My earliest memories of Christmas are of my grandma and mom cooking tons of food early Christmas morning. They would always begin the night before, and in between the yummy smells that teased me and the anticipation of presents, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Our family had the tradition of letting me (I was the only child for 9 years) open one present at midnight and the rest the next morning. Then, we’d all sit down to one huge Christmas feast, usually served mid-day, and later on come back for seconds after our stomachs went down.
Granny passed away in 1996 and Christmas hasn’t really been the same since. My mom is pretty anti-holidays and I don’t really blame her, she has her reasons. I like to celebrate Christmas by either being in Florida with my mom (she cooks a few of her baby girl’s favorite dishes) or when I can’t get away, my extended family here in the DC area. The only thing better than Christmas dinner with people who love you, are multiple Christmas dinners with people who love you! And who can forget the gifts that keep on giving – bringing home plates that last you a day or two after Christmas!
What are your memories of Christmas?
I just want to encourage you, like I did at Thanksgiving, not to overdo your holiday munching so that you bounce back after the holidays and stay on track for your fitness goals. It was a pleasant feeling not to be stuffed after Thanksgiving and I’m looking forward to leaving some room in my stomach to enjoy my friends. For me, Christmas isn’t about decorations, music or food so much as it is a celebration of family, friends, and all the blessings I’ve experienced over the year.
Whatever you do, wherever you are, I hope you have a joyous and loving holiday season!
You may or may not get ill but you’ve probably experienced burnout – prolonged exposure to stress that causes you to feel exhausted, mentally depleted and overwhelmed. You lose motivation, become irritable and your production decreases. Now stress and burnout aren’t the same thing – usually you’ve been dealing with stress for a while and then feel burned out. Once you reach burnout, you start not to care about your commitments because you’ve been tired for so long. No one likes to deal with burnout and sometimes we feel helpless to prevent it. Here are some tips to alleviate the symptoms of burnout.
Start and/or end the day with relaxation
When you feel burned out, your body and your mind start to feel worn down. Beginning and ending the day with a few minutes of “me” time can help to recharge your batteries. Use this time to pray, meditate, write in your journal or take a long, hot bath. Taking time for yourself, even if its only a few minutes, goes a long way in boosting your mental and physical endurance.
Get back on track with healthy diet and exercise
If your increased responsibilities have caused increased stress, its likely that your workout routine and healthy eating habits have fallen by the wayside. This is common because as we get busier and try to handle more responsibilities, we usually sacrifice the time we devote to ourselves in order to get things done. Try to squeeze your workouts back into your day. When you feel energized and refreshed, you can accomplish more and it’s a powerful investment in yourself. Eating fresh fruits and veggies also help with brain activities and your energy level.
Tap back into your creative outlets
Just like with healthy eating and exercise, we often neglect our creative outlets when we’re strapped for time. But your hobbies allow you to disconnect from the work day, give you a break from career and family responsibilities and allows your mind to rest while you are involved with something fun. Again, a few minutes each day goes a long way.
If you’re dealing with too much, then scale back where you can. There are core responsibilities that we can’t give up: our jobs, our families and our homes. But there are some that we don’t want to give up but aren’t essential to our lives. I’m sure the church committee that you chair or your volunteer coordinator can find someone just as competent as you who isn’t burned out. In addition, cutting the amount of time and energy you spend on external activities will free up some time for you to recharge your batteries, relax and follow your creative outlets.
What ways do you alleviate burn out? How do you prevent the symptoms from coming up?
Today is World AIDS Day. I’ve blogged before about how STDs can affect your relationships and why your health is more important than your sex life. However, today is a day where people around the world think about the risks and affects of this disease so its imperative that we all are aware of how insidious it is.
Started on 1st December 1988, World AIDS Day is about raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. The World AIDS Day theme for 2009 is ‘Universal Access and Human Rights’. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.
According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.4 million people living with HIV, including 2.1 million children. During 2008 some 2.7 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 2 million people died from AIDS. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35.
The vast majority of people with HIV and AIDS live in lower- and middle-income countries. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world.
I’ll repeat a fact that’s worth repeating: AIDS is now the leading cause of death for black women ages 25-44. There is no cure for AIDS but with proper treatment those affected are living longer and healthier lives.
So today, think about ways you can take action in response to AIDS:
- get tested for HIV
- practice safer methods to prevent HIV
- decide not to engage in high risk behaviors
- talk about HIV prevention with family, friends, and colleagues
- provide support to people living with HIV/AIDS
- get involved with or host an event for World AIDS Day in your community
Here are links around the internet that raise awareness of this disease:
I just watched this video of weight loss before and after pics. By the time it ended, I was sitting here struggling not to cry. Just for the fact that the people in the pics took full body shots of themselves, at a time when they did not like how they looked – with full expectation that one day, their ‘after’ pics would reflect how they wanted to look. Isn’t that awesome?! I think of that as momentary pain that motivates you to work for long-term success.
