Productivity Apps I Love

I love my iPhone. After being #teamiPhone for nearly a year, I am just starting to take advantage of the vast range of apps. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been playing Angry Birds and Temple Run for some time now — but these apps don’t exactly help me in life much. Hey, I have a lot going on. That being said, it is hard to remember what needs to be done and when. Thank the heavenly spirit of Steve Jobs for the following:

Easy Calendar

It syncs events to your main calendar and has features that allow you to color code tasks and events by category (i.e. work, leisure, etc.). You decide when you want reminder alerts (an hour before, a half hour before, etc.) and how often you want the event replicated (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.). Easy Calendar even lets you invite other people to events, automatically sending them an e-mail as a reminder.

Errands

This app is particularly gratifying because it allows me to map out my day chronologically and then check tasks off as I complete them. I also like that this app gives you a few short “bells” when you have not completed a task and will put them under a column marked “Overdue.” All tasks can be prioritized (low, medium and high) and if you are hyper-organized, they can be put in different “folders” and have notes attached to them.

Notes

Don’t underestimate the usefulness of this pre-installed iPhone app. Anytime I have a random thought, need to make a list of things to pick up from the store or don’t want to forget the name of a song I want to download, I refer to “Notes.” Ahh yes, the power of the “pen.”

The High Cost of Health

So, I am truly grateful for health care reform and all accompanying initiatives that our President has brought forth recently. However, wellness on the daily is still expensive.

It’s no wonder so many poor people are overweight and have all the ailments to go with them. Healthy living is expensive! I am blessed to have a full-time, salaried job but I still consider myself “poor.” Thankfully, I have enough money to buy fresh produce and grains that haven’t been bleached and processed beyond nutritional recognition. Still, sometimes I do have to make “either-or” decisions in the market and organic options? For. Get. It.

When I go in “Yes! Organic Market!,” I usually walk out with two items or less because all the meat, dairy and produce there costs nearly twice that of similar products in mainstream grocery stores. So, pesticides and hormones it is! I try to be as healthy as possible but at what cost? Not being able to pay my rent?

Then, I think about the MASSES of people who are less fortunate than I. No wonder they are eating whatever parts of the animal they can get their hands on, frying stuff with canola oil instead of sautéing with olive oil, and relying almost wholly on boxed and canned goods for sustenance.

My friend/hairdresser, who I consider a health FIEND, helped me understand that it costs more to produce foods that are free of chemicals and additives because these aren’t the foods that are mass-produced. They are a rarity. And when you add in the cost to ship them? Yikes. So, I will give “The Man” a pass this time, but I still think we need to come up with a way to make healthy options more accessible to the average Joe and the below-average Joe, too.

The New Workout Plan

So for the New Year, I am DETERMINED to tone up and slim down. For years now, I’ve been in a cycle of being in really good shape for a few months and then feeling like a beached whale for a few months, round and round. I’ve always been a pretty good eater (hence the thighs). No, but seriously I have never been big on junk food and sweets. I’d rather have a well-balanced meal. I love vegetables, I don’t eat much fried food, I try to buy as many whole grains as possible, etc. So, while I am consistently conscious about what goes in my mouth (giggity), my fitness routine has been sporadic at best. Yes, I have a pretty busy schedule but the excuses are out the window and the sports bra is on.

That being said, I have set the goal of spending at least an hour in the gym three times a week. Thankfully, I love my new gym. Not only is the equipment top-notch but the layout is aesthetically pleasing. The first floor boasts spacious and accommodating locker rooms, a big pool, dance studio and several options for getting your cardio on. Upstairs, you’ll find all the weight equipment and two more dance studios. The first floor opens up to high ceilings at the spiraling staircase and in the background are high windows that go from wall to wall. This allows nosey passerby such as myself to stare creep-ily at everyone in the pool and on the pool deck. I would’ve taken pictures of the place but apparently, management frowns upon people snapping shots in the facility. Something about people’s “privacy” or what not. This is what the outside looks like:

Anyway, I don’t have a set routine but I have found some things that really work for my areas of concern. Sometimes, I grab a 10 lb. weight and hit a few sets of squats or use the medicine ball to do some leg raises.

In terms of weight training, I will try any machine once but I am a little more particular when it comes to cardio. See, I hate running. I know it gives you a great total body workout or whatever but I hate it — especially on a treadmill. I don’t mind doing a mile or so outside on a nice spring day, but that’s about it. I love the elliptical, though, and I recently discovered the joys of the stairmaster and Jacob’s Ladder. Both of these exercises bring on a good sweat and help you tone up.

Anyway, feel free to stop by LA Fitness (formerly Bally’s) in Wheaton to take in the fabulosity. if you happen by during the evening rush hour, I’ll probably be there — panting and grunting my way to sexy.

Not My Mariah!

So a little birdie told me that people were going in on my Mariah over her appearance in the latest Jenny Craig commercial. I am not sure if the uproar was over her physical appearance or what she was doing in the commercial. Either way, I will say this — watch yourselves. Most of you don’t know this but Mariah is my favorite singer of all time. All time! (in my best Kanye voice) So, I don’t play that.

Mariah looks great for a forty-something year old woman who gave birth to twins less than a year ago. Sure, she doesn’t have abs of steel but that’s not the most realistic or natural appearance for a woman her age anyway, in my opinion. Her tummy is flat. Her arms and legs are toned. These traits are consistent with someone who works out regularly and maintains a well-balanced diet…or is on Jenny Craig (duh). Good enough for me!

