Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Blogging Story

I've been asked about my decision to begin blogging and so I thought you might want to hear my story. I began blogging a few months after attending a networking event from my undergraduate institution. At this networking event, one of the panelists mentioned what he looks for in potential employees. He asked, what are you doing now to show that you are the best person for this job, besides the obvious grades, internships, and job experience that you already possess? From that day on this question really got me thinking about a way I can show that I can passionate about working in Public Health.

And no he did not advise any of us to create a blog. I chose blogging as a way to be creative and stay informed about the many topics and issues in the field of Public Health/Health Promotion. I use blogging to discuss key issue in Public Health such as health disparities, health inequalities and Non-communicable diseases. And yes, you can find other topics on my blog, such as natural hair, professional development and music. However, it is mainly centers around health related topics.

So when potential employer asks about how I'm involved in the field of Public Health/Health Promotion, I don't necessarily have to talk about my internships or course work or my thesis. I could potentially talk about how my blog has allowed me to develop strengths and to work on some of my weaknesses that would be ideal for potential employment.

Times-in-Ohio (which this title will be changed to something more reflective of my blog) is sought of job related, because I am passionate about promoting health and supporting others in the quest for health equality. I hope that I can clearly express that here and continue to do so with time.

So, for those who are bloggers, why did you decide to begin blogging? 

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

(My) Best blog posts of 2011!

2011 is coming to a close and 2012 is almost here. I wanted to share some of my most viewed blog posts of this year.

I hope 2012 brings my blog the same level of success, if not more success for the new year. I want to say thank you for the success that my blog has achieved this year. I wouldn't be honest, if I didn't say that I would love to see more success on the blog in the coming year! As always I will make sure that I do my best, because the work that I put out will determine the success on this blog.

Surprisingly 3 out of the 5 most viewed posts were all hair related. Hence my afro photo >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
  1. My elegant wedding hairstyle (natural hair)- this post displays how I wore my hair to a wedding I attended this past summer.
  2. My twist updo hairstyle. This was my very first attempt at this style and I've been in love ever since.
  3. Artist of the week (Etana feature). I do have some posts dedicated to music and artists that I love. So check those out the music page on the blog.
  4. Free coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables in NYC at farmers' markets. This blog post almost didn't make it to the list without the help of the NYC DOHMH Health Research Training Program facebook page. So, thank you for spreading the word and referring others to the blog post. This post was an in effort to get New Yorkers to eat healthier by informing them about the coupons that the NYC Health Department gives out for free to purchase fresh fruits & vegetables at farmers' markets around the city.
  5. DIY Hair moisturizer. In this post I combine 2 ingredients (aloe vera + oil) to make a moisturizing leave-in conditioner for styling my hair. the feedback was great on this post and I'm happy that I could share it.
Take a look at these posts (which are conveniently located on the home page of the blog). Feel free to comment| Follow| Use reaction buttons if you like these posts and want to see more.

Thank you for a great year,

Monday, December 26, 2011

What your skin says about you: Dehydration

Hello guys,

This post will provide some basic information about how the skin is a great indicator about what's happening inside our bodies. For instance, being dehydrated is often manifested on the outside as dry, dull skin.

The skin is the largest organ on the body. It is a reflection of what's going on inside the body. Pay attention to your skin. Perform body checks often for any changes to your skin. Changes internally often manifest externally, sometimes through dry and dull-looking skin. 

I try my best to make sure that I stay hydrated with water, but sometimes that doesn't always happen. Most recently, I found myself dehydrated. I could tell that I was dehydrated, because my skin was dry, my lips were dry and I was fatigued; all of which are common symptoms of dehydration. I have a water bottle that I fill up 2-3 times everyday to make sure that I get enough water, but that one particular day, it was even half way done.
Water and hydration is essential for life. You need water to survive. Water is important to remove toxins and waste from the body. Water is also important for healthy skin and hair. Water is important for everything either directly or indirectly for survival.

Feelings of dehydration isn't fun and chronic dehydration, can take a toll of your body with symptoms ranging from thirst, dizziness, dull, shriveled skin, and headaches to confusion. To combat dehydration, make sure that you are getting enough water each day. Keep track of your water intake with a water diary to make sure that you are getting enough water! You don't necessarily have to drink water to stay hydrated either. Teas, fruits, and vegetables can keep you hydrated as well. I would not drink alcohol and carbonated beverages, because they take water away.
Fruits which hydrate the body very well include:
  • watermelon (is 90% water)
  • cantaloupes
  • honey dew
  • oranges
  • grapefruit
Vegetables that hydrate the body very well include:
  • cucumbers
  • celery
  • lettuce
Also, a good indicator of hydration is your urine. Check your urine for output and color. If your urine color is lightly colored and you're urinating every 2-4 hours, then you're hydrated. If you haven't urinated in more than 4 hours or if your urine is dark-yellow, then you're dehydrated.

