I Am Ready For Change...Are You?


It has been over a month since I last posted. Ugh! Where has the time gone?

I have been meaning to get back to you all, but your girl Toya T has been busy. The past month I have been traveling (Charlotte, NC, Washington, D.C., New York City, and now Southern California with a short stay in Las Vegas ), searching for and applying to jobs, connecting with friends, partying, crying and being fully in my feelings, taking long walks, and trying to figure out my life (of course!).

During this time, I realized one major thing: I am ready to move. Specifically, I am ready for things in my professional and romantic lives to move in new, better, and more fulfilling directions. I love my job as a college professor. Working with, mentoring, and teaching students is my passion. It energizes me and has helped me grow and learn more about myself and the world.

However, what I do not love is the lack of upward mobility I have experienced in my career. I currently teach two courses a semester at a state university part-time, which means I am working without benefits or job security. For the past two years, I have been applying for positions in academic advising and student support, and I have gotten very few calls for interviews and no job offers. It has been hard to deal with because of the amount of time and effort and money I spent on my education. Excuse me as I toot my own horn here. I am a black woman with a PhD. I am part of the less than 1% of people in the world to hold this degree. Yet, despite my educational pedigree, I do not have a JOBB---extra 'b' for benefits, that is to say, retirement, health, dental, paid leave/vacation, and job satisfaction.

It is hard pill to swallow because I have degrees and not much to show for it besides the degrees. I am like the character on Kanye West's first album College Dropout who was homeless with only his multiple degrees to keep him warm. Okay...I may be exaggerating a bit. I am not homeless. I am fortunate to have two loving parents who have been able to help me financially by feeding me and letting me live in their home rent free, among other things, that allow me to pay my bills (including my 100k student loans), build good credit, travel, look cute, and apply to jobs that I want (and not those that just pay the bills). I am far from sleeping on the streets covered in my diplomas. But, I feel...stuck, blocked, unsatisfied, frustrated, unfulfilled.

Okay, so now what? How do I change this and get things in my life moving in new, fulfilling, and purposeful directions?

By changing my mindset to focus daily on what I want and how I want these changes to happen, and not on what I do not have or have not done.

I may feel that my life is stagnant now, but I can change that. I can live the life I want.

To manifest these changes in my life, I am going to set monthly intentions, and I am going to keep a log of my experiences and feelings here on Figure Out Your Life Blog for a year, so you all can follow my progression of change. The beginning of the month, or the start of a new moon cycle, is a great time to set new intentions or desires, since it takes 30 to 40 days to create a new habit or change a behavior.

If you want to join me on this journey, and you are also ready to make changes in your life, here are few things you need to know about setting monthly intentions:

First, when making intentions, you must make definitive statements. Not wishes, asks, or wants because you want the universe to know you intend, and not wish or want, for these things to happen in your life.

Second, you must state you intentions in the present tense. For example, "I am worthy of love" or "I attract a romantic relationship that fulfills me" (I used both of these statements in my romantic intentions for the month).

Third, you must TRUST these things WILL happen.

Fourth, if you feel blocked or deterred, you must take note of what is blocking you and confront it. Spend a little bit of time and energy dealing with this issue. What are the blocks in your life? How do they make you feel? What would removing these blocks do for you? Then, you must spend the majority of your time and energy on visualizing what is going to keep you aligned, attuned, and inspired.

I am ready to live my best life. Are you?

"We must remind ourselves that we are seeing only a small piece of the puzzle--that there is a whole picture, and we all fit in." -- SQuire Rushnell, When God Winks: How The Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life

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?

Losing Weight During a Weekend Away

I am happy to announce that your girl Toya T is still losing weight. I lost 1.6 lbs this week. This is really a huge feat because of the fact that I took off three days from my diet this past Labor Day weekend. 

Week 6:

From Saturday to Monday, I was in Philadelphia with two of my friends at the Made in America Festival, which is a 2-day music festival sponsored by Budweiser. At first, I thought that I might be able to follow my diet with a few tweaks while I was at the festival: eat my regular healthy breakfast and lunch, drink a minimum of one beer per day, and eat the least fatty meals for dinner while I was at the festival.  I really thought that this was going to work. Or, at least I wanted this plan to work because I did not want to lose my weight-loss momentum from the past 6 weeks. I packed as many healthy snacks as I could carry and brought along a homemade protein shake, since our hotel had a mini fridges in the rooms. 

