Resurrection Sunday

Last night my mom asked me what Easter means to me, and I’ve been thinking about it all day. One of my favourite things about this time of the year, (Resurrection Sunday) is the fact that a woman (Mary Magdalene) was the first to have seen Jesus. Throughout the Gospels , I’ve always found it so beautiful (& comforting) to read one account after the other where Jesus saw the value of what was traditionally thought to be the insignificant sex, growing up in a traditional patriarchal African household it was a big deal to know that I was loved and valued beyond measure… beyond just one day growing up, getting married, popping very cute babies out & that’s it Jesus beam me up 😂 Jesus lived in a time when it was scandalous to allow women to speak, let alone treat them with respect, yet He did it… might He have been the first male feminist? On that cross, in a moment that seemed to be marred by darkness, Christ poured out His love for us, placed value on all of us. I suppose you could call it a homecoming of some sorts, one that we work out everyday. A journey of us becoming who we were always meant to be. ♥️

‘Death could not hold You
The veil tore before You
You silence the boast of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring
The praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again

You have no rival
You have no equal
Now and forever God You reign
Yours is the kingdom
Yours is the glory
Yours is the Name above all names

What a powerful Name it is
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King.’

Why I probably won’t be going back to CrossFit…at least not in South Africa

Integrity. It’s one of the first things that people mentioned when I first heard about CrossFit almost six years ago. A sport where you’re given crazy workouts, where regardless of how long it takes you to finish the wod (workout of the day) your pride is in the honest effort you gave. I drank the CrossFit Kool-aid and I loveeeed it!!! It was refreshing to be part of a sport where women were encouraged to be strong. A sport that on a larger scale, pays female athletes just as much as male athletes. Equality in almost every sense of the word, I say almost because until recently there was very little representation from minority groups in CrossFit but slowly, I do believe it’s going to get better.

This post is inspired by a blood boiling moment I’ve just had at this lovely hour of the night, 23:54 to be precise, triggered by suddenly noticing that a few members from my old box who in truth were more the owners friends than mine, suddenly unfollowed me on insta. Meanwhile I was there merrily tagging them in posts 😂 These individuals for me have tarnished the love I once had for CrossFit as a community sport. In a South African context, I am about 99% sure that I will not be returning to a CrossFit box anytime soon…covid-19 lockdown or not!

About six or so months ago, the box that I was training at suddenly closed. The worst part about it was hearing from other members that the owners didn’t want to say anything because they didn’t want to lose people’s money. The timing of it was horrid for us as members who now had to scramble to find a box that felt like the home we thought we had. In addition to that, being billed for membership when you haven’t been to the box for 3 months while nursing your injury, is the d*ck move that I just didn’t see coming. As members, it left a bad taste in our mouths. It left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m over the drama but I’m also not, you feel me?

Here’s the thing that’s unique about CrossFit, you’re encouraged more than any other sport that I’ve ever watched, or partaken in, to make connections with the people who will see you shed blood, sweat, and tears, for the 5, sometimes 6 days that you’re there. How real those connections are varies, I know people who’ve met their partners through CrossFit. I also know people who have had their hearts broken through CrossFit. When you really buy into a box, and (sadly) believe the owners care as much as you do, it’s as though you’re seeing ‘la vie en rose,’ a little bit of naïvety, blind faith, and trust in your coach, that the box will always be there.

I think those three traits are reasons why a lot of members are blindsided when they’re kept in the dark about major changes or say in my case, the closure of a box that had become such an integral part of their life. As I detox from this CrossFit breakup I realise now why I can never again join a box in South Africa, I will always see every box owner as more interested in having my money in their back pocket, as opposed to wanting to improve my health markers. I kinda understand the shakeup at CrossFit HQ that Greg Glassman did. It was to remind boxes of what the purpose of CrossFit is, not just forging elite fitness but forging elite health as well. The CrossFit formula only works if you have a coach who is more passionate about improving health markers of his members, than enriching the health markers of his back pocket. It’s always interesting to me how a lot of people will forget to keep the main thing, the main thing when money is involved. It’s not to say that you can live on passion alone because Lord knows if I was just passionate about my job but never pursued excellence in it, I’d never be able to afford my favourite NARS and Chanel makeup items 😂(silly moment there!)

For a long time I held my tongue on writing about this issue because y’all I am trying to be a great Christian, you know: love God, love people? But the people, Lord your people are making it so darn hard for this girl to stay on the narrow road that leads to heaven 🤦🏽‍♀️ I’ve always said that my blog would be reflective of all seasons of my life, and I didn’t think I wanted to post on this issue because of how messy and unresolved it still is, but as I continue to be confronted with duplicitous behaviour from people who are so far from having integrity, it is truly all I can do to write this post and not put any names in. Even though the petty Patty in me wants to put names in… I won’t and trust me it’s not because I don’t want to 🙈🙉🙊

The moral of the story is this: think twice, and then a third time before you join a box started by a friend 😂 it’s not that I’m saying don’t support your friends’ new ventures, I’m just saying if it’s a box, girl!!! You better stay away because you’d be surprised at how much mediocre coaching you’ll put up with when it’s your ‘friends’ box! 🙈

Shout out to Fit 5ive/CrossFit 4E for giving me some really good years of CrossFit before this doozy. Most importantly, shout out to my sister who is less petty than I am, I have zero respect for people who mess with someone else’s hustle. You know who you are. Anyhoo you live and you learn peeps! #throwingshade.

