All Articles Tagged "fitness"

Working It Out: The Difference A Year Can Make

August 19th, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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Working It Out is a health/fitness column chronicling MadameNoire Manging Editor Brande Victorian’s journey to drop the pounds and get healthy. Follow more of her story on

August 15, 2014 vs. August 16, 2014

August 15, 2014 vs. August 16, 2015

Today I woke up just knowing I was going to be writing a post announcing I had officially dropped 90 pounds. And then I stepped on the scale and saw that I was still only down 89.2 pounds and, like the simpleton that I sometimes am, allowed myself to feel defeated. There really was no reason for me to expect to hit the 90-pound mark today other than the fact that I still haven’t broken the terrible habit of weighing myself daily and so I was hoping that from Sunday to Wednesday the universe would allow my calorie deficit and the alliteration of weight loss Wednesday to collide because 90 pounds sounds better than 89, but no dice.

I looked at the picture above several times throughout the day thinking, that’s a damn good illustration of your weight loss efforts, but what do you really have to say about where you are in your journey since you don’t have a (so-called) milestone to discuss? And then I remembered back to the day I took that picture on the left.

Last August, Atlantic records put together a workout class for Tank’s latest album release, Stronger. All the editors of MadameNoire attended what we thought was going to be a cute little pre-work gathering in which our heart rates would increase more at the site of Tank than any type of workout, but alas we were wrong and the event turned out to be a full-fledged bootcamp, personal trainers and all. I can’t even tell you when the last time was that I’d worked out prior to that but the class was a serious struggle, for me at least, and perhaps what was even harder was knowing that everyone else knew as much.

Stronger U workout class, Brande Victorian, Veronica Wells, Tank, Victoria Uwumarogie, Lauren R.D. Fox, and Jazmine Rogers

Stronger U workout class, Brande Victorian, Veronica Wells, Tank, Victoria Uwumarogie, Lauren R.D. Fox, and Jazmine Rogers

When I look back on pre-weight loss pictures, it really is startling to see my size. As crazy as it sounds, I really wasn’t always aware that I was as big as I was. Case in point, when I approached those green bars you see in the pic above which we were supposed to jump over during the bootcamp last year, I remember one of the trainers saying something to me along the lines of, “take your time; you can just walk over them if you want to.” I thought to myself, Why is he assuming I can’t do this? Then I see how snug that t-shirt in the largest size available was over my stomach and I think Because you look like you could barely breathe, much less jump over anything. And that was pretty much the case as I kept fumbling around trying to stretch that mandatory t-shirt over my lumps and bumps, and had to walk over those bars when everyone else could jump them, and skipped the Bosu ball balancing because, well it just wasn’t an option for me at that size, and periodically pretended to have to talk to our videographer about work just so I could take a break because I couldn’t keep up and I was ashamed. I’m pretty sure the half-hearted smile I have in that picture confirms as much.

It would be two months later before I entered a gym again and actually started the routine responsible for my current weight loss but when I see the girl in the picture a year and a day later from that strugglefest, I realize I do have a milestone to celebrate. On Sunday I woke up 89.2 pounds lighter. When my old trainer called me to workout as his new gym, I walked an hour and 20 minutes to get there instead of taking the train so I could burn extra calories. When we started training, I swung a 44-lb kettlebell for 12 repetitions three times, I did deadlifts with the same weight, I did three 45-second plank holds, I did 1-minute rowing intervals in between pushing a metal cage with 135 pounds of weights on it across turf six times, I did lunges while doing sandbag chest presses, I did chest presses with 20-lb dumbbells while balancing myself on a stability ball.  I did a lot of s-h-you know what. Stuff I couldn’t do a year ago; stuff I didn’t imagine I would be able to do 10-and-a-half months ago when I set out on this weight loss journey.

Tonight when I worked out with my new trainer I complained for more than half of the session about my stomach and how we’re going to fix it and why it’s not going away when everything else — like my breasts — are. It wasn’t until about the third time that he looked at my confused and said “I think you’re being a little hard on yourself” that I realized he was right. In the midst of doing 75 crunches on an ab machine and another 36 while catching a 15-lb medicine ball in between each rep I couldn’t see past the need to still fix my body to actually relish in my progress and enjoy the process of getting stronger and being able to do things I’d never been able to before. There’s a cliche saying about how a year from now you’ll wish you had started today. I posted a meme saying exactly that 66 weeks ago and it still took me another four months to actually start. Had I known all this goodness was on the other side, I really wouldn’t have procrastinated another day. Not only am I just 14.5 pounds away from reaching the goal I set when I joined Crunch October 4, 2014, I’m only 45 pounds from the ultimate goal my first trainer and I set when we began working out at the end of November. I’m not a fan of the “slow and steady wins the race” mantra and though at some points in my journey I felt like things were taking forever, when I realize I haven’t even been at this a full year yet, I feel proud. I really did become a “Stronger U” and that, my friends, was worth writing about.

