ON MAY 12, the Ministry of Sport and Community Development (MSCD) kicked off its first panel discussion in the Pink Reign campaign entitled “Journey of a Million Miles – Tackling non-communicable diseases (NCDs), mental health, diet and exercise in women and girls.”
Streamed via the Ministry’s Facebook page, the discussion featured contributions from general practitioner Dr Dionne Mitchell; fitness instructor and founder of First Lady Fit and Wellness Jessica James; and health and wellness coach and personal trainer Zulema Charles.
The Ministry said in a statement issued on Tuesday that the discussion focused on “achieving your fitness goals comes with finding the right balance of diet and exercise. This starts with respecting our bodies and using food as fuel. This must also be built on a solid foundation of self-love.”
During her address, Mitchell provided an overview of NCDs and her experience with patients over the years. She noted a significant rise in cases involving diabetes, precocious puberty and polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid-related cases among women in their 20s and 30s and asthma.
She also addressed the issue of hormones present in food and how this affects the body. Mitchell stressed that people do not have control over their genetic composition, but can change their lifestyle choices, which would directly tackle NCDs.
Charles shared her experience transitioning from a dancer to fitness instructor and opened up about her own endometriosis diagnosis. She said a poor diet fed her illness, leading her to make a conscious transformation.
Charles tells her clients, “You cannot out-train your diet. You must adjust your diet and not focus on exercise only. Food can easily cancel any workout. Your diet can support or completely stop your routine.”
Former bodybuilder James echoed these sentiments and emphasised that achieving one’s fitness goals must be done in a holistic manner.
“It starts with a conversation from within. Self-love is critical. We cannot punish ourselves if we don’t look like Serena Williams or Jennifer Lopez,” she said.
All three panellists endorsed eating locally grown fruits and vegetables as an effective way to combat NCDs and achieve one’s fitness goals.
The Ministry's permanent secretary Angela Edwards thanked the panel for providing yeoman service to TT through their participation.
She added, “This series is intended to intensively explore the entire sporting ecosystem and how this impacts girls and women’s ability to exercise and participate in sports.”
The first discussion was moderated by Nicole Duke-Westfield.
The next panel discussion is scheduled to take place on May 26, and is titled “Fostering a Cultural Shift.”
The Pink Reign campaign seeks to encourage the meaningful participation of women and girls in sports through four pillars: the GirlsRunTT Virtual Race Challenge, the panel discussion series, a social media feature spotlighting women and girls in sport and the sport training video series.
For more information on the campaign, visit the Ministry's website at mscd.gov.tt or its social media pages.