For many graduate women in STEM, completing a Master’s or PhD program is an essential step toward achieving post grad goals. And for many of us, our goals were deemed impossible by naysayers who said we would never accomplish them. This makes it all too easy for us to forget about what matters most—us.

Our bodies, our health and our well being are often neglected because we are so engrossed in finishing that next publication, getting through classes, going to meetings, preparing for defenses, general exams, and completing other items on our never-ending list of things to do. With this rolling checklist of things that need our attention, our little voice rarely says, “I need to make time for me.” And that’s a problem.

As I was earning my PhD, I also earned money as a Zumba fitness instructor. However, because I worked out for all the wrong reasons (money, money and oh, money), I got burned out and lost focus on Zumba and even my degree. So, I decided to drop the Zumba gig altogether, which was another big mistake. I told myself that I would go to the gym (I never did) and that I would participate in fitness classes around the city (I never went). Shortly after, I began to feel groggy and tired all the time. When the New Year came, my looming dissertation haunted me more and more, so I vowed to myself that I would take care of ME as I earned my degree.

I came up with my “Fit and Fabulous PhDiva Journey” as motivation to not only look good as I complete my PhD, but to also FEEL good on the inside. I started my journey this year on January 1st and I’m amazed at how fantastic I feel in just one month’s time. I feel energized, ready to take on my days, I’m thinking more clearly, I’m motivated to complete tasks and research at school has been blazing!

I realized that because I wasn’t taking care of my body, my mind was not receiving the fuel it needed to be as great as I know it could be. Now, I take the time each day, even if it’s just 20 or 30 minutes, to do some kind of exercise or mind activity. I get to re-focus and re-center and I begin to think about my goals and aspirations. The physical activity helps me release the toxins and bad vibes I’ve accumulated throughout the day, which allows me to feel renewed and rejuvenated. And trust me, as black women in STEM, we definitely need rejuvenation.

Yes, our degree journeys are rigorous, but doing things like taking 20 minutes a day to walk that extra step to get to your instrumentation in lieu of using the elevator, or grabbing a salad at the student union instead of that heavy hamburger, can positively affect our well being.

So, what are your wellness goals? What will you do to put the focus back on YOU as you obtain your degree? If you don’t know what your wellness goals are or you’re having trouble pursuing them, I can help. My goal is to help #melaningeniuses stay on track and live elevated lives. Join me on the journey you deserve and become a #fitandfabphdiva.

Treva T. Brown

2017 PhD Candidate, Chemistry

University of New Orleans – New Orleans, LA

Join the journey

IG @diva_treva  #fitandfabulousphdiva

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