When its time for your Thanksgiving dinner to start, think about the 50 people in this video and how hard each of them worked to achieve their goal. Then remember your commitment to weight loss – your commitment to yourself and your health. Imagine what your ‘after’ picture is going to look like and keep in mind that Thanksgiving may only be one day, but your actions on tomorrow dictate how closer you come to your goal. Also the amount of food you consume can positively or negatively reinforce the habits you are installing in your life.
So pass the dishes, enjoy the food and celebrate with your family. Take control of tradition and control of what you put on your plate. Also keep in mind the big picture and your desire to improve your body and your health. You can do it!
I couldn’t understand why I was as tired as I was, so I really sat down and had a conversation with myself about my fatigue. Then it hit me – somewhere along the way, my habits of eating healthy foods, working out and getting adequate sleep have slipped. At first I was pretty upset with myself. I was doing so well and could definitely feel and start to see the fruits of my labor. But then I stopped beating up on myself and decided to implement a strategy that will better help me be successful in changing bad habits.
I’m starting a 30-day trial
It usually takes 21 days of repeating an action before it becomes habitual for you. So I decided to just round up to 30 days as the period of time to repeat the daily habits that I want to become permanent. I’m focusing on:
- waking up on time
- eating breakfast
- following my budget
- working out
Steve Pavlina wrote a great post on doing a 30 day trial to install new habits. Check it out if you’d like to learn more about the process.
On the flipside, I’m writing this post using the WordPress iPhone app. I installed this app a while ago, but never used it. @IndieBusiness mentioned the app on Twitter, so I thought I might as well give it a shot. So there’s one example of how technology can make your life more difficult, and one where it can simplify your tasks. How do you feel about technology? Has it made your life easier or more difficult?
Anyway, I digress….
I write alot here about goals, dreams, and goal-setting. I figured it’s as good a time as any to share with you what my dreams and goals are.
I started Black Girl Tees as a way to combine my love of t-shirts with a way to promote black women, while uplifting our self-esteem and standard of beauty. My overall goal is to generate a full-time income from my online endeavors, including this blog. Specifically, for Black Girl Tees my goal is to generate at least 30% of my online income from t-shirt sales. I was immensely inspired by Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek, and my business model is based on his recommendation of a business that you can run remotely and live anywhere in the world.
That anywhere for me is Paris. I love the city (who doesn’t?) and my vision is that I spend at least half of the year there.
While I’m busy blogging and promoting my t-shirts, I’m also studying to pass the bar exam. The next accomplishment I want to make is acceptance in an International Law LLM program. I have a school in mind (that I won’t mention) so please cross your fingers for me. I also want to attend conferences given by the American Bar Association’s section of International Law. Eventually I plan to pursue licensure abroad.
I am very proud and happy to be 30 years old and I think this is the perfect time to improve my health. My goal is to lose 30 pounds. Whenever I share that goal with someone, frequently I’ll receive the reply, “you don’t need to lose that much” or “you look fine how you are”. These replies are flattering but sometimes can be exasperating. I know that people mean well but the last thing a person wants is criticism of their goal. And sometimes these kinds of statements can derail you. After hearing “you look fine how you are” and “girl, you don’t need to lose weight”, you start believing that.
It’s not about vanity for me, but about attaining a healthy, active lifestyle. When I’m not active and I get winded easily, I’m embarrased and a bit disappointed in myself. This is perhaps the hardest goal for me to attain, because of the learning and constant motivation necessary to reach the finish line. But I know that I can do it!
I also want to learn French, be in a long-term relationship and improve my credit scores. Talk about having my work cut out for me!!
I would love for you guys to comment and share your goals with me. Even if you think it’s something small (I don’t think in terms of size with goals; what matters is that we’re moving forward), it serves as motivation and inspiration for me and the other readers of this blog. So go ahead, don’t be shy!
For the last few weeks, the gym has been your second home. You’ve been sticking to your eating plan, making healthy choices and turning away from old habits with no sweat. Friends and coworkers comment on the changes your body has made. Crystal Light is your new best friend. You’ve even found hairstyles that will allow you to be cute and a gym rat at the same time. Then something unexpected happens. You pull a hamstring; a friend visits from out of town; you go out of town on business; or, the dreaded round of holiday parties wreaks havoc on your eating habits. Before you know it, you’re off the wagon and struggling to get back on. It seems impossible to do sometimes, but it doesn’t have to spell the end of your progress.