I hope this was helpful! If you like this post, show it: Comment| Follow| Use Reaction Buttons.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Make your dreams come true in 2012! (Set goals)

Hi guys,

Just a few more days left in 2011 and yet again we are blessed to see another year. You know what that means: reassessment and goal setting for the new year. The end of the year always acts a reminder for me, where I take a few hours to talk to myself (you should try it too) and to think about my future. Ask yourself:
  • How was the past year?
  • Did I get to successfully accomplish my goals?
  • Was I happy with my life in 2011?
I tend to think more long term. I am generally more concerned about what my life will look like 6 months or a year from now... (Always think ahead. You never know what tomorrow may bring).

Time to make yet another list. For me, lists provide guidance. Sometimes, I abuse the system of lists: Why do I need a list for everything?! I'm very organized by nature and lists help me to remain organized and focused.
  1. Organize your list into both short term and long term goals. I think its important to think big; yet realistically. For example, in 6-7 months, I hope to land my first full time employment in Public Health.
  2. Next its time for research. Research should provide the 'how-tos' for achieving your goals. By conducting research (whether that is by talking to mentors or reading every book possible) you should be able to come up with the best strategy as to how you will make X a reality.
  3. Now its time to create a vision board. Vision boards acts as a visual reminder to keep working towards your dreams. Make sure that your vision board is located in an area where you'll see it everyday. Your vision board doesn't have to elaborate, but it should be stimulate and encourage you to keep working towards your goals. Never lose sight of your dreams!!
Finally, its important to keep reevaluating your goals. If you have to make changes, go ahead and do so. Make 2012 your year!

I hope this was helpful. If you like this post, comment| follow| use reaction buttons.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Take the 'No-Shampoo' Challenge!

Hi guys,

No shampoo?! I know you might be thinking well, how do I get my hair cleaned without shampoo? Easy: you use its compliment, conditioner. Conditioner is a great alternative to shampoo, because its milder. Shampoo is often too harsh, leaving hair dry and stripped of its natural oils. I've tried using a less concentrated form of shampoo by watering it down, but I only found temporary relief and I was back to dry hair, which I despise. As I've stated before, dry hair = breakage = less hair retention.
Also the cold and dry air during the winter months make it an unfriendly environment for my hair.

 So, if you are experiencing dry hair with your regular shampoo, take the 'no-shampoo' challenge with me this winter season. Your hair will love it.
  • Conditioners actually contain cleansing agents that can get your hair clean. From personal experience, I can tell you that you don't need the heavy suds to feel like your hair is clean. In fact, heavy suds for me , usually means that I use too much shampoo, which then means my natural oils are gone. Most importantly, that squeaky feeling on your hair, most likely means one thing, DRY hair.
  • This 'no-shampoo' challenge will mean that you will use more conditioner, but more doesn't mean more money. The money that would've used for the shampoo can now go towards purchasing additional conditioner. The best conditioners to use for this challenge are cheap conditioners. My favorite are the VO5 moisture milks brand or the suave conditioners. They are are inexpensive and you can find both of those at the dollar store ($1).
  • To make sure that your hair gets cleaned, you will have to really work the conditioner into your hair. Pay attention to your scalp and hairline, where grease often accumulates. I often rinse and repeat this process 2-3 times. On average I usually have 2-3 (natural) products in my hair, so the time it takes to cleanse my hair of those products takes very little time.
  • If you experience lots of build-up due to products, then this challenge might not work for you. In that case, shampoo needs to be used to rid the hair of all product build-up. I wash my hair every week; therefore, I experience very little build-up. Due to the fact that my hair type is prone to dryness, I need to add moisture often.
Take the 'no-shampoo' challenge with me and say bye-bye to dry hair and hello to soft curls.
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Take care,

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

DIY Simple & Easy Hair moisturizer

Hi guys,

I thought that it would be helpful to share this simple hair moisturizer that I've been using for almost a year now. I enjoy this moisturizer or styler, simply because it allows me to achieve great twists for my fabulous up-dos and it adds a level of moisturize to my hair that is always needed.
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All you need: two ingredients:
1. aloe vera gel
2. oil of your choice (in this tutorial I use coconut oil)
When using this moisturizer for my hair, I always use 1 of 3 oils: jojoba oil or coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil. More information on those oils can be found here.

