This post comes from a place of love and concern for you. I do feel it is getting better but I still see a major problem.
And it’s not just me worried about it, I’ve heard many men and active black women complain about this also. So keep reading.
There seems to be an extreme with Black women and exercise. Either we’re super fit or we’re… well nothing. No real in between.
I have tried to defend the notion several times thinking, “Maybe these women are working out at home” or “Maybe it’s unreasonably expensive and time-consuming”. Maybe that’s the reason I don’t see many of us at the gym or jogging in the streets.
But I feel the major reason is mostly because of our most prized asset that we spend the majority of our money on. You guessed it, our hair! Most of us prefer not to be seen with our hair not “done”.
Lots of women confide in me, telling me how they want to start a routine BUT have a list of excuses that stop them from making the time or effort to start and so there is still a huge majority of black women who don’t exercise at all.
When I asked them why, the top 2 reasons listed were: I don’t like exercise, and I don’t like sweating, it ruins my hair.
There were also quite a few who felt they don’t need to exercise because they “looked fit” already!
Remember those girls in high school and university that ate everything in sight and never gained a pound, had arms that looked like they could lift you over the head, toned. Yeah, I wasn’t one of those girls, I’ve had to work for every muscle I have.
These are the same females that blew up as soon as they reached their mid-twenties, had a child and/or got a regular 9 to 5 job that got them free snacks and had them sitting at a desk all day.
Then turned around and convinced themselves that they were too skinny before. Telling everyone how she prefers being “thick”. When it is more likely an excuse and a fear that you aren’t able to lose the weight, because they’ve never had to before and they don’t know how.
I know a lot of you are nodding your heads because you either know a couple friends like this or you just took a hard look in the mirror.
Trust me I’ve been there. I put on that weight and gave up after a month or 2 because it was too hard or lost faith in myself that I could do it. And I actually knew what to do, I just wasn’t doing it. So I can only imagine how intimidating it can be for someone who doesn’t know what to do. It took a lot for me to get where I am right now, it was hard and it didn’t happen overnight. I had to make a commitment to myself and honour it.
Why black women don't exercise
Whether your parents are from the Caribbean or Africa, they didn’t grow up in a multi-seasoned country. We live in a country where we either have our own cars or have access to reliable public transit. Which means that we don’t walk as much or sweat out the toxins we ingest naturally.
How many of you grew up with your parents exercising regularly? I’m guessing not many of you.
I was lucky to have the example of both of my parents exercising. My mom did aerobics and my dad lifted weights. So it was something normal for me. And still I’m the only one, neither my brother nor my sister workout regularly.
So it’s not our parents’ fault that exercise isn’t normal to us, they were only doing the best they could, trying to give us the luxuries that they weren’t afforded. But it probably would have been better if they fed us the way they were fed.
My mother shared with me that when she was growing up in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, meat used to be eaten only once a week on Sundays. The rest of the week they ate fish or vegetable dishes.
Nowadays meat is more readily available as well as processed foods. We don’t have the fresh vegetables or even fresh meat that they had.
We need to take responsibility and make adjustments ourselves and stop relying on what our parents showed us. Be aware of what you are putting in your body. The “cooked food” you love so much, should be a treat not an everyday meal.
Its no coincidence that as access to meat on a regular basis and processed foods has increased so has the onset of diabetes, heart disease and cancer in the black community.
I have taken steps to cut back on my meat and processed foods intake. Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE food! No like I really LOVE it. It’s the first thing I think about when I wake in the morning. I plan and get excited over what I’m going to eat. And I LOVE meat, but I also love living and want to do that for as long as I can. So making small adjustments to how I eat has gone a long way.
Yes I had to make sacrifices but they are for my own good. And isn’t that what life is all about? I have 5 nieces and I want to be a good role model for them.
We’re naturally toned.
But that doesn’t mean YOU are healthy.
Genetics have played a major role in our ignorance for exercise. Why exert yourself and pain up your body when it looks good naturally?
My answer, because “skinny fat” ain’t sexy, and definitely isn’t healthy!
There are very little statistics on black women’s’ health. But look around and take notes on how many of your mothers, aunties and cousins have diabetes and high blood pressure under the age of 50. How many of those same women complain of knee, hip and back pain due to arthritis?
And most importantly, look at how they treat themselves. We as black women were raised to take care of everyone but ourselves. We’ve watched our matriarchs struggle and give, but never receive. We need to demand more for ourselves.
My mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease over 15 years ago. Her dedication to regular exercise has kept her active. She still shakes and has many days where fatigue wins because of the medication that she has to take. But she has kept her disease under control by maintaining her exercise routine.
The cold also has an affect on our bones, which is why exercise needs to become a regular part of our routine. Studies show that regular exercise helps to reduce the onset of cardiovascular diseases and increase stroke volume (the rate at which blood is sent to the heart).
Heart attacks are caused by inadequate blood flow to the heart. Like any muscle in the body, the heart muscle becomes stronger with regular exercise.
Exercise also has an amazing affect on our joints, bones and our metabolism.
I agree! It sucks trying to figure out what to do with your hair when exercising. If we go to the gym then we have to deal with our hair in public.
When I do see black women in the gym, we usually have our hair covered, which is a great option. Buy a couple of cute hair scarves to match your workout outfits.
Did you know that sweat acts as an amazing nutrient for your natural hair to grow?
When I wear my hair straight I tie it down and keep it tied till it dries and it stays straight.
When I wear it curly I just throw on a visor so my hair can breathe.
You have options. If you are worried that you don’t know what you’re doing. Join a class or hire a trainer.
The hardest part is getting started.
The best advice I could give you is to take it one day at a time.
I know people always tell you to set goals. Make your goals less about pounds and inches and more about time and strength.
To help you I’m sharing 2 things that every woman needs:
1. A FREE 1-week challenge. Increase your Strength and Cardio while you boost your confidence so you have some direction. You can do this at home.
2. Watch me workout with my friend and fellow fitness addict Camille Paquette –Small of FITPeel. Two black females working out and having fun. It’s not about looks it’s about increasing your strength, ability and confidence in self. Enjoy!
In Fitness and Positivity!