The Lenten Promise

As an Islander (Mom is from Haiti, Dad is from Trinidad), I was baptized Catholic, because it’s practically a law – if you’re from the Islands, you’re going to be Catholic.

Image via Wikipedia

And for your info, both Haiti and Trinidad are above. Haiti is partners with the DR, and Trinidad is down there, off the coast of Venezuela. When folks find out my parents are from these islands, they often ask me if they’re in Africa, so to avoid embarrassment, there they are!

So, back to the topic at hand. I went to Catholic School for a few years, got my communion, did the whole shebang, and here’s what we were taught about Lent. Following Fat Tuesday, where you’d indulge in all the gross awful things life has to offer, you’d fast or abstain from something that is tempting to you for 40 days and 40 nights, to observe the 40 years the Israelites wandered the desert, or the 40 days Jesus wandered around in the dessert while rude old Satan tried to tempt him.

I think challenging yourself is 100% cool – and even though I’m not a practicing Catholic, I totally respect everyone kinda of jumping into this tradition, and abstaining from those things that will distract you from being the best you, and the best you to other people.  For some of you that is social media, for some, your smart phone, for others it might be soda.  Whatever, it is that’s distracting you from living your best life and aiding others, that’s kind of the idea.

Thanks Mama Oprah.  So here’s my issue with some of these Lenten Promises I’ve been seeing.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that people are starting to use Lent as their dieting tool, and to me, it sort of defeats the purpose of Lent. 

Like it’s totally fine to give up fried foods for Lent, especially if fried foods turn you into a bump on a log and you don’t do anything with yourself.  But if you’re giving up fried foods for the purposes of losing weight?  That’s not necessarily the point of Lent.

If sugar turns you into a monster and deflects your focus from being a good person, give it up!  But if you’re doing it to get bikini ready?

If candy is like heroin to you, and it’s keeping you from saving money for you and your family, give it UP.  But if you’re trying to get cut abs?

Am I making sense?  Have you noticed this as well? Are you practicing Lent?  What are you abstaining from? 

If yous would try and remember how this blog started…

If you’ll remember, back in December, I launched the blog back in December as an effort to drum up attention for the money I was raising for Haiti.  Hence, the title.  Since, I’ve meant to retitle the blog, but I haven’t gotten around to it.  And I’m not that creative.  I want to come up with a funky title, like “I run this ish” (GET IT!!!?) or something, but it just hasn’t come yet.

Anyhoo, I met with the cool folks from Hope for Haiti last night over a beer, and I have to remember to keep my eye on the prize!  They want to send me on a trip (to Haiti obvi) to document what we’re doing down there.  Like take my clearly stellar skills at blogging and photography and document what work we’ve accomplished.  That makes me SO happy!  Bahhh!

Disappointing start to Saturday

I was hoping to run a quick short run before I headed to Zumba today – and I got new gear that I wanted to try out, so I was extra pumped.

So I bundled up, and was met with the remnants of last night’s “weather event”

Weather 1

Aw shucks.  Maybe the street is better?

Weather 2


And as I was stepping of the complex into the street, I slipped, with the Jacksons “Enjoy Yourself” playing as the soundtrack.

Weather 3


I’m gonna have to try again tomorrow with my new gear (the Nike Element Shield Full-Zip in the most gorgeous shade of orange-red you’ve ever seen that looks AMAZING with my skin tone but whatever), and hopefully, 16 miles doesn’t hurt too badly after a day off.

Is working out for White people? (hint:nope)

What a lucky week!  We have not one, but two guest bloggers this week!  Let me start by introducing our topic.  ::sips Crystal Lite:: Ahem.

I’m training for a marathon (number 27 of the list of “Stuff White People Like”).  And I get mostly encouragement from my friends and family, but I get the occasional hate from folks, and a whole heck of a lot from other black women.  Saying I’m crazy, saying I work out too much, and that I’m too thin.  But for doing a seemingly good and healthy thing for myself, I’m getting a lot of discouragement.  So the past few weeks on the road, on the treadmill, and in the studio, I’m looking around, and I seem to be in the minority in these places.  And according to stats on obesity, it looks like I’m right, we (black women) are not doing a whole lot of working out.  So I asked Facebook, I asked Huffington Post, and I asked my pretty friend Theresa what the deal is.  Why are we (black women) in the minority at the gym and in races?  Why is the gym so white?  Why don’t black women work out?

Helmer Graduation

T: “I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard/read that black women don’t work out. Countless times I’m sure.  But I’ve never really understood it because for me personally, and all the black ladies I know, this isn’t necessarily a reality.

After reading an article from Huffington Post, (,  and seeing a few threads on reddit


I wanted to say my piece:

This whole ‘black women don’t do exercise because of their hair’ is a tired narrative, y’all.  I mean I get it, our hair requires a different kind of maintenance and products than advertised in our society, therefore people think we have the short end of the stick in the appearance and hair department (we don’t, IMO).  I don’t want to go on a hair rant because I’m here to talk about my experience and observation as a black lady who exercises.  I started swimming in the 1st grade and did so competitively until 10th grade.  During this time (3rd grade-10thgrade) I was getting my hair chemically straightened and I would blow dry my hair and straighten it every time I swam.  It’s honestly a wonder I even had a hair on my head with all that chemical damage, but I digress.  After I quit swimming, I took up working out at the gym.  Nothing deterred me because I viewed physical fitness as part of my life and something that everyone in my family was always interested in.

