Pump It Up: My 15 Power Workout Songs Playlist

Need some motivation to get you through your daily workouts or runs? Pump yourself up with a few of my favorite butt-shaking, head nodding, make you wanna run to the club workout songs. Music can make any workout feel quicker and much more fun.

So, warm up, work out, and cool down to 15 of my favorite workout tunes.

Mama Said Knock You Out by LL Cool J

Work by Ciara featuring Missy Elliot

Where Have You Been by Rihanna

Mc Hammer by Rick Ross featuring Gucci Mane

Breathless by Roy Cape All Stars and Blaxx

Work by Iggy Azalea

 Damn Baby by Janet Jackson

Rumble by Skinny Fabulous

Baby Hello by Wande Coal

WTF by Missy Elliot featuring Pharrell Williams

Bundelele by Awilo Longomba

 Done D Party by Fay-Ann Lyons

 Anaconda by Nicki Minaj

Dancing On My Own by Robyn

When Love Takes Over by David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland

How I Lost 17lbs in 2 Months

Weight loss

Today marks two months since I started this 50 lb weight-loss journey on July 25, 2016. I am proud to announce that I am now 17 lbs lighter.

Honestly, it has not been easy. There have been many days that I wanted to run to Shake Shack for a delicious double Smoke Shack cheeseburger, or stay in bed instead of going to the gym (and, there were those moments when I snuck and ate a piece of my brother's wings plate). But, for the most part, I pushed through those feelings and thoughts and made the healthy choices, with the help of the Super Shred Diet by Dr. Ian Smith and the Nike Training Club App, specifically the 6-Week GetLean Fit workouts.

I wanted to share my weight-loss journey with you all to show that it can be done. You don't need to starve yourself or live in the gym to see results. You just have to be ready and willingly to make healthier choices---to walk more, to eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water, pick up some light weights, and eat smaller portions. If you can gain it, you can lose it.

Week 8: 

Are you trying to lose weight? What are you doing to reach your weight loss goals?

3 Tips for Staying Focused During a Long Weight-Loss Journey

In 4 weeks, I have lost 8 lbs with the Super Shred diet and Nike Training Club Lean Fit workout challenge.  **pelvic thrusts** Now I have 42 lbs to go...42 LBS TO GO!!!! Ugh.

Losing that much weight is not going to be easy or quick (unless I max out my credit cards and get liposuction). It is going to take months upon months of working out, dieting, and focus.

To help me keep focused during my weight-loss journey, I am doing the following 3 things:

1. Join Fitness Challenges 

This is very simple. Find a fitness challenge and do it.

  • It helps you develop a regular fitness schedule that is easy to follow and increases with intensity as it progresses.

  • It prevents you from feeling overwhelmed by making you focus on a short-term, achievable fitness goal.

  • If you get your friends or family to join the challenge, it helps you create a fitness support system to keep you motivated to finish.

  • Plus, when you finish, you are fitter and have the sweet satisfaction of completing a fitness goal.

Here's a challenge for you: 

squat challenge.png

2. Try New Healthy Recipes 

The internet is wonderful place to find tons and tons of healthy recipes (note: Pinterest is the best site ever to find yummy, healthy recipes).

  • It helps you transition from bad eating habits to good eating habits, by allowing you to eat less calories without feeling deprived.

  • It helps you discover new foods and dishes that you can share with your family and friends and impress them with your culinary skills.

  • If you cook your meals ahead of time, preferably at the beginning of the week, it will help you stay on your diet and give you less excuses for grabbing for "fast fatty foods" (the dreaded 3 F's).

Here's a healthy recipe for you: 

3. Buy Cute Workout Clothes

Just because you are working out and sweating doesn't mean you can't look good while doing it.

  • Having cute workout clothes takes the UGH out of working out by giving you the same feeling as getting dressed up for a night out.

  • They tend to be form-fitting, which is a GOOD thing. Wearing oversized and baggy workout clothes make you look frumpy and larger than you really are, skewing your body image. Wearing cute, form-fitting workout clothes provides much-needed support for your jiggly parts and allows you to check your form and make sure you are correctly performing exercises, decreasing injuries and maximizing workout benefits.

