OF TUMMIES AND THE STRUGGLE

Athlete Stretching --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis Few weeks ago I posted a photo on social media which apparently exposed my bulging tummy. How I hate tummies. Interestingly, my sweet Niece Whatsapped ‘hurling words’ at me demanding to know why an uncle should be gaining weight when everybody else is burning hours in the gym cutting weight! Well well well! That statement was hard to swallow. I did hear it sink deep in my stomach and up in my mind where it unleashed terror and threatened to ‘Sossion me’. I have never been more haunted by a simple statement. Gaining weight is no longer fashionable and worse still, some Machiavellian geeks seated somewhere will assume you are a lazy being. How harsh can it be! Well for the record, my tummy has nothing to do with me imbibing alcohol as one childhood friend alluded. This again left a bitter taste in my life. It’s not fair to always imagine all guys who grow tummies are alcoholics and take Nyama choma  more often than they sip tea.

And by the way, I am at a cross road. In catch 22. Why? Well, Kageshi (My publicly-known girlfriend) has been ‘over-feeding’ me so that, come 2016 when I will be visiting her parents’ home to pay dowry, I’ll look ‘presentable’. Hahaha. Yes in some parts of this country, you cannot afford to present a skinny fellow to your damn uncles. They will chase you away the Magarer-Langat way. You recall this lad, formerly of ODM. Come to think of yourself up in the air, with an idle crowd behind, waving tree branches and jeering at you all for not appearing ‘moneyed’ so to speak. (Why do people in up country have to harm trees when they hold demos; Are placards that expensive or rather not effective in these parts of the country. These are the same humans who’ll show up during Wangari Maathai’s Anniversary while in the background persist to maim her legacy.) Speaking of up country, mums residing in this areas do not mind when their sons grow ‘big’.

So where does this leave me? I weighed all the options and concluded I should restructure my weight instead. In fact as we speak, I have embarked on doing exercises in my digs now that I can’t afford going to the gym. The last time I was there, 2 years ago, I used to spend more money for the gym service than I’d spend on my food budget. This didn’t make sense to me. I obliged to give up. I’m also an accountant you know. Doing exercises in the house is not simple either, though I dropped two kilograms last week but not before I got an injury on my feet. This was as a result of jogging 2 kilometers in the house. (Don’t get twisted, yani jogging for 20 minutes nonstop). If walls in my house would speak, they’d confirm the depth of my sighs and how sweaty I can be. Enough of Andrew!

Speaking of my niece, she’s hardly 53 kilograms (2kg for her blonde weave) and still insists on rigorously working out in the house. I know she will kill me for writing this, sorry hun! At times she skips meals to maintain her overrated flat tummy. How now? To me this is overzealousness. Many ladies are caught up in this madness of flat-tummies too. I know men admire such lasses, but when it takes skipping meals for a tummy! Hell no. You might have the tiniest waistline but still have a pathetic lifestyle. Some are even taking pills to shed weight. That’s where the problem is. I’m not trying to throw shade at the whole idea of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s very noble. It significantly lowers your stress levels, combats diseases, boosts your energy levels and improves your longevity….bla bla bla. However, bragging of firm tummies on IG or pronounced muscles is neither here nor there.

We have hyped flat tummies at the very expense of healthy lifestyles. According to Women’s Health, an online women magazine, globally, sixty two percent of women say the body part they’re self-conscious about is their belly. Nowadays, there has been a misconception that cutting your carbohydrates is tantamount to cutting weight. This is a generational lie. It’s wrong. Health pundits insist, cutting simple carbs may help reduce your weight but that does not necessarily suggest pushing complex carbs off your plate. Your body still needs vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Worse still, we are a society that has been misadvised against taking eggs. It’s true, eggs have a fair amount of cholesterol but they are good sources of protein, several B vitamins, choline, vitamin D, and vitamin E too. Extra caution is only limited to people with heart diseases or diabetes.

You know of these people who check on their ‘portions’ while they also count on the number of calories they’ve consumed in a day. Is this not a first world problem? We have totally been enslaved by all this crude gimmicks in this internet era. I have heard tales of corporate women whom ideally are quite learned, donning tummy belts. I call this, contemporary slavery? I hate to imagine a time when my wife will be jumping to get her tummy belt first thing after dashing out of the shower. This can be very defeating. It will remind me of war-time movies where you have to don certain paraphernalia to identify yourself. Woman, you are not in war, not unless with yourself. Besides, they follow this sheet that has a schedule of what one should consume in say three weeks and guarantee to lose a whole 30 kilograms. I’m also told of something called tummy tuck only affordable to the rich. This entails of plastic surgery in the abdomen in which fat and skin are removed and muscles tightened. This is to yield an illusion of a flat tummy. The lengths this generation travels to fit in or stand out!

