Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hair...or Health?

Happy Tuesday Y'all!

So as everyone knows by now, I've been on this "try to eat healthier, work out with Monica" kick since she started training for her triathlon in September. The day is fast approaching, and Momo has been doing an awesome job! She inspires me everyday; and when I feel like I don't want to go to the gym or I want to eat some ice cream, she reminds me that our health is more important than a double scoop of heaven from our favorite spot up the street.

And it's been working! In the short time I've joined her crusade, I've lost 8 lbs by just watching certain things I eat and working out with her twice a week. On the days we don't work out together, I feel obligated to go to the gym because I know she's at her training...running, biking and swimming it up! At her last doctor's appointment, she was informed that her blood pressure was lower and that her cholesterol levels where down. She was in good health to begin with, but her conditioning has made her that much healthier. Something as simple as exercising 3-5 times a week makes a huge difference.

As Black women, we are more at risk of developing serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension/high blood pressure. Some of these conditions are hereditary - but can be controlled - while most times they can be prevented altogether. We are more likely to die from complications from any of those conditions compared to our white counterparts. It's simply a matter of caring enough to want to take better care of ourselves.

We should work out to feel good, feel strong, relieve stress and to be healthier. But we make excuses as to why we can't do it or find the time. We work long hours, have husbands and children to tend to, we can't afford a gym membership - all seemingly valid reasons why exercising may be at the bottom of our priority list.

But the one reason that shouldn't be an excuse as to why we can't work out is our hair. Yes, you read correctly...our HAIR.

According to a study conducted by the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, in Winston-Salem, N.C., 31% of African-American women surveyed said that they exercise less because it might harm their hairstyles. While all the women agreed that exercise is important, fewer than 25% actually met the Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended exercise rates.

I am one of those women who sweats her hair out. But we also know that I'm one of those women who could care less about hair. It gets wet, I wash and blow-dry it. No big deal. I pull it back into a little ponytail and keep it moving. But I also have to get more treatments because my hair breaks off from washing it and drying it over and over again. That's why braiding my hair works best for me, because I can work out and not have to worry about my hair not looking "done" after I rinse the sweat out.

But I also realize I'm not like most sista girls either. Few African-American women would head straight to the gym from the hair salon - even I wouldn't do that. We get our hair "did" on Friday or Saturday, and don't work out til Monday or Tuesday. We tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time AND money on professional hair care, so the LAST thing we're gonna do is sweat out that perm and blow-out we just spent all day getting and throw money on the treadmill. I can hear all my girls now..."hell naw!"

But now, the problem is raised to the level of a public health concern because as a group, African-American women are in greater need of exercise. Seventy-eight percent of Black women are overweight and 50% can be categorized as obese, according to the American Obesity Association.

The biggest concern about our hair is trying to maintain a hairstyles that isn't natural. Now, I've already written the blog on "good and bad hair" - so we're not going to go there. If you want it pressed and relaxed or if you're "happy to be nappy" - that's on you. I pass judgment on no one. But Black women’s hair is more delicate, even though it's coarser, because the chemicals we often use to straighten it break our hair down - something to consider when deciding on how to rock your "do."

The average African-American woman gets her hair done every two weeks, though some go more often. Some styles, like long weaves, are expensive and can be destroyed by sweat or water, so women who opt for those styles may decide to forgo a sweaty workout.

And even those women who DO work out regularly may be reluctant to work up a REAL sweat for fear of ruining their hair. I've seen women at the gym who are barely moving, just so they won't bust a sweat. They aren't pushing themselves as much as they could because they're worried about their hair. They're thinking, "this style has to last me til next Friday girl!"

I asked my hair stylist what I could do to keep my hair healthy and STILL work out often. Her response?

"Nothing girl...you just have to decide which is more important to you -cute and fat, or thin and in shape with jacked up hair."

I'll take the jacked up hair for $200 Alex.

She DID offer up some advice though. She said that short hairstyles, braids and locks are the best styles for African-American women who regularly exercise, because they're easiest to care for. She also offered up these little tips:

- To prevent sweat damage by controlling moisture and salt buildup, use a mild, pH-balanced shampoo and a moisturizing protein conditioner a couple times a week.
-Wear a swim cap in the pool to protect hair from chlorine damage.
- For natural styles, treat hair and scalp with a light conditioning oil daily.
- Blunt cuts and bobs can be easily styled after workouts.
- Style chemically relaxed hair with a wide-toothed comb.
- After a workout, dry-set hair with rollers and use a leave-in conditioner on the tips.

