A Weighty Issue

I’ve gotten quite a few questions about fitness and exercise, from readers wondering why I haven’t discussed these issues yet. I mean, if I’ve already had a shoe post, why not write about fitness?

The truth is, I don’t feel qualified to fully explore those issues yet. I always want to feel confident that I know what I’m writing about, and I’m currently on my own journey that perhaps someday, I’ll document and share with the world when I’ve reached my weight loss goal.

I’ve been a card-carrying member of Team Chunk my whole life. I’ve been on almost every diet you can think of. I’ve tried quick-fix diet pills, and struggled with an eating disorder in my teenage years. Finally, I’ve come to a place of love and acceptance of my body. I’m happy in my skin, but I need to focus on my health. And the only way I can do that is with a balanced diet and regular exercise. It ain’t easy, y’all. And I know I’m far from alone in my struggle.

The statistics don’t lie — Diet and exercise are real issues that need to be addressed in our community. According to that CBS News article, just one in seven US adults reported regular physical activity along with consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. A mere 13 percent of African American women reported both healthy eating and exercise. That’s all kinds of wrong, bellas. And not only that, we tend to also be wrong and strong.

To quote from this Washington Post article, “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.” And the scariest statistic of all — “It’s estimated that about 75 percent of black Americans are now overweight or obese.” Yikes.

There’s no shortage of excuses as to why we don’t get off our butts and work it out. Trust me, I’ve used almost all of them, and they’re all weak. We’re too busy. We don’t have enough hours in a day. Unhealthy food is so much cheaper/yummier than healthy food. We want to have “a little meat on our bones,” and to be “bootylicious.” And the most ludicrous excuse of all, we don’t want to get our hair sweaty. That article, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was a real eye-opener.

Here’s a relevant quote: “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.”

Sorry, but I don’t think that hair makes a valid excuse for not exercising.

If your hair is natural and you rock a wash n’ go, you don’t have to worry about sweating out a hairstyle. Motown Girl offers a helpful hair routine for afrobellas working on their fitness, and her method’s working for me. When I work out, I pull my hair back with a stretchy, comfy, terry cloth headband. Then post-workout I shower and rinse the salt and sweat out of my hair with cool, refreshing water. Then I do a conditioner wash with something really gentle, like Deva Curl One Condition, and if I’m working out after work or night when I’m not going anywhere later (which is usually the case), I might slather on a little Miss Jessie’s Baby Buttercreme on my hair itself for bedtime moisture. Then I make sure my hair’s dry before bed. That’s it, no more excuses.

True beauty starts from within. Literally. So the best way to clear up your skin, lose weight, and create a generally luminous glow is by ingesting the right things, and treating your body like the temple it is. Like I said, I’m a work in need of alot of progress myself. My goal is to be fit, and I’m far from it right now — that fact slapped me in the face when I stayed with my friend Jenny, who lives in a 6 floor walk-up apartment in New York City. I thought I was going to frickin’ die after we brought our suitcases upstairs, and that experience served as the wake-up call that my father’s been trying to give me for years. Please know that this is being written by someone who has agonized over weight issues her whole life. Finally, at the ripe old age of 28, I’m really trying to change my life for the better by being healthier and making exercise a part of my life. Here are a few dietary things that have been working for me so far.

I’ve managed to more-or-less lay down the soda and liquid calorie splurges (so long, Starbucks), and I’m trying to really start drinking water. Not just Vitamin Water, regular water. If I do have the urge for a fizzy drink, I’ll have an Izze, or The Switch, both are carbonated 100% juices.

I also really like Bloom Energy, a new drink from DelMonte that has a full serving of real fruit, antioxidants, and 100% vitamin C. It’s going nationwide soon, but right now you can find it on store shelves in Chicago, Houston, Dallas, and Phoenix. It’s got a little caffeine kick, but nothing near Red Bull. The Wild Berry’s delicious, and the can’s 100 calories.

But I have to at least drink four or five glasses of plain ol’ water before I indulge with any kind of sweet, carbonated beverage.

I already told y’all about my iced tea fixation; this weekend’s blend was two bags of green tea and two bags of Get Lost Herb Tea for Weight Control by The Republic of Tea.

This isn’t the kind of weight-loss tea that will give you the jitters or make your digestive tract curl up in a knot. It’s an organic rooibos blend that includes cinnamon, orange peel, and carob to help bust your sugar cravings. So I drink an ice-cold glass after dinner, and I’m less likely to start fiending for dessert.

One of my major issues in the past was eating too late. So when I’m up late and start getting midnight snack cravings, I brush my teeth, use my Waterpik (which I LOVE, by the way… how did I go for so long without one?), and use my medicated mouthwash that the dentist prescribed for me. It pretty much tastes like licking pennies, and effectively kills any desire for food. Besides, I’m not supposed to eat or drink anything for a half hour after using it.

