I spent the better part of last week grappling with stomach trouble. A bad bout of gastritis pumped my brakes and forced me into sobriety. It’s been two weeks and refraining from alcohol in this short period has me feeling very different and I like it. I think I'm going to stay this way, at least in the short term. Let me share my sobriety experience with you.
Sweet sleep 💤
I sleep through the night and I’m not drooling by the time I wake up. I don’t wake up to pee and the struggle to get out of bed isn't as bad. For those that say "I'm not a morning person", sobering up might just convert you.
Ready, aim, fire 💩
I cut the booze and now I go to war in the bathroom twice daily. I'm a human grenade launcher and I feel fantastic. I'm lighter on my feet and unburdened. I haven't experienced a digestive process as efficient as this since I was a toddler.
Flu vibes and the throat itch 🤧
Ice cold beer and other chilled drinks before bed can trigger mini flus that aren’t serious but noticeable enough to irritate you and others. If you're unfortunate, mid-conversation mucus 😪 might roll down your upper lip to help smoothen the discussion.
Itchy fingers and loose lips 🤳🏿 🏿🗣️
Ever said something after a couple drinks and regretted it? Or decided to tell someone how you really feel, good or bad, after a couple shots of liquid courage? Sobriety maintains impulse control and gives whatever base of wisdom you might have some solid support. Resist impulse and you'll save yourself a lot of headaches with a properly fitted head to mouth filter and text resistant fingers.
My appeal today is for others to try and incorporate an 'alcohol fast' for a week (as a start) and see how you feel. You can do this voluntarily or wait until you end up like me; experiencing pain akin to going into labor but without the joy of a baby.
This morning as I braved the cold weather to make my way to the gym I asked and answered the question “What does a summer body look like?” Answer: Beach Body. Most will agree that a summer body is often thought of as a leaner, more aesthetic physique. The whole beach body at a pool party kind of thing - Well defined 6 pack, chiseled chest, toned arms filya, and for the ladies small waist, flat tummy with other more pronounced features. What do they all have in common? Fat loss. The follow up questions of 'How do I get it?' and 'What should I be doing?' is something I pondered upon and my conclusions are what I wish to share with others.
Cut (or reduce) this vice and watch your weight disappear. I’m serious 😐 most people will see big results if they just turn away from the bottle. Think about it. Late night drive throughs or drive bys for michopo, hotdogs 🌭 and/or chips 🍟 ? ⛔️ Hangover junk food? ⛔️ Excess sugar from mixers and cocktails? ⛔️ Missed morning gym sessions? ⛔️ Sloth 🦥 tendencies and reduced activity the morning after? ⛔️. Disrupted sleep because you need to pee as often as you snore? ⛔️. When all these things are eliminated and improved upon you’re easily a better, slimmer you.
You can eat much of what you want but delay when you do so. Intermittent fasting is the least annoying way to ‘diet’. Another is one meal a day (OMAD). It's simple: open your mouth for solids once every 24 hours. If you can pull it off, you’ll see tremendous results and quickly. You'd be wise to make your one meal count by making it a nutritious feast akin to what you'd receive or be presented with at your chilanga mulilo. OMAD exempts water, so please drink as much as you need whenever you need to not wa bwela wagwa ati ba roadrunner said one cup a day🤨. Anyway, a lot of people eating multiple meals a day don't engage in enough activity to justify the piles of food they place on their plates. Sounds like you? Give OMAD a try, or at least try to earn your plate through sweat. Thinking doesn't count so pretending to be an intellectual at the office doesn't qualify.
Keep warm this winter 🥶 with multiple cups of green tea 🍵. No sugar, no honey 🍯 - just a green teabag and hot water over and over again. You’ll get used it 😌 and two things will happen; one is you'll loosen your bowels and poop more and the other is you'll give your metabolism and mental alertness a boost.
This means increasing activity outside a gym or sports facility. It’s simple: take the stairs every chance you get and take walks as often as you can. Those of you with office jobs must make a conscious effort to get up and move every so often. Simple ways to do this are: fetch your own documents from the printer, go and buy your own tumbuwas if you insist on having them in the morning and step out to grab your own lunch rather than waiting to be served. Many of us disguise laziness as productivity when we don’t want to leave our reclining leather office chairs. I want to assure you that those few extra steps add up to big results over time so move more.
Gym ➡️ Beast ➡️ Puppy Eyes ➡️ Elevate
First, find a gym. Second, identify a beast/alpha at the gym. Third, feed the beast’s ego. Usually, the whole ‘I want to be like you when I grow up…’ works reasonably well. The point is, compliments make people more accommodating and helpful in general, and YOU need help stripping the fat off. Fourth and final tip, is request to train with the beast. You’ll elevate your level of training and accelerate your fat loss by hanging with the big boys and girls at the gym.