After reading through those reddit posts, it seems that many women are interested in exercising whether it is running, classes, or sports.  The main thread throughout is like I said above, exercising isn’t viewed as a priority.  And until it is, I feel we’ll still be here spinning our wheels and waiting for some different result (that really won’t happen unless there’s some sort of grassroots effort).

My expert opinion? It’s really not all that serious.  People are making all these excuses for black women not exercising like hair and other appearance factors when I personally think it has everything to do with cultural indoctrination that exercising isn’t fun or it’s too hard AND that it would seem that some black women don’t have support systems encouraging health and fitness.  Without someone laying the foundation in the home, how is the idea supposed to diffuse amongst the general population?”

Theresa makes some excellent points.  As a woman who exercises, she doesn’t feel that the hair thing is a good excuse.  I’m honored to have perspective from another woman of color.

Here a few bullets from other ladies that we’ve gleaned from our research.

Black women don’t exercise because:

  • They think exercise is for white people.  Yoga, Pilates, and Zumba are perceived as being for skinny white girls. Not so, but that’s the perception.
  • Like we said before, the hair thing.  They don’t want to spend a ton of money on their hair on Saturday to sweat it out in my Zumba class on Monday. (I hope everyone recognizes that this particular line of reasoning means you’re choosing your hair over wellness)
  • Exercise isn’t viewed as being valuable.  Why go work out when you can go home and take a nap instead.
  • Exercise sucks/hurts (but you feel so good after)!
  • Black culture reveres a more curvy shape. Being thin is not necessarily considered a good thing.  And working out may cause you to lose your shape.  (You can still have a nice shape if you work out).
  • Exercise wasn’t a thing in a lot of our households! I grew up mainly in the suburbs.  But a lot of minorities and a lot of people with lower SES status live in areas without yards, sidewalks, YMCAs, and all the other good stuff that cultivates a good relationship with diet and exercise.

Long story longer, four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese. In 2010, black women were 70 percent more likely to be obese than their white counterparts, according to the US Department of Health.  That’s bad.  That’s really bad. Obesity influences rates of cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, high cholesterol, and hypertension.  All that to avoid sweating for an hour a day?  Not really worth it.

So here’s the deal.  Just…MOVE.  You don’t have to run a marathon to get the bennies and perks of working out.  Walk!  Dance!  If you like to shovel, shovel your way to fitness, I don’t know.  The point is, get moving so we’re not suffering all for the sake of a good perm.

I totally forget that people actually read this thang.

I mean, I’m writing it for people to read and follow and be interested in, but it’s still a little surprising when someone is all “Omg that post about the Pop-Tarts?! Genius!”.  Now I may have embellished those words a tad, but you understand what I’m saying.

So anyhoo, I got the coolest email ever a few days ago from a really cool girl who volunteers with Hope for Haiti ( who heard through the grapevine (I believe it was a Tweet that I may have posted from the Fleet Feet Raleigh account) about what I was doing.

Hope Tweet

Fast-forward to today, and me and Tara (the Hope for Haiti volunteer) are sitting and chatting it up about going to Haiti, about possible projects for the future and about where we could take this whole project.  Whoa.

I don’t marvel often enough about the power of social media, but DANG I am impressed!  The absolutely coolest part of the whole conversation (besides the obvious fact that we’re going to be saving the entire world here), is the fact that she said the bass player from Delta Rae was the one who directed her to my project.  How cool!  Anyways, that said, let’s make a concerted effort not to use any embarrassing language since evidently Channing Tatum could be reading this.

Three years later, a bittersweet anniversary.

I will keep this short, because I know this anniversary brings a lot of hurt and terrible memories for Haiti and it’s beautiful people.

On this sad anniversary, I wish to Haiti and it’s people continued peace and restoration.  Things are not where they need to be.  Too many folks are still living in tents, cholera is too rampant, and some of us have forgotten how hard it is for some in Port-au-Prince.  An anniversary is a good time to renew hope and awareness to the rest of the world.

Click below to visit Mercy and to view their personal progress thus far in Haiti.  Our work is far from over.

While Running for Haiti…

…I almost forgot that real life goes on.  I wish I only had to focus on this blog, and collecting my funds, but regular life presses on!  The good stuff, the bad, and the heinously disappointing.

And to say that this week has been an epic emotional roller coaster wouldn’t even begin to touch the surface of what I’ve been going through.

I couldn’t get out of bed this morning.  And I had to say to myself , “Self!  These miles aren’t going to run themselves.”  And while it was physically challenging at first, I just told myself to put one foot in front of the other til it wasn’t hard anymore.

Well I came home to two things that put a little smile on my face.



If you’ve been following along, you know the nail polish thing is borderline problematic.  But a shade I’d ordered came in the mail today, a full two days before it was scheduled to, and Mercy sent me a little package with a certificate of appreciation for me!  My name’s on it and everything.

