All Articles Tagged "health"

Summertime Illnesses And Afflictions We Should All Watch Out For

July 26th, 2016 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Winter is famous for being cold and flu season. But warm weather can come with its own health worries and risks, too. Summer illnesses can not only take you by surprise but also ruin your vacation plans and impede upon all the events and outings you want to partake in. Thankfully, most summer health hiccups are entirely preventable — if you know what to watch out for.

Whether you find yourself hanging out on the beach or hiking at a national park with friends, it pays to keep a close eye on these danger zones. And trust me, if it looks like the vacation rental’s hot tub is questionable, skip the soak and enjoy some time on the patio instead. Whatever you do, just keep an eye out so you don’t end up with these illnesses (or stuck in places where you can catch them) that are pretty common during the summer. If you can avoid them, you won’t have to waste your summer sick days actually being under the weather.

She Tried It! Want To Push Past A Plateau? STRONG By Zumba Is The Challenge You Need

July 26th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Instructor Irena Meletiou and I drenched but feeling “STRONG” after class.

Remember that joyous and eclectic Zumba class I told you I took part in recently? Well, STRONG by Zumba is nothing like that.

I tried out the newest offering for fitness enthusiasts from the dance fitness company, and I will admit that I did leave feeling strong — but also feeling like I got my a– kicked. As I’ve said before, that’s not a bad thing…

Here is a little bit of background first: STRONG by Zumba is a class meant to have you move in sync with music as opposed to just doing the same dance moves and routines expected of you in traditional Zumba sequences. You literally move your feet, your arms and your entire body at a very quick speed to the music, which has been “crafted to drive the intensity in a challenging progression that provides a total body workout,” according to the Zumba website.

Having to stay on beat, or “in sync” with the music made the routine much harder to keep up with, making it the perfect challenge for anyone who is looking to move past plateaus and who feels bored with their usual workout routine. Knowing all of this, I was psyched to try out the class, which was being taught by Irena Meletiou at my favorite Zumba fitness club in the city: Z Club NY (301 East 57th St.). It was the first time the class was being taught at the club, therefore, it was sold out. Packed in the studio on a 93-degree day, I greatly underestimated the heat and the workout that was to come.

STRONG by Zumba II

Instructor Meletiou before class, breaking down what we needed to know about the workout.

You are literally in constant motion. Whether you’re jumping back into a Spider-Man plank, doing ski jumps or fast feet, there is no rest. Literally. Zero actual breaks. In the hour-long class, we did three to four full intervals with music that went up and down in pace before getting down and doing floor work. The latter included oblique twists, regular as well as side planks, and a whole host of other extensive core moves. I ended up sweating so much that I had to take my shirt off midway through class, joining a number of women who needed a reprieve from stifling clothing and heat while busting a move.

When I spoke with Meletiou after the class, she stated that after training to teach the class, her body changed in ways that she didn’t see coming. Despite not utilizing any sort of weights, resistance bands or the like, but rather, solely relying on body weight, she attested to the fact that you build muscle endurance. As a result, a toned and defined body that keeps burning calories even after you stop moving is what you can obtain from taking the class consistently.

I would recommend trying this new offering, STRONG by Zumba, because it’s a challenge I think many of us need to be pushed out of our comfort zones. Like working alongside a trainer, the class forces you to exert an insane amount of energy and strength out of a reserve that, if left to your own devices, you likely wouldn’t tap into. And while I love to leave a class sweaty and knowing that I got a good workout in, I didn’t foresee myself being drenched, exhausted, and a little (or a lot) stank after the fact. It was uncomfortable, but boy did I feel that burn — and end up loving it.

