Thursday, June 26, 2008

Popeyes or KFC?

This choice is made on daily basis in our community because there are several locations where KFC and Popeyes are right next to each other ( don't believe me, check out the southside of chicago). If you don't want fried chicken you have several other local fast food options around. Want to eat something healthy? Looking for a Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Panera, Jamba Juice, a Sushi Spot? You won't find one in most areas that are heavily populated by Blacks.

So, how exactly are we supposed to eat healthy? In most cases, you have to drive 15 minutes to find food that is slightly healthy. You really don't have much of chance at eating healthy unless you have the 4.50/gallon to drive somewhere and get some "healthy food" or prepare all your own meals.

It really seems like our people are set up for failure. Even if healthy food was a little more accessible we still have the problem of the ridiculous cost.......(next post)

Well, I just had to get this off my chest. I'll probably add more to this post.

Please Comment
I can only speak from my experience in Chicago neighborhoods. So please share your experiences!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Is Exercise a Cultural Thing?

Have you always recognized the importance of physical activity and healthy eating? Do you notice a distinction between the eating patterns and lack of exercise in our culture compared to other cultures?

My story:

Exercise and eating healthy were the least of my concerns in high school. I was focused on keeping my hair fly and buying new outfits. Looking back I realize how unimportant healthy eating and exercise were to me. Lunch at my high school consisted of Flamin' hots w/nacho cheese and a Geyser (a sugary filled drink) or food from McDonalds. None of my friends were focused on exercise or eating healthy either (unless they were athletes). I realize now how detrimental these habits were to my health.

I did not recognize the importance of exercise until I attended a PWI (predominately white institution). I noticed that all the white chicks were hitting the gym on a daily basis and wouldn't touch food unless it was marked low carb or low fat. They were extremely health conscious and always sharing the latest news from their "Fitness Magazines." So while I was busy eating what I wanted and gaining the freshman 15/20 they maintained their healthy bodies. I eventually realized that I needed to hit the gym and change my eating habits.

It has always been hard for me to understand why "Exercise and Healthy Eating" was common knowledge among them. Clearly, I was completely out of the loop, where I grew up you didn't exercise unless you were on a sports team.

The Research
I found an article that evaluated ethnic disparities in teen exercise. Here are some of the key findings:

* Overall, black and Hispanic girls reported less activity than white girls -- an average of 5.4, 5.2 and 6.0 activities per week, respectively. In contrast, among boys, the number of activities per week was similar for blacks (7.6), Hispanics (7.5) and whites (7.6).

*On average, black and Hispanic adolescents had a higher body mass index (BMI) than white adolescents.

* In general, black and Hispanic girls attended poorer schools in which all girls had lower physical activity levels

*Overall, adolescent girls were less physically active than boys, reporting fewer physical activities per week.

Want to read the full article? Click the Link!

Share Your Thoughts!
What has your experience been? When did you recognize the importance of exercise?

Why do you think Black and Hispanic Teens don't get as much exercise?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Eating Right. Sweating Hard. Little Results?

After sweating hard and eating right for a couple of months you may find that you are getting less results.
Don't be discouraged we all experience it. Your body has plateaued so take it up a notch!

To mix up my workout I am training for a 10k (6.1 mile marathon). So starting today I am running longer distances with a partner. I'm also going to start running outside because I am bored with the treadmill.

Use these tips from Heart & Soul to mix up your workout:

Make it a double. “Whenever you do something with a partner, you feed off each other,’ says Kathy Merritt Murray, a triathlete and owner of Fit Bodies in Atlanta. Pick a friend or group and chat the workout away. Or partner with someone at the gym who is a little fitter than you—and work on keeping up.

Mix it up! Throw your body a curve, says Richard Cotton, chief exercise physiologist of and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Instead of slogging through 30 minute on the treadmill, do 10 minutes on the bike, 10 on the rower and 10 on the elliptical machine.

Take it outside. Hitting the trail can breath fresh air into your workouts, but be sure your feet are prepared, Murray says. Visit shops like Fleet Feet and New Balance, where pros help you find the right show and let you take shoes for a test run.

Get fit for race day. Yes, you can walk or run a marathon. Sign up for a three-day charity walk. Check out for races and events near you. Take a class at the local recreation center to get ready for a summer tennis league. Or try a triathlon just for us: Visit Team Dream (, which offers women of color race and training information. Danskin sponsors a newbie-friendly triathlon series (

Use your mind and your muscles. Don’t just go through the motions when lifting weights. “Engage your spine, pelvis, knees. Keeping them aligned with your feet while slowing down your moves burns more calories,” says Carl J. Powell Jr., owner of The Body Magnificent Body fitness studio in Laurel, Maryland.

Blast more calories in less time. Murray suggests throwing high-intensity bursts into your aerobic workout. “Work out at 75 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate—about a seven or eight on a scale of one to 10—for four minutes, bump it up to the next level for a minute, then go back to 75 to 80 percent. Repeat for 20 to 45 minutes; cool down as usual.”

