I have fallen off the fitness wagon but that doesn’t stop me from keeping up with some of my favorite resources–primarily on Instagam–for motivation, tips and tricks. I plan to get back on at some point soon but in the meantime, check out some of my favorite Fitstagram accounts for fitness inspiration.
Warning: This account will make you hungry. But it’s cool, he posts healthy food. Fitness is probably 80% what you eat, so this account is a good guide for recipe ideas. You can find Spanish and English tutorials detailing how to make delicious, quick but whole foods in 15 second videos.
Koya Webb is a holistic health and nutrition coach who eats primarily raw vegan. She also appears to be the happiest person on Instagram, seriously. Most of her flicks involve yoga movements, happy frolicking, enticing pics of vegan food from her travels and inspirational quotes.
Follow the Lita really does follow Lita’s fitness journey. She’s big on building muscle and strength, and provides demos and tips along the way. She is also big on being a #thickfitchick as you will find the hashtag all up and through her feed.
I stumbled upon the featured photo (pictured above) in a Facebook group and found it so striking that I couldn’t resist reaching out to find out more about the woman in the image. Her name is Nicci Morris, and she’s a writer, editor, entrepreneur, yogi and new mom who makes it a priority to find daily zen amid bedlam.
I asked her to share her tips for practicing yoga successfully, making time for workouts even with a baby, finding peace when life gets hectic, and how she brings foodies together in the name of love.
How has fitness played a role in your life? Were you active as a child or did you get more involved in pursuing your well-being as an adult?
I was relatively active as a child. I ran track and played softball for a little while. I wish I had been more active though. I was more into writing and reading. As I got older, I became more interested in fitness and health. I earned my certification as a fitness trainer in my early 20s. I plan to do so again this year. Yoga instructor certification is also on my to-do list. I fell in love with yoga in 2010 and have been delving more into my practice since then. I tried Kemetic yoga for the first time last year and I definitely felt a deep mind-body connection. I plan to explore that deeper.
What’s your diet like and why does it work for you?
On a good day, I eat 100 percent plant-based. Complete veganism is my goal. I was raised eating meat so it’s a work in progress. But for ethical and health reasons, my goal is to get to the point where I don’t consume any animal products. Since I had my daughter, Amina, last August it is more important to me than ever that I am as health-conscious as possible. I want to be in great health for her and I also want to give her a good, clean start with plant-based nutrition.
You’re big on morning smoothies. What are some of your favorites and why do you start your day like this?
I love smoothies. I am an early-riser, but I am so not a breakfast person. However I look forward to my morning smoothies. I keep them to a ratio of 50 percent greens, 30-40 percent fruit and the rest is nuts, chia seeds, hemp hearts, oats etc… for fiber, protein and healthy fats. Add water to get the consistency you desire and blend away. They’re filling and I’m energized for hours afterward. I can’t get enough of my NutriBullet.
Do you have any food weaknesses? If so, how do you find balance between binging and exercising self-control?
For me, it’s not so much about managing the type of food as it is about managing my emotions. I am an emotional eater/non-eater. When I have allowed my stress to get the better of me, I have struggled with over- or under-eating. Neither are the answer, so I work to keep that in check and have more patience with myself and others on this journey called life.
How have you been able to balance new motherhood with a zen lifestyle, work and keeping up with your practice?
Let me start by saying it is not easy. But I believe a happy mommy leads to a happy baby. I have to take great care of myself to take great care of my daughter. I have had to swap frequent 90-minute hot sessions for shorter unheated sessions at a studio closer to my home, on demand via cable and poses and stretches when and where I can.
I was not thin to begin with, so I only gained about 20 pounds during my pregnancy. I lost most of that within the first couple weeks after I had her. But I found that everything had changed. I’m still figuring out this post-baby body because I am exclusively breastfeeding and plan to for at least another six months. Just drinking enough water and eating the right foods requires serious planning.
