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.
Necole Kane is the founder and Editor In Chief of xoNecole.com. After spending 7 years as a successful celebrity gossip blogger, the Maryland native launched xoNecole.com with the mission to promote positive images of women of color as well as empower, educate, and inspire millennial women to live their best lives. Keep up with Necole on Instagram and Twitter @hellonecole, or through her personal website NecoleKane.com.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
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Feature image by JD Mason/ Unsplash