Grow With Jo Workout Review

Lately, I have been switching up some of my workouts from my routine. I am big on doing my monthly challenges. Since I have been doing challenges for about a year since my surgery, I wanted to step out of my fitness comfort zone and try workouts that I had never done before. 

In my challenge group, one of my challenge-mates told me about the Grow With Jo Youtube Channel. Grow With Jo, also known as Johanna, is a fitness enthusiast who encourages her followers to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Her high-energy walking low impact workouts are what she is well known for. 

When I first saw Jo in the video, I thought her smile and buoyant personality were familiar. It was like looking in the mirror. I love seeing people who are just happy and peppy! It pumped me up and got me excited. I was thinking, “Okay, girl, I feel the vibes. Let’s do this!” 

So I started moving. Honestly, I started thinking the workout moves were pretty basic because the workouts are low impact. However, there are no breaks in between the activities. So as I started walking in place between each workout move, that’s when I began to break a sweat. The music is upbeat and techno, so walking in place still had me burning some good calories. 

My favorite workouts are the ones she has with weights or lower ab workouts. As a VSG girl, I need to get some good toning in to keep my skin from getting too loose. My lower pouch is my most extensive problem area, so I try to work out my lower abs at least twice a week! 

Overall, if you are looking for a fun low impact workout to help you burn calories, I believe Grow with Jo is a great place to start. She has helpful moves, and you can get a good workout right in your living room! 

Here’s a couple of some videos that you might enjoy below! 

On Di Road

Still not trying to be outside for Carnival? No worries. I got you with a Soca Playlist to make you feel like you are “on di road”. Soca has magical powers it makes you wanna dance and move all night. Labor Day weekend you can find all Caribbean people on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. This playlist is dedicated to the Soca Lovers!

VSG & Skin Don’t Mix

One of the most common stresses in the Bariatric or Major Weight Loss Community is the issue of skin. Excessive skin or hanging skin is a result of rapid weight loss. When you lose a lot of weight the collagen and elastic fibers are usually damaged which results in your skin not reverting back to normal. 

A lot of people ask me if I have extra skin. To be honest, this was one of the things that I was worried about. I actually still have a bit of body image issues because of some of the extra skin. 

At first, I thought I did not have any excess skin, however, once I lost my first 50 lbs I started to notice a change in my body. My inner thighs shake a little more and the skin there is softer than usual and my pouch is still really soft and I still got a little bump at the bottom. I am not too worried about those two issues. People have bellies, so that’s normal to me. I don’t like that my thighs shake so much, honestly could be a lot worse. I am happy with what I have, however, there are some insecurities that I do have after my surgery. 

My boobs have changed dramastictically (that’s dramatically and drastically put together, it’s a word I made up)! I used to be a 40 DDD and now I am down to a 34 DD. I struggle to find bras and good swimsuits because my boobs no longer have any volume at the top. And my skin DID NOT snap back. It makes me feel like a grandma because I feel youthful because of it. Currently what I do is wear pushup bras and padded bras to make up for the volume in my chest. 

People usually ask if I would like a more permanent solution to this issue.

I am thinking of getting breast lifts (with no implants). I do not want implants because I am fine with my current size. I just want to have my boobs look my age (I am not sure why that made me chuckle) I still feel confident in my body because I worked my ass off to get to where I am, but I do have insecurities. It is fine to not be 100% confident, no one is. 

I am trying to be nicer to myself and not tear myself down. I wouldn’t say that I am body positive, I feel like I am more body tolerant. I like my body some days but other days I feel a little insecure. Weight loss doesn’t change your insecurities, your insecurities are what they are. It is up to you to get up each day and still feel comfortable despite your insecurities.

You Have The Right To Remain Vocal

Am I too nice?

I know that I am. I know that some of my friends reading this are probably like, “Duh, Rachel, you wayyyyy too nice” 

In my too nice life, people usually say to me, “Girl, you better than me because I would have (Insert what you would have done)” 

This is one of the biggest issues that I struggle with. I am starting to notice that I spare people’s feelings and disguise my own. I am what you would call, Overly Accommodating. For instance, if someone asks me, where should we eat, I might have something in mind but will say whatever you like is fine. I often find myself acting like the princess on Coming to America; “Whatever food you like.”

