Happy & Healthy Honey Spotlight- Niosha

 When did you decide to take control over your health and happiness?

The first time I realized I needed to do something was simply a walk up the stairs in my house. I was taking the laundry basket upstairs.  When I got to the top of the stairs I couldn't breathe and I was sweating.  I had to sit for 5 minutes just to calm my heart rate down. I thought I was having a heart attack.

I went to the doctor who ensured it wasn't a heart attack, it was my weight.  He then suggested weight loss surgery because I had 100 lbs to lose.  Hearing him say surgery saddened my soul. I told him I would do it myself. He frowned and said I hear that a lot and then I read the death notice.  This pissed me off, I told him I would do it without surgery because my life was worth it. Truth: I didn't believe I was worth it but I went on faith that if I could have that reaction then something was behind it. I started the process of finding my worth. Two days later I joined the gym.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

I never really needed motivation. I was out to find my worth.   I decided to change my life and get back to who I knew I was and that was it, decision made now as I always say "Let's Get It." The more I return to myself the more I evolve without trying. I don't have the weight to hold me back now.

I became a spin instructor on February 6, 2014, a year and a month from when my Journey began (I Started Jan 6, 2013).  I ran my first 5K on May 24, 2014 and it was hard but I made it. When the run was over, the only thing I could think of is going back to training to make the next one easier.  I'm in a different frame of mind.  Once the mind changes, then the body changes, and your life goals change as well. I thank God every day for my present state and I reflect on it so I don't go back to where I was a year ago.

In addition to a healthier body, what else have you achieved?

Peace.  The hardest part of losing weight is not the physical appearance. I talk to many people trying to lose weight and I really try to drive this message.  It is not the physical weight holding you down.  It's the mindset and emotional baggage your trapped in. After my Doctors visit, I cried for three days and allowed myself to do so. With each tear, I faced a past moment that hurt, confined, and shackled me. I told myself with the drying of each tear, so dried the pain, hurt, and the shackles were broken once the tears evaporated. On the third day, I saw me again and felt self love for myself returning. The more my mind healed the more I wanted the outside to look like the inside.  I am now back to the place where I have always loved me the most in both physical and emotional and it feels great.  As my mind heals more and more changes will come. Its an ongoing process.

What makes you the happiest at this time in your healthy new life?

Everything.  You will always have a dark moment but as you return to happy the darkness gets shorter and you see the sunshine return faster and faster.  I am so at peace and my worry no longer weighs me down because I have the strength to not only stand but the mindset to know that once I'm up I can't fall.  I have arrived and I'm not leaving me.

NIosha before and her happily ever after.


Bigger Is Not Always Better

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Do you embrace diabetes, high blood pressure & heart disease? Because if you're going to embrace obesity, then you might as well embrace everything that comes with it……. Why support something that embraces what increases the chances of developing said diseases?

-

Cookie Miller

@cookiemiller on instagram 

I am obese. Based upon the Body Mass Index (BMI) charts, I am obese. I have struggled with my weight off and on since the birth of my first child, 21 years ago. While I don’t wish to be the size that darn chart states, I know I am currently at an unhealthy weight.  I can still fit into my clothes and I’m certainly smaller than I was two years ago. I am a shapely woman and I love that!  But I refuse to join the “Big & Proud” movement. This is not about confidence. I am all for being confident no matter what skin you are in. This is about living an optimal, full life. Being overweight is not fun. What's cute about being out of breath from a walk across a parking lot?  There is no pride in strategic seat planning or using a seat belt extender. Wearing sleeves in the summer to cover your arms or doing the "I'll make it fit " dressing room dance is not fun.  Avoiding activities because weight makes it difficult? How is that alluring? Being overweight and out of shape should not be glamorized. I will be the first to throw arrows at the BMI and say my body, my way. The truth is the truth, I have to lose weight and get in shape and many of you do too.  But for some it’s a truth they choose to ignore and ridicule.

I am amazed and confused at the criticism I receive from my decision to improve my health. “Is that all you eat?” You eat that, that’s too healthy” “I don’t have time for all that moving around” Too healthy? Since when did working to be your best become a negative thing? Eating healthy food makes me happy! Seeing others care about their health makes me happy.  I’m not sure where this person came from. It’s a new way of living and I am enjoying it immensely. When I create a healthy option for eating, I get a great sense of accomplishment. I feel like I’m cracking some sort of secret code to wellness.  Food is all new. The taste, the smell, all brand new.

You want to eat poorly and not workout? That is your right. Just spare us the complaints about your aches, pains, how you can't find anything to wear in your size or about the cost of the medications that are only masking the true issue. Being overweight and out of shape are not a good match. This is not about being thin or a certain size. There are many skinny folks who eat poorly and couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without assistance. Why don't we embrace being fit and doing the best for ourselves?

