Are We More Accepting Of Obesity In The Black Community?

Obese Man

By Gary A. Johnson

Americans are getting fatter and fatter by the year.  There’s no other way to put it.  Health and weight statistics for black Americans is even worse.

According to the publication Health, United States, 2013, 38% of black men in America are considered to be obese compared to 50.8 percent of African-American women.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, overweight or obese is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 pounds or more.

A 2013 study from the American Psychological Association reported that about 60 percent of black women are obese compared to 32 percent white women and 41 percent Latino women.

Carrying around those extra pounds increases the likelihood of developing Type II Diabetes and High Blood Pressure – two diseases that disproportionately affect the black community.

Being overweight also increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, arthritis and certain cancers. In fact, obesity could become more dangerous for your health than smoking cigarettes.

Yet, in the black community, many folks believe or have convinced themselves that being “big boned” is more acceptable.  We need to STOP that thinking right now.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you have read about my struggle to lose weight.  If you’ve ever visited my Instagram page, most of the pictures are of food that I cooked and then ate.  I’m a damn good cook.  I suffer for my food.

I am putting myself out there.  I am obese and my condition developed as a result of making a serious of poor choices over the past 20 years.  I went from weighing 195 lbs to my current weight of 310 lbs.

At one point I was carrying 324 lbs on this 6′ 4″ frame.  Fortunately for me, my body has been good to me.  I never smoked, used alcohol or drugs and I don’t drink sodas.  My weakness is food.  I am an emotional eater and I love to cook and eat.

Gary J.

Here I am “walking the trail” on top of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge at National Harbor on the DC side.

Lately, I’ve been able to reverse some of these negative health effects.  Two years ago I gave up sugary fruit juice drinks.  I drink mostly water, green smoothies or a combination of Braggs Organic Vinegar and water.  If I drink tea, I don’t use sugar.  I will start my day with low-sodium vegetable juice in place of Orange juice.  These simple choices have made a difference in my health.  My last blood pressure reading was 116/78.  Not bad for a 300+ pound guy.  I started exercising (cycling, walking and weights) consistently and stopped eating at fast food restaurants.  I also started buying healthier and organic foods.  This costs more but I think it’s worth it.

Make no mistake.  I have a long way to go and need support.  I have lost over 30 lbs 4 times over the last 15 years.  The difference this time is that I am doing it sensibly (slow and steady).  No fad or crash diets. Is it easy?  No!  Is it worth the pain and effort?  Yes!

“Many African-American women view being obese as part of their culture,” says Thaddeus Bell, M.D., a family practitioner in South Carolina, in an online interview for It is understood within the African-American community that curvy, overweight women are considered more appealing to black men than normal- or under-weight women. There is almost a reverse distortion of body image – with thicker women fighting weight-loss and slender women wanting to gain weight in order to be accepted.

Obese Woman

This may account for the staggering statistic that 4 out of 5 African-American women are overweight or obese. It is even more alarming that some of these women are making a choice to live at an unhealthy weight. African-American women of all ages report less exercise than their white counterparts. “Many of them feel that it’s not feminine or they’re afraid to sweat because it will ruin their hairstyle,” adds Dr. Bell.

Other hindrances include not having child care, not having enough time to be physically active, and not feeling safe being active in their neighborhoods.

African-American men aren’t off the hook either. African-American men also exercise less than white women, and have the highest prevalence of obesity among all male ethnic groups.

However, African-American men are more active than their female counterparts, which may be the reason that only 28.8 percent are obese, compared to 50.8 percent of African-American women.

There is an interesting video called “Dealing with Obesity in the Black Community” on YouTube by Walter Lee Hampton II.  This is a no non-sense video about exercise, eating and living a healthier life.  I would also recommend reading Obesity and the Black American:  Causes, Culture, Consequences, and Costs.”
GJohnson Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In Blog. Gary is also the author of the book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.To learn more about Gary click here.