For those interested, you can see if it’s being offered in your area by using the class finder tool on the Zumba website. Because it’s new, many instructors are still being trained in it so there may not be many ready to go just yet. However, classes are already being offered for STRONG here in NYC. Check out a sneak peek of all that can be expected from this kick-ass class via the workout trailer below:

Summer Workouts That Are Easiest On Your Hair

July 25th, 2016 - By Meg Butler
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If you’ve skipped gym day because you don’t want to sweat out (or have to redo) your hair, then join the club. When you can barely squeeze a workout into your day, trying to find even more time to to fix what an hour at the gym can do to your hair seems like a big chunk of the day that will be lost. Who has time to pencil all of that in?

And while protective styles and dry shampoo can make workout hair presentable, there’s another option: You can just change your workout.

These summer workouts will help you burn calories and tone up without sweating out your hair. So if you’re tired of choosing between keeping fit and keeping cute, or want a way to squeeze in a workout without a wash and dry too, read on.

“The Whole Thing Just Fell Apart”: Are Fitbits Really Fit For Long-Term Physical Activity?

July 25th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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I’ve often said in the past that if it weren’t for my Fitbit fitness tracker, I probably would not have made as much progress as I have in my weight-loss journey. The wearable technology devices are worn by millions of users around the world. Being aware of your number of steps, while also being motivated by the progress of friends and family, is what gets you moving. And while many laud the product for its impact on their health and wellness, many have also complained about the durability of them.

When I reached out to a representative from the company about this, I was told the following:

“The quality of Fitbit products and the health and safety of our customers are our top priorities. The experiences reported are not typical for the tens of millions of users around the world who enjoy our products every day. We conduct extensive testing and consult with top industry experts to develop stringent standards so that users can safely wear and enjoy our products.”

However, customers from the U.S. all the way to even India tell a different story.

“My Fitbit Charge is falling apart and I’ve only had it since Nov 8, 2014!” said a Fitbit user in a comment directed at the company’s page on Facebook last year. A thread I shared with the Fitbit rep. “I don’t do anything crazy, I go to work, do my workouts, go to bed. I take it off to shower and when it needs charged. The button fell off yesterday while I was on my treadmill and today I noticed the wrist band is coming apart from the display!”

Once the user shared her disappointment with the product, further complaints came flooding in. This was particularly true for the popular Charge and Charge HR devices.

“Thank goodness other people are having this issue because I thought I was going crazy! The rubber on my band has been separating from the tracker for a while and tonight the whole thing just fell apart.”

“My charge hr has broken in the same place as my first one. The store exchanged my first one which broke in 3 months and now the replacement has broken in the same spot as the first one in 3 months. What is going on?”

“So sorry I didn’t know this a year ago. My fitbit lasted hardly ten months. It started with button falling off and then the entire side.”

I too have had 2 replacements sent as the back of the display breaks off and it can no longer charge. The customer service is awesome and keeps sending new watches, but I wish they’d improve the product to last more than 3 months.”

With less than a year’s worth of wear, my sister, brother and co-worker, whom I’m often in workweek challenges against, either had the bands on their Fitbit Charges break or the battery wouldn’t charge. They were eventually sent replacements. And for the Fitbit Flex, I know a few people who found that the slot that holds the battery was tearing–including my own. And while sending replacements to appease customers is great (their customer service gets high marks), the fact that some of their most in demand products seem to fall apart easily isn’t a good thing in the slightest. Not to mention that the Charge, specifically, gave some users rashes, which the company acknowledged.

But when I talked to that same representative to ask if measures were being taken in manufacturing new and older models to ensure the bands are more durable, I was more so informed of what customers could do better to keep the products from falling apart.

I was told that users need to regularly clean their band and wrist. This is especially true after working out or sweating. “Rinse the band with water or wipe it with a small amount of rubbing alcohol. Do NOT use hand soap, body soap, dish soap, or household cleaners which could get trapped beneath the band and irritate the skin,” they said. “Always dry the band before putting it back on.”

Users are also encouraged to remove lotions and oils, as well as sunscreens and repellents that can get trapped under the band. And if you’re wearing it too tight, it could cause damage and skin irritation. “We recommend wearing the band loosely enough that it can move back and forth on your wrist.” Charge HR or Surges that show you your heart rate measurement need to be worn a little bit higher on your wrist (“about 2-3 finger widths above your wrist bone”) during activity. Afterward, the band can be lowered and loosened after exercise. And most importantly, users are encouraged to “give your wrist a rest.”