Start from where you are
You don’t have to start from the beginning, from square one. Whenever we fall off the wagon, our minds repeat the message that starting back means starting over. This is a trick our minds play on us to keep up the status quo. You see, you may want to fit into your favorite jeans from college, but your mind does not. Your mind wants your body to digest the same foods its been digesting, perform the same actions its been performing, and basically not make any big changes to your pattern of habits. The mind is a thing of habit and its been firmly entrenched in your current habits. It makes it hard for you to consciously make changes to those habits. So when an opportunity comes for your mind to resume previous, comfortable habits, it will do so. Whenever your thoughts drift into ones that discourage you from going back into the gym, from throwing out the junk food thats mysteriously appears in your cabinets, or any other way in which your mind plays tricks on you, don’t despair. Just continue moving forward from the exact place where you are.
When you get back into the gym, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is for you to resume your regimen. Your mind may convince you that reconditioning your muscles and rebuilding your endurance will be mentally and physically painful. I’m urging you to start from where you are because your bodies and muscles have an internal memory – you’re not actually reconditioning from the ground level. You’ll probably be close to the level of fitness that you stopped at.
Really, the biggest struggle here, is with mindset.
Because your mind has lapsed into old patterns of thought, your work is really to bring your mind back around to the place you left off. The problem is, its generally harder to get back on the wagon because your mind is prepared for this assault – you’ve been here before – so it takes more convincing to do the same things with ease that you previous did. One way to combat this struggle with your mind is to introduce a new aspect to the habit you’re working to reestablish.
Add something new to the mix
I personally struggle with the quest to get fit. While currently climbing back on the wagon, I added time on the elliptical machine to my cardio routine. This has not only given me a new challenge to complete, but it also gives me something new to look forward to during my gym sessions. Adding this new component also gives my mind a new aspect to grapple with, and its more difficult for my mind to come up with excuses for this new thing. It can’t highlight the things that are difficult or unpleasant about it, because I haven’t experienced it before. And it can’t irrationally tell me that this new aspect won’t work or that I’m not good at it either, because its something I had never tried.
We all fall off the wagon sometimes. Its not the failure thats important, but your willingness to get back up and keep working at your goal until you succeed.
What are some of the methods you incorporate to get back on the wagon?
On my last visit to the gynecologist, I broached a topic that has been on my mind for a while. My Ob-gyn is a straightforward older black woman so I figured that she’d give it to me straight. I asked her the best way to go about asking your potential sex partner about their HIV status.
There has been alot of buzz in the news lately about the high rates of black women contracting the HIV virus. Furthermore, AIDS is now the leading cause of death for black women ages 25-34. Let me repeat that: AIDS is now the leading cause of death for black women ages 25-34!In addition, the rate of AIDS diagnosis for black women was approximately 23 times the rate for white women and 4 times the rate for Latina women. In 2006, teen girls represented 39% of AIDS cases reported among 13–19 year-olds. Black teens represented 69% of cases reported among 13–19 year-olds. Sistas we have to protect our own lives here. Yes there are men out there who are on the ‘down low’, but there are significantly higher numbers of heterosexual men that are infecting black women with HIV. And, according to my Ob-gyn, condoms are only 70% effective for protection against viruses. She explained that viruses are smaller than bacteria and there is a chance that they can pass through the membrane of a condom.
Do you want to risk your life for sex? The most basic step to take in order to protect yourself is to wear condoms all the time. Don’t hesitate to ask because you don’t want to kill the mood. Don’t assume because he hasn’t cheated on you that he’s ‘clean’. Also don’t assume because he said he’s negative that he is. He might not know his status (up to 21% of the people who have HIV don’t know it) or he might have been infected after he was tested. You don’t know all of the people he’s slept with… or the people they’ve slept with. Don’t play Russian Roulette with your life.
My doctor relayed a story of a man in Texas who was knowingly infecting women with HIV. One woman in particular drove the man to the health clinic to receive his test results. Instead of showing her the results, when he got back into her car he told her “I’m negative”. Doesn’t that just chill you to the bone?
The best way to bring it up, she said, is to explain that condoms are only 70% effective against viruses. Then volunteer to show your guy your bloodwork results. And then ask to see his. Don’t accept his word. (Here she gave me the kind of look that only a black woman can give you…lol) Now you may be thinking that you don’t want to imply that you don’t trust him. I feel you sista. But whats worse, to take his word and find out years later that you could have saved your own life, or to have a potentially uncomfortable conversation and make sure you are protected.
