My new role as Program Director and why STEM is important for girls.

Hey guys! Coming at you with a new blog post. This one hits near and dear to my heart. For the past month, I have been working with INTech Camps for Girls. A technology camp for middle school and high school girls in Charlotte, North Carolina. An organization like INTech is exactly what Charlotte needs to grow the existing technology talent brewing in this city.

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Ever since I moved, I made it a personal goal of mine to get involved with the existing women in tech community. Through technology and social media I’ve had the chance to meet so many incredible and inspiring women who I aspire to be like. One of those people is my fearless leader, Khalia Braswell, the Founder of INTech. Her story is so inspiring to me and I honestly fangirled so hard when I got the opportunity. She brought me on to launch the high school program to offer a new wave of scholars the opportunity to gain more experience in technology.

Because of organizations like INTech, my technology journey started. Had I not had people that kind of looked liked me and were empowered by STEM, I might have picked another career path. I am so thankful my passion for problem solving and storytelling persisted because I can’t imagine being in any other industry.  There is no reason why more girls at a young age, especially in middle school and high school, shouldn’t have access to technology tools to get them immersed in this creative, digital world. Girls in technology offer unique solutions to the problems today. By including minorities and marginalized communities in the conversation, you empower different ways to think about the world we live in.  These different perspectives can yield diverse solutions. Growing up I never really saw Persian or minority women in STEM.  We need more girls who code. We need this next generation of engineers to feel like they can be themselves and there isn’t one path to be successful. To have a platform where I can express my extroverted, colorful personality in the technology field is my way of showing people that tech isn’t one color nor one gender. It’s colorful and vibrant and creative.

To be honest, this is a new role for me and is completely out of my comfort zone. I’ve never really had a position of authority but seeing how Khalia and her peers move and interact helps my confidence because I see someone actually does this and loves it. The non-profit sector is a challenge but it can be very rewarding too. Being in this position over the past month has pushed me out of my comfort zone in ways I didn’t think was possible and when the work becomes grueling I remind myself of the impact we hope to make.

I am excited for what the future holds. Hearing the girls say “I want to go into technology” or “I want to go into web design” makes me so happy because this is the future being formed. TKBRANDING-03 (1)

My complicated relationship with fitness

I would call my relationship with fitness as complicated but holding strong. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with fitness my whole life. I would much rather sit on my couch, watch bad reality TV, and eat copious amounts of mac n cheese. But I’ve learned that in order to feel better about myself mentally I need to have a release. Working out shifted from being a thing I dread to a place where I can exert all of my stress, anxiety, and thoughts. It’s “me” time but there are some days where I hate it.

I am no expert. I am not physical trainer, I am not a fitness model, or anything like that. My major in college is Information Systems. I like tech stuff BUT fitness is a really big part of my life. I have tried a lot of different workouts, styles, training mindsets, all of that. It has taken me about 2 years to get to the place I am in right now. My relationship with working out and being healthy wasn’t always peachy.

Paving your own path
Your fitness journey should be about you and what works for you. If you go into it with the wrong mindset, you will not be able to stay consistent with it. The “revenge body” is a great way to stay motivated but not to base your whole fitness journey on. It should be for you. As cliche as it sounds say “I want to do this for myself, my mental and physical strength”. It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing.

I hate running. Some of my friends LOVE it, I don’t get it. It’s not me. So in order to do my cardio, I find something that I like. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure that out. You need to get out of your comfort zone to really decide if you like something or not. Maybe if I ran more, I’d like it but I get the same type of workout by doing something that I can actually enjoy.

I keep telling myself this mantra “Good for them, not for me”. I forgot where I heard this so please if you know who said it, comment below so I can give the proper credits. But anyways, this helps me not compare myself to someone else.

Everyone is so different and what I’ve realized recently that there are a lot of factors that go into someones overall appearance. You never know what someone is doing behind closed doors and also, social media presents a very scripted or false sense of what is really happening.

Finding your boundaries
I’ve learned to be patient with myself and be okay with the days where I am not the most active or productive. I used to get so down on myself because I expected my body to perform at a certain level. You sometimes need to take a step back and realize that your fitness journey is an actual process so it takes time. You also need to give your body time to recover and heal. Going to the gym 7 days a week will over work your muscles and you won’t see the progress you are expecting.

Like I said, there is a lot that goes into it. Your diet plays a huge role. It’s that 80/20 rule: 80% diet, 20% workouts. On the days where I indulge and eat more, I can feel myself heavier during my workouts and I am more lethargic. I feel that as much as it’s important to stay on track, being okay with the minor setbacks is also a big thing that I never considered to be important but now it is.

Your mental health throughout this whole journey is so important. Both men and women feel a lot of pressure or insecurities because of what is deemed as “fit” or “beautiful”. Knowing yourself and trusting your own journey is a big deal because it is so easy to get sucked in to what everyone else is doing. It’s hard not to but actively trying to shift your “self talk” will help a lot in the process.

What has helped me stay consistent is having a goal for myself. Every time I work out I do 20-30 minutes of cardio no matter what. 20 minutes go by now on and I am sweating but I feel my body craving to do more. I don’t overkill it but as long as I get 20 in, I’m happy. Also I workout 5-6 days a week. It’s more so 5 because my body and my mind need those two days to recover.

HIIT vs Strength/Power Lifiting
I used to go a lot of heavy lifting, strength training. I didn’t mind that I looked a bit muscular but I appeared to look a lot bigger than I actually was. Lately, I’ve shifted to a high intensity interval training styled workout. Which includes high reps/low weights. I always tried to stay away from that because I wanted to gain muscle faster. But HIIT training, in my opinion is a lot more sustainable and you can stay consistent with it because you can change up your workouts in a lot of different ways.

I personally like the way that my body is adapting to this change, I can feel myself less bored and more consistent. I can switch up my workouts or do a class or something that will keep me engaged while getting a good workout in.

I train strength every other day with HIIT in between. My HIIT workouts are shorter but I am doing more where my strength workouts are longer but I am working on engaging bigger muscle groups in concentrated amount of time. I like to  add that variety because I get bored so fast with working out. I’ve learned that if I get bored with something really quickly then I am going to get tired of it and not want to do it anymore.

Social Medias Role
Social media can be an toxic place sometimes. We are in an era where Facetune, Fit Teas, and blurring filters exist. Social media offers a perspective. People choose what they want you to see. Celebrities and fitness models have teams or a people who spend the time to edit every picture, put the perfect caption, and tell a story in a light that is manipulated in some ways.

For me, social media was a toxic place in awhile. I unfollowed a lot of people who were not making me feel confident or secure in myself. I kept thinking that I had to be a certain way or look like those models. One of my cousins told me one day “it’s their job to look that way” and that snapped me back to reality. Whenever I catch myself falling into a trap of comparing myself to other instagram models I ask myself why I follow them in the first place. Am I following for motivation? Advice? Workout ideas? If I’m not following them for those reasons then I have no reason to have that content exposed to me. It’s my choice.

I also caught myself following people who weren’t relatable. I followed people who had different body types as I do. Once I started being aware of my social media habits and who I was following, I began to see how much negativity I was exposing myself too.

 

My fitness journey may look different, if you have made it this far. THANK YOU. Comment below as to what your fitness journey looks like or was.