The Judgement Free Zone

Tony and I moved on our decision to live healthier lives and joined Planet Fitness two miles up the road. We’d tried Lifetime Fitness, but it was just too many gorgeous folks in there. I felt like I was not only darkening their gym (it’s in Utica), but I also felt like my not particularly fit body didn’t fit into their cookie-cutter body mold. It was tough being in the locker room feeling extremely self-conscious. So, I gave up.

Planet Fitness boasts about being a judgement free zone. You know what? They really are! All kinds of bodies, all kinds of people (from the STAFF to the patrons) come and get their fitness on. It feels like a safe place to conquer my goals. We went boldly to the gym all this week and walked an hour a day on the treadmill. What I’ve learned is that I’ve been experiencing pain in places I didn’t even know I had! I thought that walking was only supposed to strengthen my legs and help tighten my belly. I later found out that it’s a full body workout. I’ve developed an awesome relationship with Advil (LOL).

Seriously, though? After each workout, I feel pain for about 20 minutes and then I get this incredible burst of energy after I finish stretching. To my Diabetic friends, I went on the first day and drank one of those Pom juices to spike my blood sugar. I worked out (without taking insulin) and when I returned my blood sugar was down 56 points! 56 points, yawl!! Normal, without needing to take insulin. I was able to lower my dose!! Talk about encouragement.

Each hour on that treadmill, I’m watching myself kick the shit out of this disease and reclaiming control of my life. I put together an hour long playlist to keep me motivated. When I first put it together, it was only to have an hour worth of songs I enjoyed so that I wouldn’t be bored with the gym music, but then I later found out that this music has been really motivating me!

My workout playlist (which is called: Work That Ass Off Biatch) in the order its played (and why):

1. Turn It Around – The Joe Smith Project

This is an awesome warm up song. It’s gospel (which I don’t generally listen to) and the words are so powerful. It speaks on how the Creator will turn my life around. “You don’t have to worry cuz I’m in control. And in my own time I’ll turn it around.” I’m instantly uplifted.

2. Purple Pull – Peter Hadar

Still in the warm up zone. Peter’s voice is incredibly soothing after a long day of work. This songs invokes escapism for me. I transport to another realm. Ty hates this cat’s album except for one or two songs. Ty and I don’t agree on everything!

3. Maybe Now – Clara Hill

Last of the warm up songs. Clara Hill is from Germany and she does house music. This song hit me hard on the last leg of the warm up. It made me truly consider how many times I’ve started something that I haven’t finished to completion. There are very FEW of those things, but they exist. Investing time in myself has been one of those things. Clara taunts me to get my shit together:

(Tomorrow, Today)
(Tomorrow, Today)
Maybe together
(Together Today)
(Together Tomorrow)
(Together Today)
Maybe today
Today together
Maybe… Maybe
(Tomorrow together)

Maybe NOW!

4. Bet I – B.O.B.

I’m getting into an active work out, incline the level to 2 or 3 and speed it up to 3.0 (it’s the fastest I can walk without running). This song is ghetto as hell and I love it! It makes me feel all “swoll” (not swollen – SWOLL)! “Put me on anything, yeah, I Bet I buzz. Put me anywhere on the map, I bet I buzz. This is what I does, so please don’t gas me up. Matta-fact, give me fifteen minutes and a bag of bud, I Bet I buzz!” Ghetto Anthem, it keeps me hype.

5. Paperchase – Clara Hill

I’m feeling good at this point, I’m sweating and nearing the halfway point of the workout so I keep it going with this melodic house anthem. I often look to my right and smile at Tony when this song comes on (he’s usually sweating hard, too). “If I had my way, I’d be at home chilling with you instead of working every day. Make no mistake, I’d rather be chilling with you instead of being on a paperchase.” That song mimics my daily thought!

6. Tightrope – Janelle Monae & Big Boi

My lower back is starting to hurt and I’ve paused the treadmill for less than a minute to take a healthy swig of my Gatorade G Low-Cal. I press start again and Janelle’s video of this song is racing through my head because she’s literally dancing her ass off. She’s a petite sistah, like me. She’s just got the small bones and frame to move that quickly (and look that awesome in conservative clothing). Covet her body? Nah. But, desiring to have that kind of energy all day and desperately wanting to be that energetic when I take the stage? Absolutely! “No matter how high or low, you betta tip on the tightrope!”

7. Boom Boom Pow – Black Eyed Peas

I’m now at the halfway point. My heart rate is 154 which is in the 80% American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) target heart rate range. To be in the fat burning range, you need to be at 65%. To be in the cardio heart rate range, you need to be in the 80% range. To get any results at all from your workout, target heart rate should be 55-90%. I’m doing good. I’m holding in my stomach and squeezing my gluts. I’m sweating, but still looking cute with my loc updo (compliments of Kalimah adn the PicNap Natural Hair Care Studio). Fergie is a workout goddess! She stays in the gym. Every time she says, “I’ve got the Boom Boom Pow,” I envision tight abs (Boom), lifted ass (Boom), banging ass legs (POW). Let’s go!

