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Get moving, no excuses!

It’s true: even the most active people can get a bit unmotivated at times.  And unless your profession entails a high level of activity, you have to make time for getting in some form of physical exertion.  On any given day, you’re going to wonder why you should even bother to move a muscle after you get home from work, especially if you spend the day stuck behind the computer – your eyes are tired, your brain is tired, sometimes even your heart is tired (emotionally, not physically).

 

But there’s good reason why you have to do away with the excuses and get yourself moving to the point of sweating at least 30 minutes a day – and if you can’t get it done daily, at least not miss more than 3 workout days consecutively.  It gets your mind clear and helps you mentally organised – if you get moving at the beginning of the day, it gets you decluttered to start your day.  If you get it in during lunchtime, it helps get your head ready for the remainder of your day.  If you get in your workouts in the evenings after work, it pushes the frustrations and drama of the day off you and helps you boost your endorphins to celebrate the good things that have happened throughout the day as well.

 

Bear in mind, I know it can be a tall order to fill.  But even on your droopiest days, working up a good sweat makes things feel so much better.  So of the million excuses you can find not to exercise, the best after-effects – clearer mind, endorphin boost, gaining strength, getting in better shape, and who can forge the power of the after-burn (with some workouts!) – are more than enough to beat them all.  So get on your gym kit and start sweating!

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Naturalista Boss Chic on a Budget – top three tips to put your best self forward at any income bracket.

Okay, real talk time – being a naturalista boss chic can be tiring as hell but oh so worth it! Figuring out the how-to is crazy though, am I right?!

Remember a couple weeks ago when I reminded you fellow naturalista boss chic’s to always put your best you forward regardless of circumstance? I know it’s not always easy to do so whether time, money or energy is on the lowish side so here are a few popular and personal favourite pieces of advice on how to make that happen.
Start from within – mind, body, spirit. For some of us, it’s a daily connection with our Creator. Some of us need some serious high-impact exercise or some extra-quiet yoga sessions. Some need to read  a new book or learn a new skill at regular intervals. Some of us need a combination of measures. However it works for you, attaining and maintaining wellness on a holistic level is the foundation.

 

Incorporate the key parts of your signature style into your budget. We can all agree on one thing: some parts of our style cannot be done cheaply. So plan ahead and make sure you include it in your priority planning – not just with money, but time and energy. Is being fit and strong part of your trademark? Do people know you by a distinctive hair style or effortlessly flawless skin? Is your artwork or culinary skill part of your imprint? Make sure it’s carved in the bank balance and the calendar!

 

Be prepared every time you exit your home/flat/hostel/hotel. We all have that one oversized satchel that has what we need to maintain our boss chic self over the course of a long day. On a more targeted level, there are a few things that never leave our clutch, minaudière, briefcase, backpack or satchel because they keep us particularly put-together whatever the occasion (a few things in mine: a small stash of emergency medication, an emergency kit especially packed by the label J. Crew and the minimum requisites to keep my lip and foundation look in place). Whatever those items are, keep them in mind and don’t forget to slip them in your bag before you shut your front door!

 

 

What are your favourite strategies for keeping your naturalista boss lady sense of style on your budget?  What can’t you leave the house without putting in your bag? Tell me in the comments – I can’t wait to read them!!!

Pressed for time? Top three (well, four) strategies to maximise short workouts.

What is the most common – and annoying, by the way – excuse for not working out or at least incorporating some activity into a routine? “I don’t have any time”.  We’ve all heard it at least once in our lives.  Sometimes from our own mouths – trust me, I’ve pissed myself off with that one.  But there are ways to get around to being physically fit when you have an hour or less to spare.  These are my favourite three strategies:

 

Grab your timer.  Or your timer app – whatever you’ve got, whatever works for you.  Interval training protocols are your best friend when your workout time is tight.  Whether you opt for reps for time, every minute on the minute, Tabata or metabolic conditioning (where your rest time intervals get shorter and shorter – insert short panting breaths here!), your body will thank you later for the shortest workouts you can eke out.

