Why I Ride

A few people have asked me to stop fundraising on my Facebook page because it’s annoying. Some have also said it’s “beneath me to ask for money.” They have since been excommunicated, not only from my Facebook page, but from my life. It’s my page and I will do as I please with it, especially if it means bringing awareness and raising money for a cause that is extremely close to my heart. Never have I ever asked for money for myself, and I don’t even actively raise funds for multiple events/causes, except this one, Cycle for Survival. Since others have asked me why this is such a heartfelt issue for me, I figured now is as good a time as any to share one of the several reasons.

When I was 4 years old and in my kindergarten’s summer program, a beautiful girl named Chase joined and we became fast friends. Her skin was tanned like butterscotch and her wild sandy brown hair sat on her head like a halo. Her eyes were hazel and framed by the longest lashes I’d ever seen at that point in my short life. Chase had two missing front teeth, just like I did, and we couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. We played everyday she came to school and were inseparable, even during nap time. I hated when she wasn’t around–she’d be absent for days in a row. I asked her why she was gone so much and she explained to me that she was sick and had to go the doctor for special medicine and care. I told her I got sick all the time, especially in the winter. She told me it wasn’t that kind of sick, that she had something called Leukemia and that it never really went away. I didn’t know what Leukemia was, but I told her I hoped she got better soon so we could play more. She said she’d be fine one day and we went to play on the swings, never to talk about her sickness again.

I remember Chase missed a whole week and I was really sad. Then another week went by, so I asked the teacher where Chase was. Ms. Sandy looked at me and said that God didn’t want Chase to hurt anymore, so he took her to heaven to live with him. Not truly grasping the concept she was trying to convey to me, I said, “That’s nice of him. I’m really gonna miss her though.” She cried silently and rushed me off to go play.

Chase has stayed with me all these years: her smile, her eyes, the feel of our hands joined together as we skipped around the playground. She was the first friend I lost to cancer, my first friend in life. I raise money in her memory; I ride for her. Cycle for Survival is my battle cry, my part of the fight against all forms of cancer.

Please understand. Please help me fight. If you’d like to donate, please click here and know that you are appreciated. My team and I will ride hard and strong for you, your loved ones, and everyone affected by cancer in all its forms.
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Cycle for Survival 2K15

Greetings, everyone!

It’s that time of year again when my team and I ride in Cycle for Survival to raise money to fund lifesaving rare cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Together we can ensure tangible progress and give real hope to patients and their loved ones worldwide.

Why do I ride?

BECAUSE I WANT TO HONOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS TOUCHED BY CANCER. My family and loved ones have been hit hard by different forms of cancer, as have I personally. I will be riding for them and for everyone else affected by all forms of cancer. Cycle for Survival is my way of fighting back and making a difference.

BECAUSE RARE CANCERS ARE MORE COMMON THAN YOU THINK. When you add all of the rare cancers together, approximately 50% of all cancer patients are fighting a rare cancer. And these are familiar diseases: pediatric cancers, leukemia, lymphoma, and thyroid, ovarian and pancreatic cancers are all classified as rare.

BECAUSE THERE AREN’T ENOUGH TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR PATIENTS. There is a critical funding gap in rare cancer research, but we can change that. In the first eight years of events, Cycle for Survival already had raised more than $51 million, arming doctors and researchers with funding to discover new and better treatment options.

What can you do today? Please donate to my ride to support lifesaving research!
Click here to donate

100% of every dollar you give will go directly to pioneering research within six months of the events.

Cycle for Survival has contributed to more than 100 clinical trials and research studies, and also to major research initiatives that will change the way cancer is diagnosed and treated.

Together, we can truly make an impact.

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Thank you for your consideration and continued support.
–Vicky T.

Ringing the Bells

Ever since I discovered the life-changing awesomeness of kettlebells, I’ve incorporated them into my workouts when I’m not taking a class, or when I don’t have a lot of time to spend in the gym but want a total body workout (legs, arms, core, cardio). I neglected them for a while and picked them back up again last summer and haven’t looked back. A lot of people have asked what kinds of exercises I do with them and why, so I figured I’d post my initial kettlebell routine (adapted from Onnit Academy), and the descriptions of each exercise.