New fads are being unleashed every single day promising ‘faster results’. But all they do is show our degree of laziness and general naivety. A healthy lifestyle will only be met through taking larger portions of natural foods, fruits, taking lots of water and more importantly regularly working out. This does not necessarily mean going to the gym. This ‘house’ is so overrated. In fact a good number visit the gym just to brag about it. Simple exercises in your house coupled with more rounds of walking round the estate with your loved one(s) and maybe riding a bike preferably with your spouse can be very helpful. This is much wiser than gulping what we are fed via our TV screens. Drop the overzealousness. Accept not to be deluded. Don’t move with the wind, your kids might pay your price.

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YOU DON’T VISIT UP-COUNTRY TO PULL DUVETS

USA.using for low income residents. NYCHA administers rental apartments in facilities, popularly known as "projects". Spanish Harlem, also known as El Barrio and East Harlem, is a low income neighborhood in Harlem area. Spanish Harlem is one of the largest predominantly Latino communities in New York City. 15.04.86 © 1986 Didier Ruef Its exactly 6 months and you haven’t been to your native village (not really a village)to check on your family. With this prolonged and over procastinated visit, you suspect anytime from now, your ancestors might summon you. Finally you embark on a journey back home. Along the way, in the deserted highway, you’ll gaze women sauntering home, carrying heavy loads of firewood. You’ll spot young boys strolling home too, with herds of livestock along that dusty road. This will remind you of decades ago, when your dad would insist that a shepherd must have a stick, anytime. Childhood lessons always seem to stick.You wont fail to notice funny ‘joints’ or are they pubs where men from the village frequent in the evening. They’ll have this funny names like; Destiny bar, UB 40 bar, Shallow bar and Paradise bar. You’ll smile about the names only to be interrupted by this passenger who decides to play Rose Muhando songs for two hours on his phone which is in loud speaker mode. (Some of the experiences that trigger us to worker harder to acquire cars.) The guy on the sit behind you, with a funny hairstyle will be chewing miraa or something closer to that. In that stuffy matatu, will be tired faces, perhaps of passengers harbouring thoughts of their loved ones or their ongoing projects back at home.

Thank God when you arrive safely for all we have on the roads, are impatient, aloof, ignorant and reckless navigators in the name of drivers. Before then, Your mum will have lectured you on phone why you shouldn’t travel at night (7;35 pm). Your dog will smell you a mile away and will come running at you. Nature has humour, how does a poor dog jog its memory to remember that you belong to that homestead. Is it not preoccupied by other thoughts for this six months, like whether it’ll be lucky to get a meal anytime soon. These are same village dogs that switch from carnivorous to omnivorous depending on the season. Now, your dog named Mugo for reasons you don’t comprehend will hop at you, placing its front limbs at your waste line. Its long tongue will be hanging out while its ears will be lowered. That’s a dog’s welcome.

The following morning you’ll wake up late (9:01 am) and it’ll feel like its 7’s. You’ll have been awoken momentarily by birds chirping,(how beautiful is that) unlike in Nairobi where you’re awoken by matatus hooting and conductors’ wailing. Why do nights run that first in up country? In fact you’ll be awoken by Kinuthia Igego’s roaring voice. (This dude is your village official escort, you schooled with him in Kiandutu Primary School. He held the unbeaten record of the loudest noise maker.) His instincts were right, that you came dead in the night, as he would put it. He would come in handy especially when on matters accompanying you around and updating you on the latest news in this side of the world. He’d also serve as your bouncer when you visit the local shopping center where everybody claims to have schooled with you.They’ll nag you, like street kids in Nanyuki. No pun intended. They’ll plead for sh.50 unrelentingly. They call it kakitu. Its very annoying. For Kinuthia, he has the skills of dismissing these chaps tactically and politely. If you make the mistake of visiting one of the local bars around, (not that you drink that much) business will come to a standstill. Kinuthia will appear overwhelmed. Every mzee present will claim to have been your dad’s best friend. In so saying they’ll be insinuating that they deserve you order a bottle of beer for them. You’ll momentarily feel like a celeb, wow!

In the evening your mum will send you to the butchery but she’ll later complain that the meat was not of the best quality. Mind you, she has a tendency of complaining about the meat since down memory lanes. Mothers are the best when it comes to truth. On Sunday you’ll attend mass at the local church where men, women and kids have their designated sitting arrangements. Like you have to part with your sisters; whose wisdom was this! Its been long since you celebrated mass in your local dialect. This means you miss some hymns and words haha…Thereafter there will be a fundraising. There is always one whenever you are home. Of course you’ll be expected to contribute generously. Later you’ll visit your shosh who resides few miles away. But before getting there you’ll meet delegates you were not meant to meet, along the way. Does it ever occur to you, that the more you prolong your visit home, the more broke you become. These guys will politely fleece every coin you have.