  • Plus, it helps show off your new developing fit body.

Here's some cute workout clothes options for you: 

Low-end Activewear Brand: Everlast (sold at Sears)

everlast.jpg

High-end Activewear: Fabletics (sold at Fabletics.com )

fitness.jpg

The Scale and My Body Disagree

I have completed another week of my weight loss journey. And, after eating a meal plan consisting of 2 meals and 4 snacks per day and working out 6 days a week, I proud to announce I lost .2 lbs. That is right! I said .2 lbs.

At first, I felt a bit discouraged after I stepped off the scale this morning. All that work and not even a full pound down. Ugh! But, then I remembered that the scale is not the only measurement of my weight loss progress. The fact that I was able to comfortably fit into some of my favorite clothes this past week without feeling like Kim K's pregnant feet stuffed into tight shoes (never forget!!!) is the best proof of my progress. Plus, my brutally honest mother actually told me that I looked like I lost weight, specifically that my backside was less wide (i.e., West Indian mom's way of saying you lost weight in a good way).

Despite the scale disagreeing with my body, I am pushing forward on my weight loss journey stronger and more determined.

In honor of my small victory, I have posted another brief video of your girl Toya T sweating it out in the gym. This workout is part of Nike Training Club's "Controlled Blast" 45-minute workout.

Figuring Out Weight Loss: Week Two---I Lost 2 lbs

Good news, guys and gals!!! I lost another 2 lbs.

I am so proud of myself for decreasing the number on the scale for a second week in a row, especially since the human body tends to fight weight loss after losing a significant amount during your first week of working out and dieting. If you want proof, check out the first two episodes of  any season of the tv series

The Biggest Loser

to see the drastic difference in weight loss between week one and week two. Contestants go from losing 15 lbs week one to losing 0 to 2 lbs week two.

But, by successfully completing another week of my Nike Training Club Lean Fit workout plan and following the week two meal plan from the Super Shred diet, which included eating three meals 3 to 4 hours apart and two snacks daily, I was able to push through and get myself closer to my weight-loss goals.

Week 2:      Front View                                              Side View

Wish me luck for this upcoming week. My meal plan is going to be drastically different than the previous two weeks. Week 3 of the Super Shred diet focuses on calorie disruption. So, I will only be allowed to eat two meals and four low calorie snacks  (less than 150 calories) per day to throw my body off kilter and force it to readjust.

As I mentioned prior, my main problem is my bad eating habits. Eating less food is going to be a BIG challenge for me. But, my desire to fit back into my favorite outfits are greater.

Running for Weight Loss

In my last post, I promised that I would discuss the running app that I have been using to help me lose weight. I discovered the Running for Weight Loss app a few weeks ago as an ad on the MyFitnessPal app, which is an online diet and exercise journal. To be honest, I do not like running. But, when I saw that I could possibly lose 35 lbs in 8 weeks using this training program, I decided to try it out.

The Running for Weight Loss app is a unique running program designed specifically for weight loss. The program features six 8-week interval plans of walking, running, and sprinting intervals, with three levels of difficulty. It also has audio instructions and encouragement, GPS map of your run, daily weight-loss tips, and detailed records of every workout and your overall progress. 

This week I completed week 3 of the program and so far I am really happy with my progress. I am running longer and faster than week 1, day 1. Plus, I am burning over 400 calories in 39 minutes. Hopefully, with the Running for Weight Loss app,  I will be down 35 lbs by the end of week 8. 

***App is available on the AppStore, Google Play, and Amazon Apps.***

I Lost 4.2 lbs in aWeek on the SuperShred Diet

My first week of trying to figure out how to lose 50 lbs is completed. And, I am happy to share that I lost 4.2 lbs. Yay!!! **pelvic thrust** 

FRONT VIEW                              

   SIDE VIEW

Honestly, this week was not easy. I WAS SO HUNGRY the first 3 days of Week One.  It felt like my stomach was going to open up, grow teeth, and chew off someone's arms (like in the 1982 horror film The Thing). As I stated in an earlier post, I have no problem working out, despite the fact that I hate working out. My problem is food, or more specifically (eating) fatty (delicious) food. To help me refocus my eating habits, and my appetite, I am using "Super Shred: The Big Results Diet: 4 Weeks, 20 Pounds" by Dr. Ian Smith.