But what does proper cleaning and drying have to do with wristbands tearing apart from where they meet on the face? Or buttons popping out? Fitbits are pretty great devices, but what’s the point in having a fitness tracker that is supposed to track your active lifestyle if being active causes it to break? And telling people to give them a rest kind of goes against the whole purpose of them, especially when you’re instructed to wear some devices that track your sleep patterns at night.

So it begs the question of what the company plans to do to ensure their future products hold up better — which is something they’ve haven’t explicitly shared with the many customers who complain about damage, nor what is a question I received an answer to during my brief Q&A. But putting the time in to actually construct bands made of materials that are durable instead of continuously sending people new ones that eventually break down would go a long way to appease customers. There’s gotta be a better way. Because at this point, people aren’t getting what they’re paying for. And with devices ranging in price from $59.95 to more than $200, they’re paying a lot more than peanuts for products that aren’t really holding up.

Zoe Saldana Reveals Battle With Thyroid Disease

July 21st, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

In a new interview with Net-A-Porter’s Edit magazine, actress Zoe Saldana shared that she’s had to make some major changes to her diet and lifestyle due to her struggle with chronic thyroiditis. Saldana revealed that she has Hashimoto’s disease. This form of thyroiditis causes the antibodies to attack thyroid cells. Because of this, fewer hormones are made and the thyroid can end up swelling due to the pituitary gland pushing it to produce more. This disease is quite common, and reportedly the most common cause of hypothyroidism.

Since being diagnosed and admittedly coping with a lack of energy due to the disease, the 38-year-old is attempting to stay on top of her health, something she admits that she wasn’t really doing when she was younger.

“I had a great time in my 20s. Then your doctor says you’re losing calcium in your bones. What the f**k is that?!” Saldana said. “I would hear those conversations with my mum and grandma, thinking I’d never get there. I’m going to live forever! But all of a sudden it hits you. I s**t you not, it’s from night to day.”

She explained in depth the issues going on within her body, and why taking on a gluten-free diet has helped her to successfully deal with the disease.

“Your body doesn’t have the energy it needs to filter toxins, causing it to believe that it has an infection, so it’s always inflamed. You create antibodies that attack your glands, so you have to eat clean.”

And while possible side effects include fatigue, joint and muscle pain, depression, an inconsistent or heavy period and a whole host of other symptoms that could slow a person all the way down, Saldana is constantly on the move and full of energy. That’s evident through her busy schedule, which includes promoting Star Trek Beyond, finishing up filming of the sequel for Guardians of the Galaxy, prepping for the continuation of the Avatar franchise, and busting a move in a Prince-inspired photo shoot for Edit. The latter of which, you can get a brief taste of below.

A photo posted by NET-A-PORTER (@netaporter) on

Check out the full fanciful photo shoot over at Net-A-Porter’s website.

Easy Ways To Trick Your Taste Buds Into Eating Healthier Food

July 19th, 2016 - By Meg Butler
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We all have our favorite foods as well as the ones that we just can’t take the taste of. We have the treats that we go to for comfort, foods that we could honestly do without but need in our diet, and flavors that we hate. But what you may not have known is that taste buds are easy to train.

If eating healthier was on this year’s (and last year’s) list of goals, there are ways to get more good stuff into your diet — even if you don’t love the taste of them right now. Follow these tools to train your taste buds and you can not only have a healthier plate and palate, but love what’s on both.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Give Yourself a Reason

Healthy food is easier to eat when you have a good reason to indulge. Know which foods make your skin glow, take years off of you or add shine to your hair and you might find motivation to add them to your meals more often.

Why Do We Tell Overweight People They Need To Lose Weight And Then Shame Them When They Try To?