It can even go deeper than that. I can be stuck doing something I am unforgettable to doing out of accommodations. Boundaries may be, Rachel? Yeah, I know I should set boundaries with the people in my life. I even wrote a damn blog post about setting boundaries (check it out). But it is still a major struggle for me to just tell people how I feel for fear of rejection or hurt someone’s feelings. It is a major flaw of mine. If I do share my feeling I usually mask my truth in a joke or sarcasm. It’s how I still stay charming. But I am starting to realize that my indifference can sometimes come off as fake or passive. 

I am now realizing that when I hid my feelings to accommodate others I get the emotional scars afterward. I have this innate nature to make people feel comfortable to make people feel heard, or listened to. But where is my voice? Why should I silence myself so that others feel better. 

It is fine to say how you feel with love. In this journey of finding my voice, I take little steps each day to be bolder. I still want to hold the love, empathy, and compassion I have for others. But that does not mean staying silent. My voice has value, my voice has power. The people I love want to know what I am thinking or feeling. 

I will continue to be caring and thoughtful, but I will work every day to not be a doormat. I acknowledge when my indifference hurts someone. I will continue to do my best to step out and be braver to speak up. Rachiie Speaks is all about the journey of finding my voice in spaces where I feel voiceless. My hope is that you all also do the work to find your voice. There is power in our voice. You can still be a nice person and speak your mind.

Should You Van Gogh?

I felt like I was walking into the paintings. That’s how I felt in the Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience Exhibit. 

Van Gogh put his soul into his work but also talks about losing his mind in the process. This immersive experience sheds light on the journey of Van Gogh as an artist while also shedding light on his mental health. 

The Van Gogh: Immersive Experience is open in NY until October 2021. Tickets are $36.50 for adults but $54.50 for adult VIP. I know people are wondering if it is worth it; here is a rundown of my experience. 

Is it Safe/Covid-friendly?

Yes, All attendees are required to wear masks throughout the duration of the exhibit. Guests are required to social distance, and all seats are separated more than 6 feet apart. 

Noteworthy Locations in the Exhibit. 

360 Degree Room w/ 15,000 ft Screens: The room we walked into tells a story about its works of art. The music, quotes, and narrations put you inside the paintings and the mind of Van Gogh. 

Social Distanced while also enjoying the amazing view

The VR Experience: will give you a deeper dive into the experience. You walk into Van Gogh’s room, and it keeps opening doors to different paintings as you feel what. I really enjoyed those pieces of the 

VR Experience

Paint Like Van Gogh: was cool because you got to color a blank copy of Van Gogh’s pieces with the crayons they provided and then you get to upload your work on the wall. I felt like a real artist because your art was displayed for everyone to see! Here’s a picture of my artwork. 

My artwork from Paint like Van Gogh

The rest of the experience is an elevated museum version with artwork timelines and a deeper dive into his art. 

My Rating

I would rate the experiences a 7/10. While I really enjoyed the experience, I feel like the experience could be a bit longer. I got the VIP ticket which gave me access to the VR experience and a free Van Gogh Poster of one of his artworks. I think I could have gotten a little more with my tickets.

Choosing Joy

Choose Joy. I choose to find joy in my life. I used to be like Mary J Blige, “ All I really want is to be happyyyy… “ Sing along if you know the song! But I realized happiness felt temporary. I would tend to find happy moments. 

I am now on a journey to find joy. I am trying to find new things and a new lifestyle that creates more joy in my life. This journey might mean changing my job, changing the way I show up as a friend and a family member. It’s in the way that I affirm myself. 

To me, there is a difference between joy and happiness. Happiness shows up in the face while Joy is found in the heart. It takes heart work to get to a sense of joy in your life. Happiness you find in small moments, but joy is connected to your soul. I don’t want to smile just because I want my whole being to smile. 

