Posted in Uncategorized

Blacktivate Lesson 006: Green Exercises for Black Women Pt. 2

Summer 2018

Hey Hey Ya! It’s your guuurrrllll, Chris Omni, the Health Hippie, back once again to activate the health and wellbeing of Black women. This week, we are going to continue our conversation about the transformative power of being outdoors. I promise to shy away from the mushy stuff this week because you had plenty of it during lesson 005. So, if you are ready for Lesson 006, throw a fist in the air and say it with me…

“It’s time to… BLACKTIVATE!”

It’s kind of difficult to tell by the opening picture, but this picture was taken just before we started walking on the Shunga Trail in Topeka, Kansas. This walking event was no different than any other walk, but the remarkable aspect of this picture, that most people wouldn’t know, is that each of the eight women were going through eight totally separate life situations.

Some pains, worries, and other life situations are worn on the face while others are hidden in plain sight. But, by the time we completed the 30 minute walk, one thing was pretty obvious-the collective mood was elevated. (Even if just for the 30 minutes during the walk and a few minutes after, I count that as a success!!) Some of you might be asking, what happened? Others of you might be curious about what was so magical about those 1,800 seconds? The answer is simple. They were nurtured by nature.

Research Time

A study conducted by Hartig et al. [1] looked at the relationship between positive emotional and cognitive outcomes and walking in urban settings versus walking in nature. Which one do YOU think was more beneficial? {insert Jeopardy timer}. Based on the title of this article, I hope you answered “nature.” Walking is great; don’t get me wrong. I just wrote an 11,000 word thesis about a walking intervention targeting Black women. I looooooove walking. But, for added mental health benefits, green exercises for Black women is the key! (I’m biased!!)

The topic of mental health is near and dear to me because I have been diagnosed with anxiety and have suffered with depression. These labels are rarely talked about in the Black community for reasons that we don’t have time to address in this article, but I promise to dive deeper into this subject during Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. But, as a quick teaser, did you know that African Americans are 20% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than Non-Hispanic Whites [2]? Psychological distress can mean major depression, anxiety, ADHD, and suicidal thoughts to name a few. I digress. Moving on…

While researching articles for this week’s post, I came across a cool concept called Nature Relatedness proposed by Researchers Martin and Brymer. Have you heard of it? It is exactly as it sounds-a connection to nature. Martin and Brymer researched anxiety levels in relation to nature, but they didn’t explore physical activity. Therefore, Lawton, Brymer, Clough, and Denovan expanded upon this work and investigated the role of physical activity in relation to nature and psychological wellbeing. What I found super interesting and telling about this research was the finding about relationships.

Just like interactions with human being, the type of relationship you have with that person dictates the experience(s) you share. Nature is no different. If a person is comfortable with nature and feels connected with nature then the psychological benefits are present [3]. But, the opposite is also true and positive effects become negated if being outdoors causes you to stress out. (All the bugs, heat, and other critters can be a distraction; I get it).

Please remember that I led this week’s article by publicly declaring my bias in favor of physical activity outdoors as a means to improve one’s mental health. But, green exercises for Black women is not the be all end all when it comes to improving mental health; it simply serves as another option to consider. Everyone is different. The most important aspect of any wellness journey is to keep trying on physical activity until you find what fits. (No pun intentend.)

Well Luvs, that is it for this week. Thank you for spending a little time with me and please tune in next Thursday as I continue my mission to activate the health and wellbeing of Black women.

High Fives, Hugs, and Hope!

Chris “The Health Hippie” Omni

PS

Knowledge is key; you can’t do better until you know better!

References

  1. Hartig, T., Evans, G. W., Jamner, I. D., Davis, D. S., and Garling, T. (2003), Tracking restoration in natural and urban field settings. J. Environ. Psychol. 23, 109-123. Doi: 10.1016/S0272-4944(02)00109-3
  2. Mental Health Data/Statistics (2016). US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Retrieved from https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/content.aspx?ID=6471
  3. Lawton, E., Brymer, e., Clough, P., and Denovan, A. (2017). The Relationship between Physical Activity Environment, Nature Relatedness, Anxiety, and the Psychological Well-being Benefits of Regular Exercisers. Front. Psychol. 8:1058. Doi: 10.3389/psyg.2017.01058.
Posted in hypertension, Modifiable Risk Factors, Physical Activity

Blacktivate Lesson 004: How to Reduce the “Pressure.”





