The Simple Life

Learning To Be True…


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The journey was harder than I could ever explain and I wasn’t saying much about it but many days it took all I had to work out and make the steps I needed to make. It took a herculean push and focus to eat as I had said I would and remain the course. It was often easier to sit my room, eat chocolate and only send the pictures of the good stuff. It was easier to talk about the rosy parts and leave out the hard ones. Something had to give for me to remain on the path…something had to give.

I had to be honest to make progress.

The first place of honesty had to be with myself. I had to be clear when and why I didn’t want to do something. I had to be sure I understood what was going on in my body and my heart at all times no matter what. I had to be in touch in with my emotions. Telling myself the truth made a difference in this process for me.

How many times was I in the middle of something and fear arose from a known cause but I didn’t face it off properly? How many times was I certain that something needed dealing but I would push it back into the shadows? What was in my heart about someone around me that had to change before I could move on and I kept pushing it away?

I had to face all the truths the process was opening up for me whether I liked them or not.

Oh boy! I had to look in the mirror and within me to face the things that were rising to the surface and deal with them totally and honesty. I had to face the cravings that came up as I worked to shift my diet. I had to deal with the desire to avoid the muscle pain and soreness. I had to deal with days my emotions were so out of place I couldn’t push through. I had to deal with wanting to give up because it was too hard. I had to deal with doubt and fear that would rise occasionally. I had to deal with disappointment when I cheated on the diet or just decided to rebel. I had to see, face and deal no matter what. This forced me to stop and realise I needed help therefore ask for help.

I learnt that help only comes when I am honest.

I wish I could say that the path to today is simple but that would be a lie. I would chat up coach and simply say, ‘I can’t do this one.’ Or call my sister and say, ‘Today is a hard day, pray for me.’ Or I could tell my lil man, ‘Pray for mama, because right now the desire for fries is greater than the desire for good food.’ I could just sit on my exercise mat and cry to God asking for help to keep going.

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Honesty has been the one thing that keeps me on the path. An honest evaluation of where I am and how to get out has kept me going even on days I would have given up. Honest conversations with God and my appointed helpers always brought me back to Hebrews 12:1-2

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the [a]author and [b]finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The Simple Life

A Shared Load


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Even as I struggled with accountability, I had made a commitment and I had a God appointed support system that wouldn’t make room for me to fall off the wagon. God would have it that I had multiple layers of accountability so I couldn’t even think about mischief.

As I begun the process, I had asked coach to walk with me, I had asked my lil man to be my close watcher and I had shared the plan with my sisters and one in particular stepped up to support. Additionally, I had begun talking about the process I was on right here and this gave another set of people the opportunity to follow. These meant three layers close up and one further out.

As I started the process it was as if I was doing it for the three close layers because I would report daily to coach, the lil man would hear me workout as he was waking up and my sister would ask how it was going. I would go places with lil man or sis and they would watch and ask about what I was putting into my mouth.

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There is a deeper layer of this process I hadn’t seen.

When I began to conquer myself and goals, there was a delighted cheering squad on the side-lines encouraging me. I remember the first weigh in where I had lost just four hundred grams. In my mind, it was nothing much but to the team…it was a different matter. They were excited, the danced, hugged me and celebrated the first sign of success. As I conquered milestone after milestone I had a team of celebrants who gave me energy. Then there was the day we went out for a meal and I was doing something close by and I found lil man and sis made a food choice for me that fit right in with what I eat even as they all had fast food.

All my life I had been the cheering squad for people but would not ask for support in anything. Here was an opportunity to understand what it meant to have people on your team just to be on your team. They are a very personal cheering squad who want nothing other than your success no matter what. This accountability has grown through the months and has influenced my team.

As they have cheered me on and have seen the changes come, they too have been challenged to make decisions and stick to them. I think of my lil man in particular. As I started this process, I begun to make hard decisions and one was to change his school. The school I selected was further from home but still within walking distance. However, the fees were a chunk higher and I didn’t know how we would cover it but I knew it was the thing to do so I moved him all the same.

