Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Workout Hard, Keep Your Curves

I've been spending the past week writing about Black Womens' barriers to Fitness. Now it's time to figure out how to dissolve those barriers with Tips. Look out for more tips to come.

So it has become very clear to me that some women are afraid to workout because they believe they will lose their curves. Well, you can be Healthy and Curvy. Working out and eating right doesn't mean you will look like Kate Moss. You can find a healthy balance that allows you to keep your beautiful curves. In my last post Black Women want to be Bootylicious over Healthy
I gave the example of Beyonce. Beyonce has been very successful at keeping her curves and fit. In addition to all the exercise she gets dancing, Beyonce adheres to strict workout routine with a ton of cardio Her body did not come easy so prepare for some hard work. I did some research to find out what you can do to have Healthy Curvy Body.

1. Click here to get great tips on how to tone your legs and thighs, it even includes a video! Other ways to to tone your legs are squats and lunges. Try looking up 8 min. thighs on youtube. You can also try my favorite method, running!

I read at that Hula Hooping is one of Beyonces secrets. "One minute of Hula Hooping can burn as many calories as running an eight-minute mile. Hula Hooping also promotes correct body alignment from the circular motions and proper posture in the upper body routines." Sounds fun!

3. Dance your a$# off!
Check out Bodylicious: The ultimate dance workout review.

And of course you must add fresh fruits and veggies to your diets, stay away from sweets, and focus on getting whole grain and protein.

Note* I have read alot of places that Beyonce has done the Master Cleanse diet, and other detoxes. Be careful with detoxing do your research and make sure you are getting all your nutrients.

In my experience my weight loss has not really affected my curves. Running has really flattened my stomach and I have dropped two dresses. But my thighs are still really thick. The rest of my body is just more toned.

How has exercise affected your body? How has it affected your curves?

Black Women want to be Bootylicious over Healthy

Andrea Riggs was ready to take on the competition when she opened her personal training studio in Black Jack. The niche for Body Beautiful was to help black women get into shape, be healthy and look good. The competition she ran into, however, wasn't Bally or Gold's or 24 Hour Fitness. Instead, her greatest competition came from attitudes about exercise and diet from the people she wanted for her clients: black women. "They told me they didn't want to lose weight," Riggs said, recalling her efforts to recruit clients. "It's cultural expectations and pressures. African-American women seem to say, 'We want meat on our bones, and we all want to be bootylicious and appeal to African-American men.'"

People who battle health disparities in African-Americans agree with Riggs. But
they admit the topic rarely is broached because of fear of political
incorrectness. Still, that well-meaning sensitivity may contribute to killing

The facts

African-Americans aren't the only people to feel the effects of cultural
impediments, but they're at the top of many lists for having bad health.
The American Obesity Association says that cultural factors related to diet,
exercise and weight among African-Americans play a role in interfering with
weight-loss efforts. The association also says that 78 percent of black women are overweight, and that includes the 50.8 percent who are obese. Providers of health care know that being overweight or obese is a path to life-threatening diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that black women suffer
higher percentages of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer
and premature death. And, the CDC says, when they get these diseases, they have
more severe cases than white women.

Yet compared with overweight white Americans, overweight black Americans are
two to three times more likely to say their weight is average — even after
they've been diagnosed as overweight or obese by a doctor, according to

"There's been less pressure for blacks to lose weight because of a cultural
acceptance of higher body weight and heavier body shapes," the site reports.

Local recognition

Dr. Michael Railey, medical director of the St. Louis County Health Department,
says that health disparities are reaching a crisis level for black women and
that it's time health officials take gender into consideration for any health
concerns because one size doesn't fit all.

For example, Railey says, "For black women to exercise, there needs to be a
social connection. Studies tell us that black women will work out in groups,
but not alone. Men are more likely to work out alone."

Also, to get black women to exercise and adopt healthful lifestyles, you must
take hair and appearance into consideration, Railey says.

"If a woman spends hours in a (salon) chair and spends $60, she's out of the
gym for at least two days," Railey says.

"Black women who want to build relationships with black men are still forced to
try to catch a man by looking the best they possibly can," says Railey. "Until
a (black) woman is in a culture where the man says, 'I love you just like you
are; I love your kinky hair and I select against long hair ...

Click here for the rest of the Article.

