Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Have Your Own "Wildest Dreams Tour," Part 1: Get Your College Body Back!

This essay is contained in my new book. I'm delighted to announce that The Sojourner's Passport site has launched! You can visit it at

Everyone, I can't thank you enough for your ongoing encouragement and support; I truly appreciate it. Your support is what made this possible. And here's a special shout-out to my web designers at Educo Web Design. They're nice people to deal with, and they do outstanding work!

Peace and blessings,
Khadija Nassif


LorMarie said...

I'm certainly committed to treating my body better. It took a doctor to tell me that I am pre-diabetic in order to make changes. When I first found out, I was frightened and depressed. It was so bad on the first day that I was afraid to eat, LOL. I'd heard so many horror stories about those who developed full blown diabetes and it freaked me out. I am happy to say that my sugar intake has decreased dramatically. My food choice, although not perfect, has gotten much better. Day to day eating for me consists of more low fat food products and fruits. I've also started juicing. I've started drinking natural juice in place of one meal or two a couple of times a week. Since I am pre-diab, I do have to make sure that I eat regularly. Instead of the ultra-sweet sodas like Sprite or Coke, I'll opt for diet or naturally sweetened soda. I also limit my consumption of alcohol to not more than 12 ounces per month if that. I do need to get back into the gym for though. Joining one closer to my apartment will do the trick. My family history isn't good. My father died at 52, both grandmothers died young (40's and early 50's, cancer). My mother is 54 but very healthy. Since my family history isn't good, I'm not giving myself a choice but to make changes. It's been a couple of months and I'm still eating better. If I want to live a long life, become a mother, etc, I'd better do something.

Khadija said...

Greetings, LorMarie!

{raised fist salute} I applaud your determination to preserve your health!

Health issues are terrifying. So much so that many folks retreat into denial, and just pretend that they never heard whatever the doctor told them. I've heard tales of folks having hot wings and rib tips smuggled into their hospital rooms.

I know people who have taken the denial approach...It's not a good idea.

Baby steps are good. Whatever it takes to start moving in the direction of abundant life! Keep up the good work!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Anonymous said...

I'm mad at you. I love you! LOL! Thanks for getting up in my STUFF with this post. Girl.... Seriously: thank you. Lord knows, I thank you (and am still mad at you, ESPECIALLY for that Lombardi quotation)!

Khadija said...

Greetings, Anonymous!

Well, then we can all be angry with me together. I'm angry with me! LOL!

I'll talk about this more when I do my first check-in, but I'm irritated with myself for backsliding. I had hired a personal trainer about 5 years ago, and lost weight. Then, I slowly started to backslide. I've gradually gained about half of it back.

So, I'm pretty annoyed with myself. I decided to do a lot of introspection about why the backsliding happened before I would engage in another regimen to get the remaining excess weight off.

As I'll explain, there are still some aspects to all of this that I need to ponder. But I'll cross those bridges AFTER I get my college body back! *Smile*

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Muse said...


Thanks for another great entry! My weight issues didn't start until after college. Through out college I was in great good shape at 5'9 and 140-145lbs. After college I lived in Switzerland for several months where I was in the best shape of my life because the food was healthy and I was always moving. However as soon as I came back to the US and started working 80hrs a week as a financial analyst, my weight crept up to 176lbs in a matter of three years (yeah I'm calling myself out but hopefully my confession will help others get in shape). My weight gain was completely my fault. I was eating bad foods and simply being lazy. I used work and stress as an excuse for not taking care of my body. When I was stressed out because of deadlines or other drama, I would reach for sugary foods or order high caloric dinners at work. Although I haven't experienced any health issues yet (Thank God), I started working out again 5 days a week and so far I've lost about 10lbs in 6 weeks. My weight gain was the result of living a sedentary lifestyle and eating everything in sight.

Black women everywhere need to take an active interest in their health. Exercise isn't an option, but a mandatory requirement. Eating fresh fruit, veggies, and lean protein is necessary to live a long high quality life. If you have the means, go organic. The cure to the grave digger/ mule syndrome is taking an active interest in our bodies as well as our minds and spirits. Living well and being well requires great care for oneself and discipline. Now that I'm exercising almost every day I feel much better, I have a lot of energy, and my cloths look so much better. My goal is to lose an additional 20lb and maintain an active lifestyle.

Your health must be a top priority. That means skipping out on the fattening soul food dinners and ordering a grilled food and vegetables instead. It might mean skipping out on the bowl of ice cream and getting a fruit salad. Your health even means perhaps taking an hour out of your day to get moving. There are no excuses for not taking care of oneself anymore.

The hair issues experienced by many Black women are directly related to their health. Perms are bad. Excessive heat is bad. Although I press my hair out, I don’t do it every day and most of the time I wear it natural. There is nothing wrong with experimenting with styles but be careful when it comes to chemicals and heat. Research and invest in quality hair products. For those with dry hair issues jojoba oil is amazing! Eating healthy and taking the necessary vitamins will ensure that your hair grows to its maximum potential. I highly recommend that women invest in taking a good multivitamin, Flaxseed oil, MSM, and Biotin. MSM and Biotin are great supplements that assist in hair and nail growth.

That is also a great fitness community called Spark people.

This website is great for getting support and tips for eating right and exercising.

Also be mindful of your sodium intake. Excessive sodium causes the body to retain water. In addition everyone should be drinking at least 64oz of water per day. Often times our body is dehydrated but we mistaken our thirst for hunger. Best of luck to you beautiful women out there! Stay strong and have the confidence to know that you can reach your goals!

foreverloyal said...

I while back I told you that a post of yours had inspired me to make it a point to see my best friend from college.

Well, said friend and I got together again last Sunday and talked about our goals, and wrote them down. These goals include health, fitness, beauty, career, household (alot easier to have your mind together when your environment is organized and pleasing)

Every night we talk on the phone for a few minutes to report on the progress of the day, and exchange a few words of encouragement.

My friend and I are different in some ways. She has a paying career, and I'm a SAHM. I'm married, she's single. I live ine 'burbs, she lives in the city, etc.

But we are both committed to drastic improvement this year.

We have both already lost weight. For myself, I am eating two large(leafy green-- and added cucumbers because of you!) salads everyday, measuring my cereal, doing 8+glasses of water, and exercising 35-40min 2-3 times a day. She's doing Atkins.

