….Relax….Release….Let Go! 

“Won’t you come celebrate with me,  that everyday something has tried to kill me and has failed…” Lucille Clifton 

So this weekend I had the privilege of attending a beautiful yoga mini-retreat event entitled Starshine & Clay: A place for Women of Color to be led by one of my favorite yoga teachers and mentor Octavia Raheem at her Atlanta-based studio Sacred Chill West... It’s hard to believe that I’ve been sitting under the teachings of my beautiful yoga soulsister since 2013, from studio classes to yoga festivals, and each time its always an amazingly soulful and radiant experience…

With all that has transpired good and bad, positive and negative over the course of my 2017, this was a much needed pre-holiday season detox and refresher experience in preparation for the newness of 2018. I experienced an amazing yin yoga and meditation practice with yoga nidra, and  set my intentions for the holiday season as well as my plans for the upcoming year. I met so many amazing women and enjoyed a delicious fellowship dinner with them after the yoga practice compliments of catering from Atlanta-based vegan chef  Jamila Crawford Pecou of Earth Candy Arts

The pictures below are of the many delicious, vegan culinary creations listed in the menu above…

After a very nourishing night of a mindfully healing practice and delicious soul nourishing vegan cuisine, I can truly say that I am on my way to creating space in my heart and mind for the positive changes and exciting adventures that this holiday season and the start of 2018 have in store for me….

Its time to relax…release…and let go of 2017 and anything negative that may have happened this year, and to begin speaking intentionally to ourselves  and others as humans and as women.

INHALE….

“….I AM”

EXHALE…..

“….worthy

     …..powerful

         …..creative

                ……peace

                       ……truth

                                ……..love 

                                            …..light “

So until next time, continue to speak your truth, creating the kind of life that’s nourishing to your life as well as the lives of others, remembering this one truth, each day telling yourself …that “I AM love”…and that “LOVE is art” and a work of ART is surely what we are, “somewhere on the bridge between Starshine & Clay” (Lucille Clifton). 

So until next time,  just Breathe ….relax…release…and let go!
~ I AM CANDICE MARIA ~ and this is CANDICE MARIA’S FIT LIFE ~

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****DISCLAIMER**** 

Sensitive topic alert!

Never thought I’d see the day when I’d feel this way. When fitness and training, for general health and well-being as well as sports and competing,   becomes more of a chore and a struggle than an enjoyable act of self improvement. Because everyone knows…

However for the past month, I have awaken every morning bag packed headed to the gym with no pep in my step,  no passion, no excitement,  no joy! Like a cloud of despair and defeat looms over my head. I started to feel somewhat just FIT(ish) … going through the motions with no true desire to really be in the gym working out or home prepping meals and counting macros, etc. but all the while frustrated about my tendency for overeating (future blog post), the ever climbing numbers on the scale and the tightening of clothes that once fit just fine.

Part of it is sheer exhaustion and fatigue from the rigors of recent changes and transitions in my professional nursing career, that will eventually settle out once I get on a stable life-work schedule and routine. A second part of it is also sheer discomfort and pain, as a result of past injuries and musculoskeletal imbalances that nag my aging frame at now 35 years of age, that will also resolve with routine trips to therapy and adequate rest.

But lastly, a third part  to my lack of drive is more recent, and many will say its resolvable as well, as it simply requires mental toughness. But how easy is mental toughness and resilience when the very act of lifting weights and training, despite my recent decision to never return to the bodybuilding stage (details in a future post), these activities become a constant reminder of a poor decision made just a few short months ago, and the individual involved who hurt you and damaged your trust in them and consequently your ability to trust in general.

Emotional pain has a tendency to manifest itself in psychosomatic fashion, and the physical pain and fatigue experienced in the first two reasons mentioned for my lack of drive to workout and train could also be a result of the following scenario I’m about to share:
How do you find focus or enjoyment in your training when a lot of who you are, and how you train developed from the past trusted coach-athlete relationship you once had with the previously mentioned individual over three years ago. Despite no longer being in a coach-athlete relationship context with this person, and having developed a more personal relationship  in recent months, you find yourself in a situation of being betrayed to a point of no return.