 Why do I use coconut oil you might ask. Well the benefits of coconut oil are vast. Let's take a look, while focusing on hair shall we:
  • Conditions the hair very well, because it is able to penetrate the hair shaft.
  • Works well to combat an itchy, dry scalp
  • Works well to prevent dryness and breakage. Afro-textured hair is prone to breakage and dryness and we all know that dryness+breakage = minimal hair retention
  • Helps to lock in moisturizer that you've put into the hair with water
  • Strengthens the hair from the inside
  • Promotes hair growth
The Benefits of Aloe Vera Gel:
  • Balances the pH of the hair and scalp
  • Conditions and moisturizes the hair
  • Prevents hair loss
  • Provides a slight hold for hair styles (like my twist)
  • Helps to detangle the hair
  • Defines curls
Now the tutorial ... So simple!
Just combine your two ingredients by mixing well. Mix Mix Mix. Until you achieve a consistency featured in the video below.

If you choose coconut oil, make sure that it is melted first, as coconut oil is usually a solid at room temperature (pictured above). 
I hope you enjoy. If you like what you see please Comment| Follow| Use Reaction Buttons. I would really love to know if you tried this simple recipe and what your thoughts were on it.

Take care,

Saturday, December 10, 2011

'Dying' to be first place: obesity in the Caribbean

Obesity in the Caribbean has taken all new heights. According to a recent report by the World Bank, obesity along with other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease and cancer are threatening the increase in life expectancy in the Caribbean. Even though people are living longer than ever before, they are doing so with chronic diseases.

Research shows that there is a gender disparity of obesity in the Caribbean, where women are disproportionately more obese than men.

According to the World Bank, in the OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States), Dominica is said to have the highest obesity prevalence in both men and women compared to other countries in the OECS. Data from the World Bank also indicates that unfortunately about 60% of women in St. Lucia will be obese by 2015.

According to the World Bank, the increase in the prevalence of obesity and other NCDs in the Caribbean is caused by globalization and urbanization, which has contributed to an increase in fast food consumption and less consumption of traditional, home-grown foods: fruits & vegetables. Therefore, to reverse the rates of obesity we need to consume more of our traditional home-grown foods and rely less on fast foods for nutrition. However, this is easier said than done. One of the most difficult things to do is to change someone's health behavior. The World Bank suggests establishing public policies that will improve the quality of life in the Caribbean.

What do you think should be done to decrease obesity rates in the Caribbean?

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Thank you for taking the time to read :o)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

People of the Caribbean: Living longer BUT with chronic diseases

Jamaicans and other citizens of the Eastern Caribbean are living longer than ever before, which is always good news. All six Organization of Eastern Caribbean State (OECS) countries experienced an increase in life expectancy at birth between 1990 and 2011, with a high of 76 in Dominica and St. Lucia.
However, this increase in life expectancy presents an unhealthy problem, because quality of life in the Eastern Caribbean is rapidly decreasing. New research from the World Bank informs that Jamaicans and other counties of the OECS are facing a health crisis with the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). These diseases include heart disease, obesity and diabetes. NCDs are disproportionately affecting poor families; thereby, increasing rates of poverty when a large part of their income has to go to health care.

In fact, the annual cost for treating an individual with diabetes ranges from US$322 to US$769 in the OECS. This amount is more than double in the currency of these countries, which presents another burden. In fact, data from ST. Lucia show that individuals living with a non-communicable disease spend 36% of their total household expenditure annually for health care. Poorer households spend 48% of their per capita expenditure, while wealthier households spend less than 20% on health care. The problem that is presented here is a widening gap between the rich and poor.

Worldwide there is an increase in non-communicable diseases, but the region with the largest increase are in low and middle income countries, which is representative of many countries of the Caribbean.

Chronic diseases in the Caribbean from World Bank on Vimeo.

These are the facts: Now what? How can we as a people, ensure that non-communicable diseases are NOT threatening this increase in life expectancy?  

 For more information on NCDs in the Caribbean visit

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Thanks for taking the time to read, comment, and follow,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World AIDS DAY (Video)

December 1st is WORLD AIDS DAY


Thursday, November 17, 2011

If you are overweight, obese, a smoker, then you pay more in Health insurance premiums

An article, released today by the New York Times, shows that workers considered to be overweight, obese, a smoker then you pay more in Health insurance premiums. There is an increased demand by employers for their employees to pay more for in health insurance premiums if they are smokers or are obese. The same goes for those who have high cholesterol. Other employers are offering financial incentives to their employees by encouraging them to enroll in wellness programs. Companies including, Home Depot, PepsiCo, Safeway, Lowe's, and General Mills defend their decision on high premiums for “less healthy” employees by stating that this approach will get workers to take more responsibility for their health & well-being.

