If you’ve been following me on Twitter or Facebook, then you’ve heard me talking about operation muffin top. Operation Muffin Top is my quest towards a more toned physique before I go on vacation in September. I’ll settle for a 4 pack, but a 6 pack would be lovely on the beach in a bikini. Don’t laugh, a girl can dream can’t she?  Although I don’t have a goal weight, I do have a fitness goal. We should all have a fitness goal. Even those of you who think “Big Boned” is a medical term for carrying extra weight. And before you go looking at me like the lady at Lane Bryant did last Christmas when I was shopping for a gift for a friend, so called skinny girls can have lifestyle habits that jeopardize their health and fitness too. We all can do better when it comes to our health.

African Americans are predisposed to certain chronic health conditions such as cardiac disease, diabetes and high cholesterol. Some of which are driven by unhealthy and others can be heredity.  According to the Office of Minority Health, the death rate for African Americans was higher than Whites for heart diseases, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza and pneumonia, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and homicide.
  • African American women were 10% less likely to have been diagnosed with breast cancer, however, they were 34% more likely to die from breast cancer, compared to non-Hispanic white women.
  • African Americans were 2.2 times as likely as non-Hispanic Whites to die from diabetes.
  • African American men were 30% more likely to die from heart disease, as compared to non-Hispanic white men.
  • Although African Americans make up only 13% of the total U.S. population, they accounted for 49% of HIV/AIDS cases in 2007 and African American women were more than 20 times as likely to die from HIV/AIDS as non-Hispanic white women.
  • African Americans had 2.3 times the infant mortality rate of non-Hispanic whites
  • African American males are 60% more likely to die from a stroke than their White adult counterparts.
Visit the website for more information. http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlID=51

Join me in Operation Muffin Top
If you think I included those stats to scare you, you were right. We have got to do better and be an example for our children. I am not asking you to become the epitome of health overnight, it takes time. Start with baby steps. Here are a few things you can do to start thinking about health that take less than 10 min. Once you start thinking more healthy, you’ll begin to behave that way and develop healthy habits.  Remember, it's about small changes over time. Start with one or two things on this list, then see how many things you can do on this list everyday.

  1. Do 15 sit-ups
  2. Read the health news headlines of the day
  3. Straighten your posture
  4. Eat an apple
  5. Stand up and stretch
  6. Tell a friend about one of the health headlines you read
  7. Cut out one of your sugary snacks
  8. Do 10 lunges
  9. Drink a glass of water
  10. Smile
  11. Put a package of oatmeal in your pocket or purse for a healthy breakfast or snack
  12. Throw a bottle of water in there as well
  13. Ask to have your salad dressing on the side
  14. Open a window
  15. Take a deep breath
  16. Wake up 10 minutes earlier
  17. Share a healthy recipe
  18. Wash your hands
  19. Check your blood pressure
  20. Jog in place for 9 minutes
  21. Take a canvas tote bag to the grocery store
  22. Ask a friend to join you for a healthy dinner
  23. Put down the remote control and get up to change the TV channel
  24. Replace your next cup of coffee with a cup of tea
  25. Lay out your clothes for the next day
  26. Take a 10 minute break
  27. Take a quick walk
  28. Skip your late evening grocery store run
  29. While watching TV, do 5 push-ups during the commercial
  30. Read this list over again and increase the number of things you’re willing to do by one
Welcome to Operation Muffin Top and good luck. Send me an e-mail and let me know how you’re doing so we can follow your progress and send you words of encouragement. If you want to learn more about diet and exercise listen to TiffTalks Radio with special guests Dr. Ray Deloney and Dr. Neil Zeigler at http://soundcloud.com/tifftalks/dont-call-me-fat-im-big-boned .

Until next time stay strong, smart and powerful!

 
 
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I was glued to the TV with millions of Americans and the rest of the world as we waited to hear the President’s special announcement:

                “. . .the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.”

I wasn’t sure how to feel. I definitely had wept for the families of those lost in the Sept 11 attacks, I have prayed for the soldiers who lost their lives defending my freedoms, but somehow I couldn’t find any joy in the death of another person. Of course this man and his followers have been accused of terrorist attacks against innocent men, women and children. If that’s the definition of a terrorist, don’t we have them in our own neighborhoods sleeping next to us, eating dinner with us on Thanksgiving?