Stronger U trainers

Stronger U trainers

Oh, and if by chance my little spiel did nothing for you, here’s a pic of some fine fit brothas who might be at a gym near you just waiting to whip you into shape when you’re ready to be about that life. Don’t procrastinate!

No Excuses: 15 Fitness Apps To Help You Get Your Health On Track

August 18th, 2015 - By Desiree Bowie
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15 Apps To get your health on track

Source: Shutterstock

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be tricky. With work, family, and social lives to juggle, healthy eating and exercise can end up on the back burner. Technology is making it easier than ever to keep your body on fleek. Check out these 15 apps that will help you get your health back on track.

BYOBFit Lets New Parents Workout With Their Babies

August 17th, 2015 - By Kweli Wright
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Video: Women in the World

New moms face an ever-growing to-do list and often put exercise at the very bottom, but a new class merging mommy time and muscle-building is making it easier for women to stay in shape. The workout, BYOB, or bring your own baby, was created by New York City-based trainers Melissa Paris and Anja Pierre, who found themselves navigating motherhood at the same time. What started as a casual meeting quickly turned into a unique fitness offering for soon-to-be and new moms. In the video above, take an inside look at the workout during one of the weekly classes at Exceed Physical Culture in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood.

Working It Out: Stop Telling Me Not To Get Too Skinny

August 7th, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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Working It Out is a health/fitness column chronicling MadameNoire Manging Editor Brande Victorian’s journey to drop the pounds and get healthy. Follow more of her story on

Get Too Skinny Brande Victorian

August 2015 vs November 2014

I originally intended for my next “Working It Out Column” to be fitness focused, but God/the general manager at my gym put something on my heart that I felt compelled to share this Friday morning.

Last night as I was walking out of the gym after my training session one of the receptionists told me she’d seen my “before” pics somewhere on the Internet and congratulated me on my progress. She was handing out new t-shirts to the members and I told her I’d take a medium and make it my goal shirt. (FYI that’s the light blue shirt I’m already wearing in the pic above — go me) Anywho, the general manager who I always chat it up with — and who I truly consider one of my biggest weight loss cheerleaders — joked that I should push the goal to a small. Then he got very serious and said, “I’m going to tell you something important, don’t get too skinny.” I chuckled as I normally do when people talk out the side of their neck and began rubbing my belly like Winnie the Pooh, remarking how “this stomach has to go.” He then proceeded to tell me, “I’m serious,” and went on a bit about how great I look at the size I am now and how thin my face has already gotten, assuring me I don’t need to lose too much more.

The GM might be the first manager in the history of gym employees to encourage someone not to go too hard at their facility, but he’s hardly the first person to warn me not to overdo this weight loss thing. In fact, this go ’round my mom was actually numero uno. She saw a picture of me on Facebook around the time I’d lost about 75 pounds and subtly inquired, “you ought to be close to your goal by now, right?” I told her I still had about another 50 pounds or so to go and she let me know she wasn’t so sure about me weighing 150-160 pounds, warning me, “don’t get too skinny.” I thought to myself, “I’ve got about 60 more pounds to lose before that could even be a conversation,” and I kept it moving.

It’s funny how even when you’re doing something great for yourself people become concerned that you’re doing too much of a good thing. On one hand, I sort of get the idea that since once being morbidly obese was clearly a sign that I had some underlying issues going on, drastically dropping pounds — even through a healthy amount of diet and exercise — could put people close to you on alert that the same issues are there, they’re just manifesting themselves in a different way. But I’m willing to bet the likelier cause for alarm is that people don’t see losing weight and maintaining that weight loss as a lifestyle change. And so when you keep training, and watching what you eat, and your body responds favorably, either by getting smaller or more toned, observers just don’t understand what you’re doing and, even less so, why you’re doing it.

