Fitness

Conquer Your Obstacles: BE A SPARTAN!

I love obstacle races. There’s something about being able to push my limits, to really test my strength, to challenge my physical and mental endurance, that just gets me GOING. It’s no wonder “GRIT” is a characteristic and concept I value (see previous blog post here). I’ve competed in the Spartan Race for the past two years, this July will be my third year and I am freaking excited! The Spartan Race is a series of obstacles races, ranging from a 3+ mile obstacle race (Spartan Sprint) to a marathon length obstacle race (the Ultra beast). There are usually 15+ obstacles in each race – a fire jump, barbed wire crawl, wall climb, tire flip, rope climb, and the list goes on. It’s AMAZING. I honestly leave each race feeling like I can take on anything life throws at me. That’s what it feels like to be a SPARTAN.

I challenge you all to try this race. Give it a shot and test your physical and mental endurance in a way never done before. I’ll be doing a giveaway for a FREE TICKET to any Spartan Race. A few upcoming ones are the ones in Charlotte, in New Jersey, and the Tri-State race. To participate in this giveaway, all you have to do is:

  1. Like my Fitness Facebook page: Fit and Fine with Dee
  2. Follower my Fitness Instagram: @fitandfine_withdee
  3. Comment on either my Facebook page or Instagram on what it personally means to you to “challenge yourself.”

It begins today and will end on Saturday, April 11, 2015 at 12:00 PM EST. I’ll do a random drawing and will announce the winner on Saturday, April 11, 2015 at 1:00PM EST

I also have a DISCOUNT CODE for any race as well. Simply use:

SPARTANBLOGGER

To get 10% off ANY race.

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As you can see in this picture, despite a challenging race, I felt so ACCOMPLISHED, I couldn’t stop smiling. Looking forward to conquering another race in July! And if you’re still not convinced, check out these two videos below:

VIDEO 2:

AROOOOO!!!

Get Fit and Fine with Dee!

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my fitness endeavors but I’ve certainly been busy! This past weekend, I had the opportunity of speaking at an event, the “Be Empowered: Live Workshop and Network Event” hosted by On-Point Eventz. I spoke on embracing your passion and getting paid for it, and used my fitness experience as a case study. I’m still budding and growing but last year brought an exponential growth for me in this area. I started my Instagram page, created  my Afrobeat workout video (now at 8500+ views!), joined a small start-up: Sweat University, a faith based health organization, led boot camps, led Afrobeat workouts at a local gym, led a preceptorial at my Alma mater’s New Student Orientation on staying fit and avoiding the freshman 15, and coached high school cross country for the first time. All this to say, I’m definitely BIG on health and fitness and welcome any opportunity to further this passion of mine.

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Hey it’s me!

The event on Saturday was a great turnout! I was one of two speakers and was able to connect with local entrepreneurs in the area. I learned a lot and enjoyed it all – a Saturday well spent!

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The wonderful attendees. A huge thank you to On-Point Eventz for having me!

Part of this growing process is expanding my reach. I finally launched my Facebook page, “Fit and Fine with Dee” and I encourage you to like the page! I post workout videos, fitness tips, health tips, and nutritional information on there. I’m all about promoting a healthier, physically active community. So like the page, follow me on Instagram, and join me in living a healthier lifestyle!

Facebook.com/fitandfinewithdee

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Reflecting on 2014: A Year of Greater

It’s that time of the year when I sit and reflect on the year – the highlights, the lessons learned, the challenges, and the celebratory moments. To do this, I use my journal and scan through the many months of writing, laughing, “oOoo’ing” and “Awww’ing” all through the exercise. It is in this moment I realize how much I accomplished this year, the lessons learned along the way, and how much of an impact certain events had on my life. In the beginning of 2014, I sought to embody my church’s theme for the year: “2014: Year of Greater.” Below is an excerpt from my January 2nd, 2014 journal entry:

Words can’t begin to describe how excited I am for this year. Like forreal. This is my year of greater favor, greater blessings, greater miracles. I mean God is seriously about to work in my life.

And God did work. In a mighty way

Here are a just few highlights from the year:

January
I launched my fitness instagram: @fitandfine_withdee which promotes fitness, health, and nutrition.

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February
I created my Afrobeat cardio video which now has 6000+ views on YouTube. Never would have thought!

March
I felt extremely overwhelmed and exhausted working full-time and taking classes in the evening. Taking Immunobiology may not have been the smartest idea.