I make a weekly menu because I’m a list-making dork and I need organization in my life. Going to the grocery armed with a list helps to prevent me from loading up on stuff I don’t need, and veggies that will just rot in my crisper. And yes, I try to cook dinner at least four nights a week — that way I know I’m eating healthy. I’m working really hard at cooking dinner earlier, but if I get home from work at 7:30, 8:00, or 8:30 like I did last night, that’s really difficult. I try not to serve dinner after 8:30, 9:00 (which is way too late as it is), but sometimes that’s unavoidable, and I always feel so horribly guilty after those “damn it’s late, what’s for dinner, McDonald’s/pizza/Boston Market it is” nights. But we all have them, and that’s where having a weekly menu really helps.

On the nights when I know I’m cooking dinner for sure, I try to make the most delicious and healthy meals possible. My typical goal is to include as many veggies in each recipe as possible, while still making something that’s delicious enough to make the husband say “mmmm, this is awesome.”

A perfect example of such a meal is my teriyaki chicken stir fry, which is super easy and will take you less than a half hour to prepare. I’ll give you the recipe for right now.

Get 1 pack of lean organic chicken cutlets

1 bag broccoli slaw,

an onion,

stoplight peppers,

and organic spinach fettucine, if you’ve got someone in your life who insists that a meal isn’t a meal without pasta or potatoes.

First things first, cut up your chicken into thin strips and season it. This is where the fun and creative part of cooking comes into play.

In a little bowl, I mixed a sprinkle of five spice powder, a teenier sprinkle of Jamaican all spice, Mrs Dash original, Maggi Sweet Chili Sauce, and Gourmet Garden ginger. I love the Gourmet Garden seasonings. Because I’m a sucker for a shortcut, I own several of their fresh herbs-in-a-tube, and I keep them in my freezer. (also, because my entire herb garden died. I’m a pretty terrible gardener, sad to say).

Paint on the seasoning on the chicken and let it marinate.

Next, cut up your onion and peppers into thin, bite-size pieces.

Make your spinach fettuccine on the side, follow package directions.

In a big stir fry pan (or big frying pan, whatever you’ve got), and I usually coat the pan with a little olive and sesame oil, very little. Cooking spray is also a good way to go.

Then, on medium heat I sautéed some garlic, and because I’m Caribbean, I must add half a teaspoon of browning in there first.

Then I pour in 1/2 cup of water and my broccoli slaw. Broccoli slaw mix is a super nutritious, pre-bagged blend of shredded broccoli stems, carrots, and red cabbage. It’s pretty crunchy, so unless you want a hard stir fry, you’ll want to let your slaw steam cook for a while, with a small amount of water in a covered pot. For flavor, you can add a teaspoon or so of teriyaki sauce (this low-sodium kind is one of my favorites).

Add your other veggies on low heat, and cover the pot so steam builds up. I usually let them cook on their own for seven to ten minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing’s sticking or overcooking.

Then you add the seasoned chicken to your simmering veggies. Turn the heat to high, and stir fry until the chicken’s cooked through completely and your veggies are as tender as you’d like them. See how yummy it looks, cooking in my frying pan? Then turn it down to a low/medium heat, and add your cooked spinach fettucine.

Stir well to make sure everything’s tossed and yummy and coated with delicious sauce, and serve in reasonably sized portions.

That’s a delicious, easy to cook meal that includes an amazing rainbow of seven veggies in one serving. The most wonderful thing about stir fry is, you can totally remix the recipe. You can make it with only veggies if you’d like. Sometimes I stir fry with shrimp, and I add different vegetables, like snow peas, broccolini, mushrooms of all varieties, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, or those cans of stir fry veggies you’ll find in the ethnic aisle, alongside many of the seasonings I used.

Here’s another stir fry I made, with broccoli, straw mushrooms, snow peas, and bean sprouts. I served it on a bed of baby spinach.

I’m always looking for healthier things to add. Someday soon I will try those tofu shiritaki noodles that Hungry Girl adores. It’ll take some convincing for the husband though. If you want more healthy recipes, check out Whole Foods.com, or the links I suggested earlier.

Like I said, I’m trying hard to be what I’m talking about here.

I was very inspired recently by seeing a college friend of mine, who’s always battled with weight herself. Since January she’s lost 30 pounds by working out on an elliptical trainer every day, and eating sensibly. We went out to dinner and her discipline really impressed me. A good guy friend of mine has recently lost a ton of weight by working out and being on Nutrisystem. The homie E-Fresh became like Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction; he walks the earth. And he’s significantly slimmer for all of his walking. One of my co-worker friends — who was already pretty slender, in my opinion — has now become fit, toned, and lost 17 pounds along the way. She keps track of her food intake and exercise routines on Fitday.com, and does her damndest to steer clear whenever we have an office birthday cake.

I’m looking around me for inspiration, and finding it.

I figure if Oprah, Missy Elliott, and Timbaland can find the time to work out every day and become fit, I can too. I’m striving to stop making excuses to myself, and stop postponing something so vitally important.

If any of you would care to join me on my journey to fitness, let me know and I’ll keep the recipes and healthy food posts coming!

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Comments

  1. Good stuff bella, I’m at the same place and a discovery I’ve made is if I eat mostly organic I’m a lot more satisifed than if I do a lot of eating out or eating processed food. So I’m able to stick to my planned intakes without feeling deprived, why I’m also encouraged by your info on cooking at least 4 times a week. It makes a huge difference both in spending habits and having a better sense of what’s going into your body.

