All Articles Tagged "progress"
I’m not going to lie, I’m decidedly anti-scale.
Not because I’m lying to myself about my weight, not because I want to remain delusional about it, and not because it’s just easier to “not know.” I’m “anti-scale” because it puts unimportant numbers in front of me. It perpetuates the myth that the most meaningful thing that I could do for my weight loss goal is lose a ton of mass, and it doesn’t matter where that mass comes from.
If I know that my body will carry up to eight pounds of water weight, and I go and sit in a steam room for far longer than is naturally healthy and sweat that water weight out then come out and get on the scale, I’m going to see a “weight loss.” Never mind the fact that, whenever I eat or drink something new, I’ll pack that water weight right back on. Never mind the fact that it’s quite unhealthy to dehydrate myself in that fashion, and that I’ll be negatively affecting my daily bodily function to even try it. I will have lost weight. I guess that’s what’s important in the end.
And, what’s to be said of the difference between muscle and fat? Muscle is necessary not only for general function, but also fitness and self-preservation. Don’t I want to be healthier for years to come? Muscle helps with that, and equally important, weight maintenance. If I’m not careful about how I lose weight, I’ll lose lots of valuable muscle, which negatively affects my metabolism far more than losing fat. Should I risk all that hard work just to see a number drop on the scale?
Besides, what about simply watching to see my progress in the mirror? Don’t many people lose a a few pounds simply to change what they see? What do I do when I’m losing weight, but can’t respect – or, don’t know how to respect – the changes I might be unable to see?
I figured out a solution. A way to track my progress, respect what I was seeing in the mirror, and help me focus on what was most important – building the body I wanted – and not a non-descriptive number.
I shuffled through my closet, and pulled out a dress. I’d never been able to wear it before – it was always too small, too tight, and my shoulders were far too large for me to even get it over my head. At this point in my journey, I’d experienced just enough success to get the dress over my head, although I looked like quite the lumpy mess in it. Not to fear, though. I’d put in work, and my new goal was to become a bombshell in that dress.
In fact, the dress became a much more positive reinforcement than the scale ever could. As an inch-by-inch-by-inch cube of muscle weighs more than a cube of fat with the same metrics yet is still smaller, my appearance would change – which was something I wanted – even though the scale might show a gain. I didn’t want to look like a formerly-fat-now-flabby-and-deflated person – I wanted to look toned. I needed muscle to do that. Slipping into that dress every week helped me gauge how well I was coming along in achieving that.
Week after week, I’d slide into that dress – pulling and tugging at first, letting it fall right onto me eventually – and I’d notice something new about how it fit on me. One day, the shoulders would be less round, a bit squarer and even a bit broad. Next, less rolls in the front and back, and more of a waist appearing. Sometimes, I’d whimper about my shrinking breasts, but I was still happy. It meant progress, even if the double Ds had to go.
I even remember the last day I put that dress on – it literally fell on so fast that I couldn’t even get my arms into the sleeves! I was able to fit into it, shoulders and all, without the arm holes. It became time to retire the dress.
I learned a lot from my dress. I learned how to notice changes in my body – both for the better and the worse – and how to act based upon how I want to either encourage or discourage those changes, which was something I’d never learned before. If anyone asks me, I tell them to ditch the scale and go get yourself a sassy dress! It’s not only more fun, but more pleasant. Watch your body – and your self-esteem – thank you for it!
Erika Nicole Kendall is the writer behind the award winning blog, A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss, where she blogs her journey of losing over 150lbs. A trainer certified in women’s fitness, fitness nutrition and weight loss coaching, she can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
Why Be Intimidated By Other Sistahs? We Can ALL Shine: How I Learned To Deal With Feelings Of Inadequacy
A few weeks ago, I reported on the moving speech delivered by Gabrielle Union at Essence’s Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon. During her speech, the Being Mary Jane actress discussed masking her feelings of inadequacy and being intimidated by other beautiful and successful women.
