At what point do you get sick of your unhealthy food choices? For me, I'm already sick of all of the crap that I consume.
On top of that, the health cards are already stacked against black women. The American Heart Association reports that 49% of African American women ages 20 and over have cardiovascular disease, and only 1 in 5 are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
Fortunately for us there are options other than pumping pills into your bloodstream. One of them is to put the chicken down and to adopt a plant-based, vegan diet instead. In case you were wondering, the word vegan refers to anything free of animal products, for example food, clothing, and self care products like shampoo or toothpaste. Although I personally won't be running to my closet and throwing out every single leather shoe and bag, I'm definitely looking to remove animal byproducts from my plate--and I'm not the only one.
Many of our favorite high-profile celebrities have adopted a vegan lifestyle: Jay Z and Beyoncé (who went vegan for 22 days back in 2013), Waka Flocka Flame, Dawn Richard, Angela Simmons, Andre 3000, Erykah Badu, Common, Angela Bassett, and rapper N.O.R.E just to name a few (and by the way, they all look great). Thankfully, avoiding the consumption of meat and meat byproducts shouldn't be as hard as it sounds, nor is it limited to the rich and famous. Recently there's been an increase in the availability of plant-based dining options since about six to eight million adults in the U.S. are currently not eating meat, fish, or poultry. These same adults are also less likely to have heart disease, cancer, or Type-2 diabetes.
As self-motivated as I am I don't take the transition lightly.
To help me better understand what I'm up against, I connected with media maven Karen Civil, who is at the tail end of her 90-day vegan diet. I asked her how she was able to successfully transition from a bona fide meat eater to a meatless diva with almost no preparation. In fact, I found her will to stay on course with a vegan diet quite fascinating because she basically became vegan overnight, and that's almost unheard of amongst new transitioners.
She admits that it has been willpower that's carried her through this journey without crashing. "The first week was definitely hard because it was kind of like...I never wanted to be that person that was like at a restaurant being too picky or reading labels," she said. "But I had to be that person; I had to find new markets, [do] research, I was definitely hungry...I have like a whole diet/discipline thing, no fatty foods, no carbonated drinks, no junk foods, no fast foods. So It was a very drastic change."
Of course, going vegan for Karen meant that her meat eating friends and family were put off by her sudden dietary switch. She recounted a story on how her dad was so confused about her new diet, that when she got sick, he encouraged her to eat steak and macaroni and cheese so she could feel better. She found what her dad had to say humorous, but she didn't give in to temptation by following his advice. “Dad, a clogged artery is not going to fix what I have," she told him. "I appreciate it though. But I want you guys to know we all watched Soul Food, we saw how that movie ended. As much as nobody wants to talk about the elephant in the room, understand that she died from diabetes."
Karen had a lot of strikes against her after her drastic dietary change, and her dad's confusion about her new lifestyle was just a drop in the bucket of things or ideas that could have potentially tanked her diet.
The good news is that outside of her vegan friends, she was able to get some more motivation to stay the course with the help of some apps, like Pinterest and Instagram. "Technology makes things easier," she said. "Because you have so many apps and you have so many things that tell you [where to eat]."
Taking into account where social media users made suggestions for great restaurants was important to Karen, because it helped her not crash her diet. "I make sure I know my surroundings and my area," she said. "There's a juice [bar] downstairs, a market less than three miles from me. I don’t ever have a day where [I feel like I'm going to crash]."
The other great thing that Karen experienced by going to vegan restaurants and eateries was seeing some celebrities hanging out at some of her favorite vegan spots.
"One of my favorite restaurants is Crossroads," she recalled. "It’s great because every time I go in there, I see Jay Z, and [when I tell my friends, they’re like where did you see him, and I say,] 'How’s that Roscoe’s treating you?' You see everyone at Crossroads, it’s like a Cheers, where everyone knows your name."
I went searching through Crossroads' Instagram feed to see if the food looked as good as Karen made it sound, and sure enough, it did. I had to wipe my drool off of the keyboard after eyeballing their eggplant meatballs in tomato sauce and the tiramisu dessert cups.