The Journey to Joy means practice and practicing things that make me feel joy—changing habits and creating new lifestyle choices. If something ain’t working out in my life, change it. 

Joy is in the inside while happiness can only be seen in a smile… Choose Joy.

One thing that I changed was my mornings. I wake up earlier. 6 am I wake up, pray, stretch, and work out. Then I shower and turn on my affirmation group on Clubhouse (Yes, on Clubhouse. There are healthy communities on Clubhouse). Shoutout to my Affirmation Aunties crew. As I listen to the affirmation group, I get ready for work and make my breakfast for the day. This routine has made me have more productive days. 

What happens when I deviate from this plan? I feel more stressed. I missed an essential part of my mornings. Choosing joy is a practice. I need to wake up committed to joy. 

I no longer choose to chase temporary highs of happiness cue Snoh Aalegra. Those things no longer work for me. I will instead be on this journey to find joy. When you have joy you can withstand the trials and tribulations in life with strides. I want to feel a sense of stillness during obstacles; I no longer want my anxiety to get the best of me. I want to be okay sitting in my trails because I know that joy will give me a sense of peace through it all. 

There is a reason why joy is repeated in the bible so much. God wants joy for us and not just happiness. I hope joy finds you, and I wish joy upon all of us.

Breaking Up With Burnout

Burnout is real! It sneaks up on you like a snake in a garden. Snap! It hits you; you are overworked, irritable, and need a break.

When I feel burnout, it is usually hard for me to let go of responsibilities out of guilt. I feel like I need to keep pushing myself more and that I need to release any thoughts of slowing down. NOT GOOD, RACHEL, NOT GOOD AT ALL! When I try pushing myself even harder, guess what? The quality of my work also goes down because I have less motivation to things done. 

I try to avoid burnout at all costs, but let’s be honest, it happens, and you gotta find ways to deal with it. 

This past week I had feelings of stress and burnout real bad. Though I tried different things to get out of it, it took a little longer to break free from those feelings.

Though this week was exceptionally hard for me, I think it is still good to share some helpful tips to deal with burnout. 

  1. Take a Nap: Sometimes, your body just needs rest. Give yourself some time to recharge your body.
  2. Talk to Friends: Your friends can do a lot to help your mental health. They can get you out of the house and help you experience more joy. Lean into the friends that matter to you the most. My best friend helped me with this last week. She encouraged me to go out with her, and those few hours helped put my mind at ease. 
  3. Take a Walk: A little fresh air never hurt anyone. We spend much time working behind a screen or hyper-focused on our tasks at work. Take some time to smell the fresh air. Focus your energy on nature and your breath. 
  4. Laugh: I believe laughter can cure a lot of things. When I am sad, I have a few video clips or tv episodes that I know will make me laugh. Laughing always makes me renew my spirit and helps me keep going. Watch something funny that will make you smile.
  5. Learn to Delegate: Burnout can be avoided if you ask for help. It is okay to give a little control away to your friends. You are not weak if you ask for help (I learned this lesson last week)…

I hope these tips helped. A combination of all of these tips helped me during a rough time. Let me know some other ways to combat burnout!

Summer Timeee Playlist

This is a feel good playlist to get you in the mood for summer. Enjoy this on a road trip, getting ready for brunch, on the beach, or at a bbq!

Enjoying my Summer int my lovely Shapermint Leggings



100 lbs Giveaway

The wait is over! My 100 lbs giveaway is here! I am so happy that I shared my journey with you all that I felt like it was only right to celebrate my weight loss with a giveaway.

I decided to giveaway these items because they have become staples for my success in my journey. The booty bands from Team Lashae helped me enhance all my workouts. The water bottle with time stamps helped me stay on track with my water intake, which is vital for weight loss, especially if you had weight loss surgery!

If you are interested in getting your hands on these items please follow the rules below!

To enter, you must comment under this post (picture below) on my Instagram @rachiiespeaks tagging a friend, and Subscribe to my blog site. Contest ends July 3rd, 12 PM EST.

Like the picture on IG @rachiiespeaks and comment tagging a friend!

One winner will be selected.

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