The [Fitness] Mistake I See Every Year

Good Morning! For those of you that celebrate (read: eat and cook lots of things you wouldn’t eat or cook otherwise-honestly, whoTF cooks an entire Turkey in June) this day, have a Happy Thanksgiving. I’m not going to begin a rant about antiquated pseudo-holidays with a muddled history. That one sentence mini-rant was enough. (See what I did there?) Just know that one day a year will never be enough to express proper gratitude for the people and experiences in your life.

Now, after reading that appetizing title, I’m sure you’re salivating for the big reveal. What’s the mistake that so many people make every year (every goddamned year)!? It’s a mistake that manifests many times throughout the year. But, the day after Thanksgiving kicks this mistake into high gear. The mistake is guilt. ‘Tis the season to eat all of the things. Eat everything that you want from apples to artichokes, kale to kumquats, and pies to pussy & poutine (separately or risk one weird mess). *insert Dave Chappelle’s Rick James* “ENJOY YO SELF!”

Meme

When you celebrate (without breaking any laws or jaws) own your pleasure. Guilty guilt is stupid fucking guilt. Dude, you ate a whole pie. Take your favorite book into the library (read: the shitter) and work it out. No guilt.

Here’s where the guilt of enjoying food turns into a fitness mistake. Everyone is quick to claim no regrets, but most people won’t acknowledge the actions they’ve taken out of guilt. I often coach the day after Thanksgiving and there are times when I turn people away. One year, I taught four consecutive exercise classes (because other’s called in sick-I’m not THAT crazy). There were a few people that I turned away for fear of over training. When I asked them why they were trying to workout in a second consecutive high intensity class their answers were both alarming and amusing. All of them expressed some form of guilt around how much they’d eaten on Thursday. They were trying to work it all off by working out twice as hard. WTF!? Yeah, exercise doesn’t work that way. While it may be true that working out more (or with greater intensity) may burn more calories. That doesn’t change the fact that you ate an entire mixing bowl of monkey hips and grits. You run a higher risk of injuring yourself after the most sedentary day of the year, eating, drinking, sitting, talking shit, taking shits, competing with your siblings to see who unbuckles the belt (or finishes the third helping) first, and other gluttonous adventures that you may hold as esteemed traditions.

I often talk to clients about the importance of rest and consistency. If you miss a workout day, don’t guilt yourself into a double workout the following day only to be stuck and stiff in bed the day after. If you miss a day, just stay consistent with the other days of the week. If you consistently miss the same day, change your workout schedule. The same idea applies to the national day of gluttony. Don’t guilt yourself into working harder than you normally would. I’ll be coaching today and tomorrow. I hope that people will be kind to their bodies by not over training. I hope that people will be kind to their spirit and avoid guilt.

Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy! Even though you may feel your abdomen distend, no one has ever gotten fatter due to one meal. [If any sexist family member says, “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”, just punch them in their pie hole.] I’m not going to suggest moderation. You’re an adult, you know not to force feed yourself. Your only takeaway from this post should be that guilt tends to be a catalyst for bad decisions. Own your choices, eat that slice of pie, pick up your training on your next scheduled training day without compensating for guilt.

Advertisements

Find My Friends [Part 4/4]: Get Your 💩 Together

I was once asked what type of work shop I would create (of the self-improvement variety) to which I promptly replied, “Get your 💩 together!” People laughed. I was serious. Before you continue reading, know that much of what I’ll write will sound judgmental.

It’s worth mentioning… We’re all judgmental. All human beings are judgmental as a means of self-preservation. Does that situation look dangerous? Let me judge it and walk away. The next time you call someone judgmental, know that we all are… to varying degrees.

Well, is that situation over there dangerous? Here’s a better question. Is that person’s personal life a potential detriment to my life in any way? If the answer is yes, RUN the other way. In part 4, the conclusion, of how I find/keep friends in my life I’d like to point out how other people’s drama makes it easy to keep distance.