Whats more important to you, your life or your relationship? The best thing you can do for the black community is to procreate and pass on the wonderful genes that you have. The best thing you can do for your man is to show him that you’re proactive about BOTH of your lives. And, the best thing that you can do for yourself is make sure you know what’s what. I hope I’ve motivated you to stop beating around the bush and make sure that you’re safe.
How many hours do you devote to watching television in one week? Stop for a second, and calculate how many shows you faithfully follow, plus any tv time you spend with your spouse/significant other. Now multiply that total by 52. How many hours per year do you spend in front of a television set? We are all busy people, especially us entrepreneurs. And if your life looks similar to mine, you not only run your own business, but you have a full-time day job, community activities, time with friends, and other errands and life commitments that have claims on your time. I can imagine its even more hectic for married women and mothers, since your time is then devoted to children, spouses and the maintenance of a household as well. Maybe your TV watching time is your free time; maybe, at the end of the day, that is how you unwind. But there are better ways you can spend that time and unwind from the stresses that assault you.
Here are 10 reasons why you should turn off the TV:
- Watching TV is a waste of your time.
- It has a negative effect on your children.
- Others profit from your time.
- It promotes a sendentary, unhealthy lifestyle.
- You’re not being intellectually stimulated.
- There’s no QUALITY involved when quality time is spent in front of the TV.
- You could use your free time to pursue your interests.
- The messages inherent in programming ruins your self-esteem.
- The messages inherent in programming send negative images to your children.
- The majority of news programming promotes negativity and causes worry.
Watching TV is a waste of your time.
According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube. 9 YEARS!!! Now I bet there are other things you can do with 9 years of your life than spend them with your buns planted on the couch.
It has a negative effect on your children.
We’ve all complained about how parents are not raising children these days, that TV is now doing the parenting. We’ve also complained about the lack of quality programming being offered on TV, and how more and more sexually explicit material is being conveyed to the public. Spending so much time watching TV is becoming a mainstay in the average child’s life. Don’t believe me? Here are some numbers that confirm that TV watching is bad for kids [Source: TV-Free America]:
- Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5
- Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680
- Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54
- Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
- Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500
Others profit from your time.
Time is money, right? We’ve been saying that maxim forever. And time really is money, especially where television advertising is concerned. By 1993, advertisers were spending $15 billion for your time. Shouldn’t you treat your time with more value, than by zoning out on the couch? Think about this, too: how much time do you spend promoting TV programs for FREE? That’s right, companies are spending billions to advertise and you’re helping the TV stations and cable companies to get rich. How often do you talk about True Blood, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Best Dance Crews, and other popular shows? You’re not receiving any perks from this word-of-mouth promotion.
It promotes a sendentary, unhealthy lifestyle.
If you’re sitting in front of the television, you’re sitting and not moving. The average person spends 4 hours in front of the TV; 67% of adults are overweight, and 34% are obese. [Source: CDC FastStats] You can see that, if a person spends only 2 hours in front of the TV, the other 2 hours can be spent preparing a healthy meal and working out. And thats also 2 hours where a person isn’t being inundated with commercials for unhealthy fast food, desserts and breakfast foods. Now, 1 out of 3 kids are considered overweight or obese [Source: Kidshealth.org]
- Number of 30-second TV commercials seen in a year by an average child: 20,000
- Number of TV commercials seen by the average person by age 65: 2 million
- Percentage of survey participants (1993) who said that TV commercials aimed at children make them too materialistic: 92
- Rank of food products/fast-food restaurants among TV advertisements to kids: 1
You’re not being intellectually stimulated.
When I ask most of my TV watching friends how often they read, they either look at me like I’ve lost my mind or stolen their remote. Read??? ‘Why read when there’s TV?’ they ask. At that point, I just change the subject. I admit that I read alot more than the average person and its hard to explain to someone who doesn’t like to read how it will improve their life. For me, the book is better than the movie 99% of the time. Its much more fun to fill in the details with my imagination instead of the director’s interpretation. And I like to control when I revisit a beloved story, instead of when the station dictates it should air.
Maybe reading isn’t your thing, but there are alot of other things you could do to stimulate your mind instead of watch TV. Freeing up some of your free time will allow you to hold deeper conversations with friends, instead of ending convos with “ok girl, its 9 o’clock, and True Blood is about to come on. Talk to you later!” You could also play games with your friends, such as Monopoly, that teach them skills like budgeting, or talk to them about school and the world around them. TV-Free America has other ideas of ways to spend time when you’re not in front of the TV.
There’s no QUALITY involved when quality time is spent in front of the TV.