By noon on Saturday, I realized that it was unrealistic for me to follow my diet during my weekend away. This was my last hoorah before heading back into the classroom and plus I was with my friends. Sticking to my diet felt more like work than a normal healthy life choice.  So, I decided to allow myself three cheat days, not to overindulge on fatty goodness, but to eat and drink when I felt hungry without counting calories (and feeling guilty). To not fall back into bad eating habits or throw away my weight-loss successes, I also decided to jump back into my Super Shred diet at the point that I stopped on the program's weekly meal plan--in this case, it was Days 5, 6, and 7 of Week 2.

During my three cheat days, I made sure to stay active. Luckily, the festival made this very easy because it involved a lot of walking around and standing. I made over 24,000 steps on Saturday alone and burned over 3000 calories (note: this is more than I burn on a regular day eating healthy and working out). 

When I weighed myself on Tuesday, I was surprised to see that I didn't gain any weight. I lost .2 lbs and by Thursday I had lost an additional 1.4 lbs. 

This past weekend was very important moment in my 50 lb weight-loss journey. I learned that I can still eat, drink, and be merry without losing control. Cheat days or cheat meals are good in moderation as long as you stay active and focused on your goals. I am now 12.2 lbs down and determined to lose another 8 lbs by the end of the month. 

Smiles and Lime-a-ritas at Made in America 

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)


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


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                              


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


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.



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.

3 Fitness Tools to Help You Lose Weight and Get in Shape

Are you trying to lose weight and get in shape?

To reach my body goals, I am utilizing some fitness tools that have helped me lose weight and get in shape in the past.

  1. 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by JJ Smith 

I first learned of the "10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse" from my Zumba instructor. She lost more than 10 lbs after completely her first 10 days of the cleanse. She looked healthy and significantly smaller. Soon after she told me about the book, I bought the book immediately (available at amazon.com for $10.99 kindle/ $9.59 paperback).   

The book provides a shopping list, recipes, and detailed instructions for the 10-day cleanse, along with suggestions for getting the best results. It also offers advice on how to continue to lose weight and maintain good health afterwards.

There are two versions of the cleanse---the full cleanse (which includes drinking 3 smoothies as your daily meals) and the partial cleanse (which includes drinking 2 smoothies a day for breakfast and lunch and eating a healthy meal for dinner). I recently completed the partial cleanse and lost about 5 lbs (with some cheats). Honestly, the first few days of this cleanse is rough, and the author tells you that you may experience fatigue, hunger pains, irritability, and other side effects while your body goes through the detox process. But, it definitely is very useful for developing, or redeveloping, healthy eating habits.  

2. Nike Training Club App

Nike Training Club is hands down the BEST FITNESS APP!!! My very fit and toned BFF told me about this app about 4 or 5 years ago and it has been my go-to fitness tool to get in shape. Plus, this app is FREE (available for download in the App Store for iPhones and Google Play for Androids) !!

Designed specifically for women, this app provides more than 85 instructor-narrated fitness routines—basically it's an audio-only exercise video you can play from your phone. It tracks your progress and rewards efforts with custom workouts created by Nike’s professionals, pro athletes and celebrities such as Glee star Lea Michele, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, and personal trainer Ary Nunez, who trains Rihanna. You can also create playlists to go along with your workouts, and, if ever you don't understand what the instructor is talking about, you can click into a video.

Since February, I have been working my way through the Get Lean program, which is designed to burn fat and lose inches with 3 - 6 workouts per week and yoga to energize you. The program offers three levels---beginner, intermediate, and advanced---and each level lasts 4 weeks. I am currently in the middle of week 1 of the advanced level, having completed the beginner and intermediate levels. The workouts have been kicking my butt, but I have seen results. My stamina and energy has increased, my legs, butt, and arms are more toned, and the pot in my belly has gotten shrunk with each week. I feel stronger and more energized. 

3. MyFitnessPal App 

MyFitnessPal makes losing weight a little bit easier. Studies have shown that there are many weight loss benefits to keeping a diary of the food you eat, the water you drink, and the activities you do. MyFitnessPal allows you to log your meals, water consumption, and workouts/activities easily and quickly. It also syncs with popular fitness apps like Fitbit (which I also use in my fitness journey). Plus, the app is free (available for download in the App Store for iPhones, the Marketplace for Windows phones, and Google Play for Android phones) !!


C9 Champion Power Core Compression Racerback Sports Bra ($16.99 at Target)

A good sports bra is also extremely important in losing weight. I got this sports bra for free from Influenster to review and I have used it every week since it arrived in my mailbox. The C9 Champion Sports Bra provides medium support and a compressive fit. Wicking fabric stretches to move with you and dries fast to keep you cool. The sports bra gives me great support during my NTC workouts.  

Interested in joining Influenster and getting products from the brands you love (or will soon love) for FREE, click here

#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