"Nick, gym ipasa njala!" A friend of mine lamented. He went on to blame the gym for his rapid weight gain and every other physical feature he didn't like 😃. I was greatly amused by this but I felt his overall approach to things, not just gym, was off. Here's what I suggested to him:
Sleep deep, sleep long 😴
Deep & long = at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night in a room with similar features to a cave. I have an alarm for when I should be in bed and I try to be consistent with it. Alarm goes off, so does my phone and the lights. For nights when maganizo 💭 ya paka I opt for a melatonin supplement to help me shut down. It often works very well for me. Poor sleep throws your hormones (especially the ones controlling hunger) off balance and before you know it, your desire for sugary and junk products become insatiable.
⚠️ bathroom breaks can be disruptive to trying to go deep and long with your sleep so you might want to drastically reduce fluid intake an hour or so before bed.
Water is your friend 💧
Hydrate early, preferably upon rising with a combination of water and coffee ☕️. 500 mls of water and a cup or two of black coffee is my morning fix soon after waking up. It literally picks me up and gets me going. For the coffee protesters among us, I'd like to suggest you consider spending a bit more money on the coffee you buy before you write it off completely. I've found caffeine to be a cheat code in this game called life, and it might just help you level up as well in the gym and at work.
Get moving 🏃🏿♂️
Front-loading your exercise program is a great way to manage hunger. If you're hydrated and you push yourself first thing in the morning all that activity and dopamine will sustain you for several hours. Leave every gym session feeling like a lion or lioness and you're well on your way to dominating your appetite and managing what you devour.
Diet? Intermittently fast instead
It's common for people determined to look better to radically change their eating ways while they hit the gym. They'll both read and be told many things of how this diet works better for fat loss and that one for muscle gain. We'll stick to the most common goal; fat loss. Deprivation of the things you like, as is the case with fad diets, often yields short term results with mid to long term consequences. Whatever weight you lose is coming back with interest. Intermittent fasting, for those unaccustomed to it, can be uncomfortable but not as miserable as most 'get skinny quick' diets. Sleep well, hydrate and exercise early and you'll be able to stave off hunger until late morning. Do this often enough and you'll look and feel better in the long run.
Plug any gaps between meals with a handful of nuts. Don't like nuts? Other salty cousins such as popcorn 🍿 or pieces of fruit (specifically apples and pears) are great fillers and appetite suppressors to consider.
I recently discovered and fell in love 😍 with what I thought was a ‘health drink’…it was relatively cheap, tasted great and more importantly identified as a ‘smoothie’. Everything was fine and dandy until one of the smoothie flavors offended my taste buds with an overwhelming taste of sweetness 🤨. The nutritionist in me swung into action and belatedly started reading the nutrition label. I was shocked! This item served up in excess of 50 grams of sugar per bottle😳 🤯 it was a sugar smoothie! How many of us have fallen for a sugar trap expertly disguised as a health fix? Ginger this, ginger that, health shot this, health shot that 🤦🏾♂️ How can you identify a sugar trap? The simple answer is read the label. The how part is what needs further discussion.
The general rule of thumb if you can’t be bothered to dig deeper papa is this: anything with 10 or more grams per serving of sugar is a sugar trap 🪤. If you have a keen interest in your sugar intake then you’re looking at about 10 grams or less of sugar per serving in anything that you put in your mouth. Biscuits, snacks, juice etc - basically everything.
Integrity Check for Alcohol drinkers 🍷 🍺 🥃
Read labels and opt for low sugar mixers that serve less than 10 grams per serving. These usually cost more but your waistline will thank you. If your preference is beer find love in ‘lite’ beers 🍻. Alcohol is empty calories and I’ll translate what this means using words my brother Saviour threw at me: “You can’t decide to have a beer for energy when you start to feel tired.” Easy enough to understand, yes? The only energy alcohol gives you is in the form of liquid courage.
💡A tip for the lazy drinkers among us: use the fat secret website to check the calories of your favorite poison and know that every 100 calories you gulp will demand 20 minutes of walking on average. For more context, this means 6 pack castle lite drinkers need to put one leg in front of the other for roughly 2 hours to burn that off before belly dancing becomes a full time gig.
Integrity Check for Regular lads
Low sugar, diet and zero drinks 🥤 are better bets for your love handles. Most lower sugar drinks tend to have the tag of ‘low kilojoule’ soft drink. Look out for this. It won’t taste as sweet as ordinary soda but it has an acceptable level of sweetness that you can adjust to.