The plan is to meet at least once a month to fine-tune and advance our plans and/or reward ourselves (manicure, new clothes, etc.) said...

Hi Khadija!

I am so happy that you are addressing this issue! I wrote a post a few weeks ago about "Black Women and The Weighty issues About Weight" because I wanted to acknowledge that weight gain was not just the result of poor eating and no exercise.

Many emotional issues about lacking self-love... excuses about self-neglect... patterns of people-pleasing that validate self-neglect...and unaddressed fears about men (arrhenphobia) also often connected to weight gain.

Thank you for putting it all out there. {high fives}

My designer/personal stylist spends a lot of her time studying the snapshots of her clients' bodies in unitards in order to create designs that have just the right cut, style details and layering to "hide" problem areas.

This is great for her clients' (large) egos...*chuckles* but it's really NOT SO GREAT because we stop working on those "problem areas" that no one can see!

When I saw Michelle's dress on election night, I noticed one of the most popular "waist tricks" that designers use... the use of darker fabric with a geometic cut at the waist section. Some stylists use imaginary "belts" with a strip of fabric to give the illusion of a longer waist.

I explain this because for me, the first step is eliminate my dependency on "waist tricks" and "butt tricks" and all the designer's little styling techniques that create all sorts of visual distortions.

My second step is to setting goals that have self-accountability attached. "I will watch my food intake" isn't a specific enough goal. We need to make ourselves accountable for the things we will stop doing!

As for the college body, well...I don't know if it's feasible for EVERY woman to have her "college body" back since many of us were teenagers at that time!

For example, I was 16 as a college freshman. Do I feel I need to have a 16-year olds body at my age? No, I do not. is possible to have a fit and toned body at my age.

Many women feel that staying a certain size is what matters....but some women are a size 8 (or 14!!) and toned and some are a size 8 (or 14!!) and not toned.

Focusing on being/staying a certain dress size is not the same as focusing on improved physical fitness.

Some women (and men) have so much facial fat that the fat in their cheeks lift their nose to resemble a "pig nose". Sometimes we don't realize how fat deposits CHANGE the contours of our own faces and make our bone structure unnoticeable. Double chins can make a woman appear older than her age.

I am glad that you didn't even bring into this discussion the notion of "weight gain limiting our dating options in an already competitive man-hunt" like the other magazines ATTEMPT to do.

Valuing fitness is not about a man's validation or attention; it's actually an act of self-love and a desire to increase longevity of our lives.

Many women tell themselves, "it's more important right now for me to focus on motherhood than on addressing the issues that will increase my life span." That sounds utterly RIDICULOUS to my ears...

Self-love is an important lesson to model for children and they don't see a mother who models self-love when they watch a mother putting everyone and everything before her own longevity and wellness. A woman who lets herself go teaches her girls the life pattern of "embracing the crumbsd and theleft overs". It shows girls that taking whatever is left over is sufficient. This mentality is reflected when we see women getting pregnant (even married ones!) when they know that they can't afford to have more babies and live well.

A woman who is letting herself go sends a message to her girls: "Don't put yourself FIRST because your longevity and your fitness is not the priority. Focus on others FIRST and just do whatever you can for yourself with whatever is LEFTOVER." {shaking my head}

Thanks for this topic, Khadija.

And no, I'm not doing an impromptu guest post in the comment section! *LOL*

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

PioneerValleyWoman said...

I'd like to hear from those of you who are committed to getting your college bodies back. What are you doing to accomplish this goal?

I'd like to hear from those of you who managed to maintain your college bodies. What have you done to accomplish this?

I'd like to hear from those of you who are committed to treating your bodies better. What are you doing to accomplish this?

My reply:


My weight has fluctuated over the years, but one constant has been that I have always been dedicated to health and fitness. I'm no saint, but I try.

So in terms of my college body, I weigh about the same as I did getting out of high school, but my body is not the same. Things have shifted over the years, so that I'm more built--a bit bigger in the bust and more muscular, with more definition.

I go by weight and how my clothes fit. I figure progress means that I can wear clothes I have had in my closet for the past 10 or so years, not necessarily whether I look the same as when I was in college 15-18 years ago.

I got my first gym membership when I was 18--I joined a women's only gym. I went there while I was on school breaks and while I was away at school, since the gym had facilities throughout the U.S. I took advantage, throughout my graduate school years, of low-cost university gym facilities.

Once I got out of school, I began joining YMCAs, focusing upon those with a family-friendly environment, where one can see people of all levels of interest and experience, from the young moms in the mommy and me classes, to childrens' programs, the men and women getting into fitness for the first time in years, to the steady people who have always exercised.

As for cooking, my mom taught me to cook with health concerns in mind, ie., to think about diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, since there are people in the family who have those conditions.

I just took what she taught me and modified it, modifying the Caribbean dishes/recipes, and trying new things, like low-fat Middle Eastern and Asian dishes.

I eat meat, chicken and fish, but I do vegetarian quite often. I focus upon baking whole grain breads, keeping legumes stocked in the pantry, buying veggies, fruits, nuts and brown rice.

I try to watch portion control and minimize the "go all out" cooking sessions to a few times a year, ie., at the holidays, and even then, I have been doing things differently, not as many dishes and few desserts.

Not everyone has easy access to women and family-friendly gyms, and with the 9-5 (and beyond) that many people work, it can be challenging to exercise.

Some suggestions. Even if you go to a women and family-friendly gym after work on a Friday and on Saturdays and Sundays, that alone can help. Or, buy reasonably priced exercise equipment and keep it at home--a cardio machine, an exercise mat and some free weights. A half hour per day can go a long way...

Let's see, hair issues. I've been natural for about 15 years now, I gave up the perms because I hated the scalp burns and the corresponding dandruff, etc. I have had my hair short and long. It's about medium length now.

I love my natural hair, feeling the texture, its healthiness, and the ease at which I can exercise and not worry about my hair being affected.

Khadija said...

Greetings, Muse!

You said, "However as soon as I came back to the US and started working 80hrs a week as a financial analyst, my weight crept up..."

80 hours a week? Lord have mercy.

You said, "I used work and stress as an excuse for not taking care of my body."