I chose this diet because it allows me to eat food, drink liquor (albeit a limited quantity), and lose weight in a short period of time. Plus, I have successfully lost weight using two of Dr. Smith's other diet books ("The Fat Smash Diet: The Last Diet You'll Ever Need" and "Extreme Fat Smash Diet: With More Than 75 Recipes"). I have tried the Super Shred diet before but I don't think I ever completed. This time I am determined to complete it, and I am using a few other health tips to help me slim down.

To supercharge my weight loss, I have started drinking a flat belly detox drink, which consists of grapefruit juice, honey, and apple cider vinegar. It is suggested to drink a cup of this mix 2x a day for 14 days. But because I do not like the taste of grapefruit juice, I have been trying to drink at least once a day with lunch or dinner. 

I definitely suggest trying out this drink, since each of its ingredients have their own weight-loss and health benefits. Grapefruit is a fat-burning food that improves blood flow and helps your body metabolize sugar. Honey is a simple sugar (much healthier than processed or refined sugar), filled with vitamins and nutrients that boosts and revs up your metabolism. Apple cider vinegar helps to regulate your blood sugar levels, which prevents sugar from being stored as fat, and clean out your system (check out its many many health benefits here). 

I have also started drinking 66 ounces of water a day. This has not been too hard for me, since I developed a love for water from my Fat Smash diet days. Plus, it has been hot as hades outside.   Water has been shown to have significant weight-loss benefits. It keeps you hydrated during workouts and it helps to stave off hunger by making you fill fuller faster. The fuller you feel, the less food will eat to fill your belly. Health experts suggest you drink half of your body weight in water (in ounces) to reap the hunger-busting benefits; for example, a 135 lbs woman should be drinking 67 ounces of water (or a little more than 8 glasses of water a day). I tried doing that, but it was very, very, very hard due to my actual weight, which is way more than 135 lbs. I want to lose weight, not drink a large aquarium of water a day. It is bad enough that drinking tons of water makes you have to urinate several times a day. I feel like my 88 year old granny due to the amount of runs to the bathroom I have to make a day. I truly believe that 66 ounces is best. It is doable and satisfies the 8 glasses of water a day that is suggested by most physicians. For an extra health boost, I mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with the 32 ounces of water in my trusty Columbia water bottle. 

Paired with my Nike Training Club 7-week Lean Fit workout plan and 8-week Running for Weight Loss plan (which I will discuss in a later post), the Super Shred diet is helping me get closer to my 50 lb weight loss goal without starving myself or joining the cast of The Biggest Loser.   

Getting Lean Fit with the Nike Training Club App

NTC_App_Lockup_1_hd_1600.jpg

To help me get lean and fit, I am using the Nike Training Club app (available for iPhone and Android). The app is FREE and loaded with 100+ workouts, featuring clear audio and visual guidance throughout each workout and plans that focus on getting either lean, stronger, or toned.

I have been using this app since 2012 and I love it because when I am not indulging in fatty goodness and avoiding the gym, it has helped me get my body toned, lean, and fit. I especially like the 6-week Get Lean Fit workout plan, which include a mixture of running, cardio, light weights, pilates, and yoga. The workout plans adjust daily, increasing and decreasing the intensity of the workouts based on how challenging you found the previous workout.

To get an idea of the type of exercises done in this workout program, I have posted a short clip of me doing the "Go, Rest, Repeat" workout. Please do not laugh at my gym attire or my sweaty body. I workout in the "Women Only" room at my gym, so that I can sweat, curse, and look crazy in relative privacy.

Have you tried the Nike Training Club app?

