Ramblings of a Wicked Queen

Ashley loves how she can use her passion of all forms of movement to music to help women boost self confidence, reach new fitness goals, and love themselves and their body’s just as they are. Every woman is a Queen, and helping remind them of that has helped her find her own strength and path in life. Ashley has worked as a lead Aerial Dance Instructor specializing in all levels of Pole Fitness, Lyra, Flexibility Training, Chair Choreography, Belly Dance, Polynesian, Hip Hop, as a performance Aerialist, and Personal Trainer. We hope you enjoy her blog!

Laundramat Adventures of a Single Mom

Often, I think of the beautiful, royal blue dryer, with it’s “Sanitize” function, and “Steam Wrinkle Release” option, not to mention how it was one of the largest dryers on the market, and most importantly….it was ours….or I should say mine considering my ex-husband never did the laundry, yet expected it to miraculously just be washed, dried, and magically reappear in the appropriate drawer. During my marriage, never had I wanted an appliance, but after our previous dryer kept ruining clothes we finally broke down, and I must say, that dryer made laundry much less painful. Yes, often I think of how lovely it was to do wash any and many days a week at an hour of my choosing, in the convenience of my own home. Those days however are so long behind me, some days they seem just a distant memory. Since my divorce, my children and I moved in to a place with no washer and dryer and no connections to hook up. For nearly three years now, doing laundry means a trip, or several back and forth, to the nearest Laundromat. I try and limit wash day to just one day a week. One day a week to pack up all the laundry accumulated in a week, between myself and two children who can’t seem to stay clean for even 10 minutes. Please take in to consideration my eight year old daughter who has to change clothes at least three times before actually finding what she would like to wear, and a son who, when I say, “Go clean your room” will often take clothing that has never been worn and throw it into the hamper.

Some very interesting things happen at a Laundromat, not to mention the very interesting individuals one meets during their time there. One who truly sticks out in my mind was a man by the name of Universal….yes, that’s really what he said his name was. Quite friendly. He saw me carrying in two incredibly large laundry bags and must have thought I was a weak, feeble female who needed assistance. He obviously didn’t see the bulging of my biceps as I single handedly carried 30 lbs of laundry, and laundry soap, and my wallet and phone, walking with a sense of purpose like laundry was my mission. He not only opened the door for me, but proceeded to take my clothes, walk them all the way down to washers of his choosing, and start loading them into the machine! All while rambling a mile a minute. Really, I’m thinking, “Dude, I got it, please don’t touch my panties”. That’s when he introduces himself, saying his name is Universal. He follows it up with, “See, I have it right here” and shows me his forearms. I look down to see not a tattoo but the most horrible scarring (and no, for the record, I could not make out where the brand said, “Universal”). He followed it up with, “you like that? I did it myself…with a wire coat hanger”. “Wooooooooooow”, trying to hide the look on my face when in actuality I’m thinking a prison tattoo probably would have looked better.

I quickly thank him for his help explaining how I have things to do. After a few comments on how well I fill out my leggings he tells me how he’s waiting on his ride, and doesn’t know if he will be there when I get back. (Thank GOD). He asks for my number, but then hesitates…. “I could save your number in this phone but it’s actually my niece’s phone, but if I write it down I could use my homeboys phone later on”. Ok, sir lets be real a minute… You are trying to sound hard and appear dateable however from our very short conversation I know you don’t have a washer and dryer (hence, you, like myself are at the Laundromat), you don’t have a car (you are waiting on your ride), you don’t have a phone, (you are currently holding your nieces), and you have self brands from a coat hanger on your arms. I am not the judging type, but if you have ever heard TLC’s “I Don’t Want No Scrub”… that’s what’s currently playing in my mind. Thank you for your hospitality in trying to put my clothes into a washer for me, but I’m good.

Then there was the time when I see a lady who I’ve seen around the neighborhood several times, bumps in to me at the Laundromat. She had one time followed me in to the store to ask if I played the lottery. She said she has seen my car and always plays my license plate number. When I see her at the Laundromat she mentions that I have a nice car and she is still playing those numbers. I tell her to keep up the faith, and we exchange friendly small talk as I load the washer. We bid our ado’s and I go about my errands.

When it becomes time for me to retrieve my clothes from the dryer, the lady is on the opposite end of the Laundromat also folding. I look around and notice my laundry bags are nowhere to be seen. I second guess myself and go out to my car to look for them. I realize I most definitely left them lying on the folding table nearest my washer. Seriously, who would want to steal laundry bags? All my time doing laundry there and never have I had any one mess with my stuff. I go back in, looking once more with no positive result and ask the woman if she has seen two white, mesh laundry bags. She coldly replies, “No”. At this point I look down and see two white mesh laundry bags… MY Laundry bags amongst her additional plastic hampers. I ask again, “Are you SUUUURE you haven’t seen two mesh laundry bags? One is plain; the other has a Game Cocks logo?” (Let’s be clear, not because I’m a Carolina fan, but because it was a good sturdy bag and it was at the Goodwill for $1) She again replies, “No. All I have is this ripped up one, which is mine” As she is loading her clothes into MY ripped up bag. She then proceeds to tell me how someone had taken money out of her wallet which she had left on the laundry table apparently near where I was doing my clothes. First, who leaves their wallet at a Laundromat or anywhere for that matter, expecting it to be safe? And second, you think I took your money..?! And by taking my laundry bags, that’s going to be justice? Bless you, nasty woman. You are apparently even harder up than I.

