Fitness Reads: Jog On by Bella Mackie

I picked up this book on Sunday, the day of my flight back to South Africa after spending a glorious two weeks with my very yummy husband, look at him, he’s gorgeous.

No matter how many sleeping tablets I take (don’t take more than the recommended dosage), I never seem to fall asleep on the plane. My last journey, I read ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo.’ A book so beautifully written and in many ways descriptive of the journey many immigrants face when they move to Europe/North Americas. One of my goals this year is to read at the very minimum two non-academic books each month. My partner and I were in WH Smith when my attention was captured by the bright blue cover and title of the book. There are a lot of things I love about my husband, one of them being his accent and classic British slang that I try to implement in my South African/Congolese life. One of those phrases is ‘jog on’ If we’re picking favourite slang phrases, this is mine.

jog on

1. Literally, to run along at a slow and deliberate place.
2. By extension, to make progress slowly, deliberately, or patiently.
3. Go away; get lost; beat it. Primarily heard in UK.

I initially picked this book up as I was looking for motivation to spur me on in my running routine. New year, new me, am I right? And aside from CrossFit, there is no other sport I love more than running. Mackie writes with ease in a comforting and, relatable way. If you think this is a book purely about running, you’re wrong. The book makes me think of one of my favourite phrases by Nike head coach, Chris Bennett ‘this is about running, this isn’t about running.’ Mackie doesn’t claim to be an expert in running or mental health. The fact that she writes from her own experience is what makes this all the more beautiful and is what drew me in as a reader. She gives enough detail on the different mental health illnesses for the reader to have a better understanding of what it means to have a mental illness, as well as tools on how to be more supportive and understanding if you do have a partner that suffers with mental health. As a budding researcher, I appreciated that where she presented findings related to running and mental health, she cites those papers. Minor thing that most won’t care about but definitely did not go unnoticed for me.

I still don’t know why running was the tool I opted for in the midst of misery. I’d never done strenuous exercise before. But I had spent a lifetime holding at bay the need to run away – from my mind, from my negative thoughts; from the worries that built up and calcified, layer upon layer, until they were too strong to chip away at. Maybe the sudden urge to run was a physical manifestation of this desire to escape my own brain. I guess I just wanted to do it for real.

Bella Mackie

At 289 pages, it’s a very light and easy read! Overall I found the book inspiring and it’s reminded me of why I initially fell in love with running. It has also reminded me that this year, whatever levels of toxicity that I don’t want present in my life can ‘jog on’.

Bella Mackie is a freelance journalist and author of ‘Jog On’, a book about running and mental health

Mind The Gap…Long Distance Relationships

Soul mates are not here solely to fulfill your rom-com fantasies. Most are here as teachers. And to help you see where you have given your power away or where you are not being authentic.

Maryam Hasnaa

After spending some time with my bestie, instead of crying on the journey back to South Africa, I used some of that time to write down some thoughts I had swirling around on long distance relationships.

My human and I have been together for 2 years now. There is no other human who is as magical as he is. He is the sweetest part of my life and I love him deeply. The only thing that I would change about our relationship is the fact that we live in different countries. The love of my life lives in the United Kingdom, and I live in South Africa. We see each other every two or so months and while it is hard…harder than hard, there’s no one else for me but him! The past two weeks with my fiancé were nothing short of magical (I promise it’s the last time I use this word…) it was better than I could have imagined.

I’ve had to look at pictures and videos stored on my phone to remind myself that it wasn’t a dream. I can’t explain the pain in my heart that seems to only disappear when I am with him. Each time we part it feels as though the band aid over my heart is ripped off and the days that follow require me to fully immerse myself in busy activity to prevent an extraordinary amount of moping…and maybe some crying!