Believe me, I'm quite familiar with this type of situation.

After some changes at work, I no longer had time for my martial arts classes. The same with trying to have a standing appointment with the personal trainer. I started exercising only when I felt like it. And only doing the types of exercise that I felt like doing.

Well, I was doing enough to keep myself from totally getting back to where I was pre-trainer. But it wasn't enough to prevent the gradual regaining of some of the weight I had lost. Hmmph! LOL!

You said, "The hair issues experienced by many Black women are directly related to their health."

Yep. And the tremendous stress caused by constant mental, emotional, and in some cases, physical attacks upon our dignity.

It's good to hear that you've gotten yourself back on track! {raised fist salute}

Greetings, Forever Loyal!

YES! Now that's what I'm talking about! {raised fist salute}

Greetings, Lisa!

Thank you for your kind words about the post. I truly appreciate it.

You said, "I am so happy that you are addressing this issue! I wrote a post a few weeks ago about "Black Women and The Weighty issues About Weight" because I wanted to acknowledge that weight gain was not just the result of poor eating and no exercise.

Many emotional issues about lacking self-love... excuses about self-neglect... patterns of people-pleasing that validate self-neglect...and unaddressed fears about men (arrhenphobia) also often connected to weight gain."

That was an excellent essay of yours; I'm happy you had that discussion. I agree that there are a lot of emotional issues involved with weight gain/obesity.

However, I also want to emphasize that much of this is a result of the heavy and prolonged attacks on Black women's dignity.

Otherwise, it starts to sound like Black women are self-medicating with food simply because they're irrational. I want to emphasize that this is NOT the only thing that is going on with this issue. People who are under prolonged, heavy, spirit-breaking attacks often do counterproductive things. Self-neglect is one such thing.

You mentioned, "As for the college body, well...I don't know if it's feasible for EVERY woman to have her "college body" back since many of us were teenagers at that time!"

I think we all know what I mean when I say "college body." It's shorthand for a body that we are pleased with. I also think we all know that there are layers with this issue. There's a distinction between being simply thin and being toned (or as one of my friends calls it, "tight and right!").

You said, "Many women tell themselves, "it's more important right now for me to focus on motherhood than on addressing the issues that will increase my life span." That sounds utterly RIDICULOUS to my ears..."

To my ears, too. In fact, I usually have to catch my breath before responding to this type of "death talk." Because that's what this really boils down to: statements affirming that the speaker isn't overly concerned about an early, unnecessary death. I'm NOT for that. Not at all...

Greetings, Pioneer Valley Woman!

Good for you that you've been consistent over time with fitness. THAT'S what I'm talking about! {raised fist salute}

No, our bodies won't be exactly the same over time. But, like I said before, I think everybody understands that "college body" is shorthand for a body that we are pleased with.

Also, I'm not making a natural/permed distinction with the hair issues. I've seen plenty of women who have balding, receding temples and hairlines due to too-tight natural braided styles.

Let me mention that I also realize that certain medications will thin one's hair. Yet another reason to do what we can to preserve our health.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and let's be clear that when we talk about getting our college bodies back we're not talking about trying to contort ourselves to look like 22 year olds (unless you actually are around that age). I'm sure we've all seen women 30+ lookin' like they raided their baby cousin's closet (I'm lookin' at YOU, Mariah Carey! Quit trying to wear your baby cousin's onesies. What's lil Tay-Tay supposed to wear to church?!". NOT a good look. Trust, ladies, you can look sexy without looking like an overstuffed sausage in your clothes or exposing so much flesh that you look like you just finished working the late shift at Club Rumpshaker and forgot to put your streetclothes back on.

I don't know if anyone's mentioned this show, but one of my favorite ones is "What Not To Wear" both the British and American versions (though, I do like the British one better because the women often used themselves as examples of how to cover body flaws with clothes). I love the show because they stress dressing the body you have NOW and not waiting until you've lost 10-20-30 lbs/when the kids are a little older/when you're making more money/when you get a man or whatever excuse you're coming up with. The transformations in spirit and attitude that the clients on the program show is often dramatic and phenomenal. Those women, for whatever reason, never thought they could look that good!

I'm glad that so many ladies mentioned diet. As with computer programming, it's "garbage in, garbage out." Haven't we met women who wonder why they have skin issues or hair problems and their meals consist of candy, soda and chips. Our bodies need REAL nutrition. They need vitamins, minerals, proteins, and some sugars and fats (not all fat is bad). And these should come mostly from the FOOD we eat, not from pills. Vitamin and mineral supplements are just that SUPPLEMENTS meant as additions to a decent diet. We're not meant to get all of our vitamins and minerals from them.

This leads to another reason why BW need to escape the Black-enclave hellholes. Many of them have inadequate grocery stores and markets that supply fresh meat, fish and produce. Convenience stores are just that, for convenience to grab a cup of coffee and a donut while you're getting gas on your morning commute. Liquor stores are just for that, buying booze. They're not for buying decent food to plan decent meals with.

One of the many things I loved about the neighborhood I eventually moved to in Chicago, was that it had a little market only blocks from my apartment. It was small, but it was full service with fresh meat, fish and produce, not Spam in a can and a couple of withered apples from the Carter administration. And my neighborhood was very much mixed race and mixed income. It wasn't some ritzy, all-White enclave. But there were enough folk of quality (mostly associated with the local university) that a real market was able to get and stay in business.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for discussing this topic. I felt inspired just reading it.

I’ve done well about staying close to my college weight. There is this 20lb security blanket I occasionally retrieve that I believe is purely emotional.

I’m 6’0 feet tall with an athletic build, so I can hide weight gain better than average height women. More importantly, I know when I am not within a certain weight range I feel it all over i.e., energy level, uncomfortable fitting clothes, confidence etc… I plan to visit with a dietician for a more tailored eating plan for me.

I have tried all sorts of weight maintenance plans when I have my security blanket on, but until recently started to focus more on eating quality satisfying food, drinking more water and weight resistance/aerobic, combo exercises. I noticed all the best health food stores are located in wealthy areas of town and quality food cost more, a lot more. When I eat quality food, I eat less of it. For example, grass feed vs grain fed animals, organic veggies vs veggies that look like shiney table d├ęcor. I think there is so much gimmicky information out that people really don’t know what to do.

