Tag Archives: health

A Period in Time

17 Aug

kiran-ghandi-1-435There’s this thing that happens when you run. It’s called sweating. Those of us with overactive glands tend to look like we’ve just gotten out of the pool or some demented wet T-shirt contest.

For people like myself, we sweat everywhere. Think of every nook, cranny and crevice on your body. Think of the skin behind your knees. Think of the roll on your back. Think of that area on your neck that your earlobe tends to graze. Now think of your body temperature the last time you had the flu. That’s where I sweat. And many of my fellow pavement pounders do the same.

Now, think of women. Think of those of us who say, “Screw you, Mother Nature! You sent your monthly visitor to mess up my routine and to that I say, kick rocks.” But your period can’t kick rocks. It’s a thing that has to happen. So you can choose to wallow in the pain with a tub of Talenti, or you can run though it. I usually choose to run through it. (No judgement if you choose not to, though. Those cramps can be debilitating.)

Here’s the thing when fighting Mother Nature: she can be an ornery bitch. She will find ways to continue to make you uncomfortable. Sanitary items will move and jostle. Your breasts will ache more than usual just because today’s the day your sports bra decided to act a donkey. You’re so bloated you feel like running 10 more feet will make you explode. But you do it anyway because most times the aches and pains are just mental. Or they subside after your body has a chance to focus on new challenges.

We are all warriors in this battle of the bulge. And that’s why I can’t be too mad at our fellow road warrior Kiran Ghandi who decided to run a marathon without any sanitary aid. I’m a little mad, but not too mad.

If you haven’t read Ghandi’s story, she completed the London Marathon sans tampon, pad, cup, sponge, hell even a balled up piece of toilet tissue (trust me, it works in a pinch). She completed 26.2 miles with blood running down her thighs. This coupled with the body sweat couldn’t have made for a comfortable run.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, wouldn’t a tampon or pad have been more uncomfortable for such a long run?” The answer is a resounding no. NO, no, no, no, no! Runners who’ve been doing this for a while know just what kind of sanitary aids to use so they don’t impede their time or comfort levels on a long run.

No, Ghandi chose to have the lining of her fallopian tubes shed down her running pants to show solidarity for women and girls around the world who don’t have simple access to feminine hygiene products. She chose to be unhygienic to raise awareness about hygiene.

“You see, culture is happy to speak about and objectify the parts of the body that can be sexually consumed by others,” she told People. “But the moment we talk about something that is not for the enjoyment of others, like a period, everyone becomes deeply uncomfortable.”

And she’s right. There’s an organization called Days for Girls that is dedicated to educating and getting girls access to free feminine hygiene products. Girls can miss sometimes up to two months of school because they need to stay home. This creates a long list of problems in the long run. So kudos to Ghandi for helping to shed light on this issue.

Could I have done it myself? Probably not. I don’t like the feeling of being without a tampon. I’d be concentrating moreso on my discomfort levels than on my breathing and pace. But now that this issue is in the spotlight, hopefully more people will pay attention to the simple needs of others.

Taking Out Health Insurance

1 Jun
At least she's honest. Courtesy of Tumblr

At least she’s honest.
Courtesy of Tumblr

Logic and practicality are my failsafes. They’re what I use to get through life. They’re how I make sense of the turvy-topsy-ness of society. Logic tells me that the likelihood of me being hit by a bus tomorrow is very low. But should that unfortunate event occur, it would be nice to have some systems in place to insure I’m taken care of with no problem.

That’s where my upbringing comes in. My parents beat it into me that I should have some kind of insurance. Example: my mother, who never made my school lunch, would pack up a brown paper grocery bag full of goodies when I had field trips. Why? “What if the bus breaks down and you can’t get food?”

Me: “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Her: “Well, give a sandwich to one of the kids who forgot their lunch.”

Mind you, there were three sandwiches in the bag. This is the type of environment I grew up in. You never knew if the bad was going to happen, so just make sure you’re prepared anyway.

That’s how I like to look at health and wellness. Life it going to throw an abundance of curveballs at you. You could end up being hit by a bus. You could trip and twist your ankle while walking to the bathroom. You could do any number of things that will create a stumbling block to better health. But if you’ve done nothing to prepare your body for the bad things you know are coming (loss of muscle mass, decreasing vision, lower bone density), then you’re setting yourself up for a fail.

