Danai Gurira burst onto many people's radar as Okoye, the leader of the Dora Milaje, the undeniably powerful army of superwomen heralded in the record-breaking box office smash BlackPanther. What many don't know is that Gurira, 40, has been putting in the work for quite some time.
Whether it's as a nonprofit organizer and playwright (the nonprofit, Almasi Arts, supports and facilitates the dramatic arts in Zimbabwe, and she's currently adapting Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's award-winning novel Americanah into a TV miniseries), or starring in TheWalkingDead, her strength has also come from rigorous workouts, a commitment to her spirituality, and a continued connection to her passions and goals.
Gurira recently sat down with Women's Health Magazine to talk about her fitness journey, but the gems she dropped are mantras that we can all incorporate into our own fitness AND professional journeys.
Take one look at Gurira and it is clear that she is well-trained and finely tuned. World-class athletes like Serena Williams and Simone Biles have been, on one hand, praised for their domination of their particular sports, while on the other hand, lambasted for their muscular physical appearance.
This double-edged sword is also felt by we regular women who may be afraid to go to the extreme when it comes to our own physical training. To that, Gurira says:
"As women, we're not always encouraged to find the fullest extent of our physical power...There's something so exciting about tapping into that part of ourselves."
Under the wing of trainer AJ Fisher, Gurira has crafted her enviable physique using a method Fisher dubs as "Corectology." The method involves high-intensity intervals, Pilates-inspired moves, and a lot of circuit training. Described as a way to "even out muscle imbalances while improving strength, mobility, and cardiovascular function," Gurira has been successfully practicing this method at least four times a day for the last three years.
For those who aren't quite ready to jump into such a high-demand workout regimen, Gurira explains:
"There's no need to break records tomorrow. It's just about slowly finding what feels good and what feels rewarding."
She also advises that women should try different activities in order to find not only what works for them but what they enjoy—"it might be lifting weights, it might be boxing, it might be something a little less [intense]."
In addition to revealing her workout secrets, Gurira was also incredibly candid about her upbringing and what drives her passion. "I was in a home where I was allowed to freely find myself," she says, which undoubtedly set the tone for the not-so-traditional career path she has chosen.
She wants others to know they can also make similar choices, too. Her work with Almasi Arts is guided by her commitment to enhancing the lives of women and girls. Part of her self-described journey includes fighting gender inequality. Through her nonprofit work, she is "making sure unheard voices are heard and celebrated." She tells Women's Health Magazine:
"The struggles of women and girls is something that I'm very passionate about. I have to do what I can in the world. We all have to do what we can."
The global success of Black Panther has given Gurira and other creatives of color another example of why our stories are just as important as the rest. She admits, "It kind of affirms that little African girl's instinct that these stories would resonate if they were told with passion, integrity, and excellence."
In a world of instant gratification—one where success is attributed to the glamorized grind—we don't often see how hard hard work really is. Particularly, we rarely get to see the pitfalls and difficulties that are inherently tied to most people's perception of success. To that, Gurira drops some major Dora Milaje advice:
"There's no app for skipping hard work; you have to seek your purpose and pursue it."
There are, indeed, no shortcuts to success. Gurira reminds us to always keep our why at the forefront our minds by "remembering the goals," which will inevitably provide the fuel to power us through the difficult times.
To read more about Danai's workout routine, diet, and additional methods of practicing self-care, click here. Read the feature story in Women's Health Magazine when it hits newsstands July 26.
Featured image by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for CNN
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Michelle Schmitz is a writer and editor based in Washington, DC originally from Ft Lauderdale, FL. A self-described ambivert, you can find her figuring out ways to read more than her monthly limit of The New York Times, attending concerts, and being a badass, multi-tasking supermom. She also runs her own blog MichelleSasha.com. Keep up with her latest moves on IG: @michellesashawrites and Twitter: @michellesashas
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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Featured image by Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images