All Articles Tagged "exercise"

For The Last Time, Please Stop Looking To Waist Trainers For A Weight-Loss Miracle

June 24th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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I don’t know how many more waist trainer ads on Instagram and Saran wrap with Vaseline recommendations I’m going to have to see and hear about before people get the memo: for one, you’re wearing a corset. Secondly, there is no quick fix for weight loss.

And yet, there are still women who are buying waist trainers and expecting weight-loss results, and successfully suing the companies who sell them when they don’t work as hoped.

As reported by The Daily Mail, Waist Gang Society, the company behind waist trainers that have been promoted by the Kardashians, recently settled a lawsuit with a customer. Sara Hawes of California filed a $5 million lawsuit stating that the Florida-based company, which is quite successful (allegedly raking in $2 million as of last year), has been out here selling people a bald-headed lie. As The Daily Mail pointed out, “The lawsuit goes on to explain that women, like Hawes, who want a smaller waist are targeted but the marketing is being done in a deceptive manner. The company’s website even quotes its founder, PreMadonna, who says ‘it’s a unique and efficient way to help women shed unwanted inches and feel good about themselves — no diet and exercise required.'”

Well, Ms. PreMadonna just shot herself in the foot now didn’t she?

And while it was an incredibly ridiculous idea to tell the public that you could drop pounds without having to eat better and work out in order to sell her products, I was more bothered by the fact that people actually believed her. I mean, as the saying goes, “if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.”

An agreement was made between both parties on Monday, settling the case out of court.  Hawes may deserve money to at least teach folks a thing or two about the consequences of false advertising, but really, can you expect anything less from someone looking to make money off of revamped corsets? The reality is, there are many women who sit on the Waist Gang Instagram page asking “How much?” They believe that binding their stomach in one way or another will help them lose weight, no frills involved. They see the Kardashians, Amber Rose, Porsha Williams and more wearing trainers, knowing good and well that these stars aren’t putting those things on for more than an Instagram picture. Have you ever seen video of Williams or Khloe Kardashian (who both post many workout clips and pictures), going hard in the gym with a waist trainer on? I doubt it. They’ve slimmed down and toned up because they work out extensively, and with trainers.

But you can wear whatever you want. You still won’t slim down without a change in diet and some exercise. You might alter your waist, but it won’t have anything to do with pounds falling off around your stomach. Wearing a tight corset for a long time can cause your natural waist size to be reduced, but only because you’re pushing your body to tolerate uncomfortable constriction of that area. However, the idea of losing weight in your waist solely just isn’t tangible. We don’t really have control of where we lose weight. You may want to slim down in your stomach or thighs but actually find more of a loss in breast weight or arm fat instead. When you work hard enough, you eventually see results all over — even in your feet.

As Christopher Ochner, Ph.D., a weight loss and nutrition expert at Mount Sinai Hospital told Marie Claire, you might lose consciousness from wearing a waist trainer too tight and for too long, but that’s about all you’re really going to lose. “You can’t reduce the collection of fat in any one particular area of your body. If you push your stomach in, all the fat will go right back to where it was no matter how long [you wear the corset] for.”

You could even end up with acid reflux. And as certified fitness enthusiast Lita Lewis told me last year about waist trainers:

“We like that quick fix. We like how we look when that waist trainer is tucking us in and now we have hips and an hourglass figure. I get that, I really do. But personally, I stand for and promote a healthier lifestyle for longevity. Therefore, I could never be associated with something like that because it is a quick fix, and it does play on misconceptions of weight loss. And really, all it’s doing is distributing body fat in different places.”

I’ve literally watched people enter into women-only gyms and sell waist trainers to women who happily buy them. I’ve even watched a woman show others how she puts petroleum jelly on her stomach and wraps it with Saran wrap to slim down at the same fitness center. It’s ridiculous. Because no matter what you’re sold or told about these trainers, teas and the like, the fact of the matter is that working on your diet and exercising are the best way to see results. Some of us aren’t lucky enough to have the genetics to look like a Barbie doll, and in that case, it’s best to just work on toning and accentuating what you have. Spending $20 and upwards of $100+ on a quick-fix corset will just leave you uncomfortable and a little bit broker. It can give you a certain look when you wear it, but when you take it off, it’s time to figure out Plan B, sis.

