Thursday, March 22, 2012

Healthy Living: Do you Know What's In Your Ground Beef?

I was very disturbed when I watched this video on Ammonia-Treated Meat (ie Pink Slime)  that is used in mass produced ground beef products.  I heard that in January 2012 McDonalds announced that it would no longer use the pink slime burger products. Burger King reportedly uses these burgers too.  (I guess now it makes sense why those burgers never tasted like the ones you make at home!)

I personally rarely eat beef products but when I do, I usually get my burger from a local chain called Andy's.  Any other time that I eat hamburgers, it's during cookout season (4th of July, Labor Day, etc.).  But now, after seeing this information it causes me to question:  where else is this pink slime?  Is it possibly in the prepackaged beef patties sold in grocery stores?  We've already heard that it's being provided to our children in school.

As a result of this, I have made a personal decision to eliminate premade ground beef products from my diet.  If I desire a hamburger, then I'll go to the butcher and ask him to ground me up some angus or chuck on the spot.  A little extreme?  Maybe, but we all have to do what we think is best for our own personal health.  I recognize that with the growing population of people that industries do the best they can to fulfill the demand with their supply.  But I often wonder if the shortcuts that these industries employ are the root cause of the increasing amount of disease that we see in our generation.

I've heard that when you know better, you do better.  Well, here's to Nita doing better.

Have you heard of "pink slime" before?  Will this information you've heard today change your personal habits?  Are we making too big of a deal out of this?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Protective Natural Hair Style - Textured Bun

As my hair gets longer, I try to alternate between "out" styles and protective styles.  Protective styling gives me & my hair a  break from daily styling and manipulation and contributes to length retention.  I am firm believer however that just because a style is protective does not mean it cannot be cute.  I work in a very conservative office environment and while I do push my style a little, I try to adhere to the "look" of the office.

Here is an easy and different take on the bun that I think is an excellent alternative to the traditional bun that I wore here..  For those of you who would like to see a video tutorial of this look check out one of the Youtube vloggers I follow for her step by step  (Skip to 3:34 in the video to see the style I recreated - even though all 4 styles are very nice!).


This was achieved from an old twistout using Entwine Coutoure's products. ( Be on the lookout for a review of their products is coming soon.)  I also like to create a bang so I left some of my bang out and created 4 large twists in the front.  Then I untwisted the twists in the morning and loosely twisted the ends together and bobby pinned at my ear to create this textured bang look.

So if your hair is not quite long enough for a true bun, try this faux or textured bun, especially as your hair style gets older.  I've also done this to stretch my hair after washing, conditioning and adding my leave in to stretch it in preparation BEFORE doing a twist/twistout set.  I just do large chunky twists after adding my leave in and sealing with Koils by Nature hair & body butter.  I add the styler the next day after my hair has been stretched in the bun which gives a more elongated twist out.

Let me know if you like it!

Friday, March 16, 2012

HIV Impact in African American Women - An Interview with A Health Education Specialist

 In recognition of Women's Month & last weekend's National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS awareness day I interviewed a good friend and Health Education Specialist about the impact that HIV/AIDS is having on women and particularly in African American Women.

1.  Share with our readers a little bit about your professional background as it relates to women's health & why you're so passionate about women's health issues?

Sure. My name is Nakisha Floyd, M.A., CHES, RHEd. Professionally, I currently serve as an Education Consultant with the State of North Carolina. I am a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and Registered Health Educator with a Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education from North Carolina Central University (Durham, NC) and a Master of Art in Health Education and Promotion from East Carolina University (Greenville, NC). I’ve been practicing in the field of health education for over 14 years and most of my work has been centered on sexuality education and reproductive health among adolescents.