That first term he did really badly in his opener exams (they do exams that first week of school to assess learning during the holidays) and midterm exams and I couldn’t find a way to motivate him to figure it out until I remembered the journey I was on. Using the skills I had learnt so far, I asked him to set a target score and a revision plan that I could keep him accountable to. Oh he did nothing for a few weeks but another set of exams shifted that for him. He set his goal and told me but never shared his plan. All the same, he hit his goal spot on and that has served as fuel for him to keep setting higher and higher score goals and meeting them each time.

It struck me hard that the process is about so much more than me.

I embraced accountability even deeper when I realised that my honest commitment could and had changed another life just as much as it had changed mine. Growth has a way of inspiring everyone and my growth was doing just that.

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The Simple Life

Account for Everything


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Growing always has to be in tandem with standards or at least guidelines and that is something we all walk away from one way or the other. I remember school and how we had to do things at certain times, in certain ways, with certain responses. It was a demand to be obedient, responsible and responsive. There were no exceptions to the rules without repercussions; and the repercussions were not easy.

I always thought I didn’t have challenges about accountability and keeping the rules but this process has brought out another side. It has been interesting because I didn’t know this side and so I struggled a bit. The move to be accountable was a choice I made but oh my…it was hard.

So many things were hard about being accountable.

First, someone else could ask questions about my progress. They could question my tactics, consistency, my food choices my weight. They could say I wasn’t applying myself or I was slacking off. They could challenge the intensity of my workout.

Second, there was no room for excuses. I couldn’t say I didn’t feel like working out or eating well. I couldn’t decide I just dint feel like something. I couldn’t say it was tiring. Oh, I could but the common response would be why? What made it so hard to do it today? How do we deal with the challenge?

Third, I saw myself clearly. Up until this moment, I had convinced myself that I was where I was because of the circumstances around me. I was sure I had done all I needed to do and life was just being unfair on me. I was certain that I had no regrets…until I begun this process and found I wasn’t pushing myself. I was doing very little thinking it was all I could do. All my weaknesses were on display for me to see and I didn’t want to look at or even acknowledge them.

Fourth, I was forced to take responsibility and change. No longer could I say I couldn’t do anything about things and that process entailed effort that I didn’t really want to expend at first but realized it was a choice I had made.

Fifth, I had to learn to trust others. I didn’t even know that I didn’t trust people to want the best for me. The demand to be accountable helped me realise just how I struggled to believe that people did anything just to help me. I was so used to being the one helping but I didn’t even want to need the support of others because I didn’t know if it was for my good or just to make themselves more prominent. Talk about a warped view that had to die.

The unravelling of my personal opinion of myself was the real reason I had challenges with accountability. It laid me bare, it clarified my vision of myself and forced me to be honest in a way I didn’t realise I hadn’t been.

  • What are you looking at that you don’t like about your life?
  • What do you need to deal with decisively or else you won’t move forward?
  • What do you need to accept as who you currently are and then choose an alternative path to follow?

Change is within your reach you; Reach out and succeed.

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The Simple Life

Start, However Small the Step


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Some days were harder than others and some meals more difficult to eat but there had to be consistency. I remember complaining and being reminded that these were my goals and I needed to get my act together and just do it. At the time it felt like going through the wringer but it has got easier.

In the last few weeks I have met more than five people who are intrigued by my change and have desired to start the process but haven’t been able to make much progress. This week I chatted with one of them who needs to start but it is a daunting task because the health concerns are major. She needs to start on food and fitness but it feels like an incredibly hard task so I sought to help her.

For a long time she has been sedentary, taken a little sugar but loved starches to the detriment of her waistline and weight. I totally understand her dilemma but from a different perspective. It is possible to think we are eating a balanced diet yet the combination of the foods we are eating aren’t ideal for us. It is even harder when we go out and rent eating at home.

A dear friend and I had coffee together last week and I was hungry but as I looked through the menu it became abundantly clear that most of our snacks are loaded with starch and so people like myself will have a hard time finding something to eat.

You don’t believe? Let me explain. What are the common Kenyan snacks? Here we go…

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chapati, samosa, mandazi, meat pie, cinnamon roll, sandwich, arrow roots, sweet potatoes, chips, yoghurt and cakes. Sadly they are all starches albeit some more complex than the rest but carbohydrates all the same. What does that leave for those not eating carbohydrates? Next to nothing!