The problem with COVID-19

I didn’t want to write about COVID-19 because unless you’ve been hiding underneath a rock, or are on Big Brother Germany, you will have read at least half an article…or more on this disease that has for the time being, changed the way we connect with each other.

Just in case you have no idea what COVID-19 is and why it’s called COVID-19, here’s a short-as-it-can-be, summary. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, a.k.a. SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent for COVID-19. The virus is genetically similar but different, to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak in 2003. Coronaviruses are so named because microscopically, these viruses have a spiky edge that looks like a crown. Coronavirus disease 2019, also known as COVID-19 is a therefore the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The virus is responsible for causing respiratory illness with symptoms identical to the flu such as a cough, fever and in more severe cases, pneumonia. As of today, the most affected country second to China where it was discovered, is Italy. In addition to this, as scientists learn more about this virus, a few things have been established:

1. While there is no vaccine, the global population will have to practice responsible methods of isolation and quarantine in order to minimize the spread of the disease.

2. The most at risk groups are the elderly and individuals with a compromised immune system. Therefore the measures that we take now are not just to protect ourselves but to protect a population of people with underlying immune illnesses who may only find this out in the midst of this pandemic.

When I first heard of COVID-19, I had to repeat to myself countless times, ‘do not panic.’ As the disease started to spread throughout Europe, I felt paranoia and anxiety creeping in as I thought about my husband who lives in the U.K. My anxiety levels were not helped by the the fact that in 2 weeks my husband was due to fly to South Africa. Prior to the president of South Africa announcing travel bans, I woke up on most days with a sick feeling in my stomach. The closer the disease got to South Africa, the more anxious I felt. Not necessarily because of the effect it would have on me, but the effect it could have on my parents, the effect it could have on a very large portion of the South Africa population who have a co-infection of HIV and the respiratory illness that IS the leading cause of death in South Africa, TB. At 29, (soon to be 30) I’m on the lower end of the spectrum but my social recklessness could lead to someone who isn’t in the low-risk category potentially contracting an illness that could be detrimental.

I am appalled at how people are increasingly revealing the inner racist/xenophobic moron (soz there’s no other word) that lives in them. In the early days of the virus, I saw a post on FaceBook illustrating Chinese people locked in a cage, while being laughed at by animals. Recently with Donald Trump referring to COVID-19 as the ‘Chinese virus’, I am realising that common sense, and intelligence is really not that common after all. There is a time and place to advocate for animal rights and the legislation that should be there to protect them. There is a time and place for lighthearted joking. When a disease has a death rate of ~3.6% with severe illness in 16% of all cases, you’ve got to activate the switch in your brain that rings loudly to tell you that NOW IS NOT THE TIME!!!

The problem with COVID-19 isn’t that we haven’t found a vaccine for it. The problem with COVID-19 is that people are using a global crisis to spew out the vitriol that is embedded in their hearts. If you’re wondering whether there is ever a time to be a racist moron…guess what? There never was a time. Furthermore, if I catch you on MY timeline spreading your moronic behaviour, I will not hesitate in reporting you, and then swiftly proceed to block you! If you have to ask yourself whether a post may be received as racist…it probably is!

As we are called on by leaders in our countries to exercise social responsibility, it is important that we heed to the measures being put into place. What does social responsibility look like? I’m glad you asked! Social responsibility means washing your hands due to the amazing ability (some people are only discovering now), that soap has to destroy the lipid layer of the virus, thereby preventing infection. Social responsibility looks a lot like coughing or sneezing into your bent elbow because COVID-19 can be present in the small liquid droplets released when someone coughs or sneezes, which may contain infectious virus material. If you’re on the receiving end of someone coughing in an uncouth way, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease. Social responsibility looks A LOT like giving a damn not just because of how it can affect you, BUT most importantly the effect that your actions could have on others, and in the grand scheme of things, the economy. We are ALL responsible for what the world will look like post COVID-19.

As we tackle this pandemic, the spread of fake news cannot be ignored. My advice: IF you’re going to read anything, go to reputable sources: The World Health Organization, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and in South Africa, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). For the love of all things holy, stop reading articles from unreliable sources, stop using this pandemic as a reason for your racist illiterate traits. And please, listen to the people with the science degrees who ACTUALLY know what they’re talking about!

References:

Baud D, Qi X, Nielsen-Saines K et al. Real estimates of mortality following COVID-19 infection. The Lancet Infectious Diseases (2020)

Guan W, Ni Z, Hu Y et al. Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China. The New England Journal of Medicine (2020)

Ng O, Marimuthu K, Chia P et al. SARS-CoV-2 Infection among Travelers Returning from Wuhan, China. The New England Journal of Medicine (2020)

World Health Organization. Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV): situation report – 12. February 2020 (https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200201-sitrep-12-ncov.pdf?sfvrsn=273c5d35_2. opens in new tab).

Pregnant or Fat?