I also joined my church choir 😀

April
I felt exhausted for most of the month. A lot of late nights, not much sleep. I was working 40 hour weeks and taking two classes in the evenings (I also took Biochemistry during my gap year by the way). My plan was to take advantage of the tuition benefit at my job – taking up to 2 classes for free. Lesson learned for those thinking of working full-time and taking classes to boost your med school application: I should have stuck with one.

May
Traveled to Chicago for a friend’s wedding. Awesome time!

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June
Started blogging again! Turned in my med school application (AMCAS) early – oh yeaaa!!

Led a month long boot camp as an instructor for SweatU

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Also published my first med student spotlight. It was on Naya, a second year med student. The post received a lot of positive feedback and has become the second highest viewed post on my blog at 548 views (as of today).

My cousin visited me from South Africa – awesome time!

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July
Wrote a lot of secondaries for med schools

Got my braces installed – I am now team metal mouth 😛

Competed in my second Spartan Obstacle race

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August
Took my MCAT again – no more!

Taught my first college seminar (preceptorial): “Say NO to the Freshman 15!

September
Invited to be a campaign manager for Memunatu Magazine’s Indiegogo campaign

Accepted high school cross country coaching position!

Got my first med school interview invite!!!

Presented at a conference on research I’ve been working on at my job (I was a co-presenter)

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October
My birthday! Had a blast ALL week

Med school interview!

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November
Got into a relationship with the most awesome guy 🙂

I attended the RWJF Scholars Forum and SMDEP Alumni Summit – great time!

My first radio appearance!

December
I published my post: “#WhiteCoats4BlackLives: Acknowledging The Political Determinants of Health” which became the most viewed post on my site. In just less than a month, it has 1,122 views!

My post on the national white coat die-in gets published on “The health Care Blog.” This was a major accomplishment for me!! You can check it out here.

I get a promotion at my job!


All this to say, this year has certainly been a year of greater. I challenged myself more than I had done in the past and definitely pushed through several obstacles. I am thankful for an AMAZING year and very thankful to you, my readers, for reading each post, sharing them, and accompanying me on this journey. I am extremely excited for what 2015 has in store.

Cheers and Happy New Year Folks!

Just Call Me Coach D!

Nothing shapes your life more than the commitments you choose to make. Your commitments can develop you or they can destroy you,
but either way, they will define you.

Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

This is another post on my gap year chronicles. I did mention it was full of adventures right? Check out my post on “Teaching My First College Seminar” and “My Interview with Accepted.com” for more details. This brings me to my latest adventure.

I was recently offered a position as a high school cross country coach!

I’m still kinda like whoa on this because it’s just wow, unexpected. I mean when I sent in my resume, it still didn’t seem like a possibility. I mean I’m just a year and a half out of college, why would they hire lil ole me? And even if I got hired, I figured ehh, probably an assistant coach. False. Not only was I offered the position after my interview, but I’m not an assistant coach, but the head boys and girls coach. Um whattt?? Yea all I can say is God is good!!

I’m super excited for this because:

One: I get to work with kids again – Yay! I worked with middle and high school students during undergrad, so I’m excited to be in that environment again.

Two: Fitness! I’m pretty sure it’s clear I’m passionate about this so I’m definitely excited to get my students active.

Three: Nurturing resilience. I always compare long distance running to life. There are many obstacles (i.e. beastly hills!), high moments, low moments, times when you just want to stop and give up, but still, you just have to keep plugging ahead. Just keep moving. I’m looking forward to nurturing this attitude of grit and resilience in my students.

This was my first week, and alas, it looks like I have my work cut out for me! Still, I’m excited – the kids are great and are willing to work, which is AWESOME. Plus, I now have something to look forward to after work (not that the research life isn’t interesting, but this is a nice change of pace).

That’s all for now. Ciao!

Teaching My First College Seminar – “Say No to the Freshman 15!”

Taking a gap year has its advantages. It’s certainly not for everyone but this period is invaluable in allowing you to mature as an individual, explore your passions, and better yourself  – which has definitely been my case. My gap year has been full of many adventures – gaining more research experience, two Spartan obstacle races, taking my passion to greater heights by teaching fitness classes, making new career mentors, and the list goes on. My goal is to live my life to the fullest and enjoy my gap year as much as possible – my way. This brings me to my latest adventure. A few months ago, I was asked to teach a preceptorial during the UPENN New Student Orientation (my alma mater) this past weekend, on maintaining an active lifestyle.

