Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Hair Journey

This is response to the upcoming movie "Good Hair" by Chris Rock. This movie will stir many emotions in Black Women as it did for me.

Enfin Liberation! This is my hair story. I always say that I was born and raised in a beauty salon. My mother, Eva Jones Temple Wilburn was a cosmetologist. I was her money maker. She was part owner of a beauty salon at 63rd & Halsted in Englewood back then. My mother grew my hair by pressing and curling it till it was half way down my back. At age five I got a perm. Women would watch my mother do my hair then jump in her chair. They would say if you can grow hair like that then you can certainly grow mine. I started modeling my hair at fashion shows at age five for the Midwest Beauty Trade Show at the Palmer House Hilton. I learned to swing my long straight hair as I moved down the runway.

My mother was one of the First African-American female cosmetologist to join the Chicago Cosmetologist Association. She joined the board which produced the Midwest Beauty Trade Show. She was truly a trail blazer.

In elementary school I wore wig pieces such the "I Dream of Jeannie braid". For my 8th grade graduation I wore a wiglet even though my hair was long and thick. Wigs had just hit the fashion scene. Black models launched their own lines for the first time then. It didn't matter if you had long hair or not. Every woman wore one. This new wig craze brings back memories from my childhood. I think it is interesting that women today will buy a new wig every month to change their look, hairstyle or haircolor. They find it cheaper to do this than to go to the beauty salon.

When I was thirteen my mother styled my hair with perm rods into an Afro. It broke off because it matted and I didn't know how to take care of a permed Fro. This was the time of Black Power movement and Afros were the rage.

At age sixteen, I forced my mother to cut my hair into a short, short, short Afro. She was in tears as she cut my hair. This was turbulent time in our relationship as I struggled to find my identity and myself. I asked her if there was a way that I could wear my hair naturally. She said no. We argued about my hair.
Well what did I make her do that for. The whole beauty salon was against me. They said I looked like a twelve year old boy. Remember I was her money maker. She couldn't make any money off that short Afro. Her friends told me that I had insulted her. I gave in to the pressure. I grew my hair into cornrows then eventually I went back to the perm and long hair. Society had won the first battle.

However, I experienced true hair liberation when I went to live in Paris, France after I graduated from college. I traveled with two international suitcases full of hair relaxers, conditioners, blow dryers, portable hair dryer, curling irons, combs, brushes. I traveled with my own beauty salon. But in Paris, I started blow drying my hair and wearing it straight without curl. Then I began to admire the beautiful natural braided styles of the African women from Senegal, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, etc. I longed for those hairstyles.

One day I stumbled upon an African Braid Salon near Sacre Coeur. I was so homesick that I sat in salon until they closed. I watched the African sisters as two and three of them braided hair on one person. I watched them adeptly design beautiful hairstyles. I felt right at home sitting in a salon all day.

During our six year odyssey of living overseas in France, Belgium, Venezuela, and Argentina. I decided to lose the two 100 pound suitcases of hair products and hair tools. It just got to be too much. It didn't make sense. In Venezuela, I sat many dark skinned Venezuelan sisters wearing short fros. I cut my hair once more. However, I was away from the Black Middle Class mentality of long straight hair. This time it was true liberation. I was finally free of all those hair products, tools and the peer pressure mentality.

While living in Istanbul, Turkey my mind was jolted into complete awakening about the beauty of natural hair. Cendrine and I were at a bank. The teller looked at Cendrine's natural ,thick , curly Afro puffs.

She said "Cok Guzel" (Very good) and pointed to Cendrine's hair. Then she pointed at my blown dry straight hair and said Niye(Why)? It was if the teller was saying your natural hair is so beautiful. Why do you do this?

Indeed why? Her few words were my revelation. My conscious mind woke up that day to the true beauty of Natural curly hair. What God has created and blessed us with as a people. It is Good Hair. That is when I got that I have "Good Hair." There is no need for me to straighten it for it to be "Good Hair".

Later when we returned to Chicago and settled down to raise our family. I created my natural hair with twists. Twists are version of an African hairstyle that I saw in Paris. Our African sisters use black thread to create their twists.

Today I have twisted hair that locked. Now I retwist my locked hair. I wear my locks twisted or twist out. This is a photo my locks as twist out. I get so many compliments on my locks.

I just get up and go. My hair always looks beautiful with little maintenance.

I can workout and swim without having to worry about my hair. I walk in the rain. No worries. I am free, free, free!!!

