Browse Tag



5 Fat Loss Tips That Actually Work

In the United States, nearly 48% of African-American adults are obese. Compared to those with a healthy weight, obese individuals are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes.

Despite these sobering facts, there are some proven ways to overcome the negative effects of obesity. Each of the methods below has been proven to contribute to reducing excess calories and improving fat loss as a result.

Start Resistance Training

Resistance training is not just for professional athletes. Building lean muscle helps you to burn excess calories even when you are at rest. Muscle tissue is lean and denser than fat, and not only will it allow you to burn calories while you exercise, but it comes with health benefits that help you have more energy.

Reducing the fat around organs is vital to living well and is an added benefit of resistance training.

Increase the Protein in Your Diet

Protein builds skeletal muscle but also functions in building strong hair, skin, and nails. Proteins allow you to have a sense of fullness longer and can help reduce cravings.

In addition, protein protects the body by making antibodies that bind to and remove foreign particles from the body.

Have More, Better Quality Sleep

In a study reported by the Mayo Clinic, adults who slept just four hours per night reported much more frequent cravings and an increased appetite when compared to those who slept 10 hours. An increase in hormones responsible for managing appetite may be the cause.

Improve sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time. Be sure to keep the room dark, quiet, and free of distractions like TVs and brightly lit screens. This sleep schedule will lead to improved recovery from exercise but also from the business of the day.

Reduce or Eliminate High-Calorie Drinks

With no nutritional value, high-calorie drinks are easy options for flavor but not the best when it comes to reducing your appetite. Those calories get stored as fat and can cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin. This further increases your appetite and makes you feel sluggish.

Alcohol comes with excess calories, but it also slows your body’s fat-burning and turns up your appetite. Usually, when you have an alcoholic drink, your cravings are met with food choices that are not consistent with losing weight and dropping excess fat. In addition to the significant health risks of overconsumption of alcohol, it is not a wise addition to a plan for weight management. Cut out high-calorie drinks.

Adding Fiber to Feel Fuller

Fiber adds bulk to the things you eat and allows your body to rid itself of waste better than if you had too little. Drawing more water into your digestive tract means you will not be feeling those cravings so soon, and it can protect you from excess weight gain.

Fighting against unhealthy levels of weight gain is part of a plan that can work for anyone. Partnering with a professional care provider can even help address condition-specific challenges that stand in the way of your weight loss efforts. Take charge of your life and fight for your vitality.

Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram Twitter

 Get your SHOPPE BLACK Apparel!


Curious About Fasting For Weight Loss? Here’s What You Should Know First

You might’ve heard of intermittent fasting before since it’s grown in popularity online, but fasting is a practice that’s been around for centuries.

Fasting is sacred to many religions, including Christianity and Islam, and cultures, and it’s defined as abstinence from all or certain foods, drinks, and activities for a predetermined period. But you’re probably wondering what health benefits the practice might offer, particularly when fasting from food.

According to research, the health benefits of fasting are bountiful. So, if you’ve considered fasting for weight loss or other health reasons, you’ll be happy to discover these five science-backed health benefits of fasting:

Helps fight against inflammation

We all deal with inflammation as it’s our body’s natural response to protect us from infection. While inflammation is a regular occurrence, chronic inflammation can lead to serious health concerns such as arthritis. Luckily, research shows that fasting can result in decreased levels of inflammation, leading to better health and a lower risk of developing arthritis, cancer, or heart disease.

Promotes weight loss

This is the health outcome you’ve probably been waiting for, so here it is! For starters, decreased caloric intake naturally leads to some type of weight loss, but you also have your metabolism to thank, too. Research suggests that short-term fasting may boost metabolism, which enhances weight loss.

Could aid in delayed aging and increased lifespan

Are you on the hunt for the fountain of youth? Fasting might be the thing you’ve been looking for because, according to studies performed on rats, rats that fasted every other day lived 83% longer than the animals that didn’t fast, and they experienced delayed aging. Of course, studies still need to be carried out on humans to ensure quality results, but this research is certainly promising.

May improve brain function and aid in protecting brain health

The older you get, the more critical it is to stimulate the brain to keep it up and at ‘em. But some animal studies report that fasting not only protects brain health but it increases the generation of nerve cells that enhance cognitive function. Again, more studies need to be carried out on humans, but this research gives you something to think about.

Enhances heart health and lowers the risk of diabetes

African Americans were 30 percent more likely to die from heart diseases than non-Hispanic whites in 2018. So it is paramount that we especially take our heart health seriously. Studies have found that fasting could decrease “bad” cholesterol, decrease blood pressure, and even lower the risk of diabetes and heart diseases.

