by Caroline of www.CarolineJhingory.com
“You sure do have some pretty hair…for a big girl.”
From the 8th grade until age 22, I weighed over 300-pounds and frequently received compliments mixed with insults like the ones above. This made me feel as if my mix of Indo-Guyanese and African-American hair was the only physical trait the world found beautiful, so I took biweekly trips to the salon and had relaxers every six weeks. I am ashamed, to this day that I felt validation from comments like “relaxers show off that you got good hair.”
I focused solely on what I put on my head and not what I put in my mouth. My hair may have looked good, but I did not feel good inside or out.
Around this time, a dermatologist told me the dark blotches on my skin were an indication I was pre-diabetic and needed to lose weight.
I cut my relaxed hair off, and then used my new growth to get braids and grow my natural hair out. Along with my new hair, I developed a new attitude and means of transportation. Upon my doctor's advice, I began walking everywhere instead of catching the bus and subway.
My doctor also advised cutting all “white foods” and starchy vegetables from my diet. The combination of walking every day and not eating flour, sugar, corn and potatoes enabled me to lose 150lbs. Keeping the weight off for ten years is attributed to my motto, “I eat everyday, so I workout everyday.”
This also meant managing my hair every day in conservative jobs working for public officials. Like all black women, my hair can be a challenge when exercising, however, I have refused to let the “black women don’t workout because of their hair” myth be applicable to me.
Here are 5 hair maintenance tips I've found helpful in exercising while black:
Doo-Rags - Always exercise with a 100% silk scarf. Cotton and polyester blend doo-rags tend to soak-up oil in the hair; which leaves the hair dry and matted after exercise.
Smooth Edges – The method of pushing your hair back tightly with headbands or other hair accessories will cause thinning edges. As an alternative to this and those god-awful hardening gels, use just a dab of Loccitaine Olive Paste to smooth edges.
Micro-Mini Two Strand Twists – For many years this was my go-to style. The smaller the twists the better. It provides more flexibility and styling options; pin-ups, French rolls and ponytails.
My Hair Crack: John Frieda Re-Hydrate Conditioner – Although this is not a leave-in conditioner, I use it to smooth my hair out when in a rush.. If I wear my hair curly, the Rehydrate Conditioner mixed with water in a spray bottle produces soft and defined curls.
Don’t Be Fooled - Also, just because a line of products markets itself as being for natural or African-American hair, does not mean it will be a good match for your natural African-American hair. Many, not all, of these products are overpriced and only make my hair smell great and do nothing for maintenance.
To achieve the look in these photos, I do the following:
· Co-wash and deep condition the hair with the John Frieda Re-hydrate conditioner.
· While hair is still damp, part and divide it into four (4) sections.
· Each section is to be twisted into a single fat two-stranded twist.
· Wrap each twist into a bantu knot and pin down with bobby pins.
· Left the hair air-dry overnight
· Lightly coat hands with A’Shea Shea Butter Pomade and finger comb the bantu knots and twists apart.
The John Frieda Re-Hydrate Conditioner can be difficult to find. However, I have ordered offline from Amazon.com and/or Ulta.com $5.99
A’shea Shea Butter can be found in most beauty supply stores geared towards an African-American clientele. $5.99
I flat-iron my hair using the sulfate-free Aveda Brilliant Damage Control Spray $18.00 and Sally’s Beauty Supply Store One N’ Only Argan Oil $11.00.
*natural hair photo credit: John Ledbetter Sunchase Media
Caroline Jhingory is the author of the book Half My Size How I Ate To Lose 150lbs. Her weight loss story has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, Access Hollywood, the Today Show, Good Morning America and in People, Essence and Shape magazines. For more information visit www.CarolineJhingory.com
Caroline will be speaking at DIVAS MPH brunch in Washington, DC next Saturday, February 2nd. For details, visit- divasbrunchdc13.eventbrite.com