Growing up in church I recall a group of women I encountered in my twenties who had a prayer group with their sole focus being to find a husband. While I appreciated and understood why they formed the group, I knew that for me the focus needed to be internal. In fact a lot of the time in my relationship with the most magical man ever, I find that I often have to search inwardly before looking to him for anything. I wanted God to change me and I firmly believed that when I was ready, the man for me would be too. The most important thing to do when single is to work on yourself. The work doesn’t end when you get in a relationship. I want to be the best partner for my darling fiancé and we’re all our best when we’re content and at home in our skin.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have hiccups, I like to think I’m perfect but I’m not. However we’ve learnt and are still learning to communicate with each other in better ways for the other person to understand. I am absolutely besotted with this man and that I believe is the key to making a long distance relationship work…matching as often as you can is also key 😂

Don’t look at the negatives 🎞 they will eventually develop to discontent and dissatisfaction in your relationship. Believe that you are with the best person for you, that is true for anything in life. If you believe that you’ve got it good, you’re less likely to nitpick and find things to be unhappy about.

My love, you have been the best gift God has thus far given me. You have taught me so much about myself that I didn’t know. You light a fire in me that gives me the courage to pursue my passions and stand in my truth and convictions on unashamed and courageously, you have managed to pour water and quell the wildfires of insecurity and immaturity. There is no one I love more than you. I will always fight for us and never against you. I will always protect your reputation and your character. I fall in love with you more and more each day. The fact that I get to do life with you is a gift I will always be grateful for.

Yummy!!!

Bad & Boochie

I’ve gone full steam ahead with my booch (kombucha that is), brewing. I am a woman obsessed, just ask my Mr! You’ll regularly see snaps of my successful (and not so successful) brews on Instagram. About a week ago I was at the grocery store with one of my friends and came up with the zany idea of second fermenting my kombucha with kale. Although this was a mix that I am VERY unlikely to repeat, I discovered through this experiment that a smoothie is a great conduit for probiotics. Instead of using water which is great and necessary for life (we beeeen knowing this periodt!) I decided to use kombucha which is full of good bacteria guaranteed to restore the balance of microbial flora in your gut and intestines, and also give you an energy boost.

If you want to do the same, keep on reading to find out what I used and why! A tip, when using kombucha as your smoothie base, do not use anything that has second fermented for longer than 3 days. Such brews will impart a slight alcohol tinge to whatever you end up whizzing. The process is pretty simple. All you have to do is ferment your kombucha, if you’ve never made the booch before, click on this link. I promise it’ll help you out. The fun part of booch making is hands down, the second ferment or commonly called 2F. You can go as crazy as you want with flavours. I always use fruit so that the microorganisms have something to feed on to give you delightfully crisp booch. I made three different flavours, the least successful being the kale but hey, you live and you learn. Also health isn’t always delicious haha.

What you’ll need: I juiced one pineapple and 4 grapefruit together (YUM) and then poured half of that juice into a separate cup. The other two flavours had the pineapple and grapefruit juice as their base with the addition of 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries for my blueberry flavour, and 4 kale leaves (that wreaked so much damage) 4 Pink Lady apples. and 4 jalapeño peppers, for my badly thought out lean green booch machine! I left these to ferment for 3 days and then used the kale booch in a smoothie that consisted of 4 (maybe more…) bananas to add some much needed sweetness, a half cup of frozen blueberries and 2 scoops of my Cotton Candy flavoured collagen by ‘Body by Wild’. The resulting smoothie was a pretty pink that was sweet yet tinged with the reminder of kale.

We all know the benefits of blueberries, they’re packed with antioxidants, vitamin C and I love the sweet yet tart taste that they imparted to this smoothie. As I approach my 30s, I’m ALL about antioxidants to ensure I protect my skin as much as possible. Antioxidants are what protect your body from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage your cells and contribute to aging (not necessarily a bad thing,) and diseases, such as cancer (definitely a bad thing!)

As for the bananas, aside from the sweetness and thic-ness that they provide. They’re also packed with potassium which helps support normal blood pressure, bone and muscle strength. As the third most abundant mineral in the body, potassium also helps the body in osmoregulation, fancy science word for fluid regulation. It also helps with sending of nerve signals and regulating muscle contractions. Add these benefits to what you’re already getting from drinking kombucha and you’ve got a superfood smoothie that’s filling enough as a snack and provides your body with all the nutrients it needs to stay as gorgeous as it is now for the long run.

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!