Your body is high end luxury property. It deserves proper maintenance and care. If you owned a $100,000 luxury vehicle would you keep the tank half full with regular gas? Forget to have oil changes or tuneups and never take it out on a highway to drive it as it was designed? Absolutely not.  Don't treat your priceless body any differently. Maintain it, fuel it correctly and respect your gift!

God has given me this awesome gift. It has brought life into the world, it has carried me through tragedy and triumph. I better treat it right. It is not easy work. But I’m worth IT. My family is worth it. My family has a history of chronic diseases. I lost my parents to preventable chronic diseases.  I don't want disease to be the legacy that I give to my children and grandchildren. I have the ability to change that by living as an example. That example is by not applauding or embracing a culture that celebrates obesity. We're better than that. Be better than that.

Cookie Miller,  who I’ve quoted above has documented her weight loss journey. I think her drive is inspiring. After her amazing weight loss, she is now a Certified Personal Trainer and provides inspiration to her followers on instagram and her youtube channel. Follow her at the links above and #watchcookieshrink.   She graciously allowed me to use her quote and I will continue to follow her progress for my own motivation. Each of her posts gives the nudge you need to exercise and become a better you. Thank you Cookie!

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Live Responsibly

“When you devalue ethics and morals by proclaiming that our attitude toward them should be casual or lenient, you can't be surprised by a rising generation who then behaves disrespectfully; treating life, people, and choices as if they possess little value or worth.  For whether or not that was the intention, society has taught them to believe thusly.”

Richelle E. Goodrich

There are many lessons I am still trying to master.  Particularly the lesson of responsibility.   In a moment of joy and levity last week, my child and I were disrupted by a young man shouting vile things about my daughters body. I immediately went for blood, but my baby begged me to turn away. After getting close enough to express my displeasure (like a sailor) we walked away. It took everything in me to respect her wishes and ultimately she was right. We have no idea what harm could have come to us from that confrontation. But as her protector and as a woman, I felt that boy needed to know his behavior was disgusting. I was saddened that he felt it was okay to be so disrespectful to women. Women he should view as a sister or a mother. What is equally upsetting is that this occurred in a very public place and no one batted an eye. Not the men who were standing outside with him or the owners of the establishments where they stood.

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Unfortunately many women have stories that include a man behaving in a manner where he should know better. It could be a stranger, family or even "friends". I have encountered several. Never to the level of trauma that many girls endure. For that I am blessed. This incident took me back to a time when I needed someone to immediately come to my aid and be responsible.

My parents always had a large group of friends. As a military family they amassed a close knit group. In my father’s case, many of these friends stood with him in war. Blood brothers. All of these adults became my surrogate uncles and aunts. We shared birthdays, holidays, everything. As my father entrusted his life with some of these men I also trusted them. The summer I was 10 years old, I saved money from my chores to buy a birthday cake for my mother. I walked all of the way to the grocery store, proud of my impending purchase. After buying the cake in her favorite shade of blue, I was exiting the store to begin the long walk home. Holding the cake in my two hands I was unable to push the door open so I shoved it with my back side.  As I turned, I was met by my father’s army buddy. “I’d know that backside anywhere” At the time I didn't realize it was a terrible intrusion on my young body. “Where you going sugar, I’ll give you ride”.  And there in front of everyone, adults, children, out in public he kissed me square on the lips.

I almost dropped my cake. I looked around for someone to do or say something. No one did. There were stares but no one said a word. This was not a neighborly peck. Surely someone would do something? I was instantly nauseated with the taste of alcohol and mint gum now on my lips. I couldn't do anything other than turn and run. I cried the entire way home. By the time I got there, the top of the paper bag was soaking wet. I came into the house and handed the bag to my mother. She didn't even open it. She immediately sensed something was wrong and I reluctantly told her. Silence. “Go upstairs and wash your face”. There was never a discussion about what happened but I never saw him again. Never. I’m certain my father handled it in the only way I know he would. My family did what they thought was best once they received the information but in those instant moments when adults were around, I was alone and afraid. Did my child feel the same way? Should I have handled our incident differently?

I told my daughter later we missed a teachable moment. I should have controlled my anger and taken that young man aside and had a discussion. I remember how I felt looking in strangers eyes at the grocery store.  I felt so alone and unprotected. If they saw this adult doing this and didn’t step in, did it mean it was okay?  We cannot remain silent. We are responsible for each other. Not responsible for each others actions but responsible for our

reactions

. I was responsible to show my child how to handle a difficult situation with self respect. I was also responsible for that young man. It is our lack of responsibility for one another that allows things like this to happen. Those of us who have been given love, wisdom and a sense of self are responsible to share it in places where it is absent. When we fail to be responsible to one another we fail humanity. May seem like an exaggerated concept but I believe every moment in life is purposeful. Some we won’t ever understand. But for those moments we are able to provide light,  we should shine.