I’m going through a crappy period with my weight and it’s hard not to get down on myself, especially when everyone keeps asking if I’m pregnant 🤰🏽 I’m not, I’ve just gained weight. I’m on a solid reset plan that involves zero sugar and mostly veg. So far so good, BUT it’s tough. I looked at my body today and I wasn’t happy with what I saw. There’s the quiet voice from my bulimic days that sometimes taunts me. My plan is to see a nutritionist and find out how I can potentially do plant based eating alongside long distance running and CrossFit. Right now I am being as gentle as I can be with myself while on this new journey of bettering myself and shedding a few kilos. Choosing to go on a health kick during the festive season is probably not the best idea 🤦🏾‍♀️.

When Everything Looks Okay, But Isn’t

From the outset, I had already decided that 2017 would be amazing and it already is! My prayer for you today and for your 2017 is that God would pull you closer into Him, no matter what you have been through, I pray that He would restore joy, internal and external peace, as well as a heart of gratitude; whether that be through you hitting numerous clean & jerk PR’s (I’m hinting for myself to God here,) or through new promotions at work, may His love usher in so much goodness that it absolutely takes your breath away and all you’ll be able to say is “thank you, God that was totally you!”

No, it’s not a typo. I know we’re in 2019. This is an excerpt of a post I wrote two years ago.

I had a bit of a brain lapse at work and (God forgive me,) I went on my blog and started reading some of my blog posts. Listen if you can’t stand to read your own blog posts, then you my friend are doing something wrong. I landed on one that I had written when I bought my Metcon 3s on which I had scrawled on either side of them, Colossians 3:23 and Hebrews 12:11, pasted below.

‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,’

‘No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.’

At the end of this blogpost, I wrote about how my expectation for 2017, that it would be an amazing year. Prior to 2017, I had been heavily depressed and life did not fill me with joy. I partook in things but I got no joy from them. It was almost as though I was existing. My sister Nadège, my sunflower 🌻 , was instrumental in getting me out of that deep depression. I have often written that depression is like sticky tar, you can wipe it off you i.e. learn to manage it, but it always leaves a little bit of a residue. My sister understood this better than anyone else did. Coming from an African family, we were often taught to be strong and carry on. My sister made it her mission to remind me that I was not made to just survive, I needed to thrive.

I know these words have become rather popular this week with the release of the documentary covering the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s trip to South Africa, however Jesus said it first: ‘The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, until it overflows]’ John 10:10 (AMP) Paraphrased you could read it as ‘depression comes to steal, kill and destroy my life. Jesus fills me with strength and hope so that I may enjoy life to the full, and overflow with joy’. This does not negate the need for therapy and/or medication that one may need in order to manage anxiety and/or depression. In fact, I think it is foolish that there are STILL so many Christians that will say to someone who is battling depression to pray harder. I have heard that one before, and I cannot even tell y’all how much more it made me want to break that person’s jaw à la OG’s threats from Basketball Wives (it’s a trash show I know).

2017 was not a great year. It was the year that my sister passed away and as I write this blogpost, the second last week that she would be with us, I find myself battling to write what she meant to me. I find myself tearing up and crying as much as I did the day that she passed. When my sister passed away, it felt as if air had been knocked out of my lungs. My older sisters have always been my sounding boards and I never thought the day would come where I would have one less older sister. The pain is raw, at times crippling and always unbelievable. I have all our last messages saved and I message her frequently each time foolishly believing that I will see ‘Ya Dena is typing…’ I find myself haunted by questions of what more I could have done to reach out to her for those periods when she went off the radar for a day or two. I ask myself if I could have better spotted that she was sick and done something sooner.

I ask myself if I will ever find the acceptance my family is still so desperately searching for since her death. It doesn’t feel like we will. This past month has been difficult. I find myself always sitting on the periphery of breaking down. I find myself faced with things that remind me of her and the illness that took her everywhere I go. The reminders are on my phone when I get tagged as my sister, when I’m at home recounting memories and I realise that she will never be able to take part in new ones I make. The reminders at work are in everything I do because it is so heavily tied in to what took her from us so soon.

The sweetest girl ever!

On the surface, I look like I’m okay right. I’m smiling, glowing (all thanks to my highlighter and NOT the 2 hours of sleep that I’ve been getting). Inside I feel as though I am crumbling. I miss her so much, it is a pain that only those who have lost a loved one dear to them, will be able to comprehend. She was wonderful, and I shall always carry the memory of her with me.

What to do when things look okay but are not okay:

  1. Talk to someone. I tend to bottle things up until I explode. It is not healthy and I am working to change it. I want to thank my darling fiancé for being my safe place to come home to. He was the first person I spoke to when my sister passed and I am grateful for his beautiful spirit that knows mine so well.
  2. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. This one ties in with the first point. Sometime this week on Twitter, I posted that I had been struggling with my mental health and to my surprise Lovette Jallow reached out, and she even gave me a suggestion on what to ask from my doctor to help with the zero hours of sleep that I have been getting. Don’t get me wrong, I am transparent with my fiancé about how I’m doing mentally but there is a liberation I felt with being vulnerable on Twitter as I believe it was the catalyst I needed in order to make that contact again with my therapist.
  3. Keep calm… try to keep calm. It may feel like the world is going to end, or is ending but I have survived many dark storms to know that this too shall pass. I have also learnt that if it doesn’t pass, there are things that I can do to better manage my mental state of mind, which leads me to point four.
  4. Exercise and eat as healthily as you can. You do yourself a lot more damage if your diet is as crappy as you feel. Treats are okay in moderation but make sure that you are giving your body what it needs to physically function at an optimal level, exercise to release endorphins and be patient with yourself.