These are some of the hairstyles that I admire today. Jamaican Sisterlocks. The other hairstyle that I admire is worn by Rev. Ramah Wright. I am grateful to Rev. Wright for creating an environment in which sisters can proudly wear their hair natuarlly. TUCC has a boosted the self-esteem and beauty of African-American people.

What is your hair story?

Friday, August 14, 2009

RosetheFitnessInstructor's Weight Loss Story!

My weight-loss story
By: RosetheFitnessInstructor

It was a hot, humid, Saturday afternoon. I was sitting in my bed in a house with no air conditioning. I was completely uncomfortable in my own body and with no energy whatsoever. This is when I knew that I had to do something.

At that time, I was probably around 238 pounds. Yes, I just put my weight out there! I don’t weigh that number anymore, but I want to remind women out there that it’s just a number…it doesn’t define you. In fact, I’m not very far from that number now! Shocking, but you’ll see why J.

I started looking into weight loss options, not sure where to go and what was successful. I was reluctant to spend money on something that I didn’t know would work for me. After all, what’s good for one person may not work for the other person. I was at church one day and the pastor’s wife pulled me aside for a chat. She told me she noticed that I’ve gained weight and she knew it was from a lot of recent stress in my life. Without knowing I was exploring my options, she told me about her success with WeightWatchers and she thought it would be a great program for me. That had to be a sign from God or my guardian angel at the very least. Little did I know how much that conversation/intervention would change the rest of my life.

I started WeightWatchers one summer before senior year of college. I lost 20 lbs that summer and I was feeling great! My sorority sisters started to notice my results and wanted to join in the success as well. So when school started, not only did I have a few gym buddies, but I had lunch buddies as well. It was awesome…the constant support I got from my sisters kept me going. We worked out together, ate healthy together, had a yahoo listserv for all sorority members who were doing WeightWatchers to share their success and challenges.
Before I knew it, I lost 68 lbs! My body completely changed. I was a size 18 and I went down to a size 8. I was a 40DDD bra size and went to a 36D. Most importantly, I had tons of energy and found a new love for physical activity.

I graduated from college and moved back home with my mom and brother. I quickly realized how easy it was to lose weight in college where the food was made and the gym was a walk away. I controlled what came into my single-dorm too. Now, I had to fight the temptation of trail mix, cookies, fried food, etc. etc. The gym wasn’t close and after long days working in the “real world”, I started to get tired and wanted a night to just chill and not mess up my hair! It was hard but I managed. It helped that I found a gym which soon became my new family. I got hooked onto the group fitness classes and would sometimes take 3 classes in a row (three hours total).

But then I started to get ahead of myself. I would “cheat” every other day and tell myself “its okay, you’ll burn it off tomorrow”. The thing was, my body was starting to change as I entered into my later 20’s…my body stopped growing completely. I wasn’t burning off the calories as fast as I used too. The weight started to creep back up. Not enough for others to notice, but the scale did and my jeans started to feel a little snug.

So I thought I needed to step it up. This is why I became a group fitness instructor. I figured I would really kick it into gear because I didn’t want to stand in front of 20-40 people at a time, with my belly sticking out. I wanted to be a role model and be the image you see on TV when you think of a fitness instructor. That’s still not working for me! I’ve gained about half of the weight I’ve put on…and I gained one jean size. So I know most of it is from muscle as I teach BodyPump, but I also know a lot of it is from poor food choices. However, I’ve still become a role model for others. Women who are nervous about entering a gym class for the first time won’t feel intimated when they see me. They see a real woman doing the workouts and the moves that may seem intimating. I can tell they feel inspired because they come back! This is why I love to teach.

I’m still working on losing the 30 lbs I gained. I think it’s funny that 30 lbs ago, I thought I was still too heavy. But now I know that I want to be a healthy girl..not a skinny girl.