Share your thoughts!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Buffie the Body: Healthy, My Ass

A couple of you told me to check out the article "Healthy, my ass" by Debra Dickerson a while ago. I just got a round to it today, so here are my thoughts. For those of you that aren't familiar with the article click here.

I am pretty familiar with Debra Dickerson. I read her book the "End of Blackness" a long time ago, so I'm not surprised at her point of view here. Anyway, back to the article...

Here's what really caught my attention

According to a Village Voice article by Ben Westhoff, there are a slew of "urban" magazines finding success with men of color by replacing the traditional photo spreads of well-known bony models and actresses with unknown, "round the way sisters." Looks and fitness -- not required. Gi-normous butts (and weaves) -- must have. Buffie, with a 45-inch ass, is the reigning queen of this scene and her popularity speaks to blacks' normalization of a very un-p.c. fatness. Besides being a cover girl, Buffie appeared in the movie "ATL" as Big Booty Judy and is "as recognizable in the black community as some supermodels."

I don't see how Buffie's the body is promoting obesity in our community. I see her body as unattainable and it certainly would not influence me to drink a ton of supplement shakes to fatten up my ass. I think her body shows the variety in WOC (women of colors) bodies. I think companies like McDonald's, our causing our communities much more damage then Buffie the body. McDonald's is trying to promote themselves as if they have healthy food. I have seen advertisements in Essence and during "Black in America" where McDonald's was really trying to promote their "healthy items"....I'll save that for another post. Back to Ms. Dickerson

According to the Voice, Buffie "eats nothing but junk food and sugary drinks, and she doesn't work out." Starting out at only 120 pounds 10 years ago, she developed her "attributes" by chugging supplement shakes in order to gain weight. "Black women don't want to be skinny," she said.

To my knowledge supplement shakes are healthy, so I don't see the problem. It's not like she had extra fat implanted in her butt. Buffie eats junk food and sugary drinks like a lot of WOC. She is no different than many women that I know.

It's fairly common knowledge that many black (and Hispanic) men prefer their women larger than do other groups, a reality that launched Buffie on her path to glory. It is perhaps less well known that that preference has contributed to extremely high levels of obesity among black women.

It does appear that Black men like women who are more than just skin and bones, I don't see the problem with that. Has this preference really contributed to extremely high levels of obesity among black women? She doesn't site any research so we can't be sure. We can be sure that are there a ton of other factors that contribute to obesity rates like; lack of access to safe areas, lack of education, lack resources (how to care for your hair, eat right), time, money for fresh foods, etc. I wish she spent some time focusing on some of this issues and offering some suggestions, that would have been more worth her time.

I don't think that Debra Dickerson brought anything new to the table. We already know that we are in danger with our alarming obesity rates. Blaming Buffie the Body or Black Men for our problem will do nothing for us. We have to help each other. I mentioned in a previous post that some of us are privileged. We have access to a gym, money to buy fresh fruits and veggies, and time to take care of ourselves. Those of us that are privileged have to help other women. Encourage your sister, cousins, friends to make arrangements to exercise. Help them find and use the resources that are available to them.

For example, in Chicago
-There are free exercise classes on Saturday mornings in the park
- You can use the Fitness in Center in Chicago Park districts for a minimal fee (my boyfriend uses it and it's like 30 bucks for 3 months)
-You can You tube almost anything (8 minute abs, 8 min buns etc.)

Suggestions for Free Activities in your City? (comment and I will add them to the post).

Thoughts or comments about the article?
What are you doing to help other black women?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"We Can't Shop at Whole Foods Anymore"

A few weeks ago I was watching the news and they were interviewing locals to see how the recession (or economic slowdown according to bush) was affecting people. One white woman commented "well, it's becoming a little more difficult to get all our groceries from Whole Foods." I thought, it must be really distressing not to be able to purchase your $10 organic orange juice (I'm not over exaggerating, it exists ).

I thought about this white woman and her struggles (no $10 orange juice) last night as I watching CNN's Black in America. They showed how a black woman living in Harlem could not get access to fresh veggies. She would have an hour commute just to get a fresh tomato. Even I was amazed at what the woman how to go through to get fresh food in NYC (i always thought about NYC has having easy access to everything) . It was interesting to see the how the white woman felt she was struggling by not purchasing her Whole Foods and a black woman can barely access fresh food from a regular grocery store. CNN did not even get into how the recession was affecting the woman in Harlem. What CNN showed was a small percentage of the struggles that blacks endure related to health. They didn't bother to touch the financial burden of keeping fresh fruits and veggies at home, lack of access to gyms, lack of knowledge about nutritions, lack of resources, etc.

