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Interviews

Domestic Violence Survivor, Wendy Ida – “A time to mourn and a time to dance.”

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wendy ida, black fitness today

Wendy Ida (pronounced ee’da) also known as “America’s #1 Expert on Looking Fit, Fierce & Fabulous after 40” is an internationally recognized Best Selling Author, Speaker, TV Host, Life Transformation Coach and Fitness Expert.

She is also a two-time Guinness World Record Holder and 8x award-winning National Fitness Champion.

You may have seen Wendy in dozens of appearances on TV or talk radio and other media such as Essence Magazine, CNN, Fox Sports Net, NBC, ABC, B.E.T., exercise videos and more.

Wendy is on a mission these days to transform and rebuild the lives of women (and men) around the world. Her mantra is: “It’s never too late to Take Back Your Life!                          

A Time to Tear Down

How did you go about tearing down the walls that domestic violence built?

Quite honestly…it was really hard. I will tell you this. It didn’t happen overnight. We are talking years. In fact, it has been quite a long process and remnants still remain. Initially I sought some help from family and other knowledgeable people for comfort and a sense of safety. I also did some soul searching with counselors and coaches in order to move forward and not repeat the same patterns or mistakes. In addition I went back to college to get my bachelors degree and I did some study & research on my own to understand the “why’s” of my past which all helped me to understand how to breakdown those walls. But this is an ongoing life long task for me. In essence the way I continue to breakdown those walls is by helping other women through similar crisis as mine – whether its abuse, health & fitness issues or simply if they want to Take Back Their Lives like I did. For me it is rewarding, therapeutic and important for the greater good.

A Time to Build Up

If you had to name the corner stone from which you’ve built your new life, what would you name it and why?

Hmmm…good question. No one has ever asked me that before. I have a good answer though and I have to tell you that this hits one of those sensitive cords that makes it rain on me – but in a good way. The first name that comes to mind for my corner stone is… Sylvia Sanders. That’s what I would name it. That’s my sister.

She was my second mom, confidante, life guide and happy pill all in one. She is the sole person who helped me out of deep do-do when I had no place to go. She opened her angel heart and provided a place not only for me to rebuild my life, and myself but also for my children, my other sisters, brother and their families all at the same time.

Although Sylvia has passed on, she will forever remain my greatest mentor. She has helped me rediscover the true meaning of life and how it should be lived. As a result I was able to reopen my heart again and meet my new love and husband today of 25 years.

A Time to Weep

If you could talk to Wendy of the past during the times she wept, what would you tell her?

This question makes me cry even now because it goes deep.

This has actually been a sore spot I had been struggling to overcome for years because there is still that vulnerable piece of me that visits me every now and again – mostly in my dreams or should I say nightmares. I confess up until just a few months ago I was constantly looking back and asking myself why did I let it happen or why did I live like that for so many years. Why? Why? Why? I would beat myself up with the whys. It took hearing some wise words from a psychologist that Oprah interviewed to help me see the light and get a little more resolve on these issues.

In several ways I have gone to that place in my spirit and soul and talked to that incredibly scared little girl, Wendy from my past. I say to her…this is NOT your fault…this is NOT what love looks like…don’t be afraid anymore …wipe away your tears and stand strong. Walk out that door NOW and don’t ever look back! You deserve more! In fact, you deserve the best and you can have the best as soon as you let go here!

I understand now what I didn’t understand then and therefore I forgive that part of me. She (Wendy) just didn’t know any better.

A Time to Laugh

What makes Wendy laugh?

I am so happy I found my happy you don’t even know. My list is long for the things that make me smile these days. But what is even more incredible is that I found my laughter again too! I had lost it for at least 13 years. I am talking about real belly laughs folks. Nothing like it! It’s medicine to my soul!

What gives me a real belly laugh is my husband, Art – when he does imitations of people, places or things. He’s a conservative guy but a comedian at heart. In fact, I had my first real belly laugh with him. On the other hand, I can get a little silly myself. I like acting out unexpected, chaotic pranks and things just to humor him or myself for that matter. I just feel energized and happy most times so I go wherever the feeling takes me with no inhibitions!