For Immediate Release

Contact:  Lee McDonald

(678) 778-3955


RIVERDALE, MD (August 6, 2013)– Certified Bikram Yoga instructor and former personal trainer and wellness advisor Kendra Blackett-Dibinga MPP, MPHwill open Prince George’s County, Maryland’s FIRST “hot” yoga studio Bikram Yoga Riverdale (BYR).   A long time practitioner of Bikram Yoga, she understands first-hand that yoga can heal the body.  After undergoing knee surgery herself and being told she would never again be able to participate in certain forms of exercise, Kendra developed a regular Bikram Yoga practice to rebuild strength in her knee.   She now seeks to share her success with others while meeting an unmet need in the Prince George’s community.

Kendra states “with my desire to heal the world through the art of yoga, I will continue my passion for people and community by opening Bikram Yoga Riverdale.  We are committed to enhancing the community’s total health and well-being.”

The studio will be located at 6202 Rhode Island Ave, Riverdale Park, MD 20737, just blocks from the historic arts district in Hyattsville and the University of Maryland College Park.   Conveniently situated outside of the Riverdale Marc Train Station, the studio will be housed in one of Riverdale’s historic buildings which has been vacant for twenty-two years.   The 4,000 square foot space will be one of the largest yoga studios in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.  Kendra is excited to offer a range of amenities including classes featuring Bikram’s 90 minute moving meditation, juice bar, children’s yoga, wellness seminars, state-of the-art heating system, flooring, sound system, spacious changing rooms with showers and private lockers, and parking.

Bikram Yoga Riverdale will be open to the community seven days a week offering twenty-eight classes each week. There will be a commitment to provide consistent, high energy classes that keep the community engaged while pushing them to achieve their best each and every time they practice.   As demand grows additional classes and time options will be added.

About the Owner

Kendra Blackett-Dibinga MPP, MPH is a certified Bikram Yoga instructor and has practiced Bikram Yoga for over four years.   She received her certification in June 2011 after successfully completing the Bikram Yoga Teacher Training, a 9-week intensive course where she learned about the Bikram Yoga/Hatha system and received intensive instruction on how to coach students safely. Her commitment to a healthy lifestyle and green living will be noticeably realized through this state-of-the-art studio. She brings her vast international experience in public health and wellness as well as her years of experience serving as a personal trainer to the practice.

About Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga also known as “hot yoga” provides the trademarked system of Hatha Yoga made popular in the United States by Bikram Choudhury.   It has been spreading in popularity given its numerous health benefits.  Practiced in a room of about 105 degrees and 50% humidity, Bikram Yoga helps practitioners to carefully execute postures while healing their bodies from the inside.  Many benefits have been noted from a consistent Bikram Yoga practice including increased ability of the body to detoxify through the sweating, reduced effects of stress, reduced risk of injury, mental clarity, greater muscle tone, strength, and increased energy.  Certified Bikram Yoga instructors teach all yoga classes.

For more information on Bikram Yoga Riverdale visit:

Freezing Technique for Cancer Tumors

By Cheryl Myrie (9/19/2012)

I first heard of this technique sometime in the 1990’s. I started actually inquiring about this Freezing Technique in 2010. My father passed away this year from throat cancer, this would be his second bout with cancer. I inquired about the use of this technique with a representative at the clinic where he was to start treatment. However this was not a treatment option for my father.

I recently saw a commercial for Dr. Scholl’s Freeze Away Medication for warts, and I thought to myself someone in this country has taken oncology a step further, by examining freezing as a method to eliminate tumors and other types unwanted tissue growths.  I am not a doctor nor have I attended school for any medical studies. However as a mom who has done her share of cooking. I have notice the difference in food that has been frozen. There is a break down that takes place when food is placed in the freezer. I came to the conclusion that freezing could be a better method to apply to a tumor. I would think by applying a freezing method the process would be more effective in reducing the mass to less of a solid state, where the freezing process would solidify the mass and make the management of the mass less problematic. This train of thought could have occurred to me when I learned of a famous Ice Skater several years back who had discovered a tumor that was the size of a grapefruit and his doctor told him that the size of the tumor would have to be reduced before it could be removed from his stomach. Thank God his treatment before and after surgery was successful.