Okay that's all I have to say about the health part.

Overall I was frustrated by watching Black in America. I kept thinking what is the point? Is this going to provide white people with a better understanding of what it means to be Black in America? I don't think so, the information was presented as if everything is black and white. Either you are a successful black person or you are living in complete poverty. They make it seem as if there is no gray area. That was the most frustrating thing to me.

What are your thoughts about CNN's Black in America?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Free Yourself: Caring for Black Hair

It's time to stop being a slave to the hair salon and learn how to take care of your own hair!

If your hair is still preventing you from working out, it is time to free yourself by using hair techniques below.

I realized today that I have written several posts encouraging you all to take care of your hair so that it does not prevent you from exercising. However, I did not address basic hair care techniques. I know that not everyone knows how to care for their hair. Up until about 1 year ago I had no understanding of how to wash, condition, and style my relaxed hair. I had regular appointments at the hair salon and depended on my friends to maintain my hair. I only knew how to maintain my style until the next appointment. My hair is really really thick and I was always under the impression that it was just to big of challenge for me to tackle.

After spending last summer in Vegas my hair got really dry and I decided to try wash and condition it myself and it came out decent. I never thought I was capable of doing my own hair. I tried doing my hair a couple of times last fall and realized that I was perfectly capable of taking care of my hair.

Learning how to do my own hair has freed me from the stress of spending $65 at the shop and not being able to workout for a week. I wash my hair regularly, a minimum of once a week and it is getting healthier (I condition it a lot!) and longer. I still get my relaxers done professionally and get blowouts at the egyptian spots here in Chicago (like the dominicans in NYC), but only if its a special ocassion. I love being in control over my hair, it saves me money and I can workout without feeling like I'm wasting my money.

Here are some basic hair care resources I found online:

Natural Hair Care

Relaxed Hair Care

Here is how I care for my hair:

I use Elasta QP Conditioning Creme Shampoo and wash to a lather 2-3 times.

I use Elasta QP Intense Conditioner and let it sit on my head for 15 min.

Next, I use IC deep conditioner with Olive Oil for an add'l 15 min , if I have time.

Next I towel dry it really good and blow dry it in very small sections (the smaller the sections the straighter it gets)

Then I use a Olive oil hair spray or oil to condition it before I flat iron it. I sperate my hair into small sections and flat iron. A little more hair spray and I am good to go.

The whole process takes me about two hours, but it is worth it plus its free!

After 3 or 4 workouts I will usually use a Dry Shampoo (spray that refreshes your hair) and then put it a ponytail (if I can't wear it wrapped). After the 5th workout of the week I will wash, condition and style it again and wear it wrapped over the weekend and then on Monday I'm back in the gym.

I developed my hair regime by trial and error. There were certain shampoos that I tried that dried my hair out. I finally found one that hyrdrated my hair. You will have to find what works for you but hopefully I have given you a starting point.

*I also started recently using aveda anti humectant which I use after blowdrying. It has helped maintain my style a littile longer than normal but I'm still not sure if it's worth the 20 bucks (I'll keep you posted).

More tips on how to care for your hair?
How did you learn how to wash, condition, and style your own hair?
Know of any additional resources or products?

Is weight loss harder for Black women than for White women?

Yes apparently it is.

All my life I've always heard that as Black people we have to work twice as hard at everything (academics, the work place, etc.) Well, recently I found that this even applies to weight loss. I came across this link at sweet potato pie.
The article from Web MD states that past researchers found that:

"Obese African-American women lose less weight and at a slower rate than Caucasian women do across a variety of treatments including conservative interventions, very low calorie intake, and surgery."

In the present study researchers found that obese black women had more adenosine receptors in their deep abdominal fat than the obese white women. They suggest that this finding may help doctors come up with new strategies to prevent obesity.

click here to read whole article.

So what do you take away from this article?
I plan to continue to work just as hard as before on my weight loss. But it does help to know what is going on chemically in my body. So we have to work a little harder but it is worth it!

Ladies, please share your thoughts.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

No Excuses: Addressing the Barriers of Health in the Black Community

I was on the phone with of one my girlfriends and she randomly mentions that she could not understand why black women that are severely overweight don't do whatever it takes and just lose the weight, "If you have legs, you can walk!"