A Time to Mourn

What helped you get through your time of mourning?

I have to say I am a God-fearing woman and that was my first point of refuge and still is the root of my stable being. Otherwise, Family talks, counseling, involving myself in constructive activities, being around positive people and simply improving my health are largely responsible.

What I used to eat made me feel bad, had me on brain fog and exacerbated my fears and insecurities. Building my body up improved my confidence and increased not only my physical strength, but also my mental strength. A pleasant side affect was an 80-pound weight loss.

Let me emphasize that this was not an overnight process. It has taken me years for these things to unravel and mend itself, but it was worth it because on the other side of it all you can really enjoy and appreciate the sweet spot you find yourself in!

A Time to Dance

Wendy, show us what you’ve got!

Look out “Dancing with the Stars!” Dancing is one of those things listed high on my happy list.   At 63 I still just can’t stop moving!

Keep up with Wendy by visiting her website, wendyida.com  or send her an email at info@wendyida.com. You can also follow Wendy on social media: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

 


Reference: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ilen & Lauren Bell are the husband and wife team behind Black Fitness Today, born, in 2011, out of their motivation to change culture, build a platform and lead the charge. Their purpose is to help change the culture towards health and fitness in the African-American community, showcase those who are making an impact, and promote healthier living. They also aim to serve as a platform for African-American fitness and health professionals and enthusiasts who are otherwise overlooked in traditional fitness media.

Interviews

Bernie Mac’s Widow, Rhonda McCullough, Talks Regaining Health after Loss

“In October of 2016, I made up my mind. I said, ‘This was it,’ and I’ve been committed ever since.”

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Rhonda McCullough, Bernie Mac, widow

Rhonda McCullough, Bernie Mac’s widow, has dealt with so many life changes over the years. After losing her husband, then her father and mother last year, Rhonda’s eating habits became increasingly unhealthy and her weight skyrocketed. It wasn’t until last year after her mother’s death, that she decided to change her eating habits, and shed the weight. Today, Rhonda has lost over 70 pounds by eating healthy and keeping a regular exercise routine. She’d like to let others know, that if she could do it, so can you!

Black Fitness Today caught up with Rhonda McCullough, to learn more about how she turned pain into triumph and how she kick-started her weight loss journey!

Describe yourself as you can remember while you were with Bernie Mac:
I was a young mother, a young wife and a stay-at-home mom for a while. That’s where I came into my weight issues; being at home, a little bored, and having a baby… I’d eat a dozen of doughnuts, then I’d say, “wow I can’t believe I ate all of that.” It was always the sweets.

So your weight problems started as a young mother, even while Bernie Mac was still living?
Oh absolutely. The weight issues started after my pregnancy. I gained close to 80lbs. After I delivered her, I lost 20lbs, then I went on a strict diet. I ended up getting back down to my original pre-pregnancy size, and I maintained that weight for a while.

How long were you able to sustain that post-pregnancy weight loss?
I was able to lose the weight, but I couldn’t sustain it for very long. Bernie Mac worked 4pm to midnight, and I’d wait for him to come home before eating dinner, and you know, you can’t eat late like that, plus I wasn’t active. As African-Americans, we’re not taught that you must exercise daily to sustain weight loss. You have to exercise, you have to move, and I didn’t do any of that. So as life went on, I ate, and I gained the weight back, especially once Bernie got sick.

After Bernie Mac got sick, how did that affect your weight loss?
Bernie was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in the 80’s. As his sickness progressed, it just got worst for me. I was here taking care of him. After he died in August 2008, I could only think, “What am I going to do now?” I just didn’t care about my diet after that. Nothing was healthy, nothing was good. I remember saying to myself, “I’m going to be fat the rest of my life.”

