This articles appears in the April 2019 issue of ESSENCE
Can we set the record straight on something? You don’t have to be a size 4 who works out constantly and eats salad at every meal to be considered “healthy.” A healthy lifestyle is about being aware of the type of food you put into your body and how you get moving in whatever way that keeps you going. A person could be 100 pounds and plagued with health issues, or be 200 pounds and a muscular gym regular who watches what she eats. “Everyone has a different body structure; it isn’t a negative thing. God made us different for a reason,” says Thomas Boatswain, personal trainer and co-owner of Harlem HIIT, a New York City fitness studio. “One of the main things individuals should focus on is maximizing their current potential. Believe it or not, there are plenty of people who may look healthy due to their physique and fast metabolism, but on the inside they aren’t doing so well.” Good habits, not weight loss, are at the center of being physically, mentally and emotionally fit. Each of the women here defines what it means to be healthy and happy at their current size.
Ronne Howard, Vibes & Vinyasa cofounder, professional model and wellness advocate
Ronnie Howard is a champion for health and a fitness enthusiast who is defying traditional beauty standards—and looking good while doing so. Through her modeling work, she’s been featured on BET’s Rip the Runway, in Health and Ebony magazines and Ashley Stewart and Kohls campaigns, and on air at QVC Networks. But the model life has not always been easy, especially because her weight has fluctuated. Now at a healthy and stable size 14, the Philadelphia native doesn’t care what others think about her weight.
She’s getting better at time management too. “It involves creating boundaries,” Howard says. “I work such a busy schedule, I have to make time for the things that make me feel good inside and out. I do yoga a few times a week, meditate, eat well and take care of my hair, skin and nails. I also indulge in a luxurious bath every now and then. Little things make all the difference when it comes to self-care.” »
RaVal Davis, actress and host
It’s never too late to reinvent yourself. RaVal Davis is living proof. After getting her start in digital media, the entertainment journalist shifted to managing social media for some of our favorite artists, including CeeLo Green, Tamar Braxton, Prince and Michael Jackson. But Davis’s true calling would not be denied, and she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an actress. She hosted a show for BET and booked commercials for Carol’s Daughter and other brands but quickly realized she didn’t fit the mold of what a “traditional” actress looks like because she’s a size 10. Now she’s using her body-positive platform to inspire others. “Everyone has something they love about themselves, and we should focus on that,” she says. “Loving your body is an active process.”
Alize Garcia, We Give Too founder
One might think that because she’s so busy helping others, she wouldn’t make time to help herself. That’s not the case with Alize Garcia, founder of We Give Too, an organization that connects millennials of color with philanthropic causes they can donate to and volunteer for. Garcia has been driven by the idea that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” She believes that it is our duty to reach back, give back and assist our communities along the path to personal and collective greatness.
But her first priority has always been the pursuit of a healthy body and mind. “For me, self-care ultimately looks like taking at least a few moments out of each day to do something to nourish my spirit,” she says. “Whether you’re working out, lying in bed or sitting in reflection, it takes a strong mental and physical spirit to lead.”
Necole Kane, xoNecole.com founder and editor, Age 34
Necole Kane seemed to be living the dream. The successful celebrity gossip blogger had gained industry cred as one of the go-to sources in Black celebrity news with her now-defunct entertainment site, necolebitchie.com. “You’re going to events, parties, red carpets, and it looks glamorous, but it’s exhausting,” Kane recalls. Unhappy with her life, she pulled the plug, packed her bags and moved to Arizona. “The wake-up call was when journalist Michael Feeney passed away,” she says. “Then a year later, it was Q from Worldstar Hip Hop. They were young and working their dream jobs. I decided I didn’t want to work this hard just to drop dead. I reset and recalibrated.” Kane now lives more on purpose as the editor-in-chief of xoNecole.com, a women’s lifestyle and empowerment site, and as a professional bikini bodybuilder.
Bianca Jeanty, Mimconnect (Minorities in Media Connect) cofounder and CMO
It can’t be easy juggling a full-time job while creating a new lane for minorities to get hired, but Bianca Jeanty has it covered as one half of the team behind Mimconnect, a networking platform that gives marginalized people access to career opportunities and resources. In just a few years, she and her partner, Netta Dobbins, have built a stable of publicists, writers and other creatives to help develop a more impactful and inclusive media landscape. But as the company grew, the constant New York City grind took a toll. “There were health issues coming up,” Jeanty says. “I had to decide what boundaries I needed to set for myself and say, ‘I need to get to the gym two or three times a week.’ ” She found that being disciplined in her personal life led to more professional discipline. And she can now occasionally indulge in her favorite healthy snacks: Himalayan popcorn, Popcorners Kettle Corn and sweet potato chips.