The freezing technique I had researched some years later was being done outside the country by a doctor Omar. And it was only being applied in cases of patients with lung cancer. I had attempted to pass this information by way of a third party on to a couple, who was in attendance at a meeting I had also attended and the husband had expressed the overwhelming events his wife and him were enduring due to her bout with breast cancer.  I did Google the use of freezing and breast cancer before writing this article and I found that in the state of Michigan research regarding freezing and breast cancer has a “promising” outlook as a treatment.

October has become the month for Breast Cancer awareness, and with the achievement of the company Dr. Scholl has made in the advance use of freezing in the efforts to remove small wart masses from the body, I pray constitutes a leap into the advancement of a more effective method to remove cancer from the breast and many other areas of the body.

Black (BDO) is the world’s largest and most comprehensive online health resource specifically targeted to African Americans. As much as we’d love for healthcare to be one-size-fits-all, the reality is that this is not the case – today’s Black community has higher incidences of just about every major disease and condition out there, as well as shorter life spans.  BDO understands that the uniqueness of Black culture – our heritage and our traditions – plays a role in our health. We also understand that there’s a lot of mistrust of the healthcare system. That mistrust, combined with all the contradictory information in the media today, makes it difficult to truly feel in control of your health, and your life.

But BDO gives you access to innovative new approaches to the health information you need in everyday language – so you can break through the disparities, gain control and live your life to its fullest. Guided by the leading physicians, BDO provides essential, but difficult to find, health resources for you and your family, including free referrals to the top Black physicians and health articles that focus on both culturally accurate content, as well as general health topics (yes, Blacks suffer from conditions like diabetes more, but they can break an arm, too). Let us help you see how good it feels to be in control of living a healthier, happier life!

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• Health News & Features. Refreshed daily on nearly 100 health channels, with the latest health topics and tips.

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Steve Harvey’s Weight Loss Journey

( — Steve Harvey, the King of Comedy, actor, and celebrated host of his own top-rated, nationally syndicated morning radio show, has long been known for these things: His extremely toothy, 1,000-watt, gleaming-white grin; his impeccably trimmed, unconventionally high afro; and his curiously long, baggy, and colorful zoot suit-inspired apparel. Indeed, this is the Steve Harvey you expect to see when you hear his voice which explains why his weight loss transformation made jaws drop to the floor.

It’s a fitness and weight loss transformation, revealed just recently, his fans are appreciating. Now Steve Harvey hopes middle-aged men who’ve traded in their fitness exercise program in the gym for an unhealthy diet plan will embrace his fitness and weight loss journey and choose to embark on their own fitness exercise program journey. The comedian’s head-to-gut alteration is part of his new “50 and Fly” campaign, in which he and Haney, now a fitness trainer and fitness exercise and nutrition expert, are encouraging men ages 40 and older to tone up, lose weight, eat the right diet plan, and, most importantly, stop using age as an excuse to skip doing any fitness exercise program.

Click here to read more.

Beauty Tips You Haven’t Heard About…Yet

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9 Health Symptoms You Should Never Ignore

We often experience symptoms that we ignore, but shouldn’t. Why? Perhaps because we’ve grown up in an era that insists that you do not go to the doctor unless you’ve just about lost an arm. Even then, your momma might tell you to just walk it off. Or that there’s only so much that the doctor can really do, anyway. As tough and as strong as we perceive ourselves to be, there are some…[continue reading] Fit & Fabulous Contest

Need some VIP relaxation?? Want to party, Vegas-style?? Win a three-day getaway to the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas by entering the (BDO) “Fit & Fabulous” Contest!… [continue reading]

7 Signs That They’re Not The One

Sometimes, in the fog of excitement, our vision is impaired, and this hinders our ability to see tell-tale signs and red flags. Despite what you’ve been taught in school, that small voice in the back of your mind isn’t necessarily your conscience — it may be the last fully functioning piece of your brain, desperately trying to tell you that the person you’re seeing is not even close to… [continue reading]

Need A New Workout? Just Dance!

