By Shirley Hawkins
LOS ANGELES — With COVID-19 taking its toll around the world, mental health and self-care have become urgent topics for many people seeking to remain healthy amid the pandemic.
The Black Faculty and Staff Association at Los Angeles Trade Technical College held a luncheon Feb. 23 that was facilitated by tech influencer and health and fitness expert Sharron Moore.
The session was entitled “Staying Fierce Amongst the Madness.”
“I really love talking about health and wellness,” said Moore, an Air Force veteran who runs a tech company. “Being fit, healthy and wellness go hand and hand with what happens to us through life and how we choose to channel that energy.”
Moore said she has a sacred mantra that she lives by.
“One of the things I love saying is ‘Stay fierce,’” she said. “I’ve been saying ‘stay fierce’ since I was a little kid. I use the word ‘fierce’ because when we talk about obstacles that get in our way, some people will look at me and say, ‘Oh, you must have had life so easy.’”
But for Moore, nothing could be further than the truth.
“My mother was emotionally and physically abusive to me and my brothers,” she said. “But I had these aunts and uncles who told me that I could do anything. And it was my great aunt, who was in her 70s at the time who said, ‘You gotta stay fierce. Don’t let anything get in your way.’
“People thought my life was so privileged, but it wasn’t. I was an angry child,” Moore added. “My aunt, who lived in Pasadena, would tell me to go run. I would run around the Rose Bowl three times. And then one day, this guy saw me and he said, “Hey, kid! You want to be on my track team? You got legs longer than a giraffe!’
“And I said, ‘Sure, why not?’ I was 8 years old at the time. And so he put me on his track team and I started running.”
Moore said that exercise has always played a major part in her life.
“When I go through a difficult time, I work out like a crazy woman,” she said. “I run, I swim, I hike — I have a lot of outlets. And I constantly look for outlets to keep me motivated.
“Many of my friends tell me I am the most motivating person in their lives and they’ll call me with their problems like, ‘My dog just died.’ I’ll say, ‘come on, let’s do something. I’ll pick you up and we’ll go on a hike or we’ll go down to the beach,’” Moore continued.
“I’ll tell them, ‘Look at the ocean. Look at the water. What does it feel like?’ I tell them to close their eyes and just breathe.”
Moore told the audience that self-care should be practiced every day.
“Remember one thing: that we only have one body,” she said. “That’s it. We are a speck of dust. We’re only here for a little bit of time.
“Most people think, ‘Oh, my God! ‘I’m going to live forever.’ Well, no, we’re not. I think that when COVID-19 came out, it showed us how fragile our health and mental well being was,” said Moore who said she has had several friends and cousins die from COVID.
“I share this message to all of my friends, ‘You have to stay fierce during this difficult time.’ I constantly challenge myself with my body and my mind. And one of the ways I do that is through food,” Moore said.
“Food is power. I don’t live to eat. I don’t eat pork or red meat. I only use food as a sustenance to get me through to the next day.
“I learned during COVID that a lot of my girlfriends were eating out of depression,” she added. “A friend might say, ‘Hold on, my pizza’s coming. I say, ‘What do you mean, your pizza is coming?’ She already had weight issues and I watched her get bigger and bigger and bigger.
“I said, ‘What are you doing?’ She has high blood pressure now. I said, ‘What can I do to help you? How can I motivate you? You’ve got to say fierce.’ She said, “No, that’s your job.’ And I said, ‘No, that’s your job because I want you to be here on this earth longer. You have to know how to keep yourself going. We can’t sit around and order doughnuts and pizzas.”
Moore was critical of food delivery services that make it easier for people to eat well within out leaving the house.
“When it comes to my neighbors, I’ve been seeing more takeout than I’ve ever seen. Every day, here comes Uber Eats. Here comes Postmates. Everything’s delivered. And then I watch them get bigger and bigger and walk around slumped over and depressed.
“I saw one neighbor literally sitting on his front porch crying,” she said. “I asked, ‘Why are you crying?’ He said, ‘Everything wrong is happening. There’s nothing to be happy about.’ I said, ‘Yes, there is. You’re sitting here. You can breathe. You’re alive. So be happy about that.”
More said that sometimes people are their own worst enemy.
“I’m talking about ourselves as Black people,” she added. “The statistics say that Hispanics with COVID are now at 10.8%, African Americans 9% and Caucasians 8%. I think mental health in the African-American community is more paramount than anyone else’s mental health right now because we’ve had so many things go on with us. We’ve had riots, we had the George Floyd event. We as a community need to do more with mental health.“
As for diet, Moore said, “Try to take a couple of days and try to wean yourself off of stuff you’re eating because if you starve the body a little bit it will force the body to burn off calories.”
She also urged people to exercise more.
“As we age, we’ve got to do more cardio,” she said. “A walk goes a really long way.
“You have to love yourself,” she added. “Always remember that. During difficult times in our lives we have to learn to channel that fierceness and pull it out of us. And we have to learn how to keep ourselves motivated. We have to watch our mindset. Just stay fierce in every way possible. You have to stay fierce for the people around you. It’s about the fierceness among any madness that may be happening around you.”