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#25 Feel your breasts.

3 Oct

As most of you know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  For one month, everything is painted pink as a reminder:  from your favorite NFL team sporting their pink gloves, cleats, wristbands, and sideline caps to TV shows working in breast cancer awareness themes to companies offering their products in special breast cancer pink packaging.  And I don’t want to be left out.  I mean, what better time to give this piece of advice than during the month of October, right?

Did you know that despite the fact that the older a woman is the more likely she is to get breast cancer that younger women in their 20s can and do get breast cancer?  Did you know that although white women are more likely to get breast cancer than women from any other ethnic group that black women are more likely to die from it than white women?  And did you know that out of every 100 cases of breast cancer, one will occur in a man?*

“Well, what can I do?” 

I’m glad you asked.  First, know your risk of developing breast cancer.  Know your family health history and if you’re at a particularly high risk of developing breast cancer.  Second, have a discussion with your doctor about when you should start having clinical breast screenings and regular mammograms.  Insert personal note:  I had my first mammogram in my early 20s after finding a lump during a self exam.  Despite the horror stories I had heard about how painful they are, it was not painful at all, so don’t let that keep you from getting one.**  That brings me to my third point:  know what’s normal for you.  You must actually feel your breasts to know what’s normal and to recognize when there is a change.  And don’t stop at just feeling them, but also visually exam them to make sure there aren’t any changes to the way they look.  Lastly, there are a few proactive measures that you can take: maintain a healthy weight, exercise, and limit alcohol intake (I know this last one is particularly difficult for some).   

And for my male readers who are eager to lend a helping hand interested in getting involved, you can too.  As I mentioned above, men can get breast cancer as well so speak with your doctor regarding your health (and if you have actual man boobs, that’s a post for another day and another book altogether.  Hit the gym.  Nothing about man boobs is cute.  Your breasts should not be bigger than mine.  Matter of fact, I shouldn’t look at your chest and have the word “breasts” pop in my mind.).  Aside from that, encourage the women in your life to be aware of their own breast health.  After all breast cancer doesn’t just affect one, but affects us all; therefore, this post is dedicated to the women who lost their hair, lost their breasts, and lost their lives to breast cancer.   

*Information courtesy of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  Visit their site at www.komen.org for more information on breast cancer and how you can make a difference. 

**Thank God, my mammogram came back normal and the “lump” I felt wasn’t actually a lump.

(Images courtesy of Customized Girl.  To purchase t-shirts visit their site at http://www.customizedgirl.com/)

#105 Don’t wear bad wigs or weave.

23 Sep

Let me start off by saying that I’ve never worn either so I don’t consider myself an expert on this subject matter, but I do know a bad weave or wig when I see it.  And by bad I don’t mean good.  I mean bad. 

Don’t let them do this to you. EVER. Again.  This is just wrong. 

We should not see where your hair and the weave meet. 

Your wig or weave should not look like it was done at the Barbie® Beauty Salon. 

Your weave should be smoothly integrated into your current hairstyle.

And ladies, please, let your hair breath so that your real hair does not end up looking like this:

Your hair will thank you. 

Are there any other rules about wigs and weave that I missed?

#22 Just say no to drugs.

3 Aug

Some news that you may have missed today:  President Obama signed a bill reducing the disparity in penalties for the use of crack and powder cocaine.  Under the old law, a person received a mandatory 5 years in prison for possessing 5 grams of crack cocaine, whereas a person in possession of powder cocaine had to be holding 100 times that amount to receive the same mandatory sentence.  This disparity in sentencing has been a concern in the African-American community because African-Americans are more likely than Whites and Hispanics to be charged with possession of crack cocaine, while White and Hispanic defendants are more likely to be charged with possession of powder cocaine. 

Before anyone gets too excited about their man getting his sentence reduced because of this new law,This new law is not retroactive and it applies only to federal defendants.  Although most drug arrests happen on the state level, states have already begun moving away from mandatory sentencing and most are already treating crack and powder cocaine the same.  The takeaway from this news story?  You will still go to prison for possession of the right amount of crack cocaine and powder cocaine.  Former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s advice is just as relevant today as it was in the early 80s when I was in elementary school and we had to watch a special drug episode of Punky Brewster in the school assembly: Just Say No.

 

#89 Watch your weight. No one becomes overweight overnight.

11 Jul

With #59 being said (https://whydidshedothat.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/59-don%e2%80%99t-tell-someone-they-look-like-theyve-gained-weight-unless-it%e2%80%99s-time-for-an-intervention/),  I feel it’s only right to follow-up with this piece of advice.  While you may not want someone else constantly watching your weight, you need to make sure that you are watching your waistline.

Have you ever watched The Biggest Loser on NBC?  Did you see the episode where the truck driver said that in his 20s he weighed 195 and that one morning he woke up and BAM!  He weighed 337 pounds.  Just like that.  Went to bed at 195 and woke up at 337.  No?  Don’t remember that episode?  Oh, right.  That’s because it never happened.  No one becomes overweight overnight. 

