The Phoenix Rising Collective

Inspiring Women to be Self-Love in Action

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How To Give Yourself a Mid-Year Health Check

MidYear Health Check[The Phoenix Rising Collective]

As mid-year rolls around there are more than likely a number of thoughts racing through your mind.

How much money have I saved so far?

Should I finally join that gym?

Where is this relationship going?

Maybe I should apply for that management position?

Self-inquiry is the key to self-mastery so you’re right on track with your questions and thoughts. However, now is the time to go even deeper with your self check-ins. To ensure that your life is going in a steadily positive direction you need to also put some laser focus on your overall health.

Don’t worry, performing a mid-year health check is free and painless.

Evaluating the state of your health should fall into three categories:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Spiritual

Focusing on all three allows you to look at your life holistically. True self-care is about seeing yourself as a whole being, not just certain areas of your life.

Ask and answer these series of questions to gain a snapshot of your health this summer. A solid rule of thumb is to record your answers on pen and paper or audio. That way you can go back and reference your answers at the end of the year to do another self check-in and compare notes on your progress.


What are my energy levels when I first wake up, mid-day, and at night?

If you are waking up feeling fatigued then you could be struggling with an adrenal imbalance. Or if you are sleepy around mid-day or early evening then that could be the effect of sugar crashes. Keep a food and energy journal to track patterns.

Am I eating consciously?

Think about your sugar intake, daily water consumption, and daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Make a commitment to be conscious about what you are putting in your body.

Am I taking supplements daily?

Supplements provide the nutrients that our bodies need that we don’t get from our meals.

Am I performing breast checks after my cycle ends?

Our breasts are more prone to reveal any abnormalities or lumps right after menstruation.

Am I exercising regularly?

Monitor how you feel after physical activity. Consider your recovery time and how your muscles feel after every workout.


Am I suffering from mood swings?

If you are unsure, survey your child(ren), partner, and colleagues.

Am I pursuing expressive outlets for work-life balance?

Do you love cooking, photography, poetry, blogging or singing? Whatever delights your mind and spirit indulge in it often and with wild abandon.

Am I creating and maintaining healthy rituals?

You deserve to spoil yourself and to do it regularly. The possibilities for self-care in this area are endless. Everything from journaling, to massages, to solo date-nights, to splurging on a latte every Saturday morning, can be on-going rituals worth maintaining.

Am I saying NO more, so I can say YES more?

The powerhouse that is Shonda Rhimes literally wrote the book on this very same idea (see Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person). The No’s are just as powerful as the Yeses that you give out to yourself, loved ones, and outside commitments.


Am I practicing gratitude daily?

Studies show that doing so can increase your happiness, inner peace, and productivity.

Am I practicing mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a simple art. Consistently step outside yourself and view your behavior and thoughts. Are you always coming from a place of love? Posing this question daily will drastically increase your self-awareness and improve the energy that you give to the world.

Am I practicing forgiveness?

This is a practice that can lead to profound spiritual and emotional breakthroughs. Forgive yourself for your own shortcomings and forgive others who have disappointed you. Letting go of the pain that you have experienced through forgiveness opens up a pathway for receiving unconditional love from yourself and the environment around you.


These three core areas are the foundation for a systematic health check that honors your entire essence. Give it a shot this summer and watch your self-care go in new and healthy directions.

About the Contributor

CJChildressCoachCJ Childress is a nutrition, wellness, and health focused freelance writer. She is particularly interested in the intersection of organic nutrition, mental health, and holistic living, and how they can all work in concert to live a beautiful and balanced life. You can find her on Instagram. Check out CJ’s other Health + Wellness posts HERE.

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Natural Healing for Food Addiction: The Power of Making Healthier Choices


Collage by Tonya Adams

As beautiful as the sun rising and setting each day, so is the beauty of our lives. The light of the sun shines, and we must not let anything obscure its radiance, as growth is ever present.  Enjoying life and feeling good should always be our natural state of being, but we know through experience that life often brings us growing pains and uncomfortable situations in order to check our egos, to force mindfulness, or to lead us toward our purpose. In order to maintain peace through our adversities, it’s important to develop healthy habits that support transcending painful experiences.

Unfortunately, many of us seek unhealthy forms of relief, like abusing harmful substances, to reclaim peace. These substances are toxic to the body, and with prolonged use can control the body’s cells and functions causing physical, mental, and spiritual deterioration.  In the words of holistic wellness entrepreneur and natural health practitioner, Queen Afua, “When we are addicted to anything or anyone, our lives are not our own.  Addictions are a toxic reflection of how we view our connection with ourselves and the world. All addictions drain our life force, leaving us less than we are.” (1)

Throughout my life I have witnessed and experienced the suffering caused from the dis-ease of addiction. I observed that the majority of adults around me had some form of substance dependence. Today I realize that many of them perceived life’s challenges as suffering, as opposed to a springboard to something greater; they viewed life as a hell they had to escape.