What happened between 2008 and now?
After Bernie died in 2008, my dad died months later. In 2010, I joined Weight Watchers and ended up losing 70lbs. I got remarried at the end of 2010 on New Years Eve. From 2010 to 2013, I don’t know how, but the weight crept back on me. In 2016, my mom got sick. She was in and out the hospital, it was just so stressful and I didn’t care about my diet again. I was at my highest weight that I’d ever been. I just couldn’t stay focused on the weight loss.

What was the turning point for you?
I have a good friend, he told me, “You know what Rhonda, you’re a beautiful person, no matter what size you are. Stop talking about yourself… if you don’t like how you look, change it, only you can change it.” I’ve been a yo-yo dieter my whole life. So this time around, because I’m turning 60 this year, I said I wanted to be healthy, and I wanted to look good. So slowly but surely, I started making changes. After my mom died, months later, I knew it was time for a major change. In October of 2016, I made up my mind. I said, “This was it,” and I’ve been committed ever since.

How has your diet changed?
I cut out sugars, white foods, potatoes, sodas, I only ate lean meats and vegetables, and I did that for four months. I got tired of that so I decided to incorporate some foods back into my diet, but in moderation. You just have to learn how to compromise.

Are you happy?
I honestly am. I love the way my shirts and blouses fit; I love the way my jeans fit. I’m a size that’s suitable for me. I want to lose maybe 10-15 more pounds but I honestly am happy with the way I look now.

What are some words of encouragement that you would give someone going through the same thing you went through?
Right now in this moment, no matter how you feel, or how you look, you still have to love yourself. We always show compassion to other people, but we never show that same compassion to ourselves. Within loving ourselves, we can make a change. Start small, it doesn’t have to be big. Don’t make goals that are too big and overwhelming. Take something away for a week. Start walking everyday for 10 minutes, until you can build up and do more. Baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s not a diet, this is a lifestyle. Not to say you can’t enjoy some things, just not every day. We have to learn how to love ourselves and not let the food consume us. Eat to live, don’t live to eat.

Rhonda McCullough plans to continue her weight loss journey while living on purpose! Follow Rhonda on IG at @mcculloghgilmore.

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Cover Feature

Living Fit The Civil Way – How A Healthy Lifestyle Powers Karen Civil’s Success

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karen civil
Photo credit: Noel Daganta

Karen Civil, Live Civil, Black Fitness Today

It’s another beautiful November day in Los Angeles, and it’s shoot day. Karen Civil is en route, and the team is preparing for her arrival. You can feel how the atmosphere changes when she walks into the studio. She brings an aura of confidence, yet calmness. Even while she’s ironing out details of her schedule for the rest of the week, she’s in lock step during shoot prep. Karen is like a chameleon who can rock many different looks and shine bright while doing it.

Everyone has their own method of preparation for photo shoots. We can imagine that in being a cover girl for a fitness mag, she wanted to be ready. But, her lifestyle, work ethic, and commitment to maintaining good health and a solid physique proved to be a perfect return on investment on shoot day.

The Elizabeth, New Jersey native now residing in Los Angeles is one of the best digital strategists in the game.  Even if you still don’t know who she is by now, you probably know her work and have seen her footprint. Check some of her most notable receipts:

Remember when Weezy went to prison? Karen was responsible for the creation of his fan site weezythanxyou.com, that kept his fans connected and brand intact during his incarceration. This was crucial because it was before social media gave us all direct access to our favorite celebs and entertainers.

You know all those Beats by Dre ads with notable athletes and entertainers wearing the headphones while getting a glimpse into their journeys? She spearheaded that campaign.

The booming success of mainstream artists like YG, Nipsey Hussle and Dave East and more, link back to her, as she has elevated these artists into formidable brands.

One of Karen’s platforms, karencivil.com, which kicked off in 2008, has been unique in the hip-hop industry because it is credited with introducing now global superstars to the world before anyone else including Drake, J. Cole, and Nicki Minaj.

Karen and her team launched the LiveCivil playground in Haiti, the place of her roots, to create a safe place for children to be able to play and express themselves.

Karen Civil is not only holding her own in a male-dominated industry, but is setting the path that women — and men — want to follow.

