A Mother’s Love: Celebrating March of Dimes

Stacey D. Stewart joined March of Dimes as its fifth President on January 1, 2017.  In this role, Stewart heads the organization leading the fight for the health of all moms and babies. She is responsible for all aspects of the organization’s strategy, vision and operations.

97F8BB42-04BF-4CE1-898F-923132E03957

CFU: How long has the March of Dimes been in existence?

SS: March of Dimes is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2018. President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded our organization in 1938 to fight the terrible epidemic of polio that paralyzed and killed thousands — mainly children — every year. With March of Dimes support, Dr. Jonas Salk and later Dr. Albert Sabin developed safe and effective vaccines against polio, to the tremendous relief of Americans and people around the world. Today our mission is to lead the fight to improve the health of all moms and babies.

CFU: What role does the March of Dimes play in supporting the health of mothers and their unborn babies?

SS: March of Dimes is the leading organization for the health of moms and babies, fighting for all families no matter who they are, where they live or what they can afford. We are working to reduce the rising rate of premature birth in this country, with a focus on populations and geographic regions that need our help most. We believe there is an urgent need to address the unacceptable racial and ethnic disparities in infant and maternal death and illness.

SS: We are funding critical research focused on finding the unknown causes of premature labor and new ways to prevent it with an international network of six Prematurity Research Centers.

30193BBB-BC26-4CCF-BCAA-54A76E32A424

PREEMIE Act

SS: March of Dimes advocates for policies that prioritize the health of moms, babies and families — for example, the PREEMIE Act that was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). We’re very pleased that this important initiative is moving forward to renew and improve federal programs aimed at preventing and treating preterm birth.

Maternal Mortality

SS: Additionally, Congress will soon consider the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act (H.R. 1318) and the Maternal Health Accountability Act (S. 1112). If passed, these would support states in establishing or improving maternal mortality review committees and examine every case of maternal death in order to identify causes and patterns. These are needed pieces of legislation as the maternal mortality rate is not only increasing, but at the highest of any country in the developed world.

30813E2A-C222-4AAF-A15E-0DFEF6FCBC72

CFU: What are some of the common reasons that women of reproductive age are not more proactive when it comes to their health?

SS: Every woman wants to have a healthy baby. However, we know that many women do not get the health care they need when they need it. Quality health care before pregnancy and proven interventions to reduce the risk of premature birth are not made available to all women, particularly black and Hispanic women, lower income women, and women in underserved geographic areas.

SS: One result of this inequity is that the preterm birth rate among black women is about 50 percent higher than the rate among white women. March of Dimes is committed to leveling the playing field to give all babies a fighting chance.

CFU: Do the changing politics that surround healthcare such as budget cuts and policy changes also affect the March of Dimes’ organization?

SS: We have played and continue to play critical roles in shaping state, national and local policies and healthcare practices for women, infants, children and families. Our 80-year record of success reflects our bipartisan commitment to working with policymakers and healthcare providers.

Publicly Supported Health Care

SS: With a number of states making their own changes to health care in response to uncertainties at the Federal level, it’s important that we engage at both the federal and state levels and protect critical safety nets such a Medicaid and other publicly supported programs. It’s critical we work collectively to ensure women and children can continue to count on these essential health programs.

CFU: What are some of the major challenges now impacting your organization and how can the public assist?

SS: Recent changes in philanthropy and disruptions to the economy have been challenging to many nonprofits, including March of Dimes. Ensuring that every woman of childbearing age in the U.S. has insurance that includes pregnancy care is an ongoing struggle.

Public Support Needed

SS: There is an urgent need for new solutions to address the threat of premature birth and growing racial and ethnic inequities. Now more than ever, March of Dimes needs the public’s support for our efforts from research to education to advocacy. We ask the public to join us in our mission by donating, raising awareness and speaking out to their elected officials to support moms and babies across the nation.

Advertisements

O Taste and See: Veggies are Really Good

IMG_0938

There’s no debating that veggies are a key to a maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. But when it comes to making changes in our eating habits it can be downright challenging.

If that’s not enough, how about those who have committed themselves to becoming totally vegetarian or vegan. The mere thought of it is enough to make some of us run for the hills.  By the way, vegan is not short for vegetarian.

Even if you, like me aren’t quite there yet when it comes to giving up meat entirely, you can still incorporate some healthy and delicious alternatives to your menu. Continue reading “O Taste and See: Veggies are Really Good”

July is Fibroids Awareness Month!

Nearly 20% to 80% of all women develop fibroids by age 50. For women of color, this number has climbed to an astonishing 90%. But what exactly are fibroids? Even those who have them are sometimes unsure what they are and what do they mean for a women’s reproductive health?