So many levels of emotion and gray areas of confusion and emotion run through my mind daily since I learned the truth about this person. Not only as a Christian, professional career woman and an adult athlete, but also as a coach and trainer myself, it’s hard to grasp the complexity of the intentions this individual may have truly had from the beginning in the past during our coach-athlete relationship and based on the behaviors that occurred in the present during a more personal relationship with this individual. The blurred lines, the recent lies, and the mixed communication, etc. How do you catch all the warning signs without being blindsided?

It’s like everything you once thought you knew about a person is damaged eternally, because the trust you once had for them personally and professionally was a lie. Furthermore, the confidence you once had in yourself, your previous sport, your training and nutrition routine,  and even your own morals feels like it has died. You feel shame, guilt, defeat, doubt, depression, and simply a sense of lost control over how you manage yourself in relationships.

Currently, as a USATF Masters Athlete member of the board and association chair person for disabled youth track and field preparing for my officials credentials , I’m in the process of taking the U.S. SafeSport training. In watching and reading through the lessons in each of the training modules, all I can think about is how these same issues of safety, trust and respect, the dynamics of the coach-athlete relationship, consent, power imbalances, emotional, physical, and sexual misconduct, etc. that happens in youth sports, also happens to adult athletes as well, but in more subtle ways that rest in a gray area of “Oh you’re an adult, so you should know better” or “you knew what you were getting into”.

However, lies, manipulative intentions, and predatorial actions, despite asking the appropriate questions and no matter the age of the coach and/or athlete (whether present or former), are still unacceptable. Especially when one side of the situation has no remorse or sense of a need to at least be honest or apologize for misleading the other person.

In such cases, the athlete is essentially left to pick up the pieces of the sports activities they once enjoyed and learn to love themselves again, understand that they are not to blame themselves for what happen, regain a sense of control, and surround themselves with the people who truly have their best interest at heart.

In an effort to not go into any further details on this topic, I will close with this: What do you do when it’s not FUN anymore….? Forgive,  Forget, and Move Forward. Train harder and live well. Let your negative thoughts drive you to be your best, thinking about it won’t change what happened to you, but your actions and choices you make going forward can change you, and that is the only thing you can control. As my belief system puts it, God will deal with those who hurt you, it’s not your battle to fight! So be blessed.

I do not consider myself a “VICTIM” in this situation, but instead a “VICTOR” because I learned the truth, despite how painful it was, and I got away before things could get any worse. The take home lesson in all of this is to always stay vigilant,  question everything, and if the answers aren’t good enough,  question it again…#StayWoke!

Watch and Pray 
Threats to your personal and professional morality and sense of self-worth are always around in every sport, at every age! As a matter of fact in every area of life itself because, not to start preaching,  but we are in a spiritual war (Read Ephesians 6:10-2).

So despite the recent incidents in my life, one thing is certain, and that’s that God has kept his hand on me on this journey. When I think about my bodybuilding journey in particular, I realized so many beautiful aspects about myself that for years I never realized or considered possible. I learned to love myself, embrace my perfectly imperfect frame and developed a undescribable sense of peace and zeal for life that so many people could not understand or even comprehend (Phil.4:7),  not even the person who helped me get back into the sport and eventually betrayed me years later. So credit is owed where is due, to God! For everything I am and still becoming, it was all God’s doing all the time. He created this athlete that stands before you and is still working on, in, and through me!

Situational setbacks can make you lose sight of the ONE who instilled your passion and enjoyment in your most loved activities. For me it was my personal fitness journey and athletic accomplishments.  Throughout my past and present athletic endeavors I learned so many things about myself,  I enjoyed the self improvements that I made in my 3rd decade of life and continue to set my eyes on God for the direction He wants to take this journey in next decade, and the one’s to come, because all the actual work back then and even now was performed by yours truly by the grace and hand of the Almighty God. To Him be the Glory and the Power Forever!