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Of course, I was elated! One, I felt honored that I was approached to do this (my passion and experience in fitness isn’t going unnoticed!) and two, I love teaching and sharing information/ resources that I know; hence why I adopted this Maya Angelou quote for my blog:

When you learn, teach; when you get, give.”

Now the event: there were 12 students enrolled (the maximum) and when I received the roster, I thought to myself, Okay, well at least about 8 students will show up. I imagined some folks wouldn’t show up, after all these preceptorials aren’t mandatory. Well it was 4:50PM and there were about 6 students. Then the number slowly grew and at 4:57PM, I was hit with a wave of students. Whoa. The count? 18. Then a few more showed up, making it 22 freshmen in attendance for the one-hour seminar. I was surprised and at the same pleased. Totally unexpected turn out! All in all, it was a success.


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So am I enjoying my gap year? Absolutely. Although I am extremely anxious to start the next phase of my life and begin medical school, I am also enjoying this period of growth, life lessons, and adventures. If you are interested in taking a gap year or two, definitely do your research – the pros and cons – and consider how you would like to spend it. As seen in my med student spotlights, some medical students did structured programs during their gap year(s) – teaching, research, and so on. Another option is doing international work. Find out where your passion lies and how it would make you a better person and ultimately, an awesome physician.

A big thank you to the Preceptorial committee and the NSO committee for setting this up.

Ciao!

7 Fun Ways To Get Physically Active

Folks, it’s time to get down and dirty with FITNESS! As mentioned in a previous post, working out is one of the strategies I use to manage stress. The benefits are simply POW, out of this world. Not just physically, but mentally. When you exercise you release chemicals called endorphins aka “the feel good” hormones. According to WebMD, studies have shown that “people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression.” Yes, exercise has been proven to reduce symptoms of clinical depression, reduce stress, boost self-esteem, and even improve sleep.

Now I know for some, working out is comparable to doing dishes. It’s that chore you just hate to do and if you can avoid it, you would.

However, you shouldn’t. For your own health.

Working out, believe or not, CAN be fun. You just need to find that activity that makes you feel like “Yes! I can’t wait to do this again!” Having tried several fitness classes and exercise programs in the past, I figured I’d speak from my personal experience. Here are 7 fun ways to get physically active (my pictures included):

1. Dancing

Dancing with my old troupe: African Rhythms

This is one of my favorite ways to get physically active. Friends and family can attest to this – I LOVE to dance. The great thing about dancing is that you can do this in the comfort of your room. Simply turn up the music and get to grooving. No one is watching and in as little as 15 minutes, you should start feeling pretty good (endorphins kicking in!). You can also take dance classes – Salsa, Batchata, Hip Hop, West African – the options are endless. Personally, I take West African dance classes when I can and I leave each session extremely sweaty but very excited for the next class.

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Interesting story here. I initially got into running because at times, I would get so angry that the only thing I felt I could do was run. Just escape it all. It was my way of coping with feelings of anger. It was about the same time I joined cross-country (middle school) and well, the rest is history. It’s an activity I actually like to do. Running is not only a great workout but an awesome way to relieve stress.

                                3. Gym time

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If running isn’t your thing. Try hitting up some weights. There are several phone apps that guide beginners into strength training. I personally like Jefit. The benefit? You not only get a good workout but you also improve your muscle tone. Feeling good and looking good – double win!

               4. Home workouts

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If you aren’t into the gym culture or maybe these application fees has you eating ramen for lunch and dinner and well, gym memberships are simply not in the budget, then home workouts are a really great way to get physically active. Just get a resistance band, a jump rope, maybe an Ab rollout wheel or any other equipment you desire, and you’ve got a home gym. I bought these pictured equipments from Marshall’s and the cool thing is being able to use it when I’m bored, don’t feel like going to the gym, or when I feel like trying a workout DVD or a workout on YouTube. The best part? It’s very cheap!

5. Doing fun races

10411100_10154361093935521_7326526804804366260_nI’ll be honest, this isn’t the cheapest way to get physically active but it can definitely motivate you to get moving! By registering for a race – a 5k, mud race, obstacle race, or if you’re feeling daring, a half-marathon or marathon – you set a goal for yourself. Registering in advance means that you’ve already coughed up a certain amount of money that you know you can’t get back. Now since you registered for it, you are well aware that if you don’t train or get in some sort of shape – you’ll end up regretting that. No one likes to be injured. So this is a cool way to get motivated into being physically active. When you do it with friends, it’s even better. Plus you get bragging rights – hollaaaa!

