Monday, July 28, 2008

The "Easiest" Thing I Can Do Tonight To Help Manage My Weight

Last week I stepped off the curb and into the path of oncoming traffic.

Fortunately, I made it across the street okay, but it was definitely a wake up call. I was essentially sleepwalking through my day on about 4-5 hours of sleep.

Unfortunately, this is a regular occurrence for me. I get in bed somewhere between 2-3:30am and am up at around 7:30am. Most days I think I "manage" it well but others, like that day, I know it's a problem.

I've always known about the link between lack of sleep and weight gain. I have a friend who recently lost a good amount of weight and credits his success in part to always getting a good night's sleep - at least 7 hours. With my average of 4 hours of sleep, I am missing out on one of the most crucial phases of the sleep process.

Phase 1: During this phase, a person is in between wake and sleep. The person can be awakened easily.

Phase 2: This is a period of light sleep during which body temperature drops.

Phase 3 and Phase 4: These are the phases during which a person experiences an increasingly deeper stage of sleep called delta sleep. During this restorative stage, the body is repairing itself, building bone and muscle and releasing certain hormones.

I know better than to think that I can just go home tonight, firmly pledging to sleep a minimum of 7 hours a night. I need to take small steps to change my habits.

Here a few tips from the article, "Sleep Your Way To Slim:"

  • Instead of trying to adhere to a strict lights-out policy every night, aim to get in bed early at least one night per week.
  • Ease yourself into your slumber session with a bath.
  • Eating a carb-based mini-meal of no more than 200 calories 45 minutes before drifting off can raise serotonin levels, helping you relax and sleep well. Try a whole-wheat English muffin with a tablespoon of honey or a cup of instant oatmeal with 1/4 cup of chopped apple.

How many hours of sleep are you getting on average each night?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Need Exercise Motivation?

It's been a struggle lately to find the motivation to move my body. Cookouts, happy hour cocktails, and general hot fun in the summertime have easily diverted my attention away from the elliptical.

Apparently, I'm not alone.

So when an e-mail showed up in my inbox titled, "11 Great Ways To Get Movitvated," it seemed like divine intervention.

11 Great Ways To Get Motivated

You know you've got to get moving. You resolve to park the car a few blocks from work, take the stairs and hit the gym after work. But a few weeks pass and before you know it parking spots start opening up right in front of the building, the elevator is already in the lobby, and you've worked late every night that week. It's not that you don't know how to get fit, you just can't seem to stay motivated. We all know people who are religious with their workouts. So, what's their secret?

We asked fitness experts and regular Joes alike how they stick with their routine. These methods keep them moving; maybe one will work for you.

1. Embarrass Yourself
Make a mark on your calendar every time you make it to the gym or park. Seeing your motivation, (or lack thereof) in black and white helps keep you going. Suzanne Schlosberg and Liz Neporent, authors of Fitness for Dummies, Second Edition (IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., 2000) suggest "whether you write your goals on the side of your shoe or in your training diary, glancing at them on a daily basis will help keep you focused and motivated. Some people tape their goals to their bathroom mirror or refrigerators." Do whatever works to make you remember what you promised yourself.

2. Join a Plan That Wouldn't Have You for a Member
So you're not Steffi Graf. That doesn't mean you can't join a tennis team. Richard Cotton, chief exercise physiologist for, says "joining a club, team, or finding an exercise partner…provides a support system and someone to simply share the experience with. Often times just knowing someone will be asking you 'How's it going?' can be the difference between exercise success and failure."

3. Love Thy Neighbor and Love Thyself
You can't leave a neighbor standing on the corner checking her watch. She knows where you live. Miriam Nelson, Director of the Center for Physical Fitness at Tufts University, and the author of Strong Women Stay Young and Strong Women Stay Slim (Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1999) says, "When I make a date with a neighbor to go for a run I keep it, and we have a great time." She also plans a regular appointment with her neighbors. "Saturday mornings several of my neighbors come over and we lift weights together; it's a great way to start the weekend," she says.

Read the other 8 here.

Let me know in the comments how you stay motivated when the going gets rough.

Vivrant Thang writes about life, love and the pursuit of good music over at

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Introducing T-Time



Too often, when asked how they are doing, too many Black women say they are "surviving," or they are "making it." Well it is high time that we stop, "surviving" and "making it" and start thriving and living well. To that end T-Time seeks to inform and educate Black women on the many ways they can make their lives better, as well as entertain them a bit in the process.

T-Time is a web portal for black women that features the best the web has to offer on Sex, Dating and Relationships, Health, Fashion and Beauty, Business, and Entertainment, all from a Black woman's perspective.