You’ll notice your shosh’s skin is drier. Her eyes will be fainter and sunken but she’ll still have maintained her trademark smile and intact teeth. You’ll not be surprised that she still wakes up at 3am to pray. Your shosh is that type that prays for 30 minutes mentioning his entire family by names, in the process. These are the same prayers that mitigate life’s challenges and scare the devil and his agents from your life. Never underestimate an elderly person’s prayers. You’ll find a chicken meal ready for you signifying you’re a rare visitor. The city has strained family ties. You’ll be distracted by something nostalgic. Her wall clock. This cloak will still be in the same place it was when you were 5. Still diligent and loyal. Dusty but alive. Steady with the even sound that signals a second gone.

I need to emphasize your mission home should be very impactful. You just don’t visit upcountry to pull duvets and watch TV during the day as you grab popcorns. You visit home to unlock forestalled projects, plant more trees and work your a** off. You guys who live in the city, its your duty to repair sagging fences back home or pay somebody to do that job. Since you gave up on taking cattle to the local cattle dip due to massive corruption and politics, ensure they are well attended and free from ticks. For ladies, your mum should never cook whenever you are around. Moreover, her sufurias should shine more than ever courtesy of your cleaning. Its an abomination for you to go back to the city without sun burns, aching arms and overworked hands. If you’re lazy in the city, you’d rather not visit up country with the same attitude. Its very important for your family to see your growth in life by being impactful at home.

A STRANGER’S DREAM, INSPIRATION AND THE LESSONS

sss2It’s slightly after 9pm on this Sunday night. Man – U has just humiliated Man City in this hyped derby. From a gooner’s perspective, I feel a bit nervous. Nevertheless, we’re still number 2, I console myself. I drift along the corridor, alone, checking over my phone. I meet this security chap towards the exit and he stops me. In my mind I’m a bit agitated. Why would he stop me now, in any case, I had been in that hotel for god knows how long. Didn’t he see me? I remain patient, he’s like, “hi, would you be having a hint of a school where one can study computer?” He bubbled. I was surprised. I expected him to ask something security – related. Why would a security guy be bothered by computer studies? That’s for high school leavers who were not lucky to get the exposure in school or home. Forgive me for stepping on your toes. I passed through the same stage too. In fact, during our times, it was so ‘cool’ to learn how to operate computers. Am not sure of now, its so basic, I presume.

Anyway, I had some leads for this chap. He was so glad. I left, pondering on that conversation. This guy made my day. One, because I’m not sure why he chose to confab with me, amongst the hundreds of patrons who frequent that hotel. He and I were complete strangers, until we had that brief conversation. Second, I was impressed by the fact that this chap had a dream, a valid one, no matter how ‘small’ it was. He was not comfortable with the status quo. He was need of growth. He had a desire to add value to his life. He was willing to pay the price, by sacrificing his meager salary and get a computer studies course. He was willing to start from somewhere. To do the baby steps. He had this vision in his mind. He was now researching on his ideas, even if that meant approaching random strangers on the course of his duty. He was acting on his ideas. His passion was visible. Why I say so, is because many of us inquire from our friends. To him may be they didn’t offer much, and that would never be a deterrent. He chose to try strangers. That’s passion right there and positive attitude too combined with self drive.

This hombre inspired me. I learnt lessons. To be self driven. To confront the future and domesticate it. To ask questions and not to keep dreams to myself. Not to sit on my ideas as many of us do. Dreaming is not enough, actualising your dream by constantly coming up with a time plan is what matters. This guy was not shy of his dreams. Don’t be shy of your dreams. Don’t be intimidated by your friends who drive alluring cars. Who have bought plots all over and who are invested left right and center. Learn from them, get to know the mistakes they made and lessons learnt. Start your own baby steps. Put your eyes on the prize. Stay on the move, don’t accept to stagnate. Pay the price, wake up early, work hard, manage your time wisely, network, research. Don’t live in a closet. You’ll never grow. Remain hopeful, have the right attitude like this security guy. Be confident and defend your dream. Pray day in day out.

sss1Dear reader, make somebody’s day. Hug a stranger today. Share the love. Give free advice. Mentor someone. Don’t treat people below your cadre with contempt, as they say you’ll need them while coming down. Thank a waiter for good service, or your barber or the salon dude or that chap who cleans your car. Spread the love. Give way in traffic, if you’re in a position to. Say hi to your gardener as you leave for work. Smile to that office cleaner. Blow kisses to those nagging street children. Share with them the snacks in your hand bag. Check on a friend. The most precious things in life are priceless. You’ll notice, they’ll be surprised by your simple traits. Its because we’re living in selfish times. Of self centered people who only care about themselves and their immediate families.

sssSharing, caring, and loving are the virtues we need to embrace more. And carrying along others in our trajectory of life. To love others a little more than ourselves. By so doing, you’ll have a rich legacy. Your eulogy will be punctuated by beautiful words people can relate to and which will ignite memories. The world will miss your presence when you’re long gone. And most importantly, your creator will be proud of you.

Your challenge everyday should be bringing joy to somebody’s life. Let’s try that.