Last week I started by introducing my first guest blogger on You’ll be seeing posts by makeup expert Meagan Shea on a biweekly basis around here! Now it’s time to introduce contributor #2 – health and fitness expert Renisha James, personal trainer and creator of the blog Renewed Fitness.

You might recognize her face and her name – I’ve featured Renisha on the blog before, and she was my first ever natural hair diary feature on Behind the scenes she’s become one of my closest friends in Chicago, and is seriously one of the sweetest, most down to earth, genuine and self-effacing people I’ve ever been lucky enough to know. She’s the kind of person who you can’t help but love.

Renisha has personally helped me realize my own health and fitness issues, and she’s encouraged me to get up from the couch and to push myself to be fitter and happier. I’m a work in progress, but without her I can honestly say there wouldn’t have been much progress in the first place. I couldn’t think of anyone better to be the health and fitness expert for, because her approach isn’t about weight loss or dieting or extreme measures to try to fit into a certain size or see a certain number pop up on the scale. Her approach is encouraging, positive, and holistic. But enough from me. I’ll let her tell you herself.

Who is Renisha James?

Renisha James was born in Chicago and raised in Evanston, IL. She’s a Personal Trainer with an unquenched passion to help those around her change the way they think about fitness and health. She is an avid runner and has completed several 5K’s, 10K’s and 2 full marathons.

Her mission through Renewed Fitness is to commit to providing a rewarding fitness experience that will enable everyone to see fast, and effective results while guiding them into a state of overall health and well-being. Renisha believes that working through physical challenges in the gym starts with working through mental challenges by facing your fears and renewing your mind. Exercising through those challenges strengthens not only your muscles, but also your resolve to conquer everyday stresses, which leads to an elevated quality of life.

Renisha is convinced that everyone has great potential to be informed and knowledgeable about what it takes to be fit, one renewed mind and body at a time.

You can find Renisha on her blog, Renewed Fitness, on Facebook, or on Twitter @RenewedFitness. And if you’re in Chicago, you can even hire her to be your own personal trainer!

Take it away, Renisha!

5 Little Things You Can Do to Start Being Fitter Right Now!

The philosophy I’ve come live and breathe is that when you renew your mind, you’ll change your life. But I’ve also come to believe that small changes in your daily life, routine, thinking and actions will make a big difference. I believe that true accomplishment with life goals comes gradually and the small changes are what count the most. In terms of health and fitness, the same philosophy applies: make small, simple, focused changes that will undoubtedly lead to big success.

Most of us, at one time or another, have looked for ways to be more fit, lose weight, tone up, eat better gain endurance, or just feel better about how we look. So, in keeping with the “small changes, big difference” mindset, I’ve come up with 5 Little Things You Can Do to Start Being Fitter Right Now!

#1: Drink ONE MORE glass of water than you usually do.

We’ve heard it time and time again (and you know it’s true): water is good for you. Forget that, it’s GREAT for you! Most of us don’t get enough. Your body is made up of mostly water, and it needs water to function properly and keep you in good health. Now, this tip can go two ways. If you NEVER drink water, start off by drinking a glass a day. If you do drink water, add another glass. Add fun stuff like cucumbers, lemons, oranges, limes and even frozen berries to your water to make it more “enjoyable”. But either way, drink up!

#2: Block out 30 minutes of time each day to get moving.

If you always find yourself strapped for time and you “don’t have time” to workout, MAKE TIME. Take out your calendar or your planner or pull up Outlook on your computer, and schedule your workouts for the week. Make it visible to you. Set an alarm. Most of the time, we make everything else a priority and push working out to the back burner. Make it an integral part of your schedule. That way, there’s no excuse.

#3: Stop eating about 1-2 hours before you go to bed.

This is a tough one, but it can be done. Late night snacking is something we ALL do without even noticing or realizing that it’s not good for us. When you’re busy and stressed with work, or just a night owl, staying up late is inevitable. So of course after dinner (if you even ate dinner) you get hungry. So, you eat. But here’s the deal: Your body naturally craves energy (food) to help keep you going. When you eat late at night, and don’t burn off those extra calories, your body doesn’t process the food as energy and instead, stores it as fat. I know it’s hard, but you can do it!

#4: Deskercise.

(Cute word, right?) If you’re at a desk all day for work, you can still get some exercise in. Every 30 minutes or so, stand up and stretch. Walk around while you’re talking on the phone. Sit on a stability ball instead of a chair to engage your core and work on your balance. Sit down and stand up several times to work your legs. When you’re sitting in your chair, squeeze your glute muscles and hold your abs in tight for about 5-7 seconds, then relax. Repeat that about 10 times. Whatever you can think of to get moving while at your desk, do it!

#5 Inconvenience yourself.