    At any rate if ever you’re interested in keeping a electronic journal. http://www.thedailyplate.com is really good, just be careful when logging foods some of the info can be outdated but it allows you to get a view of how much of everything is being eaten (calories fat sodium carbs etc), based on the amount of calories one should eat to lose weight.

    Another is http://www.sparkpeople.com, this site is along the same lines and both are free btw, TDP does have a gold membership but the free is good for me:) And there are plenty of others but I won’t bog u down with a grip of links. I find these sites to be wonderful for those not looking to diet, but actually change lifestyle.

    And please do keep these types of blogs coming I could use the motivation AND recipes:-)

  2. woops, the comma messed things up that should be http://www.sparkpeople.com/

  3. Bella,
    please keep the healthy food post coming. I’ve struggled with my weight all my life and I’ve tried every “quick fix” diet. I do believe my issues with my weight, have a great deal to do with my self esteem. I’m the girl that all the guys call for advise, but not a date. I’ve been told, “you have a nice face”…ok….what about the rest of me? Last Thursday, I decided to take control of my weight and do better. I started walking last Saturday and now, I’m up to 3 miles. I have a long way to go indeed, but I’m not giving up this time….so for my sake, pls. keep the h/f/p coming….be blessed.

  4. You said it all in this post. It must have been difficult even to contemplate writing it, but this first step is the MOST important. No more excuses. The will must be there and we must garner up the strength of character and discipline to stick with it.
    It is in many ways a ”discipline” thing in my view and it is not easy.

  5. Let’s hear it for Team Chunk! Great post, Bella. Please keep the healthy posts coming. I may not have natural hair (yet! maybe one day) but I can definitely relate to the need to get my health and fitness on. Good looking out!

  6. Great post! I don’t necessarily struggle with my weight but I aim to eat healthily and that’s becoming more and more a struggle as my days get fuller and fuller. Loving those herbs-in-a-tube! I’m checking out the health food store today to see if they stock it. Thanks much.

  7. Bravo – Afrobella!
    I’ve been struggling with my weight all my life. I’ve managed to lose 30 pounds, but it’s been a long and slow road and the only thing that’s worked for me is to combine a sensible diet with lots of cardiovascular exercise. I’ll probably be working out until I reach my grave, but I feel so much healthier for doing so.
    I laughed when I heard the hair excuse. Right now I have braids but even when I had relaxed hair, natural or a weave – that never stopped me hitting that treadmill!
    PS: Thank you for telling the world about Anita Grant products – my first order came today and I can’t wait to play with it as my braids are coming out this weekend!

    Best wishes from London, England!

  8. BlackHoney says:

    Hey Bella,
    I can’t speak for anyone else but not wanting to mess up my hair was one of the reasons I didn’t work out as hard as I could. My relaxed hair prevented from dancing salsa like I wanted. Why? I was getting a professional blowout once a week and if I shampooed and flat-ironed my own hair I couldn’t get it as silky as the chick in the salon. The tipping point came when I was at a salsa congress and I had to go to my hotel room once a hour to make sure my bob was straight.

  9. It figures that I would read this as I was eating a chocolate chip cookie. For me personally, I excercise regularly, but I have got to fix my diet. I was a vegetarian when I was away at Highschool and College, but when I came home after Hurricane Katrina, I fell off the wagon with a hard thud. My meals come mostly from White Castle now. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten till I stepped on the scale. I have an hourglass figure and so my body distributes fat evenly. And even though I’ve gained like 30 pounds I haven’t gone up a dress size. Until, now. Now my size ten clothes are getting tight and I can’t have that. I refuse to be a size tweleve b/c after that it is a slippery slope, and I’m too young to be overweight.
    Thanks for the post Bella, it was exactly the kick in the head that I needed.

  10. Hey girl! I know how hard it is to try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially when I’m chewing on broccoli and someone walks by with a slice of pizza. You know how the office is…temptations galore. We just gotta be stong! And keep those 100-calories snacks around in case of a munchie emergency…haha!

  11. Keep the fitness and food post coming! I also need to make a change in my fitness regimen. After being a tall, sort of chubby kid, I got really thin at about age 13 and my large-boned, 5’9″ frame whittled down to a low of 143 during my high school days. I nicely hovered in the 140s-150s in my early 20s, but then I started living on my own and eating whole pans of cinnamon rolls and gorging myself on snack food. While I will not be featured in a Richard Simmon’s video anytime soon (I am like an Ashley Stewart/Lane Bryant plus model size 16/18), my doctor had told me that my blood pressure was a little high and that the weight had to go. I eat fairly healthy now, but I have been very lax on the exercise. Hopefully I can get it in gear because as I get older, it won’t be easier.

  12. Ami Jane says:

    Good Job Bella! I am so glad you did not write a post filled with excuses and past maltreatments about this issue, like so many women like to do. It takes a REAL women to know the facts and decide to take a course of action to get where she wants. Even though we all stumble and fall, it’s o.k. because you are starting from a place of TRUTH. Just keep going! High Five!