As for the hair, it seems to be some type of ritual from bw to put relaxers and wigs on young bg as soon as their hair becomes long and healthy. Then shortly after, the hair becomes damaged losing it luster and length. I even heard a beautician (very pro natural) mention on radio that there is a possibility that relaxer chemicals have estrogen in them causing young bg to be overdeveloped at a much younger age than their peers.

CW said...

@ Khadija & others

I just got of the phone with our neighborhood gym...I am just going to put down for a years membership...Commit to "just doing it"...I have put it off long enough...Also going to take steps to include more fruits and veggies in the 'ol diet...Not getting any youger!

Blackout said...

HI Khadijah,


I have been reading your blog for weeks now but have been too shy to comment. Until now.

I just want to thank you for all that you do in trying to help the IMMEDIATE plight of black American women. I email your posts to just about every *stuck* black woman I know.

About the weight issue...

I've been fortunate to be on the thin side for most of my life but after 25 I started to notice that food just kind of *sat* there and really started to slow me down so I made a few changes.

1. I am a "veg before 6" person meaning that I am a vegetarian for all meals and snacks before 6pm. For dinner I still try to stick with only lean meats and fish. When you eliminate meat you are more likely to search for other "heaty" ingredients like whole grains and fruits and vegetables. I think every woman should try it.

2. Swimming is a life-saver. I attend a "Y" with an indoor pool so I can go in the morning or in the evening. It has really changed my life.

3. I live in Los Angeles so I am ALWAYS in my car but I use little tricks like parking far away from my destination so I am forced to walk a bit. I also never valet (too pricey anyway) and keep a pair of sneakers in my car so I have no excuse (like my heels hurting too much). So for those women who live in areas where they are dependent on a vehicle, I suggest creating your own opportunities for "power walks" throughout the day.

4. This may be obvious but I think a lot of black women neglect to...

Visit a doctor for a complete heath screeing and get tested for damn near everything. A lot of women just rely on going to the OB/GYN and put off seeing a general doctor until they get older. A health professional confronting you about behaviors that may eventually lead to your death can be very sobering. A lot of times we may brush off other friends' and families' warnings about our lifestyles and chalk it up to "jealousy" or "mean-spiritedness". But doctors (for the most part) don't "hate" and they will tell you the real deal. Some folks need that.

5. Purge all pop cultural images of beauty/weight/sex appeal from your life. Meaning, unless you can really handle seeing pictures of Beyonce without the feeling of self-loathing, wait until you are emotionally healthy to do so. I know a lot of women who are obssessed with pop culture icons like Beyonce (some of them are in their 40's mind you) and constantly viewing images of "perfection" can actually make a person regress when it comes to getting healthy. The belief is, "I will never look like her, so why bother?". It is important to have real attainable goals and getting caught up in the Hollywood-ification of black beauty is setting yourself up for failure. I suggest looking at black women in print commercial ads in publications that are not geared towards women. If you play close attention, those women are usually fit, healthy looking, "natural", and attractive. These women would catch the eye of any non-racist man, black or white.

Hagar's Daughter said...

Standing Ovation!!!

I recommitted to treating myself with all the love I know how. About 3 years ago I began eating vegetarian, today I'm vegan.

I am slowly getting back to exercising on a regular basis. I have to be careful because of the chronic fatigue that goes along with fibromyalgia. Dealing with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia has taken its toll and the medications have impacted my weight in the worse way. I'm happy to report that juicing has started to reverse the weight gain that seemed to be resistant to any diet I tried.

Meditation and prayer are other methods that are essential in my overall health.

Once this current flare up is over I will resume my exercise program. My goal is to reach my goal weight by August 2009.

MangoButtahQueen said...

Bravo for this!!

Actually I look A LOT better now than when I was in college (I was underweight then). Now I am at a weight to where I do not look like I'm starving. Thankfully I work part time for a food co-op!

With my family history of diabetes it is always on my mind on what I eat food wise. Being that I'm approaching my mid 40's I get mistaken for being in my early - mid 30's. You are right that there is an epidemic of obesity among us. When people ask me if I am a college student they are pretty stunned that I not only am not but that I do not fit into what they are used to seeing for someone my age.

I don't own a car and I walk EVERYWHERE, so I'm used to being active all the time. My son's are constantly reminded (since both of their dads have high blood pressure) that it is not in their best interest to do the things that bring on that malady. My oldest swears that I'm a closet vegetarian! LOL!!!

Anonymous said...


Ain't it great when folks think you're in college and the last time you've seen a campus was when the bus you take on your way to somewhere else passes by one! I get that all the time. I've had folks ask me what my major was when the last time I had one was in the late 80s.

I also agree with Blackout's suggestion that BW who are about good physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health take a hiatus (long-term temporary or permanent) from pop culture and fashion magazines. The beauty/fashion industry is run on the insecurities of women. If the majority of women were fine with how they looked those industies'd go bankrupt and disappear.

And these industries are run on women's SELF-generated insecurities, not really on what most men REALLY think (as in actually DO what they THINK) even though they often claim they are. Most men who are loudly proclaiming this or that anorexic celebrity chick "hot" end up falling in love with and marrying perfectly normal, average-looking women. Men aren't stupid. As much as they may fantasize about Beyonce, Rhianna, Charlize Theron or Lindsay Lohan, they know that unless they got Brad Pitt/George Clooney looks or Donald Trump money (best if they have both), they're not even going to get a reasonable facsimile of those women. Since they don't want to be alone, they realize they'd better come down to earth and see who they can actually attract.

Khadija said...

Greetings, Witchsistah!

You mentioned "Club Rumpshaker." {loud gales of laughter} I have fond college memories of "Looking for the Perfect Beat" in Club Rumpshaker. {chuckling}

You said,"This leads to another reason why BW need to escape the Black-enclave hellholes. Many of them have inadequate grocery stores and markets that supply fresh meat, fish and produce."

TOO TRUE! As you observed, what you'll mostly find in stores located in Black areas are "...Spam in a can and a couple of withered apples from the Carter administration." This is the reason why many food activists refer to Black residential areas as "food deserts."

Greetings, Energize!