Full Body Kettlebell Circuit Workout
Perform as many reps as possible in 30 seconds before moving to the next exercise. Move through each movement as quickly as possible without rest. Once one round is completed, rest as needed and repeat for a total of 5 rounds. Again: one round=exercises 1 through 5 just like the name dictates —> it’s a circuit.
1: Kettlebell Goblet Squat to Curl

2: Around The Body To Hold
3: 2-Hand Lunge To Press
4: Around The Body – 30 sec each direction
5: Tactical Lunge

Due to the fact that you must repeat the Around the Body exercise to make sure you train both sides, it feels like you’re doing 6 exercises.

Below is a video of my first time trying this workout last year; you’ll be able to tell because my squats and lunges aren’t as deep as they should be. (They’re a LOT better now, especially after seeing how I looked while doing them—plus, I’m stronger! Videos are a great way to critique your form and to see where you need improvement. I’m a stickler for form and technique, so I make sure I change quickly. Besides, injuries from improper form suck!)

The first time I tried this workout, I used an 8 kg kettlebell and rested 30 seconds to one full minute between exercises. It took me about 40 minutes to complete. Over the course of one month, I gradually increased my weight and decreased my rest periods. By the time I was ready to change my workout routine (every 4-6 weeks to keep the body on its toes), I was using a 14kg kettlebell and resting only 10 seconds between exercises and rounds. That means I was in and out of the gym in 30 minutes with an insane HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout complete! Heart pounding, muscles pumped, sweat dripping = mission accomplished. By the way, I did this routine about 2 to 3 times per week, doing different workouts on other days.

I’ve gone through several adaptations of this workout since I filmed this video, but since so many people asked for it, I felt it only right to post this one first so you could see where and how I started. I’ll post my most recent variation soon, because I’ve already been asked for that as well. You all are proving to be real task masters when it comes to workout videos and pictures! I love it!

What I would love even more is for you to share your journey with me, and to ask me any questions you might have regarding any of my posts or their content. Also, please feel free to propose ideas in my virtual “Suggestion Box,” a.k.a. my email: thevickylicious@gmail.com. I really enjoy hearing from you, whether it’s via email, comments on this site, Twitter, Instagram (both @TheVickylicious in case you didn’t know), and even in person.

***I didn’t want to bore you with the full-length video of me completing one entire round, but if you’re interested in seeing it, please let me know and I’ll be sure to post it for you.***

Taking Flight: A [Brief] Book Review

I finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings a few days ago, but have been pondering the origin of this novel’s concept for a little while to settle everything going on in my mind regarding it. Famous for her previous literary work, The Secret Life of Bees, which takes place in the segregated south of US history’s oppressive past, Invention takes place in the antebellum south—a period in history pertaining to slavery and the discrimination of black Americans. Being her two most notable literary works to date, I’ve been questioning if these eras are a fascination of sorts for her, and if so, why? I have a fascination for wondering why white people write fictions, historical or otherwise, about slavery and the Jim Crow South, especially when they take it upon themselves to write in a fictional oppressed black American’s voice (another example is Kathryn Stockett’s world-famous The Help). I try not to get impulsively angry or immediately dismiss what the writer is trying to portray, as I am quite curious to see how they view their past and how they think black people view that same past. So I read her notes and researched Sue Monk Kidd the person, in order to get a better understanding of her and how she conceptualized her topics. Do not get me wrong, I absolutely loved The Secret Life of Bees (I even enjoyed the movie), so much so that over the past few years, I’ve read every other book and story Kidd has written, and enjoyed them all; otherwise, I would have never continued reading her work and then excitedly purchase The Invention of Wings, and I’m so happy that I did. Not only did I learn about how/why the book was written, I also learned more US history that was completely left out during my schooling. (Read her Author’s Note to understand the origin of this book and you might be as inspired to read more into the Grimké sisters, the abolitionist movement and the fight for women’s rights.)

Invention of wings

Taking place from the early to mid 1800s, Kidd takes us into the world of historical figure Sarah Grimké and her waiting made (slave girl) Hetty/Handful, as they find their voices, their wings. To give you an idea of what most readers have felt upon reading this book, below is amazon.com’s description:

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.
This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

I think anyone who reads this tale will be able to self-identify. All of the characters were rich with life and color, making it very easy to latch onto them; their spirits were so palpable and thought-provoking that, upon reading and re-reading certain passages, I found myself questioning whether or not I have truly found my voice and purpose. Who hasn’t struggled to find his/her purpose, voice, individuality? For the fortunate, the struggle is short; for others, it never ends. To know one’s purpose in life is hard enough; thinking of these two women who were fettered by the chains of the times in which they lived, their struggles were all the more remarkable. Yes, this novel is about loss and love, friendship, family, history, and strife; however, it is also about hope, power and empowerment, mental freedom, and finding one’s voice.

