Winflo… That might just sound like a slang way to say I’m feeling awesome about life, but I’m really describing a pair of shoes.

I get a ton of mileage from my athletic shoes. So, even though they may still look nice and clean, the support generally wears out after about a year. No biggie. That means I get a new pair annually.

My ASICS GT-2000 running shoes from 2015 were my absolute favorites. This year, however, being on a budget, I hit up Nike at the Gaffney Premium Outlets. I had heard about a few righteous styles from brand followers. I haven’t owned Nikes in many years. What the hey. Just do it.

I was in Nike for like two hours total. Yes, I did the classic “try a bunch of shoes on, then go over to Adidas and try on several there, then come back to Nike to retry favorites and ask a bunch of questions of the store associate about popularity and specific uses and still not be able to decide without at least 10 catwalk-esque trips down the aisle.”

My unique situation is that I want a pair of shoes that are…

  • Appropriate for all types of activity (running, cross training, cycling, Zumba class, etc.)
  • Comfortable to where for many hours on long days
  • Supportive for high intensity or rapid, sudden movements
  • Roomy enough in the toe to not smoosh or create a weird stride
  • A color that won’t look dirty so soon
  • Attractive (I’m not a savage.)

Surprisingly, finding this pair of shoes is difficult. I take my time to make such a decision. I mean, in my line of work, I will basically be living in these shoes. I better damn well enjoy them.

After friend and brand rep referral, online research, trial and error and logical analyzing, here are my top picks from the Nike outlet (for needs as listed above).

  1. Nike Zoom Winflo
  2. Nike Air Zoom Structure 18
  3. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31

The Pegasus was the most vouched for and had great padding for running but wasn’t as responsive in the walk test. The Structure had the most control but felt too tight for everyday wear.

I purchased the Winflo, thus my ranking of number one. Overall, this shoe had everything for me – cushion, shape, versatility, hot pink. They cost a very reasonable $60. After use, I am still pleased. I feel great strutting my new kicks around the gym or pounding the pavement. All the movement I want, and a bit of attention. I mean, they are practically neon. ☺

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Give Us Our Daily Water

“According to most of the literature, a safe general recommendation for daily fluid intake is about 3 liters of fluid (or 12 cups) each day. Since 1 liter (4 cups) comes from our food, this means that 2 liters (8 cups) comes from purposeful fluid intake (in other words, drinking).”

This is Precision Nutrition on Water and Fluid Balance. I read this and guffawed a bit. For me it presents a new way of looking at how much water a person should be drinking daily. Most could recite to you that they should be getting eight glasses of water a day. Here are the issues…

1) I have heard (and recited) that drinking “eight glasses” of water is ideal per day. Key word is glasses. How much is in a glass, you ask? Well, depends on the size of the glass. Could be eight ounces, 12 ounces, 16 ounces, etc. A person may have an eight-, 12- or 16-ounce glass but may not fill it up all the way.

2) We hear the number “eight” all the time. (That is technically meant to be “cups,” although you have all been referenced “glasses” before.) I understand that organizations and companies need to simplify messaging. But with no one ever hearing that the recommended total amount for fluid intake in a day is actually 12 cups (four cups of water being gained from food intake), we think eight is the only goal.

3) Four cups of our daily fluid are supposed to be taken in via food. No one knows this because the focus is always on the number eight. And, I consider that for water to be ascertained, we must also be eating the right foods. I’m sure the average Jane does not get close to four cups per day of fluid from eating canned, frozen, boxed, processed crap.

So… Revelation! The way I educate on hydration has forever changed. I will now be stating solidly 12 cups of fluid as the recommendation per day – four from nutritious food and eight from drinking water. Precise words matter. A whole picture matters. Relativity matters.

AarikaGive Us Our Daily Water
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New Year, Y’all

Like many, as the holidays approached, I began to say to myself, “I’ll tackle that in January.” Now it is January, eight days gone in fact, and I’m left with no excuses.

I am a trainer, a very aware health connoisseur. But I am not immune to powers of the anti-routine. Rich, salty, sugary foods all around. Sacrificing time exercising for time with family and friends. And just plain procrastination.