Why don’t we celebrate the capture of our neighborhood terrorists with the same jubilation we saw in the streets of Washington DC? Is it because they are our sons, brothers, fathers and baby daddies? You may even know the innocent lives that have been cut short by these neighborhood terrorists, and yet we still find some way to excuse and justify their behavior.

When will enough be enough? Maybe enough will be enough when one of your seats at the dinner table is empty. . .forever. Before we celebrate the murder of one terrorist, let’s deal with the ones we know first. Not to do so would make us hypocrites. How many of our babies will be buried before we participate in an operation that will Take Back the Village.

Until next time stay strong, smart and powerful!

 
 
It’s tax time again and I know you’re wondering what to do with that lump sum of money that’s burning a hole in your pocket getting you into trouble every year. Go ahead and admit it, you were one of those people who thought your tax refund was a bonus check. You kicked it, took vacations, bought new outfits, you basically splurged and don’t have much to show for it besides a few old Coach bags and a new computer. The fact that you’re reading this, means you’re ready to change your relationship with finances. To hear more about how to use your refund, listen to my podcast at http://soundcloud.com/tifftalks/you-spent-your-refund-on-what .

Here are a few things you can do with your refund that will help you create a solid financial foundation to build on:

  1. Create an emergency fund. You need 3-6 months of living expenses set aside. Put it an in interest bearing account. And when disaster strikes, and it will. You’ll have some cushion.
  2. Pay down your high interest credit card. For every $1,000 you carry from month to month, you pay an additional $150 in interest if your interest rate is 14.99%. If you carry a balance with an interest rate that exceeds 14.99% you need to hurry and pay that off.
  3. If you own your home, do some general maintenance you’ve been neglecting or upgrade your appliances with more energy efficient models that will cut your energy and water bills.
  4. Start saving for college with a 529 Plan. 529 Plans can be used to meet costs of qualified colleges nationwide. In most plans, your choice of school is not affected by the state your 529 savings plan is from. Every state now has at least one 529 plan available. 529 plans can differ from state to state so be sure to do your research first.
  5. Been putting off working out because you can’t afford to join a gym. Do it now and take advantage of the health benefits. Often, your employer will offer a reduced health insurance premium for employees who participate in wellness programs or weight loss programs.

If you’ve already blown your refund. Visit http://www.seekwisdomfindwealth.com  for  5 Ways To Jump Start Your Savings This Spring

Tax Preparation Info
FreeFile
Taxpayers who make $57,000 or less can now access free software to help them prepare and filetheir federal returns. For those with higher income levels, the IRS now provides Free File FillableForms, electronic versions of the paper forms which allow them to prepare and file electronically. Both are available on the IRS.gov Web site.
http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=118986,00.html?portlet=8

Where’s My Refund?
Where’s My Refundis an online tool that provides refund information for the most current tax year filed, generally available 72 hours after the IRS acknowledge receipt of an e-filed return, or three to four weeks after mailing a paper return. You will need your social security number, filing status and refund amount.
https://sa1.www4.irs.gov/irfof/lang/en/irfofgetstatus.jsp

Face-to-face Tax Assistance
Taxpayers who make less than $49,000 can receive tax return preparation help at their nearest IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center or through a local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program or a Tax Counseling for the Elderly tax preparation site.

To locate the nearest VITA site, call 1-800-906-9887. Members of the U.S. military worldwide can receive free tax assistance through the VITA partnership with the Armed Forces Tax Council. These VITA sites provide free tax advice, tax preparation and assistance to military members and their families.

Until next time stay strong, smart and powerful!

 
 
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someone saw this at a Gap store and posted the picture to Facebook. We all know how powerful social networking has become; it overthrew a dictator in Egypt so what do you think happened when people saw this photo of a Baby Gap display. BINGO. . .immediately people assumed the worst. Sometimes, if you're patient, things will reveal themselves as they are intended to be. It was an unfinished display of a swing.
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Have you ever wondered why African Americans seem to part so easily with their money, or why we seem so financially illiterate? Maybe you question that fact that the wealth and income gaps continue to increase even though we have access to information and education. Have you ever wondered why we'll own a car that is more valuable than our house, or perhaps we own a Land Rover and still have a landlord. To get more information in the Land Rover/Landlord Syndrome, listen to my podcast at http://soundcloud.com/tifftalks/wealth_gap

Here are five things you can stop doing now if you want to get on the road to building wealth.

