“Nick, I don’t understand something. How do you identify as a runner when you’re built like a house?!” 😂the truth is I identify as an athlete. A hybrid athlete. My conception of fitness ranges across endurance, strength, body fat percentage, flexibility, and balance. Identify as whatever you want but always seek to strike a balance when it comes to health & fitness. I will list what I believe anyone who aspires to be fit or indeed calls themselves ‘fit’ should be able to do.
Fitness & health standards
Resting Heart Rate ❤️🔈
This gives you a measure of your aerobic fitness. Those with fancy gadgets such as fit bits or heart rate monitors already know their resting heart rate. Compare it with the readings below to determine whether you're fit.
Men = 18-45y ≤ 65 BPM, 46y+ ≤ 67 BPM
Women = 18-45y ≤ 69 BPM, 46y+ ≤ 73 BPM
The heart is a muscle, and your most important muscle at that. Barring a medical condition a lower reading indicates a stronger, more efficient heart.
NB: ≤ means less than or equal to.
12 min Cooper test 🏃🏿♂️🏃🏾♀️
This also gives you a measure of aerobic fitness. Find a flat track or treadmill and run as hard as you can for 12 minutes. That’s it. Once done record your distance and compare it to the readings below. The further you go in the allocated time, the fitter you are.
Men =18-29y ≥ 2.8kms || 30-39y ≥ 2.4kms || 40-49y ≥ 2.1kms || 50+y ≥ 2kms
Women = 18-29y ≥ 2.4kms || 30-39y ≥ 2kms || 40-49y ≥ 1.9kms || 50+y ≥ 1.7kms
NB: ≥ means more than or equal to.
Body Mass Index
This measurement seeks to assess whether you're at an appropriate body weight for your height. Use this calculator to assess yours. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, and other adverse health conditions
NB: the exception to higher than normal (overweight) BMI readings is bodybuilders. These individuals will typically have higher readings on account of muscle mass. If this isn't you then bweshako umubili (reduce your weight).
Body fat percentage
Excess body fat is non functional weight. I rely on the US Navy Seals body fat measurement to determine my body fat levels. Grab some measuring tape and measure your neck and waist. Use this calculator to obtain a result. Once you have your results proceed to compare them with the recommendations below.
Men = 12-18% at all adult ages
Women = 15-24% at all adult ages
Got a belly? The belly must go! You can additionally utilize running as a weight loss tool, avoid sugar bombs and learn to understand nutrition labels if you have a few extra kilos to lose.
This is the strength required to conduct daily activities. Testing comprise of push ups, sit ups and pull ups. Perform each set of exercises for 2 minutes and record how many repetitions you completed. Compare your results to the readings below.
Push ups Men = 18-39y ≥ 50 || 40-60y ≥ 40 || 60+ ≥ 30
Push ups Women = 18-39y ≥ 40 || 40-60y ≥ 30 || 60+ ≥ 20
Sit ups Men & Women = 18-39y ≥ 50 || 40-60y ≥ 40 || 60+ ≥ 30
Pull ups Men = 12-20 repetitions at all adult ages
Pull ups Women = 8-12 repetitions at all adult ages
Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to perform a split😅. Perform a 'sit & reach' test. Sit on a flat surface, legs extended in front of the body, toes pointing up and feet slightly apart, with the soles of the feet against the base of a wall. Place a ruler on the ground between your legs. Place one hand on top of the other, then reach slowly forward. At the point of your greatest reach, hold for a couple of seconds, and measure how far you have reached. Here's a visual representation of the test. Below are the targets that a flexible individual would hit.
Men = 22 centimeters or more at all adult ages
Women = 24 centimeters or more at all adult ages
Neglect flexibility and ma bonzo yako yaza yuma (your bones will dry up and stiffen).
Stand on one foot with other foot bent and close your eyes. Try to hold this position for as long as you can. Anything above 20 seconds is an indication of decent balance for either gender.