The holidays are great for cherishing and indulging. I am better off accepting that. Doesn’t sound too strange to a lot of you who also treat January as a go-to month, a time to get everything back on track or begin again. So here we go…

January is famous for resolutions. The New Year brings a hope and a determination. I admire the spirit. The problem is how often good intentions still breed failure, when after a few months, or less, we give in to life’s hustle, conveniences and lethargy. We fall short. Because the adage “it’s easier said than done” holds true. That’s why there’s a saying.

Particularly in health and fitness, identifying areas for improvement and dreaming of that is not so hard. Yet the follow-through is what people lack. There is such a visible drop-off in gym attendance around March that professionals could laugh (or cry). Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions are really more infamous these days.

This year, along with whipping this body back into shape, part of my objective is to help. Yeah, yeah. Altruistic. And maybe cliché. But I am very proud to be in this position to preach what I love and attempt to preserve what I believe to be a completely worthwhile tradition – setting goals, creating plans, committing to change.

In short, my resolution is to focus on building my health-ness business, for my wellbeing and for others’.

AarikaNew Year, Y’all
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Starting Today

Hello world! I started this website today, my very own health and fitness site to promote my new personal training business. I filled it with some backdated content from my everyday blog I plan to maintain both sites, only this one will be geared toward “health-ness” matters – advice, literature, research, tips, recipes and more to fuel your mind, body and soul.

It’s been a long, calculated journey for me to get here. (I used to be a marketer.) I’m psyched about this newness – new career, new city, new opportunities. I’m ready to kick butt and build something awesome.

Toe is in the water. I’m working at the YMCA of Spartanburg, Thomas E. Hannah family branch in downtown, as well as at Key 2 Fitness, an independent studio on East Main Street. Two jobs. Bam.

Business cards and stationary are in the mail. I will soon start networking for real. How could January New Year’s resolution timing be bad for such a venture?  🙂

AarikaStarting Today
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Went for a Swim

I went for a swim today, and I felt like my old self. I haven’t swum laps in a chlorine pool in many years. I used to be a lifeguard, five summers worth. I used to swim 500 yards almost daily. And I was fast.

I’ve lost a lot. I’m not even sure how long the YMCA pool lap lane is. I know I did 22 laps. My main goal was to complete 20 minutes of cardio though. My muscles twinged and my breath ran short.

I walked out into the fresh air and sunshine and smiled. I laughed and nearly cried. I hadn’t done that in so long. Memories of those afternoons at the pool came rushing back, of being young and carefree. I couldn’t recall the last time I felt like that. I’m only 28.

It was exhilarating and made me long for laissez-faire of the past.  Where normally, I’m covered with worry. It’s my nature to perfect.

Today I felt alive, an excellent reminder of what value taking care of oneself can have, that we are all tied down by a sense of obligation and lack of perspective. The better I can remember this, the better I can be, the more swimmingly life will go.

AarikaWent for a Swim
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Jan Fit Challenge

Thanks to my girl Heidi with Train To Live, I joined a fitness challenge for January. The challenge consisted of a three-day cleanse and then two-weeks of workouts. I started January 5 and am proud to say I completed as of this Wednesday, January 21. I lost 2.875 inches total and feel more toned and energized than I have in a long time. Here’s the skinny on getting skinny…


First let me say that this was not a cleanse like most of you are instantly thinking, intaking only lemon juice and cayenne for three days. It was a clean-eating plan with actual good-for-you foods that another health specialist created with Heidi specifically for this challenge. Participants had a meal plan to repeat each day, including tons of hearty vegetables, lean protein and this dank-ass flax granola we were all required to make. We were not allowed to have fast food, fried food, red meat, alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar or white flour. The toughest part for me was caffeine. Cleanse Day 1 was categorized by a lingering headache. I was very happy to discover that green tea had just enough caf to take the edge off and was allowed as an herbal tea, full of antioxidants.


