I’m Renyea Colvin, Founder of Healthier Futures. Healthier Futures is a health and wellness collaborative with a single intention:
To change the world by empowering Black women to design healthier lives through wellness and self-care.
A lofty goal, right? Yes, I know. Though, current conditions may lead us to believe that health is an illusive state for Black women, it’s been my experience that when we make up our minds, we can make magic!
I believe every woman can do something today that contributes to better health for herself – and therefore, her family, community, and workplace.
Implied in this belief is the idea that wellness is a journey from where we are to someplace better. Like any journey, there tends to be key moments in our lives that make us truly commit to doing what we need to do in order to be successful. One such moment happened to me…
In 2012, I was working at a public health agency doing exactly what I had set out to do with my life. I was supporting a large-scale global health project designed to prevent HIV among youth in sub-Saharan Africa. I loved my work and I was generally satisfied with my life. Then one day, during a particularly stressful meeting with my supervisor, I started to feel unusually anxious…and itchy.
After the meeting, I went to the restroom to take a quick break and happened to see my chest in the mirror. I saw what I thought was some sort of inflamed insect bite. I quickly realized it wasn’t an insect bite at all…
Before I could wash my hands and leave the restroom, the inflamed spot had grown to raised, itchy, splotches that had spread down my back and torso. In an effort to makes sense of these odd spots that seemingly came out of nowhere, I thought maybe the new shirt I was wearing had irritated my skin. Except my shirt wasn’t actually new. Not really having time to figure it out, I made a mental note to not scratch (which was oh so difficult!) and to make a doctor’s appointment. Then, I went back to work. By the end of the day, the itchy splotches were gone so I convinced myself that it was a weird fluke and I nearly forgot about the incident…until the next time they appeared.
Following another stressful meeting at work, my back became splotchy and itchy once again…and this time, I was annoyed and concerned. Again, by the end of the day, I was back to normal and I didn’t see the connection between the acute stress I was experiencing and the hives on my back and torso. At the time, I didn’t even realize they were hives. But, I did go see my doctor.
My doctor’s office was a short walk from my job. When she took my blood pressure at the start of the visit, I could see the concern on her face as we both stared at the unusually high blood pressure reading. I was thinking that I was far too young to have blood pressure that high. My diet was good and I was physically active. Although I have a family history of high blood pressure, neither myself or my doctor was convinced that family was the explanation in my case.
After a lengthy discussion with her, I realized that I had come to the visit immediately after experiencing another very stressful meeting at work. I was still processing the meeting in my mind when I sat down to have my blood pressure taken. My doctors asked if anything else had been unusual lately and as I heard myself telling her about the hives, it hit me like a ton of bricks…
The stress I was experiencing at work was making me sick and my body knew it long before my mind could process it!
My doctor ran several tests to rule out other conditions and we both came to the conclusion that I needed to better handle the stress I was experiencing at work. She recommended that I monitor my blood pressure, gave me some very practical ways to combat stress, and she said the words that ensured it was only a matter of time before I invested heavily in the work of Healthier Futures…
She said, “Your health is simply too expensive a price to pay for a job.”
After that visit, I began to feverishly put together a plan to apply my training in health education and behavior change to designing a healthier life for myself while empowering others to do the same. I started leading fitness classes as a way to relieve stress and promote the mental and physical health of myself and my community. Since then, Healthier Futures has evolved to offer engaging programs, coaching, and speaking deeply rooted in a commitment to helping women achieve vibrant health through wellness and self-care in ways that are sustainable and effective.
I believe that everything in life is preparation for something else. In addition to having my own eye-opening health challenges, my preparation to run Healthier Futures includes a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from Georgia State University (Go Panthers!) and over 10 years of experience and training in chronic disease prevention, STD/HIV prevention and corporate wellness.
I’ve spoken and conferences and events across the country on health and wellness related topics. I’m trained as a health coach, a Certified Health Education Specialist, and a ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist. Most importantly, my passion for health and wellness and committed to changing the world through wellness and self-care for Black women.
Founder of Healthier Futures