Outside of featuring posts from my blogs Sweet Potato Pie and Brown Sugar, as well as creating original content for the T-Time Blog , I scour the web every day to find what other Black women are talking about regarding issues that affect Black women throughout the diaspora. From beauty tips to marketing advice, T-Time seeks to be the premiere place for useful, timely, information, tips and tricks that will improve the lives of everyday Black women.

I am excited about the possibilities that T-Time offers and I hope you are too.


T.S. Johnson
The Black Woman's Guide to Living Well

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lalah Hathaway, Angie Stone, Mary Mary To Perform at SPA Health Conference

The first annual Meharry/Heart & Soul SPA (Sisters Partnering All Together) will be held October 16-19 in Nashville, TN. It's a retreat for women looking for quality health and wellness information, a pampering and networking experience shared with like-minded women and a celebration of distinguished individuals for their work performed to eliminate health disparities.
Meharry Medical College and Heart & Soul have teamed up to provide a platform for women across the country to gather in Nashville to encounter the rich history of the Meharry Medical College legacy, raise awareness of the health disparities that disproportionately affect women of color and promote healthy lifestyle choices that will improve the quality of women’s lives and their families.
Highlights over the 4-day weekend getaway include:
  • Early Bird Fitness Workouts
  • Free Health Screenings
  • Healthy, Wealthy, Wise Expo
  • Healthy, Wealthy, Wise Workshops
  • Pamper With a Purpose (Spa pampering services)
  • Divas Against Disparities Benefit Concert

For more information and conference registration, visit
Vivrant Thang writes about life, love and the pursuit of good music at Songs In The Key Of Life.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

CAM Thursdays: Ayurveda

About Ayurveda
Ayurveda means “the science of life” and is a natural healing system that has its roots in India. As one of the whole medical systems, Aruyveda has gained popularity in the United States due to Dr. Deepak Chopra, an Indian-born doctor who uses a combination of Aruyveda and conventional medicine to treat his patients in the US.

Ayurveda is a holistic approach to medicine that seeks to integrate the mind, body and spirit to achieve overall health. Keeping the body in balance is believed to lead to overall health and contentment. One of the main principles of Ayurveda is the belief that to keep the body free of illness and disease, it must be regularly cleansed. Ayureda modalities include the following:

1. Herbs and food
2. Massage
3. Meditation
4. Yoga

Used separately or in combination, these therapies seek to restore balance to the body. Ayurveda also treats specific health problems, whether they are physical or mental in nature.

Ayurveda has evolved over thousands of years in India. It is based primarily on ideas from Hinduism but also shares its origin from ancient Persian beliefs regarding health and healing.

The first texts of Ayurveda were penned some 2000 years ago on palm leaves. These texts, the Caraka Samhita and the Sustruta Samhita, covered topics such as the following:

• Pathology
• Diagnosis
• Treatment
• Lifestyle
• Advice for practitioners, including medical ethics
• Philosophy

Ayurveda is still the main medical system used in India today. Western medicine is prevalent there as well, but Ayurveda remains the main medical treatment used by India’s rural population who make up 70% of the country.

Basic Tenets of Ayurveda
Ayurveda’s belief about health revolves around the idea of the three Doshas: Vata doha, Pitta dosha and Aapha dosha.

About the Doshas
• Each dosha is made up of the combination of space, air, fire, water, and earth.
• Each dosha has its weaknesses and strengths and can be put out of balance for any reason.
• Each person is a combination of the three doshas and has his or her own dominant dosha. One’s dosha is constantly being reformed due to lifestyle and diet.
• Each dosha represents a certain body type, personality, and has its own risks of various illnesses.
• Imbalances in a dosha can occur because of stress, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, and other lifestyle choices and bodily processes.

The Vata dosha is considered the combination between space and air. Vata dosha is the most powerful of the doshas. It controls the heart, breathing, the mind, and cell division. Staying up too late, eating before your previous meal is digested, or eating dried fruit can upset Vata. People whose main dosha is vata are thought to be susceptible to mental, skin, and neurological diseases

The Pitta dosha is represented by fire and water. Pitta is said to control the digestive system and hormones. When Pita is out of balance people may experience negative emotions and digestive problems. People whose primary dosha is pitta may have higher risk of arthritis and heart disease.

The Kapha dosha combines water and earth. Kapha controls growth, helps with immunity, and keeps up one’s strength. Kapha is put out of balance by eating when one is full, eating too many sweets, and eating and drinking foods with too much salt. A person whose primary dosha is kapha is believed to be susceptible to stomach ulcers, diabetes, gallbladder problems, and respiratory illnesses.

