All Articles Tagged "obesity"

Lindsey M. Adams Talks Life After Losing 140 Pounds, Skin-Removal Surgery, And Seeking Emotional Healing

January 28th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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If you tuned into last night’s episode of Skin Tight, you finally had the chance to see Lindsey M. Adams’s story play out.

We’ve been chatting with the 29-year-old Chicagoan about her health and fitness journey since the beginning of the week (part I, II and III here), but we really had no idea what she went through to get rid of the skin that 140 pounds lost left behind. It wasn’t easy for Adams, as she went through quite a few surgeries, including having work done on her stomach, breasts, thighs, back and arms, going under anesthesia three times. We literally watched as pieces of Adams were removed and placed on a table, dumped in a clear bin. It looked painful, and it was. As Adams told me during our last chat yesterday evening, when she looked at the scars soon after the procedures, she was horrified by what she saw.

“I really thought I was duped [laughs],” Adams said. “I did! I had an entire cut up abdomen and back and I was like, ‘No way! I look crazy!’ I couldn’t see, as you can see now, how it smoothed out and how the pleating and darkness went away. But at the time, I put a lot of expectations into it, too.”

She continued, “You have this expectation of what you are going to look like, but you may not look like that right away. After surgery you’re huge. You’re blown up, you’re full of fluid, and you may gain some weight because you’re sedentary. You have to wait for the inflammation to go down. You have to wait until you can go back in the gym and rebuild your muscle tone. So it takes a whole year, at a minimum, to really see the results. So in the beginning, I felt duped. I felt like somebody chopped me up and that it was a cruel joke.”

Adams not only felt duped, but we watched as she gained 40 pounds back and dealt with depression while going through recovery.

“I was stuck, secluded, by myself in a cocoon. I couldn’t do anything for myself,” Adams said. “The depression was because I had to deal with a completely secluded, sedentary lifestyle. And that was what I had broken free of. I go to the gym, I’m active, I meal prep, I ride my bike around Chicago, I go to events, I go to church. All of that was gone. Everything that was your positive self-affirmation, the things you do that make you who you are, they were gone. All of it at one time. And then your body is different. You have to think: my nipples were in a different place. My vagina is literally in a different place. Your whole body is different. They redid my thighs; they also cut open my buttocks, my hips, and my groin. So you have to deal with a brand new body, really.”

Thankfully, Adams is doing much better these days. She worked hard to fight her feelings of sadness and doubt, and also provided herself with the post-operative care she needed to completely heal. She’s back in the gym working on toning up, preparing to get into women’s lifting groups and to take part in triathlon competitions in the near future. When she looks at pictures of her body before the surgery and looks at her body now, she can’t help but feel like she’s come a long way.

“I feel really happy,” Adams said. “And that may seem very stereotypical but that’s the honest truth. When you live your life as a morbidly obese person, you can be a fighter, you can be talented, you can have a cute face and you can be stylish, but happiness is very hard to find living in an obese world. Especially because of all the taunting and the teasing, the relationships. You really are facing challenge after challenge after challenge because of the way you feel about your weight and the way other people look at you because of your weight. So when I look at my body now, I definitely feel happier, which is important. And I definitely feel fullness, which is important, too.”

Lindsey post op

But what about how Adams feels about herself on the inside? She definitely has come a long way but has no problem being honest about the fact that she still has a lot of work to do to gain some inner peace. To find the emotional healing. And to forgive herself for the way she allowed people to treat her when she was obese.

“There’s a lot of emotional healing people need to do from being obese,” Adams said. “I really do still need to work on breaking the bondage of obesity from the inside. Because right now I’ve lost the weight and that gave me a great frame, so people are like, ‘You’re fit! You’re beautiful! You’re great!’ But I have to separate my value from how I look. Because I’ve gained more value now that I look better because I fought for it. But I still have a lot of pain from the decisions I made and the things I allowed to happen to me because of my weight. Especially in relationships with men.
So I need to heal from a lot of physical abuse I went through, emotional abuse I went through because I let people treat me any way because if they showed me attention, and I was overweight, I thought that was the best thing ever. So I need to do a lot of emotional healing from my old way of thinking.”

She continued, “There was a quote from my Facebook page from 2009. I started my journey in 2011. I had this quote that ‘Lust is better than love when done the right way.’ Lust. Like, a guy would see you and if you had big breasts or he liked the color of your skin, or you’re just someone he can get sex from, that’s better than love if done the right way. I really thought that! I thought having a little bit of something was better than having enough value to wait for something great.”

Adams said it’s that type of mentality, not just in dating but life in general, that held her back for so long, and it’s what holds other people back from losing the weight. Doing so truly is a fight for one’s life–and happiness.

“That’s also why people don’t lose weight. They’re like, ‘If I can just get the weave, get some nice clothes, and a date, I’ll be good.’ It’s not worth it to them, two and a half or three years to lose the weight. People aren’t willing to put in the work because they don’t think they’re worth it. It’s like, in love, it is worth it to wait and say no to the wrong guys and stay single. Same thing with health. The work you put in and the time and years to lose weight is worth more than just dressing up obesity. Don’t dress up obesity, because it’s going to kill you. And trust me, it’s harder being obese than it is to lose weight.”

So, in the end, despite all the work, Adams has been able to gain a lot from all she’s gone through. One specific thing she’s thankful for?