We’ve all met that person that always has something going on. You’ve gotten to the point where you’re afraid to ask, “how ya doin?” for fear of getting an earful. Someone is always out to get them at their job. Someone is always hatin on them. They’re always short on rent yet they have enough money to buy/smoke a pack a day. (Cigarettes cost anywhere from $5-$14 a pack depending on your state of residence, that’s $2,190-$5,110 a year!) You know that person that hasn’t cleaned their apartment since the Devil was a baby*, yet they’re constantly surprised that they keeping losing/misplacing things? You know that person that’s always late to every goddamned thing ever? You know that person that’s always busy, but chooses to lament in lieu of delegate? You know that person that won’t admit that they have a problem? You know that Dougie or Debbie Downer that just drags the entire room into the fucking pits? Sometimes all of these jokers are wrapped up into one person. Sometimes, they are separate people.

*”Since the Devil was a baby” is a phrase that I got from my Mama that was born in Fairfield, AL. I don’t believe in the Devil, but the legend is an old one and the saying is hilarious to me.

It’s worth mentioning… The majority of all personal drama can be traced back to one of the four agreements being broken.

Blogg

Let’s clear some things up about the people that I mentioned above. The fearful, insecure, money mismanaging, second-hand smoke delivering, messy, disorganized, tardy, workaholic, addicted, and/or pessimistic humans need compassion and patience. They probably need it more than the rest of us. (Let’s be real, I fit into a few of the aforementioned categories at times. Sometimes, my 💩 is not together.) This post is not suggesting that you turn your back on these people. Help people that need and request your help. Make a difference with the love you share. Just beware of a subtle savior complex. Don’t think that you’ve been put here to fix people or to get their 💩 together for them. Help those that request it and give them all of the compassion and patience you have to give. In doing so, be sure to delineate between helping a fellow human being and taking someone on as a project because you “refuse to turn your back on a friend.” There is a semi-permeable membrane that separates two friends. Their drama becomes your drama by way of osmosis. How many times have you had to help a specific friend out of a jam? How much stress do you have in your life because of the stress they have in their life? No thank you.

One of my first steps, when I began anger management was to make myself acutely aware of the people in my life. Was I surrounding myself with angry, dramatic people that always had something going on? Were my friends always bitching about this or that? They were! Those fuckers had to go! I was handing out friendship divorce papers on the regular! (This was 20 years ago, there was no unfriend button to click. You had to look someone in the eye and explain why you wanted to end the friendship. It was a spectacular time! Those conversations were hard but necessary.)

The obvious next step was to carefully select the new friends in my life. Much like dating, it makes more sense to know a little something about a friend before the first time you hang out. I found that a moderate level of ambition, accountability, and self-awareness was a requirement for any of my friends. I’m going to challenge you all to require the same. The cocktail of ambition/accountability/self-awareness creates a person that takes ownership for how their life choices have lead them to their current life situation while expressing desire (and action) to make the necessary changes that will break destructive patterns. Some of the people I love the most (you know who you are) were once addicts. They had the desire (and compassion of people in their life) to help them make a change. Those drama-free people are my friends. Some of the people I love the most have been challenging themselves to make minor changes in the way they communicate, the way they love, and the way they exist on this planet. Those people are my friends. The highest compliment I’ve ever received came from a friend in Georgia. She pointed out, “what I like about you [Jet] is that if you don’t like something about yourself, you make the effort to change.” That’s true. I was raised to consider, there’s got to be a better way.

Having one’s 💩 together isn’t a matter of being a perfect/normal human being. I mean, WTF does that mean anyway? To have one’s 💩 together means that you’re aware/daring enough to attempt change in your life and strong enough to ask for help. Strength is a choice and it’s a smart choice to balance hubris with humility.

I don’t claim to have a lot of friends, that’s never been a goal of mine. I do have quality friends and I appreciate all of them. None of my friends are homophobic, one-dimensional Brosephs, against interracial dating (even on a subconscious level), racially unaware, without the togetherness of their 💩, or general assholes. How do you choose your friends? Have you ever written out a manifesto (not to show potential friends-instead to keep in your thoughts)? In short, friendships should add quality to our lives, not stress. If there’s a lot of drama or combativeness in your life, look to your friends. If it’s not coming from them… Get YOUR 💩 together!

Keep your eyes bright for a special Thursday edition that will warn you against the fitness mistake that I see people make every damned year. Enjoy your days.

