#BodyGoals: A Holistic Look At Women’s Health by Taffy Dube
Good morning fam
Today’s blog post rounds off our theme for the month which has been Mental Health and Sisterhood. Taffy shares her personal experience with becoming healthier physically as well as mentally and emotionally, and why this is key for us as women. Enjoy this candid and uplifting post.
I remember being a generally slim child, then puberty hit me really early and it hit me hard. Out of the blue, I had boobs, hips and acne. It felt like everyone was commenting on my weight and judging my love of cake.
I started avoiding mirrors and just felt out of place. I’ll never forget the look of horror on my friend’s face upon seeing my pubescent thighs. My dark skin and glasses made me an easy target for being teased. I reserved smiles for those close to me and became sarcastic to protect myself from bullies.
Food became my frenemy – I loved to cook and bake, yet, eating always caused anxiety. I remember crying in the shower because I felt guilty for eating cake or because I thought I had eaten too much. I remember looking in the mirror on my thirteenth birthday and hoping that by the time I turned 25, things would be better for me.
But when I started working, I used to go to the gym everyday so that I would rather be called the ‘dark doctor’ than the ‘fat doctor’. Fast forward to 2018, melanin is popping; you’re applauded for being thick and confident; and everyone wears glasses.
This year has definitely been a challenge. I was unemployed for a few months. My husband once found me crying after I’d come back from getting my hair trimmed (it ended up being more of a haircut). He asked me what was wrong. My reply: “I don’t have a job, I’m fat and my hair is short!”
We started eating healthier and exercising, and I felt good again. Life happened and we fell back into our old habits. More recently, I’ve lost a few family members both young and old which got me thinking that if I had to die young, would I have lived my best life? If I had to live to be 100, what type of physical condition would I want to be in so that I could still enjoy life? My conclusion: I had to change my lifestyle for good.
However this was not anything new to me. I grew up vegetarian; my parents encouraged us to sleep early and to drink water. Somewhere between varsity and adulting I’d lost the way. I was always tired. I skipped meals, had an erratic sleeping schedule and didn’t exercise much.
I decided to make small changes. I bought a 2l water bottle which I carry everywhere. I’m always peeing but my skin is clearer, I don’t have cravings as often and I stay fuller for longer. I have at least 3 fruits a day, half my plate is veggies at supper and I try to be asleep by 21:30. It’s been a few months and my clothes feeler looser, and I definitely feel healthier.
“What if squad goals changed to something like all going to get pap smears together?” – Taffy Dube
It’s that time of year again when you’re either feeling great because you were part of the 5am gym gang, or like me, despite all my efforts, my summer body is in my heart! Either way, body image is something that majority of women struggle with.
On the other hand we are constantly being bombarded by conflicting messages regarding what’s healthy and what isn’t. Who really knows whether eating for your blood type is more important than avoiding carbs?!
Social media is great at keeping us on trend and helps us to feel like part of the struggle for women’s rights issues. Worldwide there’s been a drive to normalize breastfeeding; efforts are being made to reduce the cost of sanitary products.
We’re all doing self-breast exams because it’s October and everything is pink. These are all driven by amazing hashtag campaigns. But if you did find a lump, would moghel know what to do? Health information is something we take for granted. What if we worked on health goals rather than body goals? What if we all used our influence to inform others about health?
Photo Cred: WebMD onlilne
Here are a few tips from me to you
- Nutrition plays the biggest part of being healthy. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.
- Flavoured water is artificially sweetened which is great because it doesn’t contain sugar. However, studies have linked artificial sweeteners to early dementia and memory loss.
- Sleep deprivation weakens your immune system, slows down your cognitive function and your metabolism making it difficult to lose weight. Quality and quantity are both important when it comes to sleep. Certain hormones are released from the brain when you are sleeping. These reboot your brain and your body. Trick is, the peak release is around midnight and you have to be sleeping for it to work. So to improve your quality of sleep, you need a few hours of sleep before midnight and several hours after. Sleep is really complicated and a whole topic on its own. If you struggle with insomnia I’d encourage you to read up on sleep hygiene and sleep cycles.
- Your liver and kidneys are constantly removing toxins from your body. Detoxing does not speed up this process. Juice days restrict your calories therefore you lose weight. Also you’ll be increasing your fluid intake, making sure you are well hydrated so your skin glows and you just feel great.
- We all feel differently about it. Pick something you like and get moving. Just a 10 min brisk walk once a day will improve health overall.
- A headache is the earliest symptom of high blood pressure. It is also a sign of dehydration, sleep deprivation, hormonal imbalance and eye strain. Don’t ignore frequent headaches.
- We all experience our period differently, but it’s not normal to bleed for more than a week; to soak through a packet of pads a day; or to have unbearable pain. It’s not normal to have a period every two weeks or one every 3 months. Abnormal bleeding is a sign of cervical cancer, the leading cause of death among young women worldwide.
What if squad goals changed to something like all going to get pap smears together? While on baecation, you get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked. Instead of commenting, “What a snack!”, send a message and actually find out how your friends are really doing. Let’s get rid of that “you only live once” attitude and actively stop the things that could cause us premature death and help save a life while doing it.
Back to body image. Changing my lifestyle has made me healthier and allows my mind to be clearer to face life’s challenges. I’ve channelled my love for cooking into producing healthy alternatives and sharing it with others rather than doing all the eating myself.
I still avoid mirrors and clothes shopping is still a struggle because I’m never fully convinced that I look good. I’d rather stick to my wardrobe staples. Currently I’m trying out bright colours and florals because they look great on dark skin. I randomly smile at strangers and I’m trying to be less sarcastic and kinder to people.
I have residual issues which I’m trying to deal with and would definitely benefit from professional help. I’m employed, the haircut helped my hair to grow and I’m less round than I was earlier this year. Despite how those things make me feel, I’ve learnt that they do not define who I am. I’m learning to love myself, thunder thighs and all, while enjoying a slice of cake occasionally. I’m smart, I’m loved and beautiful, and so are you.
Dr Tafadzwa Dube-Zvirikuzhe, a wonderful woman of God, is a medical doctor based in KZN and is passionate about women’s health. When she has time, she busts many of the health myths women have of themselves.
Taffy, thank you for making us laugh, reflect and desire a healthier lifestyle! You are an inspiration and the best part of your journey to health is how you made an intentional decision to choose and love yourself.
Do you relate with Taffy’s experience? What are some other tips you would share with your fellow sisters?
Thanks as always for reading sis.