You’re trying to work out, and that’s great! But has it become a kinda boring same ol’ routine? You need to keep working out consistently to lose weight and stay fit, and the key to working out consistently is adding some variety and –gasp—trying to… [continue reading]

Dr. Elisa English, The “Provocative Doctor” Is In The House

Dr. Elisa knows all about the critical need for mental strength and self-esteem. The New York native became a mother at the age of 18 and, after the brutal murder of her child’s father; she had to raise her child alone. She was, in her own words, “a child trying to raise a child.”

She was forced to navigate the treacherous waters of womanhood – and motherhood — with few if any role models. For the sake of her own survival and the survival of her son, she tapped into a reservoir of strength that she didn’t know she had. She encourages all people to spend more time building those intangible qualities like motivation, determination, focus, drive, wherewithal and self awareness to conquer any challenge.  “I found my way, oddly enough, on my own,” she says. “When people ask me who my role models are, I often say myself.”

Although Dr. Elisa wasn’t totally without allies and gives her mother a lot of recognition for her unwavering love and support — but as far as someone to truly nurture her and play an active role in her emotional development, there were limited resources.  In fact, she says, most of the people in her world doomed her to a life of failure after she became pregnant. As she states happens to so many young girls who experience similar circumstances.

Dr. Elisa decided to use her resiliency and experiences to help not only herself but other young women as well. She went on to earn a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University and a Ph.D in Clinical Social Work with a focus on research, policy and administration from Yeshiva University. Those accomplishments gave her the formal credentials to do what, in her heart, she already knew she was destined to do.

Working as a clinician for the past 10 years, Dr. Elisa, also known as the Provocative Doctor, has built a practice that targets issues confronting many of the challenges that plague our society from suicide to depression. Her aim is to help people particularly women and young girls expand their inner beauty, strength and confidence. “I think my experiences have helped me to be that friend to many young people, particularly, young women around the country and to my clients,” she says. “I focus on building people particularly women up in a way that they see their worth in society.”

Dr. Elisa’s approach, though a bit unconventional, is holistic and highly effective. “I do a lot of work around tapping into our inner exquisiteness and strength,” she explains. “As women, we really don’t tap into our inner beauty. We focus on our external beauty as a way to boost our self-confidence. You can have all the external beauty in the world and be a very hurt individual internally.” In her private practice she uses a treatment modality called “Provocative therapy” which is a psychotherapy approach that encourages clients to see and experience the good, joy and happiness in most situations.

Dr. Elisa is a featured panelist, media favorite, and host community forums and round-table discussions around the country, with an emphasis on women’s emotional, mental and physical health, self-esteem, confidence and inner beauty.  Dr. Elisa’s infectious smile, wit and charismatic personality have branded her the mental health practitioner of choice. She has been featured in articles, on radio and television and is a talk show radio host that offers advice infused with a strong sense of accountability, and personal responsibility.  Her segments can be heard on One Caribbean Radio HD and Blog Talk Radio. Dr. Elisa is also the consulting Clinician for the Souls of My Sisters Books, which is an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp and the consulting Clinician to Souls of My Sister Radio One venture.

Dr. Elisa is a strong anti-violence advocate and supports numerous foundations, program and initiatives. She is the national spokeswoman for “” An organization sponsored in part by entertainment mogul Russell Simmons and is geared toward anti-violence in urban communities around the country. Her commitment and mission to empower people is what contributes to the message in her practice, articles, radio and television programs. She also has a scholarship foundation; The Dr. Elisa, educational fund which is geared toward young people headed toward some form of formal education; as she said “education is what saved her.”

