My Moringa State of Mind

I was talking to The Hub the other day and I commented on how life has become so incredibly busy. There never seems to be any time left at the end of the day. When I get home I am so exhausted and grumpy that sometimes I wonder if I’m being a good spouse let alone roommate. As I get older I have so much going on in my life that I just can’t flip the off switch when I want to.

I am what you could categorize as a “worrier”. I worry about everything you guys. Whenever a family member is travelling I’m always on edge hoping they will arrive safely. I am never able to sleep when travelling because I always have my eyes on the road just in case the driver takes his off the road. I’m always asking The Hub if he’s okay because I’m afraid he might have a heart attack. I worry about the world ending in a zombie apocalypse or a huge earthquake, and movies like 2012 and World War Z do nothing to help. So as a result I have a chronic case of insomnia. I can’t sleep peacefully most nights; I toss and turn like the bed is on fire. And of course as life’s sense of humour would have it, I am married to a man who could sleep through a thunderstorm. This usually means I am tired during the day. And when I’m stressed and grumpy, I crave for junk food and needless to say that junk food makes me pack on the kilos.

When I picked up my Moringa powder sample from Umoyo, the green colour and its herby smell reassured me of its safety. It doesn’t get more natural than this. I was a bit worried that my maid would find it in the cupboard and think it was a herbal concoction to keep The Hub in love with me or something. She hasn’t said anything about it yet, but again she probably wouldn’t tell me her suspicions, right? I wasn’t sure how to use it but I googled a few ways and I was good to go. I found that easiest thing for me was to put it in my daily protein shakes. My workouts involve a lot of heavy weight lifting and as a result I require a very high protein intake to repair my muscles. The fastest source of protein has proven to be protein shakes so I decided if I was going to add Moringa powder to anything, it would be that. So I added a teaspoon of Moringa to protein shakes every day.

Moringa Powder [photo credit: dgsspices.com]

Moringa Powder [photo credit: dgsspices.com]

After a few days of taking it I realized that I woke up fewer times during the night. After a week, I had even slept through the whole night. I found that I was less anxious and stressed too. I noticed a significant boost in energy too. I also noticed that my appetite had reduced abit. I had taken the Moringa thinking it would make me lose weight but what I got was probably better. I’ll tell you the truth, Moringa powder is not some miracle weight loss supplement. What it does is that it completely nourishes and energizes your body. When all your nutritional requirements are met, that will naturally bring down your junk food cravings and you will have enough energy to lead an active lifestyle. I don’t know about you but that’s sounds like a great deal to me.

I researched it online and found that it is used by so many communities as a natural remedy to several ailments. Apparently it helps with anemia, arthritis, constipation, diabetes and ulcers. It contains proteins, vitamins and minerals and it’s even used in some parts of Africa in feeding programs to fight malnutrition. It lowers cholesterol and is a great detoxifier. It lowers blood pressure; I guess that’s why it helped me with my sleep problems and anxiety. I read somewhere that it stimulates hair growth so I’m keeping my fingers crossed, it might just be the answer to my dream of having waist long hair.

I’ll keep adding Moringa to my meals for a long time to come, if not for more energy, more nutrition and higher metabolism then for better sleep. As I get older and life gets more demanding, I will need all the help I can get to keep me from crushing. If you want to try it out, you can get Moringa from any Umoyo Health Shop. Let me know if what you think about it.

*This is post is sponsored by Umoyo Natural Health but the opinions and experiences expressed are my own.

As Sweet as Xylitol

What’s your biggest weakness? What kills your self-control with just a glance? Mine is sugar. I have a serious sweet tooth. I love sweet things so much you have no idea. I love sugar so much that there are certain things I don’t eat just coz they are not sweet. For example, I rarely eat maize cobs and pumpkin because they have a sweetness that is not so sweet after all. Every month when on my periods, I survive on chocolate bars and cake. It’s probably not surprising that I have 3 extracted teeth and 3 cavities to show for my unhealthy addiction.