The bottom line

Fasting has been associated with many health benefits, but this doesn’t mean that this practice is suitable for everyone. You should always do your research and, most importantly, consult your doctor before beginning any fast or diet, especially if you have diabetes or low blood sugar.


Written by Reese Williams

Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram Twitter


Black Owned Athleisure Brands You Should Know

Despite a global pandemic and its devastating effects on the retail industry, the athleisure market is having a pretty good year. Athleisure is now becoming everyday wear.

Whether you are buying sweats and biker shorts to lounge around in or for your at-home workouts, be sure to check out these Black owned athleisure brands.

Black Owned Athleisure Brands


Black Owned Athleisure Brands

Impano Sportswear

Black Owned Athleisure Brands


Black Owned Athleisure Brands


Y-Fit Wear 

Pru Apparel

Black Owned Athleisure Brands

Queen Malkia

Full Court 

Kemetic Knowledge  



Dope Fit Chick

Sankofa Athletics



Solely Fit


Tony O. Lawson

Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram Twitter

 Get your SHOPPE BLACK Apparel!


Abby Dione: The First Black Woman To Own An Indoor Rock Climbing Gym

Abby Dione became the first Black woman in the US to own an indoor rock climbing gym when she purchasedCoral Cliffs Rock Climbing Center in 2011. Here’s why that matters.

Abby Dione, climbing the second pitch of Obstinada (5.11) in San German (Rosario), Puerto Rico.

Dione registers at a petite 5’3”. She has smooth brown skin and close cropped hair and her wiry frame and calm voice command attention. She’s an energizing presence at Coral Cliffs whether she’s coaching the Youth Coral Cliffs Climbing Team or interacting with regulars who frequent the gym. She also represents the changing face of climbing: a sport that is becoming more diverse and increasingly mainstream. Dione is busy creating experiences for young climbers both indoors and outdoors at the crag. She’s cultivating a passion for climbing and bridging the gap between climbing counterculture and new climbing communities.

Climbing is currently experiencing a tremendous surge in popularity across the United States. A 2017 New York Times article, A Boom in Rock Climbing, Minus the Rocks, talks about the challenge owners face of “selling a lifestyle.” Climbing gyms initially started out in garages as a place for outdoor rock climbers to get stronger. Decades later, the transition from very small spaces to mega gyms leaves local gym owners like Dione searching for a third way: how to share an experience and build a community while instilling the “ethics and spirit behind climbing.”

Dione laments that climbing basics like “the simple idea of having a mentor” have been abandoned as climbing gyms professionalize and add amenities to meet a new type of demand. In her view, new climbers need more than simple instruction on climbing gym equipment. They require coaching and mentorship as well as knowledge of climbing history to give them a sense of ownership of their sport. And of course they need to see friendly, familiar faces at the gym. Not everyone shares this approach. Dione’s concern is that if instruction stops at “clip in and hold the rope” instead of explaining that climbing is a series of friction systems, information is being omitted. [She] can see where someone may have an easier time walking into a gym. But how do they get better?”

Dione’s focus is on developing climbers who have the skills they need to safely enjoy the sport both indoors and outdoors. Along the way she’s challenging assumptions and stereotypes without dwelling on them. She reflects on the subtle ways that having to prove yourself as a woman climber continues; even after acquiring experience and sending challenging projects. Sometimes those moments were not so subtle for a Black woman climber: “I’ve been climbing long enough to remember when people would ask me if I was lost.”

Climbing is also experiencing a moment of broadening efforts to diversify the outdoors. They’re being led at the grassroots level by organizations like Brooklyn Boulder’s based Brothers of Climbing, Touchstone Climbing affiliated The Brown Ascenders and national organizations like Brown Girls Climb. There are also corporate efforts like the North Face’s Walls Are For Climbing campaign. In between grassroots and corporate, organizations like the Alpine Ascents affiliated Climbers of Color are focused on education and outdoor leadership for the next generation of mountaineering guides.

Credit: Melanin Base Camp

So where does Dione see herself as both a climbing gym owner and Woman of Color? Her answer is this: “creating opportunities for people to meet and experience how powerful climbing could be. And doing it in a safe and fun environment.” Last October 2017 that meant coaching an introductory bouldering class at the first ever diversity in climbing festival, Color the Crag. She described it as “a cool opportunity to instruct and mentor. I know a lot about climbing. I’m still learning but I’ve also had the wonderful opportunity and gift to teach and share it with people.” Dione’s approach is to produce safe, confident climbers who have an appreciation for the sport and its counterculture roots. And who have the option to climb outside or indoors, whatever they decide.