Most people take for granted the very act of doing laundry. If anything, these, among many other experiences have made me that much more blessed and grateful. I will feel incredibly grateful when I again in life have a washer and dryer in my home, at my disposal. But in the mean time, clean clothes are a beautiful thing. So on to wash another day, which truly is an adventure.

Read More

Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?

With Father’s Day quickly approaching, I figured there was no time like the present to take a minute to “stir the pot” so to speak when looking at the men in the women’s lives all around me. It seems like when Father’s Day comes around, all Fathers, (and I use that term loosely), want to suddenly step up and take credit for being a dad. But let’s get real for a minute, just because you assisted in creating life, does not mean you are doing the work that comes with being a dad. You have on again, off again fathers, baby daddies, dudes that are obviously around because they feel responsible but are miserable because of it, women, jumping into new relationships and pushing their children onto boyfriends, and everything in between. Then  you actually have DADS who deserve all the credit they rarely get, and often aren’t even looking for.

Let’s first address women, because they say behind every good man is a great woman…or so the saying goes. I have begun to think that saying is all wrong. In truth, it should be at the very least “next to” every man, and unfortunately more often than not, it’s actually the woman leading the way. Don’t get me wrong, this is not me jumping up on my feminist soapbox. I am just making observations. Society has run amuck. It has become perfectly acceptable for dudes to act like fools instead gentlemen. The worst part about it is, most women are fully accepting of mediocre behavior. I have seen more relationships as of late, where men are encouraging their significant other to go out and work a better job, longer hours, pay the bills,  and in more ways than one “wear the pants”, while they sit home, un-driven, and unmotivated to do better. So, are they then switching roles a little and contributing more to the traditional “woman’s” role of raising the children? Not often. Women are going out, working hard, striving to be better, and still coming home to a dirty house and unfed kids.

I am in no way putting myself above this madness. Often during my marriage I continually said to myself, “a man’s work is from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done”. I didn’t understand the double standard with my ex-husband.  He could go out to work, and actually find time to sit down and play video games while in the same day I could go out to work, and then come home and still be cooking, cleaning, and handling the full time job of kids until I was physically falling asleep on my feet, and still not having accomplished all the daily tasks. I used to think, it would be nice to sit down for a minute and watch TV, or read a book, or even take a piss. I was every bit as guilty of allowing mediocre men’s behavior as some of the women around me now. I am not proud to admit it, but I even went to online school for my ex-husband, doing all his work for him and getting HIM a college degree, all because he said it would allow him to get a better part time career to provide for us, his family. But in truth, he never did use the degree, or get a part time job. He fell in to the category of rather seeing his wife, mother of his children, go out and get two or three jobs to make more money, so he wouldn’t have to work as hard to provide.

Then there are the men who just act like when children are born, they suddenly have no clue. No clue on how to feed babies, or change them, or do any of that “daddy dirty work”.  What do women do? Take said child, and do it for them! Trust me, this is what the daddy really wanted anyways. I have personally witnessed women who could not leave their child with the baby’s father for more than a few hours at a time, and then I’ve witnessed women who do, but probably shouldn’t. That’s scary.  Scarier is that as women, we are accepting of that. Women are afraid of getting their men in check, and often don’t even see it until they are doing 90% of the work.

It takes a LOT to be a dad. Any man can donate a seed, but to be a DAD requires work. Work that lately seemingly most men don’t truly want to put in. What does the man you love do for you? How does he contribute to your relationship? How does he contribute to your family? How does he make you better? Children are like sponges. They are constantly observing, and soaking up that in which surrounds them. Are they seeing a good man, who strives to be better, is driven and hard working, who has family values, who supports his family and woman, or helps mold and shape them as individuals, who spends quality time with them? Or are they seeing a man who sits around calling himself a dad, while he allows mom to do 90% of the work while he plays videogames? Our children will be the parents of tomorrow’s world. They are our legacy that we leave behind when we go. Don’t they deserve all the attention we can possibly give them? WE are creating our future. So, ask yourself, do I want my son to be the type of father his father is?

And to the real Dads who do put in the work…. Bravo. If you have a man who is leading by example, loving his children, working hard, supporting his woman, and taking an equal role in parenting… ladies, hold on to them. Unfortunately, they seem to be a dying breed. It is never too late to stand up and demand more. Unless you are ok with mediocrity.

Read More

Women: The Lost Tribe

When you hear the word, “Personal Trainer” most people instantly think fitness. They believe “this person has the tools I need to help me lose weight and get in shape”.  That is completely true, however, it goes so much further beyond that. Weight and body image are just cosmetic compared to what is really going on in someone’s life. Your body can tell me part of the story. For instance, whether you have had past injuries or if you were leading a pretty fit lifestyle and for one reason or another just got side tracked and need help finding your way back on the horse. It may be you have had major stress going on and have used food as a coping mechanism. For most people the issues are rooted much more deeply than just in weight gain/loss. As a trainer, I have found my clients need me to be just as much of a therapist as they do someone to kick their butt.  I feel blessed to lend a listening ear.