In review: intermittent fasting

It seems as  though there’s a new diet almost every single day. If you’re a 90s baby you’ll remember the Atkins diet, the South Beach diet, the Blood-Type diet, the Zone diet, the list is endless. One of the reasons why I’ve never stuck to any of these diets is because I don’t like being told what to eat. In the blood type diet my blood group (A+) is meant to avoid mangos and potatoes which is crazy for me. Intermittent fasting is less about what you eat and more about when you eat. It’s not a diet but an adaptation to your eating pattern. I became curious about intermittent fasting after having picked up a tiny bit of weight that made me feel uncomfortable in my skin. I love having breakfast…when I remember to prep so IF seemed like a good way to eliminate my morning forgetfulness around eating. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University Hospital have found out in a study called HELENA – the largest investigation on intermittent fasting to date, that there are many paths leading to a healthier weight and it’s all about finding the path that fits you best.

Right now, IF is the path that fits me best. I was interested in losing weight and keeping it off, with intermittent fasting because you’re not constantly eating, you give your stomach and gut a chance to recover from the usual churning of stomach acids to digest food which in turn can reduce inflammation. The first week of IF, I watched a million and one videos on IF (my favourite being anything by Dr. Jason Fung, I even follow him on Twitter!)  and read countless articles (I would recommend that before you commit to IF, do as much research as you can and consult a doctor or nutritionist if necessary) on the experiences that people have had with IF.

There are three main ways to do an intermittent fast: the 5:2 diet, in which you eat regularly for five days a week and reduce your intake to 600 calories during the next two; alternate-day fasting, where you rotate between standard and 600-calorie days; and time-restricted eating which is what I’m doing where you limit your eating periods to four-to-eight hours. What works best for me (since I wake up at 5 and am in bed by 22h on most days is to fast from the time I wake up until 12 noon and on some days I’ve even pushed that time out to 14h. This gives me a total of 16 hours fasting and on some days when I’m a superhuman…17 hours.

How am I feeling?

The first two weeks were hard. I had to make a conscious effort to drink not just more water (which is something I’m constantly practicing) but also more tea to ‘fill’ me up. One thing I realised is that once I made the decision that I wouldn’t be eating before 12/13h, it’s almost as though my stomach shut up aka stopped grumbling. The less I thought about food, the easier it’s was for my stomach and the less it complained. The mental aspect for me is what plays the biggest role in ensuring that you commit to IF. In terms of my weight, I have managed to lose centimetres that I gained on that glorious holiday to Cape Town and I’m feeling happy in my skin again. I wake up with zero bloating which does a lot to lift the mood. Whenever I get a little bit fluffy I have this moment of not knowing who I am anymore (I know that sounds very dramatic haha!) IF helped with the calorie reduction that I needed in order to shed those extra kilos. I’ve been on this IF journey for almost a month and I’m going to see this through till the end of the year and then re-evaluate. In the first two weeks I battled with extreme fatigue and feelings of hanger (hunger that leads to anger), luckily having to maintain good work relationships was enough of a reminder to keep me from lashing out in hunger!

In terms of my weight, I have managed to lose centimetres that I gained on that glorious holiday to Cape Town and I’m feeling happy in my skin again. Whenever I get a little bit fluffy I have this moment of not knowing who I am anymore (I know that sounds very dramatic haha) IF helped with the calorie reduction that I needed in order to shed those extra kilos. I’ve been on this IF journey for almost a month though.I’m going to see this through till the end of the year and then re-evaluate. I am not a fan of the feeling of hunger that is present during non-eating periods and in light of my 2019 body goals (which I’ll share in a later post) IF just isn’t going to work for the long-term. A girl is trying to get stronger and fitter as she approaches 30…damn did I just address myself in 3rd person!

For an eating plan to be successful, it should be sustainable and improve your performance not just as an athlete (where I’m concerned,) but as a human. This is the biggest lesson I’ve learnt through IF, food should be tasty yes but it’s even more important for the food you eat to fuel you. When I am eating, I am 100% more conscious about what I put into my mouth. Along the way I have had some treats but what I’ve noticed is that I have more self-control and those naughty treats are few and very far in between in comparison to when I was eating whenever I wanted. I will say the one thing I truly miss is having breakfast at breakfast time!

How to make IF work for you?