One of the most serious addictions I’ve witnessed is among African American women. Our poor relationship with food has led to having the highest rate of obesity in the U.S.

“Currently, major causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States are related to obesity, mainly caused by poor diet and inadequate physical activity. Some specific diseases linked to poor diet and physical inactivity include cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and some cancers.” (2)

According to the Office of Minority Health (3):

  • African American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S. About four out of five African American women are overweight or obese.
  • In 2010, African Americans were 1.4 times as likely to be obese as Non- Hispanic Whites.
  • In 2010, African American women were 70% more likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic White women.
  • In 2007-2010, African American girls were 80% more likely to be overweight than Non-Hispanic White girls.

Medical Image Credit: Animated Dissection of Anatomy for Medicine (A.D.A.M.)

Obesity is linked to higher risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and a host of other maladies.

The prevalence of night eating syndrome (NES), binge eating disorder (BED), bulimia nervosa (BN), and the general experience of food cravings are key words to describe some of the addictive habits behind the high rate of obesity among African American women.

Those cravings are usually for junk food, which can be defined as highly engineered toxic substances; and often times their effects are far worse than narcotics.

Unfortunately, this is especially prevalent in predominantly low-income communities due to food inequality; fast food restaurants, liquor stores, and convenience marts are on almost every corner. Processed foods that make us sick, tired, and addicted are easily accessible while healthy, nutritious foods that our bodies need are unavailable and unaffordable. For example, in Columbus, Ohio (specifically near the South and Eastside), there are no grocery stores in walking distance, so people are mostly dependent upon the local convenience marts that sell junk food and other toxic products that are destroying our health.

What are some inexpensive natural healing methods that can be implemented to address food addiction? A part of the answer to the healing process is embracing the concept that was introduced in my previous post: Health is W.E.A.L.T.H.S., the acronym for water, exercise, air, light, thinking happy thoughts, healthy food, and sleep. Other key steps include the following:

  1. Recognizing and admitting that you have a problem.
    Flush your system: Begin to cleanse the body by fasting. There are many detoxification recipes that focus on cleansing and healing to break addiction. A great place to begin? Health Thyself: For Health and Longevity by Queen Afua
  2. Meditating on a daily basis, as often as three to four times per day, to build mental and spiritual strength to overcome the addiction.
  3. Incorporating more raw fruits, vegetables, and super greens such as spirulina and chlorella into your body to feed and nourish your cells. When we consume empty calories, our cells become malnourished.
  4. Spending your money wisely, not from a state of addiction and poor eating habits, but as a wellness activist!
  5. Eating healthy as a family to develop better habits, especially for children.
  6. Creating a wellness plan that includes food education – taking time to research and understand the nutritional value of your food choices is very important.
  7. Surrounding yourself with people who will support you on the path to wellness.
  8. Supporting the development of local food systems and cooperative economics.
  9. Growing your own food for sustainability, ensuring that you’re eating foods while they are in season.



Photo by LeRoyna Edwards

If you don’t know how to begin these steps, there are many organizations and programs that can help you get started.  Circle 77 builds a healthy institution on the South Eastside of Columbus, Ohio that supports the restoration and revitalization of our community by offering products and services that promote healing and wellness.

Invest in your health!


 (1) Afua, Queen. City of Wellness: Restoring Your Health through the Seven Kitchens of Consciousness. Heal Thyself Incorporated. 2009. Print.

(2) Institute for Alternative Future. School Based Wellness Programs: A Key Approach to Preventing Obesity and Reducing Health Disparities. The DRA Project. Report 08-04. October (2008): 72 pgs. Print.  

(3) Obesity and African Americans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of Minority Health. Web. 6 September. 2012.


systar_roni_ausetSystar Roni Auset is a licensed yoga instructor, healthy living practitioner, holistic educator, master joyologist, and founder of Circle 77! Her aim is to improve her community’s quality of life by promoting a healthy lifestyle. By offering educational workshops, health oriented events, youth productions, and training programs, Systar Roni teaches and encourages holistic health as a way to empower people to make choices that will positively impact their own health and that of their peers, families, and communities. Using the latest information about nutrition and natural living, as well as sharing knowledge about the benefits of physical activity and meditation, she intends to be a strong source of vitality within the community. If  you would like to schedule a workshop/yoga class, participate in the Circle 77 buying club, or support her work with youth,  please visit The Children Shall Lead Them Productions.

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Smoothies, Soothe Me! Healthy Green Goodness that Packs a Delicious Punch

green-machine-smootie-mbd108052_vertJust when we thought Oreos could cure our heartache and the empty feeling in our stomachs, we were introduced to green smoothies. Green smoothies? How disgusting, right? Wrong.