Thank you for your kind words about the post. I truly appreciate it.

You noted that "...all the best health food stores are located in wealthy areas of town and quality food cost more, a lot more."

This is generally true. However, sometimes there are ways to work around it. For example, the small grocery stores near university areas (like the one Witchsistah mentioned in her old neighborhood), and some immigrant stores have a large variety of fresh produce at more reasonable prices. The trick is that you have to search for these places.

I'm also horrified by how so many Black mothers are having their small daughters' hair permed. It makes me wonder if there are some trifling "I can't spend this type of energy on my daughter's head" issues involved in that decision.

On the other hand, I've heard stylists say that it all depends on how well the parent is caring for the child's hair and NUTRITION. Careless combing, never stimulating the scalp with brushing, no nutrition, no oils, etc. also do a lot of damage. Even if the child has a natural hair style.

Greetings, CW!

YES! YES! YES! Now THAT'S what I'm talking about! {raised fist salute}

Greetings, Blackout!

Welcome aboard! I'm so happy you joined the conversation. Thank you for your kind words about the blog. I truly appreciate it. I'm just trying to pay it forward!

You said, "I am a "veg before 6" person meaning that I am a vegetarian for all meals and snacks before 6pm. For dinner I still try to stick with only lean meats and fish."

What a wonderful idea! Thank you for sharing it. I know for myself that there's NO way that I would be willing to become a vegetarian. I loooove chicken and lamb too much for that. But I am willing to become a "vegetarian before 6:00 p.m."

I'll start tomorrow! THANK YOU.

You're quite correct about the toxic effect of overexposure to the airbrushed women that are thrown in our faces (like Beyonce---feh).

You made an excellent suggestion when you said, "I suggest looking at black women in print commercial ads in publications that are not geared towards women. If you play close attention, those women are usually fit, healthy looking, "natural", and attractive."

Greetings, Hagar's Daughter!

Please know that you are in my prayers. I can't thank you enough for inspiring me to start juicing through your example.

Thank you for the standing ovation. I truly appreciate it.

Greetings, MangoButtahQueen!

Thank you for your kind words about the post. I truly appreciate it.

You said, "Actually I look A LOT better now than when I was in college (I was underweight then)." This is actually phase #2 of my goal. Ultimately, I want to look better than I did in college. I was slender, but not toned. I want to get "tight & right"! LOL!

Getting my college body back is just a stepping stone on the way to "tight & right." Although, I don't aspire to get as ripped as Linda Hamilton was in "Terminator 2." After I get my college body back, I'll have to figure out another mental image that I can focus on.

You said, "You are right that there is an epidemic of obesity among us."

Yes. This obesity epidemic is going to cost MANY Black lives. It's also going to drive many Black families into the poorhouse before they get to the obese relative's gravesite.

Just consider the medical expenses for an obese child who develops diabetes, sleep apnea, etc. I've seen many Black wards of the Court foster children who are morbidly obese. Several are so obese that they need special machines at night to make sure that they are still breathing while they sleep.

Aside from the emotional, social, etc. impact of obesity on a child's life, who can afford all of this?

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Anonymous said...

I'm so with y'all about getting TIGHT AND TONED! Like many here, I was a stick in college and well beyond, but I had no muscle tone and ZEE-ROW muscular strength! I was raised to believe that you only watched your diet and exercized to lose weight/get thinner. So did neither even though a better diet could have helped me with some health issues like the eczema I've been dealing with since I was 3.

I decided to get fit about three years ago. My life was very sedentary and my weight went up to 130 lbs. Now, most of y'all are going "And?" but I was a 5'3" chick used to weighing 95-105. And this weight was NOT attractive. It seemed to have settled in my middle, butt, hips and thighs. I knew that my once shrew-like metabolism was finally slowing down (and I was more sedentary than ever before) so I needed to actually MOVE my body in order to keep the weight down.

I started by downloading onto my computer different versions of the Cha-Cha Slide until I had about 30 minutes worth. And then, I put on some sweats and gym shoes and did them all for 30 minutes straight, 3 times a week. I tell you, the first few times I did that I felt like I was gonna die. I sweated a couple of rivers too. But I kept at it and lost 20 lbs in 8 weeks.

Then I saw that underneath that fat were flabby muscles. THAT had to change, so I started doing crunches on the offdays I wasn't cha-cha sliding. And then I got some 2 pound freeweights and started doing arm exercizes. Two pounds doesn't sound like much until you try to do 20 reps on arms that haven't lifted more than a pencil. After a while of doing these, I graduated to 3 pound weights and my current 5 pound ones. I'm looking to get some 8 pound ones as well.

I've since incorporated more leg and core exercizes as well as walking (during nice weather--we got real winter here) and yoga. I'm looking to change up my routine some as I think my body's become accustomed to the current one and I'm not seeing the progress I'm used to (that and holiday over-indulgence taking its toll). I'm thinking of taking a break from some of the weight-training and doing more yoga-type and pilates exercizes.

Oh, and I have done and am doing this withOUT a gym or a gym membership. I'm doing this entirely in my home and my neighborhood (a 45 minute, brisk, exercize-paced walk through my 'hood with it's hills is a much better one than on some stationary, level treadmill AND I get to see how Nature's manifesting herself and at the local wildlife--yes, there is wildlife in the city). Ladies, you CAN get fit on the cheap!

Anonymous said...

Hello Khadija,

The hair thinning through me for a loop.

I will say that I have never had an issue with thinning hair (knock on wood), but in 07 I made a bad hair decision.

I have been natural for a decade. In 07 my hair was bra strap length, but due to shrinkage it would only come to the tops of my shoulders. I asked my stylist at the time how long it would take for it to show more length and eventually agreed to have a relaxer put in. He told me it would only be in for a few minutes, I would only do this maybe once a year, he would mix it with conditioner...

It was a disaster. My hair was longer, but it was stick straight and stringy. There was no curl and my hair felt like hay. It was so rough I could scrub lasagna pans. He kept telling me the curl would come back, but it never did. My hair would tangle where it was growing in, it started to break off, and I had to just cut some places bc when I washed it it would tangle so badly.

Fast forward to today, I now have about 7-8 inches of hard won new growth. I want to wait until I get about 6-8 more inches of hair growth before I cut off the other ten that is straight.