  13. Aww. You guys, Allie’s the coworker friend I mentioned who uses FitDay. She inspires me every day!

    Thanks for responding, Daddy. You know how much it took for me to write this, and I’m taking stock of my life in all sorts of ways. I love you! Can’t wait to see you guys.

    And everyone else, I promise to keep the healthy living posts coming. But just understand, I’m learning as I go!
    Happy Friday!

  14. Growing up looking at Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell in Elle and Vogue magazines really made me dislike my body and want a figure that resembled those two. I don’t blame Campbell or Banks in any way for what happened to me I just think a was an impressionable and weak teenager.

  15. Great post Bella, I just happen to have a big bag of stif-fry veggies in the freezer and chick thawing out for tonight. So I am going to that delicious recipe you menttioned!
    This lady has really inspired me for exercise. She uses alot of dance in her routines.
    http://www.victoriajohnson.com/about.shtml

  16. Great post! Thanks so much for the recipe. I am a gold card member of team chunk, but I am always praying that one day I will downgrade my membership. All I can say is…I have to take one day at a time.

    Please continue with the healthy eating posts. You never know who you might inspire.

  17. Sorry about errors in typing. will try to slow down.LoL

  18. haitiangurL says:

    afrobella, thank you for being so open and honest about your struggles… you are definitely not alone, my struggle has been with not eating the way I use to as a teenager and college student then I had the benefit of a high metabolism and so I wasn’t seeing the damage of my junk food diet but now at thirty-one every bite has an immediate impact on my weight especially my face which is round like yours and is always the first place I put on weight… I’ve been struggle with the same 10lbs for the past two years and it hasn’t been until recently that I found my answers… I will recommend three books to you bellas that WILL save your life!

    It’s not enough to eat sensibly and work-out anymore there is a scientific reason why we crave the bad foods we do and have the catastrophic health issues we have in our country…. Please, Please check out The China Study, Eat to Live, and Dr. McDougall’s Digestive Tune-up…

    We’ve been losing the battle of the bulge because we haven’t been given a complete understanding of how our system works and most importantly a true analysis of why ours is the ONLY country in the WORLD that has these catastrophic health issues… If you read only one (but they really work best together) read the China study I spent hours on Amazon reading every single review before I bought the book since then I’ve tried to put this book on blast amongst my family and friends…

    Changing my eating habits has been easy now that I am empowered with a true understanding how how food works, the role of nutrition, and most importantly for weight lost – the crucial role of digestion and how the digestive system (when its working and 90% of ours don’t)keeps the pounds off … There are things we eat that is impossible for our bodies to digest, absolutely impossible…So what does our system do? It stores it in our cells making the cells fat and storing toxins within that cell which causes disease (cancer, diabetes, ms, etc)… The human body should never be sick! Not even a cold much less cancer, etc. And trust me after you read these books you’ll understand the truth behind this statement…

    My journey began with these books and then I took action, I did the Master Cleanse (www.rawfoodsite.com) for 21 days got rid of all the toxins out of my system which was the cause for carvings for coffee, chocolate, cheeseburgers, etc. And after the cleanse I started from scratch my food pyramid changed to 60% vegetables and fruits, 30% nuts and whole grains, 10% organic fish, eggs, & cheese…. I was amazed by the true flavors of food, you have to taste an avocado after the cleanse! When I did it made my knees buckle the creamy delicious goodness of God’s perfect food and this has been true for countless other vegetables and fruits I would never have considered in the past…My cravings and giving into “junk food” was severely been lessened where I have no desire both mentally and physically (b/c of the cleanse)for foods that don’t sustain my health keeping me out of the hospital for cancer treatments and heart attacks,etc going into hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and off medication for diabetes, cholesterol etc…. Which is what these book emphasize losing weight and
    keeping it off is a reward for good, sound nutrition and health…

    I could go on about this forever but please please please read these books not only is it good for your health, but for our hair and skin too! My acne which I’ve suffered from my whole life has vanished, cellulite gone, energy is through the roof sluggish need 2 latte habit gone, lol, and in the two years since my change in diet and rewiring my thinking I have never looked back and have never felt better.. I wish the same for you bellas!

    p.s. One other thing 90% of what we’ve been told in women’s magazine, by our doctors, in the news, out of medical journals have been wrong! So forget what you think you already know the TRUTH of what these doctors have to say in these books will blow you away, making you mad and anger about why ($$$$) the truth has been kept from us… I liken this to the Iraq war where we we’re told there was weapons of mass destruction and it turns out we we’re lied too!

    p.s.s Again sorry for the long post… I should probably start a blog because theirs so much information the public should know…

  19. Hair is no excuse for physical inactivity. I have a relaxer and work out 5 days a week (well, not so much right now since I’m trying to graduate). I pull my hair back in a ponytail at the gym and wrap it up when I get home. My hair and my body look great after working out at the gym, and my spirit is always soaring.

  20. haitiangurl..
    Thanks for the information(I will check out those books). Does anyone know how much weight, can be lost within a 8 week time frame? I need to loose weight (no ? about that), because I have a big event to attend sooner than later. I can handle the walking so far, it’s the eating that’s killing me…I’m burnt out on chicken, fish, salads, f&v’s and I’ve pushed the sweets to the side. I need all the help I can get, so if you know of anything else…pls. let me know. Bella, I will try one of your dishes tonight…wish me luck….smile.

