What’s in the Gym Bag?

Are small towels motivation to get thinner?


I did not grow up in gym culture. I grew up in Lagos where exercise was really about walking from one place to another. Of course, there was inter-house sports day in school but it was sports was a special occassion. Physical Education classes were for learning rules of different games not actually playing games. By the time I left Lagos though, gym culture was slowly infiltrating the mainstream. I remember do crunches on the brown carpet in my mother’s house because I heard that was how people got flat tummy.

When I arrived in the US at 16 and started community college, my step-mother randomly signed me up for a step aerobic class. It was not in my original schedule but she slipped it in there. This was the first time that I was part of a formal “gym” class. That was 13 years ago.

In that time, I have become an active member of gym culture. One of the things that I have had to learn was how to pack a gym bag. Trust me when I say that a well packed gym bag is an essential part of my work-out. When I first started going to the gym, I was very body conscious. I was mystified as to why the towels just seemed so small. Are small towels motivation to get thinner?  At first I used to pack my own extra large towel with me to the gym. Now I don’t even bother putting a towel in my bag. No, I have not gotten thinner. I have simply gotten more body confident.

I have gotten really good at packing my gym bag to include the things that are essential to me. Here are a few things that I am currently packing in my gym bag

  1. Body Wash: This is a new product that I have gotten addicted to. I have finicky skin that gets itchy quickly so I have to be careful with my body wash. I have used so many great ones in the past. My current favorite body wash is the Arnica Sports Shower Gel by Weleda. This is a new product that I have gotten addicted to so quickly.
  2. Body Oil: I like oil. Some people find oil too greasy or too shiny to use on their skin. I am the opposite. I find oil to be the best thing for my skin. There are many great lotions on the market and I use them occasionally.  When I am treating my skin right though I use coconut oil or an oil blend that I have mixed at home myself. I am currently in love with the Nature’s Way Liquid Coconut Oil. I use that on my face and body at night at home. At the gym I use it on my body only.
  3. Face Wash: When I first moved back to the US in 2013, I did not really have a face care routine. I have become a face care addict in that time and I have tried many great brands. My favorite brand to use on my face hands down is Acure. I love their stuff so much. I use the Acure Facial Cleansing Creme because it is so gentle yet so effective. I can tell the difference in the quality of my skin.
  4. Face Oil: Again, I use Acure brand face oil. I am a big fan of their Argan oil. My favorite from their line though, for winter, is the Seriously Firming Facial Serum. This serum is really just an intense blend of Argan Oil, Borage Oil and Cranberry Oil. I wear it under my make-up as well.
  5.  Shower Cap: If you have black natural hair like I do or just a really delicate hair style then you understand this one. I don’t have a fancy shower cap. My sister bought one of those packs with hundreds of flimsy caps last year and I have just been using those.
  6. My Make-Up Bag: I don’t wear make-up everyday. Sometimes I wish I did but I don’t. However, I carry my make-up bag with me everyday in my gym bag because there are some days when I have time and I just really want to doll up my face. I will do another post on my make-up bag sometimes soon.
  7. Anti-perspirant/Deodorant: I use to wear a deodorant for a while simply because it is supposed to be better for the body. However, I found myself really conscious about my body odor. While I recognize the risk in wearing an anti-perspirant,I switched because it made me less self-conscious. I usually wear a gel from Secret.

Of course there are other things that I put in my gym bags depending on the day of the week. However, these are the things that are consistently in my bag. For things that I use out of the gym as well, I tend to buy two. I keep one in my gym bag permanently and I use one at home. It is just easier for me that way because I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything.

What do you have in your gym bag?



Self-care And The Seduction of Self


“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare”

-Audre Lorde

I recently read this quote somewhere random and it stuck in my head all of this past week. Self-care is something that I sometimes neglect. My lack of self-care is not a reflection of my self-esteem. For me, my lack of self-care is reflection of the importance I place on my own agenda in lot of ways. There are basic things that make me happy. I like the way my face looks with make-up on. I do much better when I am physically active. I blossom when I make myself a healthy meal.

Somehow, even though I know what makes me happy, I find myself cheating myself out of my self-care routine. A few weeks ago, I started massaging my feet and my joints before going to bed. A couple of weeks after starting this soothing routine, I stopped. I just do not enough place emphasis on my own self-care.

This past week, I started wearing make-up to work, again. Instead of placing emphasis on getting to work extremely early, I chose to place the emphasis on looking as I desired. Putting on make-up for me is a seduction of self. It is a moment of vanity when I look at my face and touch my face. I acknowledge my own beauty and allow myself the creativity of choosing who I want to be for the dance of the day. A bright red lipstick to make my lips look full. A girly pink for my feminine days. A smokey eye for the days when I want to catch the gaze.

Putting on make-up is one of the few times when I get to look at my body. I generally don’t dress with a mirror. I actually haven’t owned a full-length mirror in a long time. I find that I like to avoid my body in some ways. I love getting dressed in the morning. I love putting things together and playing with shapes, textures and patterns. I can tell if an outfit fits by the way my body feels in it. To look at my body however is to ask too much of my fragile self. I have learnt to engage with my body in a way that is not threatening to me. Looking at my face is one of the joys I get from a mirror though.

I was thinking about this self-care quote tonight when I decided to play around with my face. I sometimes miss the days when I used to wear a lot of color on my face to work. These days, I am firmly in the nude/brown palette phase. I am enjoying the brown/bronze/black look alot. I tend to concentrate lots of drama on my lips with bright reds and pinks in the summer. This past fall/winter I was really into plums and wines. Tonight though, I sought out my gold dust and played fairy on my face. It is a bit of a wild look but there was so much joy in playing with that face. So much joy!

Do you have a self-care routine that makes you feel your best? Let me know in the comment section.