Actively Be a Better You

Written by Abigail Woldeamlak 

ABBY FITNESS

My name is Abigail Woldeamlak, but most know me as Abby. I was born and raised in San Jose, California.

My story began when I was a senior in high school, in the middle of basketball season.

We had recently got a new coach and he did not have any confidence in me whatsoever which led to a lack of confidence in myself. I would dread going to practice, but quitting was not an option for me, so I kept going. This along with other factors in my life took a toll on my mental health; I became depressed and anxious.

In the midst of this, a friend of mine would take me to the gym. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I continued going even after basketball season ended because I wanted to stay fit. My trips to the gym went from a simple way of staying active to a method of mental and physical healing.

The gym became my safe space. I wish I could say that it has been perfect ever since, but it would not be a journey if it were. 

I still struggle. I still get frustrated. However, when I do find myself in a funk, I always remind myself why I began in the first place. Consistency and discipline are the two things that got me this far and that especially helped me as a college student.

Along with consistency and discipline, I learned about the importance of nutrition.

Working out is only 30% of the battle, 70% is in the Kitchen!

When I prioritized consuming healthy, whole foods and enough protein, I saw a significant difference in my body and my skin. I had a lot more energy, so I was able to exert a lot of it into my workouts. I did not know how important protein was because I always associated protein with bodybuilders, so I was scared to consume a lot.

However, I found out that our bodies need protein, not only for muscle growth, but to repair tissue, for hormone regulation, and it’s necessary for digestion.

It is especially necessary when you are working out because you are essentially breaking your muscles down, and they need to be repaired! In addition to diet, rest is extremely important. Your body needs rest! I used to workout intensively for seven days a week and overwork my muscles because I would feel guilty for missing a day. However, this caused my muscles to fatigue and my body would feel weak. When I would take a rest day or two, I allowed for my muscles to recover, and every time I saw improvement in my strength and my physique.

When I first became a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with it. I knew I wanted to help others with their personal fitness journeys, but I did not know how. However, I did not want to work at a local gym, because I did not want to be limited on who I could and could not train.

I started by just posting my workouts on my instagram, and I would receive positive feedback on how people really enjoy what i post and how much it helped them. 

After a couple months of searching for what I wanted, I finally launched A.B.B.Y. Fitness! A.B.B.Y. Fitness is not only here to help others achieve their goals, but helping others become healthy individuals. With that I created an eBook which includes six bodyweight workouts that I include in my weekly regimen for only ONE dollar.

To purchase it you can email me at abbyfitness20@gmail.com or direct message me on Instagram! I am so excited to help others actively become a better them! Living a healthy lifestyle is more than physical health, but it includes your mental and spiritual health as well. Finding a healthy balance is vital to living a healthy life!

here are some of my favorite workouts:

HIIT & CORE:

I love high intensity interval training (HIIT) as a form of cardio better than steady state cardio. One reason being that you are burning more calories in a short amount of time because you’re exerting all of your energy in that time period. Another reason is that even after you’re finished you are still burning calories because your metabolic rate is higher! I add a HIIT circuit at the end of my upper body days or when I am training core!

UPPER BODY:

I used to fear working out my upper body because I did not want to look manly. However, building upper body strength is what gives you that “toned” look! Resistance band workouts are definitely a favorite of mine! Even if I am not lifting as much, I am performing each workout with a higher amount of reps to increase the intensity! Recently I have been doing as many reps as I can in a certain amount of time and it has been a game changer!

FULL BODY:

Full body workouts are definitely a favorite of mine when I am not training as much, when I have taken a couple days off and I need to get back on track, or when I feel like working my entire body! I try to incorporate full body workouts in my to increase my total body strength and this workout definitely challenged my body and worked every single muscle!

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🗣AT HOME GLUTES🗣 Happy Monday everyone! Here’s a glute circuit I put together that had me SORE! If you don’t have access to dumbbells or a resistance band read the description below for alternatives! _______________________________________________________ 4 Rounds (40 sec on, 20 sec off) ▫️Banded Hip Thrusts (can be done without a resistance band) ▫️Banded Single Leg Hip Thrusts (can be done without a resistance band) ▫️Sumo Squats (fill a backpack up with books, water bottles, or anything with weight if you don’t have dumbbells) ▫️Sumo Squats w/ Pulse (use backpack) ▫️Curtsy Lunges (use backpack) ▫️Glute Bridges (can be done without a resistance band) ▫️Donkey Kicks to Abduction (can be done without a resistance band) ▫️Kneeling Hip Thrusts w/ Resistance Band (can be done without a resistance band) _______________________________________________________

A post shared by Abby Woldeamlak (@abbyfitness__) on

GLUTES:

Glute days are one of my favorites because it is the key to getting thick! Not only did consistently training my glutes shape my butt, but it strengthened my core and lower back as well! These workouts target every part of your booty and I definitely incorporate these weekly!

for all of abby’s go to workouts visit her on abby fitness

First Love Skin

Written by Sara Abebe

Love the skin You’re In

Growing up I always had clear skin. I didn’t need much of a routine to maintain it; only thing I learned from my mom was to wash with bar soap and slather my face with Vaseline. Most of the time I used some drugstore brand that did nothing but dry out my skin then hydrate it with body lotion (I get better I promise). It wasn’t until I started wearing heavy makeup that things turned for the worst.