“We live in a town that rewards pretending. I had been pretending to be fierce and fearless for a very long time. I was a victim masquerading as a survivor… I used to shrink in the presence of other dope beautiful women. I used to revel in gossip and rumors, and I lived for the negativity inflicted upon my sister actresses or anyone who I felt whose shine diminished my own.”
Something about those words resonated with me. I remember playing the video clip of her speech over and over, in complete awe of her courage and transparency. I was taken back to a time where I greatly struggled with low self-esteem; a time when feelings of inadequacy and condemning thoughts took permanent residency in mind.
I remembered the times when I’d feel down on myself after another woman made a major accomplishment or less than beautiful because I was in the presence of another fabulous and attractive woman. I reflected on the days where I was overly ambitious and nearly killed myself trying to be perfect. Not merely because I simply wanted to attain whatever goal I was striving towards, but because I wanted to ensure that my family was proud of me. As if I was somehow earning their love. As if when stripped of everything, I was somehow unworthy of being loved by them, but with every degree earned, accomplishment made and reward received, I was somehow earning my keep. At least that’s what my subconscious mind believed.
It took me so long to even recognize that I had a problem and come to grips with the fact that although I may have appeared to have it all together outwardly, inside I was a mess. Inside was a disturbed and insecure young woman, who no matter what equation she used to gauge her worth, never quite measured up.
Black women are simply amazing, so it’s not strange to believe that every once in a while we may feel a bit intimidated by one another, but the point is not tear each other down, but instead to build one another up. I believe this was best summarized in an October piece on Clutch entitled “Special Enough” written by Jamilah Lemeiux:
“Black girls are awesome, right? We talk about this all the time. We’re fierce, funky, and fly. We make trends, we transcend. You go to any ‘hood in America and you can find sisters who are no less stunning than the Halle Berrys and Kelly Rowlands on TV. We’re dope. In Brooklyn, I am constantly surrounded by stunning, accomplished, Black magic women. And I feel very much empowered as a part of this tribe. Glamazon women. Urban warriors. Dust daughters.”
“But I can’t lie: it’s some days where I just feel like I’m not enough.”
Feelings of inadequacy are rarely discussed, so we’re made to think we’re abnormal in sometimes feelings this way, but the truth of the matter is, it’s really not abnormal at all. What really matters is what we choose to do with those thoughts and feelings. One day I made up my mind to no longer be a victim to my thoughts and emotions. I decided that I would no longer dwell on condemning thoughts that made me feel as if I was anything less than a talented and beautiful black woman. I cleansed my mind of the ideology that someone else’s success and progress somehow dimmed my own. And finally, I vowed to cease comparing myself to other people. It was a long road, but I eventually got to the point where I learned to sincerely celebrate others without viewing their triumphs as some kind of impedance of my own success, and I like to believe that I am a better person because of it.
Follow Jazmine on Twitter @jazminedenise.
Last Tuesday, while most folks were distracted by all the election day coverage, the School District of Philadelphia quietly announced its plan to restructure the city’s public school system, including closing 64 schools in the next five years.
Calling the plan an attempt to right size a district, which has been bleeding both seats and money, while making it competitive by offering parents more choices, Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen said that 40 schools would close by next year and six additional schools would be closed every year thereafter until 2017. The remaining schools would get distributed into “achievement networks” where public or private groups compete to manage them while the Central District headquarters would be reduced to a skeleton crew of about 200. The District chief also said that the ultimate goal is to have about 40 percent of students in Philly’s public school system moved to charter school management by 2017.
The announcement of basically the dissolution of the School District of Philadelphia, a city that’s the fifth largest city in the nation, has received minimum attention in the mainstream media. Even as the city of brotherly love becomes the latest city to weaken under the prospects of trying to balance budgets, while working with decreasing amounts of funding, meet the standards of federal No Child Left Behind guidelines and compete with the sudden rise in charter schools, which continues to pull necessary monies and resources from the already battered school districts. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, “across Pennsylvania, school boards are finding it increasingly difficult to manage tax dollars responsibly as the pressure to open more charter and cyber-charter schools builds, even as these schools show little evidence of performing better than regular public schools.” And it is not just Pennsylvania.