It would have been easy to say that I couldn’t find anything to eat and go on being foolish and ignore God’s direction or I could ask him for direction and guidance what to eat. So as I looked through the menu once more I came across boiled eggs and kachumbari (tomato salsa). That is what I settled for. Why? It is protein and vegetables in the right combination so that I can find the starches I need in the vegetables and not from sugar. It will also allow me to be full for longer and therefore reduce weight.

The next challenge was what to drink. I had already had my fill of coffee; to be exact, three cups, so I wanted something else lighter and more refreshing. What a pleasure to find freshly made passion juice without added sugar. Irony is that many of us can go into a restaurant and easily find something to eat.

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Sometimes staying true to the path you have chosen means you must carry your own food as you go to places unknown. On a recent two day outing I really learnt this. On the first day I didn’t carry anything to eat in the in between times and let’s just say that it was hard to just keep to the plan when I was absolutely hungry. By contrast, the next day I made and carried breakfast for myself and my close people and this meant that we did not put pressure on the hosts rather we could sort out our interesting needs. My key learning is to do whatever little I can to make sure it all works out and we’re all on track.

The thing I learnt afresh was to determine the way forward and stick to it no matter what especially when it comes to food, drinks and exercise. Determine the way and remain steadfast no matter what.

The Simple Life

Help…I’m struggling


There were times when I would falter because I didn’t know what to do and that got me down so I wouldn’t work out. Food was never a challenge because I had been looking out on what to eat for many years I just needed to find the right combination but that is a story for a later date.

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I set a simple goal and chose to follow through.

I set the goal to work out three to five days a week but could barely get beyond a few minutes of workout. I was so unfit that I got really sore and hurt at every turn. I couldn’t do squats or lunges without pain. I couldn’t even do one burpee…still a challenge for me because of the jumping. I could barely do much but the inner drive to do something kept me going. After many unsuccessful attempts at consistency, I chose to do just seven minutes of exercise every day of the week until I gained strength.

Oh boy!!! It was like pulling teeth daily as I repeatedly over stretched muscles and could barely get up or bend for days on end. On one day, I pulled my hamstrings and didn’t stretch them well so the pain was unreal. As usual, it came to check in time the next day and oh my word…

Did you work out today?

Nope! I replied rolling my eyes.

Why?

I hurt my hamstrings so couldn’t do much.

Did you stretch after yesterday’s workout?

Yes but maybe not fully

Let me ask,

Uhu!

Is it pain or soreness in the muscle?

What’s the difference?

Pain is so bad you cannot move and soreness is more like stiffness because of use

Soreness

That too shall pass. I will send you a link to a good stretch.

It was initially hard to understand why Coach was being so relentless because I wanted someone to understand that I was tired. It was as if he had tunnel vision and was always asking about my workout and accountability. Several times, I just wanted to give up but every time I was about to, my goals came to mind.

My goals were often the one thing that would get me going again.

How? Well, when I remembered how much weight I needed to lose, how nimble I wanted to be and how much more energy I wanted, it became the fire I needed in my belly. When I understood that I was on the path to a lifestyle change and not a fad I was able to keep working out as I needed to.

Hands down, even if I disliked it at times, one of the best things I have is accountability. I have Coach, my lil man and my sister keeping me on track and watching me lest I start to falter so they can come alongside and cheer me on. Often I had to ask for help and it came in different ways. It came as kind words from Coach, a harsh rebuke from him, a loving prod from my sister in the form of the right food in the kitchen and celebration from lil man when the digits on the scale went down.

I was glad I did the mad thing and asked for help.

What help you ask?  The help to start the plan, to keep going, to believe it would work, to keep growing in the fullness and realities God has set ahead of me. I had the solid prod from God based on our conversations that brought Coach along. I had the daily bodily challenge that helped me settle into knowing that I would succeed and attain the mark set out for me no matter what.

In time, it has become second nature to do the daily work for God’s honour and glory. Yet He says we aren’t done and this isn’t the only area He is targeting to change. So I press on aware that there is an increase awaiting me ahead that will be borne out of working with God.

Press in with me and attain the mark set up for you!

The Simple Life

You set them; You reach them


A strong why changes things but beyond that lies the need for clear goals.

A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envisions, plans and commits to achieve, (Wikipedia). Sound pretty simple yet it is simple and complex all in the same breath. How many of us have goals we have never reached? How many of us have goals that do not endear themselves to us? how many times do we set a goal and never attain it? Why do we lack the drive to reach or work towards our goals and we blame others for our inability?