The bird does not place its trust in the branch, but on its wings…

Say It Isn’t So, Revlon.

I wanted my first post of the new year to be happy and positive, but this topic could not be swept aside. The makeup world is ablaze with all the talk regarding the Revlon lawsuit filed by former top scientist Alan Meyer, who claims the CEO Lorenzo Delpani is a racist, anti-Semitic bully. Because I don’t want to get too angry or militant while writing, and therefore not representing the statements accurately, here is an article from the New York Post:

The CEO of Revlon is a bigoted bully who hates “dirty” Americans, thinks Jews “stick together” and believes he can “smell” black people when they walk into a room, according to a new lawsuit.

The beauty company’s boss, Lorenzo Delpani, made the ugly comments after taking over in 2013, according to a discrimination suit filed by Revlon’s former top scientist, Alan Meyers, who says he was ostracized because of his Jewish heritage.

Delpani, a native of Italy, told Meyers he was “shocked” there weren’t more Jews at the company because the biggest shareholder is Ron Perelman, a prominent Jewish American, according to the suit.

“Jews stick together,” Delpani quipped. He also allegedly added that “thankfully,” Perelman “is not like that anymore.”

Delpani also said that he hates living among Americans, whom he called “small-minded” and “dirty,” and that he can’t wait to get back to a “real” country, according to court papers filed this week.

He later allegedly went on an “anti-American tirade” in which he said the US is getting closer to being like ISIS.

Meyers also claims Delpani made a racist comment after a meeting in South Africa, when he said he “could smell a black person when he entered a room.”

Meyers also claims Delpani made a racist comment after a meeting in South Africa, when he said he “could smell a black person when he entered a room.”

Meyers says Delpani had it out for him for having red-flagged safety issues in the production and manufacturing process.

Meyers claims he was concerned that several labs were not equipped to adequately test raw materials to satisfy Revlon’s safety standards.

Meyers, 56, who joined Revlon in 2010, was fired last month after he complained about the issues and his treatment, the lawsuit says.

Revlon spokeswoman Kiki Rees on Wednesday said Meyers was a disgruntled employee who did not perform up to company standards.

“Mr. Meyers repeatedly demonstrated critical lapses in judgment and failed to perform at the high standard we demand of our employees,” Rees said.

In the suit, Meyers claims Delpani’s tirades and tormenting eventually became outright bullying.

Meyers described one incident in October, when he allegedly was forced by Delpani to act as a human easel during a high-level meeting.

Meyers says he was instructed to hold a whiteboard, which covered his entire upper torso and head, for approximately 30 minutes.

He saw this as a demeaning gesture, he says, especially since he was supposed to be part of the leadership team.

Stress from the ordeal forced Meyers into the hospital with chest pains, the lawsuit says. He said he was fired on Dec. 10.

In his suit, he is demanding unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.Attorneys for

Meyers were unavailable Wednesday for comment.

Revlon CEO Delpani_Bad

Needless to say (but I’m going to say it anyway), this is disgraceful. If these claims are true, Revlon better be bracing itself for the major fallout that will ensue as a result. According Revlon’s website, the allegations are baseless and meritless. Ronald Pearlmann, their Chairman states:

“I know Lorenzo as an executive and as a person. These allegations are both absurd and offensive to me and those around me. I personally know his mind and his character. He is among the least bigoted or biased human I have ever known. He has my full support.”

Being a worldwide, famous, cosmetics brand for women of all ages and backgrounds, this is horrendous news [if true]. Will  spokeswomen like Halle Berry pull out of their contracts? Will stores pull product off of their shelves? Whether true or not, bad publicity always generates backlash immediately. From what I’ve see and heard online thus far proves it. Thousands of women have already thrown out all of the Revlon products they’ve previously purchased, many have gone back to stores to return newly-purchased makeup as a direct result of hearing this news, and many have vowed to never buy Revlon again. AND they test on animals, so that wipes out another group of women (if they weren’t already offended enough by their alleged treatment of humans).