“I think I missed out on the freedom in my body,” Adams said. “The revelation I got while I was on Skin Tight when I couldn’t move, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t use the restroom on my own, was that, Lindsey, this was what was going to happen if you hadn’t taken the opportunity to save your life through weight loss. So when I get to the gym, I feel like I literally haven’t had freedom in my body for so long. Because obese kids don’t feel comfortable in their body. Jumping up and down and waving if you’re in a little program at school, you don’t do it because you feel insecure about your body. So when I’m in the gym, I’m exploring a part of my being that I never had before. My arms, my legs, my chest, my back, my glutes. I’ve never exercised and used and enjoyed them like most kids do. Kids run around like crazy. But obese kids who are insecure, they lose that. So that’s why I love exercise now. I’m finally Lindsey, and I lost so much of her for so long.”

Lindsey M. Adams On Losing Weight But Struggling With The Skin: “It Was A Personal Shame”

January 27th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Lindsey M. Adams Skin Tight

It’s time for Part III of Lindsey M. Adams’s weight loss story (Part I and II here). With any substantial weight loss, you know there is going to be loose skin. For Adams, it was a lot of loose skin, so much that it became something of a dark secret she tried to hide. While she would smile in people’s faces and tell them about all the incredible progress she’d made (again, she’s lost 140 pounds), she battled with personal shame. A shame due to the fact that not only was the skin a sight she didn’t want to see, but also because she was still filled with a lot of hurt and pain from many years of being obese. I could go back and forth and try to lead you into all of her thought-provoking statements about the skin you see above, but I don’t want to take away from the powerful message. So here’s what Lindsey M. Adams had to say about the hit her newfound confidence took when she had to look at her loose skin in the mirror every day. She explains the differences between the way she looked at her body at that time and the way she looks at that loose skin now. In her own words:

When I looked at it then, I was naive. I kept thinking that it was fat. Fat rolls like I’d always had. I kept thinking, “It’s going to go away.” Then one I realized it didn’t go away, I really just didn’t talk about it. For me, I’m an inspirational speaker and I’m a naturally positive person and I just couldn’t really figure out a positive way to spin it at the time. I really couldn’t because there was nothing I could do about it and I really hated it. So I didn’t really feel like going into detail about it. Like I said before, at that time I had about 350 videos on YouTube when I finished my weight loss journey. And I have one skin video. Other than the ones I just recently posted talking about the show, I have one video. It doesn’t show the skin.

So it wasn’t until Skin Tight that I could really mention the skin because it’s another form of shame. I was speaking, I won a state business competition in Chicago, people were excited for me. I had been obese my whole life so I didn’t realize how popular weight loss was. I didn’t know people were obsessed with weight loss. So it was a personal shame. Even my mentor didn’t really understand. She would say, “Who is seeing you naked? Nobody but you.” So when you asked me what I wanted to be free from in my health journey, it’s a lot of shame and emotional trauma. Because with my breasts down to my belly button and my arms sagging and I can’t even wear a short swimsuit, it was hard. I had been a plus-sized fashion blogger for years. But all these great crop-top swimsuits couldn’t be a reality for me. Even the plus-size bloggers who were just big, their skin was tight, so they could wear stuff I couldn’t. So here I am in between getting rid of the morbidly obese girl, but looking like a distorted girl.

I felt so much personal shame so I didn’t feel secure when I was speaking. But my voice has gotten a lot stronger and I can’t wait for more videos and speaking engagements. Because before I would just regurgitate information I had learned during my speeches. But now, because I went through such a hard experience, now I really have a voice. Before I was telling people something, now I’m sharing with you my life. And that’s the difference between loose skin me and now in that I’m totally being real with you. I was real before because that was truthful information but I was just telling a story and information. Because of my personal shame I didn’t feel what people expected me to feel. And I didn’t feel like all the compliments that people gave me–I couldn’t even receive them because I was hurt. I think I was actually kind of mad, really, now that I think about it. Everybody was so happy for me but nobody really knew what I looked like and understood how I felt. Just like when I was obese.

People would say, “Lindsey, you’re so stylish, so great, so positive.” That’s how they treated me when I was obese. No one thought my weight affected me because I was so put together. Same thing for when I lost the weight. Everybody thought I was good and that I had made it. People were doing stories about me, but nobody really understood what I was going through because of the skin.

You can check out what Adams looks like after having all the skin removed on the premiere of her Skin Tight episode tonight at 10/9C on TLC (Don’t worry about what your TV guide says about My 600-lb Life at 10, it’s really Skin Tight). And tomorrow, we’ll follow up with Adams about life after the show, how it changed the way she sees herself for the better, and what’s next on her health and fitness journey. Again, check out her social media channels, including Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Instagram, and her website to stay tuned into her story.

Part I: Skin Tight’s Lindsey M. Adams On Losing 140 Pounds Naturally After 30 Years Of Obesity

January 25th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Lindsey II

Video blogger and health advocate Lindsey M. Adams is approaching 30 with a new lease on life. She has an entirely different mindset and a whole new body. A body that she will show off on this Wednesday’s episode of the new TLC show Skin Tight, which is about people having cosmetic surgery to rid themselves of loose skin after major and natural weight loss. But before she steps out and shows off the work done by a team of surgeons to pull her skin tight and tough, you should know her backstory, and the five years of work she’s put in to change her mind, body, and soul on her own. To lose her addiction to large portions of food, to lose her insecurities, her doubts, and a whopping 140 pounds.

It started back in 2011 when she was 25. The Chicagoan had been overweight for as long as she could remember. It was the norm for her.