What are Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids, also known as uterine leiomyomas or fibroids are benign smooth, noncancerous growths of the uterus that usually occur during a woman’s childbearing years. These tumors may vary in size and quantity. From barely visible to very significant.

IMG_0641

Fibroid Symptoms

Many women who develop tumors may never experience any discomfort, while others suffer from a variety of unpleasant symptoms including:

  • Excessive bleeding, cramping and pelvic pain
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination/difficulty urinating
  • Menstrual periods lasting a week or more
  • Bloating and/or constipation
  • Back pain, headaches or leg cramps

**NOTE** If you are currently experiencing any of the symptoms above for any prolonged length of time. Please schedule a checkup and speak to your physician right away to discuss available treatments and options.

What Causes Fibroids?

While there is still a lot of mystery surrounding the actual cause of uterine fibroids. Advancements have been made to identify possible triggers and correlations between factors such as genetics or diet.

Erica Campbell of the multi award-winning duo Mary Mary, radio host of “Get Up! Mornings with Erica Campbell and one of the stars of the new TVOne docuseries “We’re the Campbells” is a wife and mother of three. 

In March 2018, Erica posted this message on social media to share her post-op experience after undergoing a minor surgical procedure for fibroid removal.

Erica continues to be an advocate for encouraging women to be proactive about monitoring their health.

BFF6E3F9-DB8E-4D41-BD4E-0DBF260A7343

CFU: How did you first come to the realization that you had fibroids?

EC: I had excessive bleeding for 2 weeks straight. My energy was low. I was nervous whenever I wore light colors.

CFU: When is medical surgery usually recommended to treat fibroids?

EC: I believe God allows us to feel pain as a trigger to change! Anytime your blood is low your body doesn’t have what it needs to survive. I can’t say when for anyone else should go, so I just listen to your body and the Holy Spirit!

CFU: Does having fibroids always result in needing a hysterectomy? Are there any special dietary recommendations for those that suffer from fibroids?

EC: No absolutely not, a hysterectomy isn’t always needed! You can definitely make dietary changes and do your research! Take ALL processed food out of your diet! Add more green vegetables and cut out sugars, and you will see a change. Another things is a lot of big brand sanitary napkins are actually toxic! Find natural products to use they’re much healthier for your body!

Is Your Church Making You Fat???

No, this isn’t another article celebrating those who are thin. Despite popular opinion, being ultra thin is not for everyone. The subject gained interest soon after I posted a social media poll asking church members to name the various occasions their churches hosted events involving food. The response was overwhelming.  Parishioners across the nation started naming activities like church anniversaries, Pastors anniversaries, friends & family celebrations, bake sales, fish frys, harvest celebrations, cookouts, homegoings AND homecomings just to name a few. Some of the occasions didn’t even official names, they were just simply referred to as 1st or 3rd Sunday meals.

Feast of the Lord??

My personal favorite was a fundraiser my own church made up called “Twelve Tables”.  Each of the twelve tables depicted a month during the year and the theme of course was FOOD! The tables all represented holidays and displayed a virtual cornucopia of delicacies. One ticket, afforded you the opportunity to partake in a year’s worth of meals. July’s table was filled with cookout favorites like ribs, potato salad and burgers, January boasted pig’s feet, collard greens and black-eyed peas then there was November…the grandest of all feasts complete with a full Thanksgiving spread.

What’s Up With All This Food At Church?

One year, during one of these events a church member had fallen ill.  911 was called and an ambulance arrived. When the crew entered the church, they stopped dead in their tracks taken back by the unbelievable sight of wall-to-wall food in our fellowship hall. One of the EMT workers said “It’s wonder no one has had a heart attack in here. What’s up with all of this food???

Great question. What IS up with all of the food at our churches?? Fellowshipping has somehow become synonymous with the Feast of the Lord….LITERALLY!

Churches are increasingly becoming a breeding ground for people slowly digging their own graves with a knife and fork. 

But its not just church members, nationally nearly 38% of adults are obese and approximately 8% are considered extremely obese.  Yet, diet and weight loss procedures have often been a confusing and even daunting task for many. Overall, the goal is not that everyone should be skinny but each individual should strive to maintain a healthy weight range to avoid potential issues such as limited mobility, heart diseases, breathing disorders, diabetes and a host of other preventable ailments.

Here are some stats from U.S. states:

  •  Louisiana, Alabama, West Virginia and Mississippi have the highest adult obesity rates nationally with over 35% of adults who are considered obese. Louisiana being the highest at 36.2%
  • Mississippi has the highest rate of diabetes at 14.7%.
  • West Virginia has the highest rate of hypertension at 41%.