So until next time….on a lighter happier side of life …

~ I AM (still) CANDICE MARIA ~ and this is (still) ~CANDICE MARIA’S  FIT LIFE ~

Welcome to the final days of the #31DaysofMindfulness and the Meatless October Challenge….I hope you enjoyed learning from the journey as much as I did! 😊

Mindful Minute

“Not everyone will understand you, but those that matter will, and will cherish what you have to offer…It’s okay to let go.” ~ Candice Maria 

Many times in life, when starting a new journey to better oneself we meet opposition. Keep in mind that a lot of this opposition, especially that which originates from family, friends, or acquaintances is many times just a direct result of their lack of understanding of the purpose and passion behind your choices.

This does not mean in anyway that you are wrong or that they are right, and vice versa. It simply means that you have to do what feels best to you, not everyone will understand at first and in time they either will or will continue not to. However, nevertheless you have to do what feels good to your soul, your mind, and your body, I mean considering we only show up on life’s door with one of each… 😉

So if they don’t understand, hold fast to those who do, and let the rest go for the time being.

Mindful Mobility WOD

For these last few days you will complete a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio and at least 8 Rounds (or as many as your body needs) of the Sun Salutation A sequence as prehab before and/or after or even during your other resistance training or athletic activities today.

Meatless Meals of the Day (MOD)

So this week’s meatless meal of the day is a simple fruit and nut spring mix salad from Publix deli along with a wonderful bottle of GT’s Kombucha (one of my favorite beverages next to plain water). 20171024_122009194780247.jpg

This concludes the blog updates for the #31DaysofMindfulness and Meatless October Yoga Challenge…enjoy these last final days and if you plan to return to consuming meat or meat products after October 31st that is OK, just as continuing to explore your new vegan, vegetarian, or vegetarian variation lifestyle that is also OK. Do what feels right to your mind, body, and spirit….simply treat it and feed it well.

Until next time ~ I AM CANDICE MARIA ~ and this is ~ CANDICE MARIA’S FIT LIFE~

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Week 2 wrap-up of 31 Days of Mindfulness and Meatless October….Day 14….

Continue reading


Mindful Minute

Take the keys and drive into your future, don’t sit back and wait for others to give you permission

Today’s mindful minute reflective thought relates to taking charge of what happens to you in life and the choices you make for yourself. Getting and staying fit is a lifelong journey and a choice or decision you have to make, you don’t need anyone else’s permission to do it. So hop into the driver’s seat of your life and make the necessary choices today that will allow you to lead a happy and healthy life tomorrow.

During your mindful mobility yoga practice today, consider the unhealthy habits that you need to change in your life, and make a mental note of how you can change each one. Don’t expect to change everything at once,  but choose one task at a time and address it one day at a time and before long you will be well on your way to making healthy lifestyle choices that will carry you into the years to come.

Again, if you are keeping a journal during this journey, the outcomes of this exercise may be something you also want to jot down for future reference.

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Mindful Mobility WOD

Today as you did yesterday, you will complete a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio and at least 1 Round (or as many as your body needs) of the Sun Salutation A sequence as prehab before and/or after your other resistance training or athletic activities today.

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Meatless Meal of the Day (MOD)

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Today’s featured Meatless MOD is one of my personal Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl Mash-ups (ie.throw it all in a bowl and “mash” it up)

Ingredient List:

  • 20g rolled oats
  • 3 to 4 ounces Silk unsweetened vanilla almond milk or filtered water (personal preference)
  • Half scoop (20g) Garden of Life Raw Fit plant-based protein powder
  • ½ or 1 whole banana
  • 1 Tbsp(15g) Greenwise all-natural cashew butter
  • ¼ container (25g) Silk dairy-free, nut-free vanilla yogurt
  • A dash of ground cinnamon

Nutrition Facts (The Macros):

Serving Size: 1 bowl  

Calories: 387

Carbs: 53 grams

Fat: 12 grams

Protein: 21 grams

Sugar: 21 grams

Sodium: 84 mg

 

This concludes Day 3 of 31 Days of Mindfulness and Meatless October Challenge…see you on Day 4.

