Audacity for Obesity

COnsCOmp

New York is empowering. It is a huge landscape of history, culture, and opportunity for me in particular, and I have hit the ground running. My first impression of the city itself was a sense of familiarity and belonging. There is something about New York that reminds me of Johannesburg, and in fact I am going to sustain this comparison in this post.

Imagine a Johannesburg with a functional centre, where all the big corporations, media houses, advertising agencies, chain supermarkets, food franchises, squares, and fashion houses are all situated in the centre of Johannesburg. That would make for a rather large centre; and that is exactly what New York feels like. Everyone on their way to everywhere.

Imagine that Johannesburg was linked by a massive network of underground trains and taxis on the surface of the city; that the massive magnitude of its size was not at all intimidating because its infrastructure was so well-laid out, and that the streets were numbers instead of names so that the higher the numbers went, the more North the geography of the city is. That would at once solve our street names trauma that celebrates apartheid architects.

I arrived in New York on a Friday, and was immediately flushed by jet lag. I left Amsterdam on Friday morning at 9am, flew for 8 hours and arrived at 11am, same Friday morning. This was the first time I felt like my soul and body were in separate places. I had to patiently wait to feel whole again. However, I wasn’t that disconnected to miss the overt excess of this city/country. In fact I was traumatised by it.

Everyone in New York is lugging a massive container from Starbucks or Dunkin’ Doughnut, etc., and I’m talking massive tanks, filled with either colourful neon fluids, or creamy beverages that look like a heart attack in a jug. And everyone is casually drinking from it as if dehydration is a pandemic in the city. I’m all for hydrating but I’m vehemently against doing so with a neon-coloured drink. Point to me a fruit or vegetable of that colour…

Cons ConsumptEverything is big and colourful in New York. Again, excess. Every food chain promises a bigger, super-sized burger/drink/doughnut/muffin—and this reminds me of South Africa. We also have the problem of excess there; my husband is always amused by the restaurant portions of servings on plates that ultimately look like trays filled to the brim with massive steaks, full chickens or burgers, and overflowing fries whose size outdo any real life potato.

The Surf ‘n Turf era, I wish to call it. Surf ‘n Turf is a combo with meat and fish, and it is just a senseless concept. Can you just be sensible enough to choose between calamari or chicken, ribs or prawns? You can’t have both on the plate. Well apparently you can, with chips (and a slice of tomato), and you can wash it down with a complimentary litre of beer or one of those jugs of neon-coloured drinks. Two words: cardiac arrest!!

Anywho, as traumatised as I am by ludicrous eating habits, the culture of consumption is not new to me as I’ve already mentioned. Living in South Africa today—this is appropriate in sustaining the parallels between Johannesburg and New York—means you can witness the mall-food-court culture where eating fast foods in obscene amounts may point to affluence and status. But how foolish are we to think that our wealth can contradict our health?

We are going to die. And we have already started dying of diabetes and fat-related, cholesterol induced diseases. Don’t get me wrong, there’s people making healthy food choices in both Johannesburg and New York but I’m not talking about them right now. I’m talking about those who do not find value in exercise and conscious eating. Those whose only exercise is handling these enormous burgers from plate to mouth. With their kids! Sheer repulsion!

I’ve been very outspoken on the responsibility we have as parents to protect our children’s from this. Let me not mince my words here: feeding your children the wrong foods and having obese children is a direct infringement of their rights to a healthy and happy life. Full stop. This should be frowned upon and in fact punishable by law. Children suffer the most in this vile culture of conspicuous consumption. Let’s take responsibility.

Needless to say I have been traumatised by the monstrous culture of consumption here so much so that I have resolved to cooking all my meals and exercising even more vigilance in eating any kind of flesh. I am cooking my own food and avoiding any kind of prepared shop food, no matter how new and exciting it might look to my fresh eyes. I have a legacy to build here, and I do not wish to leave it half done.