  • I cannot stress this enough: plan, plan plan! You’ve heard this cliché before and it’s because it’s true: fail to plan/prepare and prepare to fail. Fill your water bottle the night before, make sure that the tea you have is one that you won’t get sick of drinking during your fasting period and prepare your meals in advance.
  • If you’re going to snack during your eating period, make sure your snacks are healthy. I love to stick to raw nuts. Cashews, walnuts and almonds are my favourites but you can go with whatever you like best. Hummus & carrots will also NEVER go out of style. 
  • Get an accountability partner. Friends, I consider myself so lucky to be with the man I call my boyfriend. I tell him about every single lifestyle change that I make and he holds me accountable; whether it’s running more often, eating healthier and now sticking to this new eating pattern, he is SO good at reminding me of the goals I set for myself. I can’t tell y’all how much I love this man!
  • Plan your training at least an hour after you’ve had your meal during your eating period. I found that this worked best for me. Training in the morning while still in a fasted state left me feeling hungrier than usual and we all know that hunger can quickly transform to hanger. I also found that when I took pre-workout on an empty stomach, it’s almost as though I could feel my body disassociating with reality, can’t explain that.

The biggest thing I’ve learnt in this intermittent fasting journey? A healthy lifestyle is not just about the food you eat but the choices you make in your everyday life. It’s not just about losing weight, although it does start that way. When you remove the toxic elements that aren’t serving you well in your nutrition (if you’re consistent enough), it then extends to your physical environment. One day you’re making healthier food choices and the next you’re making healthier life choices! Constantly work towards being in the best physical, mental and emotional shape of your life, it’s what I’m focussing on and it’s what you should be focussing on.

YOUR journey.

Honey, honey how you thrill me: overnight oats recipe

For the past two weeks I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting. My eating periods are from 12-8 but I have had exceptional days where I’ve pushed my eating window out a bit later to 14 and on one special day 16 (which was more forced than anything.) One of the things that I enjoy about intermittent fasting is the fact that it’s made me a lot more conscious of the things that I do eat. I know to be more mindful of what I put in my mouth because I want it to fuel my body and sustain it for those periods when I’m not eating. In terms of my CrossFit performance it has also helped me in choosing those meals that won’t leave me feeling sluggish or heavy during a workout. 

One of my favourite things to eat for breakfast or delayed breakfast if you do intermittent fasting, is oats. Oats keep me fuller for longer and you really can create any flavour component you’re after by adding in different ingredients. I go through phases where I enjoy oats & then I hate them & then I love them again. I’m currently in the love phase and this morning found myself craving oats. The creamed honey by Eat Naked is what makes these oats spectacular  in my opinion!

Here’s my goji berries and nuts overnight oats recipe, you’re going to love it!

For this recipe you will need:

  • 80g of oats (instant oats work best.)
  • 200ml of milk or milk alternative
  • 25g of unsalted butter 
  • 1 tablespoon of raw honey (my favourite, Eat Naked creamed honey 🍯 smells RIDICULOUSLY yummy too!)
  • Nut & seed mix (goji berries, cashews, walnuts, pecans and sunflower seeds.)

In your bowl put your knob of butter with your milk and oats and stir. Heat in the microwave for a minute or until the oats cook through. Tip: if you’re doing overnight oats you can used traditional rolled oats, let them soak in the milk + butter & then heat it in the morning when you’re ready to eat. Give the whole thing a good mix and then add a tablespoon of your raw honey and a generous sprinkling of your nut mix. 

Benefits of the ingredients

Oats: Oats are a timeless favourite. As a child I’d have it plain with brown sugar added to it. Oats contain a soluble fibre called beta-glucan which is responsible for keeping you fuller for longer when you’ve tucked into a yummy bowl of oats. They can also help in improving blood sugar levels.

Goji berries: I first became aware of these on the tv show ‘You Are What You Eat.’ Gillian McKeith would rave about these and rightly so. These berries pack a punch. They provide support to the immune system, help in preventing liver damage and also improving depression, anxiety and sleeplessness. I always use raw nuts in my oats because salted nuts drastically up your sodium content and we’re all trying to live healthier lives so best we avoid it!