Until next time ~ I AM CANDICE MARIA ~

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So today I am celebrating 35 years of life, and will be spending the entire month of October doing all of the awesome fit and fun things I love the most!

So to continue a list from a previous post from about 3 years ago with a countdown to the 32nd celebration of the day of my birth, here is a continuation of that list with now 35 additional things I have learned and fallen in love with about my life to date. Once again in no particular order, but just as they came to mind over the course of the past few days:

#35 – No net…live as if there’s no turning back, no do-overs, no safety net to catch you when you fall. Travel light!

#34 – Discretion is a decision. The world only knows what you decide to tell them…Surrender to Silence. People will always think they know you when they really don’t

#33 – Hold your mule…in the stillness of life…love happens. Wait for it. Pray for it. Be still and know that it’s happening.

#32 – It’s okay to let go

#31 – Not everyone will understand you, but those that matter will, and will cherish what you have to offer

#30 – Love yourself first, it’s not selfish.

#29 – Consciousness is your friend, think before you act

#28 – Fitness is the fountain of youth

#27 – Be present, let people know that you care

#26 – Failure is never an option, but a choice

#25 – Plan for success and believe in your plan

#24 – Take chances, put your neck in the noose of life

#23 – Food is for physiological nourishment, not mental pleasure, practice santosha

#22 – Ask questions, answer questions, nothing’s off limits for debate or change

#21 – Be fearless

#20 – Take the road less traveled

#19 – Be outstanding

#18 – Root to Rise

#17 – Follow your dreams, they know the path to your true happiness

#16 – Dare to dream, and dream BIG!

#15 – Keep growing. Keep living!

#14 – Be transparent, live out loud

#13 – Live such an fascinating life, that it’s open book worthy

#12 – Reach your goals, but take time to listen to the goals of others

#11 – Be a light…enlightenment is a gift

#10 – Shock yourself, then go out and shock the world

#9 – Do any and everything you ever thought about doing

#8 – Never let anyone tell you what you can’t do

#7 – Can’t is not a word in my vocabulary, it’s meaningless

#6 – Eat breakfast

#5 – Move everyday. Moving heals. Sitting kills.

#4 – Become obsessed with you, there’s only one, love it to pieces

#3 – Take the keys and drive into your future, don’t sit back and wait for others to give you permission

#2 – Love people for who and what they are, and don’t be afraid to leave them where you found them, you only control you, love and protect that!

#1 – Pray every day!

As the days and the weeks roll by, I am certain there will be more that comes to mind. However I won’t spoil God’s timing and save those for the next celebration of my birth year post, and I will try not to let 3 years fly by without an update….. This past year has been a year of some pretty big and exciting milestones, so I can only imagine what Chapter 35 has in store as I travel into yet another year of life. So, until next time. … #LoveGod … #LoveYourself in order to #LoveOthers

~ I AM CANDICE MARIA ~ and this is ~ CANDICE MARIA’S FIT LIFE ~

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Mindful Minute

Pray every day!

As simple as it seems, today’s mindful minute reflective thought is to “Pray every day!” No matter your spiritual or religious beliefs, at the end of the day, in some form there is some type of prayer. Prayer in its most basic definition is “an earnest hope or wish,” and in most spiritual belief and value systems this earnest hope or wish is made as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.” So in your mindful mobility time, as you work through your yoga practice, take time to reflect on that earnest hope or wish, or make that solemn request for help or expression of thanks or gratitude that most commonly burdens your heart and release it through your mindful mobility practice and daily thoughts. Also, it would be a good idea to journal or write down the outcomes of your daily Mindful Minute practice time.