“I grew up with obesity on my maternal and fraternal side,” Adams said. “I was overweight by the time I was seven; I was morbidly obese by the time I was 14. The first time I was accountable for my weight, which is the way I started losing the weight with my accountability partner, I was 307, but I had been much bigger before and never got on the scale. So I think my max was a little bit over 320 pounds, which I was most of my teenage years and all of my adult years.”

It was something she had learned to be somewhat comfortable with.

“I had been overweight all my life, but I had never really actively tried to lose the weight because my mom always affirmed me as far as making me have enough tenacity and personality and style that I kind of moved through life well as a morbidly obese young adult and adult.”

But then, one day, the woman who would eventually become her mentor in her weight-loss journey asked her something no one ever had. She asked Adams how she felt about being overweight. A light went off in Adams’s head. She ended up unloading a lot of the pain, the struggle, the feelings that she’d been holding inside.

“People had either taunted me or teased me, or ridiculed me, but no one actually asked me how I felt about being overweight. And that’s why I was able to take my whole life and express my feelings of living in an obese person’s body, and that helped her help me, and we started the journey together for two and a half years to lose the weight.”

But it wasn’t one of those The Biggest Loser movements to shed the weight. She wasn’t off at warp speed trying to drop up to 10 pounds a week. As Adams put it, “I focused on one pound at a time for 30 months” until she lost 140 pounds.

She started off slow. In the beginning, her mentor encouraged her to walk around the local outdoor track three days a week. Adams lost 25 pounds after consistently walking in July, August, September and October of 2011. She walked and walked and walked.

“She’d offered to sign me up for a gym, but I was like, ‘No. Until I can prove to myself that I’m serious about this, I’ll stick to this,'” Adams said. “So walking outside for free was what I did. And then in October 2011, I joined LA Fitness, and I started doing group fitness classes.”

Adams faced a whole new challenge. Putting herself out there in a way that she had avoided for so long because of her body. She didn’t feel free in her frame growing up, so she was insecure about jumping around as a larger woman. But she had to recognize that what she was trying to do was bigger than what was going on in her head. So she started standing in the front of her classes, introducing herself to her instructors. She was happily getting advice from other gym-goers.

“You need help. That’s what people need to recognize,” Adams said. “When someone can finally openly address that they have a weight problem and it’s life or death and meant to kill you and that that’s what obesity is and really will do, it’s important. I had to always ask for help. I didn’t just show up and blend in. I would go to the front of the class to the right side. Introduce myself to instructors. If I saw a girl with a really beautiful physique, I would ask her for tips and information. And I did a slew of other things from 2011 until I reached my goal weight in 2014.”

Adams also had to work on her mentality when it came to what she put in her body. She had to make herself a “healthy and fit person who cares about nutrition.” Believe it and say it, because as she put it, “Your mind is a computer.”

“What you put in is what you put out,” Adams said. “And I was reading in my scriptures about prophesizing and in the scripture, the power of the tongue. Yes, diet and exercise is so important, but you have to change your mind. Yes, you may want this and this and this, but if you know you’re a healthy and fit person, you’re not going to grab a big bag of Doritos.”

Adams did a lot of spiritual work and participated in cognitive-behavior programs to change things up.

“You may grab for some sweet potato chips if you’re having cravings, but it doesn’t even cross my mind to eat like a giant piece of cake or go to McDonald’s or eat a big ole piece of meat with a big ole piece of bread anymore. It conflicts with who I am. It doesn’t go with me. You have to do something long enough and strong enough to change your will. It takes time. I’ve been doing this for five years, and that’s a very small amount of time to cover 30 years.”

And that’s why Adams has continued hard to practice self-control, meal prep, and track her diet. She’s even become a gym rat. And all that has paid off when it comes to her body and her way of thinking. But why then did Adams struggle to share her journey with people? Her goals? And why did it become even harder for her to talk about the fact that while the weight was coming off, the skin that it was wrapped around wasn’t?

We’ll discuss that part of Adams’s story tomorrow, in Part II. That will lead up to her big reveal on TLC Skin Tight this Wednesday. In the meantime, you can follow her story on her website and social media channels, including Facebook and Instagram. Get inspired to get healthy!

 

New Study Wants Us To Believe Obesity Is Increasing Because There Are Too Many Plus-Size Models

December 17th, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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UK Plus Size Fashion Week - Catwalk show held at 8 Northumberland Avenue Featuring: Model Where: London, United Kingdom When: 12 Sep 2015 Credit: Daniel Deme/WENN.com

UK Plus Size Fashion Week – Catwalk show held at 8 Northumberland Avenue
Featuring: Model
Where: London, United Kingdom
When: 12 Sep 2015
Credit: Daniel Deme/WENN.com

Just when the door to inclusiveness was starting to crack open for full-figured women, scientists want to go and find reason why plus-size models should be locked in a vault and never seen again — lest everyone become morbidly obese.

In a twisted study published by the American Marketing Association’s Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, researchers looking at the increasing use of plus-sized models in advertising campaigns determined their prevalence is a contributing factor to growing rates of obesity. How did they come to that conclusion? According to Science Daily: “The researchers conducted five experiments to see how subjects would react to cues suggesting that obesity was acceptable. In each instance the subjects displayed a greater intended or actual consumption of unhealthy food and a reduced motivation to engage in a healthier lifestyle, driven by an increased belief that obesity was more socially acceptable.”

That finding has been labeled the ironic dove effect as a reference to the popular Dove #realbeauty campaigns which featured ethnically diverse women of all shapes and sizes.