That young man may not have anyone in his life that cares enough about his behavior and that is sad. He may or may not have been receptive to a fruitful discussion. However, the lesson for my daughter and others surrounding him may have prevented another young girl or woman from feeling unprotected. Let's be responsible.

*I must mention that the story did not end with us that day. I relayed what happened to the appropriate people and action was taken. Just like my Daddy.

I'm Having A Baby!?

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Look at it. It's the belly of a pregnant woman. I should know, I've been here several times before. While I can still see my feet, this protrusion is third trimester worthy. This baby has been growing for the past five months.  I tried to ignore it but when I'm doing the tight jean tango every morning-one two three and jump!- its time to come out of denial. It's only been five months but I'm ready to give birth.  I've even named it, his name is Cort. It has to be a boy because it’s aggressive and annoying.

Cort is short for cortisol, the stress hormone. Yes, I’m carrying a stress baby.  Both good and bad stress produce the hormone cortisol. When there is no outlet or relief from bad stress, your cortisol levels become elevated and your body loses the ability to properly break down fat. That fat typically accumulates in the abdomen. Stress is a constant in everyone’s life. If I had not taken the necessary steps in 2012 to change my eating habits, I would probably be sporting even more weight. While I haven't gained inches in other places, my belly is telling a different story. Carrying this stress baby is causing the same discomfort I experienced while pregnant, sciatica, back pain and trouble breathing. Belly fat disrupts the normal alignment of your internal organs so my indigestion has returned as well.  

How did it happen?  I have a tendency to indulge in self destructive behavior when stressed. My favorite indulgence, poor eating choices.  I haven’t been diligent in eating wisely and exercise is minimal at best. So as I see my waistband expanding,  I  am thankful I have the necessary tools to birth this baby now.  Three things have to happen:

  1. Commit, Commit, Commit
  2. Working My Body
  3. Eating Clean

Committing myself to working out has never been easy for me. I usually have to be forced into doing it to fully commit. I could motivate a whole army and still find ways to sabotage my own progress. In 2013 the weight slid off when I was running six days a week for two months. Why? My car died.  Although I had offers of transportation, I took the opportunity to exercise. After working a full day, I would board the train then run home from the station, a full 4 miles. I started out walking and it took me two hours. My last run, 30 minutes. The pounds and inches fell off. Once I started to see results, I was more motivated to exercise all of the time so I added Saturday runs and did some restorative yoga on Sundays. My body began to crave movement and I was happy to oblige.

I combined the intense workouts with clean eating that actually began in April 2012. I suffer from pancreatitis which causes severe cramping and nausea after eating as my body cannot digest certain food.  After a three day stay in ICU, the message to eat clean was received. Discovering new foods and creating dishes is fun. I never feel like I’m depriving myself of the pleasure of eating.

While both of these extreme occurrences where the catalyst to my 50+ lb weight loss, training my mind was key. Redefining my relationship with food saved my life. Food is merely fuel and I only fill up with premium! I want to set the best example so that my children and my grandchildren will not fall victim to the diseases which have claimed members of both sides of my family(diabetes, heart disease, cancer). Vanity doesn’t hurt either.  I don’t want to look like I’m a 43 year old pregnant lady. My youngest child is soon to be 15 years old and I can’t keep saying I’m carrying baby weight.  

Now I know I’m not starting from zero. I don’t have as much to lose as I did in 2012. My new goal is to be  bikini ready by the summer!  I have access to a trainer, my brother, that can assist me with a new workout plan. The past two years of eating clean has given me the tools to create meal plans that address my issues but won’t compromise on taste. If you'd like to join me, shoot me an email

yjamison416@gmail.com

. We can discuss a workout plan and tips on eating clean that may be helpful for both of us. Iron sharpens iron and I’m in the stress baby birthing business! 

Cort, you were a source of comfort in the winter, but Momma has to let you go.  

A Beautiful New Day!

The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into 

unexpected glory.

Gary Zukav

In many ways, these past four months have been my own personal winter.

Certainly a time of pain and withdrawal.

I've let go of many material possessions and

have not seen the professional progress I had hoped. But my Spring is here! As I was b

orn during the time the earth begins its renewal process

I also come alive this time of year. I am shedding the things that are in the way of my forward progress. Preparing for the new me.

Disclaimer:

The following video contains images that

are

disturbing. Maybe not to anyone else except this author but disturbing nonetheless.

I am at my most vulnerable self in this video, no makeup, chewing gum like a major league ball player and odd facial ticks. You've been warned...

You know you are loved unconditionally when you call on people and they show up and show out at a moments notice. I am in awe of the talent that surrounds me.  You made this girl feel powerful, when I've only felt powerless. You built a superhero!  This is just a small sampling of the gifts they possess.  If you are in need of any of their services, contact me yjamison416@gmail.com or use the info below!