Find My Friends [Part 3/4]: Aversive Racism

Good Morning! I’m writing this week’s post in Seattle. I’m here for the annual BurlyCon event that always challenges me and helps me to grow. This year, I spent a lot of time with People Of Color (POC) within the Burlesque community. As some of you know, I’m also taking an Ethnic Studies class @ Cal State specific to Interracial Sex & Marriage. All of the conversations that I’ve been having lately have highlighted a type of racism to which many people subscribe. Aversive racism is when a person may “profess egalitarian beliefs, and will often deny their racially motivated behavior; nevertheless they change their behavior when dealing with a member of a minority group. The motivation for the change is thought to be implicit or subconscious.” The people that often fall into this category are those that claim to be colorblind. We’ve heard the rhetoric before, “I don’t see color! I don’t see race! I don’t allow it to affect my decision!” While studies have been conducted to prove otherwise, I’m writing to make a request that all who claim to be colorblind get their awareness checked by a Social Justice Optometrist (that’s not a real thing).

My friends and lovers in my life can see color/race. The people in my life can see the challenges that I face, however they don’t define me by those challenges. No one in my life sees me as a victim, but they do empathize with my experience. When I hear a potential friend claim that they don’t see race, I run the other way. We do not live in a post-racial society. Racism is alive and thriving and not just in America. Racism manifests in different ways in different parts of the world. I want people in my life that are aware of the social injustices in the world and not averse to those acts. When I look back on the Civil Rights movement of the ’60s I see Blacks and Whites working together to over come injustice in this land of the free. In marches through Selma, Detroit, Los Angeles, and other places across the US no one was colorblind. Everyone saw race and while some openly expressed their hatred based on race, others openly expressed their compassion and solidarity because of the treatment of other races.

Racism isn’t dead, it’s just wearing a new outfit so it’s easy for the colorblind to miss. I’m writing this as a proclamation to my future friends and lovers. I need you to see my race. I need you to see my color. I need you to treat me like a human being and fight against internalizing any media-driven stereotypes. I need you to do these things for all people of color, not just me. Here’s what that looks like: When you see someone that looks like you and you greet him with a simple, “Hey, howya doin?” Don’t change the way you talk or act around me. Don’t add bass to your voice and say “‘sup” because you think that’s a greeting to which I’ll respond. If you shook his hand, don’t offer me a goddamned fist bump. I need you to see my color and see how your dumb ass is acting around me because it may be uncommon for you. *spoiler alert* “Colorblind people tend to have very few friends that fall into the societal-defined other categories. Maybe that’s why they “don’t see race”, everyone around them matches.

So, here’s the question of the day. If you’re reading this and you’re not a POC, prick up your ears (or adjust those reading glasses) please. Have you ever made a statement priding yourself on not seeing race? If so, please stop. Please stop conditioning your kids to think that race isn’t a factor in this country. Look for some diversity in your friendly sphere of influence. Make the effort to create a strong sense of diversity with your child’s playmates. Here’s a true story from La Jolla, California. I was working in a restaurant and I walked over to a table (not mine) to fill up their water. A little White girl (aged three years-if I had to wager a guess) pointed at me and laughed. “Daddy, that man’s face is black! Hee Hee.” Because she’s a little kid, it didn’t bug me, I actually laughed because… kids. The Dad tried to cover her mouth and shushed her as he looked my way to see if I heard her. I played it off as if I didn’t and I just never went back to the table. The first problem with that incident is that it’s obvious that those people had no one in their life that looked like me. That little girl had not even seen someone with skin as dark as mine. WTF!? The second problem was the Dad’s attempt to sweep it under the rug instead of talking to her in that moment. (Did he wait until later and talk to her at home? I doubt it.)

I want to be your friend. Do you promise to see how I (and others like me) are treated in this society? I’m not saying that you have to do anything about it on a grand scale. But, if your empathy can stop a racist joke from being told (at least in your presence) then that’s a start. If your empathy can feel the frustration that I feel when people cross the street to avoid me (yes, that still happens in 2015), then that’s a start. If you can listen to my challenges with my fellow human, of a different race, and never suggest that I’m playing the mythical race card just because I’m telling you something that you could never imagine experiencing. Promise to see me as a human being. Before I am black, before I am male, I am human first. Don’t claim to be colorblind in hopes for absolution of any guilt by association. See me, hear me, feel me, and support me as your friend with compassion.

In part four of this series, I’ll be writing about how other people’s drama makes it easier to find my friends.

