There was a point of time when I thought I knew it all.
Then, I soon realized, I knew nothing.
Over the past year, instead of pushing myself to the forefront and packing my schedule with appearances on panels, podcasts, radio shows, and TV outlets while disguising myself as an expert in my field, I decided to instead go back to school.
And not in a literal sense.
I went back to the drawing board. Book reading, researching, and catching up on my field, studying trends (so I could know what bandwagon to not hop on), listening to educational podcasts, seeking out mentors, and putting myself in a position where I could learn from those trailblazers who aren't just dreamers, but who are doers.
I am a student, ready to be taught.
It is for that reason that I was thrilled to be able to spend a day with four women entrepreneurs that I looked up to as part of xoNecole's "Living My Dream" series sponsored by the 2017 Toyota Corolla. As the executive producer of the series, I traveled to LA where I caught up with Rosa Acosta, Devi Brown, and Nikki Chu, before making my way down to Atlanta where I spent the day with my entrepreneur shero, Myleik Teele.
So what did I learn?
From Nikki Chu, I learned:
You shouldn't place limitations on yourself
Nikki has been hailed as one of the top African-American interior decorators in the country. What I love the most about her story is that, she could have settled with just a career as an interior decorator and be content with that, but she decided to also venture into product design and now has her own paint line, bedding collection, and furniture collection that can be found on Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Wayfair. Even when we achieve a dream, there's always the opportunity to break the plateau and go to a higher level.
From Rosa Acosta, I learned:
Done is better than perfect.
There's so many times I have not completed a project -- whether it was to launch an event series, a podcast, a workshop, an online store, etc., because I wanted it to be perfect, and I wanted it to be the best quality. I felt as someone who had already achieved a level of success, that I couldn't half-ass anything, but sometimes, while attempting to achieve perfection, those things put a stand-still on our ability to produce amazing work.
[Tweet "It doesn't have to be perfect as long as it's done."]
During our interview, Rosa (who came to America just eight years ago as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic) reflected on the day she opened her storefront on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles:
"I have never let perfection get in the middle of good enough. I opened Cossamia online five years ago. I wasn't waiting for the website to be perfect to launch it. And even the store, it wasn't packed with inventory. Somebody had reached out to me and said, 'I would love to help you.' The person disappeared right after I signed the lease and everything. I opened the store with not enough money to sustain it but I was able to profit my first month."
From Myleik Teele, I learned:
Just because it's too much for them, doesn't mean it's too much for you.
During a side conversation with Myleik, while we were setting up cameras, she mentioned how a few people were concerned about her opening her own warehouse versus allowing a distribution service to manage the handling of her subscription boxes.
This reminded me of the chapters on bullies in the book, The Dreamgiver. Your bullies a lot of times won't even be people who don't like you, but instead will be people who are closest to you like your family and friends. They will say things to discourage you from knocking down the wall of fear and chasing your big dream because they are acting on their own fear. It's not that they don't want what's best for you, but their discouragement can come from many places, including wanting to protect you from getting hurt or failing. Meanwhile, we think to ourselves, Why isn't this person more supportive and encouraging of me achieving this big dream?
At the end of our interview, Myleik said it best: "Feel the fear, we all feel it. Then do it anyway."
We cannot allow other people to push their limitations, fears, and emotional blocks onto us. If you know you can do it, do it! That's ultimately what separates the dreamers from the doers, right?
From Devi Brown, I learned:
If you don't keep shedding your skin, and evolving, you will die inside
During our sit-down, Devi (who is a radio host and has her own self-discovery platform where she sells journals, crystals and more), compared evolution to a snake. She said, "The snake that does not shed its skin will perish. If you don't keep shedding your skin, and keep evolving, you will die inside." I looked into this further and learned that snakes shed their skin for further growth and to remove parasites that have attached to their old skin. How symbolic is that? If we refuse to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and give ourselves permission to evolve, the outdated version of ourselves will attract things that aren't healthy. Whether it's bad relationships, toxic friendships, or jobs that we hate, we will never be happy because there are things we are attached to that are holding us back, and preventing us from operating at our highest potential.
[Tweet "If you are not growing, you're dying"]
This just scratches the surface of the things I learned from these amazing women. I hope you are as inspired by them as I was.
Catch the "Living My Dream" series below and let me know your thoughts!
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Deanna Robinson, a health and wellness advocate and professional based in the Washington D.C. area has been helping Black and brown women reach their fitness goals for more than a decade. And with her brand of self-love and faith, she's redefining just what "fitness" means when it comes to women of all shapes and sizes.
There's definitely a need for women like Robinson, especially since recent research shows that between 47% and 55% of Black consumers' needs "are not being met" in the wellness space, and the U.S. fitness industry hit $32 billion last year and that it's important for Black women to see themselves prominently in the space.
