What is this all about?

I started this blog to keep me accountable in my fitness and clean eating journey. My first post was in March of 2007 and I've been posting ever since. As you will see I've had many highs and lows...but this is all about the journey...not just the destination

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hair I am

The statistics regarding obesity among African Americans is well documented. Obesity levels among African American women are at epidemic proportions – with 50% being obese and that statistic has grown quite significantly over the last 10 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that black women suffer higher percentages of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death. And, the CDC says, when they get these diseases, they have more severe cases than white women. African-American men however not obese as a group – with their obesity levels being equal to or lower than that of other ethnic groups.

Why are sistas overweight?
Most studies identify diet and nutrition as primary causes. Supporting causes are lack of exercise and genetics. According to Women’s Health magazine , when compared with overweight white Americans, overweight black Americans are two to three times more likely to say their weight is average — even after they've been diagnosed as overweight or obese by a doctor. I know that story – I sure didn’t think I was obese – but I was. Also some women are encouraged to keep “a little meat on the bones” and use that as a reason for indulging in unhealthy foods and not working out .

Why do we skip the gym – and why did I skip it this morning?
There are probably several bodies of research that dig into this in greater detail, but my hypothesis is that hair has something to do with it. Not that the issue is vanity – but it is more about cost, time, effort and hair condition. Let’s say on average it cost $85-$125 to get the do done (relaxer, blow, curl) and then you go sweat it out. Then you have to use flat iron, curling iron etc to get it back to presentable state. Well that can cause heat damage and impact the condition of your hair. Plus – the time it takes to do all this (either in the morning or at night) can be upwards of 1.5 hours. In order to maintain my workout schedule – I decided that I would wear braids. With regular swimming and daily workouts – it is the one thing that works for me. During triathlon training season – it really works. But it comes with a cost too. Like – what if I don’t always want to wear braids and I need a change.

So that is where I am right now- removed my braids over the weekend and I’m managing hair that has not seen a relaxer since February. My husband (and I ) were ready for a new look. I have to confess, this morning I let my hair get in my way of working out. Here is why:
  • Yesterday I spent 5 ½ hours doing my hair. After shampooing and conditioning it, I had a head full of knots and tangles. It took me hours to comb them out. Then I blew it dry, and attempted to straighten it with the hot comb. When that didn't work, I tried the flat iron. Section by section I managed to get it to be somewhat tame. I tied it so it would stay in place. Despite the tying – it is BIG and puffy.
  • When I got up this morning– I thought about working out but could not fathom having to redo do my hair. I was also invited to go swimming at someone's house tomorrow after work. With braids I would have said absolutely yes. Needless to say - I am avoiding the water like the plague.
  • Just the slightest bit of moisture or wind will send me into the land of the afro puffs. My hair is pretty big right now, with a bit o sweat it will be humongous. Plus it would require probably who knows how long to blow dry, press and flat iron.

So – today’s workout consisted of a long walk up the big hill with the kids. 2 miles with 2 kids . Fun - yes. A workout - no.

I will manage myself this week through my meals by keeping my calories super low and drinking plenty of water. I will do light walking , abs and maybe weights. I will endeavor to not sweat.
The more I deal with this , the more I realize that there has got to be a better way. I am super committed to working out and I am struggling with this. It is no surprise that others struggle as well. To the undoctrinated , hair issues may seem trivial and not at all worth avoiding a workout. But to us – it is real, oh so real.

I’m going to try a new style this weekend – hopefully it will work with my lifestyle. If not – back to braids it is. Other ideas?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I completely understand the hair "thing" you're talking about. There's no easy way around it, unless you stop working out...which isn't an option long term.
- Latosha

Lois said...

I say embrace your inner Afro :-)

We've had the discussion on numerous occasions about the hair thing, it is not easy. I too have skipped workouts after getting my hair "done". It’s almost a crying shame to get the “do” done one day and then mess it up the next morning at the gym. It is a constant struggle to maintain and care for your hair with a perm….or keep it healthy. Is it me, or does it seem that perms don't last as long when you work out? I’ve even experimented with going natural, but that did not work for me either. I don't want to go back to the old me, I'm committed to the workout thing, but I find the whole hair issue to be quite perplexing.

I recently joined the braids revolution but I’m not sure if long term this is something I can continue.

