One Year, Three Pounds, Countless New Friends

Around this time last year, I revealed to you all how much I weigh, and celebrated the fact that I was ringing in another year of life 15 pounds of muscle richer. This year I celebrated my birthday three pounds lighter, but what I gained, you can’t weigh on a scale.

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I am in the BEST shape of my life. I run with the same comfort as I walk, pushups are my jam, I can do splits and handstands, I have energy for days, and if I was on Ninja Warrior, I would probably make it part of the way through the first obstacle.

I owe this to a continued shift away from cardio to more action-y, strength based movements that have me channeling my inner Buffy, and caused a guy to call me “thickness” on the street. Which I’m choosing to take as a compliment.

I also owe this to a COMPLETE diet overhaul. Despite all the deliciousness you’ve seen me post on my Instagram, I’ve become a protein shake person, who counts out her almonds, looks forward to walking the aisles at GNC, and only needs a few bites of the food in my photos.

Those protein shakes are all a part of what I call, at risk of being sued by Bethenny Frankel, my lazy girl meal planning. I treated myself to a cute leopard print tote bag, and every day I fill it with shake ingredients, lunch, and portioned out snacks. It was hard to get used to bringing all my food every day, instead of hitting up Pret, Hale and Hearty, or (swoon) Lenny’s, but my lazy girl plan has been totally doable with a full time job, extracurriculars, and a packed gym schedule. Not to mention copasetic with limited funds. Anyone who wants to know more about this, feel free to send me a message. Happy to give more info on my diet, but less happy to bore everyone else here with the details.

One thing I will give you details on is the key to my success. Three years into my fitness journey, my progress should have plateaued, and it totally would have if it weren’t for one very important group of people. My gym friends.

My gym friends span all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and professions, and are simply the best. I spend my day looking forward to laying our mats down next to each other, catching up, and quickly getting to work. We’re bonded in our efforts to become our best selves, and are dead set on having fun in the process. We motivate each other with texts and Facebook posts, and save each other spots in class. On Mondays we wear grey, on Thursdays we wear black, and when someone new shows up, we welcome them with open arms.

One of my gym friends took this photo.

One of my gym friends took this photo.

These friends have been everything, and I’m convinced that because of them, things outside of the gym have been changing to. This year at times sucked REAL hard, like needing to get over my fear of being vulnerable and ask people for help hard. BUT the residual positive vibes from my gym friends and healthy lifestyle made it all a lot easier to manage. And as I start year four of my fitness journey, I have a very clear goal.

I want to be as confident in real life as I am at the gym.

I want to always hold my head high, feel two inches taller, and smile at everyone I see. I want to be as open to everything that comes my way, as I am when my amazing instructor Angel presents the class with another crazy ass variation on a push up, or puts me on the receiving end to demo new ways of face punching.

Also, I still reeeeally want to do a pull up, but that too will come.

So now that I have my diet and exercise on lock, it’s time to focus more on the part of life where I’m out of the gym in (smaller-sized) real clothes. Cause if I could make this many friends exercising, who knows how many I’ll make just being me.

Thanks to everyone for their support so far. I can’t wait to see what I’ll be writing next year🙂

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Conquering the News – Election Edition

I’m making Super Tuesday extra super with a brand new video!

You’ll never guess who I want in the White House in 2016… Please enjoy this special election edition of “Conquering the News”.

SHARE, share, SHARE on Twitter with #LilConqueror🙂

#HireBrianna

My name is Brianna, and I want to do social media for the Foo Fighters.

“Go to the fucking yard sale, buy a fucking guitar, start a band with your fucking friends, get in the garage and fucking suck and work on it until you fucking make great music, and become the biggest band in the world.”

-Dave Grohl

If the Foo Fighters have taught me anything, it’s that if you want something, you have to get off your butt and do something about it. So this is me doing just that.

I got out my computer, wrote a cover song, asked some friends to help me record it, and shot and edited this video.

As one of the biggest rock bands in the world, it’s very possible Foo Fighters already has a social media team in place, but the opportunity to be a part of it would be the best thing ever. I could contribute a whole lot of experience, and am fully aware of the amazing chance to learn from the pros.

For anyone reading this, all of your time, consideration, shares, likes, and retweets are very much appreciated. I know that #HireBrianna can only be successful if a bunch of people join in on the fun, so thanks for helping me make this a thing!

You guys rock.