Figuring Out How to Lose Weight in my 30s

Hello, my name is Toya T and I am obese. Yes, I said it...OBESE!!! I never thought that I would ever use that word to describe myself. But, after my most recent physical exam in June, I saw the dreaded five-letter word written in my health summary, and I almost had a stroke.

 I will admit that I have gained some weight over the past two years. Okay, full disclosure. I gained 50 lbs since 2014. Ugh!! Regardless of that number, I wouldn't have described myself as obese. Overweight? Yes. Thick and juicy? Yes. Obese and a potential contestant of The Biggest Loser? NO! 

Ugh! How did I get here? I was not a "fat" kid or teenager. For most of my life, I was what I would describe as petite thick---that is, short, small-waisted, and thick-thighed. Like most young adults, I gained weight in college, about 10 lbs during my sophomore; however, I easily lost the weight by taking biweekly African dance, tap, and ballet classes and stepping weekly with my college step team. Then I gained 20 lbs during the first two years of my PhD program. I was the biggest I had ever been, and I realized that I actually had to make some lifestyle changes to shed the pounds. I joined my local YMCA, worked with a personal trainer to develop monthly workout plans, and changed my eating habits with the aid of

The Fat Smash Diet by Dr. Ian Smith (of Celebrity Fit Club fame). In the first 11 days, I saw big results; I lost 11 lbs. Within a year, I lost the rest of the weight and kept it off until five years ago.

2014

2016

The past five years my weight has yo-yoed up and down; my body has gone between being fit and trim to its current state of round and juicy. Interestingly, despite overweight (and now obese), I have bene generally healthy. According to my most recent physical, my glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels are within a healthy range. So, my main health concern has been, and is, my weight.

First off, I know that the number on the scale can be deceptive, since muscle weighs more than fat. I have been very fit and trim, 145 lbs, and a size 8 (my ideal size). I have learned that it is definitely about how you feel, how you fit in your clothes, and how good (you feel) you look naked. Right now, I don't feel good about my body in and out of  clothes. All of my favorite outfits fit very tight on me---and not in the good way.

Summer 2014

Summer 2016

In public, I have blamed my weight gain on the fatty goodness of Shake Shack (and its proximity to my job and home), my love of food and drink, stress of finishing my Phd program and emotional eating, my sheer hate of working out (especially when it is cold), and the winter of 2015 aka Snowmaggedon 2015 (which is when I gained the majority of the weight from eating and being trapped in doors by the 100 inches of snow). But, honestly my bad eating is to blame. I can push myself to work out regularly, especially if I have a very detailed workout plan set out for me with a definite beginning and ending (e.g., a 4-week summer sexy workout plan or a 30-day squat and abs challenge). What I have trouble with is keeping my love of fatty foods in check. Once I start eating something I like, it is hard for me to stop until the dish is clean. Put me in front of a Chicago deep dish pizza from Giordano's, and I will devour it in one sitting, no matter how much my brain tells me to save some for later.

Now, for the rest of the summer, I am challenging myself to get my eating back on a healthy plan and get my body back in my favorite outfits. This week I started a 4-week shred diet to detox and refocus my eating habits and a 7-week slim fit workout plan to lose the pounds. I will update you all each week on my progress and if you are interested in joining me on my 50 lb weight loss journey, I will share the tools, recipes, and health tips I am utilizing.

Beyonce Gets in FORMATION and Tells the World She #StayWoke

Unless you were living under rock or you passed out upon hearing about this surprise drop, you have encountered (and I do mean encountered because it was an event) Beyonce's new song and video, "Formation," which dropped Saturday, February 6th, a day ahead of her scheduled Super Bowl 50 performance.  

I have to first say that I hate Beyonce for doing these kind of surprise music/video drops. It is killer to my nerves. Makes me feel like I always gotta be ready for an immediate purchase (and the way my bank account works, Navient, Perkins Loan, and ACS gotta get their coins first before I can do anything).  

With that said, I loved this video. It was SO BLACK! Unapologetically black! And, you know I am all for it. The images were so powerful: 

  • A young black boy dancing in front of a line of police officers in riot gear, next to a wall with the words "stop shooting us" graffitied on it.