To anyone dealing with bereavement, I am sending you mega hugs right now. Things will never get back to normal and that is completely okay. Be kind to yourself, be kind to others. Understand that everyone deals with grief differently. Don’t be ashamed of needing to take time out if you need it. Life may not always feel beautiful, in fact, sometimes you’ll want to punch life in the face. In those moments remember that the person you have lost is always there with you, loving you as hard in heaven, as they did on earth.

Black, Fat & Living with HIV

I apologise for the click baity title however I am hoping that if you clicked on the link, you’ll stay and read this post.

I have set for myself a target to run a marathon…forty two kilometres (yikes!!!) in order to raise funds for POWA, an organisation that helps & empowers women who have been abused, as well as an organisation supporting those living with HIV. I have been in contact with a very special charity and once they have confirmed their participation in this, I promise to give you guys ALL the juicy details and the why behind this. I was on Facebook this afternoon and read a piece posted by the South African HIV Clinicians Society on how obesity and HIV are linked.

As a black woman I am all too aware of how unpopular exercise is in my community. Yes we have Serena Jameka Williams 🎾 but on a smaller scale, black women have very few role models motivating them to shift the weights at the gym/box (if you CrossFit).

The rise of ‘thic’ being in, as well as the very unnecessary butt shots, has led to very unhealthy behaviour gaining momentum and thriving at such a rate that globally obesity is on the rise. Until this article I was completely oblivious to the fact that women living with HIV experience the weight stigma in a different way.

Things you might have known: South Africa has the largest HIV population globally, in addition to that, it also holds the record for the most obese and overweight nation on the African continent. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist 👩🏾‍🔬 to figure out that people living with HIV (PLWHA) need to take control of as many health markers as they can, nutrition and physical exercise being the most important ones.

People living with HIV need to ensure that they remain as physically fit as possible.However, due to weight loss stigmas predominately in the black community where thin = sick, clinicians are now faced with treating patients who are living with HIV and also overweight. With just 6 months of 2019 left, and as much as I hate to be a Debby downer, the reality is that time is running out towards achieving the 90-90-90 targets set by the UN towards eliminating HIV. Recommendations are to diagnose, treat and achieve viral suppression in 90% of people diagnosed with HIV. In my opinion, the solution lies not in the development of new treatment therapies, or even new antiretroviral drugs (although those are great too,) but rather in attacking the various cultural stigmas that prevent people (especially women) from getting tested and treated for HIV. In my eyes & experience as a budding researching in HIV, the problem lies mainly in getting people to accept that they are infected and this can only happen through more awareness and education of what HIV is, and a vast improvement in the access to health facilities particularly for those living in areas that are isolated and far removed from clinics and/or hospitals.

Isolation, stigma and a lack of support are still haunting black women living with HIV/AIDS, and now it seems so is obesity. As a black woman working in the field of HIV research, this has increasingly become something that I cannot ignore. Ensuring that no one gets left behind, has now become my cross to bear. It’s your cross to bear too. We’re all in this together!

How to Make Your Own Kombucha

Last month my boyfriend’s mum sent me SCOBY to start my kombucha brewing journey. Kombucha is fermented black tea loaded with probiotics and antioxidants. It helps improve your overall gut health and contains a high content of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, known to increase energy levels and contribute to overall mental well-being. Its high vitamin B12 content is one reason supplements sometimes contain dry kombucha products. The gut-repairing function also plays a role in mental health. Depression is thought to be a symptom of leaky gut, specifically due to the way that bad gut permeability contributes to inflammation. A 2012 study published in Biopolymers and Cell examined kombucha as a functional food product for long-term space exploration. The ability of kombucha to regulate the “communication of the gut-brain axis” suggested it would be useful in preventing or minimizing the effects of anxiety and depression.

God alone knows how the boy got past Heathrow security with what is essentially a living organism, I’m glad he did though! I remember once making a shea butter mix for my mum that was taken away by airport security, it could also be because it was in my hand luggage and was a touch heavy even though it was in a small-ish jar, we will never know.

First things first, what the heck is SCOBY? SCOBY stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (damn look at me remembering that off the top of my head!) This is the essential ingredient that you’ll need for booch brewing. The SCOBY is a biofilm of cellulose that is produced by the bacteria and yeast during the fermentation process. The yeast and bacteria use oxygen to survive (like most living organisms) and will most times form on the surface of the brew and not the bottom, in order to be closer to the source of oxygen. My boy’s mum put the SCOBY in a recyclable plastic water bottle with a little bit of the starter tea which is a fancy term for the previous kombucha brew. As the SCOBY develops it might look bumpy or like an alien but that’s all very normal! The one thing to look out for is fuzzy white, green or black spots on your SCOBY which will tell you that your batch is contaminated, don’t be a hero and try to save anything. Bin the whole lot including the SCOBY.