I’m so far from being the s-word that I really can’t stand when people use it in any context related to my weight loss, whether they are telling me “you’re so skinny now!” or warning me “don’t get too skinny now.” I’m pretty sure I have a 0% chance of ever being in anyone’s “skinny” category and if, by the grace of God and my trainer, I should find myself there, I know without a shadow of a doubt I will hardly be “too skinny.” But let’s say I do find myself living the lean life, who exactly am I supposed to not be getting too thin for? It certainly won’t be for my BMI chart, nor my physician’s recommendation, nor my health. What people are really saying when they make these remarks is, it’s hard for me to see you as the same person when you look so different on the outside so, if it’s not too much to ask, can you not change too much more — or better yet, stay the same? Newsflash: It is too much to ask. Second newsflash: That’s not my problem.

When you’ve lost 85 pounds like I have, and are still trying to lose a good deal more, the last thing you want to hear someone say (in so many words) is chill — especially if those same people weren’t telling you to put down the cake, cookies, and ice cream before you became “too fat.” (Though I’m not really here for that.) I’m also not here for the bobblehead remarks because I’ll gladly take looking like one of the ’90s hottest trinkets over being a fairer-skinned version of “Precious.” Weight loss is already a trying process that requires an enormous amount of emotional maturity to balance hating how you currently look with believing one day you can achieve the appearance you want to. The last thing you need on top of that are comments from other people that suggest they, too, are trying to figure out if they like the fat version of you better than the thinner version of you and could ever tolerate a skinny version of you.

The understanding and polite thing to say here might be “people mean well,” but in this case I’m not sure they do. A better explanation is probably “people don’t know any better” and that I can grasp. The complexities of weight loss go far beyond carb counting and calorie expenditures and most people don’t understand how counterproductive comments about one’s end-goal can be to people struggling to love the skin they’re in, no matter how much or how little of it remains. As a general rule of thumb, I’d say unless someone exhibits symptoms of an eating disorder, body dysmorphia, or any other unhealthy weight loss behaviors, keep your subjective opinions about their changing body and what you think — not know — would be best for them to yourself. In the words of Drake, “You wasn’t with them shooting lifting/cycling/running in the gym.” Therefore, if what you’re about to say to someone holding steadfast to the weight loss wagon doesn’t sound anything remarkably like “congratulations!” “good job” or “keep up the good work, keep it to yourself.

Work It Out: Cute, Affordable And Supportive Sports Bras For D-Cups And Up

July 22nd, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Shopping for bras is tough, but shopping for quality sports bras can be a nightmare. While your everyday bra only needs to lift and support you as you go to and fro (and keep your nipples from being on fleek in public), sports bras have more work to do. They have to lift and support you as you bust a move in Zumba, give it your all on the elliptical machine, and do your best jumping jacks in boot camp (now that’s the real test of support). It’s even harder to find a good one when you have a bigger bust. And did we mention that they’re expensive too?

To further help encourage you as you make your health and wellness a priority this summer and beyond, we did some digging for supportive and stylish sports bras that won’t break the bank. And because we know how real the struggle is, we compiled this list for the divas with D-cups and up. Links provided!

sports bras for D cups and up

Victoria’s Secret

Incredible by Victoria’s Secret Sports Bra

Price: Originally $49.50-$58.50 depending on size; Currently $39
Sizes: 32 A – 40 DDD

For The Young Yogis, Cardio Killers And CrossFit Queens: Black Female Fitness Gurus To Follow On Instagram

July 21st, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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I find that following fitness gurus on Instagram has greatly motivated me in ways I didn’t think possible. When I’m on the couch and planning to spend my night watching Netflix and eating junk food, I look on Instagram and see one of my faves going hard in the gym. That makes me think to myself: “I think I’ll do a workout video real quick.” Watching other people on their fitness journeys keeps me on track with my own. And while any woman killing it on the health and wellness tip is worth following, I prefer to follow women who look like me: Black and curvy. So in case you’re looking for motivation as you try to shed some pounds and get both physically and mentally fit, these are the Black female fitness gurus you need to follow.

Lana Ector: @lanagem

Lana and her mother Ellen Ector, the brains and beauties behind the “Black Girls Workout Too” DVD, have been motivating people for years. Lana is a certified trainer and nutritionist who believes that every woman should and can have killer abs and glutes. She works her clients to the bone and makes us want to get it right and keep it tight.