Charles Butler Jr. the founder of the Stellar-nominated gospel group “Charles Butler & Trinity” knows the struggle of weight loss all too well. At his peak weight, he was 499 pounds. But today, with the help of the medical professionals at the Decalo Weight Loss Center in Maryland he has lost 150 lbs and counting within 9 months and without surgery! He also serves as their Brand Ambassador.

The picture below of Charles wearing a suit was taken 2017 on the red carpet at the Stellar Awards. The other picture, again on the Stellar red carpet was taken just last month and really shows his remarkable transformation!

IMG_3568

CF United:  What do you think is one of the greatest misconceptions about people who are overweight?

CB: I think one of the greatest misconceptions is that we are unkempt. That we live a piggish lifestyle, but even at my heaviest I was always well-groomed, always smelled well and always kept myself up.  So that’s one of the biggest misconceptions, which is why one of the things I’ve always hated is when people have said “Oh you smell so good” it was like I was not supposed to.

CF United: What was the turning point for you that made you lose the weight? 

CB: The turning point was definitely travel and being able to fit comfortably on an airplane. I knew this what I was supposed to do and if I had to ride coach I did not want to be uncomfortable or make someone else uncomfortable. Between travel and even seeing pictures of myself on the red carpet. I just knew I wanted to be better and live better.

I actually thought about this coming home last month from the Stellar Awards.  I had a connector flight and it took us all on a small jet and I said God no….I was so comfortable on the other plane. But when it came time to board I didn’t have the usual anxiety. I didn’t say I have to get on another plane or ya’ll have to rearrange anything. I just got on my plane, sat down, slept and came home.

CF United: How did you find out about the Decalo Weight Loss Center?

CB: I got a call from a gentleman I knew who asked me if I’d mind taking on an endorsement with the Decalo Weight Loss Center. He saw me once on the red carpet and at that time I had lost about 20 lbs, to me that was not a significant amount of weight but I said to myself you know what… I can’t do this anymore and I said “Sure” I would do it and he said, “You have to be serious about it” and that’s when I said “You know let’s do it”. When I went into Decalo I weighed 499 lbs  I didn’t know it…you never could not of told me I weighed that much.  I just let it go. It was the fear of the unknown, it was like if I don’t know I’ll never know and because I never had medical issues I figured I’m good.

 

CF United: You’ve tried in the past to lose weight. What was different about the Decalo Weight Loss Center?

CB: The accountability, the staff is excellent! There’s a lady named Tish that I deal with on a weekly basis and she’s awesome to communicate with. I will never forget, once when I was in Philadelphia I went to a restaurant for a dinner party and literally almost had a small breakdown because there was nothing on the menu except pizza, pasta and salad. So I went to the bathroom and called Tish and I said, “I’m salad’ed out…I don’t know what to eat”.  She literally sat with me on the phone and went over the menu. THAT right there meant the world to me. It was the most human thing ever for her to sit on the phone with me while she was in her office and say, “Ok…what’s on the menu?”.  She said, “I know you don’t want salad, so let’s not do salad” and then she asked if they had alternative crusts with the pizzas and they didn’t so she asked what types of pastas they had? Eventually, I wound up getting lobster ravioli.  She said, “Ask them if they can go light on the sauce” and they were able to do that. She was sooo accommodating and that made a world of difference.  And after all of that, I think I ate less than half of the meal.

CF United: Decalo also offers online products such as the BellyTox Tea. What is it and how has it helped you?

In the beginning of my weight loss journey, I noticed at first there are these big numbers but then the weight loss numbers started to decline. My first week at Decalo I lost 18 lbs, then afterwards I was losing maybe one or two pounds per week so the BellyTox Tea literally accelerated my weight loss. The Belly Detox Tea has a 14-day AM and PM tea.

Kudos to Charles for sharing his amazing weight loss journey. Find out more about the “BellyTox Tea” or call the Decalo Weight Loss Center and be sure to mention you saw them on Church Folks United!

Overall, it takes approximately 21 days to form a new habit. Perhaps you’ve already fallen off on a New Year’s resolution. Don’t give up on the rest of the year.  Your season for a healthy beginning can start today. If staying motivated or even getting motivated is a challenge, consider partnering with someone willing to share the journey like a spouse, a close friend or a support group. If emotions are what trigger your overeating, consider some meditative techniques and of course prayer.  You might even want to try getting yourself moving with some spiritual vibes combining gospel music with inspiration and exercise but don’t attempt a drastic overhaul overnight. Remember, gradual changes can eventually become routine.  It’s your temple invest in it and cherish it.

This is a judgment-free zone! Feel free to share your own journeys and testimonies here at Church Folks United to help encourage, uplift and bless others!