Mindful Mobility WOD

Today you will complete a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio and 1 Round of Sun Salutation A as prehab before or after your other resistance training or athletic activities each day.

Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskar, are traditionally performed in the morning to greet the new day, however you can practice at anytime that’s convenient for your workout schedule each day.

The sequence of 8 postures can be a complete practice in itself, or can prepare you for a longer asana (yoga posture) or fitness routine. Sun Salutes are often performed in sets of 5, but if you are new to the practice it’s wise to begin with 1, 2,or 3 sets or rounds until you get better acquainted with the practice.

Each time you flow through this sequence, synchronize your breath (inhale – upward movements, exhale -downward movements) with the movements of your body.

The following link from Yoga Journal  provides step by step how to perform each pose of Sun Salutation


Meatless Meal of the Day (MOD)

 

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Today’s MOD feature is Trifecta System Nutrition Sweet Potato Chickpea Salad.

Ingredient List:

  • *Garbanzo beans
  • *Onion
  • *Sweet potato
  • *Broccoli
  • *Extra virgin olive oil
  • *Safflower oil
  • *Kalamata olive
  • *Caper
  • *Lemon juice
  • *Dijon mustard
  • *Grade B maple syrup
  • *Garlic
  • *Parsley
  • *Thyme
  • *Cumin
  • *Paprika
  • Black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Filtered water

*Organic
Nutrition Facts (The Macros):

Serving size: 175 grams

Serving per container: ~ 2

This concludes Day 1 of 31 Days of Mindfulness and Meatless October.
Thanks for participating…see you again for Day 2

~Peace and Love~

~CANDICE MARIA ~

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Welcome to the October Challenge: #31DaysofMindfulness and #MeatlessOctober! This challenge is a collaborative project to promote the implementation of mindful self-care practices and health conscious nutritional choices.

So what exactly is Mindfulness you ask? In its simplest definition it is “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”

During this challenge you will be challenged to become more aware or conscious of three things: 1) your daily mood and state of mind, 2) how you treat your body physically, and 3) what you feed your body nutritionally.

Mindful Minute

Beginning with the ‘Mindful Minute’. This “Mental WOD” is designed to be a self-reflective moment in the course of your day to promote positive self-talk, daily inspiration, and inner peace in the chaos of your day to day life. Each daily reflective thought is very personal in nature as they come straight from the heart of yours truly. So get your heart strings ready for a reflective journey into the source of your daily moods, attitudes, and thoughts towards yourself and the world around you. Challenge yourself to incorporate these reflective thoughts into your daily mindful mobility yoga practice to help you focus your intentions for the workout and the journey ahead.

Mindful Mobility WOD

The next component of the challenge day involves mindful movement with the mindful mobility WOD. In this part of the challenge, we will embark on a daily flexibility and mobility journey to promote daily physical self-care using a basic yoga sequence to help you cultivate a routine flexibility conditioning practice.

Why yoga? There are numerous health benefits to a regular yoga practice outside of general flexibility and improved mobility. The following link from Yoga Journal outlines a long list of about 38 Health Benefits of a regular yoga practice.

Prehab vs Rehab. Practicing prehabilitation helps to prevent the need for rehabilitation from injuries caused by not being mindful of your body’s imbalances. Prehab, as defined by National Institute of Health, is used by doctors to prepare a patient for the inactivity associated with post surgical procedures. However, prehabilitation (prehab) goes much further than that and into everyday life. Many physical therapists and athletic trainers use prehab as part of a daily program to help prevent nagging injuries in clients that are caused by physical imbalances as well as the larger ones that can be caused by athletic injuries and require surgery. 

Cultivating a consistent personal prehab self-care routine can help to prevent injuries by allowing you to discover and focus on correcting your body’s imbalances. In general a good prehab program consists of warming-up, stretching to full range of motion such as in a regular yoga practice, a cardiovascular component like walking or swimming, and a resistance training component mixed with functional movements that relate to everyday life. All in all regular yoga and flexibility/mobility practices are an important key component to any personal prehab program.