 

Be ready to move – a lot.  Compound movements are paramount for maximum effect when time management and workout efficacy are your priorities.  Whether you’re mixing body weight with free weights, plyometrics with weight machines, cardio machines with stability workouts, make sure your moves incorporate multiple muscle groups so that your short burn has a lingering effect long after you’re finished.
Now is the time to go all in – every single minute.  You have 30-45 minutes to work up a sweat – this is not the time to half-ass any of it!  Set your timer app to block interruptions from other apps, set your phone to “Emergency Calls Only”, do what you gotta do.  If you’re only at it for a tight time period, you have to use every single second meticulously.

 

There you have it!  When you have the right principles in mind for your workouts, time is no issue.  Speaking of principles, here’s a bonus tip that I’ve relied on throughout my adulthood:

 

Aim for 20 (minutes, that is).  When I first started training in the gym almost two decades ago, one of the trainers at the gym on my college campus told me that I should aim to keep my heart rate elevated for a minimum of 20 minutes in a session – several years and a number of careers later, I have worked with that as a principle when I hit the gym.  It’s true, my gadgets have gotten more fanciful since then, but I always carried that with me: any gym session must mean that for at least 20 minutes of a session, I cannot be able to respond to a question in more than 3-5 words (my measure of heart rate elevation when my heart rate monitor is either dead or missing in action).

 

 

What are your strategies for working out on a time crunch?  I can’t wait to find out what you do!

Others’ behaviour towards you is a reflection of them, not you.

A good friend of mine (who also happens to be a fellow Bahamian and citizen of the world), Kendrick D said something very powerful to me recently:
“You should never discount yourself based on other people’s behaviour.”

 

It’s absolutely true: there comes a time when introspection is necessary after the same behaviour is repeated towards you by multiple people around you.  But when you know that you’ve been a positive influence (or at the very least, a source of support) to those people around you and the pattern is the same, there’s no need to hurt yourself and believe that you are the problem anymore. Only you know your true worth and when you are your genuine self, sometimes people will take advantage of that and still mistreat you because of various reasons that usually have nothing to do with you.

 

It is extremely unfortunate that our current society has so blurred the lines between genuine and counterfeit, perfect and real.  But you can’t lose sight of your true you, your true value, the realness that you give to your world around you and the greater world out there.  In gospel singer Donnie McClurkin’s words, “After you’ve done all you can… just stand.”

Boss Chic, Naturalista Style – Top reasons for being a leader in style.

It’s true.  A lot of startup company founders decide that the need to put a proper face (or at least a washed face!) forward is less than a priority when working towards realising the realities of a business, particularly with a constantly-evolving business model.  However, it is important for a business leader in any capacity and on any budget to always put his or her best face forward.  For us naturalistas, this is particularly imperative and here are the top three reasons why:

 

You should always be prepared for your window of opportunity.  Opportunity can strike at any time on any day.  You can look like a number of startup cofounders who choose to dress all the way down or you can at least look put-together, with your business cards organised in your handbag.

 

Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.  I know, I know, I know – people are quick to point out that a lot of the world’s ultra-wealthy business founders are the dress-down types but let me point out something that is practical albeit sexist: do you ever notice that the ultra-wealthy business founders that are female always look polished and well-dressed no matter what stage of their business?  It’s sad but true – the same rules for men in the business don’t exactly apply to us because of our triple threats: we’re female, we’re confident in our natural beauty and we’re ambitious.  So you’re striving to be a boss but not quite there yet – why are you dressed like you’re living in a refrigerator box?

 

Your company, your story, your brand = your style.  Whether it’s your personal blog or a startup aiming for corporation, as the founder and original leader of the company, you are the face of your brand.  Even in the early stages, no startup wants to be seen as sloppy and careless so there’s no need for your appearance to look that way either.  Remember, as the founder you are one of the first symbols of your company’s brand that your potential customers, prospective partners and even investors see.  A little effort does wonders for your first impression on them.

 

In a lot of ways, all three of these reasons relate to one another but each has a distinct feature that makes it relevant in its own right.  Just because the health and well-being of your business mean more to you than anything else in life at the moment doesn’t mean that your personal appearance (or hygiene!) should also be sacrificed along with everything else.

 

 

Can you think of other reasons why naturalista chic as a boss should be a priority?  Write your comments below – can’t wait to read them!

Mental Workouts? Yes, You Need It. – Part 1.