She believes that there really is No Excuse for women to be overweight. At first I kind of agreed with her but after really thinking about the issue I realized that we are speaking from a privileged point of view. We are not privileged in the sense that we grew up with silver spoons in our mouth (trust me that is not the case) but privileged in the sense that we are both college educated, have good jobs (well she does, i'm in grad school), access to a gym, access to fresh fruit and veggies, and we don't have to really take care of anyone but our selves.

So after thinking about this for a while I wondered if I would be working out 5-6 times a week and eating healthy if:

*I lived in a housing project or bad neighborhood with no safe place to run or walk

*I was living off assistance from the government and had to worry about feeding two children in addition to myself

*I had to work two jobs to feed my family (how would i find time to work out?)

These obstacles would be in addition to the obstacles that most black women already face; the hair issue, not knowing what to do in the gym, lack of resources about black women and health, recognizing that being FIT is a lifelong commitment.

It would be incredibly difficult to endure those challenges and maintain the workout regimen that I have now. I realized how blessed that I am to have a gym in my building, a beautiful lake path to run on, money to buy nutritious food, etc. It saddens me that it took me so long to take advantage of my blessings. There are women out there that would probably love the opportunities that I wasted for so long.

I recognize now that its not that easy for some Black women to lose weight. I'm sure there are ton of more obstacles that women face that I did not think of. I plan to create a post in the future that includes suggestions on overcoming these obstacles.

Please let me know your thoughts? What do you think Black women can do to overcome these obstacles?
Are you taking advantage of all of your opportunties?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Angela Bassett: Fit and Fabulous at Nearly Fifty

Well, it's hump day so I thought I would offer some motivation.

To remind you that all your hard work will pay off. Eating right, working out, and balancing every day life is no piece of cake, but it is so worth it! So ladies keep up the good work and keep those bodies movin'!

If you are new to working out, there's no better time than the present to get started. Visit for some great tips on getting started.

Angela Bassett is a great example of somone's who's hard work has paid off. She looks great and most important she is Healthy! So keep working hard and hopefully you will maintain great health like Ms. Bassett!

Please share what motivates you....
What keeps you focused on Health & Fitness throughout the week?

Story Courtesy of

Angela Bassett

Hey ladies! Can you imagine being a 48-year-old woman who works full time, finds time to spend with her family, and still has the body of a 20-year-old? Sounds like a dream, huh? It even seems quite impossible, doesn’t it? Well ladies I’m here to tell you it is possible and I have proof.

According to Harley Pasternak, author and former personal trainer of Bassett, he keeps his clients, including Halle Berry and Eve, fit on his patented 5-Factor Diet. The 5-Factor Diet consists of working out 25 minutes a day, 5 days a week and eating 5 meals a day.

Let’s first begin with the five meals a day. Most people feel that if you eat less you will gain less and lose more, but this equation is far from true. If you are not eating enough food to sustain your body’s processes and feeding it the right nutrients you will build less muscle and cause your metabolism (the process in which your body burns the amount of energy (calories) needed in order to maintain itself) javascript:void(0)to slow down. Eating five meals a day raises your metabolism and provides a steady stream of vital nutrients, including protein, which helps your body develop a toned and fit physique. Pasternak encourages his clients to eat foods that include low fat, quality protein (chicken, turkey, fish, and shellfish), moderate carbohydrates, fiber and healthy fats (like omega-3 found in salmon), and drink sugar free bev

Changing your diet can be a difficult task to accomplish, but don’t feel discouraged, because Ms. Basset felt the same sentiments. “I am from the South, and I love dessert, I love to eat”, she told writer Cheryl Johnson in an interview for Rollingout Magazine. Luckily for Bassett and you, if you decide to follow this diet, Pasternak allows you one “cheat day,” a day where you can indulge in your cravings and eat whatever you want. This is ideal for anyone who is weary of giving up their favorite foods.

Click here for more

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Don't get too Comfortable! Maintain that Beautiful Body

How do you maintain your fabulous and fit body? (scenario A)

How do you boost your work out and reach your goal? (scenario B)

Scenario A: You may be at a point where you are close to reaching your fitness goals and your are loving your beautiful body.

If you are at this point it is critical for to come up with a maintenance plan. You don't want all that hard work to go to waste, do you? So what are going to do to maintain your weight loss?