Integrity Basics for Nutrition Labels
You get one or all three of carbohydrates, protein and fat in varying quantities in whatever you put in your mouth. Get your eyes on the label and appreciate what’s written there. My beef today is with sugar so that’s what I want you to look for specifically and apply the 10 gram rule. If that’s under control then more often than not you’re not doing too badly.
💡Health gangster tip 😎: I’ve adopted a ‘small bottle, few sips’ approach. I only buy low sugar drinks in minis and I never finish the full contents of a drink in one sitting. I’ll tease my taste buds and then shut down the party till the next meal session. This hack alone has prevented me from using my belt as a waist trainer. It might help you do the same.
If anything purporting a myriad of health benefits tastes great or is labeled in a manner that suggest ‘health’ in a bottle or packet you should be suspicious. It’s all a bunch of marketing gimmicks. Lastly, remember to check expiry dates of products and if something tastes off, it probably is. Don’t turn yourself into a human grenade launcher 💩 🚀 or wonder why you gain weight when all you consume is ‘smoothies’.
It’s my birthday again 🥳 and this time around I am my own superhero 🦸🏿♂️! I put the mask on and transformed into the Black Panther at 31! I’m going to share what I did in my final 6 weeks before stripping down for photos and putting up back bacon for viewing purposes.
5 kms daily. I’d either run this distance (8 mins per kilometer - turtle gang 🐢) or walk it uphill on a treadmill (5 km/h @ 10-15% incline). All that mattered was covering the distance on a daily basis and keeping my body in motion.
100 reps minimum of sit-ups daily. No days off. It's amazing how after a couple weeks of this practice you start see your stomach compartmentalise itself starting with the top shelf 😅. The belly must go was the motivation behind this.
Gym work 🏋🏿♂️
Changed my lifting formula to sets of 15 - 30 repetitions at a time. I’d pick a weight that would allow me to complete a higher number reps per set till it burns 🔥. The only exercise I moved heavy weight on was deadlift (400lbs +), the rest was lightweight with high intensity and short rest periods not exceeding 1 min. I trained everyday without exception, sometimes twice a day.
I adopted an 16:8 intermittent fasting protocol so my first meal was an early lunch at 11 am and last meal was at 7 pm.
5 - 6 liters of fluid a day, which was 50 - 60 mls x my body weight in kilograms. I peed often but generally felt good and ready to go at a moment’s notice . I tried to, and sometimes failed to avoid juice 🥤 but I did try to limit my overall intake. I’d opt for sugar free cokes and sprite where possible. I’d drink alcohol 🥃 but only on weekends where I’d take a multivitamin before bed to prevent a hangover 😵 the next day. You should try it!
I used the free Life app to track my fasting and eating windows and the free nutritionix app to log my food intake, hydration and daily weight. I believe that what gets measured gets improved so I’d track everything and make adjustments where required.
Photo credit 📸 Ryan J Banda 📞 0974-101553
Supplements for gym goers
Restarting your fitness journey
4 kilos down and counting
Intermittent fasting 101
The belly must go!
I was at the gym 5 am sharp as per usual and a friend asked me “Nick. How’re you doing?” I cheekily responded with “The way you see me bro - I’m GOOD!” 😎. Wrapped up my session and proceeded to work 👨🏾💻 for another Q&A of how I am. 👉🏾 Same questions, same answers. When you’re in shape, in tailored fitting clothing that presents your body of work you’re high on confidence. Let’s explore what else you can gain from going to a gym.
Elevated self esteem & confidence 🦸🏿♂️
My brother Bongani said it best - “At the end of the day, you only feel as good as you look.”Engaging in gym activities will change your body composition and make you look better with and without clothes. You can ride that wave of confidence and achieve great things in other areas of your life.
Improved health 🫀, mental clarity 💭 & mood 😊
When you work out frequently you’ll unlock boundless energy, a better mood, fat loss and mental sharpness. Consistent exercise eradicates a spirit of laziness and gets you primed to dominate your day. If you have any ailments you’ll likely see improvements in your health markers at your next doctor’s appointment.
Better eating habits 🍱
Exercising often makes you a lot more conscious of your food choices. You’ll discover that you’re less willing to sabotage your efforts by bingeing on doughnuts 🍩 and cake 🎂. You’ll start wanting to feed yourself properly. In my case, I find that exercise is a fantastic appetite suppressant and cravings killer. It could be the same for you too.