As for what she was doing in the commercial…well, I’m not sure what she’s doing. I admit, her movements are awkward and a little off beat. Note, I said she is my favorite singer. Not dancer. Not entertainer. So respect the notes she’s hitting and the product she’s promoting and keep it moving. Besides, aren’t you tired of Heady Hudson and the Weight Watchers ads?

Early to Rise.

I am ashamed to admit this but I have a serious problem with timeliness. If I tell you I am on my way or I am going to be ready at a certain time, add 20-30 minutes. I have the bad habit of only being on time for things I MUST be on time for — flights, interviews, and…well, in my mind those are the only “must’s.” Sad, isn’t it? This has been going on forever. In high school, I lived three blocks from the joint, yet I managed to be late to school at least once bi-weekly. Pathetic.

I wasn’t raised that way, either. I come from a family of timely folk. Needless to say, they get on me all the time. So for the new year, I decided this was yet another thing I could stand to work on. After all, I’d hate for one of my supervisors to call me into his or her office at the end of the school year and say “You’re an excellent educator and the kids love you but DAMN BITCH, YOU ALWAYS GET HERE AT 8:20 EVERYDAY WHEN YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD BE HERE AT 8! You’re #fired.”

That would be really dumb.

That being said, while we are only five days into 2012 and this is only my third day at work, so far so good! 🙂 I have been on time and it feels great! No rushing. No anxiety. No “oh, shit, I hope no one notices the lights in my classroom are still off” as I park my car at 8:15. This is great, and all it took was me getting up out the bed when my alarm goes off instead of 20 or 30 minutes after.

The differences I see in how my day starts (not having to eat breakfast in the car, running into less traffic, not forgetting things) is motivation enough for me to keep this up. Now will I be ready to go out on weekends at the time I tell you? Ehhh…maybe next year.

Resolute.

So, it’s a new year and I am genuinely excited. I’ve always loved the holiday season but how I feel this time around goes beyond the festivities. For the first time in my life, I’ve made resolutions…I think.

As a writer and someone who blew the English section of the SAT out of the water, I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit that I don’t really know what “resolution” means.

*Looks up resolution*

Ok, a resolution is “a formal expression of opinion or intention made,” “a resolve or determination,” or “firmness of purpose.”

Wow, that definition sends chills down my spine. That’s deep. And indeed, I have made resolutions. Yippee!

A few days before New Year’s Eve, I was sitting on my bed back in Philly. Suddenly, I had the urge to type up some things I wanted to do and accomplish throughout 2012. So, I opened the Note app on my phone and…well, I won’t reveal all just yet but I will say that my resolutions revolve around God, healthfulness, creativity and the pursuit of knowledge.

Furthermore, I am putting an emphasis on the quality of my relationships. I was born into a loving and devoted family. Blessing! I have also come across many great non-relatives over the course of my life, many of who I am truly honored to call “friend.” Double blessing!

However, I’ve been through some things as of late that have made me realize how fragile relationships of all kinds can potentially be no matter how strong they may seem.

Loved ones and the jewels they bring to your life are precious. That being said, I have vowed to myself that I will bring trust, compromise, communication and commitment to every relationship I have.

So, that’s it guys! If the weariness of trying to fulfill all my resolutions this year doesn’t kill me, who knows…maybe they will cease to be resolutions and simply become the way I live my life…always.

Long Time. No Hear.

I promised myself, and my readers, that I would not let this blog fall by the wayside. Alas, life happened but I’m back! It’s been almost two months since we last spoke, so here’s a few updates:

Homecoming

It was a lot of fun! Of course! Homecoming is fun in a different way since graduation. Since I am an alumna — and therefore one of the people Homecoming is for — I get something different from partaking in the grand cultural event known as Howard University’s Homecoming. Being on the yard gave me inner joy. I could literally feel my spirit lighting up. And I got to re-connect with so many people who I went through Howard with but who I don’t get to see very often because they are off being what Howard intended – GREAT! And greatness usually equals busy and M.I.A. So, it’s all good!

It’s a good thing a lot of people who I went to school with were there or I would have felt a bit like a stranger. I didn’t recognize any of the faces of current students (old, much?).

Howard tweaked a little with the $50 tickets for damn near everything. Since I was getting ready for a move at the time, I passed on official events but did splurge on the Howard Alumni party known as “1000 Bottles.” And while I didn’t do an official count, it did seem like there were 1000 Bottles in attendance.

Good job to the organizers for putting on a classy and poppin’ event!

I can’t wait til’ next year. Hopefully everyone will still be happy, healthy and upholding the Howard legacy of prosperity and service to the global community. Until then, HU – YOU KNOOOOOOOW!

DC -> MD

My friend Jenise flew in from Chicago and she really helped me get everything unpacked in my new place. Good friends = a God send. Shout out to the three handsome Russians from American Moving Service who transported my ton of stuff. They were really good and smiled all the way through the rain, hail and snow that happened that day. (I know, it never fails.) They really were good movers, though. They are based out of Ellicott City, Md. and offer a really good rate. Check them out!

Anyway, I haven’t had a chance to explore my neighborhood in its entirety but I can say it seems to be a peaceful, family-oriented community. And for a fatty like me, the food perks are endless. A Sarku Japan, an Asian Delight, a Boston Market, a 24-hour McDonald’s, a big ol’ Giant (that is clean and well-stocked, I might add) and like three 7-11’s are in walking distance. A few miles up the road, there is an Outback, a Friday’s and best of all…CHIPOTLE. All I can say is #winning.