Fitness, Family, And The Importance Of Being A Good Example

July 16th, 2015 - By Kendra Koger
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I recently joined a gym to help me stay focused on my weight loss goals. As I filled out the application, I didn’t realize my motivation and the magnitude it had in my life, parenting, and self-esteem.

The receptionist asked why was I interested in joining the facility and my answer was: “I want to fit my clothes again, and for my daughter.”

As I waited for an overly happy (and extremely tanned) guy in a polo shirt to come over, shake my hand and welcome me and my daughter into the “gym lifestyle,” I sat back and thought about my answer.

Shopping was beginning to become a pain. Stores have separated their plus-size clothing from other departments now, whereas a short time ago they were simply at the end of a rack in the women’s section. Back then, if someone saw you perusing clothes for your fuller figure, you could always make it seem like you “wandered” to that area by mistake. You know how it goes. Someone walks by, and you’re holding a garment. All you can think to say is “This shirt is so cute! Let me look at the size. Oh! I didn’t even realize I was in the extra large section. Well, I’ll go ahead and get it anyway. It’ll just be a little loose.” Deep down you know good and well that’s your size. Nowadays, there’s no playing it off. The plus-size section is in an area of its own, and walking into it seems like a declaration: “Yep, I’m big.  Charge me extra!” I’m just not here for that.

More importantly, though, I realized that with everything I do, I’m creating an example of acceptable behavior for my daughter.  If I’m doing something wrong, it’s going to seem right to her until she knows better. After finally getting used to a sporadic sleep schedule, and once my daughter got old enough to sleep throughout the night, I thought I would finally have enough energy to start working out again.  But with such an unhealthy diet, the only exercising I felt like doing was channel surfing.

As my daughter got older, she didn’t want to share in my fatigue. Instead of just sitting down while mommy watched television, she wanted to get up and play–like most little kids do. When we would finally go outside, I would sit and watch her run, jump, and ride her tricycle. As for me, I would grunt if I had to get up and get a ball that was out of her reach or get a new toy she wanted.

As a person who prides herself on setting a good example for her daughter to follow (and hopefully transcend) I was becoming a horrible example of health and how to take care of one’s self.  Yes, I fed her healthy food, but I would proudly eat my junk while she ate her vegetables.

As a child, I hated the whole “do as I say, not as I do” mentality that parents tend to have when it comes to raising children. So I decided as an adult that instead of being a hypocrite, I had to make some changes. I didn’t want my daughter to think that being a couch potato is the norm.  She’s full of energy, loves to run, jump, and play, and since she’s an only child, I have an obligation to join in.

As I started my first workout at my new gym, I realized just how old I felt, despite being relatively young. But I also knew that with each workout I’d be able to gain a portion of the youth I wasted on a sedative lifestyle and fast food.

Now 23 pounds down (and counting), I realize how much fun I have interacting with my daughter now that I’ve returned to an active lifestyle.  Whether we’re walking around the neighborhood, hula-hooping, or running in the backyard, I can participate in high-energy activities with her now. Updating my lifestyle and eating better has finally given me the energy I needed to join in.  I’m loving every single second of my newfound youth, and I’m dedicated to not wasting a single second of it any longer. Both my life and my daughter’s as well depend on that.


Working It Out: You Can’t Lose Weight Alone

July 15th, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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Working It Out is a health/fitness column chronicling MadameNoire Manging Editor Brande Victorian’s journey to drop the pounds and get healthy. Follow more of her story on

August 2013 vs July 2015

August 2013 vs July 2015

If I was stranded in the middle of the ocean and someone nonchalantly cruised by with a lifeboat, it’s quite possible I might drown. That’s just how strong my aversion is to asking for help. Some call that having a big ego, I personally think my M.O. is the result of watching too many people around me have to depend on others and possibly taking my oath to never be like that to the extreme. Whatever the case may be, as I thought about what’s made this weight loss journey different from so many others in my past, I realized this was the first time I didn’t go at it alone.