So as of this month I have started a grow out challenge with a group of women. I am hoping for waist length hair by 2010 and if not - I will settle for bra strap length again by my birthday.

As far as college body aka body that I can be pleased with. Thank you again for writing about this - it is very validating and affirming.

I was really concerned about my looks in 2005-2006 and it was amazing to me how people interpreted that as shallow. I wanted to step up my game with enhancing (the good things I have and maybe making inroads to changing things I didn't like into more suitable forms) and preservation (of the good things as I age) in mind.

The thing that really stung was when my then spiritual mentor turned negative on me. My spirituality is really important to me and in my mind everything is connected. And this was a woman I admired - so I am still puzzled.

At any rate I have made changes to my diet since 2008, but I don't exercise as I should. The thing is I like witchsistah (I think that was a pretty creative idea with the video you made) - prefer dance or maybe walking to anything else.

Khadija said...

Greetings, Aphrodite!

Thank you for your kind words about the post. I truly appreciate it.

Well, I've been sensitized to the female hair thinning/hair loss situation since I observed what was going on with my best friend in high school. Like I said in the post, these hair problems seem to be escalating among BW. And NOBODY is talking about it.

Hair loss is traumatic for men, but at least there are palatable hairstyles and haircuts for balding men. There is no such thing for a woman who's having similar problems.

It might be best to NOT mention any self-care/self-nurturing things that you're doing to anybody except to people who have already proven that they will be supportive.

The unfortunate reality is that most BW are surrounded by "The Hater's Club for BW"-type of women. Telling most other BW the self-care things you're doing gives them an opportunity to sabotage your efforts!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

To Everyone:

Let me note that I'm not going to fight the "hair wars" here. I've worn both natural and relaxed styles, and I'm not going to berate BW who have relaxed hair. I'm not going to try to browbeat BW into getting natural styles. I am NOT a natural hairstyle evangelist. [I'm not saying that anybody here is doing this; but I want to make this point clear.]

As y'all know, I will sweat and press folks over matters that I believe are life and death issues (including the life and death of one's spirit). LOL! But I'm not going to do it over hairstyle choices.

First, I've also observed some hair-thinning problems that are the result of some natural styles. Second, BW already have plenty of stress heaped on them. I'm not going to add to that pile over some hairstyle choice.

Peace, blessings and solidarity. said...

Hi again,

Khadija, I agree with you that natural hair is NOT healthier than permed hair. Great hair condition is the result of many factors and permed hair can be healthy, shiny, full of bounce and very strong from the roots to the shaft.

I agree with you that all natural hair is not healthy. There are receding hair lines and bald spots on women who have worn their natural hair for years.

I have had natural hair (which really isn't a political issue with black PR women) and I've had permed hair. When I had natural hair, NO ONE even noticed that I had "gone natural".

Hair condition will usually improve when the diet and scalf conditions improve. Many women need to ask their stylists to take time to examine their scalp closely for 10-15 minutes. Stylists need to be aware of any changes that take place in the scalp condition and they won't be able to if they aren't familiar with the scalp.

Some women "go natural" in an effort to have healthier hair and then they use the wrong ingredients on their hair for their particular hair type. All "black hair" products are not well-formulated.

There are some recipes for "home made" hair conditioners that are available on the internet.

@ (Rev.) Pioneer Valley Woman

Go on gurrrrl, with your bad self! You are the same weight as your high school days?!

As Oprah would say: "Wowie kazzowie!"

I can not claim that at all...

@ Khadija

Thanks for clarifying the term "college body" because I thought it meant literally "college body"! I had not heard THAT term before - and I'm from the Midwest!

You said, "I've heard tales of folks having hot wings and rib tips smuggled into their hospital rooms."

*LOL* Darn shame.

When I was hospitalized years ago, there was a sign in the unit that I was in prohibiting visitors from bringing any food or snacks or beverages into the unit.

After days of oatmeal and soups, I had the nerve to ask my armorbearer to bring me a pizza slice from the place three blocks away. (Of course, she staunchly refused....)

@ Aphrodite

You said:
"The thing that really stung was when my then spiritual mentor turned negative on me. My spirituality is really important to me and in my mind everything is connected. And this was a woman I admired - so I am still puzzled."

There are many church women who I have listened to over the years that believe it is "vanity" to focus on one's appearance. They feel that we need to shun "ego". I think they have been mistaught if they think that focusing on longevity of our lives has anything at all to do with vanity or ego.

They also think it is a "secular" mentality to focus on the exterior more than the interior. I believe that we should not focus MORE on our exterior than we do on our interior but still... we should not downplay the importance of our presentation. It makes a CLEAR statement about how we choose to define ourselves to ourselves and to others.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

Anonymous said...


It was an audio CD and not a video DVD that I compiled with Cha Cha Slide versions. But if you just do as the man says (Martin Lawrence was right. It is like the Black Hokey Pokey) throughout, you'll really get moving and lose some weight.

Khadija said...

Hello there, Lisa!

For a lot of women, college was the last time they were really pleased with their bodies.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Rev. Lisa

@ (Rev.) Pioneer Valley Woman

Go on gurrrrl, with your bad self! You are the same weight as your high school days?!

As Oprah would say: "Wowie kazzowie!"

I can not claim that at all...

My reply:

Thanks! Like I said, I'm no saint, but although I'm about the same weight now, I'm not the same size in terms of looks.

It is as though things have shifted over the years, as I have gained weight, lost it and began a more intense work out regime about 10 or so years ago. I'm a bit bigger in the bust and I'm far more muscular (and stronger).

DeStouet said...

Hi Ladies,

I've been on my own "Wildest Dream Tour" since the post about being Flawless. That comment about black women exterior not matching up with their interior struck a chord with me.

I'll comment a bit more on that later.

I'd like to add a few things to the hair discussion. I was a hair model for six years and I learned a great deal from my hair stylist.

Whether your hair is chemically treated or natural, you must find a hair stylist that specializes in "hair care."

One of the ways to go about this is good-ole word of mouth...or simply walking into a salon with a hat/scarf on your head and asking what the stylist/salon specializes in. If they say anything but "hair care" walk out. Because you are not looking for a person who is a master of color, or weaves, or short cuts, or braids.