B

PS…

If you decide to tweet out the video, you could just copy and paste the below tweet:

Hey, @foofighters… It’s time to hire @lil_conqueror! #HireBrianna http://bit.ly/1OMJw7x

ORRRR feel free to write your own, including:

-@foofighters

-#HireBrianna

-the video link (http://bit.ly/1OMJw7x)

Farley Elliott is Taking it to the Streets in his DELICIOUS New Book

I am all about things that make you go “mmmmm”, and Farley Elliott’s debut book, “Los Angeles Street Food”, definitely falls in that category. Farley, a Senior Editor for Eater LA, does his city more than justice with mouth-watering descriptions of LA’s top food trucks, carts, stands, festivals and more, complete with photos that can only be described as food porn.

farley ramen'

Farley travelled far and wide for his soon to be go to guide, and I was lucky enough to catch up with him to talk about his book, the LA food scene, and of course tacos. You can check out our convo below.

cover book

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With all the great restaurants out there, what about street food gets you so excited?

It’s the innovation, the regional specificity. When you’re opening up big restaurants with big-name chefs, you sort have to take a maximalist approach — appeal to lots of people, and charge accordingly. With low overhead operations like carts and trucks, you can really focus on the one thing, or the two things, that you want to do, and do them with amazing accuracy. You can learn about the world through LA street food, because every place you visit is allowed to have its own footprint leading back to wherever it originated.

So many people come up with great ideas, but never follow through. What motivated you to actually make this book happen?

Well, for one, I always feel like I have something to say. That’s just part of being a writer. So there’s that idea — I get to say what I want, and you pick up the book and listen. That’s pretty great! I also wanted to write the book because, no matter how successful anyone is, we always try to find benchmarks to define ourselves. Having a book was a benchmark for me — a big one — and being able to see it on the shelf of my local bookstore was something that was important to me. Not wanting to fail yourself is a big motivator.

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You travelled to the far reaches of LA to hit up some of the vendors in your book. What was the craziest thing that happened on the road?

I did have a knife pulled on me once, but that was from a drunk guy and could have happened anywhere, at any time. It just happened to be in front of a taco truck. The idea of an unsafe taco stand or Taiwanese meat skewer truck has largely become a vicious rumor. Honestly, these are hardworking families trying to make a great product to feed their own neighborhoods; rotten food or outbursts of violence would be bad for business.

The photos in your book and on your drool-worthy instagram account are always amazing. Any tips or rules of thumb for taking awesome food photos?

Lighting is key. You can make bad food look good with the right light, but you will never be able to make amazing food look even remotely interesting in the dark.

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While delicious, the tacos, meat, pastries, etc. featured in the book might not be the most healthy. What street food would you recommend for someone trying to watch what they eat?

Well, there IS the idea of moderation in all things. But you’re right — it’s not the healthiest way to eat, especially if you spend most of your time in front of a computer screen. But there are fruit carts, juice vendors, trucks that serve goat birria with a hearty “bone broth” side of consommé. And yes, there are many, many vegetarian taco options, from huitlacoche (a funky sort of corn option) to stewed huazontle, which is a hearty green native to Mexico.

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If money and LA traffic weren’t an issue, what is your dream street food meal?

I’d start with elote from the Lincoln Heights corn man. It’s this amazingly simple corn on the cob that’s grilled, swiped with mayo and butter and dashed with salt and spices. From there, a round robin of tacos: one short rib from Kogi BBQ, one carne asada from the Tire Shop Taqueria, one al pastor from Tacos Tamix, and one carnitas from Tacos Los Guichos. Then the main: a torta cubana from Super Tortas D.F. in South LA. If there were any room left, I’d take some champurrado as a sweet finisher.

Oh, and an al pastor quesadilla from El Chato — as a late night snack, just in case.

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If you were to open up a food truck, what would it be?

I’d be no good at opening a truck. The margins are too thin, the days too long, and I’d blow up at a customer within the first few hours, probably. But in my best moments, I could see being a sort of short order breakfast cook within the food truck realm. Simple egg and sausage sandwiches, easy breakfast burritos, some high-quality drip coffee. There is something undeniably satisfying about feeding a crowd…

“Los Angeles Street food: A History from Tamaleros to Taco Trucks”, is available here, and be sure to follow Farley on Twitter and Instagram.

This Year I Gained 15 Pounds… Of Muscle.

I just turned 31, and in an attempt to continue on my quest of empowerment, am going to do the thing that terrifies me the most. I’m going to tell you how much I weigh.

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In exactly one year, I’ve gone from 153 to 168. And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that Dairy Queen opened in NYC.

