Diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, stress (the body’s reaction to carrying more than it should, thanks bell hooks)and cancer are just a few of the things that seem to attack us and take us out in grave numbers.
So much of our health and the choices that we make on a daily basis have a profound effect on our livelihood.
Black does not have to equal unhealthy.
When we make our health a priority it goes against much of what society says we ought to be doing.
We are often allow bullied and silenced when it comes to our well being.
For many years, like a whole lot of black folks I know, I only made trips to the doctor when I was in pain.
As a race, we have been socialized into believing that health concerns and any sign of physical need is sign of weakness.
We must realize that it is our right to live and feel well.
At 45, I know many people ten years my junior and ten years my senior who are on a host of meds.
What if there are alternatives to this pointless way of thinking and behaving?
My mother was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure by a doctor who wanted to put her on meds.
My mother refused and instead countered with a response about whether or not there was an alternative.
Together, she and the doctor designed a program that included exercise and slight dietary modifications (my mother is a strict vegan and only eats what she grows or trades with others).
Weeks later, the tests proved that the new program worked and there was no need for medication.
We are not obliged to a life of struggle simply because of our skin color.
Growing up around several older people, I don’t remember ever hearing about all of the maladies that are part of our current everyday conversation.
Whenever I meet or talk to someone about health issues, there is always a correlation between either something they’re doing or something they should stop doing.
I learned a great deal about diabetes from my cousin and very close family friends. I was unaware that this disease can be managed by eating healthier (processed foods being the biggest issue here) and consistent exercise.
I thought it meant a life with no desserts.
High Blood Pressure? I thought you sat down somewhere and let it come down on its own. I didn’t know that laying off the junk food and salt along with moderate exercise once again would do the trick.
Adding cumin, garlic, paprika, and a brief power walk or stroll post the evening meal seems to keep pressure at a normal rate.
We also underestimate the stress brought on by our jobs, day to day life and of course our families.
Preparing for my recent wedding brought this little gem front and center.
Speaking with various family members (who all had opinions of what I should be doing or should have done) taught me some serious lessons in how to remove stress from my life, be clear about my expectations and not take care of grown ass people’s feelings and thoughts.
You’d be surprised how easy it is to get worked up about what someone feels about an event that they are only being asked to support in whatever way they see fit.
Some folks were carrying on as if I asked them to pay for their meals.
Preparing to get married while starting a new job, moving twice, launching a new pilot program at work, teaching a new class at night and publishing my second book, provided many opportunities to become overwhelmed and as the old black folks say: get my pressure up.
I took care of myself in familiar ways that I know work.
I talked with supportive friends. I took more baths and prayed more.
To combat the inevitable weight gain (my response to stress), I stopped going on about not getting to hot yoga and instead starting walking on the track at my new job.
We do not have to accept being overweight or unhealthy.
A person can be rail thin and still not be healthy.
Based on American standards of what healthy looks like, few of us fit the bill.
As we make our physical and mental health a priority, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished.
More than unemployment, lack of education, racism and housing issues, being physically healthy with strong adept minds will allow us to support others and take on forces that threaten our well being.
When we take on this challenge, the entire community will live and love better.
Previously published on Anthony-Carter.com