Now, I'm not one to worry about my hair after I break a sweat, no matter WHAT type of exercising I'm doing (after all, there are MANY ways to break a sweat!). But I get it. We don't like to go to work looking all crazy and we DO want to take care of our hair as much as possible. For most Black women, our crown is our glory...and there's nothing wrong with that.

But would you rather have diabetes and high blood pressure with a fly-ass weave, or would you rather live to see your grandchildren with your hair a knotty mess or in a ponytail?

If you even have to think about the answer...shame on you.

-b

24 comments:

DMoe said...

FIRST BITCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DMoe said...

If you smell somethin' STANKIN' Its ME, cuz I'm THE SHEEEEEEEEEEET!!!!!

LOL. If you ain't first, YOU LAST!

Now, let's read.

DMoe aka Frank Kinda White

Brooke said...

you cra-cra :-)

Pretty Ricky What Dey Call'em said...

OK WTF... Dmoe and Brooke have to be sleeping together or something. Cuz he been on this shyt waaay to fast... AND I KNOW HE DIDN'T READ IT YET. Yeah... I'm hatin'!!!

Now let me read this.

Brooke said...

(GASP!)

Oh no you didn't!

I can't help it if folks be camping out waiting for my blog to post!

momo925 said...

LMAO good one Brooke! I remember us having this conversation last week. It's so true and honestly I used to be that way before I went natural. You couldn't catch me at the gym after I went to the salon. That fresh relaxer had to last me at least a week lol! I'm so glad that I don't have to worry about that anymore and I can no longer use that as an excuse for why my lazy butt didn't go to the gym. Health is important for everyone and something like hair should not get in the way.

oh and -8 pounds???!!! WOOO HOOO! Go Brooke! I commend you for sticking with me in my exercise efforts! The struggle continues... lol

momo925 said...

LMAO @ Pretty Ricky!

The Cable Guy said...

He betta not be sleeping with my boo! Kill all dat noise!

As for hair, B, I met you with a scarf on your head and you were still fly, so get your workout on and forget all this hair nonsense!

phillygrl said...

I have natural hair..I haven't had a perm in like 9 years...however, when I DID have a perm I thought it was easier tocare for my hair after working out..Like brooke said wash it, blow dry & flat iron or back in a ponytail all in under an hour. NOW..since I have NOT had a perm in forever, i find it MORE difficult & longer, a wash blowdry & curl or flat iron/straighten is a minumum 2-3 hours so that YES is a drawback to working out..on the other hand, like Brooke, I am not into the every two weeks at hairdresser, so I rock a ponytail many many times! Put on a little mascara & some lipgloss, slap a little QP ELasta Glaze(this doesn't ad more moisture to hair) on & Im out the door. (THATS without the blowdry & flatiron).

However...I work from home & only have to grace the office once a week..., BUT Im changing positoins soon & will have to be in the office every day......sooooo..not sure whatI will do, I sure as heck am not going to work with a bush & thats just what my hiar is at the HINT of humidity rain, etc......My passport pix is a MESS..
--did hair in A.M.--Wash , blowdry, flatiron & curl) ..go to pix place..I literally look like a lion..hiar just bushy & bone straight!!!...(it was raining that morning)..so yeah..alternatives are needed (*sigh*)

Brooke said...

I simply have a problem with paying someone to wash and dry my hair for me. But if I didn't know how to do it, then maybe I'd pay, who knows.

In my humble opinion, natural hair is harder to style/take care of. I know the hair is HEALTHIER, but still, I can't be going out looking crazy. I'd have to wrestle with it everyday and I barely have time to do my hair when it's relaxed. I miss my braids :(

I think I'm going to hire Liz to give me a protein treatment and roller set it for me every week - she's awesome!

Ms. Malcom said...

Brooke, today's blog really hit home. Since being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I have managed to change my eating habits and have lost 15 pounds. My issue is dragging my ass into the gym. The question is, if I can work sometimes 10 hour days, I should be able to devote an hour to my health and well being, right? Easier said than done, but I am not giving up on myself. I agree, it is a choice between living a healthy life or bust. The hair issue is secondary.

Monica is definitely inspiring. A triathalon is major!! I attend a Team in Training Meeting this evening for a 13 Mile Run/Walk taking place at Disney World in January 2010. I feel this would be a great way to get some exercise while raising funds for a worthy cause. I can't wait!!!

Keep up the good work Brooke!