July 19th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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In the words of Michael Jackson as the scarecrow in The Wiz: “You can’t win.”

Ain’t that the truth, though?

After reading about the Playboy model who taped a fellow gym-goer naked to share her disdain for the woman’s body on Snapchat, all I could think about was that song. Lord knows we have this very peculiar habit of shaming obese individuals, and then still giving them crap when they make an attempt to shed the pounds.

In case you missed the story, Playboy’s 2015 Playmate of the Year, Dani Mathers, landed in some hot water (and possible legal trouble) after the 29-year-old Snapchatted the body of a woman undressed in the locker room shower. The caption, to accompany the video and the image of Mathers’s shocked face? “If I can’t see unsee this then you can’t either.”

What she hoped would incur laughs and co-signs has since cost Mathers her gym membership. Oh, and her job. To make matters all the more serious, the gym where this invasion of privacy took place called the LAPD on Mathers. According to the Washington Post, she is facing the possibility of being charged with a misdemeanor for disorderly conduct. If that happens, she could end up with a fine, or worse, jail time. Six months to be exact.

And while we all could continue to go ham sandwich on Mathers for doing something very disrespectful and damaging to an innocent, unsuspecting woman, some of us also need to take responsibility for our own fat-shaming hijinks. Whether we do it outright or don’t even realize it, the statements and actions we hurl at the expense of larger men and women are all pretty damaging.

For instance, the way we can’t appreciate a story about Gabourey Sidibe, whether it’s about her career or an outfit she wore, without people feeling it necessary to harp on her size and say, almost seven years later, that she still needs to lose weight.

Or the ways in which we put conditions on who is allowed to be overweight. That includes saying that if you haven’t had a baby recently (emphasis on recently, as in, if your baby is less than a year or two old) or you’re not sick, you should be ashamed of yourself because my tax dollars are going toward people like you.

How we do the most when it comes to the accomplishments and style choices of larger people. If they get through some tough moves in a fitness class, they get attention for keeping up or get ignored completely because of the assumption that they won’t keep up. Or if someone bigger wears a revealing ensemble, it’s an “I see you!” spectacle.

The way that we try and pretend we’re health experts when we tell overweight people that they need to do better for the sake of living longer and happier, not knowing anything about the state of their health or their contentment. Because who could be happy when they’re big, right?

And the way we equate beauty with being smaller, telling an overweight person that they’re “cute for a big ___.”

All of that is cringe-worthy. But what’s even worse is the idea that after tormenting some people into the gym to lose weight, folks, like Mathers, make them feel as though they still don’t belong. As though their weight is something to mock despite their attempts to do something about it. As though working out to take care of themselves is subjecting others to the sorest of sights. It’s all yet another reminder that people really don’t give a sh-t about the health and happiness of overweight people. They just want to mock someone because they are so pressed to feel important or superior in any way possible. And that often has a lot to do with people’s own self-confidence and happiness levels.

Because, if we’re being honest, why would a Playmate of the Year who tightens and tones up to showcase her body, and who had her body reaffirmed on a national stage, be so bothered by another woman trying to take care of her own?

Why did this woman assume that the heavy-set Black woman in her yoga class was “judging,” “resenting” and “stereotyping” her “skinny white body” when she struggled through some moves?

And why does someone confident or working to be confident in their own skin, offend other people so damn much?

Because people are fighting their own inner battles and looking to jump on any person who can make them feel better about themselves.

With all that being said, I hope the woman videotaped comes forward and sues Mathers. Not just because of the fact that she grossly invaded the woman’s privacy, but to do so as a warning for people, in general, who are so worried about what other people do with their bodies. You don’t need to cheer an overweight person on in the gym for killing it, nor do you need to shame them for showing up. But what you do need to do is worry about yourself and the vessel God gave you.