Her support of children and family issues is legendary. She writes a bimonthly mental health column for “Pretty Hot Chick” magazine. She also writes blogs for, and a host of others. Dr. Elisa is an Assistant professor and teaches courses in various subjects in human and social services including:  Introduction to Psychology and Theories of Personality, and is a former Director-at-Large for the New York City Administration of Children Services (ACS) with a proven track record in leadership, management, development and training.

Through her company, PD Consultants and Clinical Services, Dr. Elisa focuses on individual group, family and relationship therapy, mental health disorders, life coaching, and quality assurance, organizational leadership, development and integrity testing. “The bigger issue for me is that people understand that the need to stay mentally healthy is extremely important,” she says. “Without a healthy mind, you really can’t function well and you will not find yourself in healthy relationships and situations of any kind.”

Another division of her enterprise, Provocative Dr. Experience, focuses on physical activity as a way of staying physically fit and conquering fears, anxiety and tapping into one’s inner strength. One of the most effective tools that she employs is a technique known as therapeutic movement, which includes alternative fitness methods and a wellness regimen that builds the body and the mind. In addition to yoga and Pilates, Dr. Elisa uses an array of ‘provocative movements’ including vertical pole fitness, calisthenics, and belly dancing.

Dr. Elisa says her techniques help women to regain self-esteem that may have been lost during childhood or stolen by some tragic experience. “You need to find ways to get over a tragedy like what I experienced growing up in the 80s and 90s,” says Dr. Elisa, recalling her drug and crime-ridden upbringing in New York.  “All of it has made me stronger on one end but it has also been a way for me to channel my grief and my pain and to heal by helping others.”

Dr. Elisa is the first to admit that her “provocative movement” techniques are not easily grasped by some. “Sensual movement has been associated with a very erotic side of our society – mostly dealing with women engaged in night life,” she notes. “It’s been very difficult to break down that wall but I have seen a physical and mental transformation in these women when it comes to their confidence and sensuality that supersedes any stereotypes. Dr. Elisa said the issue is “society hasn’t caught up to us, but we do what helps and works”.  After a few sessions with us, her clients feel liberated; they feel stronger.

Dr. Elisa says clients are encouraged to be self reflective and use self actualization as a way to tap into their ‘inner strength’ in order to transform physically and mentally. She stresses the need for people to understand the difference between sensuality and sexuality. “What they don’t really understand is that sensuality and sexuality are two different things. You can look into someone’s eyes and see their sensuality. Sexuality is more overt.”

Dr. Elisa says her goal is teach others what she had to learn the hard way. “Beauty is a state of mind,” she says. “How we look on the outside is really part and parcel of how well we feel on the inside both mentally and physically. The better you feel mentally, the more beautiful you look aesthetically. Keep your mind healthy and all else will fall in place.”

To learn more about Dr. Elisa English visit her official web site at and follow her on Twitter at


Harold P Freeman, M.D., is the President and Founder of The Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention in New York City and Founder of The Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute. He is also the Senior Advisor to the Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Director of the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. Dr. Freeman is a past National President of the American Cancer Society. He served for 11 years as Chairman of the U.S. President’s Cancer Panel. Dr. Freeman pioneered the Patient Navigation Program.

Dr. Freeman recently took time out of his busy schedule to answer questions for this very important interview.

Black Men In  Dr. Freeman, you are the Senior Advisor to the Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and former Director of the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities.  What is the number one health risk affecting black men?

Dr. Harold Freeman: Although the number one health risk affecting black men is smoking related disease such as lung cancer, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in black men.

Black Men In  What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?