Xylitol
In my quest for better health, I needed to find something that would give me the same pleasure while not causing as much damage to my teeth and body weight. So when the therapist at my Umoyo health consultation suggested using a sugar replacement called xylitol, I was definitely interested. I have occasionally used honey and I know that it works for some things but not all. So I was interested to see how xylitol would be.
I picked up my sample pack from Umoyo and I was ready to go. First of all, Xylitol is a pure white grainy substance just like sugar so I was already feeling quite comfortable to use it because it looked familiar. It’s almost as sweet as table sugar but it has 33% less calories. I had a few worries about the origins of xylitol so I looked it up and I found out that it is naturally found in many fruits and vegetables and people have found a way of producing it commercially.

Xylitol on spoon
Xylitol is very instrumental to attaining and maintaining a healthy weight. Table sugar is everywhere like carbonated drinks, pastry and all the good stuff that bring the extra kilos. It might be possible to abandon those vices but there are just some things that are necessary in our diets. There are just some things that require sweetness like tea and cereal. But the problem is that table sugar is addictive and is an empty food that gives us nothing healthy. So Xylitol comes to the rescue. It does not spike blood sugar and insulin levels like table sugar. This makes it safe for diabetic people to use it. It is also not addictive and is very good for our teeth.
Xylitol can also be used for baking though it can’t be used in a recipe that requires yeast because it won’t rise. I tried to bake a chocolate cake using xylitol and it turned out quite well I must say. Xylitol is very safe for humans and has almost no side effects but if you have a dog I would think twice about feeding it anything containing Xylitol. Apparently a dog’s digestive system doesn’t take kindly to xylitol.
Xylitol is something that I will probably always use. With my love for sugar, I can’t completely stay away from sweet things so it provides a very good compromise. I am just glad I won’t have to extract any more teeth. I was afraid I would have sunken cheeks in my twenties. Though I think I would have looked exotic, what with my high cheekbones and all. If you want to avoid a toothless mouth or you would want to help lose or maintain your weight or you are diabetic and would like an alternative to honey, you can try out Xylitol. You can get it from any Umoyo shop and try it out. You’ll thank me for it. Let me know what you think when you try it.

*Please note that the post is sponsored by Umoyo Natural Health but the opinions expressed are my own.

My Umoyo Health Consultation

When the Umoyo Natural Health media team asked me to try out some of the weight loss services they offer, I was a bit pensive but excited. Everyone knows that weight loss is never an easy journey so I braced myself for work and starvation. But what I found out was the contrary; there wouldn’t be anything like that here. The first step was to go through a health consultation.

How much would you pay for a comprehensive health consultation? A sit-in session with a qualified health therapist to discuss solutions to some of the health issues you’ve been carrying around? What if I told you it could cost nothing? I found out that Umoyo currently have a promotion. They are offering a free health consultation (which is worth K100) to anyone who has one of their fliers.

So I quickly carried a flier and went to their woodlands shop. I met the lady at the counter and told her I wanted a health consultation. I was sort of nervous because free things do that to me. They fill me with such an excitement and thrill but also fear of it not being real. But the lady smiled at me and told me to wait a short moment while the therapist got ready for me. I looked around the shop and saw so many things I wanted to carry home with me.

I finally sat down with the therapist and the health consultation began. She asked me how she could help me and I went blank. I didn’t know where to begin and what exactly to tell her. Was I supposed to tell her that I have dreams of an army of zombies and that I sometimes wink at dogs and I swear they wink back? I’ve never met a therapist before; I don’t know if they all can handle my mental health or lack of. But as I looked at her, I remembered why I was there and told her about my weight loss journey so far and asked her what she could recommend.