My passion for adolescent and women’s health issues developed while working as a Health Education Program Coordinator in a semi-rural county located in Eastern North Carolina. I remember talking with so many teenage girls about issues regarding their sexual health and so many of them were clueless about their bodies and/or the decisions being made that would affect them for a lifetime. Often times, I would ask this one question “Why did you decide to have sex with your partner [that person]?” No matter who it was, or how many times I asked the question, most of them would start off their response by saying “I don’t know…” What was extremely disturbing to me was that majority of these young women were African-American. I knew then that I needed to go above and beyond the “9 to 5” to educate them because if not addressed, these same attitudes and behaviors would follow them into their adulthood. It’s not just about gaining the knowledge; it’s about applying it. I know that I would have to provide these young people with the knowledge and SKILLS to change those attitudes and behaviors that could impact their quality of life or end it prematurely.  

2.  According to statistics, HIV is the leading cause of death for Black women aged 25 -34 years.   The rate of AIDS diagnoses for Black women is 23 times the rate for Caucasian women and 4 times the rate for Latina women.  These stats show that Black women are disproportionately affected among women in other ethnic groups in the United States.  Can you give us some thoughts and facts on why this is the case?

Although recent statistics record African-Americans representing only 14% of the U.S. population, our community faces a number of challenges that contribute to the higher rates of HIV infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cite some of the following reasons for the HIV infection disparity in Black America, particularly among African-American women.

1)   The greater number of people living with HIV (prevalence) in African American communities and the fact that African Americans tend to have sex with partners of the same race/ethnicity means that they face a greater risk of HIV infection with each new sexual encounter.
Most women are infected with HIV through heterosexual sex. Some women become infected because they may be unaware of a male partner’s risk factors for HIV infection or have a lack of HIV knowledge and lower perception of risk. Relationship dynamics also play a role. For example, some women may not insist on condom use because they fear that their partner will physically abuse or leave them.
African American communities continue to experience higher rates of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) compared with other racial/ethnic communities in the US. Rates of gonorrhea and syphilis are higher among women of color than among white women. The presence of certain STIs can significantly increase the chance of contracting HIV. Additionally, a person who has both HIV and certain STIs has a greater chance of infecting others with HIV.
Both unprotected vaginal and anal sex pose a risk for HIV transmission. Unprotected anal sex presents an even greater risk for HIV transmission for women than unprotected vaginal sex.

2)   The socioeconomic issues associated with poverty, including limited access to high-quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education, directly and indirectly increase the risk for HIV infection and affect the health of people living with and at risk for HIV infection.
Women who have experienced sexual abuse may be more likely than women with no abuse history to use drugs as a coping mechanism, have difficulty refusing unwanted sex, exchange sex for drugs, or engage in high-risk sexual activities.
Through my years of community work, I’ve experienced a number of instances where issues of sexual abuse have occurred; yet have gone unaddressed. By not talking about it and acting as if sexual abuse does not occur within the black community, we are giving power to perpetrators and making a silent statement that sexually victimizing people is acceptable. It is not OK! Believe it or not, talking about sexual abuse and giving young people quality sexuality education so they have the language to discuss all issues of sexual health, including abuse indirectly strengthens the fight against HIV infection.
Injection drug and other substance use increase HIV risk through sharing injection equipment contaminated with HIV or engaging in high-risk behaviors, such as unprotected sex, when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

3)   Lack of awareness of HIV status can affect HIV rates in communities. Approximately 1 in 5 adults and adolescents in the US living with HIV are unaware of their HIV status. This translates to approximately 116,750 persons in the African American community. Late diagnosis of HIV infection is common, which creates missed opportunities to obtain early medical care and prevent transmission to others. The sooner an individual is diagnosed and linked to appropriate care, the better the outcome.

4)   Stigma, fear, discrimination, homophobia, and negative perceptions about HIV testing can also place too many African Americans at higher risk. Many at risk for infection fear stigma more than infection and may choose instead to hide their high-risk behavior rather than seek counseling and testing.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -

3.  Seven out of the top 10 states with the highest rates among women are in the South and the rate of women in DC infected with HIV/AIDS is 12 times the national average.  Why are a greater portion of women infected below the Mason/Dixon line?

There are a number of social factors contributing to the reasons why HIV infection is concentrated in the Southern region of the United States. The greater portion of women infected with HIV are below the Mason/Dixon line due to many of the socioeconomic issues discussed in Question #2.