Find My Friends [Part 2/4]: Interracial Dating

Good Morning! This week’s post is part two in a four-part series of how I choose my friends. I’m writing this in hopes that it may resonate with some of you and some may even use this as a guide for choosing their friends in the future. That is, of course, provided we find the same things important in the character of other human beings.

When I was in high school, back in Detroit, I kissed a White girl and the backlash helped me to easily shorten my friend list. For the sake of this retelling of events, let’s call her Sharon. Sharon and I always got along and flirted a bit, but as a teenaged boy I flirted with every female on the planet. I treated Sharon no differently. One day, at the Senior Picnic, we were hugging as the party was coming to a close and I made a half-joking request for a kiss. She planted a long French one on me that caused heads to turn, brakes to screech, and shouts of “nah-uh” to come from the crowd. I gave no fucks and let the kiss run its course. She was a great kisser and the crowd response wasn’t all that shocking. Fast forward to Monday and I found myself surrounded by a semi-circle of Black girls saying some really shitty things to me and about her. Since all of this happened over 20 years ago, I’m not going to pretend that I remember their words verbatim. So, I won’t use quotation marks here. One girl said something about me having low self-esteem and that was obviously why I was after Sharon. Another girl-a supposed friend of Sharon’s-said awful things about Sharon’s character. The general sentiment of their message was that I was a bad person for doing what I’d done and that Sharon was less than desirable. The funny thing was, and I proceeded to tell them this, was that none of them had given me the time of day before the kiss heard round the campus. I fired back at all of them, in turn, pointing my finger and cussing about how I’d asked for girl A’s phone number, asked girl B out on a date, and asked girl C to hang out, all to no avail. I punctuated my retort with a grand, “fuck all y’all”, and kept it movin’. Those girls were not my friends.

It’s worth mentioning… Interracial dating aside, if a friend ever points out someone that he/she finds attractive, please don’t ever give a response remotely similar to this: “Her? Really? You find her attractive? She doesn’t look like your type!” WTF does that mean? Do all of your ex-lovers/partners look alike? A person’s type is defined by their personality more than their physical vessel, is it not? No one has the right to disagree with someone else’s preference. Everyone is entitled to an alternative preference. However, questioning someone’s preference of who they find attractive is just arrogant and stupid.

Fast forward to 2011, when I brought a White girlfriend home from Oakland to meet the parents in Detroit. Everyone was kind to her and no one gathered round me, whilst alone, to rant about some pseudo-injustice. It wasn’t until a few years after she and I split that my Grandmother made a comment. “I just think you should be with your own kind, you know.” No, Grandma, I don’t know. Later still, on my next (solo) visit home, my Dad asked if I had “brought any more White girls home.” Wow. “Jet, they’re from a different time, give them a break!” Fuck that noise! Age doesn’t/shouldn’t excuse racist rhetoric. I will not give anyone from a different time a break. It occurred to me that none of them took time to ask if I was happy with her or if I was sad that it was over. My Mom has always pointed out that you have to love family, you don’t have to like family. Since she first suggested that freedom to dislike, I’ve asked myself whether or not I’d be friends with the people in my family. The truth is, if we weren’t related, there are many family members that I wouldn’t want as friends.

It’s 2015, minds are open and growing more (socially) liberal by the year, right? Perhaps not. There’s a Black woman that wrote a blog post about events that have taken place in the past year. Her post (“I fell in love with a white man, and I made a lot of black people mad.“) was well-written yet heartbreaking. I encourage you to read it, regardless of your color or relationship status. Her relationship helped her to find her friends.

Do you remember the responses that people had to Vogue placing an interracial couple on their cover? Never mind who the couple was, the textbook definition of the word vogue is the prevailing fashion or style of the time. Therefore, when a couple that (most average) people are talking about all over the world ends up on the cover with the hashtag #WorldsMostTalkedAboutCouple that happens to be something that can be confirmed with empirical evidence. Just check the stats on the hashtag or look at plenty of other data. People claim that it was the female of the couple that everyone took issue with, but I doubt it was that simple. There have been plenty of reprehensible people on magazine covers over the years. But, when you put an Ebony/Ivory couple on the cover with a predominantly White readership, then you get this reaction. (Sorry the image is fuzzy. Click on the pic for a different site talking about it. Just know that people are typing stupid shit like, “How could you?” You know because Vogue did this to piss people off. Dumb fucks!)

