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By: Chad Mason, 36, Lynchburg, Virginia

After I graduated from college, I started lifting weights as a hobby. Now it helps me release stress. I enjoy doing it. I enjoy competing. It makes me feel good about myself.

Pound for pound, I was the strongest in my gym. I was bench pressing 315 pounds. Then I started feeling pain in my left shoulder. But I didn’t have health insurance to take care of it, so I did some self-rehab: I tried icing it; I tried heating. It wasn’t enough.

I work in a restaurant where our only benefits are tips and free food. But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I was able to get covered through the Health Insurance Marketplace last year and take care of that shoulder.

With my insurance card in hand, I went to the doctor, who told me I would either have to stop lifting weights or get surgery.

I’m so glad I listened to my body and got covered through the Marketplace. I’ve cut down my lifting to about 135 pounds while I recover from shoulder surgery this past May, covered under my Marketplace plan. Thanks to my insurance, I haven’t had to give up my passion for weightlifting. And since the bills related to the surgery didn’t leave me broke, I’m hoping to go back to school one day to study kinesiology and become a physical therapist.

My premium for 2014 coverage was only $17 after tax credits.  After I started experiencing some trouble with my knee, I decided to enroll in a 2015 plan that costs me $30 a month, after tax credits, but also covers my preferred knee doctor. I decided it was an increase I could afford.

If you don’t have insurance, you can use HealthCare.gov to check out your options for new plans. You can find affordable coverage that meets your needs and the website will let you know if you qualify for assistance to lower the cost of your premium. If you prefer talking to a person, you can call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325), any time, any day.

Don’t delay taking action – if you, or someone you know, needs health care coverage – February 15 is the deadline to enroll in plan for 2015. After February 15 – you can enroll or change plans for 2015 only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

Getting insurance helped me stay in the weightlifting game. I think my health insurance is really good. Plain and simple.

Via hhs.gov

Ilen Bell is a certified fitness professional and co-founder of Black Fitness Today. His passion for community advocacy, producing relevant stories and providing tools and resources that cater to the underserved African American community remain at the forefront. His credentials include advanced education in exercise science and internet marketing, the fitness industry highly-respected certified strength and conditioning specialist certification, and multiple web fitness series on top websites LIVESTRONG.com and eHOW.com. He is focused on further building explosive, dynamic and approachable brands to help the African American man and woman feel empowered, valued and identified in the global health and fitness industry.

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#BlackGirlMagic on 2017 American Music Awards Red Carpet

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ciara, ama 2017, black fitness today

On the AMAs red carpet: Ciara

The mom of two said she gained 60 lbs during both of her pregnancies and had to work very hard to get back in shape. “I said I wasn’t going to gain 60lbs carrying Sienna…and I did exactly that!” she stated in an Instagram post.

Every postpartum journey is different, but you can’t help but be motivated by Cici! “After delivering my son, a 9-lb. 10-oz. baby, and gaining 60 lbs., I was committed to [returning] to how I felt before I had him. Four months after having him, I was back to my original shape,” she said. “There’s something very empowering about that. Something about that gave me an extra pep in my step, and motivated me even more to go harder.”

Photo: Getty Images

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On the AMAs red carpet: Tracee Ellis Ross

Tracee on her body confidence with the Tracy Anderson Method workouts:
“…I have to say that Tracy Anderson’s workout the last five years has been really good for me. I love the studio atmosphere, I love how beautiful and sexy and long and strong I look when I work out, and I love the loud music.

I find that, as adults, we stay so regimented in our movement, even if we get on a treadmill. The music changes all the patterns, and my body gets to move freely, so you feel amazing—which is ultimately the point of the workouts, too. One of the things that’s most encouraging is you see a roomful of women working their asses off and looking beautiful. You see women in their 40s wearing jog bras and their stomachs out proudly, walking in a stance that says, “I love my body,” and that’s exciting to me.”
(via Health mag)

Photo: Getty Images

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On the AMAs red carpet: Kelly Rowland

Kelly on her morning routine: “The first thing I do is at least two or three minutes of meditation. I started doing that after I had my son. It has helped me tremendously. It just puts you in an easier mind space. There’s so much you have to deal with in one day, and I feel like meditation prepares you for anything that comes to you. You won’t flip your lid on the first thing that shakes you up a bit. It puts you at ease.

My favorite thing to eat in the morning is oatmeal. I add a little maple syrup, a little salt, and almond milk, and I’m set. Sometimes I’ll add cinnamon and some raisins and pumpkin seeds. I don’t need caffeine in the morning, but if I have to it’s usually through green tea.

I am a morning workout person. I don’t think I could really be as connected or focused in the afternoon if I didn’t do it… It’s definitely a HIIT workout, and I feel a lot better and more centered from doing it. Having my son really did a number on my body…”
(Via: Well + Good)

Photo: Getty Images

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Millionaire Hoy Leads Live Workout on Major TV Network

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Big KRIT Talks Fitness Transformation

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Evolving Frank

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