Professional opportunities aren’t reserved for the golf course ⛳️, the gym has big boys and girls too! You can leverage that and land yourself something big if you’re a focused and pleasant individual with something offer.
🗣 Go to the gym and stay sexy!
The summer heat has been unforgiving this year 🥵! Solely depending on plain water to keep yourself hydrated is a mistake when you work out intensely. The quality of your fluids, particularly electrolytes, is just as important as the quantity you consume. Surviving on freezits and soft drinks 🥤 has minimal impact on hydration status for active individuals as it only provides a sugar dump and cooling effect for your body. Here’s what I do for optimal hydration:
Standard 40-45mls per kilogram of body weight daily. Buying 2.2 liter water jugs from Game, Shoprite or a China Mall keep me honest about my intake and make it easier for me to track.
When you’re pushing it and sweating a lot opting for fluid with electrolytes in it is your best approach. My go to beverages are coconut water 🥥 💧 and energade during and just after exercise. Not only do they keep me hydrated but they also keep me from cramping. Cramping is a direct result of an electrolyte imbalance. If you’re a cheapskate you can make a homemade electrolyte drink by mixing the following items 👉🏾
Bananas 🍌 , pretzels 🥨 and nuts 🥜 🌰 are the primary snacks I consume to help support my hydration levels. The sodium, magnesium and potassium elements balance my electrolytes and replenish what I lose in the gym when I sweat 😓. They’ll likely be a good addition for you too.
As someone with a supernatural ability to gain weight by just looking at food I’ve had to make a determined effort to suppress my superpower. I’ve tried various crash diets in the past with varying degrees of success but ultimately I’ve realized that keeping my weight stable is anchored on consistent daily habits and not any extreme short term interventions. I’m going to share the habits that have been useful to me with you.
Lifting weights daily🏋🏾♂️
My current physique 🦍 is mainly attributable to gym sessions where I pick heavy stuff up and put it back down. Rinse, repeat 🔁 for an hour (see exhibit A 🎬). The gym is an absolute essential for anyone that wants a better physique and improved body composition, including women (ka shape shape 🍑 mwaishiba ka?)
Drinking water 💧 with a slice of lemon 🍋 first thing in the morning on an empty stomach
This practice keeps me pooping 💩 on a regular basis and addresses issues of bloating and constipation. If you’re not dropping bombs 💣 🚽 twice a day, you should consider adopting this to improve your situation. Don’t turn your body into a septic tank. Note that a hot cup of green tea 🍵 , moringa tea or coffee ☕️ will also loosen the bowels and get the job done if that’s your preference.
Going 50% on everything 🍽 ✂
It’s simple - whatever I feel like putting in my mouth is halved. Feeing like two lumps of nshima? I’ll have one. Feeling like four slices of bread? I’ll have two. I TRY to do it for everything and never eat to complete satisfaction.
I try to walk as much as I can as often as I can. I’ve even set up an hourly health walk at work where every hour I get up and take a stroll. This little activity adds up to big results over time and I’m sticking with it. It’s not as cool as telling my office mates how tired I am from my morning 15K as others like to do but it serves its purpose and keeps the weight controlled. It’ll likely make a difference for you too.
Sleep hygiene 🛌 😴
I sleep well and sleep long (+7 hours) every night to keep my hormones balanced. If you’re possessed by a spirit of entrepreneurship and neglecting sleep to hustle just know that your waistline will expand at the same rate as your business if you’re not careful. More on sleep here.
Daily weight and food tracking 𐄷
I make an effort to weigh myself everyday and track food intake. The scale makes me alive to my reality and food tracking exposes my eating habits. You cannot change what you don’t make an effort to know so all this is done to elevate my level of awareness so I can make adjustments where required. I track my food with an app called Nutrionix. It’s free, doesn’t contain any ads and it's very easy to use.
Alcohol 🍻🥃 🍷🍹
I only consume alcohol on weekends and this practice has saved me from a protruding tummy. If you drink often and outside of weekends it likely shows on your belly so you might want to limit your drinking sessions so you don’t jiggle as much. If you want step it up a little you can adjust what liquor you consume and what you mix it with. Lite beers and water as mixers are the way to go. More on this here.
Modeling myself after others aka Copy & Paste
Physically there’s always someone within our reach that has the body we want. I walk up to them with puppy eyes 🐶 and tell them I admire them and maybe a few extras if necessary. Once their ego is massaged I start to pick their brain on what they do (habits), what they eat, how they train - any and everything of interest that’ll help me learn more about how they manage their body. I simply adopt what I think is useful and discard what isn’t.