What enables Karen Civil to be the powerhouse that she is goes beyond her knowledge, experience, and connections. It is often said that our health is our greatest wealth. How can we live out our fullest potential if we aren’t healthy enough to do it? This is an idea that Karen takes very seriously; it gives her balance and a solid foundation.

Self-care has enabled her to successfully fight her battle with anemia, and maintain not only a solid body, but a solid mental state – something so crucial in the industry she dominates each and every day.

Flip to the next page to read our interview with Karen to find out what fitness means to her, why she felt it was best to let go of her vegan lifestyle, what keeps her grounded, and advice she has on brand-building.

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Interviews

Hollywood Stylist and Former WAGS LA Star Ashley North Talks Healthy Living

The Fashion Maven Dishes Juggling Motherhood, Career, and Personal Fitness In Style

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ashley north, black fitness today, home decor, celebrity stylist
Photo credit: Shannon Laurine

Black Fitness Today got a chance to catch up with fashion maven & stylist to some of Hollywood’s most dapper actors, Ashley North. Ashley, formerly of E! Network’s WAGS LA and fiancé to one of the toughest players in the NFL (Dashon Goldson), shares her workout regimen and how she juggles both worlds of motherhood and staying fit for the fashion!

As a busy mom, how do you incorporate fitness into your daily regimen?

It’s hard, but I have to do it!!!  My girls are so active and in order to keep up I have to be in shape!!! (laughs)

Why is fitness an important part of your life? How does it help you?

Fitness is important, I mean I’m a fashion girl at heart and to look good and feel good I have to work out. It helps me with feeling strong inside out, there no better feeling than being fearless and knowing your body’s capabilities and strengths.

Tell us about your workouts! What are your favorite exercises and why?

I do some classes at my gym but mainly circuit training with my trainer, every session we focus on something new and it keep me on toes and most importantly it makes my workouts fun! My favorite workout… is anything that has to do with ABS!!! I’m trying to get bikini ready and keeping my tummy tight is so major.

Since your fiancé is NFL Pro baller, Dashon Goldson, do you all enjoy any workouts together? (Share Detail)

LOL (Laughs) Honestly Dashon is such a professional I can’t hang with him in gym. He will try to work out with me but he gets intense and I just can’t keep up! We have a membership at the same gym and he’s so encouraging and really tries to help me but there’s no competing with a pro baller.

How does your diet impact your fit family?

I really try to stay as healthy as possible and try to create innovative ways for the girls to enjoy eating heathy, but my fiancé is Jamaican so it’s tough! His mom taught me some amazing recipes and I always incorporate a veggie with our meals. For snacks, we eats lots of fruits and I’m always down for a good smoothie or protein shake.

ashley north, celebrity stylist, black fitness today

Photo credit: Shannon Laurine

How do you make sure your family stays fit and healthy?

Our oldest stays in sports, she’s very active, basketball, soccer you name it she’s in it. We maintain our workouts, Dashon trains every morning so he’s GOALS for us all. With him being an athlete it makes it easier for us to stay on track.

What’s on your workout playlist?

Anything rachet I LOVE IT!!! (laughs)

What is your gym bag?

Uhmmm, this is a good question… bottled water, towel, misted water, a hair tie, and an oversized hoodie for sure!!

What your favorite way to cool down from an intense workout session?

Honestly, I literally lay on the floor and pass out. I push myself, so when it’s over I collapse. But I’m good at listening to my body and a good protein shake to help with muscle recovery.

Tips for mothers juggling family and work?

Find the time for yourself. I’ve noticed I feel most confident when I feel fit and look good in my clothes. When I’m working out that’s MY time to really focus on ME (we all need that). So, finding the time to do something for yourself is KEY!

What is your favorite gym outfit? Favorite fitness clothing brand?

Right now, I’m loving CARBON38, they have really cool fit/leisure wear and everything is high-waisted and really on trend. The materials are luxe and I’m a complete fan of this brand.

For more on Ashley follow her on Instagram @ashleynorthstyle!

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