I'm originally from Florida but have spent the past 15 years working in Japan; seven years as a teacher in the public school system and eight years in the Japanese wedding industry. I am very active in the professional basketball circuit here in Japan, and am now planning on building a health-centered B&B (focused on organic food, exercise, massage/detox and natural healing) near Niigata City, which is located on the Japanese Sea Coast.
When I first came to Japan, I was FAT, at least by Japanese standards. Anyone peddling weight loss products in this land of wafer-thin women is bound to make a killing in a land where 'thick' people have a hard time finding clothes, can't fit into Japanese-designed train or plane seats comfortably and find it hard to say 'NO!' to Japanese hosts who plop mounds of food on their plates when they visit a home (as if all foreigners eat THAT much food in one setting). Some of my foreign female friends even refuse to go to the beach here, mainly out of fear of being harpooned by local fishermen.
Naw…that last one was a joke!
But Japanese women are, for the most part, pressured to weigh around 45 kilograms (99 pounds). I find that too unflatteringly TINY for my taste since I want to keep those devious curves that GOD has undoubtedly blessed so many of us Black women with. But not at the expense of losing good health. My mother lost a leg to diabetes and I'm doing all that I can to keep both of mine. We embrace the thought that we are 'big boned' and many Black women, in my opinion, use that idea to keep holding on to unhealthy weight. I thought I had those big bones, too, until I pulled a muscle in my back while moving furniture about 11 years ago. I went to a Japanese doctor who took x-rays of my spine. I was ANYTHING but big-boned. The x-rays showed that my spine was actually about 1/4 smaller than that of an average adult spine, so he suggested that I take some of the excess weight off. I did and now feel and look so much better as a result. Still got my curves going on, though!
At 41, I am finally coming into my own, and I love the healthy version of the woman I am transforming into. It feels like some long, overdue metamorphosis that was not encouraged in the Black community when I was growing up. I know the importance of keeping my body healthy. I gladly accept that I am worth every bit of 'trouble' it may take to cook a meal or commute to the gym. Here are some other things I do to keep my health in check:
Get annual check-ups and diabetes test (AIDS test included; easy on x-rays)
Eat fresh food: I buy organic, local produce whenever I can. You won't find too many boxed or canned foods in my home
Soymilk only: research shows about 90% of Asian & 70% of African people are lactose intolerant
Chew each mouthful of food about 30x before swallowing: colon cleaned once a year (sorry if that was TMI for some of you but I feel it is vital)
Go to the gym 3-5 days a week: focus on biking, walking and weights. I plan to start waking up earlier to get my morning walks in; nightly walks starting soon
Buy a vegetable or fruit that I have never eaten each month. Vegetables = 50% of my meals, fruit = 20% rice/soup = 20% and meat at 10%
As for meat, I eat fish and other seafood about 99% of the time
Drink a gallon of H2O a day - mostly before, during and after exercise
I rarely use salt to season, preferring the natural taste of the foods I eat to that of seasoning and high-fat sauces
I take supplements, especially those with extra iron and calcium, to ensure better health
I do not take medicine
My regimen includes a few other things, including only putting what I need to eat on a plate and when I'm full, I STOP eating. No more forcing myself to eat everything on the plate! Leftovers are snacked on later. I rarely go back for seconds. I do not go to all-you-can-eat restaurants. Though it may be a bargain on your wallet, it's terrible on your thighs and waist!
In Japan we have a product that works to draw toxins and poisons from the body. I use this on my food to take off pesticides. I use a similar product made specifically for human consumption that helps clean out my body. This has done WONDERS for my appearance and skin tone.
Also, my hair (which I now have in locs) is growing like I never thought possible. On my 3rd year of growth since I did the India Arie thing and "...cut it all off" and now it's down the middle of my back.
I heat my bath water to 37 degrees (C) and sit in the tub for about 45 minutes nightly. (I'm lucky, as our tubs are computerized.) I’m trying to take fewer showers and more baths.
I stretch first thing when I wake up and right after saying my prayers before going to sleep. This has helped me to become more limber lately. Also, I get a massage once or twice a week. This has also done wonders for my circulation.
I don't let stress fester inside of my body anymore. I address problems in a civil manner. I take drives or sit on the beach when I am emotionally drained. Sometimes, I need to get away from everything Japanese...which often takes me to Singapore.
Oh, and last but not least, I pray to GOD for health and strength. Great meditation… Anyway, here's to becoming and staying healthy. Until next time, when I'll share a little more about Japanese culture,