Factors linked to poverty, which include limited access to high-quality health care, housing, and HIV prevention education may be the driving force behind the increased risk of HIV infection among black women in the South. This issue is extremely complicated as many of these factors are interrelated.  The African-American population is concentrated in the South, as well as rates of extreme poverty. Another issue is that the region below the Mason/Dixon line is also referred to as the “Bible Belt”. Many view sex as a moral issue instead of an issue of normal human growth and development. Talking about sex and receiving quality sexuality and reproductive health education is very sensitive, political and often times taboo. Many have this idea that discussing sex makes young people “promiscuous”. This is a major myth! It has been proven that the more factual and medically accurate information that young people receive, the more likely they will be to prolong sexual involvement. Lack of knowledge is not just a young persons problem. If an individual never received the education as an adult, 9 times out of 10 s/he does not have that knowledge as an adult. KNOWLEDGE is POWER…the earlier that an individual is exposed to age-appropriate sexuality education, the better.  It serves as empowerment in a number of ways.

4. What can women do to protect themselves?  What are your thoughts about testing in dating relationships vs. marriages?

Women can protect themselves from HIV infection in the following ways.

1)   Choose abstinence. If you are not in a monogamous relationship, not having sex is the easiest way to prevent HIV infection.  Both individuals in the relationship must practice monogamy, which is defined as the practice or state of having a sexual relationship with only one person, in order to be effective. This may not be a realistic option for many, especially with the high rate of African-American women who are not or may not marry in her lifetime. That’s where the other tips are helpful in protecting your sexual health and your life.

2)   Get tested regularly and know your status. An individual should get tested every 3 to 6 months after every act of unprotected sex (oral, anal or vaginal). You have to ask your healthcare provider for an HIV test. It is not done automatically, even during routine blood work.  

3)   Limit your sexual partners and know your partner’s status too! A person can become infected after being exposed only one time. You don’t know what people do when they are not with you; therefore, it is empowering to practice regular HIV testing in any relationship. Again, it’s about monogamy, not one’s marital status.

4) ALWAYS use a latex or polyurethane condom. HIV is transmitted through the exchange of 1) blood, 2) semen, 3) vaginal fluids and 4) breast milk. Latex and polyurethane (for those who may have a latex allergy) condoms, if used properly, act as a barrier to the exchange of bodily fluids during sexual activity. Lambskin condoms are porous and do not act as an effective barrier. 

5.  How does the healthcare community view HIV/AIDs?  Twenty years ago it was painted as an absolute death sentence.  Now I see commercials on TV stating that after treatment HIV can be "undetectable"?  How is that?

Now that HIV infected people who are taking prescribed medications properly are living longer and have an improved quality of life, the healthcare system is starting to view it as more of a treatable chronic disease versus an absolute “death sentence”. Chronic disease is defined as a disease lasting 3 months or more (U.S. National Center for Health Statistics). The problem is that many HIV/AIDS medication assistance programs that aid low-income populations in receiving life-saving medications are losing their funding. This is another issue all together.

There are medications out that can reduce the viral load to the point that HIV can be undetectable in an infected person’s system. Many feel that this is working its way to a cure; however, at this point there is no cure for HIV. Taking medications treat the symptoms but do not cure this disease. This is the difference between a treatment versus a cure.   

6.  In your opinion, will we ever see a day where HIV/AIDs will be a thing of the past?  If so, what is our role in seeing this disease retreat from epidemic stage in our generation?

I pray that one day there will be a cure to a virus that has wreaked havoc among people on every continent of our world, but right now, the closest thing that we have to a cure is PREVENTION! Prevention starts with YOU! Do your part by educating yourself about the virus that causes AIDS, get tested regularly and know your status (you have to ask your healthcare provider for this test), limit your sexual partners, and use protection with EVERY act of sex (oral, anal, and/or vaginal)! Remember, HIV is totally preventable. It’s not who you are, but what you do that puts you at risk for HIV infection!

