TL;DR: I did and learned a LOT this year, and now big changes are in store for us! Fill out this survey so that I can better understand your wants and needs, and so I can help make A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss the best health and fitness community on the web!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my 1st annual, inaugural (that’s a joke, I promise) State of the Blog Address.

And, I am happy to tell you, that the state of the blog is strong.

[cheers come from the audience]

This year has been incredible for A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss, and I am happy to tell you why with a run down of all of the events I attended, things I’ve learned, strengths and achievements this year, and a list of what I will work on to turn into strengths in the coming year.

2014 saw a lot of joy, and exposed me to a lot in the world – forced me to come out of my shell and mingle, make friends somewhere away from my desk, and learn from my peers about ways to expand our little community. 2014 also taught me a lot about myself, the ways in which I need to grow as a person, and that my humility and vulnerability are my greatest strength, because they serve as the foundation from which growing and learning take place.

In February, I had the privilege of attending Social Media Week on behalf of my friends at Microsoft, formerly Nokia.

There, I learned a lot about using social media to my advantage, and realized that I’m probably doing social media wrong. Ouch.

In March, I was able to attend the Yoga Journal Live Conference, where many of the names we know from the DVDs and books that make it easier for us to understand the practice all come together to talk about not only the practice of Yoga, but also about making the principles a part of your life – Yoga isn’t merely something you do, it’s something that can inspire you to live differently and positively, and the YJL space was wonderful for reminding us of that.

Also? I got headstand training from David Swenson and got some of the most empowering life advice privately from Seane Corn. I won the month of March.

In April, I attended the One Body, One World Conference put on by ECA World Fitness Alliance, an organization meant to support fitness professionals through education, providing resources to strengthen our businesses and connecting us with people who can mentor and guide us onward. The conference is great for people who look to get certified in sub-categories of training/class teaching like Insanity, P90X, Tabata training, and the like.

In May, after taking lots of training in food photography, I traveled to Miami to teach a class at BlogHer Food on mobile food photography, in partnership with my friends at Microsoft (yes, formerly Nokia!) The class was a blast, I was able to teach a cooking demo using fresh raw ingredients annnnd give away an incredible phone to a great contest winner, and it was super meaningful to be able to be in Miami again after having left the city behind when I moved to Brooklyn in 2011.

In June, well…. we adopted a puppy.

Puppies might as well be newborn children. My word.

In July, I traveled to San Jose to speak and present at BlogHer, to talk about mobile food photography again with #TeamMicrosoft. I got to spend time with so many amazing friends, see a city I’d never visited before, and teach a class on something I’d become so proud of: my food photography skills!

And then, I had to catch a red eye back to New York, so that I could do : a midnight half-marathon, where you literally pull of 13.1 miles…at midnight that night. And, as terrified as I was….it was amazing. I got to see so much of the city that I’d never gotten to see before, in ways I’d never seen before – because, um, bedtime is real in this house – and I was able to raise a little bit of money for a much deserved cause, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Center for breast cancer prevention and care in Harlem.

4:30:03, and I can't stop crying. #moonwalknyc #walkthewalk #scalefreesummer #bgg2wlarmy

A photo posted by Erika Nicole Kendall (@bgg2wl) on

Because of my partnership with The UN Foundation as a Social Good Fellow contributing to Blogust and the Shot @ Life campaign in August – which, by the way, we were able to get over 60,000 vaccinations for children across the globe who truly need them, largely in part thanks to YOU! – September was an opportunity to attend the Social Good Summit here in New York. I not only got to learn about how every day people like you and I in other parts of the world are using social media to affect change in their communities. As mobile technology becomes the future, it became abundantly clear to me how much we take for granted when we communicate with one another so easily through the web. In parts of the world where there is no electricity or desks for expensive laptops, handheld smart phones can be the great equalizer for so many, and we truly take that for granted.

global citizen fest!

October was insane. I got to attend the Global Citizens Festival with my friend Holly and see The Roots, Carrie Underwood, No Doubt, annnnnnd Jay-Z and Beyonce on-stage, live, and in-person (which, since this was actually the end of September…clearly the months all started to blur together for me!) From there, I got to hang with the folks at Fitness Magazine at the #FitBlogNYC event, where I got to hug old friends and make new ones! After that, I spent a little time with the folks at Runner’s World where I learned about the technical aspects of running with Budd Coates, author supreme, and Golden Harper, founder of (the super-amazing shoes and shoe company) Altra Running, both of whom set aside time to give me specific tips on how to be a better runner.