Men & Women = 20 seconds or more.
Ultimately fitness is health, and that just isn’t one single thing and numbers don't lie. What do yours say? If things don't add up let's talk about it.
There’s no one size fits all guide to raising children, but there does exist a few key tenets that can be adopted by any parent that’s privileged to raise children/dependents. I would like to share these with my readers in a bid to aid the development of physical, mental and intellectual capacity in children.
My mother followed biblical principles (Proverbs 13:24) and this meant that she did not spare the whip! While I didn’t appreciate sore buttocks or bubbly cheeks at the time, it did facilitate the necessary realignment required for me to know better and do better.
What should you consider doing? Where talking and ku nyengelela (persuasion) don’t result in changed behavior don’t spare the rod.
Reading Culture 📚
In my childhood every night before bed my mother would read me a story such as little red riding hood or the boy who cried wolf. Until on one night the rules of the sleep game changed. I was the reader and her the listener😓. I wasn’t amused at the time but looking back on it now it was a game changer! My command of the English language grew stronger with each book and so did my creativity and imagination. She inadvertently raised a blogger!
What should you consider doing? Parents, take an interest in fostering the reading culture of your children by committing to having them read to you every night before bed. If you have older children proceed to pass down the books that you read to them and have a book review when they’re done. Expose them to mature material and marvel at the enterprise, articulation and maturity that comes from it. Passing first at school isn’t the only education metric that matters nor is a chemistry book the only book of relevance in a school going child’s life.
Fitness Culture 🏃🏾⛹🏾♂️🏊🏾♂️⚽️🤾🏾♀️
I was an active kid involved in various sports growing up. I was clearly genetically gifted (I got it from my mama😎) and technically talented but what meant the most to me and kept me going was seeing my mother present at my events. She’d cheer me on and support me as I competed. I retain a spirit of an athlete (tenacity, competitiveness, resilience) today at 30 because I have that foundation. For other useful family fitness tips, read this.
What should you consider doing: avoid being too busy to show up to your kids sporting activities. Be present and cheer them on because your child might just be the worlds next global athlete. If not, then they’ll benefit from the social aspects of team work and learning to work/play with others which will serve them well in later years i.e. ma office politics. Other tips include enrolling your kids for extra sports such as soccer practice at Barca Academy as opposed to constant TV watching or playing endless PlayStation games.
My mother always told me that if someone has done it, you can do it too! She softly pushed me to demand more of myself and demand more from life. She encouraged me and believed in me especially when I doubted myself or was quick to offer excuses. I gradually became the embodiment of determination in human form.
What should you consider doing? Encourage your children especially when they’re struggling. Please don’t force them...be gentle as you help them realize their potential. There is nothing as powerful as a parent that shows unwavering belief in their children and their abilities. Children live to please their parents; show them how.
Respect, Humility & Hard Work 😊
Growing up my mother was a one woman army with 3 core values: respect, humility and hard work. Umuchinchi (respect) was a pre-requisite to any and all interactions with fellow human beings regardless of social class. Absence of this swiftly led to ma mbama (slaps) or the belt depending on the distance between us😅.
Humility was a constant state of being with the firm understanding that no man is an island. Either you humble yourself and live with others without the feeling of superiority or wait for gravity to teach you that lesson.
Hard work was the theme in the Majula household. Waulesi asadye (lazy ones mustn’t eat) was clearly established. I made my bed, cleaned my surroundings, and washed dishes among other things. This work-if-you-want-to-eat formula eradicated a spirit of laziness and made me a responsible child. I wasn’t just vegetating in front of a TV as a child; I learnt the grind early in life.
What should you consider doing: Children will repeat what they see, not what you say so be the ultimate example of the values you hold dear to your children. You must also endeavor to make them do chores starting with making the beds they sleep in to the washing the plates they eat off. 👉🏾 Waulesi asadye.
Everything I have outlined is principles I benefited from as a child of a peerless mother and principles that might be of value to other proud parents growing human mushrooms 🤱🏾🍄.