In Detroit, which last year announced plans to close half of that city’s schools and increase high school class sizes to 60 students, the city has also embraced charter schools as the cornerstone of its “Renaissance 2012″ plan even as the performance of the district’s 14 authorized charters so far has been less than impressive. In New York City, which has undergone a similar style restructuring plan similar in kind to Philadelphia, has too not seen the success as promised through its reduction of publicly held schools in favor of privately managed charter schools.
According to Diane Ravitch, former Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush, New York City has not gotten the remarkable results it promised. She writes, “The city’s proficiency rates, which seemed to be flying up by leaps and bounds every year, got deflated in 2010 when the State Education Department admitted lowering the cut scores on state examinations. Overnight, the New York City miracle disappeared, as the percentage of students who reached proficiency fell to levels near where they had been years earlier. And the achievement gap was as large as it had been in 2002, when the mayor took charge.”
We all have a vision of prosperity, and with that vision, an eagerness to blame the outside world when things don’t go our way sometimes. Although several economic, social and political problems are without question the fault of institutional racism, biased employers, and a world of white privilege, how long are communities of color willing to bleed? Instead of our pockets getting fatter, our problems are expanding more quickly than a bottom in tight jeans…and overflowing into a muffin top of defeat.
Will we ever be honest about our overall health as a community? Will someone ever have the courage to not merely chastise communities of color, but help us help ourselves? Will phrases like “communities of color” and “the urban community” always be euphemisms for poverty? Can those phrases ever be yanked from the context of “suffering” or “problems” or “pathologies” and become synonymous with wealth and power and integrity—not just for the sake of lawmakers and mouthy pundits on cable news channels, but for the real people who are defined by them?
Though minorities have secured some powerful representation in the fashion world (think supermodels Alek Wek, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Beverly Johnson), and in the political world (think Barack Obama, Colin Powell), and in the worlds of music and entertainment, many of these icons do not reflect, or affect, the lives of everyday people.
In the real world, where black unemployment rates are always the highest, health problems are always plaguing people of color, and education is continuing to tumble in minority communities, regular folk, i.e. Tom, package and Tyrone, need to start admitting that they have age-old problems.
What’s more, we need to start fixing them–by ourselves. The first step though is admitting that we have a problem. We’ve listed the ongoing problems below, as well as their solutions, in our much needed process of collective rehab.
(Time) — Drilling engineers like to say that oil and gas wells have personalities — and that they always need to be treated with care. The Deepwater Horizon was drilling in the Macondo prospect in the Gulf of Mexico when an explosion sank the rig on April 20, triggering a spill that has spewed up to 40 million gal. of oil into the sea, with more flowing every day. In the weeks since, the energy giant BP has tried multiple ways to close the partially blown well — top hats, containment domes, tube insertions, junk shots, top kills — and has failed every time, as if the out-of-control well doesn’t want to cooperate.
(The Washington Post) — Eighteen months after Barack Obama‘s presidential win seemed to usher in a new era in racial politics, a different reality has emerged: Black candidates in races around the country are struggling so much that the number of African Americans in major statewide offices is likely to drop from the already paltry three. And the possibility exists that there will be no black governors or senators by next year. The drubbing Tuesday of Rep. Artur Davis (D), who was running to be the first black governor of Alabama, was the latest in a series of defeats of black politicians in primaries this year for statewide office. And some of the blacks who already hold such posts aren’t staying in them. Of the nation’s two black governors, New York’s David Paterson, plagued by ethics scandals, opted not to run this fall — the same decision made by the only black senator, Roland Burris (D-Ill.).