Major moral of my story for success: You can’t have one without the other. Eat right and work out. No short-cuts because they will come back to haunt you later. Keep it slow and steady…that’s the best way to lose.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Our Hair has been quite the hot topic lately. Hopefully you read my recent post on "Black Hair."
Well, Chris Rock has decided to make a movie about Black Hair called "Good Hair." One of my sorority sisters sent me the link this morning. Apparently, Chris Rock was motivated to do the documentary/comedy after one of his daughters asked him why she did not have "good hair." The documentary will touch on the history of our hair and hopefully explore why little girls are struggling with the "good hair issue." I think it is great that this issue is being addressed in this comedic/educational format. I am currently struggling with the issue of transitioning to natural hair myself. My mother and two sisters have both transitioned and I am the only one hanging on to my relaxer. I know that I will make the transition eventually, I recognize the harm that relaxers cause. Why would I want a chemical that can burn through an aluminium can (check the trailer) on my head? Or a chemical that is unsafe during pregnancy? And who wants go through "torture sessions" ( check the video---ICE T) for the rest of their life?

I wonder if the document will touch on our hair and health. I hope it does. Anyway, I just wanted to quickly share the trailer with you all. Click here to view it!

Oh and here are some pics that reflect my experience with the "good hair" issue. I begged my mom for a relaxer forever because I like many young girls thought that straight hair was prettier. The first pic is my length at with first relaxer and the other pic is my hair present. Now the present pic is my cut that was the result of damaged hair. (You all should feel lucky cause i'm sharing childhood pics with ya!)


Share your stories of how "Good Hair' influenced you as a child.....

What are you thoughts on the documentary?

Thoughts on the conditioning of black women to want "Good Hair"

Let's Discuss!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

No time for the Gym?

I know life is already hard enough trying to be superwoman and balance work, school, kids, husbands, etc. but you have to fit that Exercise in. If you do not have time to take a daily trip to your local fitness center than you MUST try Exercise TV. You can use it for FREE via Comcast or other cable services.

My favorites are all the Jillian Michaels programs (try "No More Trouble Zones"). She combines cardio and strength training. It's great because you are always working multiple muscles groups. It's also great for those of you who do go to the gym. It's good to incorporate different exercises so you work different muscle groups. Jillian Michaels has some really intense workout videos. The videos on Exercise TV range from 10 min to 1 hr and they change regularly so you will never get bored.

Also, AM Standing Abs, will work your abs hard in just ten minutes. You will feel it trust me!

If you don't have cable there also videos you can do on from you computer, so NO Excuses!
For free workout video Click Here!

So give it give a try tomorrow morning. Get up 1 hour earlier and do 45 min video. You will see results, Good Luck!

Do you use Exercise TV?
What are you favorite videos?

Will using it help you start exercising?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Body Image: No matter what size you are, self-acceptance is important before you begin your weight loss journey.

I'm excited to announce a new addition to the Nubian Fitness goddess team. She has decided to contiribute regularly. Her next post will contain more information about her weight loss journey.

Please enjoy the first post by Ms. Hooks

Body Image: No matter what size you are, self-acceptance is important before you begin your weight loss journey.

In today’s media, we see nonrealistic images for what today’s healthy black women look like. We see the Beyonce’s and Rihanna’s in magazines but is this a realistic image to see while we as average black women take part in our weight loss/healthy living journey? The Beyonce’s and Rihanna’s don’t show the realistic body image that young women should aspire to have. Young black women need to aspire for a body image that’s healthy for them. We come in ALL different shapes and sizes.

It’s important is that you, as a black woman, can appreciate how your body is made and accept the genes and the curves that God has blessed you with. Yes, working out and eating healthy can improve your body, but at the end of the day, there is only so much you can do to change your frame and how your body is naturally shaped. Mental health is an important tool when striving for your weight loss goals.

According to the Office on Women’s Health (Department of Health and Human Services), poor body image can lead to emotional distress, unhealthy dieting habits, and eating disorders. This is something that can eventually disrupt your weight loss journey. Before you can change your body, you need to make sure you like what you see in the mirror now!

Here are some tips on how to achieve a positive body image:

Exercise. Yes, get sweaty and work those muscles. After a great work out, you’ll feel nice and toned.
Go shopping. Find clothes that flatter your body shape. Highlight your strong features to feel sexy in whatever you wear, workout clothes included!
Talk to yourself. Look in the mirror and say out loud, “I am beautiful”. Hearing and saying this out loud can increase your self-esteem.
Accept compliments. How many of us hear “You look nice today!” To only respond “I look horrible/I hate my outfit/My hair is not looking on point”. Try saying “Thank you!”. We as black women need to focus on the positive, not the negative.
Eat healthy. Eat your vegetables and take your vitamins. This can help you grow healthy hair, strong nails, and have glowing skin.

Remember, before you reach any milestone in your weight loss journey, positive body image is important or you’ll never be happy with what you see.