“One reason why being larger-bodied may appear to be contagious is that as it is seen as more socially permissible, individuals exhibit lower motivation to engage in healthy behaviors and consume greater portions of unhealthy food,” wrote study authors Brent McFerran, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Beedie School of Business, and Lily Lin, Ph.D., an assistant professor at California State University. “Usage of larger body types [in advertising] increases unhealthy behaviors.”

So should we go back — sorry continue — to only show wafer-thin white models and pretend like obesity wasn’t an issue before fuller figured women got more shine on runways and in magazine spreads? Not exactly. See the study authors also found those images didn’t have a positive effect on weight control either.

“Although this study demonstrates that accepting larger bodies is associated with negative consequences, research also shows that ‘fat-shaming’ -or stigmatizing such bodies — fails to improve motivation to lose weight,” said McFerran.

“Since neither accepting nor stigmatizing larger bodies achieves the desired results, it would be beneficial for marketers and policy makers to instead find a middle ground — using images of people with a healthy weight, and more importantly, refraining from drawing attention to the body size issue entirely.”

Or we could all take responsibility for our own health and stop looking to magazines to tell us whether our body shape is en vogue, let alone healthy.

Around 2006 was when obesity started to become a national health issue, with the CDC finding, on average, adults at that time weighed 26 more pounds than they did in 1950. Nine years ago, fat-shaming wasn’t even a thing. It was socially acceptable to ostracize people who were overweight (much like it still is today) and there certainly wasn’t a body positivity movement; there were barely even any stores to find full-figure clothing, and yet our waist lines continued to expand. It couldn’t possibly be the rise in fast food, the increase in food deserts, and inactive lifestyles that led men and women to gain pounds. No, this study would like us to believe that if you show a woman with back fat hanging out from underneath her 40 DDD bra in an ad campaign, suddenly women are going to go home and scarf down two burrritos from Chipotle and say f-ck it. Sorry, not buying it. This sounds more like conspiracy theory and an excuse to continue to shame women for not fitting into the unrealistic beauty images we claim to want to combat than it does any type of scientific discovery.

No One Tells You That When You Lose 40 Pounds, Your Shoes No Longer Fit

November 18th, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Corbis

Corbis

My clothes don’t fit.

When I tell people this, they say it’s a good problem to have. You see, like our lovely Deputy Editor Brande Victorian, I’ve also lost a lot of weight recently (we keep each other motivated) by choosing to try and eat better and working out at least four times a week. After losing almost 45 pounds, I watched my jeans get looser, anything with an elastic waistband started to hang off my waist, and my dresses fit baggier than ever.

After a while, I got used to having to buy new pants every few months and realized that as I slim and tone, things just won’t fit the same. But what I didn’t expect or see coming, was that I would lose weight in my feet. I guess when your body is looking to rid itself of a lot of fat, it comes off all over the place.

As I was digging through a bin of shoes last night as I prepared to swap out the summer shoes at my front door for my boots and loafers, I came across a pair of low camel-colored boots I bought from ASOS last year that were sent in a size my toes didn’t agree with. I’m a very impatient person, and didn’t feel like waiting to ship things back and forth, so I tried to make it work. I attempted to stretch the shoes out the best I could, and each of the three times I tried to wear them, I fought ’til my thumbs burned, trying to force my feet into them.

Well, last night, they fit. I didn’t fight. I didn’t fuss. I just said, “Let me try these on again,” and they slipped on like nothing. They’re still a little snug because they’re narrow, but as I walked around the house in my T-shirt, post-workout granny panties, and boots like I was styling on folks, they no longer hurt. And they looked cute!

And then there are the penny loafers I recently bought from DSW. I’ve worn a 10 for some time now, and yet, when I went home, put on my shoes and walked to work the next day feeling like the freshest sista in Brooklyn with my camel coat, camel-colored corduroys, and camel loafers, I realized that my heels were coming out of my shoes. I was no longer fresh or fly. I literally looked like a little girl wearing her mother’s shoes in public–and I was embarrassed.

I didn’t understand it then, as I stuffed tissue and anything I could into the front of my shoes to get them to fit, and I didn’t understand it yesterday when my tight shoes didn’t feel so bad after all. It wasn’t until my friend told me, “Maybe you lost weight in your feet?” that it clicked.

Every single inch of you shrinks when you lose weight. Your fingers slim to the point that rings fall off. Your face looks and feels less round. And, woman or man, your breast decrease drastically. That last part I’m not too excited about…

But I was genuinely shocked about my feet. I had always felt that my hands and feet were pretty boney, and that weight was focused in my thighs, stomach, and chest. However, when you’re overweight, everything about you is overweight. We like to think our extra weight is concentrated, but it is spread out everywhere–even in your feet.

I can’t say whether or not this is one of those fun changes. Like when tights that used to hug your legs for dear life now fit comfortably, or when a dress you were about to throw in a Goodwill bag after only being able to fit in it once finally frames your curves instead of suffocating them. Shoes are expensive, and I don’t have the time, nor the money to be out here buying new ones to make up for all the space in my old ones.

But it is a good change. And any change that involves taking off the pounds that were holding me back, even if it’s in my toes, is something to celebrate. And I’ll be celebrating in my floppy a– shoes.

 

#FoodieWars: Why Some Millennials Are Struggling To Find Access To Healthy Food

November 16th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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 Healthy Food

Corbis

As I child I grew up in the South Bronx, a place that faced extreme poverty during the Crack Epidemic and unfortunately still does. During the early 1990s, my family’s socio-economic status could be classified as upper-middle class, but the environment we lived in was laced with food disparities.