Coach did something I didn’t like initially, but that became a great source of my success and determination.

He asked me to set my own goals.

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For many people that isn’t a big thing but to me it has been everything. A general goal may not be achieved but in this instance the difference was in the level of detail required and though relatively simple, it demanded lots of focus to do. He even gave a format of sorts as follows:

  • Current weight – target weight
  • Current clothes size – target clothes size
  • Exercise – intensity, frequency, duration
  • Diet – current plan, intended focus, portion size, food combination
  • Desired support structure – how you will report to coach, how often, format, who in your circle could be your accountability partner
  • Duration – how long will this plan go before evaluation and adjustments are done?

Initially, I thought it was too much and asked many questions. Why should I do all that work when I have a coach? Shouldn’t that be his responsibility? I complained and complained and he didn’t budge. In time I wondered what I had got myself into and why I was being so fussy? Why couldn’t I just get myself organised and keep to the plan no matter what? A short while later it all came together and I sent the goals to him.

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The most fascinating part was the reporting structure. I voluntarily offered to send a daily workout and keep a digital food diary. I chose to lay myself bare before someone else, opening up the door for questions and challenges no matter what. I was excited to start changing my life but a few weeks in I began to falter. Even as he noticed, Coach didn’t budge a bit on the follow up. I’d receive messages like:

Hi, I hope you worked out today, please send me the routine.

Or

I don’t see any workout today…did you,

Or

Sweets, sweets, sweets…I see you really like sugar,

Or

When do I see a change in the routine? You have done x or y for long enough to gain strength so increase the intensity or reps for better effects.

I would be so upset and ask why he wouldn’t give me a break only for him to say, ‘I am holding you accountable to your goals. You set them; you reach them.

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It was true…the goals were mine so I needed to accomplish each one and then a little more. I determined to do something every day no matter how little and my goals gave me places to plot the wins with small ones at the start and larger ones in time. Goals helped me to keep going with clarity no matter what and I realised they are a strong lifeline that trigger responses that push us forward.

Every time I think about how I must to work through my goals or I am losing focus and intensity I remember Colossians 3:2 – 4 (NKJV)

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

I said before that my journey is a result of a conversation with God and I must live up to it because He is faithful and doesn’t fail so neither can I!

The Simple Life

Why again?


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What is so important about a why?

So many things but I will only name a few. It is the fire in your belly. It is like fuel for the flight. It is the rain after a long dry spell. It is the reason you get up at 5am and head to work out. It is the strength to workout after a long day. Bottom line…it is the reason you keep going.

Last week I found it a little challenging to keep going because work was extremely busy and my energy levels weren’t all that yet I found that when I started working out my body would ask for the kind of intensity it is used to. I found that when my mind wanted to give up I would remember that the reason for the journey and was no longer fainthearted.

The funniest was on Sunday when I served my guests chocolate covered doughnuts and posted the picture on my Facebook page. It was tasty and enticing but I only ate half a doughnut and remembered it takes a 6 mile run to burn those calories. One of my young people said that I should be reported to coach. Hahahaaha was all I said was of course I had already told him I’d eaten the doughnut.

Nothing can stand in the way of my why unless I let it

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That is the greater lesson for this season. I learnt that my reason for starting down this path has to be so deeply rooted that I don’t question it or lose heart when the going gets tough. Rather I lean in and press harder and push my body to achieve all that God has set out for me to do. It has become the fire in my belly, the reason I keep going; the strength in my weary hands, tired legs, aching muscles. It can be the same for you.

We all have different why’s and so even if we are walking together to achieve the goals we set, we are on the path for entirely different reasons. I need to lose weight to live in obedience and function at optimum, coach works out regularly to reach a certain strength and lift a certain load as he releases stress and copes with life, Emma wants to lose weight to live longer and raise her children, Joy must lose weight to retain her job…the list is endless.

In the end, the central thing is a strong why!

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So strong and so big that it challenges you all the way. Know that your why will evolve with your process. It will become bigger and stronger as you become bigger and stronger because to remain with a small goal is to remain stuck.

Set a strong why based on a clear word from God and see how He will fuel you.