Thank you to Ms. Nakisha Floyd for taking the time for this very informative interview!  If you have any questions for her or would like her to speak at an organization that you are a part of, please leave a comment below!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Recognizable Natural: Vanessa A. Williams

Vanessa A Williams.  Actor. Mother. Wife. Activist.  Vanessa A. Williams is best known as her portrayal of Maxine Chadaway in the Showtime series of Soul Food.  She has had a long career of playing strong Black women in made for movies, sitcoms and dramas.  In a TV movie made for the big screen she played Keisha in New Jack City where she was a ruthless partner of drug lord Nino Brown.  She has also been seen in episodes of The Cosby Show, Living Single, A Different World, and too many others to name here.

From 2008 - 2010 she was one of the 3 panelists who was on the TV One show "My Black is Beautiful".  The scope of the show was to discuss the myths and societal beauty standards surrounding Black women.

Most recently, she has been featured in a promotional video for Greater Than AIDS in support of educating women and girls regarding HIV/AIDS awareness and protection.

She also is known for her fabulous natural hair. She has rocked naturally curls, locs, and curly hair pieces.  Check out the various styles that she has rocked over the years.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Rock the Red Pump Day - Nat'l Women HIV/AIDS Awareness Day; Gina Brown's Story


Today and next Friday I will be dedicating my posts to educating my readers regarding HIV and AIDS awareness in women.  Today I will be featuring Gina Brown, an African American woman living with HIV who is now an advocate for women who carry this disease. I felt it was important to feature someone living with this disease so we could put a face with this disease.  They are real people, who have families who love them, who want to be loved and deserve care and to be respected.  Next Friday, I will be posting an interview of a good friend of mine, Nakisha Floyd who is a women's health expert and we will continue this conversation around HIV/AIDS in women of color.

Tomorrow, March 10th is National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.  I have partnered with The Red Pump Project to dedicate today's post to HIV/AIDS Awareness in women.  There are many statistics surrounding HIV/AIDS in women of color:

**HIV/AIDS is the:
  • Leading cause of death for Black women (including African American women) aged 25–34 years.
  • 3rd leading cause of death for Black women aged 35–44 years
  • 4th leading cause of death for Black women aged 45–54 years
  • 4th leading cause of death for Latina women aged 35–44 years
  • The only diseases causing more deaths of women are cancer and heart disease
  • The rate of AIDS diagnosis for Black women was approximately 23 times the rate for white women and 4 times the rate for Latina women
  • In 2006, teen girls represented 39% of AIDS cases reported among 13–19 year-olds. Black teens represented 69% of cases reported among 13–19 year-olds; Latino teens represented 19%.
Just today I was forwarded this article in the LA Times that highlighted my demographic area as one where HIV was noted to be "hard hit" by black women.  I am so thankful that I have been tested and that my status is negative BUT for all of you who have not been tested, take this opportunity to visit your gynecologist, your local clinic or general practitioner and GET TESTED!

Check me out on Twitter @NaturallyNitaNC to see pictures of me rocking my red pumps to bring awareness to this disease!

**These statistics were from The Center for Disease Control’s website and the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Fact Sheets (which cited the CDC). You can get more information about the effect of the epidemic from these sites.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Flexirod/Straw Set on Natural Hair

My church had a Valentine's event in February and I used the occasion not only to get dressed up a little but also to try out a hairstyle that was cute but probably a little difficult to achieve on my own, the flexirod set.  So, I made an appointment with Taji to go in and get my hair done.

After washing and conditioning my hair I also had Taji to cut about a 1/4 inch of hair off all around.  I really needed a trim badly.  She then rolled my hair on the small green flexirods and off I went to the dryer for an hour and a nap.  (To me, naps under the dryer are great!!)

Here are the results a day later!

Here is the look 6 days later.
How I maintained the style:  I wore my satin bonnet every night.  My hair was sorta "helmet head" looking in the morning of course.  I would get a generous helping of coconut oil and rub between my hands to liquify.  Then I would pull my hair from the root to stretch the curls.  I didn't pull the ends of my hair because I didn't want to create frizz.  I used bobby pins to pin wayward curls in the direction that I wanted them to fall (i.e. the bang below)

I loved this style and will try it again!  I also want to try it again with larger rods when my hair gets longer!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's Time for a Giveaway!!! - And the WINNER IS...