8. Ring-a-ling – Black Eyed Peas

I’ve been walking on this treadmill for over 30 minutes now. Am I still alive? Yep! The Black Eyed Peas are making me laugh at this point because they actually wrote a song about booty calls. WHAT? I’m walking at about 2.5 now and I’m feeling strong, back pain is numb, legs feel like liquid, the fan is blowing, Tony is sweating and I haven’t fallen off of the treadmill yet. I can still do it. 6 more songs to go. I’m tired. I can still do it. I’m tired.

9. Pretender – Foo Fighters

Nothing gets your mind right like Dave Grohl telling you that the reason why you’re on this treadmill to begin with is because you’ve been a Pretender. Pretending like I’m cool with being in the Big & Beautiful category. Pretending like I don’t know that the longer I contain this weight, the greater the risk is to my life. Pretending like I’m okay with still taking insulin shots (even if they are lower doses). Pretending like I have more energy than I do. Pretending like I’m not out of breath after long walks. Pretending like I’m just not interested in doing stuff when my bigger fear is that I’ll be pooped if I try it. “What if I say I’m not like the others? What if I say I’m not just another one of your plays? You’re the Pretender. What if I say I will never surrender?” I won’t surrender to pretending again.

10. Lovestoned/I Think She Knows Interlude – Justin Timberlake

I’m starting to slow down, I’m at 2.3 speed and Justin’s voice is just soothing to me at this point. I’m feeling the workout all over my body now and I pause for another swig of Gatorade and a reminder that I’m only 4 songs away to completion. I think this is stupid and I decide that I absolutely hate working out.

11. Green Light – John Legend & Andre 3000

I realize at this point that I actually hate being overweight and on insulin more than I hate working out. I punch the speed back up to 3.0 and imagine the video for this song. I like the way they dance in that video. It’s a party I would want to go to. I didn’t see too many fluffy sisters in there. I don’t have low self-esteem. I’m just saying that a flufflier sister might not be able to dance all night like the chicks in the video did. I wanna dance like that. I squeeze my abs and gluts a little tighter.

12. Single Ladies – Beyonce

I am not a Single Lady. I’m about to be a married lady. I am unashamed to admit to all of my conscious fam that I love Beyonce. I LOVE Beyonce. Her music uses 5th grade language. Who cares? Her voice is wonderful, she can dance and she went from being bootylicious to trimming down nicely. She’s probably rocking a dope size 10. I’m hoping for a healthy 12 or 14. More than anything, I want to wear a short dress with tall pumps that show off my great legs and abs and arms, IN THIS LIFETIME, not in my dreams. My man put a ring on it. I’m gonna look excited in my Dereon jeans real soon. I’m amped now. Tired, but amped. I mean, I’ve been on this thing 45 minutes now. Maybe I should just stop right now and applaud myself for living through this workout.

13. Go Baby – Lupe Fiasco featuring Gemstones

Lupe tells me that I can keep going in this hood anthem. Am I really only 1 song away from finishing this workout? Seriously? Lupe ignites me with the answer, “Go Baby, Woo Woo. Go Baby, Woo Woo!”

14. Streets on Fire – Lupe Fiasco

Streets on fire? Uhmmm, No. My ass is on fire, my legs hurt, I’m turning down the speed to 1.5 to begin the cool down, Tony is smiling, I’m frowning, I’m TIRED. I. DID. IT!! I spend that 4:38 calming down and getting my heart rate back into a normal range. A whole hour. The walk for my life. A whole hour. An investment in myself. A whole hour. The Alchemist is glowing the gold she is transforming herself into. A whole hour! GET IT, PHOE!


Transform yourself. Ignite yourself. Encourage YOURSELF.

Be Well,




  1. sweetstrength · December 25, 2010

    Peace, Sis!

    Yes you ARE golden!!!!! All day baby!

    Rock on, Goddess. Rock on!

    P.S. I like Beyonce too. :o) Love ya!

    • jeangraesalterego · December 25, 2010

      I love that this late at night you took a moment to praise God with me. I love you so much, Liz!

  2. Ber-Henda · December 26, 2010

    Make no apologies for loving Beyonce! She is a shrewed business woman, branding maven and has a body and stage presence out of this world! She is by no means elementry when it comes to navigating her her image or career. You are equally stunning and God bless you both as you start a wonderful, healthy and spirit filled life together!


    • jeangraesalterego · December 26, 2010

      GURRRL!!! You ain’t nevah lied! Thanks for stopping by. I am truly living my best life right now, Sis!

  3. carmelita · December 26, 2010

    Keep up the good work. I am very proud of you two. I know you will get the results you want. This will keep me inspired for sure. Let’s do some summer activities after the baby is born and I can actually do something again.

  4. Rebecca · December 26, 2010

    Boom boom pow has always been a work out motivator for me too. I’m do proud of you love. Thanks for spreading the inspiration!

  5. refreshingandplayful · December 29, 2010

    You are so inspirational dear! I’ve been lying around for about 2 hours debating if I was gonna start this day with a work out … I think I have my answer! I won’t be in the gym, it’ll be with the trainers On Demand but some of them are really awesome, too. Keep up the great work!

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