Credit: Melanin Base Camp

In twelve years of climbing her entire approach to the sport has changed a lot. As a newcomer she was more focused on “ego driven projects” and peak bagging which she described as “anxiety inducing.” There was a lot of pressure to “send,” a climber’s term for successfully completing a named climbing route. Her focus isn’t on climbing projects—not anymore. Right now she’s interested in “increasing overall strength and power, finger strength, and flexibility. Climbing is either pushing, pulling or hanging, and I’m more interested in doing incremental growth in each one of these areas.”

That makes a lot of sense for a climbing gym owner and climbing coach. Dione trains everything from finger strength to core strength to maximum pull and push before jumping on something at her limit to see how it feels. Instead of training goals and upcoming climbs she talks about “trying to hack my climbing growth with curiosity and playfulness.”

Dione frames her thoughts on climbing in the context of twelve years of lessons learned. It’s great advice for anyone who’s enjoyed a sport or outdoor activity for so long that it starts to lose its luster. How do you get the edge back? Dione had this to share: “When you start doing something long enough you arrive at a certain physical aptitude for recreational activity where you realize that your mind is where you get the most growth. Your mind is the limiting factor.” So that’s one area where she chooses to focus her efforts.

So if climbing isn’t about getting really strong and sending challenging projects, what is it about? Dione believes the sport has a lot to offer; especially for young people. Her “hope is that they don’t limit themselves by chasing numbers or by looking around to see who is doing what?” So what’s the secret to keeping kids excited about the sport? For Dione, it’s a mixture of passion and humility as well as not doing too much too fast. Climbing grades are super subjective; what you climb in the gym is great but outside is different and “the sooner people realize that stuff doesn’t matter, the better.”

Coral Cliffs is located at 3400 Southwest 26th Terrace, A4, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312. Visit them on Facebook or Instagram to learn more.


Source: Melanin Base Camp


GrpFit is using Technology to Promote Health and Fitness in the Black Community

GrpFit is a fitness app created to address health issues in the Black community.

Since we’re all about health and wellness, we decided to find out more about the company. We spoke to co-founder Rich Bailey and this is what he had to say.

Grpfit co-founders: Chris Ketant and Rich Bailey

What inspired you to create Grpfit?

It’s no secret that certain health issues such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension are more prevalent in the Black community. But, some of the statistics are baffling. According to studies, 76% of our community is either overweight or obese and 43% of us have hypertension.

And then, when it comes to causes of deaths, heart disease and stroke are #1 and #3, respectively. A lot of these health issues can be alleviated by living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Because of that, we decided to create GrpFit with the mission of making the Black community a more fit and healthier one.

The Black community has many health issues that need to be addressed. How does GrpFit provide a solution? 

GrpFit is a safe and encouraging platform for people of all fitness levels to share their fitness journeys, learn and motivate each other. Users of the app can share photos and videos, get sample workouts and read health and fitness related articles.

Our most powerful aspect of GrpFit is the ability to connect with other people who you can relate too. An underrated part of any fitness journey is the accountability and motivation you receive when you have a great support system and community behind you. We are providing a platform for people seek those type of connections.

We also have a ton of other features and services that are currently being developed and will be released in the near future. Stay tuned!

What has been the most gratifying and the most challenging thing you’ve experienced as an entrepreneur thus far?

The most gratifying thing is the opportunity to serve as an inspiration to others. Becoming an entrepreneur/tech startup founder is no easy feat, so showing other people that it can be done is so fulfilling.

The most challenging thing I’ve experienced is being able balancing the pressure to succeed with taking your time to figure out what’s right for your company and brand. The pressure to succeed can often lead to making quick decisions that aren’t fully thought through. Every decision you will make should tie back to your vision/brand and what’s best for your users.

Tell us about your 21 day fitness challenge.

The 21-Day Challenge was something we did back in January and February of this year with 21Ninety and Gym Hooky. Its purpose was to provide women the tools and resources to create lifestyle changing habits as it relates to health and fitness.

We provided the members with community support, weekly Q&A sessions, daily challenges and guides that helped them create goals, choose better foods and pick and perform exercises.

Where do you see the company in 5 years?

In 5 years, GrpFit will be the one-stop-shop for everything related to Black Health and Fitness. We want to be atop of everyone’s mind when it comes exercising, advice, fitness communities and a source of information. Ultimately, we want GrpFit to be synonymous with Black Health and Fitness.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Nothing is too hard to accomplish. If you don’t have the necessary skills to embark on your entrepreneurial journey, then take the time to educate yourself and surround yourself with others who complement your skills. Also, be prepared to learn along the way and always keep an open mind to changing things at a drop of a dime. The latter is crucial because what you think may be a great idea may not be what people want.


