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Wednesday, July 1

Reclaim Your Health!

My girlfriend and I went to a party this weekend, and had so much fun. In between reggae music and dirty south tunes, we did what we do best: people watched. We saw the usual, dudes trying to seem more important than they really were and girls trying to catch the gaze of those very dudes. But I also noticed and observed something a little different this time. More than a few of the black women in the room were overweight. Not just a few pounds overweight, or a little bulge here and there, but undeniably overweight!

I’ll be the first to tell you that I am far from perfect, but one thing I care about and give a lot of attention to is the health of my body. The desire to stay fit and healthy started pretty early for me. As a little girl, I was the nagging little sister that would chase my brother and his friends around the neighborhood, begging to play sports and games with them. I eventually left him alone, and I started running track and lifting weights in the eighth grade. I ran and weight trained throughout my high school and college days, so I developed a habit that was pretty easy to maintain in the first few years after I graduated.

Even after life got busy through job changes, city changes, friendship changes, and whatever else, I still made time to run or walk or treadmill. Staying active has helped me maintain the same size for over 12 years. Now, I understand that my lifestyle may not be the norm and that everybody wasn’t an athlete in high school and college. I get that, so I’ll use my friends as examples to make my point.

I have a friend who doesn’t do anything much else than work. Even in college, this girl studied from sun up to sun down leaving very little time for fun. But over the years, she gained more and more awareness of how important it was to take care of her body. She knew that she could never imagine going to a gym, though, spending hours working out on equipment she really didn’t know how to use and sweating out her perm. So, she took up pole dancing instead. Yes, pole dancing! Although it sounds scandalous, pole dancing is a great great way to build core and upper body strength. So, pole dancing is her thing and serves as her form of exercise. She has taken classes at a local studio for some time, but recently went a little further and had a pole installed in her home! This allows her to workout in the morning, when she gets home from work, before going to bed or whenever else she wants to.

I have another friend who doesn’t necessarily like gyms or dedicating extra time in her schedule to working out. So, she asked herself how she could incorporate exercise into some of the hours in her day that had already been allocated to other things, like work or errands. She decided that she would use her one hour lunch break to walk around her office building. So, she began taking her sneakers and shorts to work each day and six months later she was 30 pounds lighter. Of course, she coupled exercise with eating healthy.

I’ll mention that none of us have kids or a husband to rush home to and feed. But we do have busy careers, parttime businesses, hobbies, classes and other side hustles that occupy our time.

Now for the statistics….according to the Office of Minority Health, Black women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S. About four out of five Black women are overweight or obese. And according to, being overweight or obese increases your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, breathing problems, arthritis, gallbladder disease, sleep appnea (breathing problems while sleeping), osteoarthritis, and some cancers.

These statistics alone should be enough for us to kick it into gear and began a weekly exercise routine. But I know that life happens and sometimes gets in the way, so it’s important for us to figure out how to incorporate exercising into our already busy day. Try a pole dancing class twice a week, walking during your lunch break, climbing stairs at least four times a day, doing 50 sit ups each night before going to bed or turning on your favorite cd and dancing in front of the mirror. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are being active.

You don’t have to be a size 4 to be healthy. In fact, being big and healthy is one thing. Just being big is quite another. Goddesses, the time is now to reclaim your health!

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