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Koya Webb Talks Practical Holistic Health and How To #GetLovedUp



koya webb, black fitness today

Koya Webb is an internationally recognized holistic health and wellness coach, author, motivational speaker, and professional fitness model who is helping revolutionize raw/vegan cuisine, yoga and the holistic living landscape.

She is a highly regarded expert source and editorial contributor with national media online and with appearances on NBC, CBS, and the Steve Harvey Show. Her holistic health, detox and lifestyle tips have been featured in Essence, Oxygen, Vegan Health and Fitness, Max Sport and Fitness, and Muscle and Performance among others.

We caught up with Koya, who will be leading a workshop at the Natural Hair & Health Summit in Atlanta this weekend, to discover how she is spreading love and inspiring people to live the healthiest life they desire one practical step at time!

What’s your advice for people interested in going vegan?

Koya: I think the first step is eating real foods – fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds – and getting away from all the processed, packaged and fast foods. I think that’s a start. Whenever I do a challenge, I try to stress to people it’s about eating real food more than anything else and your connection with your food, rather than being 100% vegan or 100% vegetarian or Paleo or whatever. You could be an unhealthy vegan, an unhealthy vegetarian, an unhealthy whatever label you want to put on it, if you’re not eating real food. I think you do better not eating animals but if you eat vegan donuts all day, that’s not healthy. So I think the most important part that I want to stress is being healthy, eating fruits and vegetables, and moving away from processed and fast foods. I help people realize how you can get all of your proteins, carbohydrates and fats on a vegan, plant-based diet.

Why do you think your clients, fans and followers love your approach to this lifestyle?

Koya: People love how inclusive I am. I’m not judgmental. I make it easy and I make it taste good. I try to let new vegans realize we’re making the world a better place and we’re saving people. I say be gentle because it’s about being inclusive. A lot of people don’t want to sit at the table and be ridiculed about what they’re eating. I lead with love and it’s about embracing people and showing them how vegan food can taste good, and how easy it is to have a smoothie a day, a salad a day and a veggie meal a day. You can still be wholesome and still eat with your family and your friends. I think the best feedback I’ve got from my coaching is that I help people realize like, “Man! This is not really hard. It’s actually easy.”

There are many people in the Black community living in food deserts. How do they overcome that obstacle?

Koya: I definitely addressed this issue in my first book, Foods You Love that Love You Back. It was based on me going to Costco and whatever place I had to, getting all the fresh fruits and veggies that I liked and learning to be creative. How can I make something out of this? And, as creative as we are as a community, I know that we can do it. I encourage people in food deserts in different parts of the world to take what you have and use what you have to make the most of it. And we’re used to that because that’s what we did even back in the day. We took what we had and made the best of that. I know that that is possible and that’s what I teach to people.

When I’m in those communities I go out shopping and go to farmer’s markets, we find local gardens, and if those gardens are not there, we need to build those gardens. So we have to use local farmer’s markets, co-ops, and grocery stores that we have and decide “How can I make a healthy meal? How can I make a salad or a veggie dish out of what we have?” There’s still things like brown rice and lentils that make sustainable dishes that are available pretty much around the world. And so I speak from that place. But I don’t say “Oh yeah. Of course no matter where in the world you are you can have this diet that I’m eating.” It’s possible to have a healthy diet no matter where you are but you have to find what works for you based on where you’re at, and that’s something I specialize in depending on what part of the country a person is in.

koya webb, yoga, #getlovedup

How has yoga transformed your life? 

Koya: I definitely have to say that yoga is my best friend. It connected me to my soul and my soul essence. My hope is through my teaching and through meditation, I can help others connect with their soul because that can help guide you to the right diet – which is what it did for me – to the right lifestyle – which is what it did to me – to my career success – this is what it did for me. So yoga to me was a direct connection to God and my soul. That is what yoga is and all the benefits of detoxing, stretching and toning the body. It yokes you to your soul, your spirit, your essence. Once you feel that you can now start to see it in others. You can get rid of all our differences and everyone’s different personalities and the ways of living, eating and being and you can connect to that soul essence of who they are, that God within and that’s the connection and that’s what I want to deliver as I share yoga. The whole idea of oneness is to let people know that it’s possible and that is, I feel, our purpose on earth – to stay connected and to share this experience growing on a soul level throughout our human experience.

