Mel's Bayou

Sept 2001

The word balance can be applied to many parts of life like eating, posture, the way you approach something, your thinking, your muscle symmetry, etc. Regardless of the association, the bottom line is that balance is a good thing. In this issue of Mel's Bayou, I want to emphasize the beauty of stretching, which helps to balance muscle groups and keep your body pain and injury free so that you may reach your fitness goals with a smile. With a consistent stretching routine, you feel good all the time and do not suffer tremendous aches from your workout or injury due to inflexibility. I thought it might be a good idea to share with you how my clients would respond to the question: How does stretching make you feel?
Selina: "..wonderful, it allows me to go further in other fitness activities, it makes me feel like a brand new person."
Adrienne: "...good, relaxed, better, it allows me to think better, it can make a positive impact on your mental and physical state."
Danyele: "...long, less tense, less stressed, light, graceful."
Helen: "....more flexible, wonderful, it puts everything where it's supposed to be, [after stretching] it's like having a new body. The next morning [after stretching], I feel wonderful. I can feel a release of energy. Because of stretching, I can now do the split at 50 years old. It's a wonderful thing!"
I am quickly approaching 40 years alive and almost 20 years of teaching aerobics of some sort. I am convinced that maintaining a flexibility program throughout almost two decades of high intensity aerobics have kept me strong, energetic, and injury-free [knock on wood]. Additionally, stretching has had a positive affect on my developing long, lean muscles as opposed to short, bulky ones. Don't wait another day. Just do it.

The Gigantic Benefits of Stretching

There are four primary components in a complete fitness program:
cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, proper nutrition and flexibility training (stretching). All are equally important, but unfortunately are not practiced at equal levels. It seems as though stretching is the least understood and least employed area of fitness. Let's face it, America is a high-paced society where little patience exists for anything anymore, let alone stretching. However, the benefits of investing the time and mental energy into flexibility training are gigantic. Flexibility is a joint's ability to move through a full range of motion. Stretching helps to balance muscle groups that might be overused during exercise or as a result of bad posture. Start stretching today and enjoy the following benefits: Improved physical performance and decreased risk of injury; Reduced muscle soreness and improved posture; Improved muscular balance & coordination; Reduced risk of low back pain; Increased blood and nutrients to tissues; Relaxation of mind and body to bring a heightened sense of well-being and personal gratification during exercise. Stretch to the point of mild discomfort, not pain. However, to increase the range of motion, it is necessary to reach the existing limit regularly and exceed it. Check out a stretch, yoga, pilates or yogilates class at your local gym or community college. Buy a video tape, read a fitness magazine, look for routines on the internet, hire a trainer. Your options are plentiful. There are resources all around. Take advantage and be a balanced you. It brings much peace and harmony to life.

Stay in the Groove,

Feb/Mar 2001

As Black History month ends, Women's month begins, but I celebrate being a black woman every day of my life, and would have it no other way. I also celebrate sisterhood on a daily basis now that my life's work is primarily focused on African-American women. Anyway, I was recently thumbing through Jewel Diamond Taylor's book, Success Gems, Your Personal Motivational Success Guide, and came across a phrase that I could really associate with; Seek Progress, Not Perfection. In the book, Jewel discusses it as it pertains to relationships, but, in my mind, I thought immediately about the process undertaken by someone who decides to take a different, healthier path in life. There are those who are primarily driven by the desire for better health, and there are those primarily driven by what they see in the mirror and/or on the scale. Unfortunately, most are in the latter category, so the perfect body is the ultimate goal. The problem is not the goal, the problem is the motivating force. For many there is no problem because they have the understanding of how this process works whether due to self-education, seeking professional advice, or a combination, and have faith in their program. Those primarily driven by better health are the happiest group because they are not preoccupied with the physical changes although they know they will improve physically just because of the new habits they're implementing. Then there are those who are only motivated by what the scale says or what they see in the mirror. These folks will be the most frustrated because it is difficult to see visual changes on a day to day basis. Sometimes what we expect to happen to our physiques overnight is equivalent to expecting a child to grow to the size of a five year old in one year. Let's keep it real. Be happy with your progress.