The exercise plan spanned two weeks. It was composed of 6 Fit Day routines. Basically, over the course, we performed each of those twice (total of 12 days) and incorporated two rest days (Sundays). Fit Days 1 to 5 were pretty high-intensity endurance workouts. One day focused on cardio; one day focused on legs; etc. Fit Day 6 was a stretch day, with 10 minutes of warm-up prior. Amazingly, each day’s routine was designed to be done with zero equipment – and anywhere with roughly five-by-five feet of space. I did use a mat for floor stuff, because I had one handy. The rest of the workouts I did in my bedroom, in the driveway, in the hall at the YMCA or even while out of town.

Things I loved about this challenge

1) I am currently undergoing what I’m considering an incubator phase for my new journey into a health and fitness career (as a personal trainer, plus), and this was the perfect opportunity to try something new. That’s where I am right now – learning as much as possible to shape my interests and path. Now I’ve done a sanctioned fitness challenge. Now I’ve done a cleanse. Experience is power, baby.

2) I was greatly surprised with my own personal results. I had already been eating relatively clean – watching sodium, fat and calories. I was working out regularly too – with a goal of three days per week.  But, alas, we are in the winter season and the holidays just past. So I guess, I wasn’t doing all that I could. I am thrilled to see positive changes in my body and can’t wait to enlist in something else for February that pushes me. (Note: Lost 2.875 inches were sum of total measured at 11 sites – neck, upper arms L/R, chest, waist, hips, thighs L/R, calves L/R and butt.)

3) Sparked by a newfound enthusiasm, I recruited several friends to also participate in the challenge. Shout out to Erin and her bridal party for agreeing! This was a whole other angle, to lead a group through the process, to serve as a good example. I have found fulfillment in sharing, motivating and holding accountability.

4) This challenge encompassed 17 days, a short-term commitment. And all the exercises were extremely user-friendly. I am thoroughly impressed with this approach. People lead incredibly busy lives. Got it. But often they are excuse-laden. Don’t have time to exercise? Don’t have a gym membership? Don’t have a finish line so you never start the race? Let’s give ‘em a solution. Workouts 30 to 45 minutes. That you can do at home (hell, in a broom closet). That require no equipment. That only lasts two weeks.


AarikaJan Fit Challenge
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Still Alice

I recently finished a book about a woman who’s diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and her struggle to hang on to whatever she can of herself throughout the process, hence the title Still Alice. The novel by Lisa Genova portrays Alice Howland, a 50 year-old renowned psychology professor at Harvard University who begins to notice strange occurrences in her daily routine – not recalling words mid-thought, forgetting class times and what that day’s lecture topic should be in a series and becoming disoriented a few blocks from home and not knowing how to get back home.

Alice has always been a superior mentalist, making scientific breakthroughs and setting admirable precedents in her field. She knows this behavior is anything but normal, and after wading through a lot of denial, she final seeks help. Many tests and sleepless nights later, she discovers that she has Alzheimer’s and that her whole world is about to change drastically.

She worries about her family. How will they cope with this illness? Will her husband have to sacrifice his life-long work and passion to support her? Will she eventually not recognize her daughters and son? Was this gene abnormality passed on to her children? Will anyone have the patience?

She worries about her career. How can she possibly teach cognitive psychology and linguistics without being able to tap into those well-earned mental resources anymore? How long until her students and superiors notice? What will she be if not Alice The Brilliant Professor?

She worries about societal stigma. Why is this prognosis so difficult to bring herself to explain? Will she be able to keep up in everyday conversations and activities? Will people shy away from her with a polite nod and grin as to not offend? Will she simply be ignored because that’s easier?

Alice finds that all her worst fears are true. She grapples to preserve her memories – her mother’s Christmas bread pudding recipe, her youngest daughter’s first name – and her reasoning skills – what day is it, what is that thing called. But dementia cannot be reversed and can hardly be halted.  When her brain ceases to function naturally, when her mental synapses stop firing, the cells die, and it’s like fumbling in a maze to find ideas, knowing that the information is there yet not being able to reach it. That is the mild condition, until she loses control of motor abilities like walking or chewing.

You know this story is about a woman with a severely degenerative disease. You know you’re going to be saddened and confused as it progresses, as you see her desperate in an attempt to preserve even the little things that make Alice Alice.