We know you stay extremely busy with traveling and educating, but what’s a typical day like for you?

Koya: There is little routine in my life and I actually yearn for it! I love it and I’m definitely not tired of it; I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. But at the same time, having a base, which I do have in Tennessee but I’m never there, it’s really important. But no matter where I travel or where I go in the world, I try to start my day with meditation, with connecting, because nothing is normal about my life and I live every day of my life open to whatever that day has to bring me. Like if you ask me what I’m going to do today, I have a couple of meetings, a couple more appointments. But then, outside of that, my life could lead me to San Diego. I could end up at the beach. I could end up in the office. I could end up on a plane flying somewhere. I don’t even know.

I like dining out, whether it’s fine dining or a hole in the wall spot that has the best vegan lasagna I’ve ever tasted. I love to eat. I’m a foodie. I’m a vegan foodie. So I try to get that in. I try to drink a lot of water in my day. I try to have a smoothie in the morning, a salad and I try to eat healthy. I love exploring especially when I’m in Cali or Chicago and other places that have an abundance of healthy vegan food. I love to meet a friend or meet a new person in the community. I also try to work out every day. I do my yoga in the morning and I try to run at least a mile a day. So working out, eating great and just connecting with my community in whatever way are the things I try to do on a regular basis. Connect, eat well, exercise, educate. I do that every day and it comes out in different ways. So in the morning, I work out. Middle of the day – especially in LA – between 10 and 3, any errands, meeting, any driving I have to do, it needs to be done between 10 and 3 because my sanity is very important and you’ve heard about traffic in LA. It’s real!

I schedule all my in-person appointments and my phone consultations in the evening. And then outside of that, I might go to the beach before sunset, if I have the evening free – I try to get out in nature at least once a day. I’m working on the Get Loved Up workshop, which is about self-love, oneness, and eco-friendly living. I post daily on my Instagram so I’m always thinking of posts and sponsors and all the things I’m connected with. I have full days and they’re all unique and adventurous and exciting and different and I love living that way right now.

What’s next?

Koya: #GetLovedUp, that’s the name of my workshop and the movement that I’m working on. Just really getting the message of self-love, oneness, and eco-friendly living around the world. That is the movement that I’ve created and that’s the book that I’m working on. I have an eBook that can be found online, and I have a challenge coming up October 10th. It includes oneness, which is connecting to one another, whether it be a hug, a handshake, a smile. It’s some type of connection each day, a connection with nature. And then eco-friendly living is doing something each day that can help our planet. Whether it be one veggie meal a day or picking up trash on the road or taking a shorter shower. Those are the things that we’re going to be processing starting October 10 as part of my “Get Loved Up” challenge.

For more visit or follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

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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.

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Greenleaf Star Deborah Joy Winans Talks About Overcoming Self-Doubt and Achieving Self-Love



Greenleaf, Deborah Joy Winans, OWN
Photo: OWN

It’s hard to find a black family who didn’t grow up listening to the legendary Winans family, or at least know someone who did. From Bebe and CeCe, to Marvin, to Vickie, the Winans family has an annointing! But not everyone in the Winans family has chosen to make a primary career out of singing. 34-year-old Deborah Joy knew in her spirit she wanted to become an actress. The pursuit of her true passion paid off, as she was seen by Oprah at a workshop, and offered the opportunity to play Charity Greenleaf. Ironically, Charity is a singer!

Black Fitness Today caught up with Winans to discuss her success as an actress living her dream, and how she has overcome colorism and struggles with body positivity, to truly love herself and who she has been called to be. We know that wellness starts from within, and a healthy body is meaningless without a healthy mind and spirit.

Winans says she’s living her dreams thanks to her big breakthrough to starring as Charity Greenleaf on OWN’s hit drama series, Greenleaf. She credits her family as being a dynamic support system, as they constantly cheered her on as she worked towards her dream.

Even though her family was very supportive, Winans says she still dealt with a lot of self-confidence issues as a black woman with a darker complexion. Winans noticed a difference in the way she was treated in high school when events and activities came around that required a date. Winans says women with a lighter complexion would get more attention and she even recalls asking her dad, “Is it because I’m dark?”

Black womens’ battle with complexion is nothing new. We have all been culturally conditioned to view lighter skin as a the standard-bearer for beauty. It is refreshing to see the shifts in beauty and what our culture views as acceptable.