In November, well… I ate my own mac and cheese.

bgg2wl-tomato-mac-and-cheese-215

What? Every month can’t be an all-star. I mean, I also got to hang out with the folks at Google and learn all about Google and fitness, too… but I only get mac and cheese once a year.

android-wear-smart-watch

It was kinda important. (But the tech was pretty cool, too. Can’t wait to review it!)

But in December….oh, December was magic.

bgg2wl-make-it-happen

Two hundred Los Angeles-area high school students, my friends at Microsoft and my fellow Lumia family members, and a gang of medals… and my first time teaching group classes? My word. It was an incredible way to round out 2014.

I just spent a thousand words doing what might’ve amounted to humblebragging to you, but it’s important. I promise.

Why?

Every single one of these events taught me something about being a better community leader – how to change the nature of my community, how to infuse it with positivity and encourage us all to reach out and support one another in this overall goal of making fitness a part of our every day lives, how to speak publicly, how to network and be an extrovert when I need to be, how to use my connections to better enrich the community, how to be a better fitness professional and teacher, how to approach everything I do with humility and remember that there is always something to learn, and how to not let my initial feelings of “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” interfere with my growth.

I know that there are areas in which BGG2WL needs to be strengthened. Every year, I change the design of the site and seek to improve it a bit, highlighting the things I think are most important. I spent 2013 working on my photography, and wanted 2014 to be a time where I highlighted it. This, however, has the downfall of making the site run slower and almost completely ruining your experience, as a reader.

I also realize that, in my zeal to get people to sign up for the newsletter, it disrupts people who just want to read the article they clicked on and mobile readers couldn’t even click out of it. That’s nuts. I removed it, and am working to find a better, less intrusive way to alert people to the methods of connecting.

I also am incredibly disappointed in the ads that appear on my site – they are obtrusive, obnoxious, and they currently add nothing positive to the community. If they were ads with big hair, bright workout gear, and great training tips on how to use your [insert brand] to get the most of your workout or something, I’d be down. But it’s not. It’s Morningstar, Froot Loops, and Cranberita ads. Shit I’m vehemently against. The network, at this point, is going to have to go. I’m glad that I’ve made the major connections I made in 2014, because in 2015 I’m seeking to create ad campaigns of my own. Maybe even with – gasp – brown girls in them!

I am also dumbfounded by how to do social media. (I also realize the Get Off My Lawn-ism that this sounds like.) Facebook changed the way they deliver content to your news feed, and because I can’t always compete with cat gifs and satire sites (and Luvvie for that matter, the social media titan that she is), I get shoved out of the news feed. I tweet links to my blog posts regularly and other non-fitness things, but I’m pretty sure the non-fitness stuff turns people away, which means I need to apply a mental filter to my twitter account (which you can find at @bgg2wl.) My YouTube, well…

My YouTube channel is dormant. I originally did regular training logs, but I had to stop once life got too hectic at home. It just became clearer and clearer that the more I did videos sharing how I couldn’t work out, it became more and more difficult to explain around the real reason why I couldn’t. I DO, however, have plans for the channel. So many people have filled out the survey thus far with suggestions and ideas for what they’d want to see, and I’m just excited that not only you want to learn from me, but that your requests line up so neatly with my ideas.

So many of you have asked me about writing books, and I want you to know that this is on the docket, as well. But, I want them to be written with compassion and full of resources, not the typical quickly-thrown-together stuff with bad and unhelpful advice, full of “Well, I just feel”s and judgment and harsh language with nothing solid. We off that now.

I’m working on my fifth certification – something those of you who read the weekly newsletter know very well because I’m constantly whining about all the reading – and, after three more (a corrective exercise certification, a strength and conditioning cert, and a group fitness certification) I think I’ll finally be done.

I am also going to begin the process for creating an app. Yes, that’s right. I said it. A mobile app.

Also coming down the pike: scheduled consultations, training plans, more meal plans, events, public training sessions, and more. I’m slowly adding to the calendar for 2015, and doing everything I can to ensure that everything I add to that calendar not only adds value to the community, but also brings us closer.

So, ladies and gentlemen, the state of our union is strong, and the future is bright. Won’t you stick around with me and help me make it even better? Fill out this survey so that I can better understand your wants and needs, and so I can help make A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss the best health and fitness community on the web!