I Toiled In The Mud For Two Hours In The Mudderella Obstacle Race, Here’s How It Went

June 24th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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In the past, if someone would have offered me the opportunity to jump in a pool of mud not just once but over and over again, I would have laughed in their face. Me? Playing in dirt? Hard pass.

But I’ve been making an attempt as of late to step outside of my comfort zone. And for first my first marathon-meets-obstacle-course race, Mudderella was very much outside of my comfort zone.

Hell, it was even outside of my state. I had to travel to New Jersey from New York, and then drive an hour from Parsippany to the Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown last Saturday at the a– crack of dawn. So I was tired. I was also nervous before the race began, wondering if I had signed myself up for something I would soon regret. But after months of training, I knew there was nothing to it but to do it. What I came to realize as I ran from obstacle to obstacle, still uncomfortable due to a mix of sweat, the strong heat and having mud stuck in between my toes in the depths of my shoe, was that I also felt pretty spectacular. I was pushing my body to limits I never thought it could go. Just a year and a half ago I was overweight, out of shape, and far from possessing the athletic prowess I was known for as a teen. I had let myself go. But I had worked hard to get myself back, and was really getting to see what I was capable of during the course. So in no time flat I was saying, “Bring on the mud!”

I crawled in a muddy moat underneath tight wires while someone used a hose to pour cold water on me and hundreds of other women (and a few men). I carried tires. I climbed a rope ladder. I leaped down to a large inflatable. And I even had to climb a wall using a rope as though I were in high school all over again.

And while I was hot, walked around with cuts all over my knees and elbows from toiling in mud, my heart was full. There were so many people taking part in the course, strangers pushing one another to keep moving. Women giving each other a boost over walls, mud piles and a whole host of obstacles. I even had to carry my friend on my back at one point (and vice versa).The encouragement, the muddy hugs, the laughs and cheers, definitely made the struggle moments, and there were many, all worth it.

Okay, by hour two, I can be honest and say that I grew a little weary of jumping in muddy water and fighting to climb over the hills submerged in them (there were fewer and fewer “Bring on the mud!” commands after a while), but I’m definitely better for putting myself through it. I would come to love the feeling of being fully exhausted, arms weak from climbing, hands sore from pulling, legs tired from propelling my body in every direction possible. It was as though my body was telling me, “Job well done, sis.” Now, the dirt lodged in my toe and fingernails I probably could have done without, as well as my Fitbit being destroyed, but whatevs.

At this point, there are only four Mudderella events left this summer (and one in the winter), with races taking place in the New England area on July 30, Toronto on August 27, Whistler in British Columbia on September 24, and Melbourne, as in Australia, on December 3. But when the opportunity arises next year to take part in the races in cities around the country, I would definitely recommend that you try it. The sense of accomplishment you will feel at the end will leave you feeling incredibly proud–and ready to move forward with your fitness goals. Plus, after jumping, crawling and climbing in dirt, you will pretty much feel like you can do and handle anything like a boss.


#FitnessGoals: Ernestine Shepherd, World’s Oldest Bodybuilder, Celebrates 80th Birthday

June 23rd, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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If you’ve ever needed proof that being good to your body will help you live longer and look fabulous while doing so, check out a one Ms. Ernestine Shepherd. She celebrated her 80th birthday on June 16 and honestly, doesn’t look a day over 65. Check out her Facebook message about ringing in another year: 