Dr. Harold Freeman: One of the main risk factors associated with prostate cancer is older age. Men over the age of 65 are more likely to get prostate cancer than younger ages. Changes in the prostate or genetic changes may also increase a man’s risk for prostate cancer. Having a family member such as a father, brother, or son can increase risk as well.

Black Men In  What are the symptoms?

Dr. Harold Freeman: There are no symptoms associated with early stages of prostate cancer. Some symptoms associated with later stages of prostate cancer mainly include urinary symptoms such as frequent urination, painful urination, trouble urinating or a weak urine flow. Other symptoms include difficulty having an erection, blood in urine or semen, and frequent pain in the back, hips, or legs.

Black Men In  What are the incidence and mortality rates for black men?

Dr. Harold Freeman: The incidence rate of prostate cancer among African Americans is 232.8per 100,000 men with a mortality rate of 51.1per 100,000 men. These rates are in comparison to an incidence rate of 163.1per 100,000 and a mortality rate of 23.6 per 100,000 for all men regardless of race.

Black Men In  What is some of the latest research on prostate cancer?

Dr. Harold Freeman: A recent study conducted by researchers at the National Cancer Institute found that a common genetic variation may be involved in developing prostate cancer. This study was one of the first to explain the biological mechanism underlying the difference in risk among individuals. Information about this study is available at

Black Men In  Why do black men have higher incidence and mortality rates?

Dr. Harold Freeman: It is not known why African American men have a higher incidence of prostate cancer. It is thought that higher prostate cancer mortality rates among African American men may be mostly due to late diagnosis and treatment.

Black Men In  Where do black men go for additional information on prostate cancer?

Dr. Harold Freeman: For more information, African American men may visit or call 1-800-4-cancer to speak with a specialist regarding prostate cancer.  Through the website and phone number, men can order free publications about prostate or other cancers.

Black Men In  What’s the official word on prostate cancer screening?

Dr. Harold Freeman: There is still some uncertainty regarding prostate cancer screening. Ongoing clinical trials are trying to determine whether prostate cancer screening reduces the number of deaths from this disease. The most important message is that men—and African American men in particular—speak with a physician regarding prostate cancer screening options.

Black Men In  Can you talk about the importance of the NCI’s Patient Navigation Program?

Dr. Harold Freeman: NCI’s Patient Navigation Program aims to develop interventions to reduce or eliminate cancer health disparities and test their efficacy and cost-effectiveness. Patient navigators eliminate barriers to timely screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The principal barriers are: financial (such as lack of insurance); communication barriers; medical system barriers (such as lost results, failure to get timely consultations); and fear, distrust and emotional barriers. This program is important in the quest for standard, equal care for all.

Publisher’s Note:  Thank you James Alexander, of the Multicultural Media Outreach Team of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Office of Communications and Education, Office of Partnerships and Dissemination Initiatives.

You can stay current and get the latest updates from the NCI Twitter page located at

Black is a powerful new resource for Black Health providing strategies, tactics and advice to help you live happier, healthier lives.

Get the latest information from Black from our Healthy Living section at

March 14, 2008 (This story is by Kai Wright |, a great web site serving our community).
The high STD infection rate among black teens threatens an explosion in the AIDS epidemic

As the nation pours over the dirty details of yet another political sex scandal, federal health officials this week quietly made some sex news that matters. A study discovered that more than one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted infection. And sadly, researchers found blacks once again hardest hit by a health problem: A whopping half of African American teens in the study had an STI.

The study is just the latest on a growing list of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigations that have found the sexual health of black youth to be in critical condition. You name it, and we’re more likely to get it. HIV/AIDS? Yup, we’re 69 percent of newly diagnosed cases among teens. Syphilis? While it’s holding steady or declining in other racial groups, it’s shooting up among black teens, particularly boys. Teen pregnancies? Rates went up for the first time in 14 years in 2006, and black girls saw the highest spike.

