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Invest In Your “Healthy Self” (and Post a #HealthySelfie While You’re At It)

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HHS, Valerie Jarrett, healthy self, healthy selfie

The launch of the “Healthy Self” campaign represents a joint effort between the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the Surgeon General, to promote healthy living and to highlight preventive services available for the newly insured, as well as for those who have always had insurance. We have already confirmed 50 events to be held in communities across the country through August, and we will be partnering with the private sector to educate Americans about preventive actions they can take to stay healthy and well. That includes healthy eating, leading a tobacco-free and drug-free lifestyle, taking care of emotional and mental well-being, and of course – taking advantage of preventive services like vaccinations and recommended cancer screenings that are now offered at no out-of-pocket cost.

Obtaining health insurance is an important step for anyone looking to keep themselves and their family healthy, which is exactly what more than 16 million people have done since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, contributing to the largest reduction in the nation’s uninsured rate in four decades. But we only realize the full value of that coverage when we use it to access the types of preventive services that will keep us healthy.

Every year, chronic diseases – including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes – are responsible for 7 of every 10 deaths in America. These illnesses account for 75 percent of the nation’s health spending, yet each is either preventable or much more effectively treated if caught early. This is why the Affordable Care Act guarantees that certain preventive services are covered under most private insurance plans. Today, 137 million Americans have guaranteed access to recommended preventive care and services – with no out-of-pocket costs – making it easier to keep themselves healthy with regular checkups, screenings, and vaccinations. And by allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plans until age 26, the ACA ensures that they have access to preventive care, as well.

Still, young people often avoid preventive care because they are worried about cost, or as anyone who has lived through their twenties and thirties can tell you, they feel invincible. Too often, young adults bypass checkups and screenings, miss the potential to catch problems early, and end up using the most expensive option available–the Emergency Room.

That’s why we are working to promote a better, smarter, and healthier health care system with engaged, educated, and empowered people at the center of it. In addition to picking the right coverage and taking advantage of preventive care and screenings, remaining healthy requires a daily commitment to take control of our own health with healthy eating and exercise.

And we need your help as well. Commit to making your health a priority and join the Healthy Self campaign today, by posting a “#HealthySelfie” on social media. We’ll be sharing them on WhiteHouse.gov/Health-Care-in-America. It could be a photo of you working out, choosing a salad or fruit over less healthy options, bypassing the elevators to take the stairs, or heading into the doctor’s office for a checkup. Anything that conveys your commitment to your healthy self, and that may move your friends and followers to follow your lead.

We all deserve to live healthy, secure lives – not just for ourselves, but for our families and loved ones as well. Spread the word on the Healthy Self campaign, post a #HealthySelfie, and invest in your own health and well-being. It’s an investment we can all afford to make.


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Valerie Jarrett

Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls

Sylvia Mathews Burwell

Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS)

Valerie Jarrett is Senior Advisor to the President. Sylvia Burwell is Secretary of Health and Human Services

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

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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 joywinans.com, @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

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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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Angela Rye Set To Join BET For New Program

The cultural and political thought leader’s new series ‘Angela Rye’s State of the Union’ begins January 31st

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Angela Rye, BET

It’s about time! We are excited to learn that Angela Rye, Principal and CEO of Impact Strategies, CNN political commentator and NPR political analyst, will be joining forces with BET to deliver a new program, launching this month.

Rye is set to host and executive produce the quarterly news show, which is poised to dig deep into issues and stories affecting black America.

“Working with BET always provides a reminder of why I began to do this work,” Rye said in a statement to Blavity. “It is essential that we have platforms where we can discuss our politics, our challenges, and our culture through our respective lenses. The upcoming special will provide a glimpse of what’s to come with our partnership.”

The first episode of the series is tentatively titled “Angela Rye’s State of the Union,” which will be a primetime rebuttal to President Trump’s State of the Union address airing Wednesday, January 31 at 10PM PT.

Read more on Blavity

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