A few tips on how to ensure that your bath doesn’t get mouldy:

  • Always include a sufficient amount of starter tea to the sweetened tea along with the SCOBY. I like to keep a cup or two in my brewing jar as I have a continuous brew and I just top up with fresh strong black tea.
  • Keep the kombucha brew away from other fermentation projects to avoid microbial cross-contamination. I’m not at the point where I have a lot of different ferments on the go, but this is an important one to remember.
  • Keep the kombucha brew in a warm environment. A temperature range of 25-29°C (75-85°F) will keep the kombucha culture active, the room where I keep my booch gets cozy very quickly and thus I end up with very active microorganism. Too low temperatures can cause the SCOBY to become sluggish and lazy, creating a less acidic environment that will welcome pathogens.
  • This one goes without saying: use clean containers and utensils at ALL times.
  • I was lucky with this one: use live SCOBY and starter tea.  Dehydrated or refrigerated SCOBYs are harder to reanimate, although I will say I was in Cape Town for about a week and a half, and during this time the SCOBY stayed in the fridge yet the minute I was ready to brew, it somehow just came to life.

I will include a link at the bottom of this post to give you a lot more thorough information on everything you need to know about brewing kombucha. In this post I’ll share my recipe. Please note, you can grow your own SCOBY from store bought kombucha provided that it is unflavoured and unpasteurised. All you have to do is follow these instructions on The Kitchn 🙂

What you’ll need:

  • SCOBY + a generous amount (2 cups minimum) of starter tea or already fermented raw and unflavoured kombucha.
  • A clean brewing jar, my boy got me a 3.5l jar from Pick n Pay (for my South African friends)
  • 12 black tea bags
  • 200g white sugar
Finished tea ready to brew!

Place your SCOBY with the starter tea in your jar. In a pot measure 3 litres of water and bring to the boil. Place all 12 tea bags and the sugar in the water and allow to brew. I leave my bags in right up until I’m ready to pour it into my brewing jar. This means I end up with a very strong booch brew. If you wish, you can brew the tea for 5 minutes and remove the tea bags. Once the tea has cooled, pour it into the brewing jar, cover with muslin cloth and your lid and let the SCOBY do its thing. You can allow your tea to ferment anywhere from 7-14 days, this is called the first fermentation. I then begin my second ferment (where all the fizz can multiply) on day 8, at this point you can choose to flavour the booch that you’re going to bottle. Removing it from the jar that contains the mother SCOBY, slows the fermentation down and will keep you from ending up with kombucha vinegar. My first ferment, I whizzed up 500g of frozen strawberries with the juice of 1 orange and half a lemon and poured about 100ml at the bottom of each bottle and then topped up with kombucha. I then placed these bottles in a corner hidden from the sun and started drinking after 3 days.

Baby SCOBY growing from my first batch, time for a SCOBY hotel…

This time I made a green tea and lemon syrup by combining 6 unfermented green tea bags with 3 cups of sugar, the juice of one lemon, and water. Let the whole lot simmer for 30 minutes. Once the syrup had cooled down, I poured a generous quantity at the bottom of each bottle and topped up with my kombucha brew. I prefer the Tetley tea bags as its green tea in its best and purest form (not sponsored ha-ha). It has just the right taste of earthiness but is mild and doesn’t overwhelm the taste buds. I do have doubts as to whether I’ll be able to taste the green tea in this brew as when I tasted the syrup, the flavour was quite mild. Experimenting with flavours is my favourite part of the kombucha making process and I can’t wait to see…taste what I brew next!

Helpful links:

Cultures for Health

Dr. Axe

The Cultured Foodie

Mental Health Matters

Instead of writing this post, I should be working on the final changes on my slides for my presentation later this week. The changes are not that many, yet I find myself here undeniably stuck, uninspired. Sad without a reason to be sad. There isn’t anything out of the ordinary bothering me, my health is good. My family’s health is good, yet for about a month now, I have been unable to shake this feeling off my spirit. A feeling of indifference, a numbness that I can’t quite put my finger on.

I try to make an effort to tend to my mental health but since the start of the year it is something that I have neglected. The meditation and daily Bible reading that kept me as mentally healthy as I could possibly be, gradually got replaced by deadlines and more deadlines. My physical and mental fatigue is at an all-time high. I do believe that some of this is due to not having taken a break from work during the festive season in order to stay on top of deadlines. Now, it would seem that my mind & body are close to reaching their deadline. I am functioning but I know I could do better. The manifestation of this mental imbalance has led to me experiencing greater anxiety. I’ve felt this on a larger scale at work where I’ve been doubting myself an unhealthy amount and performing for approval. I am the most junior in my office and at times it has led to me feeling inadequate, underqualified and pretty much like a fish out of water. It has led to me reading too much into comments made by my boss and in some ways has been a hindrance to my improvement.

Now that I’ve noticed this, it’s time to get back into a routine where I prioritise my mental and spiritual health. I am in the process of drawing up a routine to ensure that every hour of the day is maximised and used as best as it can be. I downloaded a weekly planner from Savvy Spreadsheets, laminated it and will be writing down the things I will be doing on a daily basis.