I have realized in my years in the fitness industry, specifically dealing with a mostly female clientele, that once women leave high school/college, they lose track of friends and their support system of women. Let’s face it, most have neighbors, or coworkers, or maybe a friend here or there, but actually getting un-judged, unbiased support from another woman or group of women is rarely heard of.  I’ve seen firsthand how women are increasingly more emotional creatures than men. So, you have women who need support, and someone to listen, and more times than not they have no one to do the listening, so they turn to other outlets, such as food, when all they really want is to be able to get some things off their chest, because let’s, face it, we all lead stressful lives.

This has led me to reflect on “women” as a culture. The word culture is rarely used when describing sexes. Quite literally, “Culture” is “a way of life of a group of people”.  Going back hundreds and hundreds of years, women were their own culture. There were tribal groups and the men would go out hunting for days, weeks, or even months at a time. This left a village of women and children. Women were at that time most certainly their own support system and culture. In Bedouin tribes in the Middle East, often still to this day, when a woman goes in to labor, it is a celebration for women of the tribe. Tents are erected and all the women of the tribe congregate inside and dance, and eat, and belly dance around the laboring mother in support of her for sometimes days on end until she delivers her baby. During this time, the men, the husbands, even including the laboring woman’s, are not allowed inside the tent. True beauty of sisterhood, women supporting women, being WOMEN. Imagine that.

However, in our modern day America we have lost that ideal completely. We, as little girls, start judging and competing against each other, at such a young age. We start backstabbing and talking each other down instead of lifting each other up.  Whereas several decades ago, families had the mommas, and grand mommas, and the aunties all aiding in the raising of daughters. This is a practice you just don’t see that much anymore. Often, there is even tension amongst the women within the family unit. What has happened to women as a culture? Boys and men have somehow managed to still bond together, even if not in family units. Gang members even create their own “family” often made up of young men whose fathers weren’t around as children.  How it is that women have lost their way?

Not only are young girls competing and judging each other at a younger and younger age, they are also comparing themselves against unrealistic expectations. Having both a son and daughter of my own, I’ve watched and taken notice that boys are not nearly as critical of themselves nor do they judge quite like girls.  Little girls are comparing themselves to other little girls, and even young girls they see in magazines and on TV. This only gets worse as they grow up. Suddenly those little girls have become grown young women with an unhealthy body image who don’t cut themselves an inch of slack. Internally, we all criticize and compare everything we do.

Can we reverse this trend? Why are we so judgmental of ourselves and each other? Everyone needs support, and often that woman next to you is drowning in some aspect of stress within her life, not to mention the loneliness of not having someone just to listen to her. Somewhere, deeply rooted within us is a memory of the sisterhood WOMEN once shared. Imagine if we could return to that. Imagine how our world could change. We not only would make stronger, more confident daughters, but as a whole culture, women would be stronger. How do we begin? Start within yourself. YOU are beautiful. YOU are strong. YOU are enough! YOU can do this…whatever this may be. Cut yourself some slack. Find the sister hiding deep within yourself and remember her the next time you look at yourself or another judgingly. One positive thought has a vibration frequency that can only bounce back. We can make a difference…one woman, one gesture, one compliment at a time.

Read More

The Destruction of Self: Stop in the Name of Love

You know when you are pondering one thing, and it leads to another, and another, and suddenly, an epiphany? Or… maybe it’s something you have always known, but never quite put the same thought process behind it? That is what happened to me, and Eureka! Love has got to be the most powerful, and possibly the single most destructive thing on the planet. Boom. There it is! Are you sitting there agreeing with me? Love will quite literally drive one mad. Think of all the wars that have been fought over it and all the deaths that have occurred because of it. It has saved lives and destroyed them. It can seemingly take our breath away with happiness as if our heart may burst, or completely knock us off our feet in sadness as if our heart has been shattered. Love can put us on cloud 9 or drop us to our absolute lowest.

These revelations all brought me to this thought….How in the hell do we ever give any other being so much power?! It’s like a sickness. Maybe that’s why they say in the beginning one is “love sick” as they are falling in love. And it is just that…. like falling. Blissful, beautiful, stupid, as if you are one of those silly cartoons with hearts in your eyes. It can feel like someone has hit you over the head and now you are love struck. Suddenly you’d seemingly do anything for that person, even something in your “right” mind you’d never do. But the question I really have is…How do we get so wrapped up, that so often, just like a sickness, we lose ourselves completely? We don’t even see ourselves fading away until we are all but a glimmer of our former self.  One day we just wake up, not in that same blissful, dizzying stupor of love, but unhappy, unfulfilled, and not even sure why, or how we got that way.

My marriage was certainly not without issues, but I stayed many years more than maybe I should have holding on almost desperately to the love I thought I had. Until one day I quite literally looked in the mirror and didn’t even see myself anymore. But where had I gone? I never even saw myself fading away. I couldn’t even tell myself or anyone else for that matter what brought me joy.