According to Yahoo, Shepherd was named the oldest female bodybuilder by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 and 2011. And one awesome way the bodybuilder celebrated her 80th year on this planet was with the release of her book Determined, Dedicated, Disciplined To Be Fit: The “Ageless” Journey of Ernestine Shepherd (the first part of that title is her mantra). In it she explains how she was able to change her life and go from being “an average middle-aged woman to a bodybuilding diva.” At the age of 56 she decided to start working out and eventually fell in love with it. As is the case for many fitness enthusiasts, she found it to be a route to happiness after a traumatic life event. Shepherd turned to fitness after the loss of her sister who passed after having a brain aneurysm. They had set fitness goals together, and after her death, Shepherd was determined to keep and eventually exceed them. She has since toned up and become quite popular on social media, inspiring women (and men) of all ages to live their best life by adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Shepherd, who sticks to 1,700 calories a day, wakes up early in the morning to read Bible devotions and go for a run. She teaches classes and does public speaking, sharing her story as often as she can. Working out has become a way of life for the 80-year-old, and it can be for you as well. As Shepherd told Oprah Winfrey, “Not everybody wants to be a bodybuilder. Not everybody wants to be a runner. But find what you like to do. I say to my senior ladies — and the men — ‘Don’t forget: Age is nothing but a number and you can get fit.’”

Happy belated birthday to Ernestine! She truly is an inspiration.

Serious Question: Why Do We Give Fit Women Grief For Having “Too Many Muscles”?

June 21st, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Women just can’t win.

If you’re a heavier-set woman, you’re told that you’re too big and need to lose weight to live longer and healthier.

If you’re an average-sized woman, there’s always someone saying you could have bigger breasts or that you should squat for your life to obtain a bigger bottom.

And as I’ve noticed more and more lately, if you’re a very strong, physically fit woman, you’re deemed too “manly.”

And yet, a man can walk out here with a beer belly and a booty (and some hips) bigger than yours and no one has anything to say. I can’t deal.

But seriously, I always knew that being a muscular woman is something people seem to frown upon. For instance, when I interviewed fitness enthusiast Lita Lewis in 2014, a woman who has since become a health and fitness inspiration to me, there were quite a few comments, including “Too many muscles for my liking.” And quite a few popular fitness enthusiasts have publicly responded to people who’ve said that they are packing too much muscle. That includes Massy Arias, who told Cosmopolitan, “This is my body, my decision, my prerogative. If I want to work out and be a beast, let me work out and be a beast.”

Still, it wasn’t until I started on my own quest to actually gain more muscle that I fully realized just how harsh people can be about women who are on the brolic side. Those people include my fiancé.

One of my biggest goals right now is to be stronger. I like the way I look and feel with more muscle on my body these days. As I was walking down the street with my fiancé a week ago, I told him that I wanted to really define my ab muscles. I was quite serious about this as the excitement in my eyes and tone would make one think I was speaking on something much more thrilling. When I finished sharing my goals with him, he responded with, “I don’t know. That’s not really cute.”

Exsqueeze me?

When I inquired about the statement he was trying to make, he said what a lot of people say, which is that trying to build more muscles is a look better suited for a guy. I couldn’t receive it. I told him that I didn’t appreciate his comment, seeing as I was talking about doing something positive and feeling good about myself, and his response was to tell me that in his eye, it wasn’t attractive. “I’m not trying to look ‘cute,'” I said. “I’m trying to be strong and healthy.”  He would eventually apologize and we would go about our walk in peace and positivity, but I couldn’t help but be stuck on “That’s not cute.”

Why are we so quick to say that women who train their bodies extensively aren’t cute, aren’t feminine, and are trying to be like men? Why do we skirt the whole point that these individuals are attempting to build strength, endurance, tone up, be powerful, and most importantly, live a healthier lifestyle, to instead focus on whether or not all that adds up to being attractive to someone else? Granted, these women likely aren’t pressed about whether or not anyone thinks them to be the finest thing this side of the Mississippi, but I thought it important to reiterate the fact that there isn’t one way to be feminine. The femininity people say these women lack isn’t just embodied in the woman with the soft curves, or the dainty models with the long limbs and striking features. Femininity can still be found in the women who have more muscle on them than they do makeup. Just as we don’t want people to define womanliness by whether or not we’re playing certain roles in society, we shouldn’t define it by one sort of look.

