January, 2021 - FIT & NU™

Testimony of Joslyn Raquel Reese

On Behalf of FIT & NU™ and Minority Business Leaders

to the

Colorado Senate Finance Committee

“Modify COVID-19 Relief Programs for Small Business”

January 13, 2021


Madam Chair and Members of the Committee, my name is Joslyn Raquel Reese and I am a proud member of Good Business Colorado and the Co-Founder of FIT & NU, Colorado’s first FITness and NUtrition club for women of color. Thank you for the opportunity to share my story and discuss the importance of SB21-001, Modify COVID-19 Relief Programs for Small Business. We would also like to thank Senator Fields for the work she is doing in our district to support minority business leaders like me. It is an honor to represent the voice of my fellow minority entrepreneurs in front of the members of this subcommittee and the distinguished panel of experts and advocates who are in attendance today.



Six years ago, my sister and I started FIT & NU by hosting classes in public parks, community centers, and local churches. We were driven by our passion for helping others and our mission to provide culturally informed, fitness and nutrition services to improve the lives and health of the women in our community who work tirelessly to support their families and make invaluable contributions to broader society. It has been an absolute dream come true to grow our business from its humble beginnings to what we have become today: a fully equipped boutique club that is not only positively impacting the health and wellness of hardworking women in our community, but employing, collaborating and contracting with state and local government agencies (like the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment), other small businesses, and entrepreneurs.

While we achieved these accomplishments through grit and determination, we could not have done this alone. Much of the success that my sister and I have enjoyed so far has been propelled by generous grants and services provided by local non-profit organizations who focus on supporting small, family-owned businesses like ours.

The importance of identifying and securing financial resources has been particularly instrumental to our business and cannot be understated. When we first started our business, these resources afforded us the ability to hire a talented team that implemented targeted marketing campaigns and supported critical business operations. Last year, these resources afforded us the additional time that we needed to develop a strategic plan in the midst of a global pandemic to pivot toward digital services and remain competitive during. They also helped us maintain our brick and mortar studio in Aurora, the city in which we were raised.

If these programs did not prioritize minority-owned businesses, we are not certain if FIT & NU would exist as we know it. Business leaders from historically marginalized groups represent 1 out of 5 firms in Colorado [1], yet we continue to face systematic barriers to capital [2]. We witnessed the consequences of these longstanding barriers play out last summer, when thousands of minority-owned businesses experienced delayed access to PPP loans and were more likely to be denied entirely [3]. Many minority-owned businesses went under as a consequence, particularly black-owned businesses [4]. If we did not receive these earmarked funds last year, we easily could have been one the thousands of small businesses that were forced to shut their doors due to COVID-19. Without greater attention to these inequities, we know that many businesses like ours are still at risk and will not survive through the spring.

Given that minority business owners like us were largely underserved by federal relief programs last year, combined with the preponderance of data demonstrating the ongoing issues that present steep barriers to accessing capital, we are grateful that this Committee has wisely prioritized minority-owned businesses during this unprecedented time of uncertainty and economic upheaval. We urge this Committee to continue championing efforts that will eliminate longstanding racial and ethnic disparities in opportunities.

We sincerely hope our testimony affirms that these efforts, particularly the prioritization of minority-owned businesses like ours, can make a significant difference in reinvigorating the American Dream. Thank you again for the opportunity to share our story on the behalf of all minority-owned small businesses in Colorado.


The science behind why it’s so hard to lose weight.

Smart scale and measruing tape
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels


At the beginning of each year, millions of Americans make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, often through some sort of crash-course dieting plan. However, they also tend to learn that losing weight is much harder than they thought it would be. Or, more commonly, they immediately gain the weight right back once they stop dieting. Have you ever wondered why that is or are you one of the millions of people struggling with weight loss?

A lot of this can be explained by what happens to our metabolism when we lose weight, especially when we shed pounds quickly. Read on to learn more about the biology behind weight loss and 3 tips on how to counteract our bodies natural tendencies.

Rapid Weight Loss Can Slow Metabolism

If you find this counterintuitive (and frustrating), you’re not alone. If more people knew about this, the diet industry would be out of business. Before we dive deeper into what is going on, let’s break down what metabolism is.

What is metabolism and how does it work?

Metabolism is basically the way that our bodies convert the food that we eat into energy.