To my mother, you raised me well...thank you for taking the time, I have become what you made me 🤴🏾
👇🏾🤳🏾 📸my beautiful mother controlling the situation at my adorable kid sisters party with little me flanking her🥳🎈🎂
A huge part of optimal mental health is a happy and peaceful state of mind. I often find myself surrounded by people in different environments that are burdened by a spirit of complaining and discontent. I see parts of the old me in them, and for those that I enjoy candid relationships with, the following advice is what I share with them to help reinforce positive realignment in their lives.
The happiness recipe has the following ingredients:
Liza ma nyimbo no vina kuseni (play music and dance in the morning!)
Turn up the music for positive vibes first thing in the morning AND DANCE 🎶🔊🕺🏾💃🏾. Choose to lift your own spirits and dance even if it’s not aesthetically pleasing to others. You’re alone in your house so get busy and vina mwamene wa imvelela* (dance the way you feel). If you live with others wake them up, grab them by the hand and dance with them!
Turn your insecurities into mantras🗣️
I’m not telling you to light a fire 🔥and start chanting around it, I just want you to acknowledge your insecurities and flip them. I personally do this by incorporating transcendental meditation for 20 minutes where I repeat a mantra and affirm a positive outcome. I’ll give you an example: I recently completed writing exams where in some instances it felt like they were written in a foreign language😓but when I meditate my mantra is “I have passed my exams.” It helps with positive realignment and anxiety alleviation. Find something that’s eating at you, meditate on it and positively turn it into a mantra.
Visualize positive things🧞♂️
It doesn’t matter what the odds are or how dire a situation may be you must consciously choose to envision a positive outcome. There’s nothing as powerful as the power of positive thinking. Currently some of you reading this may have sick loved ones on oxygen due to Covid-19, you have to believe that they’ll get better. Forget about the ‘hoping for the best but expecting the worst’ quote. You must decide to expect nothing but your desired outcome in any situation with health, work, business etc. Visualize outcomes to bring them closer. The law of attraction will fight your case.
Meditate for 20 minutes daily to calm your mind and heighten awareness of your thinking patterns. Basic meditation will slow things down and help you cope with the speed of life. Try it!
Soften your heart❤️
Don’t wait for an apology before you decide to forgive people that have hurt you. Forgive people because you need inner peace not because they deserve it. You don’t have to be ‘best’ friends (again), just forgive them, keep them at arms length and live your life without any bitterness or resentment. Don’t worry about the unrepentant ones; life will always settle the score for you.
Smile as often as possible. An easy reminder would be to do so in front of every mirror you find. A simple smile can place you in a better mental place particularly on days when you feel low. It won't make your problems disappear but it can offer some relief through the release of dopamine. The happy hormone. Try it!
Exercise daily for a hit of dopamine. Don’t have time? Consider HIIT training. Otherwise 🏃🏾🏃🏾♀️running (even walking), lifting weights (women too) all increase dopamine levels and influence things such as your motivation and cheerfulness. You might even want to consider merging fitness activities with your family members. Family fitness is an excellent social activity to undertake to increase the happiness levels in your household.
Men, get your manly health in check before it threatens your happiness & destroys your sense of self. Women, be alive to your hormonal shifts before it generates discontent in your life. Finally, ALL must stay informed on the status of their mental health before your residential address changes to somewhere you don't want to be.
The Covid-19 pandemic has put a lot of things into perspective. If you’re still breathing you should be smiling at every turn and know that “you can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” - Nypard. Translation: Happiness niwemwine!🥳
*An adapted translation is: dance the way you want to feel
Everybody has some form of mental illness, some people are just more affected by it than others. Ultimately mental illness forms part of trying to figure out why you’re on this earth. We all have some parts of our lives that were in some way traumatic and changed the course of the way we think and behave and by and large the way we maneuver through life. Just like physical health, you can’t retain mental health without deliberate conscious effort.