Take care of your body. Athletes pamper their bodies to prevent and treat injuries; so should you. “Listen to your body, stretch, take time off between workouts—and keep a chiropractor’s number on hand just in case,” Murray says.

Tow dumbbells and 15 minutes. That’s all you need to get your strength-training program started. Do eight to 10 reps, one to two sets, and build from there. And if you’ve never worked with weights, don’t let it sway you. “The key is to learn as many different exercises as you can for each muscle group,” Cotton says.

Be kind—and unwind. “If dealing with an injury, back off the intensity,” Murray says. If you’re a six-mile runner, do half the mileage—or take a few days off. Take rest days and stretch or do Pilates or yoga. Swimming is a perfect, impact-free exercise.

Love yourself fit. Love yourself as you are, Cotton says. “Exercise as a celebration of yourself. You’re more likely to exercise and get the body you desire if you accept yourself in the shape you’re in now.”

More suggestions? Please Share!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

How Healthy Are You? Assess Your Health

Assessing Your Health

You spend all this time exercising and eating right but how do you assess your health? In addition to going to your doctor, there are great resources online. The Black Women's Health Imperative has created an online assessment tool to assess and offer suggestions on your health. The assessment is also great for people that have just begun exercising. There is the option to create a 13 week activity plan that is created specifically for your needs.

At the link below you will find the free tool called “Fitness Center” that allows you to enter information about your eating, exercise, and sleep habits. The fitness center tool takes a really detailed account of your health based off your responses and offers you a detailed assessment.

These tools are great for those of us who do not have time/money for a personal trainer.

Check it out!

In addition to using these tools I measure my health by the increase in my endurance while running. When I first started running about 3 months ago I would run a mile, walk 5 minutes, and then run a another half mile. Now I run about two miles , walk for 5 minutes, and run another half mile. I have also increased my speed on the treadmill by from 5 mph - 6 mph.

So How Do You Assess Your Health???
Are these tools helpful for you?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Eat This, Not That: Avoiding Hidden Calories in Fast Food

Eat This
Panera Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
560 calories , 34 g fat
Not That
Chili’s Chicken Caesar Salad
, 1,010 calories, 76 g fat

Drink This

150 calories, 18 g sugars
Not That
,700 calories, 50 g sugars

I try not to get too obsessed with calorie counting and just keep my focus on eating healthier.
I have found that choosing a salad over a sandwich is not always the best idea. Especially if you are at Chili's and your salad has 1,000+ calories! I still can not understand why anyone would make a salad that has 1,000 calories, it completely defeats the purpose. Luckily I came across the "Eat this, Not That" website so hopefully I won't get tricked into eating such an unhealthy salad again.

I haven't found that counting calories works for me (just too hard to keep up with). I do find it helpful to use this website when it comes to Fast Food and dining out. Clearly, sometimes things are not what they appear. Check out the website to see other food swaps. If you find this information helpful there is a book you can buy, or you can you just the website for free like me!

NYC officials also see the benefit in providing information caloric information to consumers.
They recently passed a law that requires Fast Food restaurants to post the calories right next to the prices. After my experience at Chili's I think it is a really good idea. Knowing the calories could help people make healthier choices.

check it out:

Share your thoughts!

Monday, June 16, 2008

How to FIT in Fitness: Making time for Exercise

How can you find time to add exercise into your jam packed life?

The busier you are the more creative you have to be, but it is possible. I thought I would share some tips that I suggested for a reader that emailed me. Her life like many of yours is a balancing act so she has to work extra hard to find time to squeeze in exercise. Read her question and my suggestions below.

If any of you are in similar situations; balancing work, children, school, etc. please comment and tell us how you manage to balance everything.

Hi Fitness Goddess, I like your blog I wanted to get some advice from you. I recently read your blog and Daryl's blog and I agree, however I have a bit of stomach fat problem that I've never had a problem with before, even after my son I lost all my weight. I'm 27 my son is 7 and I've been 20-30 lbs overweight for about a year and a half now I like being 170 at my age that's slim for me because I'm 5'8, currently I'm195 lbs and it's mainly thigh and belly fat. I have no problems with working out, but being in school and working /single mom, it gets a bit hard. I went on a strict diet at one point after joining the gym and lost 17lbs, but gained it back once I got busy again with school, etc. Can you give me some advice with my up and down busy schedule? Thanks and again nice blog!

My Suggestions:

1. If you have an hour lunch break; you can use have half of your lunch break to walk briskly a mile or two. Use the other half to eat a healthy lunch that you brought to work ( this way you avoid getting fast food and save $$)

2. Find a physical activity that both you and your son can enjoy together. This way you can get quality time with your son and exercise ( e.g. you can play a b-ball game of "HORSE", or jog beside him while he rides his bike/skateboards, go swimming together). Try to do this at least 3 times a week.

3. See if you can find 15-20 min before you get dressed to an exercise DVD like yoga or pilates You can even find exercise tapes on ( I have used 8 min Abs and buns on Youtube). Try to do this 5 days week.