The great number of us adults born between the late 70s to early 90s know what a busy life looks like and sometimes it can be difficult to even make sure a regular physical workout is built into our already-packed schedules. But here are a couple of my favourite byproducts of mental exercise, which also illustrate why it is a crucial part of your health from a mental and a physical perspective:
Clarity and focus. With clarity comes vision – and realisation thereof. Mental stimulation, in some settings, goes a long way in detoxifying and decluttering the white noise that floods our lives at times and helps us to clear our mind and realign with our own vision and mission.
Strength and flexibility. Exercise brings agility – not just physically. Regular mental stimulation helps improve skills such as multitasking and strategising. The right ones can even help build your vocabulary – after all, you couldn’t possibly think the word later was actually spelled with an “8”. Right?
Increased likelihood of good mental and physical health. A healthy mind is a crucial adjunct to a healthy body. Believing in your own health mentally and physically is the first stepping stone to making it happen. After all, “as [a man] thinketh… so is he.”(as written in the Bible in the book of Proverbs 23:7 and later revisited by James Allen in his book As A Man Thinketh).

There are so many more that I can mention, but these remain the top three victories of mental workouts that make me look forward to seeing another one.
What about you? What results make you look forward to your mental exercise?

Confessions of a Naturalista, Volume 5.

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This thought comes in the minds of many an ultra short-haired naturalista who has made up in her mind that she’s going to keep a short ‘do long-term.  Because almost every single one of us has gone to the barber or stylist and heard the following words: “Why are you cutting your hair?  You have such beautiful hair!

 

The one thing that always crosses our minds is:
HELLO!!!  YOU HAVE CLIPPERS!!!  Don’t make me clip you!!!

Two for the win: top reasons for the rise of the superset.

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If you’ve been working out for sometime now (or even if you’re a fitness neophyte as of the last year or so), you will have heard or seen a lot of buzz about a workout technique known as the superset.  But why all the hype?  Here are three of my favourite reasons.

 

Low maintenance (well, relatively).  The right choice of a pair of workout moves, your gym kit and your earphones is pretty all you need.  Timer is optional but very much welcome.

 

Isolated muscle group conditioning.  If you’re someone who is strict about having your leg days dedicated to your pegs, the right combination gives you the right amount of burn.

 

Total body potential.  If you’re a person on the go and need a total body workout, the right pair of exercises gives all of you a workout and keeps you sweating for a while to come.

 

Personally, I’ve found that adding my timer to my supersets helps me to push myself harder, whether I’m working on a strict time interval or aiming for a certain number of reps every minute on the minute.  The physical and mental switch keeps me quick on my feet and motivated to get through my workouts.  But don’t take my word for it – try it for yourself.

Busy naturalista life – dressing up the TWA.

So I’ve gone, bitten the bullet and done the big chop.  Now what do I do?

Every Friday when picking out my outfit for weekend drinks.  Every Sunday choosing my office attire for the week.  Any super-short-coifed naturalista knows the struggle to define her style on an ongoing basis while maintaining the fine balance between being too over-the-top and being outright mistaken for a man.  Now don’t get me wrong – when I put a little effort into it, I clean up very well with my super-short fade.  However, I know more than a few times a week, I find myself in a style rut for any number of reasons but mostly because busyness drains my energy to out effort into my look.  Nonetheless, when I do put myself together, I usually follow these few tenets before I go out in style.

 

Splash on colour.  Hair, skin, nails – any splash of colour can – and will – do the trick.  This can include a hair colour or some highlights, but a bold hue in the eyeshadow or lipstick can not only complement a great outfit, it can actually make the outfit.  Personally, experimenting with colour on super-short hair can be a lot of fun, but keeping a few favourite tones in the makeup and nail polish drawers is imperative.

 

Add the accessories.   They can dress up or dress down the most basic ensemble, whether it’s a piece of jewellery, a handbag or a pair of shoes.  Usually one conversation-starting piece can be enough or a few coordinated pieces, like a jewellery set or handbag and shoes.  I’m a personal fan of oversized sunglasses for the most part, but at an indoors event, chunky jewellery is almost always good for making a statement.