Still, I do think things are changing when it comes to our outlook for the long term. Look at Serena Williams. Just a few years ago, how many men and women were saying that she came off too muscular and mannish after years of building muscle on the tennis court and in the gym? But nowadays, we watch her use that strength to balance in a split inside mainstream magazines and to dominate on the court. (Not to mention, to snag the men some of us pine over — i.e., Common and Drake.) She has become our “#goals” more now than ever thanks to her hard work and hard body, reminding us that she is “a full woman, and I’m strong and I’m powerful and I’m beautiful at the same time. And there’s nothing wrong with that.” I’m hoping that as we can embrace her beauty and strength as a sinewy woman, we will also do so for everyday women who choose to be both powerful and pretty.

More Veggies, Less Sugar: Small Changes You Can Make To Be Healthier

June 17th, 2016 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

In an effort to live a healthier lifestyle, we all do our research, but often end up left with a bunch of questions. Read four different publications or studies and you’ll get four different answers. Remember when eating fat-free foods was supposed to be the key to staying fit? Now it’s cutting carbs and eating bacon. And what exactly are the benefits of eating gluten-free?

What about those of us who want to be healthy but don’t want to have to live (and go broke) in Whole Foods to do it? We looked into what it takes to do better in regards to our health, and there’s good news: If you want to live a healthy and happy life, you don’t have to upend your life in the way some people think. In fact, as long as you’re doing something, it’s better than nothing and you’re living healthier than most.

“It’s OK To Look And Be Strong”: The Color Purple’s Cynthia Erivo On Being A “Fitness Fiend”

June 13th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Cynthia Erivo is not just a Tony winner for her amazing work as Celie in the The Color Purple on Broadway, a woman with a serious set of vocal pipes, and just an all-around badass. As it turns out, on top of being all of those incredible things, she’s also a self-proclaimed (and proven) “fitness fiend.” If you follow the Brit on Instagram you will find images of her running marathons, doing intense strength training, and defining the hell out of her amazing arms and abs. She’s pretty much a beast in all facets of life.

So how does Erivo, busy with a full plate of performances, TV appearances and photo shoots, manage to make time for healthy living? She talked about it in the July issue of Cosmopolitan, citing a genuine love of being fit and the support of The Color Purple co-star Danielle Brooks and former co-star Jennifer Hudson as motivating factors.

“Every time I come offstage and people are like, ‘You guys seem like you’re so together,’ it’s because we are,” Erivo told the magazine about their bond. “We do things together all the time. Earlier, Jen [Hudson] texted me, ‘I’m thinking of you today…’ I think I’m going to [Hudson’s son] little David’s school tomorrow. And we’re always talking about healthy eating. Danielle [Brooks] and Jennifer — we’re all of the same mind-set of trying to be healthy.”

As for her exercise habits, which she makes time for, at the least, two to three times a week, keeping it right and tight is something she started taking seriously in her late teens. And the fact that her boyfriend is also about staying healthy and fit helps too.

“I became a fitness fiend when I was about 17 or 18, ” she said. “When I was 23, I met my other half [Dean John-Wilson, star of Aladdin on London’s West End], and he’s also a fitness fiend. I love that I can demonstrate that it’s OK to look and be strong. I had a dance instructor who used to say that you should stay fit for the job, not let the job make you fit. I’ve always been of that philosophy. If your body is working correctly and then you get a cold or something, that cold probably won’t knock you out as hard as it would have if you weren’t healthy. Keep yourself fit and you’ll be able to do the job.”

And one job she hopes to do down the line is play an equally fit beauty: Serena Williams. As she told MadameNoire back in November,”I’m a fit fanatic. I don’t know if you can tell, but I feel like she’s such an interesting character in that she’s got such power and prowess on the court and off she’s just this wonderful, sultry, kind, and light and airy being. I love that sort of flip that she has and her story’s brilliant. Her story’s incredible, and it’s a story of real hard work and I think it would be wonderful to see it. I would love to play that role.”