1)      Stop living paycheck to paycheck

Create a monthly budget and stick to it. Don’t use MISC. as a category. Everything should be listed so you have an accurate account of how you spend your money. After you’ve had a chance to prepare your budget, look for things you can live without or reduce.

2)      Stop shopping at Rent –a – Center

Buying major purchases like furniture, electronics and appliances from rent to own centers is a recipe for financial disaster. If you can afford monthly payments, put those payments in your monthly budget and a savings account. Buying with cash is cheaper than paying double digit interest on large purchases. Paying with cash also gives you leverage when negotiating a price for large ticket items.

3)      Stop splurging with your income tax return

Your income tax return is better spent paying off high interest credit cards, opening a savings account, or paying off delinquent accounts on your credit report. Improving your credit score will make it easier to get lower interest loans and can even affect your eligibility for certain jobs.

4)      Stop Using Check Cashing Centers

Open a checking and savings account at a credit union. Credit unions don’t usually have the fees banks have and may have lower mandatory minimum account balances. My credit union only requires me to have $5 in a savings account to keep it open. Having a checking and savings account also makes you eligible to participate in your employer’s direct deposit program. Direct Deposit is free and your money is available immediately.

5)      Stop  ignoring the bill collectors

Ignoring a problem only makes it worse. If you negotiate a reasonable payment plan when you know you’re going to run into some financial difficulties, creditors may be more understanding. Don’t’ wait until you’re more than 30 days late to fix the problem. The longer you wait to deal with a financial hardship, the more you limit the options that may be available to you. For example, if you know you’ll be getting fewer hours at work and you won’t be able to make your $100 payment, call your creditor and see if you can negotiate a $50 payment for 6 months. You will be surprised what a creditor will agree to if they have an opportunity to talk with you BEFORE you’re late on a payment.

For more information about African Americans and the wealth gap, listen to my podcast:
http://soundcloud.com/tifftalks/wealth_gap
 
 
We've been talking about taking a break from a relationship on TiffTalks at Facebook. The consensus was that if your significant other says, "I need some space" it's a bad sign for the relationship. There is still time to join that discussion, but here's my two cents on it.

Relationships can be difficult and if you’re not careful, they can consume you and distract you from the other important things in your life, so a break might be necessary and beneficial. Sometimes you have to take a step back from something to see it for what it really is. For example, the magnified view of anything is very different than an aerial view. The closer you get to something the more distorted it becomes; so much so that you lose sight of what it is you are looking at. Coincidentally, the same thing happens if you are too far away. When you put too much distance between you and your relationship it becomes insignificant. The further away you get the smaller and smaller it gets, until it disappears.

Find the Balance

It is necessary to strike a balance. You have to remain close enough to experience the benefits of the relationship, but maintain a proper distance so that your view doesn't become distorted. Likewise, you can't be so far away that you can't see the value in it, those things that make it unique and fulfilling.

To find the proper balance you can start by searching yourself. Define what's important to you, and then get close enough to experience the benefits of having a special person in your life. However, if you continue to do the things that you enjoy like maintaining other healthy friendships and hobbies you will create enough distance so you don’t lose sight of the benefits of your current relationship.


 

If you are the person who has been told by your significant other that they need a break, don’t assume it’s a bad thing. Take this time to re-evaluate what the relationship represents for you. This could actually be a very positive thing for both parties.

Ask yourself the following questions:

What were your top three priorities before you met your significant other? Have they been pushed to the side and replaced with relationship stuff?

How much time do you spend doing things you enjoy?

How much time do you spend fueling your passions?

Once you’ve had some time to answer these questions, spend some time evaluating and setting some new priorities and goals. Finally, keep in mind that the most important person in any relationship is you and the view changes based on where you stand. Where do you stand?

Until next time stay strong, smart and powerful.

Join the discussion on Facebook now.


 

 
 
I decided several years ago to eliminate processed foods and other unnatural products from my home. It’s been a gradual process for us to break the addiction we had to things like shower gels and household cleaning products. Instead we use baking soda, vinegar, water, lemon and other natural ingredients. I also found a wonderful natural soap made from goat milk. Instead of lotion we use mixtures of natural oils like jojoba and Shea butter.  However, the strongest addiction to break were the processed chemicals we used on our hair, particularly perms. As I transition out of my perm I began to realize the standard of beauty I had set for my children; my girls in particular.

