March Favorites 2014

I haven't been consistent with the monthly favourites and I have no intentions of doing so.

I stumble across new books, travel destinations, hobbies and entertainment in a haphazard manner that doesn't need to be chronicled in a monthly basis.

Current Entertainment - An African City
The modern African woman's rendition of Sex in the City without the sex :)

Follow the lives of 5 afropolitan women  

(some of whom have recently relocated to the continent to pursue their careers? or is it to settle down and get married?)

They navigate relationships, being a female in a male dominated work force, gender bias, gender roles, cultural practices and the many other social economic issues that face developing countries.
I'm not sure who the producer of the show is but I will love to see director Shirley Frimpong pick up the show from Youtube and develop it into a long running show an an African tv network.

Book: I'm listening to the audio version of  The 8th Habit : From Effectiveness to Greatness by Stephen R. Covey.

Talent from the mind
Passion from the Heart
Need for the body
Conscience for the Spirit

I've been knocking myself in the head....why am I just now getting into audibles?!!!! You can listen to your favourite books on the go, in the train, on the bus, in air, while running errands, jogging, lifting weights or working. 

Fitness: TRX - check out the blog post I did about it here

Food: Plain Yogurt
I love all types of yogurt. Its my substitution for ice cream cravings.
But sometimes I love to buy the simple plain yogurts. Not only are they cheaper but it allows me to play around with recipes.

You can buy a 32oz bucket for $2 instead of the "flavoured" version for $5. With the extra $3, you can buy a box of multigrain clusters granola or fruits. You get more granules/fruits/etc for the $3 than just buying the flavoured yogurt. I use my granules as snacks or part of my morning cereal breakfast.

MusicCry Baby Cry 
During a recently emotional outburst that unfortunately coincided with my lack of internet, I relied on my barely  used Samsung touch pad music collection for comfort. 

Imagine my pleasant surprise of listening to the collaboration between Seam Paul, Joss Stone and Carlos Santana.

I had this song on repeat ALL DAY.ALL WEEK.and then some more. Enjoy


What things are You<~~~~ loving from the month of march or since the new year? Let me know on twitter @mapetiteniche or on instagram @laurettaashu. Tag me on your tweets or ig posts so I can check them out.

TRX Class Review

I love YMCAs and all the perks that come with being a member. However, the membership fees can be pricey. If you are not going to be using the pool + sauna + daycare, locker room and etc, it may not be budget friendly.

Last month, I attended a health fair and received lots of goodies. One was a 2 week pass to the YMCA in my neighborhood. I decided to tryout the different classes they had to offer. I tried to take classes outside my comfort zone or those I  had never experienced like TRX, martial arts and etc.

Here is my review of the TRX class.

The instructor was very nice and welcoming to new members. He did not seem "intimidating" and actually approached me because he could tell I was a "newbie". He showed us how to work the ropes . He also showed us some of the basic/common poses before the class started. I think it helped that I arrived about 15 mins early to get familiarized with the equipment (Every newbie in any program should do this).

We alternated between TRX and plyometrics cardio.
The poses where not so challenging but working/controlling the ropes made it more difficult. I loved how the exercises worked on a variety of muscles at the same time. As I type this, I envision crawling out of bed in pain the next day.

Nevertheless, I loved it so much, am signing up with the Y.
It was the last blow that shattered my reluctance to become a YMCA member. No matter your fitness level, any one can benefit from having access to a variety of classes and fitness programs.
I love running but sometimes its nice to spice things up.
I also already have free access to a gym but its 1 mirrored room with limited cardio machines and free weights. When it comes to perks and having a sense of community,  nothing beats a sports club house.

Sometimes, the issue with group fitness classes,isnt so much the class but the instructor and what kind of  "environment" they create for students. Some instructors ignore beginners and focus only on the "pros". Or they are not "in tune" with the different personalities in the room to figure out that the "boot camp drill sergeant" role doesn't work for everyone. 

In other studios, participants are busy trying to "compete" or "show off" on one another that it creates an intimidating environment for new members.

As my 2 weeks access to the Y rounds up, I have had nothing but a ++++++ experience and its definitely helped solidify my choice to join the club.

I can't wait to go back to TRX class next week.

Giving Back in a New York minute - FACEAFRICA

We can all agree that there are way too many non-profit and "AID" organisations in Africa.

 This is not to discredit the good intentions of these organizations but I'm for the believe that some of these non-profits need to be consolidated. With the staggering numbers, and sometimes lack of transparency,  individuals who truly want to help become skeptical about which organizations to trust.

FACE Africa is one of the exceptions in the market.

Follow Saran (the founder of FACE Africa) and her team through their social media platforms, on site in Africa, as they go about completing one project after another while engaging prospective communities.


Here is the link to the website about the organisation

This is not a "side gig" she is running while maintaining full time employment in another career. This is all she does. Splitting her time between Africa, the US and other continents to talk about clean water and empowering women entrepreneurs.

It was her hands on nature, getting down and dirty with her projects, that made me curious about FACE Africa.
 I cannot tell you how many people lead non-profit organizations to help a particular region in Africa but they have never been to the continent! 

Yes financial donations help buts its much more than that.