Honey: I love this honey soooo much, it smells like one of my favourite shower gels by LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics ‘It’s raining men.’ Coincidentally both of these products contain honey that is harvested in the most sustainable & ethical manner possible. Raw honey contains antioxidants which help in protecting your body from cell damage, it can help with digestion and if you’re feeling ill, it can soothe that achy throat. What I love about Eat Naked honey aside from the delectable taste and smell, is the packaging, it’s fun, playful and very tongue in cheek. I’m all for serious brands that don’t take themselves too seriously. Creamed honey is a revelation! There’s something about this honey that had a caramel like undertone to it that I loved. The company is local to South Africa which means my carbon footprint is lowered by being able to source such a great product locally. I was even able to use the honey as a face mask and my skin is glowing!  If you’re trying to kick a nasty addiction to sugar, honey is a great replacement. Maximise how much you get out of honey by buying it raw.

Unsalted butter: In moderation, unsalted butter is a welcome addition to your oats. It’s rich in your fat soluble vitamins A, E and K which is involved in calcium metabolism and a low intake has been associated with cardiovascular disease. It also contains butyrate which has anti-inflammatory properties and is helpful in preventing weight gain. 

So there we have it; my yummy honey, how you thrill me oats! What do you enjoy putting in your bowl of oats? 

In review: Superlatte Golden Cup Latte Blend

I know they say money makes the world go round but without coffee, I doubt the world would keep spinning. I used it to survive long days of lectures after even longer nights of partying studying when I was at uni.  I lived for that caffeine buzz and it quickly spiralled into an addiction. One night, my heart racing I called my poor mum in South Africa (I was in London,) and told her I was dying. Examinations by my GP revealed that the excessive consumption of caffeine was the culprit,moderation is key he expressed.  

Fast forward to now being a more health conscious 20-something year old, I was delighted to try out Superlatte’s turmeric,cinnamon and ginger golden latte blend. I am a big fan of golden lattes. The very first one I ever made was a simple paste of 1 tablespoon of turmeric, a pinch of black pepper and organic virgin coconut oil to which I added soy milk and brought to a simmer. I loved the earthy taste from the turmeric and anyone who knows me, knows that I’m addicted to coconut oil.
Superlatte makes the process just as easy for you. All you have to do is add a tablespoon or 2 of organic virgin coconut oil to 3 teaspoons of the golden latte blend,make a paste and add 1 cup of steamed milk or your favourite non-dairy milk alternative, whisk it up, serve and enjoy. I even had some edible gold glitter that made this the most fun latte I have ever had!

Why should you be drinking golden lattes?

The secret ingredient to golden lattes is turmeric. Turmeric has been used for thousands of centuries in India because they’re well aware of the immune boosting properties that this spice possesses. It boosts the antioxidant capacity of your body and contains a compound known as curcumin which has anti-inflammatory properties and aids in boosting brain function. Coupled with two of my other favourite anti-inflammatory & immune boosting spices;ginger and cinnamon, this is definitely a super-latte blend! There’s a pleasant tickle in your throat that you get from the ginger and black pepper, then there’s the warmth from the cinnamon that made this a very comforting drink. I’m a recovering sugar fiend and I need sweetness in everything, so I appreciated the addition of the unrefined organic coconut blossom sugar which gave it a pleasant but not overwhelming sweetness. I had my latte before bed and because it’s caffeine free, you don’t have to worry about any caffeine related jitteriness or caffeine induced insomnia. Coupled with the scent of one of my favourite LUSH perfumes, I’m Home it honestly felt as though the person who feels like home to me (my boyfriend) was hugging me. I really do find any way possible to gush about my boy don’t I? shrugs

You can find Superlatte at Wellness Warehouse , Yuppiechef  or you can buy directly online from Superlatte. (superlatte.com)

They have five other variants which I’m hoping to try soon… can you say Christmas? First up on my list is Purple Poet (sweet potato,cardamom & cinnamon) followed by Green Dream (matcha & mint), Red Velvet(beetroot & cocoa), Cosmic Choco (chaga cocoa & maca root), and Ruby Chai (rooibos, honeybush & masala spice) The brand is 100% plant-based, preservative free and GMO free.

You can also keep up with their beautiful creations on Instagram.