Let us tell you that green smoothies are awesome! We decided to start drinking these clean, protein packed Mason jars full of heaven when we realized that although we were cutting out a lot of unhealthy foods, we forgot to add more fruits and veggies to our diets. Green smoothies give you the fruits and veggies you need, and are catalysts to establishing cleaner eating habits. Since we’ve started drinking them, we have a lot more energy, eat less junk food, and rely a lot less on sugary, caffeinated drinks, though we do ‘love us some’ chai and coffee. After drinking a smoothie, we feel happy and full. We get to sip on something that makes us feel good and look good at the same time.

I guess you could say that we make, “Eww, what are you drinking?” look fabulous. Furthermore, smoothies are not only perfect for giving you that fabulous ooh-I’m-health-conscious look, but they also provide your body with protein, making for great pre and post workout meals. Just be sure to add hemp, whey, and/or flax seed powder to give you the extra kick you’ll need to run those 13.1 miles in the spring half marathon!

We have to say that incorporating healthier foods in our diets has not always been easy. And though that pack of Oreos and glass of wine you had the day Microsoft Word did not recover your 25-page seminar paper won’t kill you, neglecting to really take care of yourself may knock some years off your life. We realize how important it is to invest in our bodies in multiple ways. On a typical day, we meditate/pray, throw up our hair in a high ponytail, slide on the spandex, and whip out our cutting boards; however, by the end of the day (or by 3am when we’re retyping that 25-page paper), there’s the realization that it wasn’t our pearls, nerdy glasses, honeycomb hats, or frankincense oil that got us through the day—it was the time we took to invest in ourselves from the inside out.

So, today, that’s all we ask. Invest in yourself from the inside out. Tell yourself that looking and feeling good does not start with that Satin Rebel lipstick; every kiss begins with green—okay, that didn’t work? Anyway, guzzle down a green smoothie, and take care of everything else when you’re done (or while green smoothies are so cool that you can drink them on the go)!

Want to feel better, too? (Because we know you already look good!) Here are some of our favorite recipes:


Aisha’s Green Smoothie aka Almost Everything Green Smoothie:

1 ½ cups of coconut milk (or rice, or almond milk)

½ cups kale (or chard – I mix it up)

1 handful of spinach

¾ cup strawberries

½ a kiwi

Half of a cucumber

1 granny smith apple

1 Tablespoon of rice protein

1 Tablespoon of ground flax seed

Aisha prefers to add the ingredients to the blender in this order, blending after each new addition: milk and leafy greens, apples and strawberries, cucumber and kiwi, flax seed and protein.


Simone’s Green Smoothie aka Excuse Me While I Make My Green Smoothie Blue-Green Smoothie:

1 ½ cups of coconut water

1 tbs. of spirulina

2 frozen banana

1 tbs. of carob powder

2 tbs. of almond butter

3 tbs. of raw honey

1 granny smith apply

1 tbs. of flax seed oil

¾ cups of strawberries

A pinch of Himalayan pink salt

Simone prefers to add the coconut water first, throw everything else into the blender, and then blend until it’s pretty.

Many sources like Hey Fran Hey, and Simple Green Smoothies offer inspiration and recipes for cleaner eating through drinking green smoothies. A concern a lot of people have with the smoothie life is wasting their fruits and vegetables. A solution for this is to freeze all of the ingredients for your green smoothies in quart size freezer bags with the ingredients in the order they will be added to the blender. Freezing the ingredients saves a lot of prep time, and makes the smoothies cold and delicious. We usually put our shakes in a Blender Bottle or Mason jar, and carry it with us to campus! Since it’s frozen, it stays cold for hours.

Happy (green) eating!  *sips*


AISHA_BLOG[PHOTO]Aisha Upton is a first year PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh, studying Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her research interests include Black women in service organizations and violence against Black women. She is passionate about many things including community service, lipstick, baking, thrifting, knitting, and being a proud owner of a Cockapoo, Napoleon. At the intersection of being a diligent student, a fashionista, and an activist – you will find Aisha, attempting to find a balance.


Simonepic2Simone Savannah is an English instructor and contributing writer for the Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas. She is currently pursuing a PhD in English-Creative Writing and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Her poetry is based on personal experiences she can’t let go—imagined or otherwise. Simone also enjoys making green smoothies, attending Bikram Yoga classes, and laughing uncontrollably.


Be sure to continue following Aisha + Simone’s unique take on Life + Style and the importance of letting who you are shine through when defining your personal style.


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© The Phoenix Rising Collective, 2013. Please note that unauthorized use and/or duplication of any material without express and written permission from PHOENIX SHINE’S authors and/or owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the Phoenix Rising Collective and its contributing writers with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.