Stay in the Groove, Melanie

December 2000

Mind-Body exercise classes are increasingly becoming more popular

Classes like yoga, pilates, and stretch can change your life if you give them a chance. Unlike some exercise classes which call for high impact, fast movements, these classes require mental involvement and strengthens the body from the inside out. Because there is no impact, mind-body classes are friendly to all ages. Participants must channel their energies from within and focus completely on what the body is doing. It's great for mental stimulation. With the hottest trends in fitness being balance, stability and coordination, it makes sense that more people are flocking to these alternative types of exercise classes. As we age, our flexibility and ability to balance decreases naturally. Increased flexibility and balance are two primary benefits of regular participation in mind-body classes. The stability ball which was once used only in physical therapy, is now being used widely in fitness centers. By incorporating alternative fitness classes into your life, you may experience some of the following benefits:

  • Increase in functional range of motion
  • Reduction of low back pain; injury
  • Improvement in posture
  • An opportunity for spiritual growth, meditation and self-evaluation
  • Promotion of mental relaxation

Stay in the Groove, Melanie

November 2000

Patience is a virtue

Think back to a time when you accomplished something big. Something you worked long and hard to achieve like earning a high school or college diploma. Remember how empowered you felt? You invested time and paid dues to reach your goal. You were patient. The process of transforming our bodies into healthy, well-oiled machines is no different. The fitness journey takes time and effort. A successful formula requires cardio and resistance training, proper nutrition, flexibility and a lot of PATIENCE. I challenge you to trust the process, stay focused, be consistent and for goodness sakes be patient. Although you will not reach your target size right away, you will feel better. The results will come with patience and time as you remain on course.

Stay in the Groove, Melanie

August 2000

The Pitfalls of Fad Diets

As you focus on your fitness goals, don't lose site of the pitfalls of fad diets. Sometimes our desire to look a certain way quickly or to fit into a particular outfit for the weekend creates fellings of desperation and common sense goes out of the window. Take note of the following: Prolonged, unbalanced diets that eliminate entire food groups can lead to severe nutritional deficiencies; High protein diets that severely restrict carbohydrates and encourage saturated fat consumption can stress the liver, kidneys, and immune system, and increase calcium loss from bones; Frequent fasting encourages the loss of minerals and lean body tissue. Water and muscle are lost very quickly; Diet pills are only a short-term solution and promote side efects like nervousness, sleeplessness and irritability. Let's educate ourselves before executing a quick fix program that could be harmful to our health.

Stay in the groove, Melanie

July 2000

Have no fear - it's all about empowerment

I'm having the time of my life. After more than a decade of climbing the corporate ladder, I took a leap of faith to follow my dream - spreading the gospel of healthy living to as many women of color as possible. SIS was born of a mission to inspire sisters to take ownership of their health. Too often, we quit when results don't come quickly or easily. SIS wants to break that pattern. We design fitness programs to meet your individual needs. Our workshops focus on physical fitness, proper nutrition and spirituality, each of which is essential for a high-quality life. I've been certified in fitness for more than 15 years. I'm in the groove and it feels wonderful, but I don't take it for granted. I have to keep pushing. As the year 2000 nears, my hope is that more of you will find yourselves knee-deep in the groove.


April 2000

To feed does not equal greed

Our bodies work like machines to keep us alive. Like cars need fuel, our bodies require energy from foods to function properly. I suggest 4-6 small meals throughout the day (the basic three and 2 or 3 healthy snacks). It keeps the energy level stable and boosts the metabolism. Thus, the body consistently burns more fat. So, if your body asks for food every 2 to 3 hours, listen to it. Feed it. It's not necessarily greed. It's usually the sign of a healthy metabolism. However, when attempting quick weight loss by severely limiting food intake, the body may sense it is being starved, and burn fewer calories, causing the metabolism to slow down. Consequently, less fat is burned and it takes longer to reach fitness goals. Luckily, you can reverse the process when you resume the right way of eating. So it's not the end of the world. But who needs setbacks???

Stay in the groove, Melanie


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