You are looking for a person who understands how the body works, the importance of diet, and in addition to taking classes and staying updated on all of the latest techniques with cosmetology -also spends a great deal of money going to classes and seminars that discuss caring for and maintaining all kinds of hair.

Once that is established, be honest with your stylist. If he asks you how much water you consume on a daily basis, how much medications you take, tell them. This is not the time to lie. Plus, to be honest, he/she doesn't care. They are just trying to make their job easier.

Last thing, whatever products your hair stylist recommends that you purchase, do so -no matter how expensive they are.

One of the things, the guy who use to do my hair use to hate more than anything, was when someone was interested in growing their hair back or trying to repair their damaged hair, but would not purchase the necessary products to continue the work he had done in the salon at home. Like buying a bottle of shampoo that cost 23.00 and a bottle of conditioner that cost 19.00 plus whatever other products he believes you need, like sheen, or scalp moisturizer, etc.

Instead, they would go to Target and purchase a bottle of Vo5, or Pantene, or some other 3.00 shampoo and conditioner set. It is very important (if you style your own head at home, in between visits) to buy the products your hair stylists recommends, because the products you use on your hair at home, is also part of the regime that he/she is counting on to help assist in getting your hair to grow. If you use something other than what is suggested, you are making them work harder and it will cost you more in the end -because they are going to charge you every time they have to go in, and repair your hair.

Anonymous said...

Peace & Blessings,

@ Khadija

Thank you for the constant reminders to empower ourselves, and be the best we can be.

What I'm doing now:

1) Denise Austin aerobic videos in the morning around 5pm

2) I now cook and freeze my meals a week in advance because my biggest problem was a) too tired to cook and b) my husband is Senegalese and their food is VERY heavy in starches, oils, and fats. Because I was so tired, I'd eat out or eat my husbands food.

3)Strict on my bedtime ALL days of the week now.

What I plan to do in the future:

1) Purchase a year or two supply of Mary Kay for skin care and make up.

2) Go see a dermatologist ( when enrollment for my health insurance starts over lol)

This is all for now...

Peace and blessings

Khadija said...

Greetings, DeStouet!

Thank you so much for sharing the hair care information! Most laypeople (like me) are completely unaware of this information. I've only found out certain things by happenstance.

For example, until recently, I had no idea that making custom wigs is a common hair stylist skill. I, as well as my cancer-stricken relatives, thought that you HAD to go to specialized boutiques for this service.

In fact, some of the local hospitals are steering female cancer patients to specific White-owned boutiques for custom-made wigs. I wonder how that came about, instead of a general listing with the suggestion to first ask one's regular stylist about this service. I wonder if there are kick-backs involved.

Meanwhile, my relatives would have been more comfortable (and less traumatized) if they knew they could have gotten this service from a stylist at their regular Black-owned salons. Most of the stylists I've talked to seem to assume that the general public knows that they provide this service.

Well, I had no idea. Neither did my relatives. Neither do many other Black women. Part of the reason why is that hair problems are delicate, sensitive issues that are rarely discussed. Women are too humiliated and embarassed to openly ask many questions about these problems.

I'm sure that you've helped a lot of women who are silently reading the information you shared. THANK YOU.

Greetings, Sister Seeking/Miriam!

You're welcome! I want to pay it forward. Other people have blessed me with encouragement and information. Including you and the other readers!

In terms of your regimen and plans: YES! YES! YES! Now that's what I'm talking about! {raised fist salute}

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Anonymiss said...

Hey Khadija,
My weight became a big issue for me in college. I gained about 20 lbs when I moved on campus my sophomore year. The weight gain was due to poor eating and stress. Towards graduation, I began to lose lots of weight because I joined a gym and changed my eating habits.

I don't know what happened but I gained so much when I got my first job after college. Actually I believe the problem was "relationship weight." I had just met my BF and we both live to eat (LOL).

I gradually started to lose weight again but my weight fluctuates at 10 - 15 lbs.

I think my problem is that I have an oral fixation. Also, I'm just plain greedy. I grew up on big portions and have struggled with reducing them. I've gotten better but I still have work to do.

I've been trying to work out consistently (last week was screwed up because of the birth of my nephew, my sister needing assistance, and the hospital having a McDonald's).

I become bored easily and working out becomes a chore. I try to switch up every now and then by taking classes in addition to cardio and weight training. My diet for the most part is pretty good but I have a sweet tooth. I'm still a work in progress.

Anonymiss said...

With regards to hair, my hair's the best that it's ever been since going relaxer-free for nearly 2 years.

Because I'm able to wash my hair more often, I no longer have dandruff. I use chemical-free hair products that I learned about through the natural hair sites. My hair's so thick and strong. I love it :-)

Tight braids did cause some damage to my edges. I haven't braided my hair in months so I'm seeing growth in those damaged areas.

Khadija said...

Greetings, Anonymiss!

I've noticed some differences with restaurant portions while travelling. In general, Chicago portions seem larger than New York portions. And American portions are HUGE compared to the portions I experienced in European restaurants.

It's hard to go to smaller portions after one has become used to eating until one feels as full as a tick! LOL! But this is one the permanent changes I might have to embrace. {long sigh}

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

foreverloyal said...

@ anonymiss, I love dessert too!What helps me is NOT baking at home and NOT eating supermarket dessert. I tell myself if I'm going to have it, it has to be worth the calories!
So now I have it once or twice a week, but I buy a single serving from a good bakery or restaurant.

Also, it helps not to overeat if you drink a full glass of water right before every meal.

Nu Girl said...

Hello All,

This post is right on time for me as I am working on toning my body after having my second child. I make sure that I spend at least 30 minutes on pilates floor exercises every day. I refuse to have to rely on spanks to hold me in, plus they are too hot in the summer months. I have always admired physiques that look like they took discipline to achieve. My goal is not just to be thin, which I already am, but to be strong and toned. A year ago I attended an Alvin Alley production and I was very much inspired by the beautiful & strong bodies of the dancers.

I recently took part in a one day fast shut-in hosted by Queen Afua. The information supplied was very helpful. I am now implementing her program now which calls for cutting out or cutting down meat, dairy and white sugar and eating a more holistic diet. I am also taking supplements for the hair that I lost due to post birth hormones.