Think of taking an active role in your health as just doubling your health coverage. When you’re mindful of your physical activity and your nutritional habits, you’re better informed when you visit the doctor. You can speak eloquently about what’s really bothering you or even what you feel good about.

By becoming more active—even just walking a mile a day—you’re able to offer insight to your physician about your physical activity. We all fill out those wretched forms when we visit the doc’s office. And often we all lie about a sedentary vs. active lifestyle. But when you get in the exam room, you can talk about how you’ve noticed a twinge in your hip when you swim. Or how you feel off balance when you run on a path as opposed to running on a treadmill. Or even how beets give you gas.

Doctors love this kind of stuff. They want to know what’s going on with you and how things have changed from the last visit. Not just your travel plans or the new additions to the house, though those can be stressful. The physical, day-to-day details keep you both on the same page.

You learn a great deal about yourself while on your weight-loss journey. You learn what you’re capable of, what you hate and what you want to be better at. It’s a great way to get in touch with who you really are in a pinch. And it’s an even better way to keep someone whose job it is to be concerned about your health in the know. You two are team. And since they’re getting your co-pay anyway, make your doctor earn it.

When was the last time you visited your doctor? Have you discussed your health and wellness plan?

Let’s Talk About Health, Baby

19 Feb
This will be a much less stressful conversation. Promise. Courtesy of Tublr

This will be a much less stressful conversation. Promise.
Courtesy of Tumblr

I’m a bit of a night owl. As I type this, the clock is nearing 3 a.m. “What are you doing up so late?” you’re probably asking. Well, getting this handy-dandy post up, for one. But for another, I just like being up late. I love the quiet. But when I need a little noise, I’ll channel surf.

Do you know what’s on basic cable at 2:30 in the morning? Reruns and infomercials. There are only so many times you can watch the Evanses have “Good Times” before you switch to something else. That’s when the infomercials and regular late-night commercials become some of the most interesting television you’ve ever seen. My first workout DVD was bought from an infomercial. And it sat in the box for more than a year before I actually put it to use.

The late-night commercials are something else, though. There was one that aired in the days leading up to Valentine’s. It was an ad selling a giant bear that measured up to six feet. One of the taglines was, “You could buy her chocolate, but she’ll just ask you if she looks fat?”

The ad was meant to entice men to spend hundreds of dollars on stuffed polyester that, honestly, looked like something out of a nightmare. But that line is what irked me the most. It played into the fear that people can’t handle the truth and are only looking for  a quick fix. Why buy her the health club membership she’s been talking about when you can buy her an atrocious stuffed animal no woman over the age of 13 would ever want? Forget having an honest conversation about what she really wants and needs. Get her a doll that’s sure to collect dust and fulfill nightmares for years to come.

The weight-loss journey is traveled alone. I’ve said this many times before. But that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to people about it. Joking about a woman asking if she looks fat is old, tiresome and trite. Beyond that, it halts the conversation about health. Sure, it’s an ad for a ridiculous bear (and if your boyfriend bought that for you, there are bigger issues to discuss than weight). The ad and that line rely on the idea that discussions about appearance and health are too much for any relationship to handle.

I call bullshit. Your first discussion is usually with your doctor who will notice fluctuations in your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol with your annual physical. Next comes your boo thang, who may have added a little around the middle with you as you two have grown more comfortable with one another. Then comes my favorite: your grandparents, aunts and uncles, who will never, ever forsake the opportunity to comment on how you look—good or bad.

You can take these comments and observations as insults, or you can take them as jumping off points to a bigger discussion about what your weight and body image mean to you. No one’s saying to go on a crash diet. But I believe that opening the dialog to the future of your own health is a great way to charter the path for your weight-loss journey.

What does it hurt to say, “I’m going to start eating lighter to take better care of my weight”? Or, “Why don’t we go for a walk after dinner some nights to burn some of these calories”? Observing that a shirt or a pair of pants don’t fit the way they used to doesn’t mean you’re being critical. It means you want the person you’re with to look their best. Discussing what you’ve seen and what you’re concerned about can only open up your conversations to other things, like past history with weight or even family health issues. It’s all for the greater good.

What kinds of conversations have you had with people about your weight and body image? How do you feel about discussing these things with people? Did you have a good Valentine’s Day?