For example, I had loved sports my entire life, since I was a kid. I realized one day that I had almost completely and totally given up watching sports on TV because my ex-husband always wanted to turn the channel. Truthfully, I did not have much time to watch TV since I was too busy cooking, cleaning, and mothering small children while maintaining a full time job. I was completely oblivious to what was going on in the NFL, NBA, and NCAA throughout our 4 years of dating and 7 years of marriage unless I happened to overhear it or read about it. Something I had loved just became less and less until it just wasn’t important anymore. When I came to this realization, I was absolutely in shock, like I had been living under a rock. Was it just my ex or could I attribute this to “friends” I had who also could have cared less about sports, and definitely didn’t want to talk about them? One day before our birthday, my twin sister asked me this eye opener. What would bring me joy? After soul searching, I realized, I didn’t even know anymore. I had become so caught up in being a wife, a mother, a friend, and letting others influence me that I couldn’t even answer that simple question. Talk about feeling lost. I had to think back to practically being in my young teens to remember the things I loved, and the person I was.

I had a visit with an old friend today, and as we talked, I connected the same story through an entire web of people I know.  I asked him about playing the piano. We’ve been friends about 9 years, and just before we met he was a traveling concert pianist. He told me how he never really played anymore. His wife always acted like he could be doing something more productive, and when he would sit down to play, she would instantly start in on him about doing other work. I knew this feeling EXACTLY. I said to him, “but, it is a release for you, something that brings you joy”. Then I remembered other musician friends of mine who had also said out of the course of their marriages they had a husband/wife that no longer wanted them to play, or perform, or devote time to it. As we spoke I sat there somewhat dumbfounded. I recalled several other friends who had given up hobbies/loves that once brought them joy because of the influences of others, especially those that they loved. It left me asking myself, WHY? Chances are, when you met that person you fell in love with, they knew you loved _________.  Over time it becomes acceptable if they do not share that love of _________ with you, that not only do they not have to do it, but they can influence you not to do it, or like it, or what have you. Why do we fall into these relationships and expect people to change?

I have learned over this rocky road, you can’t change someone. If somehow you do, it’s only a matter of time before they usually resent you for it. People can change themselves for the better. If you try and manipulate something away from someone that brings them happiness, they will wake up, some much later than others, feeling lost, and unhappy, and probably resentful. When you love someone, shouldn’t you love ALL of them? When in a new relationship, we tend to FALL quickly and want to spend every moment with that other person. But in truth, time alone is good for EVERYONE. Time with your friends away from your new love is also healthy. Women need time to bond and be silly with their girlfriends and men need time with just their guy friends.

 

Take the time to really look in the mirror, do you still recognize yourself? If asked, can you actually name what still brings you joy? Chances are, you’ve been so wrapped up in everyday life, you haven’t done that in a while. Don’t forget to evaluate your relationships too! Try to remember all the things you loved about that person when you met. If either one or both of you have sacrificed something you loved, which in turn meant sacrificing part of yourselves, maybe you should consider rediscovering those old passions before it’s too late.

Read More

What Your Mother Never Told You

With Mother’s Day right around the corner it has led me to reflect on this journey of being a mother, and the journey it has been. I’ve thought often of my own Mother’s journey and how it impacted my life. And I’ve reflected often on the other Mother’s I see around me. There certainly are all types of Mother’s aren’t there? When I really sit and think hard, I realize, almost all my fondest childhood memories, were not of anything “special” or out of the ordinary, but my mother was always close by. Sometimes as a child when I remember being sad, it often involved her going out late nights to work. I would stare out the bedroom window at my grandparent’s house and count car lights that drove by. With every car, I prayed it would be hers… which it never was…we were always sound asleep by the time she came home. We’d cry and beg her not to go to work, and still she’d always go. In hindsight as an adult, I know she went so she could keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. She often worked two jobs, just to keep us afloat. Looking back, as kids we never understood, nor cut her any slack for seemingly working all the time, and I realized, my children do the same thing, while my goals are the same as my own mother.

I am blessed enough to have two children, a daughter, 8 and a son 5. Just today my son had to go to the pediatrician to get caught up on immunizations. He was born in a free standing birth center, completely natural, and up until going to school this year, has never really needed to go to a doctor. This meant, until this year he also had never had shots. As he is fussing about getting 4 needles to the legs, I take a breath; look him in the face and say, “Son, sometimes we have to be a lot tougher and stronger than we think we are.” His birth instantly came to mind. I believe if women were made to endure natural childbirth without pain medicine, we wouldn’t have quite the population problem we have. The thought of his birth instantly was followed by the thought that this single momma job has got to be the hardest job in the entire world. I drove home knowing the concert I really wanted to see tonight, I wouldn’t because inevitably as a single mother, even if I had a babysitter, I couldn’t go out because he’d had shots and besides work, my responsibility was to my kids…who, after all, have school tomorrow.

My decision to become a single mother was highly motivated by the responsibility I felt I had to my children. I knew I owed it to them to teach them to love and be loved appropriately, or else I was doing them an injustice in life. Staying in an emotionally abusive, and neglectful marriage would later on teach them how to mistreat others, settle, and that it was ok to be mistreated themselves. I couldn’t do it. I knew the path of the journey I was taking on would be a constant struggle, but I had to do so for the sake of teaching them right from wrong, and my desire for them to have beautiful, better lives and relationships. I was right. It has been a seemingly constant struggle. Every single thing I do is for my children. I never get a day off. I don’t even get a moment of quiet until they are fast asleep which usually lends me to cleaning and working very late into the night. Funny, when I became a mother it seemed like I may never sleep again, and although my children are eight and five, I still get very little sleep. Every child’s nightmare, every time one of my children has been sick, every diaper I’ve ever changed, or the amount of time I was puked on, peed on, pooped on, used as a tissue, and the list goes on and on… nothing could have ever prepared me for this journey.