It is time we take care of our bodies now! A lot of Black Women are not leading quality lives and it shows. It is hard to find quality anything in black urban areas; So if it means that I have to travel to Union Square to get to a Whole Foods, then that is what I do.

Keep It Simple, Keep It Fabulous for 09!

Khadija said...

Greetings, Nu Girl!

Ah, yes, Queen Afua. Bob Law (one of my favorite talk show hosts) often mentioned her seminars on Night Talk with Bob Law around 20 years ago. Night Talk with Bob Law was the first nationally syndicated Black talk radio program. It came on the only Black-owned station here in Chicago, WVON.

Do we all see how interconnected everything is?

I clearly recall Mr. Law having Queen Afua on his show, and he made frequent mention of the health principles she teaches (fasting, etc.). Both of them talked about how Black communities had become overrun with fast-"food" joints. And how consumption of these fake foods are killing us.

This sort of conversation and information is MUCH less likely to be disseminated on White-owned, Clear Channel radio stations. Especially when some of their revenue is coming from these fast food commercials.

The disappearing local Black-owned radio station was/is a lifeline for Black people. In MANY way.

Pilates is another one of those deceptively easy appearing things that will actually kick one's behind like Yoga. I had a Pilates trainer a few years back; it was fun. My trainer was a former professional dancer.

People usually don't realize just how much athleticism is involved in dance. Especially if you're a guy who has to lift and carry women while making it all look graceful and effortless.

You said, "Keep It Simple, Keep It Fabulous for 09!" I LOVE that saying! {raised fist salute}

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

JJ said...

I was raised by my grandmother who lived through the Depression. Her people were farmers and there were years that the homestead was not fruitful. So she grew up learning moderation as a lifestyle.

All her adult life she weighed 145. (And this was through some very emotional times in her marriage and in the Civil Rights era).

How did she do it?

She had a simple "5 lb rule". If she gained 5 pounds, she'd scale back portions and increase her activity level (walking, gardening, exercise bike, etc.) until the extra 5 pounds were gone.

Not once in my life did I see her diet. She ate butter, fricaseed chicken, skillet potatoes...just not in great amounts. And each meal always had a vegetable and fruit.

As for myself, through the course of having my children (5, including a set of big ol' twins) I've gained and lost 290 pounds!!

I have 10 pounds left to be back at my goal weight.

I'm now working out to The Firm videos to help with that and to rebuild a muscle base. Although I've lost fat, I've lost a LOT of muscle too. Working a desk job for the past year hasn't helped either.

I'm also not a dieter, but instead follow my grandmother's example of moderation and control. She taught me you eat to live, not live to eat.

I cook traditional Soul Food primarily at Easter and Christmas. Other than that, I cook foods from many other countries to broaden my family's appreciation of other foods. When my husband and I go out, we typically enjoy a bowl of Vietnamese soup as opposed to a Full Meal Deal. Same price, and the soup is way better for you with lean meats and fresh vegetables.

To tell the truth, with a large family I can't afford to be fat. Food in Canada is much more expensive than in the States. Junk food & take out are especially high. I'm always jealous when I see the price of chicken when I'm stateside. Wish I could stock up and take it home! lol

Due to the high cost of food, many families HAVE to cook from scratch rather than eat out several times a week. My cousin in Sacramento told me the buffet restaurants are always full to capacity (I saw it with my own two eyes-there was some big black and latino folks in there, man!) every night of the week. A whole family could be fed to the gills for under $25. Here I'd be out at least $50!

As for the hair issue-oi vey, what an issue that is. I stopped processing my hair almost 20 years ago at 18. I braid it with a light, all natural oil through it after washing to prevent using high heat all the time. When its dry I unwind the braids and go 'bout my business.

Sometimes I will blowdry and flatiron my hair for a different look, but rarely.

Being in a totally land-locked province with very dry air year round can wreak havoc on black hair. Additonal drying/damaging processes with always lead to breakage & baldness in this part of the world.

You have to work with what you've got. I wish more sisters here would heed my advice and factor in the climate here. Instead they freak out at the idea of not having bone straight or extensioned hair. It inevitably falls out and they wear straight wigs to cover their shame.

I've been told my hair is 'disgusting', 'looks like snakes', 'wont hold a press', 'soo wild looking' 'downright scary' by my perm-loving sisters (bless their Dark n' Lovely hearts).

I also just trimmed it back 4 inches from being at my waist.


Khadija said...

Greetings, JJ!

Your grandmother was wise. What she did takes discipline. I admire that. And I admire what you've done to maintain your health! {raised fist salute}

You said, "My cousin in Sacramento told me the buffet restaurants are always full to capacity (I saw it with my own two eyes-there was some big black and latino folks in there, man!) every night of the week. A whole family could be fed to the gills for under $25."

Yep. There's a definite downside to these buffet restaurants. On the one hand, it's good that people can eat relatively inexpensively. And there are fruits and vegetables served in these places.

However, we know what many (most?) people fill up on when they go to these places. The other thing that I find disturbing about these buffet restaurants is that I've seen a lot of children there who appeared to be learning gluttony. {sigh}

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

JJ said...

Ah yes, gluttony. One of the seven deadly sins: envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth and wrath.

Many black preachers will spin and holla about sowing a seed, sacrifical giving, special gifting, etc. etc.

Bump all that. I'd pay $100 to hear one of 'em preach on one of these bad boys that actually lead to DEATH.

Save a life, somebody!

(sorry, this is off topic now. I'm thru ;)


Anonymous said...

Sign me up. I am inspired. I want to get my lawschool body back. I was toned and tight. I had one taxi driver tell me that he wished that he could drink my bathwater. LOL!!!!

Khadija said...

Greetings, Anonymous!

Isn't this an exciting idea?! {smiling while enjoying fond college memories of being "tight and right" at Club Rumpshaker}

One of my coworkers has been living vicariously through my efforts. She's been high-energy-repeating the slogan: "Buy the Size!" [meaning start buying clothes in the size I wore in college] Her husband is encouraging her to actually start moving herself; instead of only cheerleading. LOL!

You're considered "signed up" whenever you start. So, get moving! LOL! And please report back during the weekly check-ins. Please know that something you mention could help and encourage another audience member.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.