As a health and wellness programming expert, licensed nutritionist, mom, wife, and former all-women's gym owner, Robinson has built up a body of experience that has culminated into doing something she loves via the FabBody Retreat, an experience for women ages 30-60 to be enriched via group activities, good food, and connection in the backdrop of tropical peace and tranquility.
This year's retreat was held in Grenada, with special guest and TV host icon Free Marie (BET's 106 & Park). Next year's event will be held in St. Maarten with plenty of opportunities to enjoy beach vibes, authentic and healthy dishes, and all the pleasures of being among other fabulous Black women seeking holistic wellness in paradise.
"My God-given purpose is to help serve, connect, and heal Black and Brown women," she said, taking her experiences serving corporate and individual clients via projects like the NFL's "Fuel Up To Play 60" initiative and the Nike Training Club live experience, to do just that.
xoNecole caught up with her to talk about why she chose the fitness industry, her success in launching and running the FabBody Factory, and how she's pivoted to use her skills to build impact on a larger scale in health and wellness.
xoNecole: What sparked your interest in a career in health and wellness?
Deanna Robinson: I have always been involved in sports, always been active in cheerleading, dance, [and] gymnastics. In my college career, I was a competitive cheerleader at the University of Maryland, College Park, and I've just always been passionate about physical activity, health, and fitness. I double-majored in kinesiology and public and community health, and it's always been a passion for me about others being well.
Out of college, I wanted to be a personal trainer, and I interviewed at a big-chain gym. I was really excited about getting this job, but when I had the interview, they informed me of what the split was—what the client paid, what I'd get as a personal trainer, and what the gym got. And I just thought it was a ridiculous split. I've always been into entrepreneurship as well, and doing things on my own terms, so I actually opened up my own gym in the community I grew up in called the FabBody Factory, an all-female gym in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
I was able to hire several trainers, offer group classes and personal training, and one of the things I was always a big proponent of is making sure that they got a better cut than they would get at larger chains.
xoN: Talk a bit more about that in terms of starting a gym, especially one that caters to women. What was the process and motivation?
DR: I have worked out in big-box gyms before and just never felt comfortable. It was always really uncomfortable working out in a huge gym where men would be gawking at you or try to get your number when you're trying to focus on yourself in that moment. So I always wanted the FabBody Factory would be a safe haven where we didn't have to worry about our titties flopping when we're doing jumping jacks, it was just for us by us, and we could just [be] comfortable making ourselves a priority.
I was almost talked out of doing something like that because people would say, "You're cutting off half of your potential clientele," but I never had an issue. Women flocked to the gym, and I'd sometimes have to split classes. I might have to do part one of a class at one time and a second another time. It was majorly successful. Ladies loved it. And on top of this being all-women, it was all Black and brown women.
Culturally, we get each other, so it was a big social thing for us, too. We were able to fellowship with each other and get fit at the same time.
xoN: Your brand includes the concept of a 'Fab Body.' What does that mean for you---and just wellness---in general, for Black and brown women?
DR: FabBody in itself is not a look at all. It's more of a mindset and a willingness to invest in your mental, spiritual, and physical self. In promoting the FabBody Retreat, I actually had someone DM me and ask me, "Do you have to have a 'Fab Body' to come on the retreat?" and my response to her was that you do have a 'Fab Body.' Everyone has a Fab Body. It's more of a state of being—a sound, healthy mind, body, and spirit. It's not about aesthetics at all but about overall improvement.
xoN: You decided to pivot from owning a gym, which you ran successfully for more than a decade, to your current role in health and wellness programming and launching the FabBody Retreat. How did this come about?
DR: My gym closed last year, and the reason was because of where I saw myself going and where I wanted to be in the next 10 years. A lot of my time at the gym was selling and getting people to register for classes, and it wasn't as lucrative and fulfilling for me as it had been in the beginning.
Now I'm doing more consulting work with larger companies. One of my passions is programming, and that is where I see my future going. I'm moving more toward passive income, coming from my being able to use the knowledge I have from years in this industry and putting together programming that can reach the masses versus individuals.
xoN: What can people expect from the FabBody Retreat next year, and how does this venture continue your love for advocating for health and wellness among Black and brown women?
DR: One of the things that really sets this event apart from so many other retreats is that I have married everything that is important to me: wellness, my faith, and my community. God is a huge part of all of the events we do, and all are interwoven with faith-filled, intentional activities, and I think that's what makes it different. On Sunday, we do a service on the beach, and we always have a guest speaker—someone you can relate to where you don't feel like you're being preached to. It's an awesome experience, unlike any retreat I've seen.
It's definitely rooted in faith, but at the same time, there's a balance. We'll get on a boat and have a cocktail with an umbrella in it, and then we'll go back to wellness. There's a healthy balance.
Find out more about Deanna Robinson via Instagram @deannarobinsonfit and more on the FabBody Retreat via the website.
Featured image courtesy