Click here to read the rest of the story at The

One Woman’s Battle with Bipolar Disorder

Last year I broke down and filed for disability insurance benefits declaring never to put myself through another tour of duty on some job that I would unavoidably be asked to leave by a disgruntled employer because the ugliness of my illness had reared its head.

It is during these days, which have now accumulated into 4 months, that I find myself wallowing in the sheets and covers of my daybed, not quite in slumber, but in an endless pursuit of wonder over what it is exactly that I will do with my day.  Far too often it winds up being little more than swallowing my daily medications behind a cup of coffee and returning to my pile of covers awaiting sunset in a grueling mental anguish over death – my death, that is – and wondering when this scenario will be replaced by one more befitting of the bright, promising and capable person I once knew to exist before mental illness set in.

It had been about a month since my most recent employer had fired me.  I lost my health benefits and was left with no alternative but to return to the state mental health clinic for services.  On the evening of my termination I left the office in a state of shock, not so much for the fact I was terminated, for I knew that was imminent, but just by the manner in which it all took place.  I didn’t ask any questions and just said “yes” and “ok” to everything the office administrator said, relinquished my ID and office key, gathered my belongings and strutted out of the building never to look back.  When I got in my car I was so shaken up that I ran into a pillar in the parking lot and scratched the entire back side of my new car and just prayed that I would make it home without causing an accident.

Paranoia and mania also had begun to set in and I put about 500 miles on my car in about 12 hours in an endless attempt to avoid being caught by the police. Caught for having done what I do not know.  I stopped on three occasions to take a nap, and on the final rest stop, I parked my car at a meter under a bridge.  I was so disillusioned about the police being after me and took off in meteoric pace when I had awakened from this last nap as a van pulled up in front of my car that had “HOMELAND SECURITY” written across its side, convinced that local pursuit of me had now reached the federal level.  I finally gave in to my exhaustive, paranoid run and arrived at my psychiatrist’s office to receive a heavily sedative injection that would stay in my system for a month and help me with my thought processes.

With the prevalence of the mental illness known as bipolar disorder among the many societies across the country, versions of stories like the one above may seem normal or be typical experiences to those with this condition.

“Bipolar disorder is an illness marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy and behavior.  It is not, as often it is thought to be, a character flaw or sign of personal weakness.  Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression because a person’s mood can alternate between the “poles” mania (highs) and depression (lows).  This change in mood or “mood swing” can last for hours, days, weeks or months.  Bipolar disorder affects more than two million adult Americans.  It usually begins in late adolescence.  An equal number of men and women develop this illness, and it is found among all ages, races, ethnic groups and social classes.  The illness tends to run in families and appears to have a genetic link.  Like depressionand other serious illnesses, bipolar disorder can also negatively affect spouses and partners, family members, friends and coworkers.”

For more information visit

Bipolar Disorder Links

Starting A Fitness Program

By Melanie Marchand

Melanie A. Marchand is the Founder and President of  Sisters in Shape Fitness Consulting.  She acquired an MBA from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1991, and has been a fitness instructor for over 15 years.  Melanie holds certifications in Lifestyle and Weight Management Consulting, Personal Training, Step Reebok, Aerobics, Spinning and CPR.  Melanie is a certified Personal Trainer.  She received her certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Greetings and welcome to the fitness section of Black Men in  I am elated to be a part of this progressive, informative web site.  With the passage of time, we will be discussing health & fitness (H&F) from A to Z.  As you aspire to become healthier, the who, what, why, when and how of H&F will help you to either get started on the right track, or keep going with a more effective, balanced program.  I promote a balanced approach to eating and a scientific approach to both cardio and weight training.

So, what does it mean to be fit?  Take a moment and consider how you would respond to this question.  To me, fitness means having balance in your life to the point where everything is fine-tuned and properly aligned, such that at any given time, your health will not deter you from living your life in the best way possible.  A fit person feels balanced physically, mentally and spiritually.  A fit person can act on demand without negativity, drama, or loathing. A fit person is generally happy and pain-free.  A fit person is conscientious about life, and cares about what he or she puts into his or her body and mind.  A fit person is connected to the universe and flourishes with good thoughts, optimism and compassion.  I can go on and on and on, but you see where I’m headed.