DMoe said...

LOL.
I only have this to say to Brookey as I just woke up with the covers draped over me and she's long gone and at work without me even knowing she left..."Are you gonna call me?" LMAO.

Now, in response to "Henry Louis Hates" (aka Pretty Rick)

Do you read the bible Pretty Rick? Well, there's this passage I got memorized that sort of fits the occasion...
Ezekiel 25:17 - The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children.

And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the LORD when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

LMAO. Oh, and if you ain't first, you last sucka...

Now back to the blog - Hair. Not much for me to speak on, but "Maintenance" means alot for a lady's daily grind, and if its easier for you, and you can still pull off lookin' fly, I'm all for it.

In the name of health, black folks notoriously don't give a damn about what we eat until we gotta stop eatin' things. Its in our culture, but that foolishness has to end at some point.

I'm bad for just eating "whatever" and letting my Usain Bolt-like metabolism sweep up the job in record time. But that gets old, and so will I. I'm getting better, but it takes a conscious effort to live a healthy lifestyle.

As for "Hatey Rick's" hateristic outburst, one last footnote:

Bruh....

Ima pray for you. And I want you to hold on to god's unchanging hand. The same god that helped Joshua fight the battle of Jericho, he helped Daniel get out the lion's den, he helped GILLIGAN get off the island!

Sincerely,
Your friend and mine.
DMoe

Serena W. said...

Hey everyone! Had to comment on this. I guess I'm blessed that I take care of my natural and for me personally its easier to take care of after running, African dancing, etc. But its also because I don't press it either.

But yes I've had female friends back out of training for marathons, exercising, etc because of the fresh perm!

Now I trained for the Honolulu marathon with a perm and it was horrible. Started breaking off and everything.

So I made the choice, but I think women need to work out regardless of their styles. I'd rather live a long and healthy life (with my cute natural) then not being able to work out, hair breaking off if I do or spending wads of loot at the hairdresser.

Just my .15 cents :)

Momo I'm proud of ya! Brooke keep doing it girl! I'm going to start running and dancing again next week ;-)

Serena W. said...

One last point. I do tell friends that are anti workout due to their hair that regardless of their style it shouldn't prevent them from eating healthy! No excuse for that at all. I'm even looking into eating more raw and adding a lot more fresh fruit to the diet!

Also a juicer! Why pay $6.00 for a smoothie! Just do it yourself :)

Brooke said...

Great advise Serena!

And congrats on the 15 lbs Tanisha!!

Diabetes is no joke, ain't no hairstyle worth not taking care of yourself.

I'm gonna leave Pretty Ricky and DMoe alone :)

Spinning class tonight!

The Cable Guy said...

I noticed DMoe didn't deny it. Let me find out...

momo925 said...

Thanks Serena! Honolulu?!! Girl I think that might be my next mission lol.

Ms. Malcom I am very proud of you. Taking the first step is what counts. We can talk all day about yesterday and how terrible we ate, the fact that we didnt exercise etc., but the important thing to remember is that tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow is a chance to turn it all around and make a better choice than we did the day before. You are doing that! Good luck with teams in training...they are an awesome group.

Serena W. said...

Ms. Malcolm I'm proud of you. I did three events through TNT! Wonderful organization and cause!

I'm going to do a spring event through TNT!

Diabetes is no joke. My mother suffers from Hypertension, now we are reworking her whole diet due to recent health problems. Its truly been a wake up call in our family.

Keep striving Ms. Malcolm!!!!

Serena W. said...

Yes Momo! December 2005 I did the full Honolulu Marathon! Beautiful and breath taking!!!! You have to do it!

Also check out the Reggae Marathon! That may inspire sistas with do's to workout!

26.2 miles along the ocean in Jamaica! Amazing!

Brooke said...

Damn, now I wanna do one! But running is a KILLER on my knees!

elizabeth017 said...

whoo-hoo! i got a shout out!

i am actually doing the protein treatment this weekend...brooke, bring back my dryer!!! lol

i have no excuse and yet, i seem to always find one! i AM natural so i CAN"T "sweat out a perm".

Brooke said...

it's a date! I'll bring back your dryer and you can fix my hair :)

Yolanda said...

I sweat just getting out of the shower and putting clothes on...so working up a sweat doing something meaningful is nothing to me. I've never been one of those "ooh, I can't get my hurrr wet" chicks.
I laugh at them in the pool with shower caps on! *smh*

Brooke said...

A woman after my own heart :-)

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