This tips are helpful for maintaining weight loss from

The National Weight Control Registry looks at what successful weight maintainers (people who lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year) have in common. They have published their results in a number of articles.

The Keys to Maintaining Weight Loss
From the above research.

  • Exercise - Those who continued on with exercise were much more likely to maintain their loss.
  • Not Sedentary - Hours spent in front of the computer or TV were closely correlate with regain.
  • Lost weight slowly - Regainers were more likely to be those who had lost large amounts of weight in short periods of time.

From the Weight Control Registry:

  • They watch portion sizes.
  • Four in five eat breakfast every day of the week.
  • Most are physically active, with walking being their most common form of activity.
  • They actually find pleasure in their healthier lifestyle.

Scenario B (like me): Or you may be getting close to your goal but still have alot of work to do.

This is a critical time and it is important to keep it moving and pick up the pace!
Especially after the 4th of July you have to make sure you get back on track. Get back in the gym and resume your workout.

Here are my suggestions (my plan for the week)

1. Double your workout: If you normally workout 4-5 days a week, pick two days where you work out twice. Try to make the second workout something like a dance class or a sport you enjoy.
2. Get rid of all that BBQ food. Clear out (give away) any unhealthy food left from the weekend for BBQ.
3. Eat as many fruits and veggies as possible. Try and start the day with a fruit salad and make sure to end the day with some type of veggie along with your meat and whole grain.

more workout tips at womens health

Comment! Have any additional advice?
How do you maintain your weight loss?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sweat Hard, Without Damaging Your Hair

These tips are applicable to all hair styles: braids, locs, relaxers, etc. No matter how you wear your hair you have to make sure to remove the sweat to keep it healthy.

If you are doing a lot of cardio you may have noticed that your hair feels a little drier than usual. When I first started working out the sweat was really drying out my hair because I was not washing it enough. Now, I make sure I get the sweat out of my hair by washing it after 3 workouts and sometimes between workouts I will use a "no-rinse shampoo." There is also Aveda Reviving Mist which I hear works great in between shampoos (I haven't tried it yet)

The Black Women's Health Imperative Wrote a great article about what happens to your hair when you sweat. The section below describes had damaging the sweat can be.

"Remember that the scalp is skin, and just like the skin on your face you must clean it on a regular basis, or you will develop a build-up in the pores. You have heard experts warn you about going to bed without cleaning away your makeup, because it can cause aging damage to your face. Well, your scalp has pores and follicles that must stay clear and clean in order to keep a healthy environment for healthy hair growth and to inhibit an itchy scalp, or scalp disorders. When you sweat, your hair becomes dehydrated and brittle causing aging damage, which can shorten the life of the strands."

Use this Tips to avoid dry and brittle hair! (from

Quick-Fix Part 1: Clean and Condition

Step 1. In the shower rinse your hair as you rinse your body.

Step 2. Apply shampoo to your hair as you lather your body. Using an acid-balanced shampoo is safe on your hair, scalp, and body, and it saves time.

Step 3. Rinse your hair and body.

Step 4. Apply conditioner and let it sit while you shave your legs or lather your body one more time.

Step 5. Rinse your hair as you rinse your body.

You are now clean and conditioned from head to toe.

Quick-Fix Part 2: The Five-Minute Hairstyle

The Quick-fix regimen is to style the hair, which for some can be a real challenge. When starting a workout program, some women will cut their hair short, get a curly perm, or braid their hair with extensions. Those are options that you can choose, but don't ever feel forced. There are ways to keep your hair styled without making an atypical change just to manage your hair.
After your quick-fix shampoo and condition, you are ready for the next part.

Step 1. Wrap your head with a towel while you dry off.

Step 2. Remove the towel and lightly apply a leave-in conditioner.

Step 3. Apply a sculptor setting lotion to your hairline. If your hair is curly, apply a moisturizer before the sculpting lotion, then smooth your hair back flat if it's short, or gather it into a ponytail using a cloth holder for longer hair.

Step 4. Spray a sculpting mist to your hair and hairline, and then tie a satin scarf around the hairline.

Step 5. Apply a hair attachment (e.g., bun, fall, or drawstring ponytail).

Step 6. Secure the perimeter with bobby pins, and then remove the scarf.

full article:

Do you have any additional tips on keeping your healthy?

*-I forgot to mention the importance of conditioning. Every time I wash my hair I deep condition it for at least 15 minutes.-*