The ayurvedic practitioner will develop a plan for the patient to follow that will work to get his doshas back in synch. Ayuverdic treatments take a comprehensive approach. They involve family and friends to help the person with their treatment plan and may require substantial changes in lifestyle, diet, and exercise regimes.
An Ayurvedic treatment will consist of four parts:

1. Eliminate impurities. The process of eliminating impurities is called panchakarma which focuses on cleansing of the digestive tract. The cleansing of the digestive system is usually accomplished with fasting, enemas, or special diets. To eliminate worms or other disease causing agents, practitioners might prescribe nasal sprays or inhalers filled with medicated oils.

2. Reduce symptoms. This is where the practitioner may suggest significant lifestyle changes. A patient may be asked to perform yoga exercises, meditation, and stretching. Various foods and herbs may be prescribed, and they may be mixed with small doses of metals believed to protect the patient from harm.

3. Reduce stress. Increase harmony and contentment in the patient’s life with the use of yoga, meditation, and other therapies.

4. Help rid the patient of psychological and physical problems. Massage or vital points therapy may be used to reduce pain and improve circulation. Ayurveda teaches that there are 107 vital points on the body that can be manipulated to bring about better physical and mental health.

The biggest risk with Ayurvedic procedures is toxicity. Some of the herbs and medicines used have been shown to have potentially dangerous levels of lead, arsenic, and other harmful metals. In 2004 the Centers for Disease Control received reports of 12 cases where people had lead poisoning because of an Ayurvedic treatment.

There haven’t been many clinical trials of Ayurvedic practices and those that have taken place have been small and had problems with research and design that made it difficult to rely on the results generated for any definitive answers on the efficacy of Ayurvedic treatment.

Ultimately the best way to avoid complications is to seek out a fully trained and licensed Ayurveda practitioner. While there are schools opening in the U.S., the best Ayurveda schools are located in India, so it would best to find a practitioner who has studied overseas as they would have the most rigorous training. Also, don’t rely on a Ayurvedic practitioner for your diagnosis. Use your primary healthcare provider for an initial diagnosis and seek out an ayurvedic practitioner to treat your illness in conjunction with your primary physician.

Related Posts
Introduction to Complementary and ALternative Medicine (CAM)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why You Just Can't Lose Weight

You step on the scale and groan at the number peeking between your toes. "I'll go on a diet today!" you think. Not so fast. Unless you are mentally ready to lose weight, any diet you try is likely doomed to failure.

In a widely accepted model of behavioral change, there are five stages of motivational readiness. If you're stuck in an early stage, your diet won't work, says registered dietician Karen Collins. Studies suggest that people may feel ready to lose weight, but if they are unprepared to alter their behavior, they'll fail, reports the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C. in a column titled "Nutrition Notes."

The five stages of motivational readiness that can be applied to dieting, exercise, or just about anything in your life:

Stage One: Precontemplation

A person has no intention of changing.

Stage Two: Contemplation

A person intends to change--later.

Read the rest of the stages here.
Vivrant Thang blogs about live, love and music over at Songs In The Key Of Life.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Afrobella Celebrates "Beautiful Big Girls Working It Out"

Afrobella, one of my favorite blogs that hopefully you are reading as well, is celebrating the beauty of the full-figured form, particularly Toccara Jones. As you may remember, Toccara was a contestant on America's Next Top Model and is now featured in the first issue of Vogue Italy to showcase all black models.
She talks about inspirational it is to seeTocarra and other full-figured Bellas like Missy and Queen Latifah slimming down for their health as opposed to trying to fit society's ideal of what a woman should look like.

Watching women like Toccara become fitter while still maintaining their curves
is inspiring to a bella who is trying to improve her health and shed some weight
by way of diet and exercise. For me, looking at photoshopped images of
Mariah, Janet, or insert-hypersexed-scantily-clad-pop star here has never worked as inspiration. Instead, I look to celebs who I can identify with, who I know must work consistently hard and sweat to achieve their goals. Read more...

Here here Bella!

Ironically, as I was losing weight I had a picture of Tocarra and Queen Latifah up as my "ideal." I never wanted to be thin and waifish. I embrace my curves and celebrate those that have them.

Kudos to those bellas working hard to regain their health and truly feel beautiful - whatever that may look like to them.

Vivrant Thang blogs about live, love and music over at Songs In The Key Of Life.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The 20 Healthiest Foods for Under $1

I don't know about you all, but a trip to the grocery store puts me in a major funk these days. The prices on some basic items such as bread and milk are just unreasonable compared to what they were just a year ago. I can't imagine what families with growing children are going through. Forget about shopping much at my favorite store, Whole Foods.