Michele said...

I contacted a friend who wears her hair texturized and she says it offers the most versatility without making her hair bone straight(which she hates) or reverting. It's also less expensive as she only has it done once a quarter. She can blow it out for a temporary straight look or go wavy [mainly in the summer time], wear twists, braids, etc. She also has a couple of really realistic looking wigs she dons on those moments when she wants a quick versatile look.

Products she recommends;
Jojoba oil
Rosemary Oil
Jane Carter products
Paul Mitchell Reconstructor (recommended by Grace, yes she goes to Grace)

Personally, I made a decision to maintain a relaxer in my hair as it's easier for me to maintain. I tried the press and curl route and although the hair had less breakage, it was a monster to maintain, especially in the summer (and I'm not even a swimmer). I remember going to Grace for a touch up after 5 months w/o relaxer and she looked at me and asked, "Why?" - I didn't have an answer. My hair is thick enough to handle a relaxer and I'm a creature of the "keep it simple" habit, so any damage was minimal (a good haircut once a year and I'm good to go!). It's really a personal decision. If you don't want to embrace the inner afro, you will have to develop a routine that you can maintain at home/gym. Make the best of your appt. with Grace this weekend, pick her brain! She wears her hair texturized also!

About Me

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West Coast, United States
I am a christian woman, wife, mom to 2 great kids, a member of Delta Sigma Theta, A Jack and Jill mom, sister, daughter . I am also incredibly fit but wasn't always. I am a recovering fat girl - who takes it one day at a time.

Alonda the Triathlete!

Alonda the Triathlete!

The backstory-----How did I become a triathlete...