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I’m big fan of Revlon’s Colorstay Foundation, to the point that I hoarded the whipped version in my shade because it was discontinued (click here to read). I also have several shades of their awesome lipsticks–what’s a makeup junkie to do? Should I wait to see if Delpani is guilty before tossing everything? Do I stop wearing all Revlon products in the meantime? Or should I just say screw it and throw everything in the trash now? I’m so conflicted.

Yes I know…first world problems. The world won’t end, wars won’t be won or lost over this, and it won’t be mentioned in our children’s history books. However, people’s lives will be affected–and I don’t mean on the superficial level (my level, admittedly); this could cost people their jobs, affecting the livelihoods of many. Let’s see what happens.

On the plus side, this will clear a nice amount of space on my shelf.

I Want a Slice!

I rarely write rants, BUUUUT… Never have I ever walked out of a gym class, or any class for that matter, out of respect for the instructor. Today however, it could not be helped. I took the worst spin class I’ve ever taken in my life, and I’ve been spinning for over 10 years (I’m also certified, so I have experience on both sides of this coin). I understand everyone has their own teaching style, Yet and still: one’s inability to stop talking, horrendous music selection (by anyone’s standards), constantly cutting off the volume in order to hear one’ s voice, therefore not allowing anyone to get into any kind of “zone” whatsoever, makes for a horrible experience and denies the class of any potential energy. I tried to stay and ended up angry and annoyed. Unable to hide my irritation, I unclipped and hopped off the bike in mid-stride, apologizing to my friend–not the instructor–for not being able to stay. On top of that, I wasn’t the only one who left, so I know it wasn’t just me that was feeling this way. Re-certification is definitely in order. Too many people get a piece of the pie that don’t deserve it. And I’m a hungry mofo.CFS 2014

I See the Light

Forgive the corny titles I subject you to on a regular basis; I can’t help myself.

I spent a late night/early morning finishing Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and upon reading the last page, I felt like this author’s words made a light within me burn brighter. I didn’t sleep a wink as my mind wouldn’t let go of the characters, the imagery, the intricacies of the story that made this book so precious. I found myself highlighting so many passages that I wanted to commit to memory, so thought-provoking and emotive they were as to leave me referring back to them even before I finished reading this book in its entirety. All the Light We Cannot See is a work of art.

“I have been feeling very clearheaded lately and what I want to write about today is the sea. It contains so many colors. Silver at dawn, green at noon, dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins. Right now the shadows of clouds are dragging across it, and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White strings of gulls drag over it like beads.
It is my favorite thing, I think, that I have ever seen. Sometimes I catch myself staring at it and forget my duties. It seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel.”

All-the-Light-We-Cannot-See

Chosen as an Amazon.com book of the month for May 2014, the site’s review is:

Does the world need yet another novel about WWII? It does when the novel is as inventive and beautiful as this one by Anthony Doerr. In fact, All the Light We Cannot See–while set mostly in Germany and France before and during the war–is not really a “war novel.” Yes, there is fear and fighting and disappearance and death, but the author’s focus is on the interior lives of his two characters. Marie Laure is a blind 14-year-old French girl who flees to the countryside when her father disappears from Nazi-occupied Paris. Werner is a gadget-obsessed German orphan whose skills admit him to a brutal branch of Hitler Youth. Never mind that their paths don’t cross until very late in the novel, this is not a book you read for plot (although there is a wonderful, mysterious subplot about a stolen gem). This is a book you read for the beauty of Doerr’s writing– “Abyss in her gut, desert in her throat, Marie-Laure takes one of the cans of food…”–and for the way he understands and cherishes the magical obsessions of childhood. Marie Laure and Werner are never quaint or twee. Instead they are powerful examples of the way average people in trying times must decide daily between morality and survival. –Sara Nelson

The same thought crossed my mind before I made the purchase: do I really want to read another WWII story? However the synopsis and reviews convinced me to go through with it. Thank the literary gods that I did! This has easily become one of my best reads of the year for the way Anthony Doerr’s vision has burned these words, characters and feelings into my brain and heart.

“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?”

Spoken in French over a transistor radio with Claire de Lune playing in the background? Magical.