I couldn’t have gotten a full breadth of Alzheimer’s from a fiction novel, but it made me thoughtfully consider the minutia that I take for granted and understand possibly the most about the mind and how it affects a soul that I ever discerned.

In a lecture to an Alzheimer’s related audience, Alice says, “There’s no peace in being unsure of everything all the time.” I dog-eared this page and took a moment. Of course, her’s has to be one of the worst fates to overcome an individual, and this puts a lot in perspective for the reader. The most triumphant ending is that Alice does find a way to accept her new reality and steer with love, letting raw emotions prevail in times of trial. And that’s a powerful message.

AarikaStill Alice
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Perspective to Prevail

I originally wrote this article on May 24, 2012. Over two years ago, but this perspective always rears it’s head, now as it did then. My brother is in town, and we’ve been talking a lot of “life is good, especially for us” stuff, so I see it fittingly…

Life has me busy. And, yes, I know I sound like a broken record every time I post. But you can pretty much expect to hear that tune from me for a while, what with my chaotic swirling mind. It’s not a bad problem to have. That’s what they say.

Well, work has ramped up. Play has ramped up. I swear spring has everyone in a furious frenzy. I was struggling after a four-hour meeting today, thinking, “This is crazy!” I needed to clear my head at the gym.

I got there, started to change into my sweats and realized that I had forgotten my socks. Universe, are you trying to hold me down?

I transitioned my plans for running into a more sockless-appropriate routine. I created my own circuit including 10 reps of squats, 10 reps of lunges per leg, 10 push-ups, 10 tricep dips and 30 crunches targeting upper, lower and oblique abs.

I got into a real groove, and three sets turned into five. It didn’t hurt that some chick beside me was pumping away and I took it as a challenge. Talib Kweli came blasting through my ear buds. I turned his “Get By” all the way up and felt a fire in my belly.

“This mornin’, I woke up. Feelin’ brand new, I jumped up. Feelin’ my highs and my lows and my soul and my goals…”

This was one of those moments when you know things are going to be alright. You just get hyped and ready to take on the world. You’re strong and driven and smart. You’ll lick any task that comes your way. You will prevail.

No, being busy is not a problem at all, when you have the right perspective. Maybe all I need is a jam session every morning, let the power of music propel me.

AarikaPerspective to Prevail
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D Deficiency

I woke up this morning and opened all the curtains and blinds in my house. I’m working from home today so I feel that this act is worth it, versus me throwing back the sashes on a normal day only to have to close them again when I leave the house an hour later. Cost-benefit analysis at its core… I’m aiming to get as much sunlight as I can these days because I recently found out that I am vitamin D deficient.

I visited my OB-GYN for an annual physical about two weeks ago, and she asked when I last had a cholesterol test. Probably in elementary school when it was offered through some free program, I said. She raised an eyebrow and then sent me down the hall to meet with a technician to draw blood. It was a relatively painless experience until I got the results – not enough vitamin D, and now you must take a daily supplement for the next year. Goo!

This hurt me. I am very conscious of vitamin D as an important nutrient to the body. I researched, wrote the script and hosted a health and wellness talk show interview segment with a medical specialist on that exact subject once. I exit my office most days at lunch to eat outside and then sit in my car to read with the windows down to get natural light and fresh air. I do constant yard work on my 1.12 acres. I run and play sports outside. I intake proper things like fish, milk, eggs and cheese. How am I vitamin D deficient?

I know it’s possible. The test doesn’t lie. And thankfully, I am only mild on the scale and taking over-the-counter D when I could have wound up with a prescription. I’ll do the healthy thing – eat good food sources, soak up rays, take my medicine.

But this diagnosis bothers me for another reason. If I am failing in the Vitamin D department, then how many others out there are affected? Seriously, I try my best to live a healthy lifestyle. So how are the couch potatoes and office drones doing? They are likely all sitting around weak and brittle boned.

This is apparently a big problem, among many other health-related issues in our society. I’m now a victim and speaking out. Ha! One more soapbox for me to stand on, you loafers.

Get tested, and if found deficient, shovel those fruit gummies.

AarikaD Deficiency
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