I became interested in FACE Africa water projects because it brought back memories (1990s) of my dad doing water projects in Cameroon with CARE international. 

So I decided to volunteer for the 2014 WASH GALA in New York last weekend.

We all can't be CEOs.  Everyone has a role to play.

 Donate/volunteer your

- Time
- Skills
- Ideas
- Mentorship
- Partnerships
- Networks

Are your intentions at the end of the day to serve the community?

 I implore you all to first find an organization you can work with before embarking on the journey of creating a new one in an already over saturated sector.


Jennifer Hudson Quits Weight Watchers

Its about time.

I'm glad she lost the weight but for the love of all things wellness, her weight didn't define her to begin with.

She was and still is an amazing singer and actress.

Yet somehow the only thing she became known for was loosing weight with Weight Watchers.

I'm proud of what she's doing. As a woman of color, I hope young black girls can look at her and stop making the excuse that they can't loose the weight because its 
"genetics", or "its not fat, am just thick/bigbones"...

I too used that excuse when I was 200lbs, unfit with very little muscle mass

You can be "curvy" and fit/healthy. 
But most of the time, that's not the case. 

Sometimes its good to have a role model who comes from the same culture/heritage/circumstances as you do because your lives are more comparable.
It becomes easier to get motivated that if they can do it, so can you.

I'm looking forward to seeing her in more acting and singing projects so I can fall back in love with this lady below. 

This is who America fell in love with on American Idol

Dealing with Saddle Sore (Butt Pain) from Cycling/Spinning Class

I guess everything has its advantages and disadvantages....

With running, I worried about my cardiovascular endurance. My lungs get tired way ahead of my strong and muscular thighs/feet. Pain wise, I worried about the effects of pounding the pavement on my joints (knees & feet& ankle)

But with way too preoccupied with butt pain! to focus on my cadence.

Cadence = Resistance(gear) X speed of pedaling

I've tried different stationary bikes in the market. There seems to be a lack of improvement in the seat design of an upright gym bike. I understand that with a personal bike, you can switch out your saddle to get something more personalized to your body and etc, but what to do if you bike indoors? I don't like recumbent bikes. It doesn't "feel" like am getting a proper workout when am leaning back in the "chair".

Based on my limited experience, here's what has worked for me

1. Form - I alternate between crouching down and being upright. Make sure you are not sitting too low or too high on the sit or slouched in the sit.

2. Fitness level. Your pain tolerance should get better over time as your butt becomes more firm and legs stronger.Same mechanism of adaptation as with all muscles.

3. Alternate with pedal standing periodically
Also alternate the gear/resistance and cadence to make it easier on your feet.

4. Creams for the sore area and chaffing...I use good old Vaseline...a lot of it... and rub it on my inner thighs and etc...I do the same thing for long runs to prevent bruising. There are a variety of creams in the market depending on the severity of your condition. I've never used them because vaseline has always worked for me. Its cheap, simple ingredients and viola....

5. Perform target Exercise to strengthen gluteal region *(will be doing a post specifically on this topic)

6. Apparel
Invest in proper wear.Buy pants with butt pads for cushioning.


March Cardio - BIKING

Am biking more than running for march. Am still going to be doing my long weekend outdoor runs [weather permitting] . 

But I'm doing this because I spent all of 2013 outside a gym [running] and I really miss working out indoors.

Also, my feet will appreciate the break from "pounding the pavement"

Plus this 2014, am all about focusing on my thunder thighs. Not loosing them but making them lean and strong. 

Thighs + legs are my favourite body parts.

Am proud of what I have but there's always room for improvement.

What's your favourite body part?

Up Date : No winter lasts forever; No spring skips its turn

For all its association with love, February wasn't a lovable month for me. Between snow storms and being sick for 2+ weeks, I was ready to get out of the city. I felt a strong association between the cold weather and my unbalanced state of mind.

Luckily I had a trip planned to Vegas for the end of the month.
 Best therapeutic decision ever ^_^

The Hell's Kitchen's burger restaurant in Planet Hollywood resort vegas

The first time the sun kissed my face in Nevada, I did not want to leave the side walk. 

It was an amazing feeling. 

I plan to hold on to that feeling and never forget it next time I take sunshine for granted.... or at least long enough to let me survive whatever is left of the winter before spring.

 view from hotel room @ Planet Hollywood Resort

  My rookie attempt at the slot machines $1 investment yielded 30 bad i say

As far as my workout routines, I decided to take a break from exercising and focus more on eating healthy. 
Don't get me wrong, I live a pretty "active" lifestyle. 
So even though I wasn't "hitting" the gym, my regular everyday routine still incorporates some kind of exercise. 
From walking over a mile to get to work or teaching physical education.

Am back in Boston. 

And in typical New England fashion was welcomed by snow flakes at the airport.

The first day back from a trip where life is a complete 180 degrees from home can be very nerve racking.

 How do you adjust from sunshine to extreme cold?
I plan on registering for a race once I get back into a good running routine. 

Am not sure if it will be a half marathon, 5k or 10k . 

But I like the idea of having a goal to work towards when you've been out of schedule for a while.

What exercise goals have you set for March?

Let me know on twitter @mapetiteniche or on instagram  @laurettaashu


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