GrpFit is currently available on iOS and Android


-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson (IG @thebusyafrican)


Black Fitness Professionals and Businesses You Should Know

The following Black Fitness Professionals will inspire you and help you do what it takes to achieve your fitness goals. #HealthIsWealth

Black Fitness Professionals

Curvylista Fitness is an East Orange NJ based boutique group fitness studio exclusively for women who want to create a lifestyle of being healthy, happy, and strong.

Micah Baisden is the Owner and Lead Trainer of PowerHouse Sports Academy. They focus on cultivating a motivational and supportive atmosphere.

Ash Fitness is an expert in capitalizing on maximizing fitness results in a small period of time.

8PackUniversity (8PU) is founded by bernard Hilary. 8PU provides health, wellness, and fitness services to the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia or also know as the DMV.

Black Fitness

D.A.M. Good Bodies Elite Personal Training in Philly, offers One on One Personal Training, Boot Camp Training and a Clean Eating Supermarket Tour.

Jeanette Jenkins is the founder of The Hollywood Trainer. She is also one of Hollywood’s most sought after Health & Fitness Experts with over 25 years of experience.

Obi Obadike is an award winning celebrity fitness/nutrition expert and creator of Perfect Anatomy Fitness Solutions Online Personal Training.

Nicole Monroe is a Richardson, TX based certified personal trainer that specializes in strength & conditioning, H.I.I.T, and core toning.

Brittne Babe is one of the many certified personal trainers and health and wellness coach that offers one-on-one training programs and personalized meal plans.

Magda Civil is a personal trainer who provides online fitness challenges and online boot camp group training with over 200 participants.

Cassandra Nuamah is a fitness fanatic and certified Kukuwa Dance Workout Instructor. The Kukuwa workout that has you immediately moving your arms, waist, legs, and hips to a blend of Central, East, South, West, and North African rhythms.


-Tony O. Lawson

If you would like to add a business to this list (or another) SUBMIT HERE.

Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram &Twitter

 Get your SHOPPE BLACK Apparel!


Mommy & Daughter Fitness Team Breaks the Internet

Danielle “Ms.Boston” Jones and her daughter, Honor, have to be the most adorable fitness duo ever. This was confirmed after we posted a video of one of their workouts on our Facebook page and it was viewed over 1 million times in a few days.

We wanted to find out more about this dynamic duo so we we had a chat.

SB: What inspired you to become a personal trainer?

DJ: Fitness has always been a part of my life since I was a child. I was very active. I played basketball, softball, baseball, hockey, horse back riding, karate, you name it. However basketball was my favorite and I continued to play in college.

After I graduated, I continued to go to the gym and I would always get compliments on my body. Woman and men would always ask me for tips.

So in 2008 when I moved to California, I got certified with ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association). Next month I will be certified with a personal trainer certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

I really enjoy helping people. I’m a people person. I doubled majored in psychology and sociology so it helps. When you’re a trainer you are constantly talking with your clients.

You get to know them on a very personal level. I used to think my degrees were pointless cause I wasn’t using them but I use it everyday in dealing with my clients.

SB: It’s so adorable that you work out with your daughter. What made you decide to add her to your workout videos?

DJ: I purposely involved her in my workouts. It was a fun way of bonding when she was an infant. She really enjoyed it. Then as she got older I would do it next to her while she was playing with her toys and she would laugh.

Then before I knew it I was watching a video back and noticed her in the background trying to do it at 4 months. I couldn’t wait for her to get to this age at which she could actually workout with me.

Before having a child I would workout with my nieces and nephews. If you teach them at a young age about health and taking care of their body it becomes a lifestyle.

I never want my child to be lazy. I want her to be the best she can be in every aspect of life and it starts with taking care of herself.

SB: Many women struggle to lose weight after pregnancy. What advice do you have for those trying to shed the post baby weight?

DJ: Focus on the baby. The weight will come off. Society puts so much pressure on women to look perfect. Enjoy being a mom and all the changes your body is going through.

I breastfed Honor until 16 months so I couldn’t diet at all because my milk depleted. I didn’t worry about my weight. When you’re ready do it with your child.

Have fun with it. I always joke and say Honor made me gain the weight and she’s going to help me lose it. 🙂

SB: Many workout videos claim to give the secret for “Abs in 5 minutes“. What’s the real deal on how to get my abs poppin?

DJ: It’s all diet, abs are made in the kitchen. Consistency, hard work, and eating clean. You can workout all you want if you don’t diet your abs will continue to hide.

SB: What’s the most fulfilling thing about what you do?