She gave me some dietary recommendations which included increasing water intake, reducing carbohydrates, increasing green vegetable intake and avoiding sugar. She also gave me a list of some supplements that would help me in achieving overall health. I will be talking about some of these in the next few weeks. I asked her so many questions but she had an answer for all of them. She highly recommended the 7 day weight loss program that Umoyo offers which contains cleanses and juicing. I asked her if she only handled weight loss issues, it turns out she can handle questions ranging from diabetes to reproductive health. 

The promotion for a free health consultation is still running. Just get yourself one of these fliers from any Umoyo shop and you’ll be able to get personalised consultation and advice. For more information on them, visit their website at umoyo.com and they are highly present on the social media sites. 
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*Over the next few weeks I will try out different products offered by Umoyo that help in weight loss and general health. Please note that the post is sponsored by Umoyo but the opinions expressed are my own.

The Day I got Screened for Cervical Cancer

I was nervously pacing across the tiny room. I knew I was crazy to be this scared but that didn’t make it any easier. I told myself this was just routine and nothing would go horribly wrong. But I didn’t believe a single word I told myself. I was in the Cervical Cancer screening room waiting to be screened. You would think that I was waiting to hear my HIV status by the way I paced.

Cervical Cancer is the most common cancer in Zambia and Zambia has the second highest rates of Cervical cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa. I knew all this and that’s why I was nervous. I have heard of women who have died from Cervical Cancer. It shows no signs or symptoms until the cancer is in full gear. Many people have crazy misconceptions on how a woman can get it. But the simple explanation is that it is caused by the viral infection of the cervix by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Oh yeah, and this HPV is sexually transmitted.

But here’s the crazy thing about Cervical Cancer; it can be prevented. See, before the viral infection causes the cancer, there are some precancerous cells that can be detected and removed to prevent the cancer. So routine screening is very important. Now I know all this but I still hadn’t gone for a screening yet. The thing is I don’t trust “routine” checkups. Each time I have gone for a checkup, they always find something wrong with me. And because I work in a place where I see pictures of full blown cancer ridden cervices everyday, I had the worst-case scenario in my head.

I was tired of the anticipation so one morning I just walked over to the clinic and told the nurse that I was finally here to do it. She had been prompting me to do it for a while so she was ecstatic. She left me in the room and told me to get ready, I already knew the drill. I took off my underwear and got on the bed. Oh, I forgot to mention, the Cervix is slightly past the vagina and is the door to the uterus. So taking off my underwear is a necessary move. When I get nervous, I get a gassy stomach so I was so worried I would accidentally fart in the nurse’s face.

The nurse then inserted a Speculum that looked quite scary, I must say. The key is to relax, then it will only be slightly uncomfortable. Try thinking of chocolate cake or something.

Then she swabbed my cervix with vinegar and waited for a few minutes. The vinegar makes everything on the cervix visible enough for inspection. Then the nurse got a camera which was connected to a T.V besides the bed and got a picture of my cervix. Because it’s impossible for the human eye to detect anything, they use the camera to zoom in and pick up every single detail. If there are any precancerous cells (cells that will turn into cancer after some time), they show up looking white on the picture. So while the nurse was taking the picture, I was on the look out for anything that looked anything close to white. I think sometimes knowing too much is a bad thing because the worry is unbearable.

She showed me the picture on the TV. It was clear! I had a very clear and pink cervix. No precancerous cells and no cancer. The relief I felt was almost tangible. I almost cried. The picture of my cervix stared back at me like a pretty little baby. I thought it looked beautiful. If I had got the picture I would have shown you guys. I have encountered cases of women younger than me who found out they had the early stages of cancer so I knew just how blessed I was. I got up from that bed feeling so relieved, I didn’t even care if the nurse saw my stretch marks. I was also so happy my sphincter muscles hadn’t let me down.

The whole procedure took about 15 minutes. 15 minutes that made my life a bit lighter. 15 minutes that took away the worry of cervical cancer. Even in the event that I had been found with cancer cells, it wouldn’t have been so bad because I would have caught it early and something would have been done about it. Most women die from Cervical Cancer because they catch it really late.