 

Bring a bit of drama.  Yes, bring the drama – just make sure it’s only to your ensemble! Whether it’s showing off a little bit of curves, a sliver of skin or a drastic eyeliner, giving your outfit an edge is almost always mandatory.  Personally showing off a curve here or there is inherent in an outfit, but every so often there’s a time when a little more drama like stark eyeliner or showing off some skin (or even a bit of both!) is very very necessary.

 

Nurture the naturale.  This one is important and should never be forgotten – making sure that you look good underneath the outfit is paramount.  Keeping physically fit; drinking lots of water; getting in the right amount of nutrients; protecting one’s skin from the elements – these are all key elements to keeping you as (if not even more) beautiful without your outfit as you are in it.  Taking care of your body and treating your hair, skin and nails well from the inside out is the most important style secret for any naturalista, no matter how busy we get.

 

Colour, accessories and a little bit of drama.

Colour, accessories and a little bit of drama.

Rise of the HIITs… Top three favourite circuit styles.

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Some of us remember time-based circuit and interval training for years before the Crossfit or fitness blogging movement began, but the last decade has heralded the rise of the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) fitness regime.  Useful for everything from my jogging routes to my strength training regimes, it is well-loved among trainers and time-starved fitness lovers alike.  As a big fan of bodyweight exercise moves and the interval timer (and equivalent apps!), I incorporate HIIT into my fitness and physical activity routines at least 3 times a week.  While everyone who prescribes to it has their own personal ways to include it into their workouts, these are my top three types of HIIT training protocols.

 

As Many Rounds/Reps As Possible (AMRAP).  I am not particularly fluent in the language of Crossfit, but the AMRAP protocol is something I made an effort to understand.  It entails performing a set number of repetitions for several different exercise moves and performing as many cycles of the moves (with minimal rest between sets) for a fixed time period.  Personal spin I set my timer to 15 minutes, choose 2-3 strength training and/or plyometric moves (I guess paired moves for me would be my twist on the Crossfit superset), perform a set of number of repetitions of each moves in succession with maximum of 45 seconds rest in between sets then repeat another 15-minute session after a short break.  How it feels? About five minutes into the workout will feel like the rest is impossible, but the endorphin rush afterwards is unforgettable.  Maybe it’s a favourite because I keep chasing that rush.

 

Tabata.  Dubbed by many as “The 4-Minute Workout”, the basis of the Tabata protocol is a 4-minute cycle of interval training for 20 seconds at maximum intensity followed by a rest period for 10 seconds.  Can 4 minutes really cut it?  Personally, I am a proponent of elevating the heart rate to 80% of its maximum (the cardiovascular range) for at least 20 minutes per session for it to be effective, so I would not rely solely on a 4-minute workout to keep my body and heart in optimum condition.  Personal spin I perform about 5-8 cycles of the 4-minute workout on my own with about 2 minutes rest in between cycles.  My alternate routine entails setting my timer to 50 seconds of maximum-intensity work and 10 seconds of rest and using the protocol for a total of 20-30 minutes.  How it feels? Like almost every other type of interval training you can undertake, you will feel completely shattered afterwards but your body will definitely thank you.  Long after the workout, in fact.

 

Every minute on the minute.  So simple, the protocol is self-explanatory.  Okay, for neophytes, I’ll explain anyway: you turn on your timer and start a fixed number of repetitions of an exercise move at the start of a minute then start the next set of repetitions when the next minute starts, and then you get the drift from there.  Personal spin I take one or two exercise moves (my other take on the Crossfit superset) and perform my repetitions with special focus on perfecting my form at the start of each minute and I work out for 20-30 minutes with this protocol at a time – this works best within the minute if the number of repetitions is kept low (I usually keep my reps under about 10-12, especially if I’m pairing moves; otherwise, the minute will not be sufficient to finish one round.)  How it feels?  The first two minutes sail by and you feel great then by the start of minute five, you feel like you’ll want to die – you won’t but you may want to – but when you get to the end of the last minute, you feel amazing.

 

The circuit training protocol has been around for generations on end, and the rise of the HIIT is just living proof that circuit training is a mainstay in fitness and healthy living.  Like I said, everyone has their own personal preference, but these three styles are part of my personal key to staying fit and active.