DJ: Changing lives one family at a time. I get a numerous amount of messages a day from moms, dads, and even children thanking me for inspiring them.

Expressing how much of an impact Honor and I have had on them and that keeps me going. Not only our workouts but our bond.

I think sometimes as parents we get so caught up on providing for our children that we forget that we are our children’s first role model. The energy they see at home is what they will exert into the world.

Also women that don’t have children yet write to me explaining how because of the way I bounced back they now look forward to having children and know they can to if they put in the work.

I get so many comments saying I’m not a mom yet but when I am you are goals. Nothing is more fulfilling then that.

Find Danielle and Honor on social media:




-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson aka @thebusyafrican


Meet the Black Bodybuilding Crew Crushing #BodyGoals

One of my favorite classes in college was weight training. All we did was workout and crack jokes. This class taught me how much hard work and dedication actual bodybuilding requires.

Now, whenever I need workout advice or tips, I hit up my man, Mo. He stays in the gym and knows his stuff when it comes to bodybuilding, nutrition etc.

I asked him and his workout crew some questions about their lifestyle. This is what they had to say.

Mo Williams (NPC National Qualified Physique)

SB: What inspired you to start bodybuilding?

Mo: I have always been an athlete and played sports all through out my youth. I also didn’t have the greatest home environment as a kid. So I not only trained for the sports I was playing, I trained to finally be able to stand up and protect myself. What I didn’t know is that I would fall in love with seeing my body transform. I used to read articles on websites like Skinny2Fit to find recipes and tips to help me get the most out of my workout.

I continued working out just for fun and to build my stature. Last year a couple of friends suggested that I step on stage and compete, so I spent about five months preparing for my first show and won overall.

SB: What’s your profession outside of bodybuilding?

M0: I work for the federal government. I am a Country Development Officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

SB: Do you have a nutrition plan? What do you eat and how often?

Mo: I an currently on a 1900-2000k cal diet as I get ready for my show in June. I am on a high protein and vegetable diet with limited carbs.


SB: How many days do you train? Describe your workout plan.

Mo: I train six days a week twice a day. I do cardio in the morning, with some abdominal work and lift weights in the evening

SB: What you do to relax when you are not working out?

Mo: I love watching movies, spending time with my family and I am also taking acting classes

SB: How does contest prep and bodybuilding affect your personal life?

Mo: Bodybuilding is a very selfish sport. In order to get stage ready you end up standing on the shoulders of a lot of people, from the coach that trains you, to the nutritionist that does your meal plans. Life during prep is very isolating and a lot of times your friends and family do not understand why you can’t go out to eat, drink or party with them.

SB: What are your keys to success in bodybuilding?

Mo: Your success depends on two things. How determined you are and your work ethic. My mentality in this game is to win and I always say that if you want to beat me, “you will have to die on the stairmaster”. Also, do not let anyone out work you. More than anything else in the sport of bodybuilding, you have to be distraction free and keep all negativity afar.

SB: What advice do you have for someone who wants to begin their bodybuilding journey tomorrow?

Mo: Bodybuilding is not for everyone, think long and hard before getting into this sport. Make sure you have a good support system and also know your body.

Cassandra Murphy (NPC Bikini Competitor)

SB: What motivated you to start bodybuilding?

Cassandra: Growing up I have always been active, from doing ballet, gymnastics, and running a half marathon. However bodybuilding did not come along until about a year ago. I worked with a young lady who was preparing for a bodybuilding show and I became curious about the process. I noticed she ate almost every two to three hours, and went to the gym daily.

I had questions, lots of questions. That’s when I decided to have a talk with my coworker to find out how this whole bodybuilding thing works. I remember thinking to myself “I want to do a show, but I don’t want to look like a man with too many muscles”. So I decided to do bikini and it was history from there. I set a goal, found a show date, and my life would never be the same.

SB: What’s your profession outside of bodybuilding?

Cassandra: I am a surgical assistant and a pharmacy student.

SB: Do you have a nutrition plan? What do you eat and how often?

Cassandra: When I am on prep I follow a strict nutrition plan that enables me to build muscle and retain it for my show. During my off season I still incorporate a clean diet however, I indulge in pizza and sweets every so often. I typically eat around six or seven meals a day when I am on prep.

I am pescartarian so fish is my main source of protein aside from protein shakes. The meals I eat during prep are pretty basic. The usual suspects are 4-6oz of fish, brown rice, sweet potato, green vegetables, eggs(lots of eggs), and peanut butter. During off season I cut my meals down to 4-5 meals a day and allow myself to have a cheat meal twice a week.

SB: How many days do you train? Describe your workout plan.