Meatless Meal of the Day (MOD)

Why Meatless you may also ask? Studies have shown that a plant-based diet has many benefits to an individual’s overall well-being and the only  two commonly associated risks with a plant-based diet are inadequate protein intake, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies, both of which can be remedied with proper protein, vitamin, and mineral supplementation, such as through products from Garden of Life brand, which provide organic, raw, certified vegan and gluten free protein, vitamin, and mineral supplements. So don’t let the ‘risk’ of missing protein and nutrients scare you from this journey.

Each day will feature a Meatless Meal of the Day (MOD) idea to try at home if you like getting creative in the kitchen. I personally due to my hectic work-life schedule order my meatless meals from a meal delivery service called Trifecta Nutrition , just choose the Vegan or Vegetarian meal plan depending on how meatless you are ready to be.

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Trifecta nutrition Sweet Potato Chickpea Salad

As you know there are differences between Vegan and Vegetarian, as well as differing forms of Vegetarianism. Veganism omits everything from animals, the meat of animals and their products (eggs, milk, cheese, etc.) True vegetarianism is similar to veganism, however, there are variations and exceptions that some use for individual reasons and preferences, such as ovo-vegetarianism which allows for the consumption of eggs, lacto-vegetarianism, which allows for the consumption of milk and dairy products, and pescatarianism which allows for the consumption of fish and seafood.

So whatever route you choose to take in this Meatless October journey, choose what works best for your personal health goals and overall well-being. The goal here is to make health conscious and physically nourishing decisions about the foods you choose to consume on a daily basis. 

So welcome to #31DaysofMindfulness and #MeatlessOctober I look forward to enjoying this nourishing journey with all of you!

See you all for Day 1….until then ~ I AM CANDICE MARIA ~

  • *LATE POST*

Ask me no questions, I will tell you no lies about the goals I am chasing on this day….lol! No in all seriousness, I am officially 11 weeks away from my first competition in almost 2 years. After a 2 year break from the stage, I’m back at it again with a new focus, a new coach, and a new team…only God knows what’s in store for me in 2017!

Stay tuned…week by week prep progress videos are next….

Competition Prep Update | 11 Weeks Out | Vlog

10 Weeks Out | Progress Check-in | Vlog

Up next a quick weekly update regarding my second week of competition prep and whatever else is on my mind on a Friday morning at 5am. I am currently 10 weeks away from the stage…feedback from my coach after sending in today’s progress pictures was that everything looks good and on track to be ready for the show in May. Also, it has been decided that we are going to double up on this show and try a crossover category and do figure and bikini….so stay tuned.

9 Weeks Out | Progress Update & Gym Life Rants | Vlog

The following is my 9 weeks out from competition update and progress report! Plus random gym and fit life rants while stuck in traffic accompanied by the charm of Southern living! Enjoy…

8 Weeks Out | Figure Bikini Prep Update Pt.1 & 2 | Vlogs

Sneak peek into my countdown back to the stage….8 weeks out headed to posing practice plus a few progress pics.

and

7 Weeks Out | Figure-Bikini Prep | Vlog

Progress updates…countdown to the stage…7 more weeks! Lucky 7! LOL! Just a general update on where I am and where I feel I am headed with my prep, what I am anticipating after this week and waiting to find out what adjustments will be made with my nutrition among other aspects of the process!

Figure-Bikini Prep Vlog | 3 Weeks Out Update

This is it folks….the final 21 days until showtime have begun! Progress pictures and posing practice every week, plus upcoming nutrition changes..I’ve been MIA for a bit between week 7 and this week  due to work and school demands, so I am praying I can hold it all together by May 1st when the semester ends and I can take a break from the stresses of grad school at least and focus 110% on my prep for the show!

This is also the last weekly update video…the next vlogs in the next blog post will feature the final 24 hours leading up to showtime….Thanks for watching and until next time…

NPC BodyBe1 2017

…I AM CANDICE MARIA