James Osborn,

The Hair Sanctuary 86 Beverly Rancocas Road Willingboro, NJ

609-835-0068

This master barber has been cutting my hair for many years. Our bond is deeper than stylist and customer. He is my family. As is everyone one who steps foot inside the Hair Sanctuary. Ladies, James has owned unisex salons for years and knows the contours of a woman and the salon is very upscale and stylish.  The support the Hair Sanctuary gives to the community is unmatched by any other business in town.

Nyema “The Diva” Davis, Makeup Artist, nyema.davis100@yahoo.com

What a creative force!

I've waited a long time to have my face touched by Nyema and what an experience.

Nyema has the ability to teach as she applies.

However the best thing about Nyema, she is self-taught which means her skills are a gift from the Beauty Gods! If you are unsure about the proper make up products or application, contact her immediately!

Vi Consulting, Mt. Laurel, NJ

consultvillc@gmail.com

Filming and editing are no easy task. Especially when your subject has no direction, plan or music. The production of this video is just one of the services offered by this marketing and strategic planning powerhouse. Want to take your business to the next level? You need to contact Vi Consulting. Vi Consulting will meet you where you are and take you further than you thought possible. Harry D. Walker, Jr. you are a constant in my growth and the growth of many.

A Perfect Mess

There is a silly part of me that believes if I am deficient in any area of my life, then I must refrain from fulfillment in others. For instance, when I encounter financial issues,  I withdraw from social activities. Suffering from muffin top?  I avoid physical affection from others. I haven’t quite finished with my educational goals, so I may not apply for certain types of employment even though I know I have the required experience.  I simply believe that I don’t have the right to enjoy some of life’s pleasures due to my current circumstances.


Where did all of this Negative Nelly thinking begin? It probably started with some childhood lesson about sacrifice that I misinterpreted. As an adult, I am guilty of subscribing to the “No Good Could Happen” News.   The byline is “If you are not good enough, you don’t deserve good things.” Self-shaming, sabotaging silliness.  It is so ingrained in my mental DNA, I do it without thinking. I run from positive interactions as I believe it is a form of self discipline.


Yes we should regulate ourselves in order to repair areas of our lives that need restoring. If correction is needed financially, physically or educationally, I should restrict activities that make those situations worse. Spending money on frivolous outings or worrying about how others perceive me physically is foolish. However, if handled appropriately,  socializing (networking) could put me in a position to increase my financial situation.  If I give in to the negative numbers on a scale, I could miss the chance to meet someone who accepts me for who I am regardless of my weight and isn’t that what I want?


I was reminded by a wonderful, insightful woman about being so hard on myself.  “People with high standards tend to be very hard on themselves for no good reason.”  She is so right. Why do we do this? Because we want the best for ourselves and our families.  We are constantly critiquing every detail of our lives, searching for imperfections in order to perfect what we perceive to be defects. All to become better. We tell ourselves that expressing joy when we are experiencing pain is contradictory. When would you ever need joy more?! When you are depleted in any area, that is exactly when you should be seeking an increase in others. My misguided attempt at perfection is keeping me from the very things I need.


Right now, as my bank account is looking anemic, I should expand my interactions with others. Many of the interpersonal opportunities I come across are free! I can use those moments to position myself with people who can assist in my business plans.  How many times have I rejected a hug for fear of someone feeling my rolls of fat? Ridiculous.  Here on out,  I’m taking the hugs, rolls and all. There’s power in them rolling hills (thanks, Jill). Any job prospects that I know I am more than qualified to handle, I’m applying. My life experience has taken me quite far professionally. I've had past employers create positions just for me because the organizations appreciated my value, so nothing is off limits. (The exception being highly specialized positions. While I believe I could fly a plane, I’m sure Delta would want to see a pilot’s license, darn-it.)   


If we allow the dark areas of our life to keep us from seeking light, we fail to grow. True growth comes when we take those dark areas, expose them to bright opportunities and allow regeneration occur. Life is not meant to be lived in shame.  My personal growth is dependent upon basking in the abundance that life has to offer.  




In the beginning, it is difficult and even painful to see the faults in yourself, the flaws in your soul, the error of your ways. But I have come to love the moments when I see my flaws and I spot my errors! It is one of the most beautiful things, really! Because it is when we see our own flaws and our own errors that we can find the opposite of those things! It is when we see our own flaws and our own errors that we can see that there is so much more room to become better! And so I have come to actually rejoice when I find something wrong with me! And I know when it’s really wrong because I can see it and I can feel it in my heart both at the same time— it is a revelation. It’s not something that comes from any external source; but it is my own spirit and the voice of God revealing these things to me, unfolding them, rolling them out of a silken cloth at my feet. And I smile.”