So call me corny, call me pathetic, but I’m going to be admiring the heck out of my new certificate and nails!

Music to Move By (Monster Post)

As I was driving home from my parents’ post-Christmas, NPR featured a story on the best songs of 2012.  I was interested because it kinda tied in to this post, on the music that moves you.

Let me disclaim this post by saying when you run or lift, DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT under any circumstance, work with your headphones on full blast.  There are creeps running around who look for folks who aren’t paying attention who would gladly hurt you.  It’s also a good way to get injured – sometimes when you’re listening to your favorite song, it’s easy to miss the first twinge that could signify the start of a worse injury.  When you put your earbuds in, lower it a few notches so you can pay attention to what’s going on around you, kay?

Also, I alphabetized this list for you.  SO MAKE IT WORTH MY WHILE AND READ IT!  That said, this monster post is a compilation of the best songs of 2012, the suggestions of some runner friends, and what I have on my playlist that makes you want to get up and move!

James Brown – Living in America
80s Music – General genre
ACDC – Thunderstruck
Anything by Muse or Girl Talk
Anything from Space Jam
Beastie Boys – Sabatoge
Beyonce – Get me Bodied
Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody
Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Diddy Dirty Money – Last Train to Paris
Duran Duran – The Wild Boys
Dyland y Lenny – Pegate Mas
Eminem – Lose Yourself by (The version featuring the Selected of God chorus)
Eminem – Til I Collapse
Eric Prydz – Call on Me
Imagine Dragons – It’s Time
Kanye West – Power
Karmin – Brokenhearted
Ke$ha – General genre
Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done
Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
Lecrae – Hands High
Lil Mama – Lip Gloss
Major Lazer – Anything Goes
Muse – Uprising
N.E.R.D – Rock Star
P!nk – Blow Me (One Last Kiss)
POP – French Montana
Public Enemy  – Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos
R. Kelly  – The Worlds Greatest
Rage Against the Machine – Bulls on Parade
Rich Boy – Throw Some D’s on It
Robyn– Show me Love
Sean Paul – Birthday Suit
Soulja Boy – Speakers Going Hammer
T.I – Top Back Remix
Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
The E.N.D. (entire album) – Black Eyed Peas
The first Wu-Tang Album
The Roots & John Legend – The Fire
Timbaland – Carry Out
Wale  – Slight Work, Legendary
Ying Yang Twins – Dangerous

Muse and Eminem are trends.  Get on that, man, apparently these guys fuel a lot of workouts.

One Direction gets their own section on here.  Live While We’re Young is the kind of tune that will take you from 5-15 miles in a matter of minutes.

**As an aside, if you find yourself horrifically bored, try this!

Get the free Pandora app.  The only annoying thing about it is that there are some ads, but when you’re running for like two hours, SafeLite ads don’t seem so crazy.

Set the app to the Katy Perry Station.  You will be entertained for DAYS.  Not kidding, it’s the best!  Kimmy (my dear sister) also says the Big Sean Station is poppin.  Whatever gets you moving, hopefully you’ve added a few new tunes to your list!**

New Years Resolutions

First and foremost, Happy Birthday to my mother, who will kill me if I post her age or a photo of her here on a public forum. Rest assured, she is an attractive lady…I didn’t make these good looks on my own knowwhatimsayin?

Then, Happy Independence Day to Haiti! We gained our independence 208 years ago from France! Woop woop! And onto New Years!

I’m not sure how I feel about things like New Years Resolutions.

I think it’s because I thrive and succeed on setting little baby goals for myself, and then accomplishing them in a matter of weeks or months. It’s how I started running and working out and losing weight, and that’s what I’ve found works for me. When I set huge, elaborate goals, I feel like I may be setting myself up for failure, so I set them, and then break them down so I can check on how I’m doing in a month or so. It’s how I’ve gotten better at almost everything I’m good at.

So my baby goals for 2013?

1. Spanish! I’m super annoyed I didn’t learn it as a child, because it makes communicating very difficult and I think my adult brain is far too dense to be conjugating verbs. Nevertheless, it’s something that needs to be done. I think it’s absolute ignorance that I have not done so already.
2. Positivity.  I can be extremely sarcastic, and a few years ago, a friend of mine interpreted that as me “always being angry”.  I made a conscious effort to, even when I’m not feeling like it, say nice things.  I try not to text, Tweet, or Facebook nasty or negative things, and I try to smile a lot more.  I promise, it has made the hugest difference in my happiness.  I’d like to continue on that path.
3. And finally…drumroll please? Housekeeping.  I am the worst housekeeper on the face of the planet.  That’s not to say that my apartment looks like a pigsty, it’s just to say I have to move mountains to keep it clean.  I’m like every normal person not featured on Hoarders, I like things neat, smelling fresh, and orderly, but to keep in that way is a feat of titanic proportions.  And then I have these friends like Alexa and Kelly, and you walked into their duplex any time of the day and it looked gorgeous and always smelled wonderful.  Jealous.  I’d like to work more at maintaining order around my home.

What’s your New Years resolution?