Woman running
Photo by nappy from Pexels

Our bodies are constantly expending energy. Whether we’re readjusting our position in a chair or engaging in rigorous exercise such as running or cycling, our bodies need energy to power every movement we make.

We also use energy for activities that don’t involve physical activity, like sitting still and thinking. In fact, researchers found that the brain accounts for 20% of our energy consumption, despite only representing about 2% of our total body weight. Overall, cognitive activities account for most of the energy that our bodies use, through a process (60%-70%) driven by what is referred to as our Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR).

Beside the energy used through RMR, an additional 10% of energy is used to digest food, and the remaining 20%-30% is expended during physical activities.

Keep in mind that these statistics are also estimated averages. If you’re an athlete or have certain health conditions, these numbers will look different. For example, an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) can slow the metabolism. If you have any weight concerns related to your metabolism, you should consult with a medical doctor. They may decide to assess your thyroid hormone levels. If it is low, you may be prescribed a replacement thyroid hormone. You can learn more by reading this summary, published by the University of Rochester Medical Center.

How does metabolism affect our weight?

Our weight is the outcome of the energy that we consume and the energy that we use. Weight gain occurs when we take in more energy than they use and weight loss occurs in the reverse. So it might make sense to dramatically cut down calories or begin exercising a lot more and a lot longer each day to quickly lose weight.

As we’ve discussed previously, the problem is that our bodies are equipped with a powerful, natural defense system to counteract this type of extreme dieting approach. When we eat dramatically less (especially for more than a couple of days) our bodies interpret this as starvation and it begins sending out signals to conserve more energy.

One critical way that our body will attempt to conserve energy is by eliminating anything that takes a lot of it, such as lean muscle tissue which also has downstream effects for metabolism.

It’s also worth noting that rapid weight loss also throws our hormones out of whack. There are several hormones involved, but one of the most well-researched is leptin which signals to our brain that we are full and to stop eating. As our bodies lose weight, we also decrease our levels of leptin and without that signal (or less of it) we want to eat more, even if our body is consuming less energy.

Is There A Solution?

Yes! Healthy habits.

Head Fitness Coach and Co-Founder of FIT & NU, Brittney Rae Reese
Head Fitness Coach and Co-Founder of FIT & NU, Brittney Rae Reese. Photo by Andrea Gerstenberger

If you’re new to our blog or just now being introduced to our work, healthy habits are at the heart of our wellness philosophy. You may be interested in reading our tips for dumping those all-or-nothing diet routines and 6 small steps you can take right now to make big changes to your health.

Basically, there are a lot of things working against us, from our busy professional and personal lives to the powerful biological forces that can sometimes undermine our desires and efforts to manage our health. The only way to overcome this type of gravity is through small and consistent behavioral modifications that will eventually snowball and take on a momentum of their own. Read some of our previous posts if you need a refresher, like those 6 tips I just mentioned.

Here are 3 more tips to keep you motivated and those healthy habits on track:

1. Celebrate any success like crazy, no matter how small.

Whether you hit your goal to run an ultramarathon or you managed to lay out your workout clothes, dust those shoulders off and congratulate yourself for being the rockstar queen that you are!

Happy Excited Dance GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

2. Feeling stuck or indecisive? Ask yourself “What would a healthy person do?”

A common example is deciding on what to order at a restaurant. When browsing through the menu of options, try asking yourself, “What would a healthy person do?”

Wondering Spike Lee GIF by NETFLIX - Find & Share on GIPHY

This will help orient your attention to more nutritious meal options like a salad and away from other temptations like a burger and fries. You can also gain greater control over your relationship with food through mindful eating, which we’ve written about previously here. Eventually, you won’t have to ask yourself this question anymore because these choices will become instinctual. Plus, you will start to associate yourself as the healthy person.

3. Incorporate some form of physical movement in your day.

Even if it means pacing around your room for 20 minutes while you phone a friend, physical activity improves your mood and sleep, while reducing stress and blood sugar levels. Additionally, while it isn’t the biggest factor in losing weight, exercise is key to maintaining the weight that you want to be.

Work Out Exercise GIF by Lizzo - Find & Share on GIPHY

The key point to takeaway is that our eating behaviors have the greatest affect on changing our waistlines, while exercise helps us maintain those changes. Crash-course diets impact both but those changes tend to be temporary and short-lived. We need to establish healthy habits, if we want long-term sustainable results.