When I got into college, I started experimenting with makeup.

Previous to this, I would only wear eye liner and mascara, so foundation was a foreign concept to me. As I practiced more and more, I began to wear a full face of makeup daily – I literally never left the house without my vampire purple lipstick on.

Makeup became my mask.

For something that was meant to highlight and enhance your beauty, I used it to cover up who I was and the insecurities I had. The first thing I would do when I woke up was put on makeup, my bare skin never saw the light of day.

I went on a trip to Ethiopia for the first time in the summer of 2016, and even in the motherland I wouldn’t have been caught without a full face on. It was getting to a point where my skin was being affected; I had scarring on my forehead and texture all along my cheeks. It wasn’t until the end of my trip when someone stole my purse full of Mac lipsticks, where I was forced to wear my natural shade of lip, which probably hasn’t happened in years at that point.

Coming back from that trip I wanted to make a change. I hated that I relied on this mask of makeup daily and I wanted to be happy without it.

So, the research began; the skin care tutorials on Youtube became a series I binged. I went through trails of different products and i even gave up on wearing foundation completely.

Now this was no easy transition for me. I stayed at home a lot and became very introverted- maybe it was due to the change and transition. But once I started seeing progress because of my consistency, I started gaining my confidence once again.

During my skin care journey, I also started to become confident in my shade; when I was younger, my chocolate skin was something that I hated about myself. 

As much as skin care seemed like it impacted a small part of my life, it really made me pay attention to areas that I probably wasn’t giving much attention to. Health and nutrition became something that I started making better changes in because of what I learned on how it affected my skin. Physically, mentally, emotionally I started making those positive changes.

Self-love is something I wish was instilled in me very young. I would tell my younger me that my skin was beautiful, that being a little chubby was okay, and to always put myself first.

I did eventually find it and my journey started when I began taking care of my skin. As silly as it may sound, it took me having to take care of me to start loving me.

When First Love Skin was imagined, I wanted it to be a reminder of self-care and self-love. 

To have products that were effective and essential to everyday skin care needs and provide to areas that are often problems for people. As I grew through my own skin care journey, I began to learn the importance of hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C and that you shouldn’t put body lotion on your face. Everything that I learned (and I’m still always learning) brought me to wanting to create a skin care line to allow others to share the same journey that I had.

My hopes are to inspire others – of course inspire them to take care of themselves and to learn the importance of skin care.

Above all, I want the biggest takeaway of First Love Skin to be about loving on yourself. 

Taking a moment out of your day for you before you take on the rest of the world.

for all your skin care needs head over to first love skin. Support Black Businesses and get yourself some self care items from sara herself. follow Her on instagram.

Skin Ain’t Easy

Written by Naome Seifu

Skin Ain’t Easy, Sis 

Let me tell you. My skin journey has been one that I can truly say changed my life. I learned incredible new things and the value there is in investing in your skin.

Let me give you some back story: 

I moved to the DMV area in August of 2017. I moved because of a job opportunity and to start a new journey for myself – spiritually, mentally, emotionally and financially. I was ready for a new change. With all this new excitement, I didn’t think of the consequences such a big move was going to have on me. Moving to a new state meant I had to look for housing, find a roommate, move into that new space, furnish my home and start a new career. Three months into my move, my best friend got engaged.

Needless to say, I was in a high stress space because of all the change and adjustment that was happening in my own life. 

I had to travel back and forth to Atlanta, my hometown, roughly 5 times in that year – which was a whole lot for me. I had to then help my best friend plan her wedding which was 10 months later. I turned 25. I got invited to interview with my dream company – an intense and nerve-wracking process. It was a 4-month process that included 2 interviews. I got hired. My first month working my new job, my best friend got married.

Safe to say, I didn’t get much breathing room that year.

Now you’re wondering what the heck does all of this have to do with skin? It has everything to do with it. 

In the first 2 months of living in the DMV, my skin started changing. I normally only broke out when my cycle was about to begin and seldomly right after it ends. Being a hot mess that I somewhat frequently am, I would constantly touch my breakouts, which sometimes would become blemishes, but it was nothing that was ever concerning. So, you can only imagine how shocked I was when I began to see that I was breaking out in different places on my face. It started on my cheeks where I would get little bumps that you could only see if you’re very close to my face. I was uneasy but nothing alarming. Then I started breaking out on my jawline. One pimple turned into three – in the same area. Let’s not forget that I was still breaking out in the common places I would right before my cycle.

