As I gear up for my fifth competition this year, I've noticeably received a lot of comments on my glow and fit physique, not to mention how much healthier I seem overall.
I turn 38 this year, and I can say that I am extremely happy, fit, and healthy. But it hasn't always been that way.
My motivation to take better care of my health started back in 2014. I received a huge wake up call when my menstrual period went missing for five months. I was also experiencing mood swings, a lot of anxiety and I was extremely tired all of the time. During a visit to my doctor to address the issue, the physician assistant had a hard time reading my vitals, so they ran some blood work and tests. We later found out that I was dehydrated and not getting the right nutrition, making me deficient in the vitamins necessary to function in everyday life.
The reality of it was, I was a detriment to myself.
Chasing checks and attempting to stay at the top of my game as a celebrity blogger came with a cost. Back then, I was more focused on the grind than I was about properly nourishing myself. I was so busy, I'd go a whole day without a meal and barely noticed. When I did eat, my diet was loaded with processed high sodium meals, fast food, and sugar-filled carbonated drinks.
My doctor gave me a stern warning that I might not live a long life if I kept with my current routine. That hit me deep.
I was only 33 at the time. With parents that passed very early from health issues, (my mom was 41 and my dad was 42 at the time of their passing), and my grandparents had also passed from numerous health issues. I felt as though I was going down the same path.
I took a deeper look at my family history and obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer plagued my family tree. I am a huge believer that we don't pass down diseases from generation to generation; we pass down the eating habits and lifestyles that lead to those diseases.
I knew if I wanted to live a healthier, longer life than that of my parents, I would have to change my lifestyle ASAP. Once I changed my diet and cut processed foods completely out, drank more water a day, and started going to the gym daily, quite a few things happened almost immediately:
- I had more energy throughout the day and was able to be more productive
- I had less instances of depression, anxiety, and stress, and my mood improved overall
- My menstrual cycle regulated itself, and I experienced no PMS or cramps during that time of the month
- My hair grew
- My skin became clear and blemish free
- I have a lot more stamina, strength, and endurance. There was a time I couldn't run for two minutes on a treadmill, I can now run for a full 25 minutes without crawling off.
This is why I am happy to get behind the American Heart Association. Recently, I read a statistic that was hard for me to digest.
49% of Black women over the age of 20 have some sort of heart disease and may not even know it. That means 1 out of 2 women reading this likely exhibit cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, stress, or a poor diet.
I mean, yes, we're the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs and now the most educated group in the US, but at what cost? We are also more likely to die at an earlier age when compared to women of any other ethnicities.
Our superwoman complex is costing us our lives.
All of these accolades and achievements we are gaining means nothing if we won't be alive to enjoy them. It makes me wonder when the wealth of our health will be more valuable than the riches in our bank accounts.
80% of deaths caused by cardiovascular disease or cancer could have been prevented if a healthier lifestyle had been followed. I can tell you from the work I've done to prioritize wellness into my own life, a healthy lifestyle begins with a personal commitment to take care of our inner selves above all else. That means mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
When I first introduced wellness into my life, I changed within as I did physically. After that doctor's visit, I found ways to bring peace to my life and nourishment my spirit. For instance, I now have a morning routine. I no longer answer emails and check into social first thing in the morning. Starting my days stressed because I would check in with the world before I checked in with myself did nothing but ensure they ended even more stressfully. Now, I spend an hour in meditation and quietness before I plug in.
This practice alone has drastically changed my life by reducing my stress levels and setting me on a positive path each day.
It's small changes and habits like this that can help us make physical changes in our bodies.
And by physical changes, I don't mean anywhere near as intense as my fitness journey, rather, I'm actually referring to small day-to-day healthy choices that have the power to change our lives. Those are the ones that have the greatest impact when it comes to our health. Introducing more fruits and veggies to our meals and drinking more water. Decisions like taking the stairs versus the elevator. Going for 20-minute walks. Lack of physical activity is a significant contributor to risk factors for chronic diseases.
Recently, I stopped taking Uber to the gym and now walk there and back for a total of 2 miles. Instead of taking the subway closest to my building, I now walk 10 blocks to the next station to get extra steps in.
These changes sound small, but go a long way in lengthening our days on this earth.
As Black women, we must save some of our magic for our own selves. We cast spells that save elections, flourish companies, and shift the culture. Surely, our individual health is worthy of that same magic.
The American Heart Association website is a great resource to help educate us on how we can bring wellness into our everyday lives.
It goes further than the tips I gave, and lists other simple, yet effective ways to keep our hearts healthy. Clearly, this world will continue to need our magic. Let's do all we can to make sure we're alive to continue casting it.