Currently, Wal-Mart stores (the nation's largest employer) sought higher payments for their smokers- an amount, reaching $2,000 more than for non-smokers. The only way that their employees can avoid this surcharge if this receive documentation from their doctors stating that it would be medically inadvisable or impossible to quit smoking. Allen, who works for Wal-Mart, gave up smoking when he learned he paid $40 more a month for health insurance, in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday.
What do I think about this?
As much as I am a huge supporter for wellness programs, I am NOT a supporter for discriminating,because this is exactly what companies are doing when they seek to have 'unhealthy' workers pay more in health insurance premiums. Companies who choose to go on the route of higher premiums for the 'unhealthy' and discounts for 'healthy' are making the assumption that health status is a lifestyle choice and that all health status is as a result of personal behavior. Is that true?

I think not! I do agree that personal behavior is included in the equation on health status, but there is so much more to our health status as a people. Research has shown that the conditions in which we live, work, and play tend to induce unhealthy behaviors such as:
  • being exposed to high levels of stress each day, which can cause reliance on unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and alcohol as a means to reduce stress
  • easy and quick access to fast food and limited access to fresh foods
  • limited to no recreational facilities in neighborhoods/communities
  • higher prices for healthy food, especially fruits and vegetables, particularly when compared to fast food and junk food.
Our health status is not a result of merely personal behaviors. Our employment conditions, the neighborhoods in which we live, our race, stress, and our health care are all part of the equation. So, discriminating against those considered 'unhealthy' by punishing them to pay more money for health insurance is simply unfair. The only good thing that may result out of this whole thing is providing an incentive to those whose actions are only a result of personal behavior and encouraging those already considered healthy to keep engaging in health promoting ways.

What do you think? Is it fair or unfair to change higher health insurance premiums for those considered unhealthy?

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New in Health: The African Heritage Diet Pyramid (What?!)

Hello Lovely people,
Oldways has created the African Heritage Diet Pyramid with the help of experts in the African Diaspora. According to Oldways, the African Heritage Diet Pyramid "was designed specifically for African Americans, and African descendant populations everywhere, to introduce them to their Healthy Heritage. It can also be used by anyone wanting to use heritage as a guide to eating well."

The Pyramid is designed to celebrate the individual foods and the traditional healthy eating patterns of African Heritage, with roots in America, Africa, the Caribbean, or South America. 
From what I've seen, as a St. Lucian, I recognize a lot of food that we, St.Lucians and other people of the Caribbean eat, such as callalo, guava, yams, breadfruit, plantains, cassava etc. 

An excerpt from Oldways: he foods of African Heritage contain lots to be celebrated, and they begin with the main ingredient of African American cooking today—flavor!  Heaps of herbs, spices, and savory sauces jazz up simple, healthful vegetable-focused meals, showing us that “healthy eating” also means great taste. Traditional African Heritage meals are based on an abundance of colorful fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens; tubers like sweet potatoes; beans of all kinds; nuts and peanuts; rice, flatbreads and other grain foods, especially whole grains; healthy oils; homemade sauces and marinades of herbs and spices; fish, eggs, poultry and yogurt; and minimal consumption of meat and sweets.

To me, this pyramid is proof that we need to take a step back away from the 'western' diet which is killing a lot of us in 'developing' countries; developing countries which are a large part in the Caribbean, South America and Africa--The African Diaspora! Let's go back to our roots and celebrate what traditionally what our grandmother, great grandmother ate while growing up...because they weren't eating fast foods that are high in sodium and saturated fat.
Please take the time to learn more about the African Heritage Diet here and let's celebrate our Black culture through food.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

The Unsettling Truth about Diabetes

Hello Lovely people,

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month!
And let me tell you the number are NOT looking good. Diabetes is when the body has a very difficult time regulating its blood glucose or blood sugar. There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2
Type 1 diabetes is is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In this case, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy. This is the less common form of the disease.
On the other hand, type 2 diabetes is highly prevalent in our communities. If this is the case, the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells of the body ignore the insulin produced by the body. The statistics on diabetes in the U.S. is alarming to say the least:

Total prevalence of diabetes

Total: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.
Diagnosed: 18.8 million people
Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people
Prediabetes: 79 million people*
* In contrast to the 2007 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, which used fasting glucose data to estimate undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes, the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet uses both fasting glucose and A1C levels to derive estimates for undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes. These tests were chosen because they are most frequently used in clinical practice.
New Cases: 1.9 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010.