You see, as a mother, there is no manual to say what to do if…. and there is so much our own mothers could not have prepared us for. I’ve learned that every single journey is unique and because I know no one should judge my journey, I try hard not to judge others. My mother could not have truly prepared me for the total exhaustion, the constantly forging forward, and the seemingly never ending worries and work. However, she also could not have ever prepared me for a love so real and so true you give all of yourself, day in and day out, selflessly, and choose to again, and again, and again only in hopes of creating a better life for them. A love that you would give up your whole existence for in the blink of an eye. A complete and total self sacrifice daily that you wouldn’t change for anything in the world in hopes that your children will just continue loving you.

To my own mother, I am sorry for the all the times I made you cry. For the times I saw you, and for the many times I didn’t. Thank you for every single sacrifice you made. And for my children who made me a mother, YOU are the reason I breathe. I only hope someday you realize I did it ALL because I love you. And to every mother, hold your children dear, because they are our hope at a better future. BE the Mother you want your children to remember, because the Mothers and Fathers they become are a reflection of you.

Read More

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

     I am my own worst critic. I always have been. And as I’ve grown, I realize it’s not just me. We are really hard on ourselves. Which leads me to ask the question, Why? “Beauty”… meaning what society considers beautiful has changed it’s face so drastically over time. But how, and why? Have you sat back and admired real, classic art? Women were portrayed so very differently then. In truth, their forms were much more realistic. They were not Sir Mixalot’s measurements of 36-24-36, nor did these classic beauties look like a Victoria’s Secret Runway model looks today. They were soft. They had curvy, soft lines. They had ample bosoms, thicker, softer middles, lower tummy “mommy pooch”, and definitely more cushy bottoms. By today’s standards these art forms, at one time considered the epitome of beauty, in today’s society don’t hold a torch to Beyonce (however much we love her).  As women we have such a skewed sense of beauty, all we do is compare ourselves.

I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I started comparing myself to everyone else almost as early as I can remember. I, having a twin sister compared myself to her naturally. I was always the heavy set one. As a matter of fact, as kids, I was always the heaviest set one in the family. Even as a baby, I was significantly chubbier than my twin sister. Then, growing up, the trend continued, and lets be honest, kids are cruel. I think back and wonder how I got that way. I didn’t feel like I ate more than her or my cousins. As a matter of fact, we struggled hard financially, and some nights, we barely ate at all. I do remember not eating the most nutritious food. Sadly, whole foods are more costly than junk, processed foods. But my mother did the best she could. I do know I liked food. By the time I was in middle school, I had taken to wearing baggy clothes, which were in style at the time (which in reality, even at my size now, I still wear).

By the time high school rolled around I was more self conscious about my weight, especially considering my sister was several sizes smaller. Often I barely ate, and when I did, it was total junk. I yoyo-ed in weight, and I found when I was losing it, it was always through binges of not eating. This became comfortable. As everything does however, the weight always came back. By the time graduation happened I enlisted in the Marines. But according to their “standards” I was over weight. Now, might I just say that going in to Marine Corps, boot camp is hard enough, but going in as a WEIGHT recruit?! It’s like walking around boot camp with a neon sign. Everyone is issued the same dark green uniform T-shirts to wear under cammies, and for PT. Weight Recruits have two giant white stripes painted across their shirts, so everyone knows they are over weight. When everyone else has normal chow, weight recruits get a “diet” tray…which you have to yell out and ask for. Every recruit, Drill Instructor, Officer, EVERYONE knows you are over your weight limit just by looking at you. Embarrassing? Yes. I had a drill Instructor pull me up in front of a platoon of 60 women, made me stand in front of a mirror, and say, “Spalding, you see all this fat on you? We are going to work it off” and she proceeded to work me out, until I thought I’d vomit. Not to mention that I was so embarrassed and ashamed I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.

When I got out of the Marines, I wanted to model. But living up to Florida industry standards, even at my smallest, I never once walked into an agency without them telling me I had to lose weight. So, I did everything to try and lose weight. I tried every diet pill, starvation, laxatives, working out on no food. I would even chew food up to get the taste in my mouth only to spit it into a napkin. I was killing myself thinking I was closer to attaining what the industry thought was beautiful. It wasn’t until I found dance, that I started getting healthy. I started training in a gym, and realized I had so much work to do. But honestly the work was even more emotional and mental than physical. We all have our insecurities. If I had a dollar for the amount of women I have counseled and trained over the years that when they first start can not even stand to look at themselves in the mirror, I would be a millionaire. I know that feeling. Even at my current size, 15% body fat, I still look in the mirror and start to pick myself apart. I don’t like shirts that are form fitting to my stomach. I have a few dimples in my butt and thighs. But I, at this place in my life, am strong enough to remind myself although I have those things, my thighs and butt are also thick with muscle.