Gaining weight is something I’m REALLY good at. When I was 13, my family moved across the country to California, and my friends were replaced with McDonald’s Quarter Pounder Value Meals. I went from a size 6 to a size 12, gaining 30 pounds in a matter of months. 30 pounds I have been fighting to lose ever since.

Sometimes to lose weight, you have to put it on first, and that brings me to my latest set of “Skinny Girl Problems”. Last year was all about cardio. I was at spin class 24/7, turned the treadmill into my part-time residence, and when I did use weights, they were the lightest ones possible.

The weight seemed to just fall off. The more I sweat, the more I lost. I got to my lowest weight since high school, which you might remember reading about last year. But I wasn’t strong. I couldn’t do a push up. My lower back was a mess. And strength training was a concept as mysterious to me as wanting to go to a Dave Matthews concert.

My workout instructor, the great Angel Ortiz at Crunch, starts every month by saying, “change something”, and this year I took that advice to heart. I traded out my spin classes for strength training classes, and now there are muscles where my fat used to be.

I earned every single one of the 15 pounds I gained this year through long-ass sweat sessions, crazy tough workouts, a gazillion squats, and lifting all the weights. I gave my whole exercise regimen an overhaul, and in doing so, lowered my percentage of body fat, went down 1-2 sizes (depending on the store), and am now considered “acceptable” instead of obese.

Push-ups have become something I’m excited for, because I can actually do them. I love the definition in my quads, right above my knee. I love that I just had to switch to even heavier weights because the lighter ones were too easy. And finally, I love that my hip problem has chilled the eff out, because my back is getting stronger.

All of this kind of hit me in the last month. I was lucky enough to travel to Bermuda, and had an insane epiphany. As I stepped out in my new bikini, 100% conscious of my rolls, stretch marks, and cellulite, I looked out at the bluest water I’ve ever seen, saw the palm trees swaying in the wind, and felt the soft, warm sand on my feet. It took my breath away, and I realized that the world is just too freaking beautiful to worry about what little ole me looks like in a swimsuit. I’m the only one thinking about my flaws because there are too many other incredible things to look at instead.

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So now, a few days into my 31st year, it’s time as Angel says to, “change something”. And the thing I plan to change is the idea that my body is something to be ashamed of. Right now it’s the result of a crap ton of hard work, and I’m excited for what next year’s fitness milestone is going to be. Maybe by then I’ll be able to do a pull up, or have 1 or 2 abs.

A girl can dream.

The first thing I did on my bday was go on a long run... Who am I?

The first thing I did on my bday was go on a long run… Who am I?

 

Where Hip Hop Meets Punk Rock: Get Social with Stose

There’s something special about socially conscious rapper Stose. Beyond the tattoos, studs, and leather, lies a man who is thoughtful, kind, smart as hell, and all about bringing social injustices to light through his music. He’s also pretty damn funny.

PHOTO - Stose -Cowboys- by Jahn Hall

Stose just dropped a collection of songs that is so eclectic, compelling, and edgy, that regardless of whether or not you agree with his charged political messages, you’re definitely going to want more.

You can hear old school, new school, and every school of hip hop in between on Stose’s debut EP “Civil Disobedience”. And with a healthy helping of power chords, courtesy of his veteran status in the punk world, there’s something for you rock fans as well.

“Civil Disobedience” is definitely the first step in a long, successful journey for Stose. He’s already gotten props from MTV and Paper Magazine (no big deal), and “Civil Disobedience” will for sure push things to the next level.

Here’s your chance to get to know Stose. Civil Disobedience - Album Cover

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You’re fresh off a show at NYC’s famous club Westway. How did it feel to perform the new songs live?

It felt great! That was the first club I performed at after moving back to NYC in 2012, so that place will always have a special place in my heart. Frankie Sharp has always been very gracious to let me perform at his party “Westgay”, whenever I had a new release of some sort. It’s a shame that the gentrification of this city is responsible for this club being torn down in a few months, all so they can build more condos. But with that said, I am very glad I got to play there one more time before it closes its doors. It felt great to play the new songs live for the first time, especially in front of that crowd.

You’ve said you’re fully aware that the political content of “Civil Disobedience” might alienate you from people. What compelled you to take that risk?

I think the current state of mainstream music is mostly disheartening. Music is getting more and more whitewashed, ignorant and dumbed down. It’s losing its sense of creative awareness and turning into an easily-digestible package that can be served to consumers on a silver platter. The issue there is when you have producers and label executives telling you what to say, how to dress and what your image has to be, you lose authenticity. The things I say may alienate me, but to not say them would be to sacrifice my authenticity and that is something I never plan on doing.