  21. EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT POST – Bella.

    I’m about to start week 3 of my lifestyle change. I broke down and went to the doctor to get some diet pills. I was only on them for 5 days and then stopped. I just needed something to help me kick my SUGAR CRAVINGS. So, I haven’t been on them for over a week. My cravings are gone – THANK GOD! But I’m still having to deal with my overeating issues. I’m like Oprah – I hate excercise. Oprah says she can’t stand it and I’m the same. But I know that you must excercise if you really want to be healthy.

    I’m also staying away from processed foods and meats. It’s been difficult but I have so much more energy. I’ve been making these fruit smoothies

    Recipe for smoothie: 5-7 strawberries, 2 bananas, 1/2 cup of low fat milk, 3-4 ice cubes, large handful of almonds, and 1 egg. Blend that together and you’ll say YUMMY!! Sometimes I’ll add 4 taples spoons of flax seed oil.

  22. E-Fresh says:

    Great post, as usual. As I was reading, I was thinking about what I was going to say when I came upon your Samuel Jackson “walks the earth” comment. Cracked me up because I was definitely going to mention walking : )

    The secret to losing weight is pretty simple, you need to burn more calories than you consume. You can find a variety of websites that tell you how many calories are in the foods you eat and approximately how many you’re burning. This calculation is extremely important. And you should constantly be aware of it, at least until it becomes second nature.

    As far as burning more calories, the easiest way to do that is by doing more exercise. You have to find something that you really enjoy, and that’s different for everyone. You want to do activities that won’t burn you out over the long run, something you’ll be able to stick with.

    For me, that activity is walking. I LOVE to walk. It’s so nice to be outdoors and take in all the stimuli in the environment that surrounds me. I could write an entire book about all the things I love about walking. I’ll just say another great thing about walking. Is that most people can just throw on their shoes and step outside and get started. I typically do only an hour every other day which covers about 4 miles. That’s it, only an hour, so don’t tell me you don’t have the time.

    I first tried running, but it was simply not for me. I’d quickly get shin splints (probably from running incorrectly) and my motivation would stop.

    So find out what you like to do and do it whether it’s Walking, Running, Hiking, Swimming, Salsa Dancing, Soccer, Basketball, etc. and get to it.

    Hey B, I went Salsa Dancing again last night. It’s so social, friendly, and FUN. Not to mention it’s one hell of a workout.

    On a complete sidenote, why on earth does WordPress not allow a line of separation between paragraphs. It’s so annoying.

  23. hey Bella, i am hesitant to contribute on this topic as someone who has been from 140lbs.to 90lbs., i have nothing positive to add, but i commend you for putting yourself out there for the rest of us to gain strength.

  24. Awesome post! Good luck with getting fitter… .I too need to work on getting more exercise.

  25. Nickey W says:

    Great post Bella…I will definitely try the recipe…it looks delicious!

    http://www.happyheadedfro.blogspot.com

  26. My comment digresses from the main topic of your post. Sorry!!

    Thanks for the Motown Girl link. It was FANTASTIC to see pictures of someone w/relaxed hair that’s now natural. Very encouraging! Yet another of my friends went natural a few weeks ago. I am really, really wanting to try it. Anyways, as usual, thanks for your site. I refer friends to it all the time! Have a great weekend, Bella!

  27. it's a process says:

    This is a great post.

    Successful long-term weight loss isn’t as easy as consuming fewer calories than you burn. Yes, that’s the mechanics of it, but many, many dieters can successfully lose weight–they just can’t keep extra weight off because they revert back to old habits. I already eat organic, low on the food chain (i.e., few processed foods), and exercise 4-6 days each week. I’m still overweight. ALL the women in my family are large and my grandmother was overweight from the age of 14 and lived to be 98, but I’m not content to write off my size as genetic predetermination.

    What I have been realizing through my therapist is that it’s behavioral and that you have to change your whole relationship to eating. She recommended practicing mindfuless as a way to really be conscious of every choice I make with regard to food (she also recommended checking out Geneen Roth http://www.geneenroth.com/ but I haven’t looked into her yet). How many of us eat while doing something else, or without thinking? It’s a slow process, but each day, with each choice I’m working to be a little more conscious of what I’m doing.

  28. Thanks for the post- I know how you feel- I’ve been trying to take better care of myself and change my wicked ways- no more sugary drinks like Vitamin waters- I will have to try your iced tea fix! Keep the posts and recipes coming, I will be checking in! :)