Vogue 2
It’s worth mentioning that not one of the aforementioned jackasses suggested canceling their subscription when this Ebony/Ivory pair (not a couple) were on the cover of Vogue. Perhaps because the photo was recreating a decades-old stereotype and Vogue’s readership was cool with that?

Vogue 1


I’ve shared these anecdotes and observations with you because you should distance yourself from humans that would turn on you if you dated “outside of your race.” (I’ve always fucking hated that phrase. Are we not all of the human race?) Just to be clear, I’m not writing this to suggest that you go out and find a relationship with a specific race other than your own. I’m just suggesting that you keep an open mind and distance yourself from friends with closed minds.

I remember over hearing this girl in my Sports Psych class telling a story about someone whose name she couldn’t remember. So, on the most culturally diverse campus in the US, she kept referring to him as “dat White boy.” Our White male professor looked uncomfortable and I was annoyed. We’re at an institute of higher learning and there are 100,000+ adjectives in the English language! There was a much more intelligent way to refer to that human. Her dumb ass also suggested that (and I hear a lot of people say this) interracial couples make the prettiest babies. WTF!? Oh well, her ignorance made it clear that she wasn’t someone with whom I’d like to be friends.

I don’t care who my friends date, as long as they’re happy. My Mom has always said the same thing. She’s never cared about who I date or who I bring home. For all of you OK Tinder Fuckbook users I want to challenge you to stop checking that race box on your dating profiles. Take a look at this and get your head out of the media’s influential ass. Click on the pic for the full story.

ethnic-preferences2

I understand that we all have our preference as to what general aesthetic we find attractive. Read this for another perspective. But, question what has influenced those preferences. I once read that California has the highest percentage of interracial relationships in America. Maybe one day, the numbers will even out and Cheerios can produce a modern commercial without ignorant fuck wads getting upset. I’ll leave you with this video and the cute follow-up.

In part three of this series, I’ll be writing about the worst kind of racism (you may be guilty of it) and how it helps me to find my friends.

In part four of this series, I’ll be writing about how other people’s drama makes it easier to find my friends.

Find My Friends [Part 1/4]: Know No Bros

Good Morning! This week’s post will be split into four parts. I’ve decided to write about how I find my friends. I’m not talking about Facebook/online friends; those aren’t friendships. I’m talking about the people that you invite into your home. The people you trust, the people that you’re willing to help, and the people that will reciprocate not out of obligation, but out of kindness. The internet has pontificated for years on what it means to be a “real friend” so I won’t put it to you like that. I choose not to refer to humans as real or fake in my life. The humans that are in my life have been carefully selected based on my observations of Bro Culture, Hate Culture, and occurrences of drama (read: people that always seem to have something taxing going on).

Living with an open mind can be a lonely existence. I’ve been exploring the social significance of friendship tiers since 5th grade. To give someone the label of best friend or girl friend holds a lot of weight. I began to realize how heavy a weight when some friendships turned to betrayal. As a child, I was teased by those that felt the need to point out my big feet, dark skin, or broad nose. I was bullied by those Bros that had something to prove.

It’s worth mentioning… I hate the modern definition of bullying. *insert old man accent* Back in my day… bullying was a very pragmatic thing. The bully demanded something, or else there would be an ass whooping. It was pretty cut & dry, give this or get that. The mark was left with two choices; give up the lunch money or get punched in the mouth. Today, I hear stories about someone calling someone else a name and parents call it bullying. WTF? Billy the bully called little Trevor a queer and you call that bullying? No, Billy is just a fucking asshole, not a bully. Put Billy through some sensitivity training while he’s still young, tell the male role model(s) in his life (Dad, Brothers, Uncles, et al) to watch the shitty language they use, make him apologize (publicly) to Trevor and keep it moving! A woman once suggested that I was bullying her because I wouldn’t let her injury-free, able-bodied ass use three pound dumbbells in my group exercise class (everyone else was using 8-12 pounds). I explained to her the same I’ll proclaim here. Just because someone says some shit you don’t want to hear doesn’t make them a bully. *end rant*

