Seven Actions Black Women Must Take In 2016

The New Black Chick

The New Black ChickWelcome to 2016! I hope you had a safe and wonderful holiday. Well, it’s back to the grind. Welcome to the next EVEolution of your life. Don’t just pay lip service to the changing of the year. Do something to be better this year that will improve your life for the future. No matter how small or big, every win counts. Black women are at a tipping point of health and wealth in this country. It will take all of us to tip the scale in the direction that serves the community. You can contribute to the EVEolution by starting with yourself first.

While I don’t believe in new year resolutions, I know many people do. Resolutions shouldn’t just be about making improvements just for the year. Changes today should set you up for success tomorrow. Whether or not you have made resolutions for the new year, here are the things every black woman should include on their list. Just a side note, I make some recommendations for brands/products in this post, this is my own opinion I have not been compensated in any way.

1. Eliminate Physical, Mental and Emotional Toxins

Toxins are bad for us, I think we all agree on that. Even though we know toxins cause damage we continue to let them fester in our lives. Take the time to identify physical, mental and emotional toxins then eliminate as much of them as possible. Physical toxins include what we put in and on our bodies. We’ve become so used to these toxins that we don’t really notice them. While we can’t eliminate all physical toxins, we can significantly reduce our exposure. Ways to avoid physical toxins include:

  • Eating organic foods where possible and affordable, it can be an expensive change. Planning your grocery list can make your dollars go further.
  • Ditch the traditional laundry detergent and opt for environmentally friendly brands such as Seventh Generation or Mrs. Meyers. This is two birds with one stone, better for you and the environment. These detergents do tend to be more expensive than the big brands.
  • Stop using products that contain obesogens, chemicals thought to contribute to fat gain.  These include but are not limited to parabans and phthalates. These can be found in lotions, detergents, soap, and even store receipts. If the ingredients contain parban or methylparaban, put it down. There are many choices that don’t include these chemicals and many are reasonably priced. Shea Moisture has a great line of soaps and body lotions for a good price. Their products are top quality and last for a while. NOW foods is also a great brand to try. I wash my face with Shea Moisture African Black Soap and moisturize with either grape seed oil or emu oil. All super cheap, good quality and lasts for months.
  • Throw out your plastic food storage containers and go for glass. Many plastic containers contain BPA a chemical also thought to disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system. It can also build up in the body. Go one step further by avoiding foods packaged in plastic containing BPA. Look for the BPA-free label.
  • Cut out the gluten. While there is much debate about gluten, if you have a sensitivity to gluten it may be causing you to leak toxins into your system. This is known as leaky gut or intestinal permeability.
  • Consider going natural. I say consider because going natural is not easy. The chemicals from relaxers and color may be doing harm we don’t know about yet. There haven’t been any long term clinical studies on the impact of lye relaxers on our health. I went natural in January, 2013. The struggle is real, but my hair is so much healthier than it was two years ago.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Detox. Our bodies are amazing in that they are designed to detoxify themselves. There are few things we can do to help this process along. Eliminate the toxins, drink plenty of water, dry brushing, eat quality food, reduce inflammation, foot baths and exercise. All of these actions encourage the body’s natural elimination system to function at peak capacity. I’m 50/50 on doing cleanses. They can be good in that they eliminate the problem so that the body can focus on healing. However, if you go back to what you were doing prior to the cleanse the benefits are lost.

Toxic thoughts are just as bad as physical toxins. Negative thoughts can quickly multiple. Our brains are designed to focus on the negative. We can control our thoughts even though they may seem out of control. Thoughts can quickly become our reality if we’re not careful. Beliefs become thoughts which lead to feelings that lead to action that lead to results. If you don’t like your results, you can trace them directly back to your thoughts. Who we are today is a direct result of the words we have spoken in the past. The words you are saying today is writing your future. When you become aware of self-limiting thoughts acknowledge them and say something different to yourself. Speak the life you want into existence. The universe mandates that we all have an abundance.

Let’s talk about emotional toxins. In this case I’m really referring to other people. There was a time in my life many many years ago where I wasn’t clear who should and shouldn’t be in my life. During a church sermon one night the pastor said we let people stay in our lives long past their expiration date. What?!?!?!? That statement made perfect sense. Then of course he told us how to eliminate those people – let them fall away. Now what now? He explained that toxic people remain in our lives because we allow them to feed off of us. If we stop feeding them they go away. The people who are really supposed to be there will show up. They will ask if you’re okay or if there’s something they can do to help. They will feel you pulling away and fight for you, while those who are toxic will fight against you. Not all people that fall away are toxic, some have simply served their purpose and its time for them to move on. Toxic people will thrash and scream because you are cutting off the their emotional food supply. That’s okay, let them go. What should you do if you’re married to the toxic person? That only you can answer, all I can say is you must act in your best interest and that of your family. If you work in a toxic work environment, if you can’t change it, leave it.

2. Seriously, Lose Weight, Get Healthy And Be Well

So many of us make the resolution to lose weight or be healthier and it never happens. Let 2016 be the year of accomplishing this goal. Black women are suffering disproportionately from obesity related diseases. This is further compounded by the lack of access to healthcare. Even when we do see a doctor we are more likely to be under-treated and/or dismissed. Please stop with the popular excuses our community has come to rely on, chief among them “I’m just big boned”. While there is some evidence to suggest that African Americans in general have bigger and denser bones leading to heavier weights, the truth is bone is not fat. You can have big bones or a big stature and be at a healthy weight.

Another excuse is “I don’t want to mess up my hair”. I just can’t with this one. You did your hair once, you can do it again. I have no patience for this one. I work out and I have natural hair. Do I have to be more planful and strategic about it? Yes.