At what place in our lives did we learn as women to constantly compare ourselves to others? And why can’t we stop? How did our view of ourselves become so skewed? What I’ve learned is fitness is not just a daily battle, but self love as well. I preach self love to my clients, but I have to remind myself all the time. The good news is there is a light at the end of this tunnel. It takes one single step to start the journey of truly loving oneself on the outside and in. But you have to be willing to take the first step. And then the next step, and the step after that. You can succeed at anything as long as you keep pressing forward. I can proudly say, my personal journey has taken me a long way.  I have been blessed enough to help women who at one time couldn’t stand to look at themselves in the mirror, to them not only looking at themselves but truly loving themselves…But they took the step on the journey, and they followed through. Change is never easy. But sometimes you’ll be amazed at what change can lead to. Love yourself enough to take the first step. No matter what that step is in life. You are worth it. You are enough. Someone else sees it inside you, even if sometimes we don’t see it in ourselves.

Read More

The Slow Death of the Independent Woman

I have noticed a growing trend as of lately, and for the life of me, I just can’t seem to wrap my head around it. Or, maybe it’s been going on forever and I’m just starting to notice it every single day, in my face, everywhere I turn. It’s as if women are slowly and willingly giving up their independence. Maybe at such a snails pace they don’t even realize it themselves. I listen to story after story, day in and day out of women in relationships were they have hands down settled for one reason or another. And they are daily giving away pieces of themselves, often without even realizing it, to relationships that are giving them little in return.

Then, on the flip side of the coin, women who are not tied down are down right frantically searching for a relationship and then jumping in head first, whether it’s right for them or not, just so they don’t have to be alone. Really? What am I missing? When did it become a bad thing to be ALONE? At what point did women start saying, “This guy is a mooch…he has no drive…and no ambition…and isn’t even that good to me… but I’d still rather be with him than alone”. Women that are young, beautiful, and confident…on the outside….on facebook and social media. That woman has everyone fooled. Yet in reality, she jumps from relationship to relationship with barely a few days in between. Next thing you know, she’s updating her relationship status on social media, posting a million selfies of new blissful love and in a less than a months time… MOVING IN?!!! If your future self told you, “In 5 years time you will be being treated terribly daily, be truly unhappy with your new found Prince Charming, and yet feel as though you are truly stuck with no other options but to stay” maybe you wouldn’t be rushing so fast to move in. What happened to women working, striving to be better for themselves, be healthier, for themselves, and successful for themselves? Instead, gyms are flooded with women trying to get in better shape not for themselves, but for a person they want to keep, or as “revenge” to a person they are no longer with.

And then there is the worst, the women who are being abused mentally and or physically, and who feel so stuck or trapped, they stay, no matter how bad it gets. Often, again, making so many excuses as to why they stay it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. Picture this, you are beautiful bird in cage. Part of you hates the cage, even if it’s so familiar that it feels like home. But here’s the thing, the cage door is open. It’s completely up to you, the bird, to fly out at any time. Unfortunately, I’m seeing most of the birds refuse to fly out for fear of what’s outside of the cage. For fear of having to be… Alone. For fear of having to be on their own.  What, along the way, made us so reliant upon everyone else for our happiness and stability? And these, the ones truly being abused…. are dying. Within the last six months two women, I, at one time were quite close with, lost this battle. One, a former coworker, was shot in the head four times while she slept after a custody disagreement, by her son’s father. The other, was beaten within an inch of her life by her estranged, recently separated husband. And unfortunately, these two just top the list of the many stories I hear daily from women who choose not to fly from the cage.

How are we seemingly going backwards? And more importantly, what are we teaching our daughters? Are we teaching them to be strong, independent women? Or are we saying it from our mouths, do as I say, not as I do? My own daughter will surely be mad at me for lots of things over the course of her lifetime, certainly including leaving her father. But she will never be able to say I didn’t teach her to stand on her own, and love herself enough to demand better. When I opened my eyes to my own failed marriage, on that day in which I woke up, there wasn’t much I felt I did know. I didn’t know how I was going to financially move, and pay bills all by myself. I didn’t know where I would go. I didn’t know how I could take my kids away from their father. I didn’t know how I would find the strength in my heart to actually get out, and keep moving forward without humbling and cowardly moving back because “it was too hard”. I didn’t know much of anything really.

But what I did know is I, as a mother, owed it to my children to teach them how to love and be loved appropriately. And if any man ever treated MY daughter the way I was being treated…that was MY fault because I taught her that was okay.  If my son ever treated any woman the way I was being treated, also, that fault would be mine because I taught him that’s how women should be treated.  At that realization, all the things, I didn’t know were lessened in my desire to be better for them. I left with nothing. I started with nothing, except a constant prayer. I slept for months on a different pillow every single night, living out of my car like a gypsy, always getting by on 3 or less hours of sleep every night. Then right back to work and mothering (a full time job all on its own).  I quite literally had to rebuild a life from what seemed like just a pile of ashes. Nothing has been easy. It’s been a fight every single day, just to be a single mother. But as an independent woman standing on my own, raising two small children, on my own, I can honestly say I am teaching my children how to live, stand, fight, and be BETTER on their own. As a woman who has been abused and neglected, I can tell you it is possible to demand more out of life. It’s a good life if you live it. But at the end of the day, if something in your life makes you unhappy (your body, your relationships, your job, your living conditions…anything), the only one that truly has the power to change it…is YOU. Stand in your power. For the sake of yourself because you deserve better, and for the sake of our children.