  29. What a timely post! I’ve been trying to take better care of myself as well. I eat a reasonable diet, but I’m about 20-35 lbs heavier than I should be (although you couldn’t tell my looking at me. Doctors visits don’t lie), mainly I’ve never gone out of my way to exercise. I attended college in a very hilly city with no car and limited public transportation, I basically had to walk everywhere and used that as my means for staying fit and it worked. But I’m home now and have gained weight quickly because I don’t move around nearly as much over the course of a day.
    So the solution for me was to get real with myself about the fact that I am seriously lazy and that can’t get away with it anymore. Everyone has a reason for not doing what they know they should for themselves and I needed to deal face the fact that lack of discipline played a role in mine. (And yes, I was worried about the sweaty hair thing too.) But for me being fit is a part of a larger goal of living the life that say that I want. So as I try to work on larger goals like a dream job in my dream career that has zero to do with what I studied for four years, I’ve been trying to work on things that are immediately within my control like taking time in my day to exercise. In addition to walking, I’m building a library of dance, pilates, kickboxing workout dvds because these disciplines really engage the mind and body and because I’m the kind of person that needs variety. So far it’s working–I’m leaner than before and energized physically and mentally (yeah, seratonin), which means alot because I’ve also been dealing with depression.
    So thank for the inspiring post. And a tip for anyone looking for dvds. Check out collagevideo.com for one-minute previews of the workout so you have a real idea of what you’ll be doing (minimizing buyer’s remorse) and then hit up good ole ebay or amazon for the cheapest price. I’m waiting on a samba and ballet workout as we speak.

  30. I’ll join you cause this bet that I’m in is’nt working and I’m about to lose a hundred dollars

  31. another reason to lose weight and I learned this from my doctor that overweight people tend to take on male hormones testosterone and cause male pattern baldness in women and I was freaked out so if that dosen’t scare anyone I don’t know what will

  32. oh and another thing I was doing some research on different vitamins because I am making concoctions for my customers that are losing their hair and its a sure thing that it will work I feel it in bones anyway I started taking vitamins both multi and hair skin and nails and they work wonderfully but also realize that some of the minerals and or nutrients that you need lets say a daily suggested amount is clearly not enough and you may need to buy separates to get the full amount that you need also greentea complex from GNC works good for metabolism and resveratrol believe it or not when I started taking this stuff I recognized that my varicose veins disappeared milkthistle and royal jelly all good for the hair as well as olive leaf it works good for the immune system and others.

  33. Great post Bella! *sigh* I dont know where I would be without this site, LOL.

  34. TheBeautifulOne says:

    I love what you wrote, BeautyinBaltimore about not blaming supermodels, or models for weight issues. I’m tall, thin (thank you Dad and God!) and do not struggle with weight issues. Months ago however, I did have two fibroids removed and my doctor told me that had I been out of shape the surgery would have had many complications and I certainly would not have recovered as sucessfully and quickly as I did. Excersing and eating right is not about looking good, ladies. It’s about being healthy, respecting and loving your body enough to want to see it function properly and healthfully. The benefit of looking fierce in your jeans due to working out is one of the fringe benefits of exercising not its sole purpose. Like a lot of African-Americans, I too have people in my family that have had heart attacts, stroke, heart surgery and diabetes. Thankfully my brother and myself have not succumbed to these health issues and the reason why is that we know our history and we are not about to hurt ourselves over something as simple as getting 30 minutes of cardio and not eating like we don’t have any sense on a daily basis. We’re too intelligent as I know that anyone reading this is as well.
    When you know better, your duty is to do better.
    There’s no excuse and we as Black people need to do better because we can.
    I don’t know about you, but I love seeing Black women truly take care of themselves. I’m one of those women, are you?
    Afrobella, I have said this time and time again, you are truly an inspiration!

  35. TheBeautifulOne says:

    By the way,
    Beauty in Baltimore, you cracked me up about the “muffin” women!
    I see “muffin” women on the metro (I work in D.C) walking in my quaint little neighborhood, etc. and I’m always astounded that these women actually think that they look good. Thanks for giving this horrible phenomenon a name and you can best believe that I will think twice now when I want to buy a muffin. Ha!!! Not trying to be a muffin woman!

  36. Great post Bella. I love the way you put yourself out there. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated. I too love iced green tea. We have the Arizona and Lipton Citrus Green Teas at work, I never thought about making it myself though. That would definitely cut down on the sugar. I kicked the soda/pop habit long ago and definitely changed my eating habits, but exercise is key and not getting any is the reason why I have gained steadily weight over the years. I was talking to a friend of mine last night (who wears a size 6 and thinks she’s fat) and we both said that with our sedentary lifestyles and office jobs it is time to get out and walk. I have also starting taking Acidophillus a couple of weeks ago. It really aids in digestion, I can already tell the difference and an unexpected side effect, my nails have all of sudden become long and strong. Keep the healthy posts coming. :)

  37. BlackFlowerPower says:

    Thank you for the post, Bella. It’s so important for us to take control of our health so that we can live the best possible lives, especially as we get older. So many of the diseases that we face can be prevented if we excersise, eat healthy, and maintain a weight that is healthy for us as individuals.

    There is a great website, The World’s Healthiest Foods (whfoods.com), that offers really great information about how to make your diet as healthy as possible. Whfoods has compiled a list of “the world’s healthiest foods” based on the density of crucial nutrients. It also offers nutrient profiles for all of the foods on the list. It has recipes, menus and healthy cooking tips. If you look around, you’ll find articles on various conditions and how diet changes can help address health issues. This is a great site to visit if you’re looking for ideas on eating healthier.

