In our series Fit Chicks, we chat with female fitness bloggers and trainers from all over the country. Equipped with their collective experience, expertise and practical tips, you’ll be happy to know that a healthier lifestyle is right around the corner.
Name: Toni Carey, 33
Business/Blog: Black Girls RUN!
City: All over the country
In 2009, Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks-Rocha realized there was a slim amount of African American women in the running community. Thanks to hundreds of races, campuses all over the country, publicity (like Oprah), and good ole gumption, these two women have affected thousands of black woman over the past eight years. One step at a time, positive change is being made.
Describe the moment you and Ashley decided to start Black Girls RUN!
Toni Carey: It was one day where we had been running for quite a while where we felt like had a good grip on the running community, but it was not as welcoming as we hoped it would be. So it was that paired with reactions from friends and family. I told my mom I was going to start running and she said my uterus was going to fall out. [Ashley and I] were at work and I told Ashley that story and we were like, “but black girls run!” We said, “We should blog about this concept.” After we started blogging, it took off from there.
I know one of your missions is to fight obesity in the African American community. Have you seen a change since you started BGR?
Photo courtesy of Black Girls RUN! Facebook page
TC: That’s the hard part. All the results have been anecdotal. We haven’t done any research to that degree, but we really hope the CDC does another obesity study. Anecdotally, I think we’ve made an impact. There’s more people in this space which is very optimistic, but it’s hard to say in terms of numbers.
Have you seen a change in reactions?
TC: Across the board, the running community has become much more diverse in terms of ethnicity and gender, which is really cool. Women have dominated the half marathon, for the past few years at least. So we’ve started to see that shift. Running has become much more accessible. When I first started, I pictured people who ran as old men with white beards and short shorts. That completely shifted. And you’ve seen the retail end pick up with that, too. Prior to that, it was “shrink it and pink it,” and that was it. There’s so much more variety in work out clothes now, and it’s fashionable.
What has been some feedback from the women in the program?
TC: I think generally speaking, the feedback has been “This is what I needed to make a shift in my life.” The community aspect almost trumps the running part. Women who are there to support you and want you to do well is probably the most glaring result we’ve seen. There have been times where I’m talking to members and ask, “How long have you two known each other?” And they’ll say, “Oh, this is our first time meeting. We just met through [BGR’s] Facebook.” These ladies are developing these lifelong friendships, so running and being healthy is just a bonus.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for working women or moms who want to start living a healthy lifestyle?
TC: Make the priority. Whatever is important to you, you’ll make time for it, whether it’s a goal, people, whatever. What’s been great for me is to schedule a run, yoga or whatever activity on my calendar just like any other appointment. I have that time carved out for myself. Everyone knows I go to yoga at noon because it’s on my calendar. As women, we tend to take care of everyone else so we’re very last on the list. What I always say to women is, “You are completely useless to other people if you’re not functioning at 100%.” So, take the time to do self-care and have physical activity. Get a massage! Those things are okay.
What is your go-to healthy snack? What’s a treat you can’t pass up
TC: I’ve been on this carrot and hummus run so that’s my go-to thing right now. Or apples. It’s funny because when we think of convenient food, apples and oranges are the original snack food, because you just pick it up and go. I am also completely obsessed with two things: one is a brand of gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free chocolate chip cookies – they are so good. Also Whole Foods has these coconut date rolls and I swear they should be 10,000 calories – but they’re only about 130.
Photo courtesy of Black Girls RUN! Facebook page
Besides running, what’s your favorite exercise?
TC: It would be yoga right now because I do it literally every day. And then I also supplement with weight training. I’m getting to the point right now where I feel like I have a well-rounded mix of exercise. Just running began to beat up my body, as you can imagine.
What’s been the biggest take away or inspiration from this whole experience?
TC: Never underestimate the power of individuals making change and the power of community. It’s so important right now, given the political climate. It may seem doom and gloom, but we can rely on each other to make things happen. When [Ashley and I] started, we thought we were just going to blog and write a book and that was going to be the end of the day. But the universe obviously had a different plan, and we’ve been able to touch thousands of women because we decided to do something and change our community.
What are some of your goals for 2017?
TC: [Ashley and I] both have personally changed since we were 26 when we started BGR, so we’re starting to focus on concepts around mindfulness and being intentional – the transition from running and races to, “How does this actually become a lifestyle? How do we help them run, weight train, do yoga, and stuff that’s more well-rounded?” We just started this “Walk Before You Run” training program which is great for people interested in running, but it starts with them walking. We want to start more programs to use our community to help get those [CDC] numbers. We want to get 1,000 more new runners this year. We’ve got our nose to the ground, and we’re working really hard. There are a lot more women that need us.
Top photo: courtesy of Black Girls RUN! Facebook page
McGee Nall is a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia. She was probably eating Nilla wafers and Nutella while writing this.