No Time Like the Present

17 Nov

courtesy of Tumblr

When embarking on your weight-loss journey, there are a multitude of reasons to delay your departure. You need to plan out a schedule; you need to figure out what foods to cook; you need to wait for the Saturn’s fourth moon to align with Jupiter.

Waiting to start is just an excuse, and a flimsy one at that. The second you decide it’s time to take better care of your health, then take better care of your health. At that moment you can make several small adjustments before taking on a serious weight-loss regimen.

1. Pack your own lunch. There is so much sodium and fat in the foods you buy at McDonald’s, Subway or even Chipotle. And we all love Chipotle. But why not just make a salad and take it with you to work? Steam that pack of frozen veggies that have been sitting in your freezer. Dust off that cookbook your mom got you a few years ago and find something quick and light to eat.

2. Go for a walk. Walking is exercise. Depending on how much you do, it can be intense. Take a walking lunch at work. Park your car further away from the entrance so you can take more steps. Take the stairs. You’ll be challenging yourself to do something different. People regret the steps they didn’t take, not the ones they did.

3. Clean out your cabinets. When you’ve decided to take an active role in your health, you should get rid of the temptation to do bad things. Most of those bad things reside in your cabinets. There you will find all the cookies, chips, sodas, juices and all-around unhealthy snacks that have been doing you harm. They’ve got to go. No one likes wasted food, so donate the unopened packages to a food bank. Take the open ones to work. If your co-workers are anything like mine, the cookies and chips will be gone by lunchtime.

4. Don’t order that fourth glass of wine. I’ve often been out with friends when they’ve decided they’ll get back on track come Monday. In the meantime, “Another Long Island Ice Tea, please!” That’s not doing you any good. If you plan to “get back on track come Monday” (whatever that means), why would you set yourself back even further than where you are now? You can order a lighter dish at a restaurant. You can cut back on the alcohol you consume. Come Monday, it won’t be as hard to make the effort.


courtesy of Tumblr

5. Know that your eyes are always bigger than your stomach. As I said before, you don’t have to clear your plate. A lot of restaurants give you way too much food. The stomach isn’t that big. And if you go to a restaurant hungry—or my personal favorite, your grandmother’s house—you’re setting yourself up to overeat. Divide the items on your plate, putting half in a to-go container. Drink some water. If you’re still hungry 15 minutes later, by all means keep eating. But don’t feel obligated to eat everything that’s placed before you. That’s why we have refrigerators and Tupperware.

Now’s as good a time as any to take action on your health. Waiting until Monday just gives you more time to come up with excuses to delay your plan. These little steps will help you move forward while you figure out a plan of action.

What small steps do you take to take control of your health?

Work It, Missy

20 Oct

Missy Elliott is one of the most talented people in music. She Pharrell-ed before Pharrell could. Many of her fans, myself included, miss hearing Misdemeanor randomly show up on a track, drop an earworm of a song or astound us with a new music video. Her recent spate of appearances have only made the clamor grow, especially with last week’s tweet.

You remember this Missy, right?


That Missy is no more.

In 2011, Missy announced that she was diagnosed with Grave’s disease, which affects the thyroid system and can affect the nervous system. It caused her to gain a lot of the weight she’d lost and made her step back from the music industry spotlight for a while.

But now Missy is back, performing at Alexander Wang’s debut of his collection for H&M. And she looks fantastic. She said at the time of her diagnosis that she was taking radiation medication. But instead of being beholden to the pill, she took a more active role in her health. Working with her doctor, she’s found a way to manage the condition through diet an exercise.

Life happens. It will throw obstacle after obstacle at you, no matter how prepared you may think you are. An obstacle like an illness can really get you down. You may feel defeated at whatever is attacking your health. But that doesn’t have to mean you’re out.

Doctors, nutritionists and therapists are there to help people go on the offensive about health care. You can work with professionals to ensure that whatever may come, you are doing all you can to keep your health in check.

Is it worth it? I think we could all take a cue of Missy and see if it is. You may even surprise yourself at the things you can do naturally that no pill could.

So congrats to Missy on her 70 pound (!!!) weight loss. Hopefully this means she’ll get to working on an album soon (hint-hint, wink-wink).

Photo courtesy of People