Any woman who has had sex needs to get screened for cervical cancer. It is done for free in government-run clinics. Go to a clinic near you and get screened. Have you been screened for Cervical Cancer? You might want to do it soon. Early detection leads to early treatment.

My next appointment is in 2018, three years from now. I’ll make sure I keep it.

keep-calm-and-fight-cervical-cancer-1

9 things to carry to the gym

When I decided to join a gym, I had a very basic idea of what I would need on each visit. I only knew I needed workout clothes and a towel but I discovered I needed more things. With every session I found myself requiring more and more items. So to save you from that discovery journey and to let you walk into the gym like a well equipped boss, here are some things that you will need in the gym.

1) Workout Shoes – When I first started, I would wear canvas during the workout. But that proved to be uncomfortable and my feet would hurt. So I bought tennis shoes that were half a size more than my foot size and that did the trick. Feet tend to swell during exercise so make sure you buy shoes that are half a size larger than your foot size.

2) Sports socks – Make sure you buy more than one pair because if your day is anything like mine, you will only have time to do your laundry on the weekend.

3) Full set of fitness clothes – I’ve seen some people workout in t-shirts and sweatpants. If that’s your cup of tea then go ahead but I prefer tank tops and leggings. I might graduate to shorts when results start to show but for now capris work just fine. Make sure you have at least two sets of workout clothes.

4) Sports bra – Buy a good fitting sports bra. It shouldn’t be too loose but should not be chest-clenching tight either. A good sports bra restricts boob movement down to a healthy minimum without being uncomfortable. Have at least 2 bras because they are the first contact with your body’s sweat.

5) Gym towel – Some people overlook the importance of a towel. The whole point of working out is to work up a sweat and that sweat needs to be wiped away before it gets into your eyes.

6) Shower essentials – If you’re like me then you prefer leaving the gym clean with no evidence of sweat. If you prefer to take a shower at the gym you will need to carry a few things. A travel sized bar of soap or a small bottle of shower gel, a shower cap and flip flops. You might need to carry spare underwear because people often forget that they get sweaty down there too.

7) Water bottle – One of the biggest rules of exercise is to stay hydrated. Most gyms sell water but I suggest carrying your own water bottle. This is cheaper and less cumbersome.

8) Lifting gloves – If you’re going to be lifting weights, you will definitely need gloves. I still have blisters on my hands from before I realized I needed them. I had to keep removing my rings just to lift weights and that made me fear I would lose them one day. But with gloves I can keep them on the whole time.

9) Gym bag – You will definitely need a gym bag for all these things.

There are other little things that you can carry if you prefer, like a sweat band and an ipod. But the listed items are the necessary things every one will require. Beware though, it might get addictive. I find myself buying leggings and tank tops every time I go clothes shopping, somehow they now look more appealing than jeans. If you have any questions about where to get any of these things, let me know and I’ll help.

This Girl Loves her body ….Finally

I was out of breath, trying to keep myself upright. Rihanna’s “Where have you been” had just started playing in my earphones and I kept telling myself just to keep running until the end of the song. The gym instructor walked up to me and told me he was impressed with my determination then he asked which part of my body was bothering me and what I wanted to get rid off. I could see he was ready to dish out some advice about which exercise was the best. I slowed down the treadmill to think about it and I came up with nothing. I couldn’t think of a single part of me that I hated. I told him all I wanted was to be stronger and healthier and for the first time I meant it.

A friend of mine sent me a picture of us in college. When I looked at it I gasped with surprise. I was so small back then. And the worst part is that the size of my head was exactly what it is now. Seriously, I looked malnourished. This was the past I kept looking back to. This was the 60 kilos I kept on aiming at. This was what I had been craving ever since I gained weight. I had been glorifying the past, wanting to go back not knowing that my present was better. The crazy thing is that when I weighed 62 kilos all I wanted was to lose a bit of weight. When I went up to 65 kilos, I stopped eating just so that I could go back to 62. And now on the upside of 70 kilos I found myself just yearning for the 65 I once had. I noticed a trend here, I was living in the past, forever looking back. This nostalgia could easily be triggered by anything, like someone commenting how much weight I had gained or just an old pair of jeans not fitting. I stopped taking pictures of myself because I wanted to lose some weight first.

