As a Black woman, fitness enthusiast, and mother, I have strong opinions about the state of our health. I don’t believe in making excuses for my sistas, nor do I agree with the assertion that Black women should be proud of their bodies, regardless of size. If you are jeopardizing your health and the well-being of your family and relationships, I don’t think that’s something to take pride in.
There are many reasons Black women are disproportionately obese. Cultural beliefs and cuisine, social traditions and expectations, genetics and ignorance all play a role in the Black female obesity epidemic. These factors will not be eliminated or resolved overnight, but there are steps in the right direction that can be taken right here and right now. I think it’s important to understand how certain popular beliefs are unhealthy and encourage obesity.
Throughout my career as a personal trainer and motivator, I’ve observed some myths about exercise and weight loss that persistently exist within the Black community. Don’t expect to make progress in your weight-loss efforts if you subscribe to any of the following:
- You will lose weight from sitting in a sauna and wrapping yourself in plastic bags, saran wrap, or wearing the silver sweat outfit. I don’t see anyone other than “my people” still wearing the aluminum foil-looking, jogging suit like Missy Elliott wore in the “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” video back in 1997. If you think you can lose weight simply by going to a gym and doing nothing, I’ve got news for you. Any temporary loss that you experience from any of these methods is simply water weight loss. Loss of fluids through sweating is temporary and does absolutely nothing toward your overall permanent weight loss and health goals.
- Your hair is more important than your health. As a Black woman, I get the hair dilemma. I truly do. But it is not an excuse to be overweight and out of shape. Who really cares how nice your hair looks if you are sloppy fat? Yes, it’s more work for a Black woman to have a groomed look and work out. Tough luck, you’ve got to work with what you’ve been given. That’s the way our Creator made us. So put in the extra effort, whether that’s by using a silk scarf, getting braids, weave, or going natural. I guarantee there is a Black woman with every hair type across the board who has figured out how to manage her hair and maintain her fitness. There is a wealth of information and ideas on YouTube and the web. Be creative.
- Your man likes you “thick” and you are afraid you will lose your butt. Child, please. I have yet to meet a man who has complained about his woman being in shape. If you are overweight, then you’ve got some “thickness” to spare. If you are concerned about keeping a plump rear, do squats, lunges, and mat work for your glute muscles. You are lying to yourself if you think your man won’t like your fit body. And if he really has an issue with it, perhaps you should consider why he feels uncomfortable with a healthier you. Besides, nobody wants a booty in the back and a booty in the front, in the form of a fat gut.
It’s not excusable for overweight Black women to continue jeopardizing their health while making an overwhelmingly high contribution to the rising costs of healthcare. Obesity rates among Black women continue to rise in addition to their risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Don’t hold on to foolish belief systems that have a negative impact on your family and society. Set a positive example for your loved ones and community by achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Holly Lowe Jones is a media professional, fitness expert, and ISSA-certified personal trainer. A member of the National Association for Health and Fitness, Jones is also a seasoned triathlete who competes in her spare time.
For more information, please visit her website www.hollylowejones.com.
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