Your “High 5” Ways
to Reduce High Blood Pressure.

Hey Hey Ya! It’s your guuurrrllll, Chris Omni, the Health Hippie, back once again to activate the health and wellbeing of Black women. It’s time to Blacktivate, ya!

This week, I am going to continue our conversation about high blood pressure by providing a list of 5 ways to control and/or reduce your risks. Are you ready?

1: Your Body Was Made to Move!

The Surgeon General recommends achieving 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity every week [1]. That may seem like a lot, so let me break it down. If you engage in physical activity for 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week, you will achieve your 150 minutes. Don’t be concerned if you can’t block off 30 minutes, you can break that down into three, 10-minute bouts of physical activity. Sounds a little more doable, huh? Just think of breakfast minutes, lunch minutes, and dinner minutes! You got this. Always remember to listen to your body!!

2: Watch That Sodium, Sistah Friend!

I promise, I couldn’t make this up if I tried! Did you know that there was a website entitled picklelicious? Yessssssssss! Lovin’ it!! I really do like pickles. Zesty are my favorite 🙂 Okay, where was I? Ohhh, that’s right, I was thinking about whether or not I was going to dig into scientific journals or give you facts from picklelicious.com. Pickles Win!

Pickles have one major drawback-sodium [2]. Now hear me when I say this, “pickles are not the only snacks that are high in sodium.” Take a trip to your cabinet and look at the food labels. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that our sodium intake not aexceed 2,300 milligrams per day. If you already have high blood pressure,make that no more than 1500 milligrams per day.

3: Drink in Moderation Not For Elevation!

Let me be the FIRST to say, “I loooooooove wine.” Give me a glass of Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, or anything dry and red and I’m in my happy place. However, I also know that excessive alcohol consumption will increase my risk of high blood pressure. The message here is to not get faded! No matter what your drink of choice is, learn to savor the experience and the taste not just the tilt.

You know I’m not about to move onto the next subject without discussing why.

Excess alcohol consumption is bad because of the sugar. Sadly, there is not a nutrition label on most bottles of wine and that leaves you unaware of how much you are truly consuming. There is a great article in the Washington Post that will break down some of the nutrition facts for you. [3] One last thing, keep in mind, wine isn’t the only food or beverage that has sugar. Be aware; check your labels.

4: Smoke Ribs Not Cigarettes… (make that corn on the cob for vegetarians!)

As a non-smoker, it seems simple enough to say, “Just STOP!” But, as a former employee wellness coordinator and wellness coach, I have worked with people who have struggled with this very subject. Please know that this blog isn’t about telling you what you should or should not do; I just want to help activate your health and wellbeing by boosting your knowledge about physical activity, chronic diseases, and various risk factors. One last nugget of information: Every time you smoke you are causing a temporary increase in your blood pressure [4]. Okay, I’ll move on…

5: Worry Less Live More

Nothing immediately activates “The Pressure” as much as stress. Writing about stress is even stressful, but providing stress management techniques is helpful. Enjoy this visual from Harvard University [5]. It truly speaks to what I would have personally recommended. “Unplug” and “Slow Down” are my go-to speeds!

Well Luvs, that is it for this week. Thank you for spending a little time with me and please tune in next Thursday (bring a friend) as I continue my mission of improving Black women’s health-related quality of life by activating their health and wellbeing.

High Fives, Hugs, and Hope!

Chris “The Health Hippie” Omni

References

  1. HHS Releases Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition (2018) US Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2018/11/12/hhs-releases-physical-activity-guidelines-americans-2nd-edition.html
  2. https://picklelicious.com/4-facts-about-pickles-and-weight-loss/
  3. Lehmann, C. (2014). Watching Your Sugar Intake? Toast to Dry Wine. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/watching-your-sugar-intake-toast-to-dry-wine/2014/04/22/b0ebf500-ba73-11e3-a397-6debf9e66e65_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.8d1e25ba2e47
  4. Smoking, High Blood Pressure and Your Health (2016). American Heart Association. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/smoking-high-blood-pressure-and-your-health
  5. Seven Ways to Reduce Stress and Keep Blood Pressure Down. Harvard University Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/7-ways-to-keep-stress-and-blood-pressure-down
Posted in BMI, Body Mass Index, Physical Activity

Blacktivate Lesson 002: The BS that is BMI!