Let me just address some more of these right now.

  • “I’m embracing my curves”. – Curvey and beautiful is awesome. No one is suggesting you be a size zero. Love your curves and work them, just make sure your numbers are where they are supposed to be. How many obese senior citizens do you see? Not many, they die before that point primarily from health related complications. Black women are more likely to die from stroke, heart attack and breast cancer than white or Hispanic women.
  • “My doctor prescribed this medication” – You should take medications a physician prescribed if you trust the doctor, have asked all of the appropriate questions to understand, and they come along with a lifestyle modification program. Stop, stop, stop blindly taking medications without understanding their impacts and the underlying condition they treat. Drugs treat symptoms they don’t cure. Find a physician that will treat the whole you. This applies to any type of medication from blood pressure to cancer medication. Always understand your conditions and your options.
  • “I’m too old”. – No you’re not. Ernestine Shepherd.
  • “It doesn’t matter anyway” – Yes it does. Sure, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow. But what if you don’t? Why risk death from stroke, heart attack or complications from diabetes?
  • “I work at it but haven’t seen results” – this one can be very real. Our bodies don’t always want to cooperate. Make sure you’re treating the right things. Weight loss relies mostly on diet rather than physical activity. Hormonal challenges and chronic inflammation can also hinder weight loss. For example, cortisol is released during stress and can practically shut down cells from releasing fat no matter how well you eat or exercise.
  • “No” – Say yes.

3. Say Yes

A stereotype about black women is that we turn our noses up at everything. I admit, too many of us are fond of saying “I’m just not doing that”, especially if we perceive something to be a “white people activity”. Black women are often accused of not doing anything new or different. The truth is at times we can be self-righteous about our unwillingness to try something because it’s out of character with our community. Life begins at the end of our comfort zones. People in general have to try new things in order to continue learning and growing. When we were children we tried new things all of the time. That was how we learned. As adults we have to continue that curiosity. There have been so many times when I tried something new and told another black woman about it only to hear the response “I’m just not doing that”. When I ask why, all I get is “cus”. The book of the month is Shonda Rhimes  Year of Yes, get it, read it, do it and stop saying no to your future.

4. Read

Have you ever heard the expression if want to keep something from a black person put it in a book? When I say read, I mean read more non-fiction. Read about wealth creation, leadership, or a famous person. Expanding our minds makes it easier to say yes to new things. Check out the site Goodreads for recommendations. Start by reading 20 minutes a day. You may be surprised at how quickly that 20 minutes turns into 60. Don’t like the thought of paying for books, if you’re an Amazon Prime member you can borrow books. Don’t like sitting and reading, then give audiobooks a try. The point is to expand your knowledge base. Check out the reading room for some other suggestions.

5. Love Yourself And Others

I’ll be honest, in a world that demonizes black women some days it can be hard to look in the mirror and love myself. Don’t get me wrong, I do love myself. I’m the most awesome person I know. The constant criticism of us being fat, lazy, loud, angry, bitches, etc. can be too much at times. Regardless, we have to love ourselves. We have to wake up every morning, look in the mirror and blow ourselves a kiss. But when you blow that kiss to yourself don’t forget about the others around you. Say good things to them too.

6. Be Brave

Whether you believe all lives matter or black lives matter our country is in a state of racial turmoil. Not only do we experience discrimination in the streets, we get at work, in stores, in media, etc. We have to be brave and speak our minds. Power yields nothing without demand. Instead of being silent, we need to voice our opinions or ask that our rights be respected and honored. If something is offensive, say it is and why. The reverse is true, if you don’t think something is offensive but it goes against the grain to say so, say it anyway. Nothing in history has changed on its own. I remember when I went natural, I was so nervous about the first time wearing my natural hair in the office. I kept picturing sitting in HRs office while my manager explained what was wrong with my hair. That never happened, but other things happened. Other things that singled me out or impeded my success. Sometimes we have to endure situations because our presence serves a greater purpose. At those times we can only be brave like so many before us.

7. Make Your Money Un-Funny

Ladies, we have the least wealth of any demographic at $100. That’s it, the average wealth of a single black woman. We need to turn that around immediately. Black women are more likely to the be the head of household and have to care for aging parents. We can’t do all of that if we’re sick and broke. Refer back to number two for the sick part. As for the finances get them in line. Start by listing out where you are. You can use a program such as Quicken or some other financial tracking system. You need to know where you are so you can plan to get where you need to be. Create a budget and get a financial planner if you need one. A financial planner doesn’t have to be expensive. If you don’t have a retirement account, you need to take care of that right away. Too many black women rely on social security as a retirement plan. Most companies offer a retirement program of some sort. If they don’t, you can start one with almost any brokerage/bank.

Before you say you don’t have the money or it’s too expensive, there are low cost and some free options to accomplishing these goals. Pay yourself first. Start by saving $10 per paycheck. Have that $10 sent direct deposit from your paycheck to a saving account, then forget about the savings account. Don’t spend money on frivolous items today sacrificing security tomorrow. You can still get nice things, just budget for them. Don’t lend money you don’t have or co-sign anything for anyone. Pay down credit card debt and then don’t use them unless absolutely necessary.

What do you have planned for 2016? No doubt it will be great. Share your plans and comments below. Tell your friends by sharing this post within your community. Let us be your partner in achieving greatness.

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Nile Harris
Nile Harris, the Chief Chick, is a word weaver and dream believer with 20 years of experience in healthcare, finance, and education. This aspiring motivational speaker, TED presenter and LinkedIn Influencer is committed to valuing people, driving healthcare access and innovation, and weaving words that move people to action. Her views are her own.
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