“I had to learn to see myself the way God saw me.”

When it came to career goals and dreams, Winans always knew she wanted to be an actress, even though she grew up in a singing family. Daughter to Carvin Winans, Deborah grew up amongst chart-topping hits and albums across her family, but has said she did not grow up singing.

“I always knew what I wanted to do, but I never saw anyone who looked like me in film.”

Despite not getting attention from her peers as a teen, Winans realized one day she had to be a role-model for darker girls, especially those who didn’t get the same love and support from their family as she did.

Winans acknowledges Oprah Winfrey as a beacon during her childhood.  And today, she says the black representation in television and film is, “absolutely amazing!”

“If [Oprah] can pursue her dreams like this, certainly at some point, somebody will see me too.”

Winans pursued theater in school and after completing her Master’s program, she knew she’d done all the work necessary to move forward in her acting career. But that is when self-doubt started to hit. After hearing so many “no’s,” Winans began to wonder if acting was truly the career path she should be pursuing. Winans thanks her husband, attorney and community activist, Terrence Williams, for being the motivation she needed. After meeting Williams, Winans says she still didn’t have an agent, and hadn’t really booked anything.

Deborah Joy Winans, OWN, Greenleaf

Photo: YouTube

Still questioning God and wondering when her moment was coming, Winans recalls Williams sharing advice, “you have to be open and you have to be ready.” Months later, Winans was doing a family workshop production in NYC. Oprah attended, saw Winans performing, and pitched her to the network for the role of Charity.

“I knew I had done the work, it’s just a matter of being able to have an opportunity.”

She credits her support system for believing in her more than she even believed in herself. While currently prepping for Season 3, Winans notes how balance is more important than ever. With a full time schedule with Greenleaf and having a family life as well, Deborah Joy says it’s all about making “day-to-day decisions.”

Whether its deciding what time she needs to wake up to make sure her home is taken care of before heading to work, or simply deciding what to eat while on set, Winans says you have to constantly choose what’s best for you.

After being nominated for Best New Artist at the Stellar Awards, Winans is currently trying to figure out if singing will be one of the next steps in her future. She did however, have a single on the Greenleaf soundtrack, The Master’s Calling, that shot to the top 20 on the Gospel Billboard chart. Along with constantly writing, it’s safe to say, Deborah Joy Winans will have a busy 2018!

“When you recognize who you are in God and who you belong to, you know that there is nothing that is for you, that you won’t get.”

Follow Deborah Joy Winans at, @deborahjoywinans – Instagram and @deborahjwinans – Twitter to stay in the loop with what she’s up to next!

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American Bobsledder Aja Evans Looks to Bring Home Gold at the Winter Olympics



aja evans, winter olympics,
Photo: Sports Illustrated

Bobsledding might be the sport to watch in this winter’s Olympic Games. We’re seeing more representation and more awareness of the sport. It has been nearly two decades since Vonetta Flowers became the first African-American bobsledder to bring home a Gold Medal in 2002. In 2017, we found out that Nigeria would have a bobsledding team of black girl magic competing for the first time ever, which brought even more excitement about representation in the sport. But did you know that we’ve got an African-American woman from Chicago representing TEAM USA? 29-year-old Aja Evans will be competing in the Olympics for the SECOND time, after winning a Bronze medal in 2014.

Evans is using her platform to encourage more participation from people of color in on-ice sports. Her story was also recently featured in Procter and Gamble’s Love Over Bias campaign who spotlight athletes who found their deepest encouragement from their mothers.

“I saw that I could be a symbol of power and resilience and strength for others,” Evans says, “and I wanted to own that. … It was a powerful realization to understand I was standing for so much more. I was representing where I’m from. I was representing African-American women all across the world…In this city and the areas I grew up in, so many kids are closed-minded and they don’t think there’s any more to life outside of where they are,” she says. “But I’m living proof that there is. When I talk to kids, I want them to see my (Olympic) medal and to understand I accomplished these things because I refused to let anyone tell me I couldn’t.”

We are already inspired by Evans and will be cheering her on! The 2018 Winter Games in South Korea begin February 7th on NBC, but catch the opening ceremony on February 9th.

Read more about Aja Evans and her journey as an elite athlete here.

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

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



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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Karen Civil, Live Civil, Black Fitness Today




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