Dudes that I considered my best friends turned on me (and tried to pick fights or blatantly disrespect) in order to show off for older Bros or some cute girl in class. This was a considerable amount of posturing for 5th graders. But, it fucked with me on an emotional level. These were my first experiences of betrayal by friends and they were all my supposed Bros. They were all males. Years passed and I kept my distance from most dudes because I didn’t feel like I could trust them. Since my 5th grade experiences were over 25 years and 5 cities ago, I still make an effort to find male friends. I have found some men who I’m happy to call my brothers in my chosen family. [If you’re reading this… Isma’il, Sean, Chris, Mark, Mike, Owen, Romal, Jim, Mig, Mattie, Cody, Marc, Sir Howard, Clay, thank you for being good humans and not Bro stereotypes.] However, many men (in my limited scope of experience) tend to be simple-minded donkeys that are constantly trying to flex their manhood for any willing audience. You’ve seen/met the stereotypes before. The Bros that have the subconscious perpetual goal to validate their manhood through sexual and/or athletic conquests. I find the rhetoric boring. The male friendships that I want/need in my life are friendships with open-minded humans (like those mentioned above) that happen to be male as opposed to the Penis-centric Bro that only talks about cars, pussy, and sports. I grew up in the Motor City. My Dad worked for one of the Big Three. I appreciate a well-made vehicle that looks nice and performs exceptionally well. However, you won’t find me drinking a beer, staring under the hood of a car, discussing dick length with the neighbor because I’ve got more horsepower under my hood. One of the sexiest compliments a woman ever whispered, as I kissed and massaged her body with my tongue, was “I can tell you really love women.” True. I do love women. However, I try to honor a woman’s privacy by not kissing, telling, and name dropping. You won’t find me standing around with the Bros talking shit about how I was hittin it last night. I have respect for the performance of PED-free athletes. I will always marvel at their skill. The concept of standing around and talking about who should’ve thrown what ball at what time to have scored and won the game is the biggest waste of time on earth. To be clear,  should’ve, in and of itself is a useless word. Further, I’m not going to pontificate on what a team should do or needs to do in order to win. Again, a fat waste of time and energy. I’m sorry Bros, we just don’t have much to discuss.

Living with an open mind can be a lonely existence. There are now (and have been) many aspects of my life wherein I’m the only straight male. [The relevance of pointing out my sexuality is to elucidate the fact that Bros are the only group that fears being mistaken for homosexual as it is viewed, by some, to threaten their manhood.] When I began (nude) modeling for the Apache Café in Atlanta (circa 2002), the curator informed me, “you’ll be our first male!” Years later when I began (partially nude) modeling for Dr. Sketchy’s in San Diego, the producer informed me, “you’ll be our first male!” By no stretch of the imagination am I the first male burlesque performer. But, when I tell someone that I perform burlesque the response that I hear 75% of the time is, “I’ve never heard of a man performing burlesque!” (To be fair, that last statement often comes from neophytes that don’t know the textbook definition of burlesque and they’ve rarely been to a show.) When I tell some Bros about what I do after hours or when they see my nails painted black after a weekend of performing, they recoil and there’s a sense that they’ve been put off in some way. When I try to have conversations with the Bros about anything outside the realm of cars, pussy, and sports, they often refute it. Trying to talk to a Bro about feelings, poetry, nature, altruism, or ambitions (not to be confused with conquests), is like speaking Russian to a native Guatemalan. I hate it when the Bros refer to any of the aforementioned subject matter as “gay” because these subjects require some emotional depth to discuss.

My father was (and continues to be) an example of manhood that has helped me to choose my male friends wisely. My father has an open-mind about art and music. He’s still old school, so he isn’t the epitome of open-mindedness on all levels. But, he taught me to do what feels right, artistically. If that means getting naked and posing as people painted on my body as a canvas, so be it. My father has never been afraid to use words like “beautiful”. He’s never been afraid to kiss me, tell me that he loves me, or call me from Detroit for no other reason than, “I just wanted to hear your voice.” Obviously, I don’t want that from the men that I meet today. I just want genuine male friendships with good humans who are unafraid to express their feelings lest they be labeled (in their own mind) less than a man.

Tune in next week as I write about the response people have to my interracial dating and how those responses have helped me to find my friends.

In part three of this series, I’ll be writing about the worst kind of racism and how it helps me to find my friends.

In part four of this series, I’ll be writing about how other people’s drama make it easier to find my friends.