways to deal with it, is to make sure your ‘shit is tight.’”
While excellence is certainly the best remedy against allegations of inferiority based on your gender, weight, race, etc., it doesn't quite address how to handle distinct situations in which you may experience discrimination. One tip I learned at Ms. JD's She Leads conference was to use any uncomfortable moments as an opportunity to establish rapport and disprove any stereotypes the aggressor may hold. So, for instance, suppose you are meeting a client for the first time face to face. Up until that point you've only communicated by phone and, of course, you were your most "articulate and bright" self. However, once you enter into the meeting, notice that the client gives pause. It's that awkward moment when the client thinks to him-/herself, "Oh. She's black/fat/young/other-stereotypically-negative-trait-in-business." I know that I have certainly had this happen to me. Now, in that moment, you have two choices. You can either get angry and indignant and express as much (even if only through your body language). Or, you can behave in a congenial and even dignified manner so as to completely defy and ultimately debunk such stereotypes. Yes, I know. You shouldn't have to be the "bigger person" (um, no pun intended). To once again, swallow your pride. But, as I once read on Twitter, "The definition of a professional is a person who does their best, even when they don't feel like it."

You may never be able to change someone's mind about a particular group against which they hold a bias. But you aren't responsible for doing so. At the end of the day, you must not let someone else's ignorance cost you your job. After all, you don't want to end up like this . . . .

Warning: Foul language to ensue. Do not listen if easily offended.

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong

What to Wear to the Inauguration?

Well, the 57th Presidential Inauguration is less than a week away and Washington, DC is all abuzz. In less than a week, more than a million people will descend on the Capitol to see President Barack Obama take the oath of office once again. For days on end, DC will be nothing but receptions, parties, balls, and so on. Here are just a few outfit posts to inspire your inaugural looks! Heading to the Hill to watch the ceremony outdoors? Be sure to bundle up and keep warm!
Inauguration 2013: Swearing-In Style
Planning to attend an inaugural ball? Here is a simple, yet elegant look to consider. (Don't forget to arrive in style by donning a formal coat!)
Inauguration 2013: Belle of the Ball

What’s the Difference? Shift Dress vs. Sheath Dress

As a follow-up to last week's "Dress for Your Body Shape Series," I thought it would be appropriate to shed some light on a question that frequently befuddles even the most conscious fashionista: What's the difference between a "shift dress" and a "sheath dress"? A feature article published by the Washington Post a few years back offered a great explanation:
"A shift is commonly confused with a sheath, and the two words have more in common than the way they sound. Both refer to uncomplicated-looking dresses that end somewhere around the knee. The difference is that a shift tends to be less fitted around the waist and hips. Its straight lines are sweet and waifish in a way that the sheath, with all of its body-clinging tenacity, never will be."
According to Fashion 101: A Crash Course in Clothing, the sheath was so named because it straight lines resembled a knife sheath. Huh. For me, the best way to remember the difference is that a shift dress actually shifts - with the bottom having a wider skirt than the top; meanwhile, a sheath dress is narrower, with pretty much identical measurements at the bust and the knees. Here is a visual tool to help illustrate the difference:
Shift Dress vs. Sheath Dress

As the ultimate Triangle, I was so grateful to finally learn the difference. These days I skip trying on the sheath dresses altogether (as they never fit me quite right) and to make the shift dress a staple of my business wardrobe. UPDATE! Recently, I've discovered the perfect solution for rocking a sheath dress with a curvier, bottom-heavy frame: knits! Check out this post for more ideas about how to style a sheath dress using knit pieces!