Cassandra: I actually enjoy working out so I am in the gym six days a week sometimes seven if I am getting ready for a show. I have found that it’s best to split up your workouts by body parts. For example when I train on legs (which by the way I train three days a week) one day I would focus on glutes and hamstrings, while another day I would focus on quads, inner thighs, and hamstrings.

I always have a day dedicated to working on my glutes, as that is my problem area. When I work on my upper body I will dedicate a day for just biceps and triceps, and another for back and shoulders. I also do core every night before bed and 30 minutes of cardio 3-5 days a week depending if I am on prep or not..

SB: What you do to relax when you are not working out?

Cassandra: When I am not working out I listen to music and dance. I find music to be very calming. I also go for walks to enjoy some fresh air.

SB: How does contest prep and bodybuilding affect your personal life?

Cassandra: Contest prep takes a lot of time and dedication. I remember when I did my first contest prep I hardly ever made time for my personal life as I was always in the gym or at work or school. It can be tough at times because all you think about is how well you want to do at your show, so the gym becomes your second home and can easily consume you. I hardly had time for my friends, but I made new friends in the gym (other competitors) as they understood the sacrifice I was making to be the best.

SB: What are your keys to success in bodybuilding?

Cassandra: To be successful in bodybuilding the first thing is to have a strong mindset, and a can do attitude. Without the will to tackle any obstacle it could become difficult to reach your full potential. I think it is important to be consistent, positive and surround yourself with likeminded individuals. You have to be willing to go the extra mile which means really pushing yourself in the gym and sticking to your meal plan.

Cassandra (center)

SB: What advice do you have for someone who wants to begin their bodybuilding journey tomorrow?

Cassandra: My advice would be to trust the process and just go for it. For me to even say that is kind of crazy because that is all my coach used to tell me during my first prep ,and all I did was stress out. Starting off can be frustrating at times and trust me I was frustrated in the beginning, but I had support from my coach and other team members which helped tremendously.

The next piece of advice would be to find a show date (pick a date that gives you enough time for contest prep, and stick to it) get a coach, and leave the rest up to all the hard work you put in at the gym and your diet. Bodybuilding is as fun and exciting if you want it to be! Once you put your mind to it your body will make the connection and the results will speak for themselves.

Koko Korang (NPC National Qualified Figure Competitor)

SB: What motivated you to start bodybuilding?

Koko: I’ve always been athletic growing up from dance since I was eight years old, to playing AAU Basketball, running track in high school, college and on the US Army competitive track team. Bodybuilding was another competitive outlet for me especially after my last knee surgery. I just needed to find an outlet that would keep me healthy and fit mentally as well as physically.

SB: What’s your profession outside of bodybuilding?

Koko: I am a contracted Staff Accountant for private sectors and a full time personal trainer and nutrition lifestyle coach.

SB: Do you have a nutrition plan? What do you eat and how often?

Koko: Currently I am in competition season, so I do have a strict nutrition plan. Every bodybuilder will tell you that, once competition season comes around, bodybuilding meals are essential to improving performance. I eat 6-8 times a day depending on my workday. My meals consist of lean protein (fish, chicken, turkey) a lot of dark leafy greens and complex carbs (sweet potato, brown rice, oatmeal) and my water intake is at least a gallon a day.

SB: How many days do you train? Describe your workout plan.

Koko: I train twice a day, 6 days a week. I normally start out with either Fasted Cardio or HIIT Training in the morning usually lasting about 30-45 minutes. Steady state cardiovascular exercise, i.e Stepmill, Cycling Bike, or Treadmill on an incline or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) with plyometric exercises, which is jump training with repetition exercises done in a short interval time period.

In the evening i do strength training mainly utilizing compound sets(working the same muscle group with different exercises back to back in circuits) or supersets (working 2 different muscle groups back to back in circuits), it varies per day.

SB: What you do to relax when you are not working out?

Koko: I love being a homebody for the day, my idea of a relaxed day is a Sunday after church in my pajamas watching movies eating popcorn. I know sounds boring. However if i’m traveling, a nice relaxed sound day at the beach with a nice book or writing in my journal is ideal as well. It’s the simple things.

SB: How does contest prep and bodybuilding affect your personal life?

Koko: This lifestyle has definitely affected my personal life but for the good I believe. Focusing on my health and making the necessary changes in my lifestyle has made me embrace my growth in self. Discipline to be better not just physically but mentally has really made me re-evaluate past relationships and bad auras; I made the choice to finally get rid of negative vibes in my life.