Instead of always doing things the fast or easy way (standing on escalators, using valet parking, taking the elevator), rethink the things that may curb your activity level. Take the stairs instead. Pull into that parking space that’s further from the door. Also, don’t keep junk food in the house. Try your best to have healthy options. It’s slightly more inconvenient to have to leave the house to get food, than to just choose something you already have at home. Am I right?

I hope these five tips can give you some idea of the way smaller, more precise changes can lead to a big difference and make you more fit.

Try them out and see how they work for you!

Please leave a comment for Renisha and welcome her to! Let her know what you need help with and what you’d like to see her blog about next!

What do you think, bellas? Are these the kind of fitness tips that inspire you? Which ones do you already do, and which ones do you plan to incorporate into your life?


Donna says:
April 4, 2011, 8:41 am
I love the idea of the desk exercise. I also have had to curb that late eating as it was throwing monkey wrench into my weightloss goals. I brush my teeth again anytime I feel like late night eating. No one wants to eat with a minty flavor in your mouth.
Tina says:
April 4, 2011, 9:10 am
Great strategies, over the last year I have lost over 55 pounds incorporating the scheduled exercise and droning lots of water. I am going to add the stability ball to my desk as I am still working on the core and balance. Great post!
Buki says:
April 4, 2011, 10:59 pm
Any tips for snacks for people who do work late. It's hard for me to concentrate if my stomach is growling. I sometimes work till 1 or 2am and then get up at 7am. I know it's not the best schedule but it's mine.
E-fresh says:
April 5, 2011, 3:11 am
Great idea to have guest bloggers. Surprised to see so few comments on this post. Renisha, I have a question for you. Is working out for an hour three times a week the same as 30 minutes six times a week? Thanks.
Mishara says:
April 5, 2011, 8:00 pm
I loved this post. At first I didn't want to comment. Fitness is not an area of achievment for me lol. I have been trying consistantly to drink more water. However, I too find myself saying, "I have no time to work out." But I am realizing that prioritizing the things in my life that are time sensitive as first (grad school work, 2 jobs and their deadlines) does not work toward improving my happiness. Things like exercising, and quality time with loved ones do not have deadlines so I have neglected them. But exercising would seriously improve my general health and quality of life. So I am going to try again with the 30 minute goal. (whew, that was hard to admit) Good Luck Fellow Readers!
Renisha says:
April 5, 2011, 9:50 pm
Hi Buki! Thanks for the comment/question. If you do choose to snack late at night, make it a healthy choice. Try a handful of mixed nuts or almonds, fresh fruit or fruit snacks, greek yogurt w/granola. Try not to reach for greasy or heavy food with a lot of carbs if you have to eat late. Hope this helps a bit!
Renisha says:
April 5, 2011, 9:59 pm
Hi E-Fresh! (love the name, by the way!) Thanks for the comment/question. When it all comes down to it, the amount of time you exercise really doesn't matter, as long as you get moving somehow. If you workout for an hour 3 times a week, that's better than nothing. Same with doing 6 30 minute workouts. Try to think of it in a manner of: today I'll get moving for at least 30 minutes. If that time turns into an hour, great! If not, still great! Hope that helps!
Renisha says:
April 5, 2011, 10:06 pm
Mishira, Thanks so much for taking the courage to comment. Truth is, we all struggle (even me) with keeping fitness and our health a priority. But like you said, all it takes is a little perspective change and some effort to change things. Schedule those 30 minutes into your day and get it done. Please let me know how you are progressing and how you're doing. I love to check on people to see how things are going. Be blessed and I'm rooting for you!
Julia says:
April 6, 2011, 9:40 am
Excited about these wellness tip. I'm on a journey of my own as well.
Joi says:
April 6, 2011, 9:49 am
I love these tips to help get fit without doing TOO much, it's a great way to start. I've recently been taking the stairs instead of the elevators and I see a difference!
Sahar says:
April 6, 2011, 3:55 pm
great post and awesome addition to an already fully loaded blog! I'd love to see some exercises we can do at home or in the gym at my apartment complex. a 30 minute fitness routine in a sense, would be really great. i'm in my early 30's and metabolism is slowing down. time to get fit but when i get to the gym, i feel like i have no idea where to start, so i just run on the treadmill. how do i incorporate weights and jumping jacks and all that stuff we learned in PE classes in high school and work on the entire body.
Bee says:
April 12, 2011, 11:46 am
Hi Renisha! So glad you'll be joining Afrobella, and thanks for the tips! I've been working on my water intake and also love the "deskercise" tips too! My question or area of concern is how to gain weight and muscle mass in a healthy seems that protein powders have become the norm, but what are the best kinds, and is it safe? I recently bought a Whey protein powder supplement from a local health foods store, and I have noticed improvements in my skinny arms and chicken legs w/ weight training :) I've read a lot of different persepctives for and against the use of protein powders, so I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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