by Panama Jackson, The Root Blackness is complicated and always will be, Very Smart Brothas’ Panama Jackson says, so it’s no surprise that the definition of “black love” isn’t simple. If two Black people are dating or married and in love, does that, by default constitute Black love? Is seeing a woman pick up her son and give him a kiss on the cheek … is that Black love? Or two good friends doing the Black man handshake-hug combo that I’ve seen so many other ethnicities f*ck up with tremendous aplomb. Seriously, why is that sh*t so difficult. I’m not saying that we, The Blacks, are just more dexterous and athletic than everybody else, but we definitely have coordination on lock. You know what, we’re more athletic too. It takes a real athlete to do some of these handshakes we do. In high school, me and two of my best friends had a 15-step handshake. It was as ridiculous as it sounds. I promise. Is that Black love? I mean the dedication and loyalty we exacted in order to efficiently bust out that handshake? We were committed to one another because who the hell else would we be able to do that? That’s got to be it right? In truth, I think the entire concept of Black love is just that … a concept. [It’s] those horrendously cliche ass pictures that you see being sold in mall kiosks with some naked, rippled Black man holding some naked nubian black woman with their bodies intertwined. While I’d never ever put that type of picture up in my house — my tastes are a bit more discerning than that — I get why they exist. Black love is the ideal of unity and togetherness. It’s this ideal of strength shared between two people attempting to reach a common goal
by Kia Miakka Natisse
In the opening of BET’s new series, The Real Husbands of Hollywood, Kevin Hart lounges in the backseat of his luxury car, basking in his own success, and reveals: “Before my daddy got on drugs, he once told me that for every boss there’s a hundred wannabe bosses. I had no idea that those wannabe bosses would be my boys.”
What unfolds in the 30 minutes following Hart’s ‘revelation’ may be one of the best shows BET has ever done.
The premise of the show is simple, and has actually been done before: a spoof on the wildly popular Real Housewives of… reality shows, featuring a group of seemingly successful men, slightly overshadowed by their more successful Hollywood wives.
Hart debuted his version of the concept as a series of interstitial shorts during the 2011 BET Awards. Yet there was actually another husbands show back in 2009, and I won’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it. The dismal Househusbands of Hollywood aired just 10 times on the Fox Reality Channel.
It’s doubtful that Hart’s take on the concept will suffer the same fate. Calling on major star power co-stars like Boris Kodjoe, Nick Cannon, Robin Thicke, Dwayne Martin and J.B. Smoove, the group of friends playfully depreciate themselves and each other, which gives the audience an insider feel to the comedy the show is commanding.
The show’s cast is called upon to poke fun at their public reputation: Kodjoe, billed as the “pretty a** motherf**ker,” Cannon, who gamely sports an “I Heart Mimi” apron, Dwayne Martin as the Hollywood Hustler of the crew, and Hart amping up his small dog with the big bark act that has made him famous.
In episode one of The Real Husbands of Hollywood, Hart sets himself up to be biggest star of the show, which may be true in the real world, but on his fake reality show, it’s just a delusion. He arrives to a party at Cannon’s house with two scantily-clad women in tow, only to realize that its a kid’s party.
He later gets jumped by one of these kids over a baking dispute (yes, there are fists over pies), which results in a falling out with Cannon and a show down with Robin Thicke. It’s unexpected and funny, with all the characters/celebrities buying in to this alternate reality that Hart has created.
The show’s winning formula is that it feels genuine, never forced. A mix of scripted comedy and improv, the show takes its cues (and a producer), from HBO’s hit series Curb Your Enthusiasm, and delivers it an a relatable package for black audiences.
While seeing a bunch of celebrities hang out on camera will certainly draw in viewers, their fame is less interesting than the friendships that they share, which is either a credit to their acting skills or a testament to these actors’ real life bond off camera.
Plus, there’s Kevin Hart. The comic’s been unstoppable for the past few years, and The Real Husbands of Hollywood can only work to extend his brand and star power. A good move for BET to partner with the comedic genius — Hart knows how to hit audiences’ funny bone.
Here’s to hoping BET invests in more great talent: hopefully the incredibly funny Husbands of Hollywood is a sign of more good things to come from the network.
If you’re turning 50 this year, you may want to consider adding a colorectal cancer screening to your New Year to-do list. The reason is simple. Recent studies confirmed that screening contributes to decreased colorectal cancer death rates, according to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE).
Here are the facts. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. What’s more, because the disease disproportionately affects African Americans, some experts suggest that black folks should begin screening at age 45. Doctors also offer the same advice to people with the following risk factors: a family history of colorectal polyps (fleshy growths on the inside of the colon), colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, type 2 diabetes and factors relating to diet, weight, physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol use, among other lifestyle habits.