My family wasn’t personally affected by this, but I had classmates who usually attended school hungry and would ask if they could eat some of my food if they didn’t like what was provided for school lunch. Other peers who didn’t come to school hungry would instead arrive with the classic black plastic bag from local bodegas. It would be weighed down with Buttercrunch cookies, Swiss rolls, hero sandwiches and Tropical Fantasy soda that eventually led to weight or nutrition-related health issues a mere years down the line.

In their report of food deserts in metropolitan cities, Refinery29 investigates how families in New York City remain hungry as the Big Apple reigns as one of the leading restaurateur capitals. The subject of their research was Olivia, a twenty-something Ecuadorian-American mother raising three children. Refiner29 reports “Olivia is one of the 13.5 million young adults living in poverty in the United States. That’s one in five 18-to-34-year-olds. She feeds her four-person family with $500 in food stamps each month — roughly $1.40 per meal per person — provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The SNAP funds are meant to supplement additional income, but in Olivia’s case, it’s nearly all the money she has to rely on, leaving her and her family food insecure.”

Despite her financial and food insecurity, Olivia is pursuing a degree in psychology and will become the first in her family to graduate college. As she manages her collegiate career, Olivia tries to earn extra income by being a part-time vendor for HerbaLife. Another option Olivia utilizes is the food pantry in her local neighborhood. Though these options may seem helpful to purchase more food, Olivia admitted to Refinery29, there are many mornings her children don’t eat breakfast and have to wait until they are in school to eat food.

When Olivia’s family does have food in their home, its quality is questionable. Most SNAP recipients purchase food that is high in calories, sugar, and fat. Although Olivia is concerned about the health of her children, she noted the resources provided don’t allow her to buy organic food because of the cost. If she purchases healthier food, there would be less money to pay rent or other basic necessities. Olivia revealed, “I buy anything that’s microwavable, cans. That’s what’s on sale out here. Ten for $10 Chef Boyardee, Hot Pockets, sodas, juices. You can stock those up. I try to avoid those products — I know they’re not healthy — but when I buy healthier foods, I end up running out of money. Real food is expensive. When my son wants a smoothie that’s $8, that could be a [package] of meat, so I can’t get it for him.”

Refinery29 reports the United States Farm Bill is the reason why the price of “junk food” is significantly lower than organic food. The Farm Bill determines what kind of farm products are able to be subsidized. Commodity crop farmers are given subsidies and insurance by the government to produce corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, cornstarch and soy oils. Interestingly, these same subsidies are not applied to farmers who harvest grain, vegetables and fruits. Although some argue families who live in areas with low-quality food should travel to purchase healthier options, only a small number of organic supermarkets accept WIC or other government food programs as forms of payments. These corporations are sending the message that only a certain kind of person can shop at their stores and others cannot and that message is one that’s been received and accepted.

As millennials of color find themselves chasing after the latest restaurant or food-associated day party, it is imperative they voice their concerns about the Farm Bill as the 2016 Presidential Election approaches. It would imply First Lady Michelle Obama is and was not the only person concerned with the obesity and diabetes rates that plague our communities.

If You Had The Money, Would You Ditch The Gym For Liposuction?

November 3rd, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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VH1

VH1

It doesn’t matter if you were one of those people who played sports growing up or someone who has been a couch potato for a majority of your existence–working out sucks for everyone. Or at least, it blows in the beginning. The beginning, as in, that time when you’re trying to motivate yourself to get your life together after realizing your favorite pants no longer fit. That time when the new year begins, and you decide to use that as inspiration to get it right and tight (before heading back to the couch in March). That time when you realize your bikini body is not looking the way you had hoped and decide to do one of those 30-day squat challenges people post on social media in the hopes that at least your booty can be perky.

Knowing how much it sucks, and how much time and energy it takes to drop the pounds, if you could, would you avoid the gym altogether and just get the fat sucked right out from under you? I’m talking liposuction.

Love and Hip Hop LA‘s Teairra Mari decided to do just that recently. The “Feel Good” singer started her career as a tiny little thing when she was working with Jay Z and was signed to Roc-A-Fella. But by the time she joined Love and Hip Hop LA, she put on a little weight. It was nothing major, and nothing people really noticed–until it was brought up by a co-star who blamed an out-of-breath and out-of-tune performance by Mari on her being out of shape. He said such hurtful things as “Her stomach was all over the place,” and “You gotta get in the gym and work out.”

From that man with a bad body’s mouth, it all just sounded like hate. But by Season 2, Mari gained even more weight and could no longer hide it. And it was also apparent that she had allowed that weight to mess with her confidence. Plus, those jabs from her co-stars (including Princess Love calling her a “hippo” and saying that Ray J doesn’t want her “fat a–“) and folks on social media about her size probably didn’t help.

So she announced on a recent episode that she was thinking about getting some plastic surgery done to slim down. And in a bonus clip, we saw her explaining why. She wanted that immediate snapback. She also wanted that immediate happiness, as she shared with a friend:

“I told you before; I’ve just been feeling a little insecure about the weight gain. I don’t feel like myself. This weight feels like a barrier.”

She continued, “It’s been a wall in my life. I just don’t want to be this big.”

And on last night’s episode, she went through with her liposuction. The fat was sucked out from her stomach, and based on the bandages she displayed during her recovery process, she may also have had some taken out from underneath her chin. And while she wasn’t happy about the soreness, Mari seemed happy to have a little bit of extra weight off of her body and off of her shoulders.