I'm four kilograms lighter from the last time I blogged about my clothes suffocating me and my decision to make full use of the weight loss toolbox to mitigate a disaster. I'm not where I want to be but I'm further than where I began this journey from. I'm building back up to African King status and this is how I'm going about it:
Mental 🧠 🙇🏿♂️
I've changed my mindset and mental approach to losing weight. It's no longer about hitting the scales at a certain number but about forming the right habits and behaviours that lead to the body I want. There's a lot less anxiety when I'm weighing in and regardless of what the scale says I know that it's only a matter of time before I reap from where I've sown. Take the pressure off yourself and simply strive to become the kind of person who has the body you want. Do what they would do in most situations and you'll have the same results.
I intermittently fast for 16-18 hours on most days by skipping breakfast and only eating lunch at 12 and dinner between 6 and 8pm. I like junk food just as much as the next man but I’ve opted to limit take out to one meal per week, at most two, and that’s usually on weekends. I’ll even throw in ice cream 🍨 or a couple freezits if I feel like it. A hard training and hard dieting approach is unrealistic for most and usually quite damaging. I still cut weight and so will you, just stay active and ensure that most of what goes into your mouth is prepared in your kitchen. Aside from gym it’s the little things such as parking far from your office and taking a long walk, taking the stairs instead of the elevator at every opportunity, and choosing to walk instead of drive to places that you can see that make a BIG difference over time.
In addition to all this, I'm consuming 4+ liters of fluid a day to replenish what I lose at the gym and ensure I'm hydrated throughout the blazing hot weather. Multiply 40mls by your bodyweight in kilograms to determine a reasonable hydration target for someone your size.
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Life's been busy the past couple of weeks and after struggling to fit myself into a number of suits I belatedly realized that I had put on some weight. I promptly hopped on the scale and found myself a full 6kgs heavier😵💫. I was shocked! I badly wanted to believe that it was a combination of low grade washing powder and 'made in China' clothing that converted comfortably fitting clothing into body hugging attire. But that's untrue 😩 . Anyway, I have no budget for another wardrobe so these same clothes must serve me. Many in a similar position tend to make full use of what I call a weight loss tool box. I'm going to quickly run through what most of us tend to do to avert a crisis.
Slimming teas 🍵
These are an intermittent solution that can be used for appetite control for anyone struggling with portion control and cravings. Other uses include inducing more urination to drop any excess water weight and pooping 💩 to help with bowel movements and clearing of waste. I view these as useful short term interventions.
Slimming supplements aka fat burners 💊
My personal experience with these has been a mixed bag and the truth is that they don't work unless you do. This means you have to move your body more, even if you're just walking more, watch what you eat and sleep properly to avoid hormonal confusion. Only then will these little pills and powders compliment your efforts. If used in isolation they'll do next to nothing. Note that fat burners are mostly stimulants that get you excited and encourage movement, mixed with thermogenic ingredients that increase body temperature and make you sweat more and/or appetite suppressing ingredients to keep your hunger at bay.
Konjac powder (glucomannan) in particular is a type of fiber weight loss chasers use to fill their stomachs prior to meals. Konjac once ingested expands in the stomach to help keep you full and prevent overeating. Over time eating less can lead to weight loss. Other forms of fiber are useful in any weight loss journey but konjac in my opinion has an edge. I haven't found any locally so if it appeals to you as a weight loss hack then you'd likely have to import it here from places like Bulk Powders UK.
Slimming juices 🥤
These are mostly laxatives in a liquid form. The general idea is to clear the backlog. The products are effective over the short term but they're nasty 🤢 and WILL test the strength of your desire to lose weight quickly. Pooping my way to slenderness by drinking a foul concoction is not my preferred way of doing things. It's uncomfortable and quite literally draining. But hey, to each his own.
Intermittent fasting aka diet ya njala 🍱 ⛔️
If I could do just one thing of everything listed here then it'd be intermittent fasting. It's simple really, your mouth opens at certain times and stays closed at other times. It takes some getting used to but works wonders for weight loss when executed properly.
Sustainable weight loss is only obtained via optimal dietary interventions, exercise and lifestyle adjustments. The weight loss toolbox is a quick fix and desperate attempt to lose weight quickly i.e. I want to fit into that dress by this xxx (date). Outside of intermittent fasting, dependance on other weight loss hacks listed above is unwise. Use them to get to where you want to be and stop. Change your habits and overall behaviour to maintain.
⚠️ People with pre-existing conditions (known or unknown), pregnancies or breastfeeding would be wise to consult a medical practitioner before utilizing any tool in the weight loss toolbox. You might slim yourself into non-existence if you don't know what you're doing.