Read More

THE ROAD TO FAT IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS

It happens every year, New Years Day, the first day of a brand new year. Which will inevitably be the year you make positive changes in your life, turn over a new leaf and make a whole list of New Years resolutions. The very top of your list… “Lose Weight”, make healthier choices, and you swear THIS is going to be the year you get off your ass, and lose that extra 20 lbs. Besides, you have a cruise booked this summer, or a reunion, a wedding, etc etc.  Gyms see a huge influx of new registrations, and the people who are regularly in the gym the rest of the year, hate January. Chances are by March, your resolution has already been thrown out the window, and life is back to busy with “no time” to workout. Maybe some of you even try again. You vow not to forget your goals and start a program. This is taking the first step, and for that, you get credit, that’s a bigger first step than most. However, no plan can work miracles unless you stick to it.

Excuses, excuses, excuses….there are so many, it’s hard to even keep them straight to yourself.  “I was doing really well, but then had to work later, and haven’t been able to make it to my workout in weeks”, “That person that goes just really annoys me”, “My finances just won’t allow it”, “my work”, “my husband”, “my kids”…..and the list goes on and on and on. As women, somewhere along the way, we learned it was ok, and even expected to start putting everyone in our lives ahead of ourselves, for everything. Until one day we wake up, usually twenty plus pounds over weight, often unhappy, feeling like something is missing in our lives and we don’t even know what it is, and we certainly don’t have enough time to find it. Let’s just be honest, as wives and mothers, there is never enough time in a day. Well, since you don’t have time to figure out what’s missing, never fear, I might be able to help you answer that…….OURSELVES. We have lost ourselves. “My kid’s happiness makes me happy”, “My husband’s happiness makes me happy”, “That one night a week I get to go out and have drinks with my friends/coworkers…that makes me happy”, and everything else in between is just daily business. When was the last time you invested in making yourself a better version of yourself…for YOURSELF?

Which brings me to my next point, there is no magical fix. You’ve lost yourself slowly over a long period of time. You’ve gained weight, over a period of time. So why should we think real results, mentally and physically should be practically instantaneous.  Every accomplishment worth anything doesn’t come without sacrifice. You have to sacrifice, and commit and put in the work. And real work is what it’s going to take. Real Commitment. Real Discipline. Not, “well, I can commit today and maybe tomorrow too, but this weekend is my friend’s birthday, so….. I’ll start again next week”. And yes, it takes just as much mental work to return to self as it does physical. Working out is just the first step in the right direction.

Don’t think for a moment I’m writing this from my high horse. I was that woman. I woke up one day during my divorce and realized I was so far lost, I couldn’t even answer the simple question, “what would make you happy?”, and for me it was a battle and a journey to find myself again that was incredibly lonely. But the good news for you is, you don’t have to do it alone! But, you do actually have to make up your mind to make a change, and stick to it. Because that’s the only time any progress can be made…when you are fully committed.  Someone sent me a quote once that said, “I could write you a million motivational quotes, I could show you a thousand before and afters, I could cook you hundreds of healthy meals, but truth is, you need to get off your ass and work for your body”, and that’s real talk. I, as a woman, had to do the work for myself.  I can NOT do it for you, the same as no one could do it for me. But, when you are ready, truly ready to start investing in your health, your SELF, your self worth, your mental happiness, which will in turn make every other avenue of your life more fulfilling, you have a team of support at Wicked Fitness waiting to guide your way. There is a Queen inside you that is waiting for you to empower her again. Stand in your power.

Read More

Are you Bikini Ready? Five Detox Recipes to Kick Start the Slim Down Process

Okay, so it’s proven the number one thing for flushing fat is water, and most of us just don’t drink enough of it. We know how good it is for us, but the taste….well…the lack there of…sometimes, it’s just hard to get down. However, it is a great way to rejuvenate your system, and flush out all the bad stuff. Instead of buying expensive enriched waters, sodas, or spritzers, try adding a few ingredients to your bottle, and see that water doesn’t have to be so boring.

 

  • Lemon Cayenne Liver Cleanse

For years this has been considered a master detoxifier and has aided thousands in not only flushing fat, but cleansing out all sorts of toxins while boosting energy. Lemon juice and cayenne pepper both have antifungal, immune boosting, and detoxification properties. Cayenne Pepper increases metabolism, stimulates the circulatory system, aides digestion, helps regulate blood sugar and more. Within thirty minutes of waking up, take 8-16oz of hot water, add juice from 1 lemon and a pinch of cayenne pepper and if you just can’t stomach it, a small drop of natural honey to sweeten. Wakes you up, and give you energy to start the day, all while giving your metabolism a morning jump start.

 

  • Slim Down Detox Water

This cucumber detox water is an ideal starting point for those looking to finally commit to a healthy eating nutrition and workout plan. The diuretic properties of this drink aid in releasing any extra moisture by being rapidly flushed from the system. Grapefruit adds flavor while containing a powerhouse of fat burning enzymes. In one glass of water add lemon, cucumber, and a slice or two of grapefruit.