I’ve lost some friendships and gained new ones for the better in my opinion. There’s a stigma that all competitors in this lifestyle date or communicate with only other competitors; I don’t believe this is all the way true. Prep season can only be isolating if you surround yourself with folks who don’t support or not willing to understand your reasoning for this lifestyle.

Koko (bottom)

SB: What are your keys to success in bodybuilding?

Koko: Keys to success in bodybuilding in my opinion is drive and dedication to yourself and to the sport, the willingness to get up every morning to workout or sacrifice that extra hour in your long workday to workout no matter what. Trust in the process, changes come in variations so patience is a virtue; even the smallest change counts.

Support from your loved ones, sometimes that extra push is necessary, i’ve realized you can’t do everything on your own. Commitment to the journey, if you cheat skipping meals, skipping workouts you’re only cheating yourself. Last but not least confidence in self, if you don’t believe in yourself no one will so it starts within.

SB: What advice do you have for someone who wants to begin their bodybuilding journey tomorrow?

Koko: Do this for you and no one else!!! Remember your reasoning for starting your journey and let that be your constant drive. Opinions will be made, criticisms will always be given but don’t let that sway you to give up. Be true to self and be your own motivation. If you are struggling to start out then look into ways to feed up your bodybuilding process. Things like the right diet and sarms is a great base to start at. There are lots of main benefits of using sarms.

Jessica Marie Poole (NPC National Qualified Figure Competitor)

SB: What motivated you to start bodybuilding?

Jessica: After being a former track and field athlete, I was looking for another challenge and another way to stay in shape. I saw pictures and videos of athletes like IFBB Figure Pro Alicia Harris and Candice Carter and thought it was something I could achieve.

SB: What’s your profession outside of bodybuilding?

Jessica: Budget Analyst for the Government

SB: Do you have a nutrition plan? What do you eat and how often?

Jessica: Yes, I eat about 5-7 meals a day depending on my goals

SB: How many days do you train? Describe your workout plan.

Jessica: I train 5-6 days a week, twice a day. I incorporate split training and work each muscle group at least twice a week.

SB: What you do to relax when you are not working out?

Jessica: I like to read, drink wine, hang out with my girlfriends and spend time with family.

SB: How does contest prep and bodybuilding affect your personal life?

Jessica: Prepping for a show takes a lot of dedication, focus, and sacrifice. My goal is win, so I take my time and pride in building a package that I am proud of.

SB: What are your keys to success in bodybuilding?

Jessica: Be patient with yourself, don’t half-step, eliminate any distractions, and always remember your why.

SB: What advice do you have for someone who wants to begin their bodybuilding journey tomorrow?

Jessica: Find a good/knowledgeable coach. Don’t be in a rush to do a show but actually do one when you’re ready. Learn your body. Be the best you can be. Enjoy the journey.

Marques Speights (NPC National Qualified Bodybuilding Competitor)

SB: What motivated you to start bodybuilding?

Marques: I have always been impressed by the physiques I saw while growing up amd I wanted to create my version of that.

SB: What’s your profession outside of bodybuilding?

Marques: I am a Master Personal Trainer and also run my own personal training business under the moniker of SP8FITNESS in Maryland

SB: Do you have a nutrition plan? What do you eat and how often?

Marques: I’m currently in off-season and in the bulking so I eat 7-8 times a day. But, during the season and in prep I eat 5-6 times a day.

SB: How many days do you train? Describe your workout plan.

Marques: I train 3 days a week in the offseason and workout for about 2 hours

SB: What you do to relax when you are not working out?

Marques:I love going to the movies, bowling, and spending time with my daughter and family.

Marques (center)

SB: How does contest prep and bodybuilding affect your personal life?

Marques: It takes a lot of time away from your family and friends but it’s the lofe I have chosen to lean and the life for me

SB: What are your keys to success in bodybuilding?

Marques: Believing in yourself and being surrounded around only positive people period!

SB: What advice do you have for someone who wants to begin their bodybuilding journey tomorrow?

Marques: Just give it your all and give it 100% and have fun with it and learn as much as possible throughout your journey!

Photo Credit: Fareed Stephens

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson


Food Heaven Made Easy: Serving Healthy Food & Nutrition Advice

If you’re like me, a large part of living a healthier lifestyle includes liking pics of healthy food on social media as opposed to actually cooking said healthy food.

I’m trying to do better though, as most of us are. That’s why I reached out to the founders of Food Heaven Made Easy, the go-to source for healthy recipes and info about nutritious living.

We chatted with Jessica, one half of the dynamic duo. This is what she had to say:

SB: Tell us a little bit about Jess and Wendy.

Wendy & Jess

Jess: We are both Registered Dietitians. Wendy is from NYC (the Bronx to be exact) and Jess used to live in Brooklyn but has since moved back to her home state of California.