That picture made me realize that if I didn’t love myself now, I wouldn’t love myself when I lost weight. So I stopped taking the diet pills and I sat myself down (I seem to be doing that a lot). I had to stop mistreating myself. I had to stop punishing myself for who I was. I had to forgive myself for all the neglect I had suffered by my own hands. I had to accept myself. I had to, I had no choice because no one else would do it for me. I knew it would be a long process but at least I had to begin. So I started researching and educating myself on health and fitness. I started learning how to cook so that I could prepare the best food my body deserved. I finally joined a gym. I told myself each time I was changing into my workout clothes that I was doing this because I love myself. In the back of my mind, I was secretly hoping I would lose weight. I started lifting weights and discovered just how much I loved it. I started learning things about myself that I never knew, like how I have the endurance of a horse. I was realizing I felt my happiest after a hard, tiring workout session. In the two months that I’ve been religiously working out I have had zero depression episodes. That is such a great improvement considering that I had them on an average of once a week.

I fell in love with myself with each day that passed. And so when the guy asked me what part of my body bothered me, I learnt something about myself. I finally work out not because I despise myself but because I want to be strongest version of me. Let every action you take be driven by love and not hate. Every time I see some new muscles showing, I get excited even though I know I’m the only one who can see them. And it must be life trying to teach me a lesson because I haven’t lost a single kilo since I started working out but I’m definitely feeling healthier and more content. I have a spring in my walk now. I’m not apologizing for the space I occupy anymore. It’s my space and I love it.

Is there something keeping you in the past? Something that keeps you turning back, comparing and living in constant discontentment? Maybe an old relationship that looks better than your current one, or an old job that is better paying than your current gig? There’s a chance you might be looking at things the wrong way. Love where you are now then strive for better things. It’s the only way to be happy, well there’s chocolate too but you know what I mean.

This Girl Can

This Girl Lifts

Here is a video that perfectly describes where I’m at now. It’s called “This Girl Can”

I’m sick but I swear I’m not pregnant!!

Life has a crazy notion of timing. I moved to a new job less than a month ago and I’ve been trying to learn the strings. My previous job was extremely stressful and I dreaded having to go back every morning but then I got a new job and I was relieved. One of the best benefits of having a job for me has been medical insurance. I can just walk into a private clinic when I don’t feel well and I won’t have to pay a ngwee. But right now I’m in between insurances, I just gave up my old one with my old job and the new one is still being processed. So if I want any health services, I’ll have to pay for them myself. And as if life is a serial prankster, I fell ill last week. Continue reading

Less is not More!

I am coming to terms with the fact that I’m a big girl. At size 12/14 I’m bordering on being plus sized. I look at myself in the mirror and try to figure out how to go down to being a size 8. There are times when I’m confident that my body is okay but most times I look at myself with dismay wondering why the hell I had to get my father’s features. Why do I have to love food that much? Sometimes the self loath gets so intense that I’m tempted to induce throwing up. It wouldn’t be so bad if I was bulimic right? But of course I freak out and I’m much too lazy to stick to sticking my finger down my mouth every time so I don’t go through with it. I think of starving myself sometimes but I always give in by 10 AM. So I try to work out whenever I can and eat healthy whenever I can but the sad truth is I may always struggle with my weight.

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Get Fit Campaign : Update

It’s been 2 weeks since I joined the Get Fit Campaign. 2 week of extreme workout. 2 weeks of trying to eat healthy. It’s been great, it’s been painful, but most of all it’s been challenging. It is teaching me commitment to working out, consistency in my eating patterns, and persistance even when it hurts.

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