There was an incident late last year when I allowed myself to become extremely upset. I actually felt the adrenaline and cortisol kick in and I felt the negativity of that situation move through me. The next few days I noticed a dramatic decrease in my milk production. I know it was a direct result of that stressful situation. That hit home with me and I’m so grateful for that life lesson. Never again will I allow stress – especially centered around something over which I have no control – to affect my health.
Is there an ideal body type for practicing yoga?
I’ve been the largest woman in the studio and I’ve been the smallest woman in the studio. I’ve been the only black woman in the room and I’ve been in classes where nearly everybody was black. None of that truly matters in life and it certainly doesn’t matter in yoga. Yoga is about union with your divine self. Everybody can benefit from this ancient practice. If we all did nothing more than center ourselves and remember everything can be accomplished as long as you have time and breath, the world would be a much better place.
What advice do you have for potential yoga newbies?
My advice to the newbies is to breathe deep and focus on their journey. Remember that the person in the front of the class who moves from tree to toe stand with such ease and grace was not always able to do so. Focus on your practice and your connection with your divine self. If you do that on a consistent basis, the rest will come.
But I also have advice for the instructors and the people who have been practicing for years. Be kind. Be patient. Make your studio/classes inviting and create an environment that allows new students to peel back the emotional and physical layers as they begin their practice.
While there might be books/videos that help people, I think the soul-to-soul connections work best. I also believe we benefit from having an instructor. There have been times when I was ready to go deeper into a pose, but for whatever reason I didn’t realize it. A good instructor can help you make adjustments and also push you to take your practice to another level when you don’t even realize you can.
If you run across a less-that-ideal instructor (I have and it wasn’t pretty!), don’t let that sour you. Try a different class or a different studio. You will find the right place for you.
Explain the concept behind your site, LoveandFood.com.
The mission of LoveAndFood.com is simple: To help people develop rewarding relationships by cultivating the deep connection between love and food. It’s online dating for food enthusiasts. I happen to believe people who love to cook and eat tend to be the most passionate, nurturing and thoughtful people around. Yes, I’m biased…
But seriously, I think of LoveAndFood.com as the modern-day twist on meeting the love of your life in the grocery store. In addition to the ability to search, flirt and chat with other members, we will also have meetups in larger markets across the country. It will be a great way to meet other singles and to support non-chain restaurants.
What are your goals and intentions for 2014?
My goals are to love well, eat well and live well.
The only thing that matters is the thing that doesn’t change. The only thing that doesn’t change is love.
The piece was Caron’s attempt at acknowledging her privilege as a “skinny white girl” and how she had been so self-absorbed that the thought of true all-inclusivity hadn’t occurred to her until a “fairly heavy” Black woman appeared in her yoga class–something that according to Caron happens almost never–and sat down behind her.
It appeared she had never set foot in a yoga studio—she was glancing around anxiously, adjusting her clothes, looking wide-eyed and nervous. Within the first few minutes of gentle warm-up stretches, I saw the fear in her eyes snowball, turning into panic and then despair. Before we made it into our first downward dog, she had crouched down on her elbows and knees, head lowered close to the ground, trapped and vulnerable. She stayed there, staring, for the rest of the class.
The writer continues explaining that she “had no choice” but to look at the woman every time her head was upside down (Side note: If you’re truly involved in your practice, you’re not thinking about the next person). She has seen people freeze in class before but it was impossible for her to stop thinking about this particular woman. Eventually, the Big Black Woman began staring at Caron, and her frustrated despair and resentment was now allegedly directed toward she and her “skinny white body” (Another side note: Big Black Woman probably wondered what the hell this weird White girl was looking at).
This is where the author gets really uncomfortable:
I thought about how even though yoga comes from thousands of years of south Asian tradition, it’s been shamelessly co-opted by Western culture as a sport for skinny, rich white women. I thought about my beloved donation-based studio that I’ve visited for years, in which classes are very big and often very crowded and no one will try to put a scented eye pillow on your face during savasana. They preach the gospel of yogic egalitarianism, that their style of vinyasa is approachable for people of all ages, experience levels, socioeconomic statuses, genders, and races; that it is non-judgmental and receptive. As such, the studio is populated largely by students, artists, and broke hipsters; there is a much higher ratio of men to women than at many other studios, and you never see the freshly-highlighted, Evian-toting, Upper-West-Side yoga stereotype.