  • I have gone back to journaling as I find that this was the best way for me to express my emotions and release them without fear of judgement. My favourite place to get stationary is Typo, they have the cutest items that you didn’t know you needed.
  • Reading. During my time, working as a product & brand trainer at LUSH South Africa, my then trainer Georgie Hopkins gave me a book by Patsy Rodenberg called ‘Presence’. I was a nervous ball of energy when I first met Georgie, one was because watching her train LUSH staff, you could not help but be captivated. She is a ridiculously good trainer. This coupled with the fact that being a trainer kind of thrusts you in a position of leadership, the introvert that I was, could not handle that. I learnt a lot from this book and I’ve realised that it is by reading that I learn the most about myself and how to maximise my personality to get what I want from life in a healthy way. I am going back to this book to rebuild some of the confidence I have lost.
  • I will be meditating for 15 minutes everyday. My favourite meditation app is 10% Happier. I find it to be fuss-free, practical and very applicable and easy to follow. I like to call it the meditation app for intellectuals. No chanting or ohm-ing, just connecting with your thoughts and learning how to manage your emotions and not the other way round.
  • Bin the negative self-talk. This one is probably the hardest to do. For every negative thought that comes in, replace it with a positive thought on something I can do well.
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Yesterday I saw a friend of mine filming her friend up in a coconut tree chopping down coconuts. He was also sawing off a few dead palms and he said something that really got me thinking. – The dead palms draw a ton of resources from deep within the roots in an effort to stay alive. In fact, it can starve the rest of the branches and eventually compromise the whole tree. – But if you prune the dying palms, then the ones still alive and the rest of the tree will flourish. – Our consciousness operates in much of the same way. – If we use up our valuable resources to feed unproductive thoughts that don't get us to our goals, we are wasting valuable energy. – And if those runaway doubts, fears, insecurities, and grievances keep being fed, they suck up all our energy and life force eventually leading to the demise of our dreams and goals. – But just like pruning the trees of the coconut tree, we can lop off the thoughts and feelings that no longer serve us and redirect our vital resources to feeding the thoughts and feelings that put us in direct line with our dreams and goals. – And when we do that long enough with consistent action it bears fruit. – When we've invested literally tens of thousands of hours in patterns of thought and behavior it can be almost impossible to unwind that on our own. – That's why I just opened up a handful of one month laser focused one-to-one coaching spots to help you do just that. It's designed to help you identify whats holding you back, get to the root of your current challenge, and set and attain 3 crystal clear soul goals this month. – If that resonates with you, just DM me and we'll set aside some time to chat. It's priced so those who are committed can easily afford it. – Chat soon 💜🔥🤙🏽

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The next few months will be challenging and I know that the only way I’m going to survive is by prioritising my mental health. My current state of mind has reminded me that we never finish working on our mental health, healing is not linear. It should be something we work on as consistently and frequently as physical exercise…it is probably more important than physical exercise. I refuse to live according to the cycle the world has created of working to the point of burnout, that is not living. I love this post by Kristina of the wildly popular blog ‘Fully Raw Kristina’. Growth happens in waves and maybe that’s just what I’m going through right now.

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Sometimes God breaks your heart to save your soul. 🦋 We all go through tough times, and sometimes it feels completely debilitating and devastating. The truth is: without rain there can be no rainbows. Difficult experiences allow us to truly appreciate what we do have and how far we’ve come. These times build character, integrity, wisdom, and strength. I know it’s not always easy to see the positive when you’re in the core of it, but trust that you are protected and loved. It’s through the notion of learning to pick ourselves back up that we gain not only self-respect, but also compassion, forgiveness, and self-love. Also keep in mind, sometimes the things we want most are not the best for us…or are not meant for us. Perhaps there is BETTER that is yet to come. Growth happens in waves—I say this from personal experience. Faith. Time. Some things haven’t worked out, but still may turn out better than we could have possibly imagined. 🙏🏽💕✨ I send you love today for all the good things coming. I love you. 🦁🐞🐛🦋🐬🍉✨ ✨ 📸 @cashgotwings ✨ ✨ #inspiration #motivation #waimeacanyon #waimea #vegansofig #vegansofinstagram #hawaii #girls #life #health #healthy #vegetarian #confidence #positivevibes #womenempowerment #positivity #happy #rawvegan #mountains #canyon #travelphotography #travelphotography #travel #traveler #sunset #fullyraw #vegan

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I came across the featured image for this post on Pinterest, I hope it helps, I will definitely be using it!

How Long, O Lord?

Over the last couple of weeks, as consistently as I can which in all honesty has been MEGA hard, I have been doing the Bible in One Year devotional. This year an area that I want to grow more in, is my spiritual walk and relationship with God. We’ve heard it so many times before ‘I want to be just like Jesus.’ Each time I’ve said it, I’ve meant it. You would think that would make it easier right? Wrong! Life gets in the way, you fall off the wagon, you get back on the wagon. You fall off again, you get back on. It’s a seemingly never-ending cycle but one that I am willing to go through over and over again if it means that each time I’m ‘on the wagon’, I’m closer to God and hopefully the trips off the wagon will be less frequent.

The text below was my devotional from yesterday. Nicky and Pippa Gumbel are pastors at Holy Trinity Brompton, a spirit-filled Anglican church that I had the pleasure of attending when I lived in the UK. The thing that keeps me grounded is my belief in God. Over the past three years, life has felt hard. I’ve had moments where perhaps I haven’t had anything that I should be sad about, yet I have largely felt unfulfilled. Slowly that has begun to change and I am re-discovering the strength in me that came from spending time with Jesus. This was day 22 of the Bible in a year (I am a little bit behind). I had to share this word with you. My prayer is that if you are in the waiting; a place where you’re wondering when things will change for you whether physically or spiritually, why God is taking so long, may He fill you with all that you need to endure if enduring is what is needed, or to see the way out. I pray that you would be strengthened in Christ and would find joy in the midst of whatever you are facing.