I’m not here to bash Mari and hammer down the obvious, which is that with a few months of healthy eating and consistent time in the gym, she could have dropped some of that weight without putting her life at risk. Seriously, that’s not why I’m writing this. Rather, I’m just worried about the fact that before getting surgery, Mari never actually confronted how and why she wound up gaining so much weight in the first place.

And truly, that is what is important, especially when you’re not an individual who has battled with weight problems years upon years. If you don’t figure out what led you down a path of consistent unhealthy eating, while you can always head to the plastic surgeon, you could easily gain that weight back after surgery.

I recently lost about 40 pounds. To do that, I had to figure out what piece of the puzzle I was missing during my past attempts to lose weight. I started gaining a lot of weight near the end of college and afterward because I was getting lazy, and I was stressed. So instead of cooking something, I was making late-night stops to Burger King while studying for finals. Instead of staying to work out, I was getting tacos with shredded beef with my meal plan after my shift at the rec center. I was picking up gyros and fries after a shift folding panties at Victoria’s Secret. I was snacking while working on my stories late at night after working my full-time job all day. I was treating my body like whatever because my mind was all over the place. I didn’t care about looking fit because I wasn’t happy with the state of my existence. And during those years, I wasn’t happy with the state of my existence because I wasn’t fulfilled. Plus, you know, a sista didn’t really have the time to be a gym rat. So I ate until I felt good.

And the reality is that Teairra Mari has had a lot to emotionally eat about. Her music career, which she worked hard for, never really took off. Her relationship with Ray J, despite the decade she claims that they were together, was never a rewarding one. He didn’t even openly acknowledge her as his companion during their time together. And after thinking they were going to reunite at the end of Season 1, he expressed his dysfunctional devotion to Princess Love. And then there’s the legal trouble for reportedly fighting an Uber driver. Mari was inevitably charged with battery and theft, and could face possible jail time. There are also the mean folks who have openly stated that they think she’s “fat” online. And, of course, Mari lives in L.A. A place where image is everything, and if you don’t look the way you want or need to in order to find happiness and success, you can pay someone to get you there. Hence, Mari stating that she wanted to unveil her post-lipo body on the runway of a fashion show. She wanted to show other people how good she looks and how happy she finally is.

She’s a grown woman and can spend her dollars and cents as she pleases. But she was also always a beautiful woman who didn’t look like someone whose weight was spiraling out of control. Until there’s a grasp on how she ended up with the weight that she considered a barrier to her prosperity, there’s a scary chance that she could fall back into that hole–and fill it with food all over again.

“As A Man, You Have To Look Dominant”: Men Speak On Their Struggle With Body Image

August 31st, 2015 - By J.C. Osby
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Corbis

Corbis

For years, big and fat were synonymous with music artist and producer William Perkins.

Last year, the 29-year-old weighed in at his heaviest, standing at a hefty 6’11” and 453 pounds. But he didn’t think he was fat.

Growing up in an urban environment where healthy eating wasn’t a priority, Perkins’ physical size and health never phased him. Everyone around him had poor eating habits, and many of the people in his life were big. Because of his immense height, he was able to get away with his weight, skating by as the “big guy.”  It was acceptable to be a guy and be large. Very large.

It wasn’t until last year when Perkins started taking a weekly trip to the emergency room with extreme digestive issues that he realized something was wrong with his body.

Where he’d once been an avid college basketball player, Perkins ended up having unusual asthma symptoms and started feeling lethargic.  His body fat was suffocating him. His body was failing him.

“I had an unrealistic idea of what my body really looked like because I was tall,” Perkins said. “ But I really started seeing my body for what it was.”

There’s been a spike in the number of African Americans seeking cosmetic surgery to achieve the ideal body. According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2013, 1,225,214 African Americans had legal procedures done. That, of course, doesn’t account for the back room and basement butt lifts we often hear about women having and dying from in the news. But women aren’t the only ones struggling with their appearance. Extreme fitness has become the path to the perfect physique for some Black men. Daily trips to the gym that encompass endless reps and sets, interrupted only by brief talk of the best supplements to get the best results, have become a favorite pastime for some. A must for guys who are looking to feel good when they look at themselves in the mirror.

However, looking good and feeling good are two different things.

When doctors told Perkins he’d either have to have intestinal surgery or lose weight, he started making drastic life changes. He educated himself on personal nutrition and exercised three to four hours a day, seven days a week. All the feel-good foods that make you feel warm on the inside, he cut out. He replaced fried chicken and mouth-watering pasta with fruits, veggies, and raw almonds.

“I started seeing weight loss all over and muscle definition revealing itself everywhere,” Perkins said.

And in three months he lost 100 pounds, modifying his entire life to achieve the ideal body.

Although physical health was the biggest reason behind Perkins’ weight-loss journey, having a muscular physique does set some men apart from others. Whereas being a heavy-set male used to be a sign of wealth, now society views fat men more as pushovers, and the strong, muscle-bound man as the protector and alpha-male figure.

“As a man, you have to look dominant,” Perkins said. “You can’t just walk around and say ‘I’m a man.’ People should be able to look at you and say, ‘Oh, now that’s a man.’”

The manager of Supplement Superstores in St. Louis, Dave Stevens agrees that there is always competition among men to be the biggest thing walking. Like a primal instinct to be the scariest beast in the jungle. However, Stevens believes that the pressure to achieve the ideal body for men and women comes from two very different sources.