SB: How did you both meet and how did that lead to the creation of Food heaven Made Easy?

Jess: We actually met at a dinner and game night sponsored by a community organization. At the time, I had already started graduate school to get my Master’s in nutrition, and a few months later, Wendy decided that this would be a great career path for her too.

food heaven made easy

Though we went to different schools, we kept each other motivated throughout the process. Throughout this time, we ended up working together for the NYC Department of Health doing cooking demos and nutrition workshops in Harlem and the Bronx.


SB: How long have you been vegetarians and what influenced that decision?

Jess: I have been vegetarian since the age of 12. I never liked meat growing up and realized that being ‘vegetarian’ was a thing (around that age). I told my family that I wanted to be a vegetarian in the car one day and never ate meat since. Wendy on the other hand, grew up eating meat and loving every bite.


She became vegetarian due to gastrointestinal health concerns. After she gave up meat, her symptoms practically disappeared within months.


SB: Many people focus on what they put in their hair to keep it healthy. However what we put in our bodies also affects our hair. What is the best way to eat for healthy hair?

Jess: This is absolutely true! The most important thing for healthy hair, skin and nails is to eat a well balanced healthy diet and to drink plenty of water. We encourage people to focus on vegetables (try to get at least 5 colors of veggies everyday), fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans.


Also, Yogurt is rich in B-vitamins, which are needed for protein synthesis. B-vitamins also promote the circulation of nutrients to our hair follicles, by making new blood cells. This ensures healthy hair follicles and scalps. Salmon is also a hair super-food, since it’s packed with protein, fish oil and selenium to strengthen and encourage hair growth.


SB: There are so many types of diets being marketed as THE solution to weight loss. Are there any specific one that you can say are definitely a waste of time?

Jess: Yes, all of them! Kidding. But truth be told, diets don’t work. The trick is making small sustainable changes that add up to yield big results over time. No quick fixes when it comes to weight loss, just hard work and determination

food heaven made easy


SB: There are many diseases that disproportionately affect Black communities. Which do you tackle the most in your practice.

Jess: We see a lot of diabetes, pre-diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and increasingly more Gastrointestinal problems like acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome.

7055_887575971269707_802776223293095115_nSB: What is the best advice you would give to someone who is just starting their journey to living a healthier lifestyle?

Jess: Start small. It’s always best to do small and attainable goals that add up and lead to big results over time. For folks who want a little more guidance, we will be publishing 28 Day Plant Powered Health Reboot Cookbook, which helps you create a more structured healthy eating plan for a month. With this book, you can fully dive in to a healthy diet with structure.


Visit Wendy & Jess at for tips and tricks for delicious living and their monthly nutrition podcast. For those interested in personalized nutrition counseling, contact Jess via her website.


-Tony O. Lawson (@thebusyafrican)


Black Owned Businesses in Atlanta

Atlanta is home to many amazing Black owned businesses. Check out the ones we’ve listed and let us know which ones we missed!

Black Owned Businesses in Atlanta

CooperRose baby

ELEMENT Circus & Event Entertainment

Floral Matters

City of Ink

black owned businesses atlanta

KTX Fitness

black owned

Gymnetics Fitness

black owned


black owned

Iwi Fresh Garden Day Spa

black owned

Nubiance Salon and Spa


Atlanta Beauty Depot (Smyrna)

black owned

Le Petit Marche

shoppe black

Sublime Doughnutsblack owned businesses atlanta

E & C Popcorn


Vivid Interiors®


Posh Atlanta Cakes


Magnifique Soiree


That’s a Wrap!13094183_10153655954547775_4109594107436396531_n

Tropic Isle Living

Black owned

Lawrence-Ray Concepts


Purple Corkscrew Wine Bar


Too Groovy Salon


TAGS Boutique



black owned businesses atlanta
FunkyFlairBoutique (Marietta)

Citizens Trust Bank

black owned businesses atlanta

Credit Union of Atlanta

1st Choice Credit Union

black owned businesses atlanta

Slutty Vegan

black owned businesses atlanta

Ms. Icey’s Kitchen & Bar

black owned businesses atlanta

Sweet Auburn Seafood

black owned businesses atlanta

Atlanta Breakfast Club

black owned businesses atlanta

Soul Crab

black owned businesses atlanta

Old Lady Gang

black owned businesses atlanta

Negril Village

black owned businesses atlanta

Local Green Atlanta

black owned businesses atlanta


Tony O. Lawson 

Subscribe and Follow us on Facebook, Instagram Twitter!

Get your SHOPPE BLACK apparel!