  • Beyonce on top of a sinking New Orleans police car in the middle of flood waters.

  • Beyonce decked in all black and flanked by black men in all black, looking like a junk joint jazz band.

I could honestly watch this video over and over again (on mute). Yes, I said mute. The song...well...I am not sold on it. On first listen, it did nothing for me. I like some of the lyrics such as "I like my baby hair with baby hair and afros" and "I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils."It does not get any more pro-black than that, especially for the straight, blonde haired, chick-o-stick pop star former manager Matthew Knowles groomed (his daughter/cash cow) Beyonce to be. But the rest of the lyrics just sounded like a bunch of lines strung together. The New Orleans "bounce" beat really adds a thick layer of triple chocolate cake-type blackness to song. Makes it sound gritty. The song almost sounds like it is growling at you, "stop and listen to me." I just wish the all of the lyrics were as strong as the beat and the video. But, unfortunately it is not. 

"Formation" is definitely the most "woke" song and visuals Beyonce has ever produced; and I am so happy that she decided to step up and out. 

Keeping it coming, Bey! #StayWoke #VeryBlack #UnapologeticallyBlack

#BlackGirlMagic Anthem: "Masterpiece" By Jazmine Sullivan

If you have not listened to Jazmine Sullivan's latest album "Reality Show," you need to run to your nearest music store (online or physical) and get it. She has crafted a beautiful album, with ballads, slow jams, uptempo dance joints, and self-love anthems. 

Today, I couldn't get her beautifully written and sung record, "Masterpiece." This is one of my favorite songs on the album. A "black girl magic" anthem. Jazmine sings about loving and accepting yourself---flaws and all---for the masterpiece that you are. 

Read the song lyrics and then check out a video of Jazmine performing an acoustic version of the song. 

Masterpiece by Jazmine Sullivan 

My eyes ain't used to these rays

I'm feeling exposed, but I can't hide no more

I can't hide

As the sun shines on all of my glory

My flaws don't look so bad at all

What was I so afraid of?

Every part of me is a vision of a portrait

Of Mona, of Mona Lisa

Every part of me is beautiful

And I finally see I'm a work of art

A masterpiece

Who is this I've tried so long find?

Filling my heads with lies that I'm not good enough

Then I heard something in my ear

Tell me I'm perfect, now that I know the truth

Time to show and prove

Every part of me is a vision of a portrait

Of Mona, of Mona Lisa

Every part of me is beautiful

And I finally see I'm a work of art

A masterpiece

And now I see the pretty colors on my canvas

I'm a work of art, a Mona Lisa

I'll share my picture with the world

Not afraid to let it show anymore

I can light the night, shine so bright

(Let my colors paint the sky)

I can light the night, shine so bright

(There is beauty in my eyes)

I can light the night, shine so bright

(And I can see it now, I believe it now, I can feel it now)

I can light the night, shine so bright

(Want the world to see, I'm a work of art. I'm a masterpiece)

I can light the night, shine so bright

(I am beautiful)

Every part of me is a vision of a portrait

Of Mona, of Mona Lisa

Every part of me is beautiful

And I finally see I'm a work of art

A masterpiece

What I Wore: College Homecoming Event

This past weekend was the homecoming weekend for my alma mater, Columbia University. I haven't been able to attend any homecoming events since I moved out of New York 6 years ago. The last time I was able to attend an event was 2008. So, I was super excited that I was able to attend this year's Black Homecoming Event, hosted by the Black Alumni Council of Columbia University. I pulled out all of the stops: new dress, hair professionally done, and my best nail art.

Here is what I wore: 

Columbia University Class of 2005 (and a special member of Class of 2007). Providence Night Club, NY, 2015. 

Finding the Perfect Jeans For Curvy Girls (With Thick Thighs)

For curvy women, finding a great pair of jeans that are flattering and affordable is hard, especially if you are part of my particular sect of the Women with Curves club---the Thick Thighs Crew. Unlike women with those highly sought-after thigh gaps, women like me with big thighs and disproportionately smaller waists are lucky if we can find jeans with spandex in them. The jeans that I  typically find at the local mall are either too big in the waist or can't get passed my thighs (without a lot of dancing and struggling and deep breaths).