“Women are self-conscience about their bodies because of the outside, like the media or people around them,” Stevens said. “Men’s pressure is more self-driven. It’s them saying ‘I’m too fat’ or ‘I’m too skinny.’”

It’s well known that the media, everything from Instagram models to simple magazine advertisements, depict unrealistic ideals for the female body across the world. For years, advocacy groups and feminist movements have dedicated themselves to promoting positive self-image and confidence among young girls to counteract this issue. But much has been done to encourage healthy body image for men.

Perkins can relate, saying that although he has made progress he still sees the physical imperfections that have yet to go away, and it can make him feel uneasy.

“Once you start trying to make a change, there is an insecure part that comes when I look and I see that the fat is still there,” he said. “That stomach fat at the bottom, it’s still there.”

While he continues to make strides in his fitness journey, Perkins does wish he had been better educated on good health way before his bad health caught up with him in adulthood.

“There’s no importance placed on the health of the Black man,” Perkins said. “Ain’t no gyms in the hood. No healthy eating places in those areas. Just unhealthy fast food and Chinese restaurants.”

 

5 Reasons To Explore Vegetarianism With Your Kids

May 6th, 2015 - By Rich
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I kept it hush, but I did it. I didn’t tell many people, because I knew certain circles of friends wouldn’t understand. Others would have jokes. Even women, would suggest I was less than a man. But, quiet as kept…I did it on the low-low. Last year, I spent over six months as a vegetarian.

Through the years, I have lightly explored bouts as a veggie head, primarily for weight loss. However, as I have moved forward in life, I have found that this life as a part-time vegetarian actually works for me. I am at my lightest weight in years. I managed to crank out a half marathon last year and I am far more active than ever. Granted, this is a different time in my life and good health is a priority over all. So, perhaps I could get similar results eating more meat. I just didn’t.

However, what is more important is that I take the kid on this journey with me. Here I will outline my reasons for doing so and perhaps you will ponder it more. These reasons are not that of a doctor so please consult one or a nutritionist when really delving deep into vegetarianism.

1) General Good Health.

I know I’m not a doctor, but I don’t have to be to know this: vegetables are good for you. Duh! Generally, we just don’t eat enough fruits or vegetables. There is a general practice that I have in my house, there have to be at least 2-3 brightly colored items on our plate at night, if we happen to have meat. You can get any nutrient from vegetables that you can get from meat. This is one of the mistakes I made earlier in my exploration, but last year I got help getting my total diet together.

2) Instill Good Health

I know this sounds like the first one, but its not. I intend to fully instill the proper way to eat to my daughter now so that she keeps that forever in life. What I mean its, its not good enough to just put it on the plate. You have to explain to them why eating veggies is important to their lives. I share with her the dramatic health ailments that some of my friends and associates have had in their 30’s and 40’s. It may not be solely meat related, but it certainly is junk and lifestyle related. I let her know, if she starts and maintains this healthy life, she can have a great quality of life.  Once, upon a time, I thought Hamburger Helper was a good, home-cooked meal.  My parent didn’t feed me garbage growing up. I just didn’t know.

3) MeatGotta Rethink It

I realize now one of the reasons I ate meat a lot of the time. It just got me full and kept me full for a longer time. Also, you could get meat for shockingly cheap prices – that $2 for two cheeseburger deal was the bomb! And I was broke. There is another side to this and it lies in high cholesterol levels, hormone-injected meat, antibiotics, other toxins and no fiber whatsoever. Meat actually contains more pesticides than fruits and vegetables, one study said. Also, meat simply stays in the system far too long. It takes a lot of energy to process. A year and a half ago, ate a giant jalapeño burger in New York City and the ‘itis was so bad, I called it a day. It was the last time I ate beef. My daughter has cheerfully joined me on this journey. Her mother recently told me that she goes to her home and even shares some of the things we cook at my house.

One of my favorite rappers, KRS-One planted the earliest seeds of vegetarianism. Shout out to him and his song “Beef” from 1990.

4) Vegetables and Fruits Taste Great!

I stopped having junk food in the house. I openly admit, I don’t have the will power and neither does my daughter. I recently tried to have cookies in the house as the occasional treat for her. I looked up there high in the cabinet and saw there were way less cookies than before. She had been sneak-eating! I left her the following note for when she goes for another stealing session!

chuck creekmur cookies note

Huxtable quips aside, I have learned that vegetables taste really good and even better when you add the proper spices. Add some legumes, quinoa, brown rice or fresh-cut potatoes and you won’t have any issue have a full-filling meal. I admit, it takes a bit more time and planning, but it is well worth it. I don’t want to discount fruits – I love them way more than fruits.

5) I Want To Stay Around

My daughter and I have a great time together and I’d like to keep it that way. I am the product of a father that left the Earth in his mid-40’s. I am acutely aware of my mortality at all times and my health as well. It is my intention to say around, strong and healthy as long as I can – primarily for my daughter. Heck, I want to stay around for myself too, but I just know that it is necessary to help guide your children even when they are grown. She’s do the same for her kids and so on and so on. This has to be a movement.

black burger

In conclusion!