As you can see, all of Erivo’s hard work is paying off like gangbusters. Check out a few videos of the talented star training and maintaining her exceptional physique below:

THIS IS NOT A CHALLENGE !!!!!!! Just proud I could do it!! PAY ATTENTION TO MY HANDS. #pullups #betterforit @nikewomen

A video posted by cynthiaerivo (@cynthiaerivo) on

Pike to push-up to plank to push-up, PAINFUL!! #betterforit @nikewomen

A video posted by cynthiaerivo (@cynthiaerivo) on

Possibly the hardest exercise I’ve tried!!!

A video posted by cynthiaerivo (@cynthiaerivo) on

Survey: Menstrual Cups The Best Protection While Working Out On Your Period

June 13th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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You and I have talked in depth about the ways in which we handle working out while on our period. In the comment section for “Girl Talk: How Do You Deal with Working Out on Your Period?” many of you said you use a tampon and go about your merry way. Some of you said you double up on panty liners. And a few of you said you just opt out of exercising during the heavier days, and sometimes throughout your entire period. For those who just don’t feel fully protected or comfortable during that time of the month, according to a recent study, one form of feminine hygiene protection is making women more likely to step in the gym while Aunt Flo is in town: the menstrual cup.

According to a study of 1,500 women between the ages of 20 and 34 from 40 different countries, which was done by Intima, a feminine care brand, 42 percent of women said the menstrual cup was the product that kept them active during that time of the month. Users and researchers also found an 84 percent increase in their confidence, along with a 73 percent boost in their overall comfort while exercising. As we spoke about previously, the lack of comfort due to heavy flow, sweat, the discomfort of bulky products, and the possible cramps is what usually makes us cancel our dates in the gym in favor of a date on the couch with ice cream and chips while we nurse our cramps.

Menstrual cup users are also fond of the extended wear you can get out of the products, with 12 hours as opposed to eight. And they noted a decrease in dryness down there, as well as diminished odor and cramps.

But at the end of the day, it’s all about preference. What is your go-to coverage? A few of you have stated in the past that menstrual cups are your product of choice during that time of the month. How has your experience been working out with one?

Are You Making Your Workout Harder Than It Has To Be?

June 10th, 2016 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Whenever we get back to the gym, we always do a lot. We rock new workout clothes, stock up on Vitamin Water, and set out to conquer the treadmill. But could we be doing too much? If you find yourself burning out before you pay off the new workout equipment, the answer could be yes.

Getting healthy is hard work. But the key to getting and staying there is to actually like going to the gym. And that’s nearly impossible if you’re struggling through you workout. Who wants to stick to spending an hour a day doing something they hate?

If you use the h-word when thinking about your workout, it might be time to try something different.

Ways You Could Be Doing Your Favorite Exercises Wrong

June 9th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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So you made the effort to get back into the gym. Kudos! And while that’s a wonderful start on the path to healthier living, you could be setting yourself up for failure, or worse, injury, if you’re out here doing some of your favorite moves wrong. Your back will not be happy with you if you just swing that kettlebell any kind of way, nor will it love you if you bend it too far back while doing an overhead press. Check out a few common moves that you could be doing wrong, and why it’s important that you get it right–for the sake of your back and joints.

The Spinning Struggle

A common problem? Your resistance isn’t really pushing you, which means that it’s too low. When the teacher tells you to crank the knob to the right three notches during that uphill struggle part of the ride, you should actually do it. Of course, you shouldn’t overexert yourself to the point that you spend your time on the bike on the verge of passing out, but if you’re looking to burn calories, you have to up the ante. Plus, a very low resistance could leave your cadence too high, causing your joints to bear the brunt of all that wild spinning your feet are doing.