We won't even talk about the cost of meat. I'm a hearty carnivore and fish lover but now it's a treat to have a piece of steak, pork chops or salmon.

In my quest for alternatives, I've started going to farmers markets for fresh produce and fruit and Amish markets for meats and fresh juices. It's been a good thing as I've been rediscovering what fresh food really is.

It's never been cheap to eat healthy, but this is even more true in this economy. I fear that if we continue on this way, the obesity epidemic will get even more out of control. McDonald's Dollar Menu hasn't been affected by the economy.

Tell us about some of your cost-saving solutions for healthy eating in the comments.

Get some ideas from this article, The 20 Healthiest Foods Under $1

1. Oats
High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have also been shown to lower cholesterol. And they sure are cheap—a dollar will buy you more than a week’s worth of hearty breakfasts.
Serving suggestions: Sprinkle with nuts and fruit in the morning, make oatmeal cookies for dessert.

2. Eggs
You can get about a half dozen of eggs for a dollar, making them one of the cheapest and most versatile sources of protein. They are also a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may ward off age-related eye problems.

Serving suggestions: Huevos rancheros for breakfast, egg salad sandwiches for lunch, and frittatas for dinner.

3. Kale
This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and calcium. Like most greens, it is usually a dollar a bunch.

Serving suggestions: Chop up some kale and add to your favorite stir-fry; try German-Style Kale or traditional Irish Colcannon.
Vivrant Thang blogs about live, love and music over at Songs In The Key Of Life.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

AMA Apologizes to Black Doctors


CHICAGO - The American Medical Association is issuing a formal apology for more than a century of discriminatory policies that excluded blacks from participating in a group long considered the voice of U.S. doctors.

It comes more than 40 years after AMA delegates denounced policies at state and local medical societies dating to the 1800s that barred blacks. For decades, AMA delegates resisted efforts to get them to speak out forcefully against discrimination or to condemn the smaller medical groups that historically have had a big role in shaping AMA policy.

The apology might seem belated, but it isn't the AMA's first for its discriminatory history. Dr. John Nelson, then AMA's president, offered a similar apology at a 2005 meeting on improving health care and eliminating disparities, sponsored by the government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

That came a year after the AMA joined the National Medical Association, a black doctors' group, and other minority doctors' groups in forming the Commission to End Health Care Disparities.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

SPP Links

1. Money won't make you skinny (Revenge of the Curves)
2. Just in case you're still hung over from the 4th (The P.O.S.H. Life)
3. Keep it Right, Keep it Tight, Ladies (Nubian Fitness Goddess)
4. To sun or to supplement (Cranky Fitness)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Daily Weight Loss Tip

Lose weight with water. Water is essential for everybody - it is also the key to losing weight. If you haven't been drinking enough water, your body has developed a pattern of storing water. This water retention equals extra unwanted weight.

By drinking more water, you are not only flushing out toxins, you are also teaching your body that it no longer needs to store water. Drink at least 60 ounces of water (about 8 glasses) a day. Boil water and sliced lemons, and drink this throughout the day to help with fluid retention. If you are still not sold on the merits of water, try this on for size: water is a natural appetite suppressant.


Diet Mondays: Personal Diets, an Online Program for Weight Loss

Personal Diets is an online diet program that tailors your diet regime to your lifestyle. It's cost effective and is perfect for those who want a regime they can follow that they don't have to put together themselves:

Custom Diets

PersonalDiets works by providing custom diets to people based on their lifestyle and natural eating habits. While most diet programs have specific dietary restrictions and often set times that you are supposed to eat, PersonalDiets, basis its diets on your natural way of doing things. If you like to snacke, then PersonalDiets will design a program that allows you to snack. If you don’t cook often and eat out a lot, PersonalDiets will create a diet for you that will allow to continue to eat out and still lose weight.

No Exercise Needed
PersonalDiets customizes their diets based on your activity level. If you’re a particularly active person than your diet will reflect your activity level and add the necessary calories for you activity level and desired weight loss goals. However, if you’re a couch potato PersonalDiets creates a personal diet program that will allow you to lose weight and still maintain your couch potato ways. PersonalDiets recommends exercise, since diet and exercise is the fastest and best way to lose weight, but they recognize everyone doesn’t want to or some people can’t exercise, so they allow for that fact in planning your diet regime.

Expected Weight Loss With Personal Diets

Average weight loss on PersonalDiets is 1.5 pounds. Some people lose 2 pounds or more on PersonalDiet plans and others lose less. The recommended amount of weight loss per week is 1.5 pounds since slow weight loss is best over the long term and is less likely to result in you gaining the weight back. If you want to lose more weight per week you can do so as long it does healthily and within safety guidelines.