  38. hello bella,
    it’s an importend issue for sure, but I in my years as a jojo-victim realised on thing. the media (not only in the us) started telling people that they have to lose weight. for health benefits on one site, but let’s not to forget to be more beautiful. we’re put in a struggle not just to think about our wardrobe, our hair, our skin (where I live a lot of women and men burn themselfs to look more beutiful) but also about the shape of our bodies. at the same time we’re supposed to be working and caring for our families while looking radiant. I very much admire your advocacy for women to wear their hair natural (which for most white women is a revolution too, even if it does not seem to be that pressing), because besides of making them proud of what they are and look like, it makes it possible to not worry all the time about whats going on on top of their heads. and here is my point: it’s only right to want to stay healthy and fit but our minds are wrapped around what we look like still. We have a long road to go, before we are allowed and wanting to think about things more important than our looks. and all that worrying is in itself a form of disease that we pass down to our daughters and sons. this disease is spreading with every article about weight issues and it is about to absorb all of our power. (sorry for the mistakes and not beeing able to keep it short)

  39. i too have struggled with my wait all my life and also had an eating disorder. funny enough i was thinking about how i need to loose weight today. ive started exercising during revision which is very stress relieving.

    my little sister is getting really fat and when i see her i think of myself growing up and being overweight. i was bullied badly and it hurt big time. its only now im older that im getting over it. i think parents need to really keep an eye on what children eat, its not ok to let ur kids eat everything they want, plus kids learn by example so we need to set examples. i for one will be jogging everyday with my lil sis so she and i loose weight together.

    great job Bella!!!

  40. Sumatra77 says:

    I am glad to hear that so many of us are now focusing on getting healthy. Perhaps we can alter that statistic that really spells doomsday for many of us. I too have battled with my weight longer than I would like to think. Recently, I made a commitment to treat my body better and have continued to educate myself about the things I am putting in my body. There are several poisons out there we should be very aware of. Transfats, high fructose corn syrup and excess sugar to name a few. I have learned a lot about how the body works by reading YOU: On a Diet and other literature that goes beyond the calories in/calories out model and really explains body chemistry. I have also enlisted a workout buddy with similar fitness goals to help deter me from my couch after a hard days work and help get me moving and it’s working because we hold each other accountable. Additionally, I am including fish oil supplements and a mulitvitamin in my diet and cooking more. We need to take the insanity out of being healthy and teach ourselves how to live nutritious lives. Learn how to flavor food so that you don’t have to cover it up with fat and crap, pick an exercise you love to get you moving(mine was kickboxin and now I’ve started running), and finally, as a trainer once told me: If you are going to talk about it, be about it.
    Good luck to all of us.

  41. LBellatrix says:

    MAN do I want to believe that black women are undergoing a new health/self-esteem revolution. I realize, though, that most of my input is selective: I ignore most mainstream media outlets and spend more time on sites like this one that attempt to get people in general to look closely at themselves and the world around them. So my vision is skewed…but again, I wish it weren’t. I wish more black women were getting with the program and realizing that they have the power within them to be healthy in all areas (physical, mental, emotional, etc.).

    I co-sign the hair thing (boy, do I ever!) as well as the fact that it’s really hard to keep weight off once you’ve lost it. Long story short: Weighed 115 lbs from ages 14-23, then put on 100 pounds over the next 16 years. Dropped 50 pounds in a year, but put back on 25 pounds in the last 2 years mainly due to lack of exercise more than anything else. (Yes, I was also in graduate school, but it wasn’t enough of an excuse esp. since I know that for me, exercise is a stress-reliever.)

    I already eat right for the most part (biggest weakness continues to be sugar but at least I’ve weaned myself off high fructose corn syrup) so the one major thing I need to do is exercise and I need to do it for the rest of my life. I already know what I like — elliptical, bicycling, swimming, weight training, yoga, Pilates — I just need to do it.

    Perhaps you could interview some Afrobella fitness trainers, nutritionists, etc.? to fill in the gaps in your knowledge? You’d post these, of course. :)

  42. weight training is the key. cardio moreless supports a healthy heart…but weight training is key for increasing your metabolism which burns fat, tightens skin, strengthen muscles for bone protection in later ages..and a whole host of other positive attributes.
    doing 45 mins on a cardio machine a day wont help completely. it will definately give u boost in energy however, permanent and consistant weightloss weight training is the answer!!

  43. hey bellas, i have kinky blickityblackblack hair, which is very time-consuming to style but fun to let be fly all over when i put it in twists or curlers–yes, curlers bring great, softening results. there’s no wash-and-go to my fro, so when i’m in active mode, i find that old school cornrows give me maximum flexibility for swimming, running, working late, errands to the grocery store and arriving anywhere with a touch of glamour — generally concentrating on my life. i adore twists but they don’t suit my hair and me. the rows are it — just my own hair; no extensions. convenient and pretty. if it’s a special occasion and i have a bit of time then i’ll prepare for my fly fro.i think the link between hair and exercise is important to consider because we should feel beautiful all the time, especially when we’re doing things like exercise and cooking which will give us sustainable, real beauty. i always think it is funny that being natural is so high maintenance. anyhoo wouldn’t have it any other way. great posts everybody. i’m encouraged to get my groove on!