The Kettlebell Struggle

Your spine isn’t neutral. Take my word for it, sis. When it’s not neutral during kettlebell swings, you won’t feel the pain immediately. However, the next morning, your back will be on fire. And it’s ironic because if done properly, kettlebell swings can do wonders for the strength of your lower back. But when done wrong (like bending back when swinging the kettlebell in the air or rounding your back when you bring the kettlebell down between your legs), you’re asking for trouble.

The Yoga Struggle

You’re not focused on your breathing. And as a yoga newbie, as corny as it sounds to have folks tell you to center yourself and to sit in certain positions until you get through a number of full breaths, deep breathing helps you to pull off complicated poses. It actually aids in relaxing your muscles and giving you the energy you need to do a flawless bound half moon pose.

The Squat Struggle

You’re thinking too hard about your knees passing your toes. But as a University of Memphis study pointed out in 2003, worrying too much about not letting your knees move past your toes not only puts 28 percent more stress on those knobby knees, but also increases the stress on your hips by 1,000 percent. Instead, focus on pushing those hips back and then lower yourself down and that will help you gain peace of mind about those knees.

The Plank Struggle

Don’t let that booty droop, but also don’t let it stick up in the air. The drooping option puts too much pressure on your back while shooting up too high is just too easy. Get your body into as straight of a line as possible, that way your plank, which should be engaging the hell out of your core, will be more effective.

The Push-up Struggle

To make it plain, it would be best to have your shoulders go in (or back) instead of out in a perpendicular fashion. While you can do either variation that works for you, experts state that elbows out puts more stress on your joints while doing push-ups with elbows in strengthens the muscles at the side of your chest. Until you can get it right, don’t be afraid to practice with your knees on the ground.

Angela Simmons Is On A “Fit Mommy Journey,” Shares Intense Pregnancy Workout Regimen

June 8th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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It’s been a week or so since Angela Simmons revealed to the world that she and her fiancé, Sutton Tennyson, are expecting their first child. But if you follow Simmons, you already know that she doesn’t play when it comes to her daily workouts with her trainer(s), and she’s not going to hold back in the gym just because she’s expecting.

Of course, it’s been stated by experts that working out while pregnant is fine. However, how hard you can go is dependent on how hard you were going before the baby. If you rarely exercised pre-pregnancy, you need to talk to your doctor first and then take things light and slow. But as for the women who get side-eyes for lifting weights like it’s nothing while toting a large baby bump, it’s safe to assume they were working even harder before the baby.

And that’s why Simmons hasn’t turned down the intensity on her workouts just yet. She shared video of the work she is putting in at the gym for her “fit mommy journey.”

Of course, there were the usual comments about her doing too much, with Instagram followers saying, “all this extra stuff is ok but isn’t really best for the baby,” “I would just stick to brisk walking,” and “Sit down u pregnant.” However, Simmons is working with multiple trainers who keep an eye on her movements, and she doesn’t seem to be doing more than she was pre-pregnancy.

Plus, experts say that it’s important to work out when expecting, as studies have shown that children who were exposed to exercise while in the womb had improved mental and physical health from childhood on into adulthood. Not to mention that according to the American Pregnancy Association, working out while preggers can help with the pains that come with carrying a child, including backaches, swelling and constipation. It even works to boost your energy, mood, improve your posture, and help you sleep better. And pregnancy exercise can also help you cope a little bit better with your labor and get you back in shape faster once the baby is here.

So, it’s recommended that moms working out stay especially hydrated, avoid contact sports and exercises where you’re expected to be on your back, do workouts that keep you moving (so you don’t become dizzy trying to hold your balance in one place), and take it easy. Listen to your body, sit down when you start to feel tired, and focus on maintaining and feeling good, not on trying to lose weight you’re gaining during pregnancy. Not the time for that, sis.

With that being said, were you physically active while pregnant? If so, what were you doing and how did exercising make you feel during the pregnancy process? Better? Tired? Overwhelmed?

As for Angela, exercising in the gym clearly makes her feel great because she’s in there like swimwear.