(www.Skinnymom.com)

 

  • Lemon Ginger Detox Drink

Weather you are trying to cure an oncoming cold or looking for a weight loss elixir, this one does it all! The citrus of the lemon promotes healthy digestion, and gives a boost of vitamin C. Ginger has been known for centuries to suppress nausea and guarantee intestinal wellness. It is also rich with gingerol, a detoxifying agent that has miracle properties…even known to combat cancer. Just mix one 12oz glass of water, one ginger root knob, and a freshly squeezed lemon. (Add Cinnamon for an additional metabolism/immune system boost).

 

  • Wonderful Watermelon Water

There are plenty of healthy antioxidants stored in melons, and it’s rich in nutrients. Additionally, if you like your water a little sweeter, this is your escape from sugary options. A key component in watermelons is the phytonutrient Lycopene, a strong antioxidant known for it’s anti-inflammatory effects. It also has amino acids to aid in blood flow, and cardiovascular health. Just add several pieces of watermelon to your water. A few springs of mint also make it especially refreshing on hot days or after a Wicked Fitness workout!

(www.54health.com)

 

5.) Apple Cider Vinegar Cure All

Behold the power of Apple Cider Vinegar! This one ingredient has literally hundreds of uses and a laundry list of cure alls. For years it has been revered in the fitness community as a Cleansing, detoxifying, and fat loss POWER HOUSE. Apple Cider vinegar acts as a natural appetite suppressant producing a feeling of satisfaction sooner. It prevents uncontrollable sugar spikes and crashes that make you want to nibble in between meals. It has also been proven that ACV stimulates metabolism and makes your body burn fat faster, among many other things. All you need for this detox is 1-2 Tbsp ACV to a glass of water. Drink preferably thirty minutes before meals, three times a day.

Read More

Slow Your Roll! Sensuality through dance movement!

Yep, I said it…the word so many of you dread and probably hope I never mention in a pole fitness class… sensuality. Surprisingly it is only a few who take pole dancing classes and honestly admit they are looking to get more touch with their sensuality. We all have it. Some of us just seem more in tune with it than others. Which leads me to ask the question, why? What was it that made us so insecure about our own beautiful, sexual energy?

At Wicked Fitness we realize this is a common issue, and often, clients are taking fitness classes to not only improve their over all health, but to boost confidence as well. And although we teach dance moves in pole fitness classes, I’m noticing the growing trend that it is easy to try and rush through them to get to the spins and tricks… the fun stuff. But did you know, the “dance” aspect of pole fitness is just as beautiful, empowering and challenging as the tricks aspect? Something as simple as the way you strut around the pole can be completely mesmerizing if done correctly. This is YOUR beauty. YOUR grand entrance. It sets the tone for everything else you are about to do. Something as simple as rolling your shoulders back and adding some hot sauce to your walk… such a minor detail can add so much to your routine.

So, you ask, where do I begin? For starters, SLOW DOWN. Going slow, whether it’s walking slow, or spinning slow, or dancing slow, or hitting a trick slowly, is so much harder than going fast. It forces you to use more muscle control. It also allows you to steady your mind for a minute and get lost in the music. We have all heard the saying “Dance like no one is watching”, but I have learned in life in general, we don’t really know how to do that anymore. We have become a society that is so fearful of judgment and scrutiny; we’ve become practically afraid of ourselves. Have any of you ever gone into a room, by yourself, and thought, “Let me just try this in front of the mirror” only to quickly follow it up with your next thought, “Let me stop, I look ridiculous” or “well, that doesn’t look the way I pictured it”. But what are you really stopping for….. NO ONE IS WATCHING YOU BUT YOU! But we don’t like it. It’s not visually appealing to us, so we stop and chalk it up to it not being our move, and move on. But the problem is rooted so much deeper than just in the move. It’s our mind set that really needs the fixing.

Anything that you have the desire to change, you can. Yes, it really is that simple. We have become so accustomed to making excuses for everything in our lives. Everything from, “I want a better job, but I can’t because…” “I want my relationship to be stronger but it won’t be because….” “I want to be in better shape, but it’s hard for me because….” “My body will never move like that because….” And we have excuse after excuse, after excuse. Well, I can let you in on a little secret. YES, it can. If there is something you would like to be different in your life, YOU do have the power to change it. Especially when it comes to your body and the way it moves. It’s simple. Your body is made of muscles. If you train those muscles to do what you want them to do, then they will. So, yes, you can move your body that way. Maybe not the first time you try, but like anything, the more you stick with it, the better you will become.

I have had the pleasure of training women who at one time couldn’t even stand to look at themselves dance in front of a mirror. They were completely ashamed, and embarrassed at how in their mind their bodies moved so awkwardly. But guess what? They stuck with it, and the transformation that took place was amazing! Like a butterfly finding the beauty in fluttering new wings. And suddenly others are watching them dance, in that same mindset our butterfly used to have thinking, “she is so graceful and moves with such sensuality and confidence…but my body will never move like that because…”

Stick with it and LET GO. Let go of how you think you look. Let go of the thinking that the person next to you must be judging you. Because I can almost guarantee that same person is thinking the same thing about you. Focus on yourself. Somewhere, maybe deeper down for some of us than others, there is a Queen. She is beautiful, and powerful, and a confident sensual being. She has not forgotten you, although you may have forgotten her. She is dying to spread her wings! But it’s up to you to give her the opportunity.

 

Read More