Let me go ahead and lead with this…the BMI, Body Mass Index, is a culturally-biased, inaccurate bulls*#!% scale! Ahhhhhhhhh, yes, that feels so good to get off my chest. It was developed in the 1830’s and we all know that body shapes have changed significantly since then. If we have changed, why hasn’t the scale? Okay, okay, okay, I’ll temporarily get off my soap box in order to give you the real and the research to support my assertion.

A 2010 study [1], Accuracy of Current Body Mass Index Obesity Classification for White, Black and Hispanic Reproductive-age Women,” conducted by Drs. Rahman and Berenson, concluded that “the National Institutes of Health should use race/ethnic specific BMI cutoff values to more accurately identify obesity in this population than the existing classification system.” Yes, you saw those two critical words: MORE ACCURATELY!

You already know that I completely cosign with the findings of Dr. Rahman and Dr. Berenson. However, as my professor pointed out during one of my rants about the cultural insensitivity of the BMI, if we didn’t use the BMI, what would we use? It is easy and efficient, I admit that. A person can quickly calculate their height and weight (click here to check your BMI) and immediately know their body mass index. But, just because it’s easy, does that mean that we must keep using it?

Unfortunately, I do not have the answer to her question….yet! I’m working on something revolutionary called the B2MI scale. You’ll hear more about my scale in about five years. Until the time of my big reveal, all I can do is educate you, my readers, about the falsehoods and feelings of inadequacy associated with this BS scale.

I know you can’t tell much by a picture, but humor me and take a quick look at the above picture on the right. That’s me. I was in the best shape of my life when this picture was taken. I was teaching several classes per week and my body was loving the results. But, according to the scale, as a 5’6″ Black woman coming in at 150 pounds, my BMI was 24.21. This means that I was less than one point away from being classified as overweight! Yes, LESS THAN ONE FLIPPIN’ POINT!

This is my field and I know that the BMI scale is flawed, but not everyone knows that. Furthermore, if you only looked at my numbers on a piece paper you might dismiss me before even giving me a chance. A chance to join the military. A chance to join the fire department. A chance to compete in a pageant. A chance for anything that considers a persons’ ability based upon their weight! Plain and simple, especially as it relates to my Black sisters, it just does not make sense to have a universal cutoff value to categorize people as “normal,” “overweight,” “obese,” or even “morbidly obese” [2,3].

So, as you prepare to wrap up this week’s Blacktivate lesson, I encourage you to view the BMI as a non-factor. It does NOT tell your story! It does NOT reflect your efforts! It didn’t have YOU in mind when it was created and it sho nuff doesn’t have YOU in mind now! YOU, my Luvs, are uniquely and wonderfully made! Never forget it and never let any scale, BMI or the kind that you stand on, strip you of this truth. Engage in your daily physical activity for the pureness of movement and all the other health benefits will eventually come. Simply put, let your joy be in your JOurneY.

Until next week, continue to activate your health and wellbeing. Continue to Blacktivate!

Chris “The Health Hippie” Omni

References:

  1. Rahman, Mahbubur and Abbey B Berenson.(2010) “Accuracy of current body mass index obesity classification for white, black, and Hispanic reproductive-age women”  Obstetrics and gynecology. 115(5): 982-8.
  2. Razak F, Anand SS, Shannon H, Vuksan V, Davis B, Jacobs R, Teo KK, McQueen M, Yusuf S. (2007) “Defining obesity cut points in a multiethnic population.” Circulation. 115(16):2111-8.
  3. Evans EM, Rowe DA, Racette SB, Ross KM, McAuley E (2006) “Is the current BMI obesity classification appropriate for black and white postmenopausal women?” Int J Obes (Lond). 30(5):837-43.