With Addition Of E-Cup Sports Bras, Nike Reminds Us That Fit Women Come In All Sizes

July 19th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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If you follow Nike Women on social media, you know that a lot of the images they share are of strong women, fast women, toned women, flexing their muscles in Nike shoes and apparel. It’s quite motivating — both in encouraging you to get active and giving you #fitnessgoals, and also in terms of getting you shopping for workout clothing on their website. And while I love the page, the ladies featured on it often look the same. However, the women out in the world trying to exercise and be healthy don’t look just one way. With that in mind, Nike has decided to think outside the box, and we’re all here for it.

On their @NikeWomen Instagram account, to promote the launch of the new additions to their Nike Pro bra collection, two images were shared of model Paloma Elsesser and a popular yoga instructor named Claire Fountain stretching in the sports bras. They are reminders that fit women aren’t necessarily one type of woman. They aren’t just short and stocky. They aren’t just lean and tall. They can be curvaceous and strong.

Followers of the page, and those in the media, in general, have applauded the images, saying that they are impactful in the fight for body equality.

As for the Nike Pro bra collection, it’s been out for some time (I own two of them and boy, do they hold those suckers down!), but now it comes in five silhouettes and is offered in a little bit larger range of sizes than usual. The Pro collections goes from a size 30A to a 40E. The new additions just hit shelves and start at $70.

I think it’s pretty cool that a brand as big as Nike is doing more to advocate for body positivity, and actually doing so without trying to label anyone as plus size, but rather, as another fit and fabulous woman. Let’s hope that this continues not only with Nike, but with other major companies focused in sportswear.

Body Odors You Should Never Ignore

July 18th, 2016 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Every woman has had an off day in the odor department. Thankfully, a little extra perfume in your purse or an emergency stick of deodorant can keep even a skipped shower a secret. And if things are really rough, we all know how magical a few baby wipes or those emergency spare garments you keep at the bottom of your bag can be.

But some body odors, even if you catch them by accident, should never be ignored as easily as they’re covered up. These smells could be a sign that something is wrong. And although it might take a skipped shower to sniff them out, don’t just take another one and forget about them. These odors might mean it’s time to see a doctor.

#FitnessGoals: Meagan Good Aims High With Intense Taekwondo Workout

July 18th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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#WerkWerkWerk Thx @SoneCama

A photo posted by @meagangood on

We’ve talked a lot about the pretty great options there are when it comes to finding an enjoyable workout to keep yourself motivated. There’s been Zumba, CrossFit, cycling, rowing and more. But how many of us have had the opportunity to learn martial arts, specifically, Taekwondo, as a form of exercise? And no, imitating Bruce Lee in front of the television as Enter the Dragon plays does not count.

To get you inspired to give this form of a workout a shot, check out all the fun actress Meagan Good has been having honing her craft, and the rock-solid body she’s earned thanks to all that jumping and kicking:

Meagan Good, Amazing talent! @meagangood

A video posted by Nilson Demacena (@sonecama) on

Seriously, who needs the treadmill when you can work up a sweat kicking imaginary a– and taking names?

Getting better @SoneCama

A photo posted by @meagangood on

Good aims high with Taekwondo workouts at the Soneca Martial Arts studio in Los Angeles. Outside of that, she also takes part in fight and endurance training, yoga, intense cardio, and couple’s workouts with celebrity trainer Don Brooks alongside husband DeVon Franklin. Her efforts are paying off royally:

Going on a Sunday ! Thanks @DonamatrixTraining @DBDonamatrix

A photo posted by @meagangood on

When speaking on making health and fitness a priority on social media, Good told her followers, “Every morning when I get up I nine times out of 10 don’t feel like working out. But I made a commitment to myself and to my purpose in calling in life and I believe part of that entails being healthy and being in good shape so I can be available for all God has called me to.”

Meagan Good in Taekwondo fighting stance!

A photo posted by Nilson Demacena (@sonecama) on

Anybody else ready to find a martial arts class and get their Karate Kid on? Saints better stop asking Good about how she dresses and get some tips from her on how to live a healthy, happy life because she’s definitely doing it.