For black women, hair is such a big deal. When a baby is born, the first thing we ask after we know the baby is healthy, is “how much hair does he/she have”? We care how much and how “good” the hair is. Since I’ve never known anyone to have hair that’s gone to jail, I guess we all have “good” hair. As a culture, the more straight and manageable the hair is, the better it is.  As I think about this, it saddens me that our children are subjected to this rejection of their natural beauty.

As soon as a female child is old enough, we slap a perm in their hair to make it straighter. We rob her of the ability to embrace what God has given her and to see it as beautiful. What I am finding out through this journey of taking back my natural beauty is that if you are patient enough to find products that work for your unique hair type, it too will be manageable.  I am falling in love with my hair all over again and it’s beautiful.  We must teach our daughters to love what is pure and natural about them.

The image of beauty should not be learned from the media or school; it should be learned at home from women who look like them.  I challenge you as you read this to embrace something that is naturally yours and accept it as beautiful.

Until next time, stay strong, smart and powerful.  For more discussion of this topic, visit my discussion forum on Facebook on the fan page TiffTalks.

 

Tiff

www.tifftalks.weebly.com
 
 
I must admit, like most of you, I was teary eyed as I listened to this young man talk about his journey. It wasn’t so much what he said, but the feelings his words stirred up in my gut. My tears were from the overwhelming sense of pride I felt. I don’t know this young man, but I felt connected to him. He was appreciative and humble. I also sensed his pride for his accomplishments and his disdain for those who thought he couldn’t and others who thought he wouldn’t.  It was almost like he was saying, look at me, I did it. I am successful in spite of the hurdles that were in front of me.

I also felt burdened.  There are so many young men who should be able to feel what he feels right now. We live in a country where public education is available to everyone. This young man should be the norm. We should not be amazed by what he’s done, we should expect it.  Are our expectations of our children so low that we are awe struck when we see someone who took their education seriously, burned the midnight oil studying for tests, turned in homework on time, participated and volunteered in community efforts, and was respectful to himself, his parents, and others? Where have we gone wrong? Those same things it took for this young man to be successful, are the same things that took us from the cotton fields to the white house.  As he quoted in his speech, Langston Hughes reminds us that “Life ain’t no crystal stair”. Being successful in spite of hardships and not failing because of them was a standard for black folks. You were expected to work hard, pull your pants up, study, and be respectful. What happened?

Congratulations to this young man and hats off to the village that came together to raise him. It’s time to take back the village.  

Until next time, stay strong, smart and powerful!

Tiff
 
 
I couldn't ignore the Laurence Fishburn debacle. Every site I visit is talking about his daughter's decision to release a sex tape. I read a few of the comments and was shocked at what I saw and thought Ok, here is another opportunity for the village to help raise the child. Instead we do what “we” always do. . .tear the child down. She’s a know-it-all twenty-something who thinks she’s making a career move because it worked for Paris Hilton and the Kardashian sisters. Although I love brotha Fishburn, he’s not of the social elite and Fishburn just doesn’t carry the same financial weight as Kardashian or Hilton; thus the consequences are very different as well. Lucky for her, people have short memories and soon we’ll be on to the next baby daddy/mamma, who came out the closet, who got married/cheated drama of the day.
 

Victory And Defeat

07/29/2010

 
When Barack Obama took Iowa I served as a precinct captain for the Obama campaign and it was an awesome experience. It was amazing for me to see so many white people show up and support a black man, who only 30 years ago, would have drawn that type of crowd at his lynching.

Although the atmosphere was electric, and as we settle into his presidency, let us not forget what was lost in his victory, let us not forget who was lost fighting for this victory and most importantly, let us not forget that the battle is not yet over. We will lose more than we gain sometimes in this life, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't reach further than our grasp.

I took my children to the caucus with me that cold night and they were a part of the campaign from the beginning. They canvassed, made phone calls and they helped me count participants at the caucus. They led the Obama chants and felt inspired by our victory here in Iowa. My son got to see a black man win in a place where he expects no one to look like. As a mother, sister, aunt, friend of a black man, how do you not get excited about a black man in the White House.

I am not using this blog as an endorsement of Obama’s politics, but as a battle cry to our sons, brothers, fathers and uncles. Barack has helped to restore a hope and a hunger for change in this country, but most of all he has inspired our sons to be proud of themselves and aspire to be more.

Harry Truman once said that in reading about the lives of great men, he found that the first victory they won was over themselves . . . self-discipline with all of them came first.

Resolve to be victorious and start with yourself. Until next time, stay strong, smart and powerful.

Tiff

 

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