When I say I didn’t do this alone, I’m not talking about the fact that I hired a personal trainer — though I’ve already explained how invaluable that resource has been to me. I’m talking about opening myself up to the encouragement — and accountability — of others, which I didn’t realize I was doing at the time, or was so necessary. In the past I’ve always kept my workout missions to myself, mostly for fear that if and when I didn’t lose the weight (or at least as much as I wanted to) I’d be judged. There’s also that look of Thank God some people get in their eyes when they find out you’re planning to lose weight that just reinforces how unhealthy you are and always made me feel some type of way. (Read: Insecure) Of course, when people noticed I dropped a few pounds I told them I’d been watching what I was eating or exercising, but that was the extent of my conversations about what I was doing. The struggle was too personal, my doubt about the end goal was too real, and being the independent person I am I knew that just as I’d gained the weight alone, I’d lose it alone. Except I didn’t, not for any significant length of time anyway. And then someone would remark about how I was gaining weight (again) and I’d get an attitude and think, see this is why I keep this ish to myself, and then I’d keep on re-gaining until I’d surpass my previous pre-weight loss weight and repeat the cycle.

This go-round, not being able to maintain my weight loss hasn’t even crossed my mind once. Prior to last week, I thought that was only because I’m finally starting to feel comfortable with my body and I know I don’t ever want to go back to how I felt before. But then I discretely, or so I thought, grabbed a bag of Doritos at the office because I was starving and hadn’t had a chance to eat all day and one of my coworkers kindly marched over to me with the Black girl “uh uh, what are you doing face?” and snatched it out of my hand. That’s when I realized I don’t just have myself in check, everyone else does! As I explained my poor eating choice, she explained to the rest of the office, who’d witnessed her actions, that “we have to keep each other accountable” and then she went out and purchased a much more sensible plate of salmon, spinach and baked sweet potatoes for me to eat. #BlackGirlsStickTogether

Funny enough, what she did sparked another co-worker to point out she saw me use the hashtag #effadiet on a picture I posted of a glorious waistline-bloating meal I had in New Orleans (because there’s just no hope in that city) and was more than willing to tell me about myself before she saw me clarify that I was only about that life just for the day. Over the weekend, another friend asked me to come over and help her with something work related and then proceeded to get the full rundown of my dietary needs before making an amazingly healthy brunch that included only one piece of bacon for us the next morning. And just last night when I was at the office past six, another co-worker started to chastise me because she thought I wasn’t going to the gym. Thankfully, I was heading to a late class or it would’ve been game over.

See, truth be told, sometimes those around me care more about my weight loss journey than I do. There are some days during some weeks that I look for any excuse to skip a workout, or eat something I have no business, or drink one too many and then here they come telling me in no uncertain terms “Do better!” and I do. And then I question whether I would’ve gotten this far for this long without their watchful eyes. My trainer gets on me because I pay him to. My friends and coworkers get on me because they see how hard I’ve worked to get where I am and want what’s best for me. I used to be the type to scoff at weight loss tips that suggest having a workout partner or an accountability partner. I have about six of the latter that I see every single day from 8-5 and they are just as invaluable as the man I pay to make me swing kettle bells and jump rope ’til one of the “girls” nearly pops out of one of the two sports bras I wear to contain them.

If you’re thinking about starting up a fitness routine, don’t feel like it’s an embarrassing secret you have to keep to yourself. No matter how little or lofty your goal is, tell someone about it. It doesn’t have to be six someones. (In fact, I don’t recommend that because it can’t be a bit much at times.) But confide in a best friend, or a co-worker you trust, or hit up someone whose done it already on social media. In those moments when cake and ice cream are calling you more than the elliptical you’re going to want to talk to someone who can relate to your struggle and keep you on the right path, and most times your conscious simply isn’t going to be enough.

14 Fitness Gadgets & Accessories To Get New Moms Back In Shape

July 10th, 2015 - By Rich
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New moms find themselves trying to keep up with the demands of their newborn and other day-to-day operations…on little to no sleep. It’s challenging but not impossible. One way to keep up your energy — and receive much needed endorphins to relax you  — is with a good workout. Here are some fitness-related gadgets you might want to consider.

14 Fitness-Related gadgets for New Moms to Try

Alive & Kicking: 15 Fitness Tips While Traveling

July 6th, 2015 - By Rich
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Lets face it, the last thing you want to think about on your vacation or your work trip is eating healthy and keeping in shape. And frankly it’s easy to get off track without your usual equipment, gym, trainer, running park etc. However we’ve taken a few moments to cull together 15 super easy fitness tips while traveling.

Trust us, your abs will thank you later!

Sources: Forbes,, Mayo Clinic

All images courtesy of Google Free Reuse Images

Alive & Kicking: 15 Fitness Tips While Traveling