Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wait, how is it April?

::clears cobwebs from blog::

Helloooo! And how is everyone on this fine April (?!?!?!) afternoon? I'm doing lovely and thought I
might write a blog post for a change.

The updates are, I have been doing all sorts of cool things and also boring things. Packing my weekends with too many activities, not getting enough sleep, getting too much sleep. Getting some bizarre flu/sinusitis hybrid and doing a competition anyway. Joining a gym beside the one I already don't go to and then nailing it at said gym.

And that's all I can remember off the top of my head. Trust - I have been thinking of all sort of entries day in and day out for this blog and taking pictures to support these entires. But after a while, I got too overwhelmed and just said to hell with it all, I won't write anything.

Now here we are months later with no content! Well this just can't stand. So I'll slowly be adding all the stuff that I should've been writing and post dating them. Don't be alarmed, but I'm going to be overwhelming your RSS feeds for a little while.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bettering the Brand: And why I'm talking about it

I made a few blog posts already about my triumphant return to the gym. I haven't gone in ages and have recently been motivated to go back. I've also been inspired to take steps toward an all inclusive healthy lifestyle. Including but not limited to organic & raw foods, natural & do-it-yourself detergents/skincare/health products etc.

At first I told myself that I wouldn't, I absolutely would NOT tell people on social media (and real life) that I was going back to the gym and "dieting". It's not really anyone's business and there's always that one "expert" (read: naysayer) that wants to debunk any and every method you're using for weight loss. I also don't want anyone to think that since I'm posting about working out that it's an invitation for them to attempt to educate me on what I should or shouldn't be doing. If there's something I just cannot stand, it's unsolicited advice. Trust me, if I want your help, I will ask you for it gleefully and, sometimes, ad nauseum. 

But the reason that I said to myself "you know what, to hell with all that, I'm going to tweet, FB, Instagram, and carrier pigeon my progress" is because I realize I have way more supporters and cheerleaders than naysayers. I mean really, so many people really DO want me to succeed so why not share this lifestyle change with them at the onset? 

And many if not all of the blogs/FB status updates I see are fitness divas posting AFTER they've gotten through the toughest part. The part where you step into the gym for the first time and everyone knows they have never seen you before. Or that they haven't seen you in a while and mentally take note of it. The part where you can't even do 5 push-ups anymore or run for more than a solid minute. When you walk over to a machine for the first time in a long time and you're moving a little slower than everyone else so you can accustom yourself to it. Or when you're one of the most out of shape people in the group fitness classes and you can't keep up, so you stand in the back. And when you really need to just have a seat in the locker room just for a second because DAMN that was so hard but at least you gave it your entire effort. 

Yes, going back to the gym isn't exactly party time, but it's a celebration because you've made that first step to change your life and take back control of your health. So please don't take my proclamations, instagram pictures, blog entries, and FB check-ins at/about the gym as some sort of bragging - I'm just hoping that someone (like me not too long ago) will be inspired to follow suit. Or, the easiest thing, that you'll just be happy for me! 

Thanks for reading :) 

With the love,
La Toya

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Best of...Jan 13 - 17

Best Day
This Wednesday, I went to the American Museum of Natural History with my friend Jessica. Wait but hold on, let me back up. The week before this I saw this picture when I randomly looked up from my phone. I then posted a pic on my IG feed and Jessica said she had a membership there and we'd be able to go for free. The power of social media!!! So beside getting to see the amazing museum, we went to see the incredible new feature Dark Universe in the Big Bang Theater. I was so into it, especially since he talked about Supernovas. Which I have deemed my favorite Outer Space phenomena beside Black Holes.

Best foodie moment
Also on Wednesday, as per tradition, we went to the local Uno just up the street from the museum and had their lunch special. While I was profoundly disappointed with the pizza and salad I ate, Uno redeemed itself with this absurdly delicious White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie Sundae. It was a mini-dessert so I was like okay whatevs!

Favorite Look of the Week 
Hmm, well ALSO on Wednesday (probably my favorite day this week out of all the days), it was warm enough (at first) to break out that Houndstooth Jacket my mom bought me. Here I am pictured with an entire day time diva look...which, now that I think about it, was entirely put together by my mother haha!

One day, I'll get a close-up full length photo

Sunglasses: Steve Madden
Coat: Ashley Stewart
Jeans: Avenue [Denim]
Boots: Lane Bryant online
Purse: Marshall's (Steve Madden)

Monday, January 13, 2014

8th, 9th, and 10th Cities: Texas {Tour Life}

In October 2013, I went on my first National Tour with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. I sang the Abyssinian Mass written by Mr. Marsalis with Chorale Le Chateau led by Damien Sneed. 

Around this part of the tour, it REALLY was starting to feel like we were at work, which, we were...and nice work if you can get it. But Texas was legitamately a blur to me because it happened so quickly. Here are all three from what I remember.