I realized with horror that despite the all-inclusivity preached by the studio, despite the purported blindness to socioeconomic status, despite the sizeable population of regular Asian students, black students were few and far between. And in the large and constantly rotating roster of instructors, I could only ever remember two being black.
Yes, this is a blunderfuck. The piece reads in summary like a spoiled rich White (and skinny) girl who was so sorry that the fat Black girl struggled with yoga (as if yoga isn’t a challenge for everyone), but even more contrite about the fact that the girl was probably intimidated by her beautiful white splendor, and she didn’t take the edge off by doing her om’ly duty by helping out, whatever that would have entailed.
I have been the only Black girl in a yoga class on occasion and have been stared at and found myself wondering if the constant gazes I got from a few patrons was because of my race and/or because my body type was different from that of the other girls. In my culture I’m considered “thick,” which is a good thing (think along the lines of Biz Markee’s line, “9/10 pants and a very big bra”). In some other cultures, I’m probably fat. It’s all subjective but I digress. I don’t struggle with yoga so if anyone were to stare, that wouldn’t be the issue but I mean mug sometimes when I suspect that someone is perceiving me as this Other to be pitied because yoga isn’t for “us.” I’ve found myself wondering if I was just being hyper sensitive in such instances but this XOJane piece validates my suspicions.
I was exasperated after initially reading the piece, and not just with Caron. Where was the editor in this? Editors are responsible for seeing the writer’s vision and helping them to convey it in ways that are thought provoking and informative yet this seemed more vapid, arbitrary and along the lines of…click bait.
But let’s take the armor off.
Most people probably practice the more popular forms of yoga (It wasn’t made clear in the XOJane piece but I think the writer in this case does Vinyasa) for vain reasons i.e. they focus more on the body not the mind, but yoga’s universal ideologies are all-inclusiveness, harmony, kindness and patience.
I think Caron’s point in this essay is to acknowledge that this Black woman’s presence in her yoga class forced her to confront the Lily White safe bubble she had been living in. It seems that the writer was regretful about the fact that she had been ignoring anything seemingly Other and that she had never allowed herself the chance to learn about life from another perspective.
She concludes her tale with:
The question is, of course, so much bigger than yoga—it’s a question of enormous systemic failure. But just the same, I want to know—how can we practice yoga in good conscience, when mere mindfulness is not enough? How do we create a space that is accessible not just to everybody, but to every body? And while I recognize that there is an element of spectatorship to my experience in this instance, it is precisely this feeling of not being able to engage, not knowing how to engage, that mitigates the hope for change.
Admittedly, I forced myself to continue reading beyond the second paragraph and when I did, I couldn’t stop hearing it in my head as if it were coming from Cher from Clueless. It came off as offensive and condescending and my initial reaction was, “Here we go with White people trying it again.” Then I got over my ego, read it again and I appreciated the writer sharing her perspective. There are several people who have these thoughts but they usually don’t share them out of fear of getting backlash, because they don’t know how to get the words out, or they don’t care enough to be enlightened, and so they just stare at the Others in their classes. The only way we can actually have a progressive conversation about race is by being honest with our conditioned way of thinking, and by listening…really listening to each other and using opportunities like this as teachable moments.
It’s disheartening that several of the responses to this woman have been snarky attempts to roast her. Yes, her message could have been conveyed better and again, the editor is partially to blame for that but now is the time to educate.
It’s important that we open progressive dialogue with those who seem willing to learn, even narcissistic racists. It doesn’t make you any less self-serving as a so-called progressive when you use what could have been a genuinely teachable moment to ridicule someone so let’s all keep that in mind in our efforts to make progress in how we all think in terms of race.
I’m still working on my salamba sirsasana (headstand) but damnit, I am arriving!