  44. mistresscorpio says:

    Excellent post, bella! Sure enough, I was going to get my ‘do for graduation and planning on not being in the gym for a couple of days. Unfortch, my stylist was sick, I’ll have to make do with my hair and well, I am just back from the gym, sweaty, but feeling good! I’ve got the exercise down, but yes, the diet needs help! Thanks for the timely post!

  45. i’ve never had a serious struggle with my weight per se, but i have always wanted to be toned and leaner looking. for the past month and a half i’ve been eating healthy, drinking water, doing cardio at least 5 to 6 days a week, and light weight training everyday. my hair is relaxed (i recently got braids, though) but i didn’t let that get in the way of doing what i set out to do. i just brushed it back and when i got home i put it in a wrap. i hated exercising when i first got back into it, but now my body craves it. i have incredible energy, i’ve lost about 10 lbs, and my abs are tighter then they’ve ever been. i now feel like no matter what my eating habits may be, i’ll never go without exercising again. being active as opposed to sedentary is going to be hard when you start out, but once you make the decision to make exercise a part of your daily rountine, it becomes like second nature, analogous to brushing your teeth.

  46. Congrats

    I am very proud of you! Your recipes and food presentation are “A” class! and I am sure that hubby enjoys his meals all the same.

    Keep on track.

  47. Crystal says:

    Hello! I am on the fat smash diet ,and it has helped me in so many ways.I have lost 20 pounds since being on the fat smash diet.Anyone who is serious about loosing weight can do this without feeling like they are on a diet.You can make adjustments to your meals after you do the detox phase which is nine days.I eat breakfast,snack#1,lunch,snack#2,and dinner.You have to pick your own scedule.You can purchase the book to get full details,but if you know someone who has it borrow it ,because it works.

  48. I agree with you Afrobella. I was pre-med, and worked with stroke victims (most of which were black) and I would try to get them to prevent a second stroke by merely eating 5 servings of fruit/veggies per day (1 apple=1 serving) and they would be adamant about not doing it. On one hand, it’s good that we don’t think that we should be stick-thin, but on the other it’s time to wake up. People take better care of their cars than their bodies. It’s a machine like any other, and the better you are to it the longer it will last you.

  49. Fatimah says:

    I love this post, definitely keep them going. I don’t think we are ever too old or too educated to know how to take care of ourselves, and it is imperative to learn what the body needs at various points in our lives.
    Big ups!

  50. This was a great post, I am trying and failing to lose weight. I’m at a place in my life where im not happy so I eat to feel better, Ive been heavy since I was like 16 and now I just want to get this weight off. I just bought this book call Secrets from a former fat girl. By Lisa Delaney. I really informative, funny and inspirational. But again this is a an awesome post!

  51. Desert Rat says:

    First off great site and even better post. Losing weight takes time, reagrdless of what cause the weight gain. There is no quick fix for losing weight, well none that are worth while…weight loss begins with a life style change; this is were most of the fustration with weight loss begins, think about it you are changing the way you lived for the pass 10 years or more…habits are hard to break, but they can be broken once you are will to put in the work. I lost my weight slowly…going from 230lbs to 190lbs in the matter of 9 months, along the way I learned that not everything works for everyone. Educating yourself on nutrition, exercise and your body are key to successfully changing your life and your overall health.

  52. Hey Bella,

    As usual your post here really hits the nail on the head for me.
    I started trying to lose weight & kickstart a fitness routine last August but fell off the wagon in March…
    I am now strating over and I feel blessed that so many other women here are aiming for a healthy lifestyle rather than a size 0.
    I love your blog bella, it’s always fresh, consious, and inspirational.
    thank you for being a beacon for the rest of us. I admire your courage for posting this and look forward to sharing the journey with you all.

    Much love

  53. I found a link to your post on the myspace for Bloom Energy… Just discovered that drink and I love it. Thanks for the truth. A lot of us Black women are too content in our bodies when in fact we’re endangering our health and shortening our lives… We revel in being ‘thick’ when in fact we’re really overweight and obese.

    I work out 6 days a week. Cardio (usually treadmill) all 6 days… A core workout 3 – 4 of those days and pilates 2 of those days. My off day is Sunday. No fried foods, fast foods, or soda. It was difficult the 1st couple of days, but has gotten a lot easier. It’s 2nd nature now. I also drink a lot of soy milk and natural / organic products now. I’ll be slimmer, but also, it’s good to know that my health will be better and whenever I get married and have children, I can be a healthy mother and wife.

    Grace and peace,
    Jenn

  54. Hello webmaster that\’s ridiculously cute.

  55. I am going to DC and want to get a Silkner. Can anyone help me locate Miko or her store

  56. I am going to DC and want to get a Silkner. Can anyone help me locate Miko or her salon if infact she left shop in NY to set up in DC.

  57. It’s really true that people are getting obese and lazy everyday and not only Americans but other people all over the world! Even in rural areas in some countries in Asia, a lot of people are getting obese and getting unhealthy and this is what we really need to address! Thanks for posting this! Hope many of us will be much aware of what is happening to the world today!

  58. Hi just found your pages. I found this board and I find It fantastic reading & it helped me out much. I hope to give something back and help others like you aided me hope you have more to post soon.

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