Its the end of a long, stressful day. You get home, change into something more comfortable, and you and your boo curl up in front of the TV. This is probably a routine that you’ve established, and one thats become automatic. But you guys aren’t really talking (unless its 30 second bursts between commercials) and your attention is glued to the screen, not to each other. Stay with me for a minute. You’re both laughing at the antics of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, how much of your undivided attention is your sweetie getting? How much is he giving you? Why not spend that same cuddle time listening to smooth jazz, talking about your day, or building a stronger relationship? Now I’m not advocating you do this during football season (lol), but I’d bet you could find more ways to put the quality into your quality time if you turned the TV off.
You could use your free time to pursue your interests.
Have you ever wanted to take a salsa class? Meet more men? How about learn a foreign language, learn to sew or train for a 5K or marathon? You could be out experiencing life, instead of watching Dancing With the Stars. Why wait until you have more time? I bet you’d have that time if you turn the TV off and get to living!
The messages inherent in programming ruins your self-esteem.
Do you ever wonder what size your favorite actresses wear? Have you ever wanted Beyonce’s hair? How about wanting the body of a video vixen, or the perfect skin of the contestants on The Bachelor? TV gives the modern woman a hard act to follow. And viewing all those images of ‘female perfection’ day in and day out take a toll on your self-esteem. Well, sistas, models and actresses are on tv because they are not the average woman. They don’t eat the average diet, get paid the average salary or have the same time constraints placed on their day. That’s why they can look good day in and day out, and they are paid for their looks. We, on the other hand, have about an hour to get ready for work; have to cook for ourselves and our families; have to find the time to shop for and plan nutritious meals, hit the gym and the hair salon; and have to incorporate our own genetic makeup into the equation. Its just not healthy to compare yourself to these women, and unfortunately its a habit that becomes easier the longer you sit in front of the TV.
The messages inherent in programming send negative images to your children. Let’s take a look at some of the statistics regarding TV and violence [Source: TV-Free America]:
- The average child will watch 8,000 murders on TV before finishing elementary school.
- By age eighteen, the average American has seen 200,000 acts of violence on TV, including 40,000 murders.
Viewing thousands of random acts of violence desensitizes a person and ultimately cheapens the value of a human life. Do you want your 9 year old to become accustomed to seeing mugshots on TV? Do you want your daugther to see men get shot, stabbed, or any of the sexually explicit conduct that’s highlighted on TV? Lets really think about the images we’re allowing children to be exposed to. This goes back to advertising too. How many sexually-themed commercials show during the Super Bowl? Our kids are watching and forming their opinions about life, relationships, and morality based off of these images that they see every day. Now combine this extended TV time, with parents being busier and spend less time talking to their kids. You can see where this will lead, and its not to a positive place for our children.
The majority of news programming promotes negativity and causes worry.
Here’s the main reason I don’t watch TV: when I was growing up, and even to this day, my mom watches the news at least twice a day. She usually watches at 5 or 6pm and then again before bed at 11. In my opinion, as a result of watching all of these reports of murders, robberies, fatal car accidents, corrupt police officers, kidnappings, and other mayhem, she has terrible nerves. If I went out late, she’d say “be careful, there are crazy people out there! Just yesterday in Miami there were 11 shootings!” If I told her I’d met someone new, she’d say “well that’s nice, just keep your eyes open! The other day they found this woman’s body in a ditch; she got raped and strangled to death by a man she met at a bar”. Lets not even talk about me living in DC. If the threat level goes from orange to red, you can bet Mama will call. She was beside herself when the DC Sniper was at large, and if there’s an accident on the metro and she can’t reach me, she’s frantic.
You can see why I’m not a fan of the news. In general I think the news works to make us all paranoid. If we hear that the economy is bad, then we don’t spend any money and the economy gets worse. If we hear that Swine Flu is becoming an epidemic, then people walk around with masks and don’t interact with others. And if we see that Kanye West interrupts Taylor Swift, that news items takes on such importance that our president even calls him a jackass. Like, seriously, that’s newsworthy? Anyway. Do you ever question how stories are selected to appear on the air? Do you ever wish that more positive stories were shown on the news?
- Percentage of local TV news broadcast time devoted to advertising: 30
- Percentage devoted to stories about crime, disaster and war: 53.8
- Percentage devoted to public service announcements: 0.7
I agree with the sentiment that people want to be informed about the world around them. I haven’t watched the news in years, but I for the most part I stay informed by reading blogs and from conversations with friends and coworkers. Try a diet of less news programming, and hopefully you’ll experience better sleep, less fear and a more positive outlook on life.