Let’s talk about the basics of physical fitness for now. In order to be successful in attaining your physical fitness goals, you must address four key areas:

  • Proper nutrition – to boost your metabolism
  • Cardiovascular conditioning – to promote fat burning
  • Resistance training – to increase lean muscle mass
  • Stretching – to increase or maintain range of motion, decrease risk of injury, and promote muscle development.

Flexibility by Melanie Marchand

The word balance can be applied to many parts of life like eating, posture, the way you approach something, your thinking, your muscle symmetry, etc.  Regardless of the association, the bottom line is that balance is a good thing.  In this issue of In The Groove, we emphasize the beauty of stretching, which helps to balance muscle groups and keep your body pain and injury free so that you may reach your fitness goals with a smile.  With a consistent stretching routine, you feel good all the time and do not suffer tremendous aches from your workout or injury due to inflexibility.  I thought it might be a good idea to share with you how my clients would respond to the question:  How does stretching make you feel?

Selina:  “..wonderful, it allows me to go further in other fitness activities, it makes me feel like a brand new person.”

Adrienne:  “…good, relaxed, better, it allows me to think better, it can make a positive impact on your mental and physical state.”

Danyele: “…long, less tense, less stressed, light, graceful.”

Helen:  “….more flexible, wonderful, it puts everything where it’s supposed to be, [after stretching] it’s like having a new body.  The next morning [after stretching], I feel wonderful.  I can feel a release of energy.  Because of stretching, I can now do the split at 50 years old.  It’s a wonderful thing!”

I am quickly approaching 40 years alive and almost 20 years of teaching aerobics of some sort.  I am convinced that maintaining a flexibility program throughout almost two decades of high intensity aerobics have kept me strong, energetic, and injury-free [knock on wood].  Additionally, stretching has had a positive affect on my developing long, lean muscles as opposed to short, bulky ones.  Don’t wait another day.  Just do it.

The Gigantic Benefits of Stretching

There are four primary components in a complete fitness program:  cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, proper nutrition and flexibility training (stretching).  All are equally important, but unfortunately are not practiced at equal levels.  It seems as though stretching is the least understood and least employed area of fitness.  Let’s face it, America is a high-paced society where little patience exists for anything anymore, let alone stretching.  However, the benefits of investing the time and mental energy into flexibility training are gigantic.  Flexibility is a joint’s ability to move through a full range of motion.  Stretching helps to balance muscle groups that might be overused during exercise or as a result of bad posture.  Start stretching today and enjoy the following benefits:  Improved physical performance and decreased risk of injury;  Reduced muscle soreness and improved posture;  Improved muscular balance & coordination;  Reduced risk of low back pain;  Increased blood and nutrients to tissues;  Relaxation of mind and body  to bring a heightened sense of well-being and personal gratification  during exercise.  Stretch to the point of mild discomfort, not pain.  However, to increase the range of motion, it is necessary to reach the existing limit regularly and exceed it.  Check out a stretch, yoga, pilates or yogilates class at your local gym or community college.   Buy a video tape, read a fitness magazine, look for routines on the internet, hire a trainer.  Your options are plentiful.  There are resources all around.  Take advantage and be a balanced you.  It brings much peace and harmony to life.

Stay in the Groove,


Melanie A. Marchand is the Founder and President of  Sisters in Shape Fitness Consulting.  She acquired an MBA from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1991, and has been a fitness instructor for over 15 years.  Melanie holds certifications in Lifestyle and Weight Management Consulting, Personal Training, Step Reebok, Aerobics, Spinning and CPR.  Melanie is a certified Personal Trainer.  She received her certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

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