6. Yoga

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All body strength and still a workout. This can be done through yoga classes or in the comforts of your home. For classes, I highly recommend Power Yoga – a form of hot yoga that focuses on strength and flexibility. I tried this a while back and absolutely loved it. I always left feeling like I got a workout! Unfortunately, these classes can get expensive but the cool thing about yoga is that you can do it the comforts of your home. Get to practicing, build up your strength, and in that process de-stress and reduce any anxiety you might have – perfect!

7. Other fitness classes

There are so many interesting fitness classes and often times you can get good deals on them through Groupon or Living Social. There are boxing classes, cross fit, pole fitness, and zumba classes to name a few. I was feeling adventurous once and tried a pole fitness/ dance class. I saw the deal on Groupon and thought “Hey, this would be really cool!” I tried one class and quickly realized this activity required a lot of upper body strength – Ha! Although I didn’t end up using the remaining 4 classes, the two classes I did experience were quite interesting. So again, check out some interesting classes. You never know, you might end up liking it and coming back for more.

Workout. Manage your stress. Release your emotions.

Ciao!

Well hello stranger.

It has been months…scratch that, almost A YEAR, since the last time I wrote here. Apologies for the absence. I write in a private journal frequently, which makes it easy to neglect this blog. I promise to do better!

There are so many updates! Updates on my job, life after college, the med school journey, and my fitness/ start-up business. So here we go:

Med school journey

Drum roll please….I submitted my app!!! Praise be to God! The AMCAS application opened up for submission on June 3rd at 9:30 AM, and I submitted on June 3rd at 11:38 AM. I was playing NO games! My application hasn’t been processed yet however, because they are still waiting on one more transcript, but yes my part is done for now.

The journey to get to that submission point was a bit stressful, I’ll confess. I started working on my application the day it opened up. That was May 1st. I completed my first draft on May 15th and then began working on my personal statement. With my personal statement, I was confident in my writing skills but it took a while to get my story polished and presentable. I literally worked on that statement everyday until June 2nd. I ended up with 10 drafts. I also had about 11 people read it. Yes, I know doing the MOST. Not all 11 individuals provided feedback though. The most helpful people were my two mentors (one a doctor, one who just graduated med school), two friends of mine in med school, my parents, two of my closest friends, and a friend of mine who blogs for the NY Times. I feel really blessed to have such remarkable people to help me with this. Their guidance really helped me create a personal statement that I felt proud to submit. I must admit though, my story is quite unique as well. I’ll talk about my AMCAS application in future posts. Look out for it.

My job

As I mentioned in previous posts, I work as a Research Coordinator. It’s been almost 10 months now, and I love my job just as much as I did the first day- if not MORE. I’ve worked on so many diverse projects and learned so much in this short amount of time. This experience is really everything I expected the position to be. I’m definitely more informed on pertinent issues relating to health disparities (particularly access to health care and quality of care) which is very relevant considering my interest in obtaining a masters in public health. All in all, so far so good 🙂

Life after college

The struggle to make new friends was REAL. Many lonely moments but things turned around sometime after the new year. I threw myself into activities I was passionate about- fitness, acting and singing. I’ll talk about the fitness part below. Acting and singing were both activities I got involved with at my church. I was part of the drama ministry in my church while I was in college, so when I moved back to the city, I went right back to it. Singing however, was a new adventure. I joined the choir ministry in March and it’s been such a blessing. Besides those three things, I also checked out okcupid (don’t judge Lol) and really tried to get out and be more social. The transition from college to real world, can be a tough one when you’re separated from your friends, but it gets better with time 🙂

Fitness

So I realized I haven’t talked about my passion for fitness on here, which is surprising considering how much of a big part of my life it is. Just a brief background though, I was student-athlete up until the first semester of my sophomore year in college. I ran for the women’s track team and cross country. After leaving the sport however, I still continued to nurture my love for fitness. I did three body building contest and continued my gym life style. Earlier this year, I decided to create something new: Fitandfine_withdee. It’s my social media page on instagram that promotes fitness and nutrition. Click here to view it: Fitandfine_withdee. I also created an Afrobeat workout video that received over 1400+ hits on YouTube. Wild right? I’ve got some other things in the works and I’m very excited to see how this project blossoms.

On that note, let me leave you with my workout video. Get your fit on and let me know what you think. Ciao!