Let’s fast forward to 6 months into my move – my jawline is becoming a serious problem area. I’m breaking out and experiencing a cluster of up to 4-5 dark spots. I felt like I looked so ugly and my blemishes were noticeable. My self-confidence was slowly plummeting. At that time as well, I didn’t have good health insurance and wasn’t really aware of what exactly a dermatologist could do for me. So, I suffered through it. My skin was failing. I would vigorously research and try to find products that could save me from this. Shopping at places like Kiehls or Sephora, I’d buy expensive products and continue to try relentlessly, praying that a product would be my saving grace. I was never right. And obviously so because I’m not a doctor, duh. I probably spent over 1,000$ over a year just on skin care products. Money I didn’t have but was so desperate to use because I needed to figure out the problem.

Fast forward a year into my move, I was very self-conscious about my skin. I wouldn’t go anywhere without concealer. I mean ANYWHERE. I was so embarrassed. My boyfriend would always push me to go see a doctor, but I didn’t know I could afford it and I was so scared the doctor would tell me I’m stuck this way OR prescribe me something that my face wouldn’t react well to – desperately trying to control every inch of this indescribable experience. A month into my new job I signed up for my benefits package. I was blessed to get the opportunity to acquire such fantastic insurance, but here I go – controlling my circumstances. It took me legitimately 2 weeks to finally settle on a doctor that I knew from the beginning, she’d be it. For some reason, I was letting my fears control my decisions. Ultimately, I picked my fabulous doctor who practices in Silver Spring, MD. Her name is Dr. Eleanor Ford. When she saw me, she laughed because she could tell how nervous I was. She told me my skin on a scale from 1 to 5 was a 1 and I was like “excuse me? Just 1?” She assured me that my skin was nowhere near bad and that the dark spots I had on my lower jawline couldn’t even be considered scarring. They’re just irritated blemishes. Can you imagine my relief? I almost wanted to cry. All of this time, money, effort, anxiety and tears spent on what I perceived to be horrifying and permanent scarring – just to find out it was normal irritation.

Here is a before and after of my skin journey over the first 6 months. I took the top photos a week before I was going to see the dermatologist. 

I started my treatment with Dr. Ford November of 2018 and I’m still with her. She has truly transformed my skin. She’s taught me how to properly, key word properly, care for my skin. The simplest regime can go a long way. She prescribed to me a Retin-A micro cream that is 0.06% and hydroquinone which is a liquid acid that I apply with a q-tip.

Here’s some background on the two prescribed products I use:  
Retin-A micro cream (tretinoin gel) is a prescription medicine used on the skin (topical use only) to treat acne. When I first started using the cream, my doctor let me know that I may experience some excessive dryness and a bit of peeling. Your face is getting accustomed to the treatment. I think it took about 2-3 months for my face to not peel. I could also see my dead skin coming off
Hydroquinone is a depigmenting agent. It can lighten dark patches on the skin.

My daily cleanser, SPF moisturizer and toner is from a company called La Roche-Posay. I was introduced to this brand by an incredible storyteller named Helen who is based in Texas. I read her post on the struggle with her skin called “In My Skins.” I use these exact products and they have been so healing to my skin. These three products plus the products I was prescribed through my dermatologist have been life changing. I buy the La Roche-Posay products from Ulta and Target.

So, it’s been 6 months now and I’m beginning to fall back in love with my skin. I’m so thankful. I’ve seen more than enough to know that it is so important to invest in your skin. It’s so important.

A few things I learned from my doctor and myself during this journey:

1. Simplicity is key. She honestly just wanted me to use Cetaphil or Dove and I was like there’s no way I’m going with a basic brand to heal my skin. She signed off on me using La Rosche Posay but did say I could be using cheaper products instead.

2. Stop Googling ways to heal your acne. Go to the doctor. Period. On my first visit with my doctor, she told me to name her everything I was using. Her first question – did you get the direction in buying these products form Google? WebMd? She convicted me.

3. She told me to never put oil on my face.  Serums are good. I just haven’t found one yet. They can also be so expensive. My doctor stressed to religiously use sunscreen no matter how much melanin you have.

4. Take it easy. Stop stressing over any and everything. Workout or do yoga. Pray!

5. Water. Let’s not even pretend like we don’t all know this. Drink water.

6. Own your skin. Blemishes and all. No matter how hard it may be because always remember, someone else is going through the same battles you’re facing with skincare.

I love learning from other people and seeing what they do with their skin. Here’s one video that I absolutely love. You have to remember you should only use products that work for you. Adrienne Houghton says that she doesn’t have acne prone skin so remember to consider that before using all of her products she mentions. I just love her honesty and the way she tells her story. She keeps it real so, I would encourage you all to watch her nighttime skincare routine on Youtube.

I’m glad I learned what it means to be intentional with my skin at 25 rather than later in life. The earlier you take charge, the better. My skin is far from perfect but it’s so refreshed. It’s vibrant and feels new. My skin is still healing, and I still have blemishes that are slowing fading on my jawline, but I love who I am and what my story has become. I knew that sharing this was important. I know someone else is battling with what I battled. And I know someone can win just like I did.

Understand that skin ain’t easy, but with correct love and care – transformation discovers itself.

Skin ain’t so bad after all.

tracee ellis ross black girl magic GIF by Republic Records

Check out my 21ninety article. My hope is that this story can be a step in the right direction for women who want to get their skin back. We’re taking over!