What influences mental health?
Your habits/lifestyle, environment and genetics 🧬 all play a role. Habits/lifestyle have to do with the activities you engage in and the substances you may ingest. Environment is mostly concerned with what you're exposed to such as suffering or abuse and how it increases your vulnerability to mental health challenges. Genetics, well, like much of everything else we inherit can impact your mental health. You have to make do with the cards you've been dealt.
What are the most common mental health challenges?
Bipolar disorder 😁🥺
This is a mental health disorder that results in dramatic mood swings from emotional highs to emotional lows and vice versa.
Possible cause: stress, substance abuse, alcohol, genetics
A lingering feeling of sadness and worthlessness.
Possible cause: stress, abuse, other adverse emotional occurrences in life, alcohol, genetics
A state of constantly being nervous and worrying.
Possible cause: stress and adverse life experiences, genetics
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
A common outcome for anyone that's experienced a traumatic event that continues to 'haunt' you. As a result your behavior and attitude towards certain situations changes.
Possible cause: stress and any past event that was physically (abuse, assault) or emotionally traumatic for you
A sustained state of psychosis where you're out of touch with reality. This condition comes with delusional thinking and hallucinations coupled with uncommon and often unpredictable behavior.
Possible cause: your environment, substance abuse, genetics
How to avoid getting too far gone
Meditate 🧘🏽♂️🧘🏽♀️ for 20 minutes daily to silence the voices in your head. If you can’t keep them quiet at least you can become aware of them and retain control of your own mind.
Get help 📞 when the voices get overwhelming. Contact Mutale Kabumbu (+260973090988), a qualified psychotherapist with practical experience if you need someone to talk to. Alternatively, Kim Boon from mental chatter is an international option for those that may have this preference.
Avoid substances💊💉. Those prone to loud, dominating voices should steer clear of any illicit substances (weed, injectables, powder or pills you don’t fully understand) that alter your brain’s normal functioning and thought pattern generation. This includes all recreational drugs & alcohol🥃🍻. I vividly recall a horrible experience of being tricked into ingesting the popular ‘weed cookies & muffins’ 🍪🥧at a social event. Hmmm. Mwebantu nina funta (I lost my sanity) for a FULL 24 hours. Can you imagine being alive to the fact that you’ve gone mad for hours on end? Anyway, I eventually got my mind back but some people can’t say the same. Get ‘lit’ on the wrong things uza funtilatu (you’ll stay mad/high perpetually) and you'll live the rest of your YOLO life in a straitjacket. Don’t play those games. With regards to alcohol many of you can testify to bearing witness to complete personality shifts in your friends after a few drinks. These are often negative with some people becoming championship level fighters and others complete maniacs. Don’t think this can’t be you, mind your liquor.
Avoid people whose energy irritates your spirit. Some people give the devil real estate 🏡in your mind and spirit. Your mental well-being should not be up for auction in the name of tolerance. Avoid them.
Pray for peace🙏🏾. Many of our mental health challenges stem from past traumatic events and the result is ma ganizo daily (excessive negative thinking). Talk to Him about it and unshackle yourself. You’ll feel better and think clearer.
Watch what you listen to 🎶and watch 📺. Guard your mind as what you allow in via consumption starts to dominate your thinking and thus affect your mental health. Gangster rap has the ability to turn boys raised in a church into narcissistic thugs. Sad songs will turn you into a miserable heap and consolidate your bitterness and sorrow. Movies and series🎥created to entertain can make you start directing your own movie in real life by thinking you’re El Chapo if you’re not careful.
Don’t be negligent about mental health. Sometimes you see people acting out and assume they’re just difficult when really their mental health is simply failing them. That difficult human being might be you. Sometimes it's hormones at play. For those that can identify mental health shortcomings in others be mature enough to accommodate them and not be dismissive. They're tortured people that need your patience, empathy and support.
ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer & Nutritionist
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