In February 2006, I went on a ski trip with my new colleagues from work. On the way back, I sat next to a girl named Wendy - a really friendly woman who talked about her experience as a newcomer to Seattle. She told me how her main source of making friends was through her workout buddies. She also mentioned that many of her friends participate in triathlons and that (get this) I should consider doing one too. I thought she might have been delirious from all of the skiing. I assured her that I was not the one. She obviously had mistaken me for someone else. Perhap my heavy coat prevented her from seeing what was underneath (50 lbs of extra weight and lots of evidence of no exercise). She continued with this crazy talk, speaking of how fun it is and how supportive the Danskin Triathlon is. I wanted to be sure that she and I were thinking of the same thing... Triathlon (swim bike run -some huge number of miles -all on the same day right after each other). Yup this was it. I chuckled and told her to have fun.
A few weeks later at the office, she mentioned it again. Now at this time, I had been contemplating joining my company sponsored health club (PROCLUB) and in particular the weight loss program called 20/20. After all, I had really packed on the pounds. I arrived in WA 50lbs overweight and pretty unhappy with myself. I actually started to think that completing triathlon would be a good goal...impossible but a good goal. I decided to go for it. At the same time I also decided to join the weight loss program. My first meeting with my trainer ..Anthony Parker was on 3/14/06. I told him ..in all of my fatness, that I wanted to do a triathlon. He looked at me and said hmmm, ok.
I began this really intense workout and nutrition program and began building my endurance. My first meetings with Anthony consisted of walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes and then doing stairclimber or eliptical for 15 minutes. Followed by a bit of strength training. I did this 3x a week (between 6am and 7:30) and then worked out on my own 2 other days. I had absolutely no endurance and could not run for more than 1 minute. Over the months, my endurance grew ..slowly at first then more rapidly. I also figured that I needed to improve my swimming skills if I was going to swim for 1/2 a mile. I took a Total Immersion Class.. which teaches swimming efficiency. Let's set the record straight here... I could swim well enough to save myself if I was thrown off of a boat. I was a decent (not great) swimmer. At the start of the class, I could do 1 (that's right ONE) lap and then I started breathing heavy. At that point I new the triathlon was totally out of reach. After all 1/2 mile was equal to 20 laps. I left the 1st day of class feeling scared and dismayed that I was too aggressive. Maybe I should have set my goal for 2007.
The next week's class, I asked the teacher what I needed to do to build my endurance. He said just keep at it, it will come. You know what, it did. Each week I got better and better. 4 weeks later I was able to swim 9 laps. I then started swimming before my workouts with my trainer (a little crazy but hey). My trainer was pretty impressed. I also started biking on the weekends. In fact in May I did a 30 mile bike ride as a part of the Tour De Cure for Diabetes. I really love biking...:)
Ok so I still had not tackled the most difficult part, the running. Not only could I not run but I absolutely hated it. I started adding running to my treadmill work. Anthony suggested intervals. We started with 2min run 2 min walk . I did this for weeks extending the time and the speed. I was up to running at 5.5 and walking at 4.0. Then Anthony said ..let's see if you can run a mile. I thought he was kidding. I did not think I was ready for that. This was May 5th (a day after my birthday). Guess what I did it. And I didn't feel like I was going to die. I was on top of the world. All day I had a little extra spring in my step. I just kept replaying in my head the "goal attained" message on the treadmill. I just could not believe it.
I kept it up, continued working out 5x a week. I took another swim class "Triathlon Swim Training" to help even more. This class was filled with drills and specific swim workouts. I really saw progress. By the end of the class, I was able to swim 28 laps. Now the challenge was to swim in Open Water. That's right. The triathlon was going to be in Lake Washington.
I finally felt like I could really do it. I didn't have a specific time goal , my goal was to finish. The week before the race I was sooo nervous. I was doing mini triathlons with a few really good girls. I kept up with them during the swim but one bike ride was particularly hilly and....they left me in the dust. I felt so bad and really began to rethink whether or not I should do the race. I spoke to one of the girsl about my bike performance , and she said that my bike was holding me back. That day, I decided to retire my 35lb mountain bike for a 19 lb feather light road bike. Boy what a differnce. This was a risky thing to do so close to the race but it worked for me.
The other thing to mention is that I met up with a wonderful group of women called the Soul Sistas. They are a group of African American Women of all ages who participate in triathlons and bike races. They are so awesome.We (the soul sistas) took pictures the day before the race... I'll post when available.
So the day of the race..... Everybody in the house is excited and up. My kids and my nieces - who were visiting from NJ are all up and ready to root me on. I left early so that I could get ready.The goal was to meet me by the swim finish. This was alll pretty tricky because there were 40 waves of swimmers starting every 3 minutes. All I can say about the swim is that it felt much longer than 1/2 a mile. I kept focused and didn't get nervous. I focused on keeping my breathing relaxed. It worked ...and by the way I wasn't the last swimmer in my group YEAHHH. I don't know how it all worked out but as soon as I finished my swim, I saw them. Byron , Tyler, Paris, Ahlia and Ivy were all waiting there for me with the most beautiful handmade signs saying GO MOMMY, Go AUNTIE, I love you. It was so terrific. Once I saw them I was energized.... Now on to the bike.
The bike was the best part of the entire race. I love my bike and I love to fly down the road. The entire 14 miles of the race was closed to traffic. Our longest stretch was on the express lane of one of the largest highways. Imagine flying down a highway with nothing in your way (but other riders on your right). It was so amazing. I was going pretty fast but could have gone faster - but wanted to save my legs for the run.
Now the run... I hate running and I am really bad at it. I am slow and not terribly efficient. After biking hard for 40 minutes, your legs are really worked up. During the after bike run, your legs turn into "bricks". They are heavy and hard to move. If you push through , you can get over the feeling and get into a stride. Well I also felt pains in my knee. So instead of running the entire 3.2 miles I decided to walk run. In the end it was actually fine - but while doing it I was a little disappointed. Danskin is great because there are so many supporters on the way. Cheerleaders who are yelling "go for it" from their back porch. It was just what I needed. In fact I heard Destiny's Child Im a survivor , on my way and that was what I used in my head to keep me going.
So when I realize I am about 1/2 mile from the end, I start getting super excited and very emotional. It is all coming together now -- all the training, the visualization of actually crossing the finish line and my waiting family. I got on my cell phone to cal my husband, just to make sure he was at the finisth line. He cracked up that I called:)
When you come close to the finsih line, there are all these spectators lined up waiting for you. It is so great! I ran through a narrow entry to the wide finish line area. And there they were.. my family (My hubby, kids and neices) - with signs and smiles. When I crossed the finish line, my name was announced and the official put a medal around my neck. Well I just lost it and started crying. I could not believe that I had just completed a triathlon. I was officially a triathlete.

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