Day 22: Bible in One Year

Have there ever been times in your life when you have found yourself wondering, ‘How long, O Lord?’ How long will these struggles and disappointments last? How long will we have these financial difficulties? How long will these health issues persist? How long will the difficulties in this relationship last? How long will I struggle with this addiction? How long will these intense temptations last? How long will it take me to get over this loss?

Pippa and I sometimes visit St Peter’s Brighton, one of our church plants. At the end of one service, a woman came up to us and told us that for thirty-seven years she had been praying for her husband to find faith in Christ. For all those thirty-seven long years, she had cried out, ‘How long, O Lord, how long?’ (Psalm 13:1).

When St Peter’s reopened in 2009, her husband decided he would like to start coming to church with her. The moment he walked into St Peter’s, he felt he had come home and had been ‘reborn’. Now he loves the church and comes every week. Throughout our conversation she kept repeating, with a huge expression of joy on her face: ‘How long, O Lord, how long?’ God had heard. At last, her prayers were answered.

Four times in quick succession David cries out, ‘How long…?’ (vv.1–2).

There are periods when it appears that God has forgotten us (v.1a). It seems that he has hidden his face (v.1b). For some inexplicable reason, we don’t sense his presence with us. Every day seems to be a struggle – wrestling with our thoughts (v.2a). Every day brings sorrow (v.2b). We seem to be losing the battle and the enemy seems to be triumphing over us (v.2c).

How should you respond in times like these?

Psalm 13:1-6

Keep going

David’s example suggests four things that you should continue to do during difficult times:

Keep praying
David continues to cry out to God, ‘Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes’ (v.3). He pours out his heart to God. Don’t give up praying even when God seems far away.


Keep trusting
‘But I trust in your unfailing love’ (v.5a). ‘I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms’ (v.5a, MSG). It is relatively easy to have faith when things are going well, but the test of faith is when things do not appear to be going well.


Keep rejoicing
He does not rejoice in the trials, but in God’s salvation. He says, ‘my heart rejoices in your salvation’ (v.5b). ‘I’m celebrating your rescue’ (v.5b, MSG).

Keep worshipping
In spite of everything he has been through, David is able to see the goodness of God: ‘I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me’ (v.6). He remembers all that God has done for him.
As you begin to praise and worship God, it brings perspective to your problems. Sometimes, I find it helpful to look back on my life and thank the Lord for bringing me through so many of my own personal struggles, disappointments and bereavements, and to remember how, through it all, ‘he has been good to me’ (v.6).

Lord, I worship you today. Thank you for your goodness to me. For all the battles ahead, I trust in your unfailing love.

Matthew 15:10-39

Keep following Jesus

Delay does not negate the promises of God. God does not always change our situations immediately. Sickness and suffering will not finally be eradicated until Jesus returns. These stories, and our experiences of miracles and healings, are a foretaste of what will happen then.

The goodness of God is revealed supremely in Jesus. Once again, in this passage, we see the amazing goodness of Jesus and how to deal with sin, sickness and suffering.

Keep renewing your mind
Jesus says that our problem is not about superficial things, such as what we eat (v.11). Food goes in and out of your body (v.17). The things that harm you come from inside – ‘what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart’ (v.17 MSG). The real issue is sin in the heart: ‘For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make you “unclean’ (vv.19–20a).

The challenge of Jesus’ words is that while we may not have committed murder or adultery, all of us fall at the first hurdle. The very first attribute that Jesus mentions is ‘evil thoughts’. The solution to our sin is not external rituals, as the Pharisees were suggesting. Only God can change my heart. I need the help of his Holy Spirit to transform and purify me.

Keep praying for healing
There are few things more painful than seeing your own children suffering. The Canaanite woman’s daughter was ‘suffering terribly’ (v.22). This mother must have cried out in her heart, ‘How long, O Lord?’ But she kept on asking for healing and refused to be discouraged by the fact that Jesus did not seem to be answering her request. ‘She came and, kneeling, worshipped him and kept praying, Lord, help me!’ (v.25, AMP).

Jesus saw that she had ‘great faith’ and he healed her daughter (v.28). He went on to heal ‘the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others’ (v.30).


Keep acting on behalf of the hungry
Not only does Jesus deal with the issue of sickness (v.22 onwards), he also cares deeply about suffering caused by hunger. He says, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry’ (v.32).

Jesus is able to do a lot with a very little. With the small amount of food given to him, he feeds the crowds. If you give him your life and resources, however small they may seem to you, he is able to multiply them and use them greatly.

If Jesus cared so much about temporary hunger, how much more must he care about the hundreds of millions of people in the world today who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. As followers of Jesus we are called to act on their behalf.
Surely everybody would approve of Jesus. But no. The Pharisees were offended (v.12) when they heard him. If even Jesus offended people by what he said, do not be surprised if some people are offended by what you say in his name.

Lord, give me your compassion for suffering people. Come, Holy Spirit.

Genesis 43:1-44:34

Keep hoping

Jacob could have cried out, like David: ‘How long, O Lord?’ (Psalm 13:1a). His sufferings seemed to go on and on. He had been grieving for his lost son for over twenty years. Now there was a severe famine (Genesis 43:1) and he faced the prospect of losing his much-loved Benjamin. He asked, ‘Why did you bring this trouble on me…?’ (v.6). He says, almost in resignation, ‘As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved’ (v.14).

