The Simple Life

Unpacking Roadblocks

It had taken a lot of work to get to the place of balance in my walk to a new lifestyle but there were still hurdles to overcome. I’m wondering if there are other ways one could dissipate focus and achievements other than talking too much. After some thought, I began to itemise the things that could slow my process and make it less successful. In the process, fear, doubt, pain and people came to the top of the list. Then I realise that keeping silent has helped me begin dealing with them.

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It started with seemingly mundane things and grew into the biggest things I could see but fear had taken root at a point.

First was the fact that I didn’t have kit and I didn’t know where to start. Then came the fact that I didn’t know what set or sequence of workout was needed, then I didn’t know what to eat, then I had strained a muscle I didn’t know how to stretch it out, then I wondered if I would reach the goal I had set, then asked if I would look as good as I wanted, then…then…then…the list kept getting longer and longer and the fear got bigger every time.

Soon fear was something real that I didn’t really know what it was or how to deal with it.

What is fear? It is the emotion related to an expectation of danger, pain, loss or harm. It is fuelled by a sense of being inadequate or unprepared for the event at hand. It comes with a great sense of overwhelm and personal doubt and can be debilitating. Often fear causes people to freeze and lose their capacity to function rationally.

How did I identify the fear? That one was funny. We were reviewing progress with coach and I was hesitant and vague in some of my answers and he kept pushing as is his norm. I didn’t answer and the conversation kept ringing in my mind. I was certain I didn’t know the answer but twenty minutes later it hit me…fear was holding me back! I was terrified! In the past I would walk away but now I knew that if I didn’t tackle it, I would be at loss for a while.

What did I do? Oh I worked hard to deal with the fear related to the process and it went down enough for me to see the way but my introspective nature caused me to look at other aspects of my life and find fear in place in other places. It is ironic that growth in one area only opens up room to grow in another. I had heard it said that we must embrace fear but I didn’t know how to do so.

I needed tangible steps to follow or at least action points to deal with this now and always.

If  “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,”* and “God is not a man that he should lie or the son of man that He should repent”** then there was something I hadn’t tapped into that I needed to. There is a process that I must connect to and understand to resolve these matters and move on.

*2 Timothy 1:7 /  **Num 12:9

The Simple Life

Laser Sharp; Eyes Ahead

I had never really understood how we dissipate the energy to keep to the process until I heard this…

Don’t pay lip service to what lifestyle should be speaking, don’t let your lips talk what your life should be living. Let your life live and your lips will follow one day. If you start talking you will never live it out because the pressure to live it out will be dissipated by the words we speak. Intellect has the capacity to turn the words into convincing feelings that you are on the way yet it is only the mouth at work – Daddy Chigbo Neil Ndukwe

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My lifestyle should be producing certain results; there should be proof of my walk in my actions before it comes from the words of my mouth. When I looked back, it had always seemed simple enough to talk about all that is going on around me but I never knew I was actually reducing my personal capacity to become. Who would have thought that speaking would be a way for the body to think it is doing more than it is?

Remember I mentioned earlier that I wanted to get fit for a long time and had been losing momentum? I haven’t mentioned how introspective I am. I like to know what is going on and why things happen and I want to be sure I don’t repeat mistakes so I go back, look through things and think through them. Is there a pattern or connection? Could I do something different?

For so long I had talked about how I wanted to lose weight and get fit. I talked about how I would be the best and achieve things but that is all I did. Talk! I would set a start date and it would come and go without effort. I’d set targets and achieve nothing over and over. Fast forward to 2017 and the suddenness of process onset, I only spoke with one person about it and it was the one person who wouldn’t give me gap. Oh, God and I were talking all the time but He is the source of the dream so He kept the pressure on.

The difference this time was that I spent more time talking only with the people who were instrumental in the process than sharing with others what was going on. This is how we have made more progress. I spent more time cataloguing progress and overcoming challenges than talking about what I would do and that pushed me to a greater level of achievement and success. Daily it became clear that I had to keep my eyes on the prize and the prize was God’s instruction to me and nothing else.

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What was my reality? The less I talked the more I achieved and so now I understand my father’s words above.

The thing I have now understood is that once I choose the path of honesty, the next step is to keep working on the instruction; front and centre, no shifting or looking aside. Laser sharp focus on the task ahead. There is no room for a double mind, fear or doubt. There is no time to lose focus or else I will not reach the mark set out for me. That mark has to be important enough that it becomes the one thing I am committed to no matter what. Choice made, mouth closed!

Hindsight is the story I will tell from now on.

The Simple Life

What I Do In Private Is Who I Am.

How does honesty help in the process? Oh simple…What I do in private is who I really am.

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It is easy to tell people what to do, what I do, how I do it and live like that when people are seeing and looking but it is possible that I am not truly that. How often do we do and say things when people are there but when we are alone…ah!!! It is a different story. So many of us are two faced and it is costing us big time.

Let me give perspective. I am on a low carb diet and moving deeper into keto every day, exercising three to five times a week as I share the lessons online. People are listening to me, reading my posts and seeing the changes but do they know the full story? Am I telling the truth that there are days when I am not doing so well? These are the days I have a desire for a muffin and eat it but because I am on this low carb shift, will post it online? I can say that no one will know but isn’t God with me at all times? Can’t He see what is actually going on? Isn’t it sad for Him to watch me lie to the world?

Right there, is the process that can save or kill me.

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If I choose to keep talking one thing and doing other things in the hidden place, then I am deceived. Yes, even as I deceive others…I am the one who is deceived!!! It doesn’t matter if no one else knows what I am doing because I have already fried myself. When I made the choice to follow the instruction to get on this path, I set myself up for a process but even deeper than that, it was an agreement between me and God not coach and I. Coach is simply the tool, the help God sent to give me direct strength to keep going.

This means that I must daily choose honesty between God and I no matter what and then share only what HE says. This level of honesty therefore enables me to live truthfully, learn honestly, shift permanently and therefore have the impact God has determined my life would produce. It is what serves as the valley where the seed is planted, watered, lessons are learnt and then the fruit is visible in and out of season. It is the place of proof of my life in God.

Remembering ‘What I do in private is really who I am,’ holds me to account. I am here and keep going because this is process between God and I…period. This is the reason I can go on every day because it demands such a level of commitment and consistency that I would never be able to do it alone.

The daily choice to live honestly with God is what makes my life count. Period!

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I thought I had understood honesty after the last post then I had a conversation with my Daddy about something seemingly unrelated. I was sharing something I was struggling with and asking him how to remain neutral in God until I am sure about His word over the matter. His answer was simple… ‘Practice!’ Ok, that is simple enough because I understand practice based on the process I am in. Daily effort; daily choice; doing it over and over until it becomes part of you. I got this one down!!

Then he said, ‘Incidentally, you had control of the situation.’ This left me scratching my head and looking inward to see what needed to be dealt with. I have control? oh wow! Yes I do. I daily decide what I will do, when, how and with whom. I can say I am tired and do nothing, or I am craving sugar and indulge or I can choose to be patient and allow God to show me the right combinations of everything and live by that… indeed, I have control.

I must constantly judge myself, my actions, motives, thoughts, desires and hopes to ensure that they are in the right place with God and I am still on the path. My walk is between me and God about the word I received from Him and accepted.

Honesty is about being truthful to the word of God over my life and living it right albeit course correcting every moment of life.

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.