So it was about an 8 hour ride from NOLA to Houston and it was all very much a blur. We left really early in the morning to get there in time for our concert which was the day of. Once we got to the lovely hotel, I think I took like a 40 second nap before getting ready for soundcheck. The show was awesome and we came directly back to the hotel. A few friends from NY perform with the Houston Grand Opera house so we got to see them that night!!
View of the lobby from the balcony outside my hotel room

I mean Big D, lil' a, double L-A-S! Who knew that when I sang that ridiculous song lyrics in Most Happy Fella 6 years ago, that I'd actually go to this place? All I remember really was the delicious BBQ. The other thing I remember were the little Halloween cookies we got from one of the choir members' Mom upon our arrival at the hotel. Cookies in Halloween bags?!?! More tour magic!!!


So around the time we got to Austin, all I knew was that I had no idea what day it was. It might've been Wednesday or Sunday, no one really knows. But what I do know is that I had an entire afternoon to rest before the next concert. My friend gave me a manicure (as I was starting to look like an actual Halloween witch) and I had the largest possible iced coffee from Starbucks (conveniently located in the lobby).

At our final stop in Texas, Austin was a great time and I was reunited with another one of my old friends I hadn't seen in years because she lives down there!! I'm excited to go visit Texas again some time since I didn't have much time to really get to see everything. And um, yeah the bbq down there is the best.

Weekend Round Up {Jan 10 - Jan 12}

So Friday was one of those completely unplanned awesome evenings. After I gave myself mad props for making it to the gym 3 times in one week, I ended up going to a jazz show around the corner from my house (literally) featuring some of my old friends from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra: The Wynton Marsalis Quintet. I was like Throwback Thursday guys!

It was so ridiculously dope because I had only seen them play the music from the Mass while we were on tour and got like a small taste of what they were all capable of during their interludes. When I tell you these guys were ON FIRE. I mean woooooooow. I have to upload a bunch of video to YouTube so people can experience what I did.

I included a video here of this woman dancing. Apparently because the band was so large, they didn't have much room for a dance floor like they normally do there. So there was an announcement made that the audience had to remain seated. That did NOT stop this lady right here. I saw her out of the corner of my eye standing, and then moving her hips a little. And once the band started really hitting, she started dancing more fiercely saying "I GOTTA dance, shit!" and some people laughed around her and she added, "I'm 81 years old, hell, I might die tomorrow! Shit!" It was *such* an amazing moment.

I took it easy on Saturday and basically realized how tired I was and on Sunday, I sweated it out at Hot Yoga. YEEEAH BOYEEE.

How was your weekend??

Hot Yoga is here to stay {Bettering the Brand}

Back when I was in the gym a lot a few years ago, I took a "Virgin" Yoga class once a week for about 2 months before attempting a "Hot Yoga" class at Crunch. They can't really call it Bikram Yoga but that's what it is. I was super intrigued by the whole hot part of it but knew it would be a challenge. Even after all my Yoga 101 training, the first Hot Yoga class was tough. I wore all the wrong things and didn't drink enough water before, during, or after. Still somehow, I took about 5 more classes before I got severely dehydrated and just never went back.

This past Sunday was my first day back in Hot Yoga. I don't really know what I was thinking. I haven't taken a Yoga class in years, I don't stretch on a daily basis, and I've been super wound up ever since I started working out. It was a 90 minute class in this teeny tiny studio at Crunch but for some reason I was just over the moon about even being there. I mean, I know how to wash my hair now so I can't use sweating my hair out as a con to this class. I had on the right pants and shirt this time. I already had a ton of water and know know the benefits of Coconut Water. I am ACES at this time.

The class was pretty tough and I really had to pace myself but BY GAD, I'm on my way. The heat felt great, the sweating felt detoxifying, and the stretches were deep. I'm working my way up to making this class a few times a week before this is all said and done. Hot Yoga is here to stay! ::80s sitcom overly excited freeze frame!::

PS: Also, today is my half birthday.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

7th City: New Orleans - The Saenger Theater {Tour Life} Part II

In October 2013, I went on my first National Tour with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. I sang the Abyssinian Mass written by Mr. Marsalis with Chorale Le Chateau led by Damien Sneed. 

On my second day in New Orleans, I got to have an incredibly delicious lunch at Royal House Oyster Bar with a couple of tour mates. Ridiculously good.

We basically had a foodie excursion ending at Marie Levaux's House of Voodoo. Which was really serendipitous because that next month, I created the role in a new musical The Witching Hour.

We got back to the hotel with enough time to get ready for soundcheck. The theater was the most incredible theater we had seen. It looked like we were outside on a starry night. I was having so much trouble keeping my jaw off the floor that I barely paid attention to the soundcheck, ha!

I mean, seriously?

We sang our hearts out as always and were really excited to be in Wynton's hometown. I have to say this was my MOST favorite part of tour and it was when I finally realized how absolutely magical and enchanted my life has become. I knew from this point onward things would never be the same the most positive way!

Please enjoy a clip of us singing that evening below.