A new year is finally here, and many people will embark on a new health and fitness regimen. Unfortunately, a large percentage will not keep these resolutions. But you can make great progress with fitness by following just a few key points.
Most important: Do something you enjoy! If you hate running, then you will dread your workout every time, eventually stop going, feel guilty for not going, and be back at square one.
Look into new and innovative ways to work out. Take advantage of group fitness classes such as weight training, spinning, or boot camp. Try out the Capital Bikeshare program and ride around town. Build a circuit of body weight moves for workouts with no equipment necessary, such as squats, push-ups, crunches, planks, burpees, and jumping jacks. Enlist a friend to motivate both of you and ensure accountability; you wouldn’t want to let down a friend, right? And, remember: Every little bit counts! Taking the stairs several times a day, going for a walk at lunch, turning your coffee date into a walking date—it all adds up, though it won’t replace a heart-pounding workout session.
Beyond finding an activity, there is the ongoing debate of weights versus cardio. The simple answer is both! Cardio is important to keep your heart and lungs healthy, and it helps burn calories for weight loss. But weight training is important for many reasons, as well. For every pound of muscle you build, your body burns an average of 50 more calories, even as you sit and read this magazine! Weight training also helps maintain bone density, which is especially important for women. Although it can be frustrating to see the numbers on the scale barely budge, remember that muscle weighs more than fat and takes up much less space. Many women shy away from heavy weights for fear of “bulking up,” but women simply cannot naturally turn into the Hulk. So don’t worry ladies! Pick up those heavy weights and start building a strong, healthy body!
Finally, visualize your workout goals. Make sure that you are making changes for yourself, not for anyone else. Find motivational and inspirational quotes, pictures, and mantras to give you that extra push. Here are a few of my favorite sayings: “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”; “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going”; and “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Notice a pattern? There is hard work involved, but this is your health. You only get one body, so take care of it!
Take Care of Your Medical and Mental Health
By June Crenshaw
As women who are lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LBT), we all deserve culturally competent and quality care from our medical care providers. Unfortunately, this type of care is not easy to find. The lack of options can create obstacles to having our medical care needs met, such as gynecological and breast exams. We have all heard of the health disparities within the population of LBT women, especially LBT women of color. We have a greater risk of developing and a higher rate of dying from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Some studies show that we participate in higher behavioral risks, like smoking and drinking, and lower rates of preventive care than heterosexual women. And, we face challenges that are unique to our community. For some of us, going to the doctor elicits a number of fears: having to “come out” to our provider, receiving a bad diagnosis, experiencing overt discrimination due to the lack of health insurance, being unable to afford the cost of care, and having a lack of trust of providers. All of these fears are barriers to our care that can diminish our quality of life.
Equally important as having our medical needs met is ensuring that our mental health care needs are met, as well. Research suggests that we experience depression, anxiety, and substance abuse at higher rates than heterosexual women. The antidotal reason for these disparities is most likely related to the societal stigma, prejudice, and discrimination that we face on a daily basis. Stereotypes, such as being labeled “crazy” or “weak,” keep us away from seeking supportive services like counseling. If we can shift our thinking to the belief that our mental wellness allows us to grow and change, then therapy can give us tools to cope with the daily stressors of our lives. We know that our mental health affects every single facet of daily living.
What is the solution? We all have to take an active role in making sure that our health needs are being met. The scarcity of culturally competent resources and social stigma should not prevent us from getting the health care we need. Finding affirming, culturally competent care for LBT women is challenging, but not impossible. For example, places like Whitman-Walker Health have been offering services to the LGBTQ communities for nearly 40 years. Being a member of the Board of Directors of Whitman-Walker Health helps me to support the mission of providing the highest quality of culturally competent care to individuals within the LGBTQ communities and all of those who encounter barriers to accessing care.
Better Nutrition and Healthy Eating
By Eleasa Du Bois
How many times have you, or someone you know, started the year with a quest to lose weight or eat healthier? However, somewhere around mid- March, you lose steam and then eventually stop. How can you break this cycle?
With countless failed weight-loss attempts under my belt, in January 2010, I decided to commit to my own rescue and do something different. I learned how to demolish the excuses and stay on track to achieve my goals. Then, I became a coach to empower women as they focus on developing lifestyle habits that contribute to their own success stories.
To begin the transition to healthier eating, start with a plan. Write down your goals, with deadlines. Give copies of your goals to your coach, your accountability partners, your life partner, and your family. It’s hard to fall off the wagon when you have a power team working in your favor.
Keep a food journal. Keeping a journal encourages you to be brutally honest with yourself. My coach helped me determine why I felt that I needed a soda and a doughnut for breakfast each morning. Through this a-ha moment, I was able to change my relationship with food and start the process of releasing limiting beliefs about myself, along with releasing pounds.
Adopt a new mind-set. “I eat to live, not live to eat.” Foods that you consume are either cleansing or clogging to your digestive tract. Consuming a high amount of cleansing foods is paramount for weight loss and a wellness transformation. The first step we take is to detox the body. Our detoxification process is designed to help you release 8 to 12 pounds during the first few weeks of the program. Eating alkaline fruits and vegetables like kale, spinach, cucumbers, cauliflower, apples, blackberries, cherries, and pineapples helps to trim belly fat.
Eat six times a day. Having three healthy meals and three snacks will diminish cravings for sweets and carbohydrates, while increasing the level of satiety. As you nourish your body every three hours with a healthy meal or snack, you are empowered to make better food choices consistently.
To learn more about strengthening your will to win, release weight, eat healthier, and re-define your shape, please visit www.thetightbodychronicles.com.
Photos by Cedric Terrell