But one episode that I do remember was for a show on TLC called “One Big Happy Family”.  As you can guess, it’s about a family that is big.  Literally.  No, not big in number a la the other “big” family on TLC named The Duggars, but big in weight.  The family of 4 weighed in at a collective 1400 pounds, each weighing well over 300 pounds.  The episode in particular that struck me was where the 16-year-old daughter’s doctor told her that she was obese.  The daughter immediately started crying as if this was the first time anyone had told her this; as if she didn’t already know that she was obese.  How she did not know that she was obese before that moment is beyond me.  I knew she was obese from the opening scene of the episode. 

What causes obesity?  According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, there are many factors; some that you can control, such as lack of energy balance, inactive lifestyle, overeating, cessation of smoking, and lack of sleep.  Unfortunately, there are other factors which you cannot control:  an environment that doesn’t support a healthy lifestyle, genes and family history, health conditions, and medicines.  (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/obe/obe_causes.html)  While you might not be able to control some factors, I encourage you to take responsibility for your health and lifestyle.  It amazes me that in the U.S., there are 23.4 million children between ages 2-19 and 145 million adults 20 and older who are overweight or obese.  (http://www.americanheart.org/downloadable/heart/1236358025411OVRWGHT.pdf)

What can you do to not become a part of this statistic or to take yourself out of those numbers?  Well, eating a whole pizza in one sitting won’t help.  Maintain a healthy diet and watch your caloric intake.  It is recommended that women consume 1200 calories per day and men 1800 calories per day (I know this blog is aimed at women, but we need to look out for the men we love).  Keep track of what you’re eating and look for healthier alternatives.  That daily Venti Iced Double Chocolaty Chip Frappacino® Blended Beverage with whipped cream you’re having from Starbucks® every morning on the commute to work?  800 calories–more than half of your recommended daily caloric intake.  I’m not saying that you can’t ever treat yourself, because you can and you should.  But instead of making this part of your daily routine, make it a real “treat”. 

If the only exercise you get is walking from the couch to the fridge and back to the couch, be prepared to watch your waistline grow.  Take a walk around the neighborhood 3-5 times a week.  Keep your energy balance in check by not allowing the energy you take in through food to outweigh the energy you use throughout the day. 

Unless the only mirror you have in your home is the talking mirror from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs telling you that you’re the fattest fairest one of them all (and if you tell me that you do have a talking mirror, you have more than a weight problem, but that’s for another post), you should see the changes in your weight and not be shocked when your doctor says that you’re overweight or obese.  Be proactive and take the necessary steps to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle.

For more information on maintaining a healthy weight, visit the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/index.html).

#59 Don’t tell someone they look like they’ve gained weight unless it’s time for an intervention.

6 Jul

Have you ever had a family member say to you, “You look like you’ve gained weight” or had a friend ask, “Have you put on a couple of pounds?”  If you haven’t, lucky you.  If you have, I’m sure you replied, “No, but it looks like you have.”  Or maybe that’s just me.  Okay, I didn’t really say that, but I did think it.  (At least I hope I only thought it and didn’t actually say it.) 

I have never understood why people feel it is their place to always comment on other’s weight changes.  In a time when so many young women feel societal pressure to be thin, you would think that people, especially other women, would be careful with their words.  Constantly drawing attention to a young woman’s weight can affect her body image, and according to research, girls start focusing on their bodies at an early age. 

Take a look at a few shocking statistics:  42% of 1st through 3rd grade girls want to be thinner.  81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.  51% of 9 and 10-year-old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet.  According to a study, over 50% of the females surveyed between ages 18-25 would prefer to be run over by a truck than be fat; and 2/3 surveyed would rather be mean or stupid.  (http://www.eatingdisorderinfo.org/Resources/EatingDisordersStatistics.aspx)

With this piece of advice, I’m not saying that you should never be concerned with a loved one’s weight.  Borderline obese?  Say something.  Looks like Skeletor’s twin sister?  Minus the muscular blue body?  (Ok, maybe Skeletor isn’t the best comparison, but the name Skeletor itself is so fitting.)  Might be time for an intervention.*  A little weight fluctuation?  That’s likely normal.  Gained 3 or 4 pounds over the last year?  Probably not a big deal.  Does she have a stomach pooch that she didn’t have before?  Maybe she’s bloated. 

The point is that no one wants to have their weight constantly scrutinized.  If the weight changes are drastic and you are truly concerned, then of course you should say something.  But for the slight changes in weight that happen to all of us, there is no need to broadcast it at the family Christmas dinner.  Would you want someone constantly talking about your weight?  Doubt it. 

*For more information on eating disorders, visit the website for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at http://www.nimh.nih.gov.