Eventually, Jacob simply had to trust God and let go of his son Benjamin. When he did so, things worked out. Very often it is not until we let go and commit a situation into the Lord’s hands – perhaps fearing the worst – that God works it all out.

The writer of this section of Genesis is a brilliant storyteller. He draws out the agony. Judah knows that if his father loses Benjamin – as well as Joseph – it would probably kill him. He speaks of the ‘misery that would come upon my father’ (44:34). All the while, we – the readers – know that Joseph is actually still alive and that through it all his dreams are being fulfilled (43:26–28). Joseph is ‘deeply moved’ and has to look for ‘a place to weep’ (v.30).

Joseph puts his brothers to the test. Judah is a changed man. Earlier he had callously sold his brother into slavery (37:26–27). Now he is willing to give his life to save his brother: ‘Let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy’ (44:33).

Through all the unexpected twists and turns of these events, God is at work, bringing about his purpose. He is always working on your character and enabling you one day to look back and say, ‘the Lord… has been good to me’ (Psalm 13:6).

Jacob had to send his ‘only’ (‘he is the only one left’, Genesis 42:38) son Benjamin to save the whole family. As we read this through the eyes of the New Testament we are reminded that God sent his only Son, Jesus, to save us.

Lord, thank you for sending Jesus to save me. In the difficult times, when I am crying out, ‘How long, O Lord?’, help me to keep going, following Jesus, praying, trusting, rejoicing, worshipping and putting my hope in you.

Pippa Adds

Genesis 43:1–44:34

This passage is very moving and leaves us on a cliff-hanger. So much hurt, jealousy, deceit and unkindness. Joseph tests the brothers to see what is in their hearts: Have they changed? Do they regret their actions? When Joseph saw his brothers bow down, he must have been so tempted to say, ‘Remember those dreams…? Didn’t I tell you…?’ But he didn’t. Some things are revealed for our own encouragement or to pray about, but are better not said to others.

Verse of the Day

‘But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation’ (Psalm 13:5).

Nicky and Pippa Gumbel

References

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

3 Things I’m Loving About CrossFit

After having been sick for what feels like a century, I finally got better enough to resume training. The first workout back, a modified yet still very spicy 8 on the CrossFit Richter scale, of an ascending triplet of snatches, box handstand push-ups, and ball slams was an assault to my still recovering lungs. The time after I have been ill always leaves me with a greater sense of gratitude about the fact that I have a body that is not limited in terms of movements that it can perform. My time spent in a seemingly endless cycle of sleep, waking up to take medicine, and sleeping again made me miss physical activity more than I thought I would. On a particularly grumpy day, I recall my boyfriend telling me that he wished I were better so that I could train because he could tell that I was not enjoying the lazy life. Now that I’m back at training, these are the three things that I’m loving.

  1. Seeing muscle mass return to my arms again. I felt like they were starting to look SUPER small. Too small for my liking. I previously had a love/hate relationship with my arms. I banished it with this post on Insta.

No longer do I care about what people think about MY arms. I have had too many comments to count over the past years about people who have told me to stop CrossFit because my arms were too hard (Yeah! Let’s rather have them functionally unfit and bingo wing looking…) my shoulders were too broad, I even had someone say that men don’t like women who don’t have soft bodies, to which I so badly and desperately wanted to reply ‘well you should really speak to my boyfriend then. It’s clear that he hasn’t gotten the memo because he’s crazy about me.’ Alas, I did not, because as I have mentioned many times on this blog, Jesus steers the wheel and helps in making sure that at least 89% of the snarky comments that I want to make, don’t make it out. #Thestruggleisreal when you have a mouth that moves as fast as your brain can whip out sarcasm.

2. My strength.

Due to work commitments, I have had to for the past 2 days (which has felt like 2 weeks,) train at 5 a.m. I don’t live too far from my box, can we say #blessed! HOWEVER, it still means I have to wake up at stupid o’clock* 4:30 a.m. Any later (as I discovered this morning), and I’m late. I realised that as long as your technique remains tight, your strength will never leave you or maybe I’m just naturally strong.

I’m kidding; it’s not all-natural strength. A lot of it has been mental strength pushing me through from the days when I was sick in bed psyching myself up for the day when I would be able to lift again. This morning the wod had a clean & jerk EMOM that had us doing 3 TNG (touch ‘n go i.e. the bar doesn’t rest on the ground a.k.a. fast lifting, a.k.a. CrossFit cardio!) When I loaded, the bar up to 50kg, aside from the fact that I was stuck with the men’s bar, which was an unwelcome challenge, 50kg, also felt good in my hands and I definitely think I could have gone MUCH heavier for this EMOM. Next time maybe…

3. My pals.

It takes a lot for me to warm up to people. I know how to be polite but for extra friendliness, you’re gonna have to worm yourself in. In any sport, it is important that you not only remain consistent and show up every day but also that you train with people who make training fun. When you surround yourself with people like that, the wod movements & weights may remain the same and still give your lungs a good bruising, but you find yourself enjoying it. You might even catch yourself smiling DURING a wod.

Over to you beautiful fit-friend, what do you love most about training, and what do you miss most when you can’t train?

*stupid o’clock, a phrase coined by my boyfriend when you wake up before the birds even start chirping!