The ASGE advises people to discuss their risk factors with their doctor to determine when they should begin colorectal cancer screening and how often they should be screened.
Doctors consider colorectal cancer a “silent killer” because often there are no symptoms of the disease until it is too late to treat the condition. Doctors also stress that even people who lead a healthy lifestyle can still develop polyps and cancer. Physicians also urge all men and women, age 50 or over, to discuss colorectal cancer screening with their doctor.
The preferred screening test is called a colonoscopy and is a preventive exam that finds and removes precancerous polyps during the examination. People who are at average risk with normal colonoscopy results don’t usually need another exam for 10 years.
by Violet Smith, Staff Writer, BlackDoctor.org
Holiday cakes, and cookies, and pies, and cocktails, and dressing and casserole and…does it seem like just reading the names of your favorite holiday foods makes you gain a couple pounds? Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve…the holidays cause many of us to eat a little too much, and to miss a few too many workouts.
Here’s what health and fitness pros have to say about simple tips that can help you burn off some of those celebratory calories.
1. Embrace Those Chores
The scenario: The holiday office party causes you to miss your yoga class, company’s coming tonight, and the house is a mess.
“Housework is the best way to fit in a workout without even knowing it,” says Shannon Griffiths, group fitness director for Lakeshore Athletic Club in Boulder, Colo. Scrubbing, sweeping, vacuuming … they all burn calories.
Even cooking fires up the calorie furnace, says Griffiths, especially if you’re moving around the kitchen. So put on perky music and boogie down while you bake.
“I like to use shopping as exercise, too,” says Griffiths, who maintains that the best thing about going to the mall is all the walking. “That translates into a calorie burn.”
To maximize that burn, Griffith recommends carrying your own holiday packages, then unloading them after every stop.
“If you’re going to buy something at 10 different shops, go out to your car between each store,” Griffiths says.
To encourage yourself to make those multiple trips to the parking lot or to take the mall stairs instead of elevators, Griffiths recommends wearing a pedometer.
“A pedometer really encourages you to … get moving,” she says. “You have to go shopping, so you might as well get a workout as you’re doing it!”
Keep your pace brisk and you can burn 250-300 calories an hour.
3. Make Snow Your Ally
When it’s snowing, it’s time to bundle up and enjoy the free gym outside.
“The best calorie-burners are those that bring the heart rate up to a cardiovascular training zone,” says Julia C. Jackson, owner of Friends in Fitness Corporate Wellness and Personal Training in California. For most healthy people, the American Heart Association recommends an exercise target heart rate ranging from 50% to 75% of your maximum heart rate, which is normally calculated as the number 220 minus your age.
For most of us, walking is the easiest way to burn a few extra calories during busy times.
The trick (after a good warm-up) is to keep your pace strong, says Diane Proud, a running pro at the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas. Try power walking, high-stepping, or climbing stadium stairs. According to Proud, such activities fire up major muscle groups like the quads and gluteals.
“Recruiting more muscle fibers during a workout is like stoking a fire … the embers burn for a longer period,” she says. That means even when you’re lounging by the fire later, you’ll still be burning away extra calories.
If you keep up a moderate walking pace, expect to burn 250-300 calories hourly.
5. Be Nice
Combine a few of our calorie-burning tips — shopping, cooking, walking — and do a good deed in the process.
You can gently increase holiday season activity, says Comana, by making goodies for your neighbors, then taking a brisk stroll around the neighborhood to drop off your homemade gifts.
Or burn about 700 calories an hour participating in a holiday fund-raising race, such as the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis, held in various U.S. cities in December.
Locate all kinds of races near you at http://www.coolrunning.com. Good deeds and a good body — what a gift!
6. Work It Out While You Sit
Every holiday includes downtime when family or friends gather around the television for a parade, a game, or a favorite old movie. Why not use that time to burn a few calories?
“Instead of sitting with your full butt on the couch, get to the end of your seat and bend your legs up off the floor, hands on the seat to give you balance, and do crunches,” says Nieca Goldberg, MD, chief of Women’s Cardiac Care at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
Goldberg also recommends getting your triceps trim by doing dips off the edge of the couch (or airport seat), firming your thighs with seated leg lifts, and building biceps by grabbing a water bottle and doing curls.
7. Get More Motivated a Group
To keep her motivation at peak, Griffiths gets fired up with group fitness classes. “Being in a group can really help motivate you,” she says.
Gyms and rec centers offer all kinds of classes to choose from, from spinning, yoga, and aerobics to ballet, kickboxing, aquacising, and Pilates.