I just finished a month as a vegan. Let me tell you…that was not easy for me at all. Its like vegetarianism on steroids! However, I will continue to delve deeper into living healthy, as we all should do. Right now, I am a mere pseudo, part-time vegetarian that is weighing out the options. After my month of veganism, I had some great hot wings during the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight. I’m back now though. For me, its not necessarily about rigid vegetarianism. It is about sharing the full breadth of options to my daughter. The food our kids ingest is very different that the food of old even the fruits and veggies. (About 70% of all that stuff is genetically modified!) It just isn’t good enough to ignore the obesity rates in kids, which is about 1 in 3 here in America. Understand, this is a war over mind and body. It doesn’t sound pleasant, but it will be when you’re child is running the same way at 40 when she/he was 14. Now, that’s a vision for the future.

 

 

The Singer Pink Shuts Down Body Shaming

April 14th, 2015 - By Rich
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Main image courtesy of P!nk

The internet really sucks sometimes, but the singer Pink shut them own yesterday.

Over this past weekend, the Grammy Award-winner attended a cancer benefit with her husband and child and all people wanted to talk about was her supposed weight gain. I looked at the images and couldn’t see this supposed gain in mass, which leads me to believe some of her fans really have to check their own lens. Pink was there in a black gown that offered much cleavage. To me she looked great, but on social media she was dragged, but her reply decimated them all.


“I can see that some of you are concerned about me from your comments about my weight. You’re referring to the pictures of me from last night’s cancer benefit that I attended to support my dear friend Dr. Maggie DiNome. She was given the Duke Award for her tireless efforts and stellar contributions to the eradication of cancer. But unfortunately, my weight seems much more important to some of you. While I admit that the dress didn’t photograph as well as it did in my kitchen, I will also admit that I felt very pretty. In fact, I feel beautiful. So, my good and concerned peoples, please don’t worry about me. I’m not worried about me. And I’m not worried about you either :) … I am perfectly fine, perfectly happy, and my healthy, voluptuous and crazy strong body is having some much deserved time off. Thanks for your concern. Love, cheesecake.”

pink

Before this happened, I was already going to write you all about kids, body image, and body shaming, See, a year or so ago, a very rude (I thought she was far too blunt) told me and my daughter’s mother than our child was overweight. My daughter was standing right there. I was livid. In all reality. I knew she had gained some weight, but that wasn’t a major concern. For one, kids actually do gain weight and then, at times, shed it as they grow into their bodies. Secondly, I know we all had experienced a major life change due to the divorce. There were two new homes, two sets of rules and a host of other changes after the split.

On the flip side, she has gotten older and more into gadgets, plays less outside, watches more TV innately and has more homework as well. The good side is that I have stressed to her good health to the fullest degree. Some of that involves me sharing with her how I used to eat and how I wished I was armed with my present-day eating habits when I was her age. Also, speak on how not taking proper care of oneself leads to a myriad of health problems. I have friends that refuse to come to New York, because its too much walking. I have friends that have had strokes and they are under the age of 40. Other friends have died of cancer, before hitting the age of 30.

We talk about all of this health-related info – but, we never really discuss her weight directly. Don’t want to tear away at her esteem.

Chuck Creekmur and Daughter Maia Creekmur

Chuck Creekmur and Daughter Maia Creekmur

One thing is for sure, there weren’t a lot of Black people attacking Pink’s presumed weight gain. I believe we have a different eye when it comes to beauty, but I also think we have a different opinion of weight too. I’ve got no qualms with a woman that has some meat on her bones and some curves on the frame. (Read:Haters Back Down: In Defense of Jill Scott) However, what is not cool is when we, as people of color, pretend everything is permissible.

No matter what, my only concern is that my daughter be health conscious and honor herself with love and respect. The goal is for her to to be so strong internally that, like Pink, those “haters” and their views are meaningless. For a young, impressionable girl, this can be difficult and, I am certain, harder as they are bombarded with images in the media, social mediums and even boys, what a “bad shawty” is. My daughter is coming into her own. She’s starting blogging, video blogging, interviewing artists, acting and playing a couple of instruments. Heck, she even has a “consulting company” helping other kids get their youtube views up.
The last thing she needs is for somebody to tell her she isn’t good enough and, even worse…she believe it.

This is why the recent Black Girls Rock! was so important. While it didn’t focus on body image or weight, it celebrated girls and women in their many shades, trades and forms. It was fitting that The First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a killer speech for the ages. She has also been a champion of keeping kids fit with her “Lets Move” campaign. Check it out at letsmove.gov. I have to admit, my daughter and I have been consistently “moving” for years. We’ve done basketball, boxing, karate, and lots of running. She was heavily involved in track (which doubled as a social club) until her grades needed to become the priority.

Nevertheless, I am pleased that the seeds of good healthy and confidence are there.

Maia Creekmur Boxing

I know it will serve her well later in life and if she comes even close to fulfilling her dreams, she will need it.

Just like Pink.

In many instances, when a child is seemingly overweight or unhealthy, it is because it was allowed to happen by parents. Not always, but often. There are too many situations where we opt to go to McDonald’s rather than seek out a healthy option. We parents come home tired from work and sit on the couch, which in turn, has the children on the couch. We dictate the lifestyle in our homes. I realize there are a couple of issues here (self love, body image, social media), but they go hand in hand these days. Hell, if they don’t get enough “likes,” kids don’t think they are liked. Good health (mentally and physically) at any body size breeds confidence. And, I don’t mean that false, forced confidence that has you sobbing in a dark room when you are alone, but boisterous in public. When your kid is truly in love with themselves, they those foolish insults will bounce like rubber bullets off Superman’s chest. If the words sting, and they might, the kid will be able to withstand the verbal assault and return stronger.

All we as parents have to do is plant that seed deep in their minds and bodies that they are indeed super as well.