And the winnner is:  TOLEDOMAMA88

 I thank everyone for their entries.   Your comments were very encouraging and I'm deeply appreciative.  I appreciate your support and look forward to staying in contact with you through your comments in future posts!  I'm looking forward to a great year!!


Ok you guys....I am LONG overdue to celebrate my 1 year blogging anniversary which actually happened in January.  I have really enjoyed tracking my first year of natural hair growth & I appreciate those of you who have joined me in that journey.  To show my appreciation, I am hosting my first GIVEAWAY!

One lucky subscriber will win the following items(photographs are below):

1 hair regimen starter kit sponsored by Taji's Natural Hair Salon (includes her personally created: Energizing Sulfate free Shampoo, Moisturizing Conditioner, Refreshing Lite Leave In Spray, Energizing Aloe Jelly, Refreshing Scalp Oil Spray)
A wide tooth shower detangling comb & satin pillow case
1 Fashionista Collection "DIVA" shower cap.  I loved it so much that I had to buy 2..1 to giveaway and 1 for ME!

In order to participate in the giveaway you need to:

(1) Be a follower of  my blog via Google Connect (just click the button to the right where it says "Join this site" &
(2 )Leave a comment below.  It can be about anything that you like about the blog: a favorite feature, a favorite hairstyle you've seen me create over the past year, etc.

The giveway will run for 2 weeks ending on Sunday, March 5th.  A winner will be randomly selected from the ones who leave a comment in the comment section.   The winner will be announced on my Monday post on March 6th.  Good luck and thanks for your support over the year!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Laser Hair Removal for Dark Skin - Witness A Visit

Some of you may be wondering what a laser hair removal experience is like.  Well, I will share with you what my experience at BodyLase is like.  Come with me.  Above is the standard treatment room.  To the right of the bed you see the lasers.

Above you will see the laser.  When receiving a laser hair removal treatment, most times your practitioner will have you cool your skin with ice packs or a cooled glass plate.  With this particular model, there is an attachment that blows cold air on the skin to keep it cool during treatment.

The practitioner demonstrating how the laser is used.  The pointed end is more of a guide.  The orange glow on her hand shows us the area being treated by the laser.

Here, I have taken my place on the table.  She is marking planes on my face that are the treatment areas.  This will prevent her from treating the same area twice. I have also been fitted with my eye protection at this point.

In this picture, I am receiving the laser treatment.  She has placed a tongue depressor under my nose to prevent some of the air from going in my nose.  This actually was the worst part of the treatment. The air used to cool my skin is soo forceful it literally took my breath away.  Again, you see the orange light showing the practitioner the area that she is treating.

Another treatment area up by my cheekbone.  Many might ask what does the laser feel like.  I guess it would be best described like a rubber band snap, where the pain goes away immediately.  I also get my eyebrows threaded.  To me, the pain from the eyebrow threading is worse than the laser treatment.  So while there is some discomfort, I would characterize it as mild.  The worse area for me has been along the jaw line where there is little fat. There is a little more discomfort in this area.  You might also smell a little singed hair after the laser makes contact with a hair. 

This picture was taken after a previous treatment but after each treatment a combination of a post treatment cream and a spf 30 sunblock is applied to my skin to soothe my skin after treatment.  I usually wear this for 15 or 20 mins before cleansing my face.  The only side effects I have felt after treatment is a little tenderness on the jaw line after treatment and maybe a tiny pimple.  These usually subside in a day or so.

Special thanks to Karen Albright at Bodylase for allowing me to take pictures in her facility.  Thanks also go out to Meredith for being patient while pictures were taken during our last session & to Matt for stepping in to be the photographer.

The next post in this series will show my progress after 3 treatments.

What questions or concerns do you have about laser hair removal as a melanin rich woman?  If I can't answer them, I'll reach out to the staff at BodyLase to respond!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...