Want something more free-form? Get a group of friends and family to join you outside for an hour of making snow angels, sledding, searching for the last colorful leaves, hiking, or ice-skating.
A bonus: Workouts with loved ones not only keep everyone’s calorie counts in check, but exercising together can help build stronger relationships, too.
8. Pick a Plan, Any Plan
Just set a goal. Having a specific objective is a great way to motivate yourself, Griffiths says. Share your plan and goals with your primary care doctor.
“Set goals for how many workouts you want to get in during the week,” Griffith says.
Even if it’s fewer than you usually do during the rest of the year, be sure to reward yourself for meeting your objectives.
So How Much Exercise Do You Need?
Instead of tackling a weight loss regimen over the holidays, most experts suggest you simply aim for maintenance.
To stay in a steady weight state, get 30 minutes of moderate activity daily, says Jenny Graddy, coordinator of group fitness and wellness at University of Florida Recreational Sports in Gainesville, FL.
You can rack up that 30 minutes throughout the day, Graddy stresses. Go for a 10-minute walk in the morning, play actively with your kids in the afternoon, then walk the dog before dinner, and you’re there.
With the holiday hustle and bustle upon us, Griffiths reminds us that staying fit during this time is not as hard as you may think.
“Folks think they have to suffer to get fit, but they don’t,” she says. “They just have to get up and move!”
by Anne Underwood, courtesy of Prevention Magazine
Food scientists are shedding light on items loaded with toxins and chemicals–and simple swaps for a cleaner diet and supersized health.
Clean eating means choosing fruits, vegetables, and meats that are raised, grown, and sold with minimal processing. Often they’re organic, and rarely (if ever) should they contain additives. But in some cases, the methods of today’s food producers are neither clean nor sustainable. The result is damage to our health, the environment, or both. So we decided to take a fresh look at food through the eyes of the people who spend their lives uncovering what’s safe–or not–to eat. We asked them a simple question: “What foods do you avoid?” Their answers don’t necessarily make up a “banned foods” list. But reaching for the suggested alternatives might bring you better health–and peace of mind.
1. The Endocrinologist Won’t Eat: Canned Tomatoes
Fredrick Vom Saal, is an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A.
The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. “You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young,” says vom Saal. “I won’t go near canned tomatoes.”
The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe’s and Pomi.
Budget tip: If your recipe allows, substitute bottled pasta sauce for canned tomatoes. Look for pasta sauces with low sodium and few added ingredients, or you may have to adjust the recipe.
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2. The Farmer Won’t Eat: Corn-Fed Beef
Joel Salatin is co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming.
The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. But more money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. “We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,” says Salatin.
The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers’ markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It’s usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don’t see it, ask your butcher.
Budget tip: Cuts on the bone are cheaper because processors charge extra for deboning. You can also buy direct from a local farmer, which can be as cheap as $5 per pound. To find a farmer near you, search eatwild.com.
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3. The Toxicologist Won’t Eat: Microwave Popcorn
Olga Naidenko, is a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group.
The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize–and migrate into your popcorn. “They stay in your body for years and accumulate there,” says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.
The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.
Budget tip: Popping your own popcorn is dirt cheap
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4. The Farm Director Won’t Eat: Nonorganic Potatoes
Jeffrey Moyer is the chair of the National Organic Standards Board.
The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes–the nation’s most popular vegetable–they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. “Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won’t,” says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). “I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.”
The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn’t good enough if you’re trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.
Budget tip: Organic potatoes are only $1 to $2 a pound, slightly more expensive than conventional spuds.
What to Really Look for on a Nutrition Label
5. The Fisheries Expert Won’t Eat: Farmed Salmon
Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, published a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.
The problem: Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. “You could eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer,” says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. “It’s that bad.” Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.
The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.
Budget tip: Canned salmon, almost exclusively from wild catch, can be found for as little as $3 a can.
6. The Cancer Researcher Won’t Drink: Milk Produced With Artificial Hormones
Rick North is project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society.
The problem: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. “When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,” says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. “There’s not 100 percent proof that this is increasing cancer in humans,” admits North. “However, it’s banned in most industrialized countries.”
The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.
Budget tip: Try Wal-Mart’s Great Value label, which does not use rBGH.
7. The Organic-Foods Expert Won’t Eat: Conventional Apples
Mark Kastel, a former executive for agribusiness, is codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods.
The problem: If fall fruits held a “most doused in pesticides contest,” apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don’t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it’s just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. “Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers,” he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson’s disease.
The solution: Buy organic apples.
Budget tip: If you can’t afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them. But Kastel personally refuses to compromise. “I would rather see the trade-off being that I don’t buy that expensive electronic gadget,” he says. “Just a few of these decisions will accommodate an organic diet for a family.”