Do you ever feel there’s a burden that goes along with being a socially conscious rapper?

I sometimes feel like there may be, but I try not to focus on it. From my perspective the burden lies more so within being a human and trying to do your part to make the world a better place. But personally, I experience more of an internal burden that comes with being an artist, always feeling the need to create something better than before.

You recently moved to the Bronx. Has living in what is debated to be the birthplace of hip hop had any effect on your music or the EP?

Well the EP was basically done by the time I moved to the Bronx, but I am sure it will have influence on whatever I do next. Since moving up here I have constantly been working on new songs and writing more frequently, there is definitely something magical and inspiring about this borough. PHOTO - Stose -2-Tone- by Jahn Hall Your influences include Dr. Dre and Black Flag, what do you think is the common ground between hip hop and punk rock?

It can actually be traced all the way back to the birth of the hip hop movement in the Bronx. In the late 70s early 80s, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash would perform at clubs in the Lower East Side and East Village, which were frequented by punk and new wave kids. The two disenfranchised cultures of Punk and Hip Hop were formed out of a need for music of substance, so naturally they bonded on that. From then on the two cultures clearly influenced each other yielding music such as Blondie’s “Rapture”, Afrika Bambaataa and Johnny Rotten’s group called Time Zone, and the Beastie Boys. The interesting part of my personal story is that growing up I gravitated towards both of these genres of music, before even knowing the history. I was drawn to the attitude and ideology of the two groups, and obviously I wasn’t the only one.

Fun fact… You play saxophone on the record… If you could jam with Bill Clinton, Lisa Simpson, or Kenny G, who would you pick and why?

Hahaha yeah, I did! Although Lisa Simpson is pretty socially conscious, I think I am going to have to go with Bill Clinton. He seems like a pretty real dude and I bet he’s got some crazy stories. I think I now have a new life goal, so thank you for that. Stose_Logo_Black_1000x355 Download “Civil Disobedience” here, and for more on Stose, hit up his Website, Twitter, or Insta.

Photo Credit: Jahn Hall

A Dozen Jokes

Warning: Puns ahead.

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A Wisconsin man says that he is suffering from a rare disease that causes him to have up to 100 orgasms a day. But the real victim is his washing machine.

Chinese officials conducted extensive body searches of the 10,000 doves used in this week’s National Day ceremony, including examining their feathers and anuses looking for dangerous materials. And that is what it sounds like when doves cry.

A trial is being held in New York State to have chimpanzees declared “persons” rather than “things.” Us first, said women.

A couple in Florida caught a 13-foot alligator entirely by hand. And they celebrated by doing more meth.

A man, whose flight from Cleveland to New York had been delayed for several hours, was surprised when he boarded and discovered that he was the only person on the plane. But that didn’t stop him from joining the mile high club.

Legal experts are concerned that lower law school admissions standards will produce graduates who cannot pass the bar exam. “I oobjoct!” argued recent graduates.

Australian officials revealed that they secretly killed hundreds of koalas to prevent overpopulation. Or as it will be referred to in the future: “The Koala-caust”.

According to reports Turkey’s tourism board rejected a new ad starring Julianne Moore due to what they call her “poor acting.” Instead, they’re asking for Julianne LESS.

According to a new survey 94 percent of Americans think the Japanese are hard-working people, and the rest think they’re Chinese.

CBS announced it is ending the series CSI after 15 years. Cause if there’s one thing CSI’s audience understands, it’s retirement.

US News and World Report has ranked Harvard as the top global university. In case they ran out of things to brag about.

A tractor trailer in Colorado loaded with 40,000 pounds of cheese split in half after crashing. Said the driver, “What are we gonna fondue?!”

Miss Ya Already, Dave!

My first Foo Fighters concert was at the Ed Sullivan Theatre.

It was on a rainy hiatus day when we were filming Jersey Floor for Fallon, and I spent that day chasing the Jersey-fied Roots, Tina, Amy, Jimmy, Miles, and more around 30 Rock, all while feverishly texting with people at Letterman to try and get into the show.

We wrapped Jersey floor around 6, and I had accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to see Foo play. So I went to the bar with my co-workers, and put away my phone.

An hour later I had 14 missed calls and 7 voicemails telling me to get my butt to Letterman by 7:15 because I had magically gotten a ticket. It was 7:07.

I ran across town just in time to see Foo recreate the Beatles’ famous Ed Sullivan set. It was the fucking best. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better first show.

Letterman obvi had a huge influence on us all with comedy, but he was also super kick ass with music.

I’m going to miss that.