First lady Michelle Obama has been promoting overall fitness in America. What other social programs or star endorsements do you think will encourage weight loss in the black community?
I think it’s wonderful that Michelle Obama has lent her celebrity and her platform as first lady to shine a light on and put programs in place to address this very serious issue. I think other celebrities can be used to encourage weight loss as well, but from what I know from my personal experience and from the work I’ve been doing in Harlem and other parts of New York City, nothing is more powerful than relatable messaging and imagery. I believe people are more responsive to consistent, in-the-trenches messaging coming from their peers, friends, families… people who look like them and live in their reality, than to people and celebrities who may do one-off events or commercials. Celebrity is great, but we need on-the-ground troops delivering consistent messaging and programming, locally in communities.
Some believe that the BMI scale that is used to determine obesity is outdated and inaccurate, particularly for African-Americans. Do you care to comment on whether it is an appropriate predictor of health?
First, there are assessments of health, and then there are predictors of health. In terms of assessment, I think BMI is a useful directional tool in assessing where somebody is in their weight, and then using the number to see if they are at risk for certain health issues associated with being overweight. However, because it is only one data point based on a formula height relative to weight, it can’t be the only thing to look at in health assessment, both from an individual and collective perspective. BMI doesn’t take into account muscle mass, so someone who is very muscular could be getting close to, or be classified as, overweight or obese. Second, in terms of predictors of health you have to assess behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and environments (such as home and community) to predict if someone is at risk for unhealthy behaviors. BMI is not perfect, but the bottom line is we’re fat. So let’s not sugar coat it or beat ourselves up about it. Let’s own the problem and then work together to figure out a solution.
If people want to start a New Year’s workout routine, what are some good ways to get started and stick with it?
First visualize what you’re trying to achieve, what your new life looks like. Formulate a plan around achieving this goal. Write it down. Seriously write it down and refer to it. Don’t just stick it in your sock drawer. Second, start small and don’t bite off more than you chew; and third, get support.
Last, I would highly recommend doing your workouts in the morning. It’s the part of the day in which, for the most part, your blackberry isn’t blowing up and you have more energy. I’ve been working out in the mornings for over 14 years and it has worked for me.
Here are more tips from the MAD COOL FITNESS perspective on how to be successful in sticking to your New Year’s workout routine:
M – Make the specific goal using SMART principles (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound)
A – Assess what it’s going to take for you to make your goal happen. What is “the plan”? If you’re going to work out three days a week, how will you make sure it will happen?
D – Be determined. Visualize the new you and stick with the plan even when the going gets tough.
C – Get your crew together. You need support. Don’t try to do this by yourself. Grab a girlfriend and get going. Share your fitness journey!
O – Get organized. For example, pack your gym bag the night before, get your behind in the bed so you can get up the next day, and know what you’re going to do when you get there so you’re not stumbling around in the morning trying to figure it out on the fly.
O – Own your “failures” and use them as opportunities to learn. Then go back and re-assess your plan, the one that isn’t in your sock drawer. Don’t dwell on [your failures,] but learn from them.
L- Laugh. You must laugh, even when you fall off the resolution wagon. This is a process and you have to enjoy it!
What’s next for you?
I’m going to continue to grow Mad Cool Fitness. I am Mad Cool Fitness. It is my life’s mission and passion. The company has a pro-social mission. I believe that through implementing holistic wellness tools, leveraging technology to connect people to wellness and each other, and through the collective efforts of the government, for profit companies and non-profit entities, we can collectively change our country’s negative health direction and eradicate obesity in America. Through the achievement of good health, we can collectively help people and communities to reach their fullest potential. This is my belief in every part of my being, so that’s what I’m doing.
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.