NOTE: This blog post was also published on Medium.

Editor’s Note: The initial post incorrectly attributed the third photo to Blake Jackson. The caption has since been edited to credit Andrea Gerstenberger.

Woman meditating on beach
Photo by Chelsea Gates on Unsplash

According to research by the Economic Research Service (ERS), Americans spend about 75 minutes per day eating and drinking, but we’re often doing other things too, like watching Netflix, scrolling through our phone, or working. Multitasking while eating can distort our perceptions, which can result in over-eating or under-eating. It can also distort our relationship with food and prevent us from truly enjoying what we’re eating.

Researchers like Dr. Lilian Cheung, a Nutrition Scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, have referred to this type of distracted eating as mindless eating. Her research has found that mindless eating is a contributor to obesity and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

Are you eating mindlessly?

Ask yourself the following questions and see how well you can answer them.

  1. If you close your eyes, can you envision your plate and everything on it? How big was the plate? How full was it? What colors did you see? How full was your spoon or fork when you took your first bite? How about the second and the last?
  2. What did you drink (either along side your meal or alone) and what kind of glass or container was it in? How full was your cup? How heavy was it? What did your beverage smell like as you raised the glass to your mouth? How many glasses did you have, if you had more than one?
  3. Do you recall the sensation of eating and drinking? What was the temperature when your food or beverage entered your mouth? What was the texture like? Did the flavors of your food or drink change while you swallowed? How did it feel as it went down your throat?

Now, take a second and reflect on how your environment or habits may be affecting your ability to answer these questions — and do it with self-compassion. Keep in mind that the vast majority of people engage in mindless eating, even if they’re not looking at their phones or laptop screen. They may be lost in their thoughts about the day or deeply engaged in a conversation with a friend. This isn’t all bad, necessarily. It’s just that we should be aware of how this might be affecting our health and how we can control these behaviors.

Tips for Mindful Eating

Head Nutrition Coach of FIT & NU, Joslyn Raquel Reese
Head Nutrition Coach and Co-Founder of FIT & NU, Joslyn Raquel Reese. Photo by Richard Cummings

Mindful eating is the opposite of mindless eating and it takes practice. It’s also a skill that we all have the capability of mastering over time.

Here are 3 tips to get you started:

  1. Don’t multitask while you’re eating. Remember, distractions can draw your attention away from signals like when your body is full.
  2. Eat nutrient-dense foods at regularly scheduled times. If we wait long periods of time to eat, we can get so hungry that we end up eating more than we typically would when we’re not so depleted.
  3. Stay hydrated. Not only does drinking more water potentially help you feel more full, it may also play a key role in concentration and mood. All of which can affect your ability to eat more mindfully.

Mindful Eating Exercise

If you’re ready to take the next step, here’s a mindful eating exercise inspired by clinical psychologist, Dr. Steven Hayes’s book, Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

  • Start by giving yourself permission to move through your meal slowly. Take your time performing every action. Try not to get too hung up on any judgments that may come up. Just notice these thoughts along with your experience of eating mindfully. If you have any other thoughts or feelings as you’re eating, notice those too. Then bring your attention back to your physical experience of eating the food.
  • Notice the details of the plate or bowl that’s in front of you.
  • Notice how the food sits in the plate or bowl. Look at the colors and textures.
  • Notice any smells. Take a second to try and describe them.
  • Place your hand over the plate or bowl and notice the temperature.
  • As you prepare to take your first bite, when you lift your fork or spoon, notice how heavy it is in your hand.
  • As you bring the food toward your mouth, notice the temperature and smell.
  • As you place the food in your mouth, notice the sensation and texture as it moves across your tongue.
  • If your food requires chewing, as you chew, notice the texture while you chew. Does the flavor change with each bite?
  • As you swallow, notice any sensations as the food travels to your stomach.
  • Repeat these steps until you are finished with your meal.
  • After the plate or bowl is clear, notice the sensation in your stomach. Try to describe what feels like to be full.


If you tried this exercise, as always, we’d love to know what your experience was like. Was there anything that you struggled with? Did anything surprise you? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.

NOTE: This blog was also published on the HEAL•THY•HABITS Inclusive Wellness Blog.

Editor’s Note: The initial post incorrectly attributed the second photo to Blake Jackson. The caption has since been edited to credit Richard Cummings.