In an article released today by the International Diabetes Federation, at least 1 in 10 adults could have diabetes by 2030! Crazy. The information that was startling for me was that 'according to the World Health Organization, there are about 346 million people worldwide with diabetes, with more than 80 percent of deaths occurring in 'developing' countries.'
My Questions:
  1. Why is diabetes growing rampant in 'developing' countries, countries who plagued more so by infectious diseases (communicable) diseases? Many (not all) of those 'developing' countries are geographically located in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.

  2. What shift is going on in those countries to cause more than 80 percent of deaths occurring in 'developing' countries?!! Is it simply behavior and lifestyle of the people who live there or is it bigger? Are there structural, social and economic inequalities causing such a divide not only between countries but within countries? What's going on?
Any thoughts or feedback?
Stay happy & healthy,

Jojoba Oil |Extra Virgin Olive Oil | Castor Oil | Coconut Oil incredible for the hair and skin

Hello lovely people,

Another edition of the Good Health Series: Taking care of the Physical. Nature provides us with an abundance of natural ingredients for health and beauty. And I say why not take advantage of all this natural goodness, rather than opting for unnatural, artificial and refined ingredients. This brings me to oils. Currently, more than ever, achieving and maintaining healthy skin, so I want to share some of what I've learned with you.

Jojoba Oil- I love this stuff! I use jojoba oil as my facial moisturizer. I have very sensitive /acne prone skin. Dyes and perfumes irritate my skin so badly that I avoid them completely. Jojoba oil work very well, because it light and odorless. All you need is about 4-5 drops for moisturized and soft skin. Jojoba oil will not clog your pores. In fact, jojoba is so similar to the body's natural sebum (oil).
In addition, I use jojoba oil to keep my hair soft, shiny, and conditioned. It works extremely well to reduce breakage.
Castor oil- I use castor to keep my hair conditioned right after a nice wash. As a child, I watched my mum make castor oil, which she would use on my hair. I do the same thing today. Castor oil keeps my hair moisturized and protected in cold weather. It is a thick oil, so a little goes a long way.
Most importantly, I use castor oil to keep my acne at bay. I take about 3 drops of castor oil, rub on my hair, let it absorb into the skin for a few minutes and enjoy the benefits. Castor oil has anti-bacterial + anti-inflammatory properties, which is great for acne prone skin.

Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)- This only is not just for cooking. This oil has truly become a true hair staple. I use EVOO solely for my hair as a hot oil treatment and oiling my scalp. EVOO is very beneficial for dry and brittle hair. It keeps the hair conditioned, removes buildup caused by products, nourishes and strengthens the hair.

Coconut oil-- One of the best oils in my opinion. Coconut oil nourishes and strengthens hair, because it is one of the few oils that is able to penetrate the hair shaft. Coconut oil has antimicrobial + antifungal + antibacterial properties, making it great in the treatment of dandruff and lice. This is also a great oil for the skin.
I hope this was helpful to you!

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

8 tips to improve your Career Development

Hello lovely people,

The next post on The Good Health Series will look at Social Health. Social Health involves creating & sustaining relationships with others, your community and yourself. Often times, we think of health as just exercise and nutrition and I want to challenge this notion. Health encompasses so much more than just going to gym and eating a bunch of fruits & veggies.

 In addition to Healthy Skin Month, November is also National Career Development Month. I get really excited about this topic, because the happiness and satisfaction that we often experience in school or our careers often spill over in other areas of our lives:o)

Below a few tips that have helped me navigate this area of my life. I hope it can benefit you as well:
  1. Update your resume and Curriculum vitae (CV) NOW. There are always changes to be made, whether that may be adding a skill/experience or using different synonyms to describe your job/internship responsibilities
  2. If you're in school visit the Career Services office to get some form of consultation on internships or jobs or study abroad programs. They know when is the next career fair. Whatever it is that you want to know more about in terms of career/professional development, this should be your go-to office.
  3.  Write your elevator speech. This is basically a 30 second description that describes who you are, what you want to do (i.e. teacher, public health worker etc.) and what you've accomplished (presently or in the past) to achieve your ideal career. You must be specific and to the fluff.
  4. Set some career goals for yourself. Write them or type them, but don't have them floating in your head. Make those visible and concrete. It has more meaning that way. 
  5. Start job/internship searching....Make a list of companies or organizations that you would like to part of. Do your research. Its never too late to begin.
  6. Talk to your peers, mentors, family members, professors etc. You never know where those conversations might take you. True story: A simple conversation with my mentor took me to graduate school with a graduate assistantship that pays for 93% of my graduate degree...Hello! This never would have happened without this conversation.
  7. Use your facebook or twitter account as a platform to market yourself. Display your passion, skills and career goals. You never know who's watching.
  8. If you have a linkedin account, update it. If not, set up an account. 

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