As a curvy woman who added on a few more curves over during Snowmaggedon 2015, I have actually avoided wearing jeans for the past 6 months because I can't fit the ones in my closet (they look real nice on the hangers). For most of this year, I have turned to leggings--a curvy girl's best friend. But, after seeing a post on

Hey Fran Hey's blog about how she found a flattering pair of curvy girl friendly jeans, the Levi's 721 High-Rise Skinny Jeans. Inspired by her, I hit Macy's and tried on about 10 pairs of the 721 and of the Levi's 311 Shaping Skinny Jeans.

The 721 fit me, but the 311 fit me so much better. The 311 features tummy slimming technology and feels so soft on the skinny. I loved them so much, I bought two pairs. If you are looking for a pair of jeans that flatter all of your curves, I highly recommend you check out what Levi's has to offer.

For my ladies with the thick thighs, what are your favorite jeans?

Is Bigger Better?

Is bigger better? Before you start getting up in arms, I am not talking about the male sex organ. I can answer that question for myself. What am talking about is the booty, particularly the size of the female booty. I have been sitting on this question (literally and figuratively) for awhile now, ever since booty injections and implants and Brazilian butt lifts have become the new boob job. The days of people being obsessed with the Dolly Partons, Pam Griers, and Pamela Andersons of the world are over. Well it is not really over. People still love big boobs. But there is a female body part that has become the object of people's sexual gaze.

Today, people, both men and women, rich and poor, people of color and whites, are overly obsessed with big booties (myself included). It seems that you need to have a

booty

donkey

 elephant booty to be considered sexy, desirable, or dateable by mainstream society. There are young women who have Instagram pages with post after post of back shots showing off their booties. Look at Kim Kardashian. She would not be a media spectacle without her large (fat injected, possibly Brazilian butt lifted) booty, which Kanye loves squeezing, showcasing, and talking about to any and every one. It is not her infamous sex tape with Ray-J or the reality show(s) with her family (that E! refuses to take off the air for a second). It is her shape, specifically her small waist and gigantic booty.  She has made a name and social media empire from pictures of her booty (clothed, oiled up, sandy, and bare). On her family show, she spent an episode creating booty selfies for her husband Kanye West (which she eventually put together and published as part of a 1000-page book of selfies of herself called "Selfish").

Sadly, big and round booties have been seen for a lifetime on many women of African descent (from the "Venus Hottentot" Sarah Baartman to Jennifer Lopez to Serena Williams), but has not brought them the same amount of adoration, fame, and wealth solely from this body part. You may argue that J.Lo got a lot attention for her booty. And yes she did. Who doesn't remember hearing rumors that she ensure her famous booty for a million dollars? But, unlike Kim K, it was not J. Lo's booty that put her on the map. She danced and acted her way into the public eye and then people noticed her shape, particularly her big booty. In the curious case of Sarah Baartman, who was put on display in Europe because of her voluptuous shape, she gained much fame but did not gain any wealth or adoration from (white) people's obsession with her booty.

As a woman with a not so big booty, I will admit that the age of the big booty has impacted my self-image. Every time I walk by a mirror I push out my butt a little and check how it looks in my jeans/skirts/dresses, and then wish that it would grow 2 sizes (along with my boobs because I refuse to not be proportionate) so I can

pop off an Instagram modeling career

 be desired by men, envied by women, and rapped about by rappers (don't act like you wouldn't geek out if you were immortalized in song---see

this

 and

this

 and

that

 for examples of good love for the "big booty"songs).

This brings me back to my original question. When it comes to the female booty, is bigger better? Is there such a thing as a "too big" booty? Does it matter if it is real or fake? Does it matter to whom a big booty is attached? Why does a big booty seemingly get more"positive" reactions when a white women has one than when a women of African descent has one? What impact has society's obsession with disproportionately large booties had on the self-image of women, especially young girls, in America?

Speak on it!