4. Pack your own lunch (you will have more control over what you eat)

5. I really recommend that take you advantage of the summer and jog or walk in the mornings before work or class. Even if you can only do a half hour, you will feel the difference.

Please comment and tell us how you manage to balance everything!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Black Women Workout Too !! : Why aren't there magaiznes that address our needs?

Google "Black Women's Fitness Magazines" and see what you come up with. You will probably find that their is only one magazine that addresses fitness and health issues for us. Heart & Soul magazine has a section on health and from time to time Ebony and Essence may have an article that address fitness and nutrition issues.

I noticed the lack of Black Women Fitness publications after going to the gym for 3 months and seeing all these white girls on the treadmill with their fitness magazines. Women's Health, Shape, Fitness and ton of others address women's fitness issues. Now, I am not saying that these magazines do not provide tips that are useful to us, they do. They do not however address issues that are specific to us; like how to deal with cardio and our hair, fitness routines specific for us, healthier soul food recipes, the diseases affecting our community and how we can decrease our risk, addressing the "Thick" issue, etc.

It would be nice if one day I could go to the gym with a magazine that catered specifically to women like me. A magazine that had faces of women that I can I identify with and addressed issues I cared about.

Let me know your feedback. I could not find any information online as to why no publications have decided to address our issues. Do people think that we are less interested in exercising and nutrition? Are there not enough of us that would be benefit from magazines?

I collected a few resources of online publications that address our issues since there are no magazines.

Stay Motivated, Keep it Fresh : What to do when your Workout gets boring

Stay Motivated! Keep It Fresh!

I have been hitting the treadmill hard for the past 3 months and it has been well worth it. I have increased my running speed and endurance. In addition to the cardio I have been doing lunges, crunches, pilates, using weight machines, etc. I'm losing my motivation a little because it is so repetitive. So I spent sometime today figuring out ways to to keep it fresh. I saw a Commercial for Carmen Electra's striptease videos and it looks fun. So, I have plans to give that a try.

If you starting to lose your motivation like me, try adding a form of exercise that doesn't really seem like exercise to your routine. Try taking, salsa, belly dancing, striptease, or hip hop dance classes. If you don't have time for classes buy a video or Youtube. I also hear that Wii Fit is a good way to do yoga or pilates.

I am putting together some resources check back shortly!
Also, comment with your stories:
How do you stay motivated
What Are creative ways you have found to exercise


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"I'M THICK!!" : Are Black Women in Denial About Their Health??

You have all heard these words thrown around; Thick, Voluptuous, etc. But what do these words really mean? Are women that use these words to describe themselves considered to be healthy? Is the popularity of terms like "Thick", "F.A.T." (Fabulous and Thick) increasing obesity in Black Women?

My 2 Cents:
A recent conversation with a friend made me realize that there are varying definitions to the word "Thick", some that may be detrimental to the health of Black Women.

Some people consider "Thick" to be a woman with a small waist, relatively flat stomach, thick legs, and large breasts. The word is also used to describe women that are overweight.
For example, Mo'Nique considers her self to be "Thick". As a matter of fact she calls herself Fabulous And Thick (FAT). Now, I am all for women of all shapes and sizes embracing their beauty and having confidence. But it is also important for women to be aware of how much their weight affects their risk for diabetes, breast cancer, and other diseases plaguing the Black Community. So as long Black women that consider themselves "Thick" are concerned about improving their health and making significant changes in their physical activity and eating habits, I'm all for it!!

I try to avoid these types of classifications. While I recognize that I'm not my ideal weight or size. I try stay focused on my goal of physical fitness, decreasing my chance at disease, and increasing my life expectancy.

What Others Say (I do not endorse the validity of anything below) :

This is a rating system I found online; Originally posted by GeniusG

"Skinny" (Naomi Campbell)
"Slim" (Ashanti)
"Medium" (Gabrielle Union, Ericka Alexander)
"Thick" (Lisa Nicole Carson, Kenya Moore)
"Hella Thick" (Buffie the Body, Ki-Toy Johnson)
"Buff" (Serena Williams, Jana Stewart)
"Super Thick" (Queen Latifah, Kym Whitley)
"Big" (Monique)

Here's an Article I found: Click the title for the full Article
The Bridge: Thick, Healthy, or Fat , By Darryl James:
I remember in the late 1980’s when Black men first started using the word “thick” to define a woman with ample bottom and/or breasts. We knew what we were describing and it was more about T & A than the result of too many Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Moo-Moos and Cow-Cows.
We also knew that “healthy” was a term reserved for women with a little meat on their bones. They really were considered healthy because they ate regular meals (that they often cooked at home) and had beautiful bountiful bodies to show for it. They were proportionate and anything but obese.............(click title for more)

What Do You Think?
I think this topic is worthy of discussion. I am really interested in your thoughts on the issue. I'm am concerned with how these terms affect the health of Black women.