Track Your Weight Online
You can easily keep track of your progresses by using PersonalDiets online tracking tools. You can record your weight, upload food diaries and track other events pertaining to your weight loss goals. PersonalDiets guarantees its weight loss claims because it is able to track the weight of their clients via their Right-On-Track interactive weight program. They have an 85% success rate for those who follow the Right-On-Track program. PersonalDiets allows physicians and researchers to have access to their real time tracking results.

No Pills or Other Products

Unlike many other diet programs PersonalDiets doesn’t require you to purchase any pills, special meals or other dietary supplements. All their custom diets are based on foods that can be brought from the grocery store or eaten at restaurants. They do recommend the use of a multi-vitamin but don’t offer a special PersonalDiets multi-vitamin that has to be purchased to utilize the program.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Daily Weight Loss Tip

Set realistic goals. You can lose 50 pounds in a week if you work out 12 hours a day and eat nothing but celery - but not if you’re human. Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t bite off more than you can chew - literally. Make small goals on your way to the bigger goal(s). In the end, you’ll have achieved more (and more frequently, might I add).


Introduction to Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Every other Thursday I will be posting pieces on various Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM). I think it is important for black women to explore all of their options when it comes to health and wellness and CAM is a part of that. Here is a piece that I wrote for that offers an introduction to several CAM practices and benefits:

Use CAM to Feel Better

CAM, complementary and alternative medicine, refers to medical systems and practices currently not considered a part of conventional medicine. CAM treatments are split into five main categories, which include biologically based practices, whole medical systems, manipulative and body-based practices, mind-body medicine and energy medicine.

2. Little Needles, Big Healing

Acupuncture is the most well known and most widely used healing practice from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a whole medical practice. Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and in the U.S. is one of the more common CAM practices. Acupuncture seeks to restore and maintain health by stimulating certain points on the body through the use of thin, stainless steel needles placed in the skin to stimulate various areas of the body. Acupuncture has shown to be of great help in treating addictions and weight loss.

3. A Little Rub Goes a Long Way

Massage therapy is one of the most practiced of the manipulative and body-based practices. It is also one of the few CAM treatments that is also used as a conventional medical treatment. Massage therapy has been around since ancient times. You can find references to it in ancient Egyptian, Roman and Greek texts. Today, people use massage therapy for a host of health-related issues, such as pain relief, stress relief, depression and rehabilitating sports injuries.

4. Take a Holistic Approach to Healing

Ayurveda means the science of life and is a natural healing system that has its roots in India. As one of the whole medical systems, Aruyveda has gained popularity in the United States due to Dr. Deepak Chopra, an Indian-born doctor who uses a combination of Aruyveda and conventional medicine to treat his patients. Ayurveda is a holistic approach to medicine that seeks to integrate the mind, body and spirit to achieve overall health. Keeping the body in balance is believed to lead to overall health and contentment. Ayurveda uses a combination of yoga, meditation, herbs and exercise to achieve the optimum level of health.

Keep Reading.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Daily Weight Loss Tip

Keep Goals in Mind. Remember to keep your goals in sight to motivate yoursel

SPP Links

  1. You Are Not big Boned, Girlfriend (Something Within)
  2. Losing Weight for a Man Ain't So Bad (Me, Myself and Eye)
  3. Now This is What a Week's Worth of Workouts is Supposed to Look Like (Runchilde)
  4. Sweat, Hard Without Damaging Your Hair (Nubian Fitness Goddess)

Use Yoga to Stop the Clock

We already know, "Black don't crack," but if you'd like to enhance the natural youthful beauty Black women retain well into their older years, you may want to consider taking up yoga. From

Minimizes wrinkles Yoga can reduce stress by nearly a third, reports a German study of 24 women. As a result, clenched jaws and furrowed brows relax, helping to smooth away wrinkles. Yoga may also rejuvenate skin's glow by reducing oxidative stress, which breaks down skin's elasticity. In an Indian study of 104 people, oxidative stress levels dropped by 9% after just 10 days of yoga.

Slows weight gain During a 10-year University of Washington study of 15,500 men and women over age 45, those who didn't do yoga gained up to 13.5 pounds. Those who practiced regularly lost up to 5 pounds.

Eases pain Yoga is twice as effective as stretching at relieving back pain, according to another University of Washington study that had 101 people with lower-back pain do either yoga or stretching once a week for 3 months.

We all have those older relatives who are in their 60's and easily look like they are in their 40's, yoga just seems like it woul add a little "umph" to Black women's ability to age gracefully. Nesides, being healthier, slimmer and more relaxed is something we all can benefit from, regardless of age.