Karen said that it was the way the restaurant presented its dishes that made the spot perfect for meeting with clients who weren't vegan. "Realistically, I have all my meetings there," she said. "I don’t try to sway people, but I try to go places where it’s comfortable for both of us. Like it’s vegan infused, but at the same time, you can’t really tell."
It was great to hear that she's been doing well with her vegan diet, but was it really that easy for her? Especially considering that most new vegans complain of acne, stomach pains, diarrhea, or weight loss. Nope, it wasn't easy for her at all.
"It has its good sides, and it has its bad sides," she said. "I don’t want to say being a vegan made me sick, but the certain diet that I implemented, it was probably was too strong for me. So I may have to loosen up the reigns and add certain things back to my diet. But it’s really about knowing your body, knowing what’s comfortable for you, and what you want to remove."
Karen's healthy lifestyle journey came with a benefit that had my eyes popping out of my head when I saw pictures of "the new her" on Instagram. She lost more than 30 pounds and looks absolutely fantastic.
She let me know that the weight loss didn't come easy, and that her decision to go vegan for 90 days had little to do with weight loss, and more to do with getting a handle on her health. Instead she needed to get a better understanding of what her body needed to survive, and it was a great decision.
At times being vegan was uncomfortable for her, like when she went out to eat with friends, or when she read and studied food labels in the middle of the grocery store. But it was all part of a necessary evil. "I love how I look, I love how I feel," she said. "It was just like a lifestyle thing. It’s [about] working out four times per week, making sure I eat a proper diet, balanced food…Even though I’m not [eating] meats and cheeses…I’m doing it for 90 days, and then I’m going to transition back to a healthy balanced diet. The whole purpose of it was to eat better, and make better choices."
By the time Karen hung up the phone I was more motivated than ever to go vegan. Passing on good healthand wellness, while nixing the curse of a heart attack was the encouragement that I needed, but Karen's stamp of approval solidified the deal.
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.
One thing about Megan Thee Stallion is that she’s going to motivate you to stay active. From afar, she seems like the perfect gym bestie, and up close, it looks like her workouts would have us gasping for air. But hey, she doesn’t call her routines “bootcamp” for nothing.
After an extended break from social media and the public eye, the Houston Hottie is back sharing the high-energy workouts that are keeping her lean and she’s happy to report that “the results have been resulting."
The 28-year-old rapper dropped an Instagram Reel, detailing the workout routine that’s putting her endurance to the test. With the help of her personal trainer, Megan has one word in mind when it comes to her progress and that’s: “Consistency.”
The “Savage” artist has been traveling, making “hot girl moves," and after returning from a trip to New York, she expressed that her trainer is pushing her to keep the same energy back in the gym.
“I had just gotten back from New York and I told my trainer, ‘Look, friend, I was having a time. Can you please take it easy?’” Megan said. “He said, ‘Hmm, I’ve seen you doing all that hot girl s—, so what you need to do is get in that gym and have that same energy.’”
Her trainer then instructed her to do jumping squats with an exercise ball and resistance band around her legs for an extra burn. “I put my thing down, flipped it, and reversed it and that’s what happened. This sh– burned like a motherf—,” she teased in the video’s voiceover while executing both forward and backward jumping squats.
It’s clear that when it comes to Megan’s fitness, her trainer doesn’t play around about pushing her to her limits. In the next set of her cardio moves, we see the Grammy-winning artist jumping rope and moving on to a combination of mountain climbers and lateral jumps over a speed hurdle.
“Right here, that’s when I realized: I’ve been saying my trainer’s crazy but I know he’s really, really crazy because he must think that I’m trying out for the Houston Texans or something,” she joked.
To finish her workout, Meg hit two more barbell exercises, one being a set of cleans with 10-pound weight plates on the barbell. She then closed out by doing lunges with the barbell racked on her shoulders.
Of course, the best way to close out a workout is to nourish yourself with a balanced meal. Meg showed off her delicious post-workout plate with salmon, a sweet potato, and assorted veggies.
With so much of her public life being shared on the internet, it’s nice to see her letting us in on her progress in a fun and motivating way. “I just want to be transparent with y'all. Working out hurts, but it’s really a mental thang, so go do it!”
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Featured image by Taylor Hill/Getty Images