Our food can kill us or make us stronger, and I choose life…

I like what this painting represents in the larger scheme of things. As I'm sure they would agree in Brazil, the fat cats who gained from the FIFA world cup have kept all the meat and let the gravy trickle to a select few in the face of poverty and hunger. Conspicuous consumption... with no shame

I like what this painting represents in the larger scheme of things. As I’m sure they would agree in Brazil, the fat cats who gained from the FIFA world cup have kept all the meat and let the gravy trickle to a select few in the face of poverty and hunger. Conspicuous consumption… with no shame. But lest we worry, these fat cats are killing themselves with the food they eat so ravenously. Your wealth cannot contradict your health.

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The Rich Get Pitier

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The rich only have money on their minds. All their reasoning capacity takes form from the basis of money. Their views of the world are mediated by monetary worth and consequence. And similarly, their actions in the world are in the interest of protecting their money. This may not be true of all rich people, but we recently hosted a rich person who displayed such characteristics.

S/he didn’t understand why we grew our own vegetables and herbs whilst we could probably afford to just buy them from the supermarket. Could we not afford it? Was that the problem? But we looked so happy. S/he hadn’t been with ‘normal’ people for so long, so we were confusing in our zen temperament and vintage clothes—were we really broke, or making some wild statement?

Second hand clothes. Another problem to the rich: the reason for procuring vintage clothing takes root from elsewhere besides money. And that’s the problem. S/he honestly could not believe my 80s high-waist jeans and Shangaan crop top. Have I lost all sense of fashion? Was I one of those tree-hugging hippies? Or perhaps I was taking this artist thing to an extreme level… I’ve always been extreme. So very confusing!

And the juicing?? Why not just buy juice? Woolworths has perfectly fresh juice with no additives or sweeteners. It’s always on special, you can buy four cartons for R20, and they can last you over a week? Why did we insist on juicing our vegetables? Wait a second, so we CAN afford vegetables all of a sudden? Why on earth would we still grow little chillies and spinach on our terrace? Are we insane?

“And speaking of insanity, what’s this excitement you have over vegetarian meals? Now I know damn well that you like meat, so what’s the problem? Is everything okay Uhuru? Are you guys struggling financially? I mean can you not afford even minced meat-nyana, or wors, or even tinned fish? Surely you want to enjoy meat, it’s 2014, we have escaped the life of suffering under apartheid!

Okay, so should I even ask about your car situation? When we had to go to the market you insisted we walk meanwhile my BMW X5 was parked at the gate. Firstly, like, markets? Seriously? We could have just gone to Woolies. And this walking business seriously cramps my style. Have you seen my shoes, have you seen my body weight? Do you know when last I took a walk?

When I said I would stay whilst you go gallivanting searching for baby aubergines and tahini on foot I anticipated watching reality television, but you don’t even have satellite TV. Who doesn’t have DSTV in this day and age? Even huts in the rural areas have satellite dishes! And yet you just have so many books!? Huh? Here’s an idea: instead of staying and subjecting myself to your ‘music’, let’s just cancel the whole veggie mission and drive to Spur. There’s a ribs special there tonight”.

I refused.

You left.

We’ll probably never see each other again.

The responses were there before the questions were asked…

On vintage/second-hand clothes:

https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/the-fabulous-vintage-age/

On gardening and growing your own food:

https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/writing-gardening-fulfilment/

On eating meat:

https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/defiling-your-mother/

https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/holy-cow/

On juicing:

https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/i-juice-you-juice-just-like-that/

On life, happiness, and finding good balance between conserving self and conversing with self, keep reading this blog…

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Balance, Harmony, and Lightness of Being

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The human brain is an engine, and like any other engine it is in top form when it’s young and new. Growing up means it goes through wear and tear of everyday experience, and starts to slow down, needing service and refurbishments, and seeking to be consistently oiled and taken care of. And just like an engine it starts to clog up, function with much industrious difficulty, and becomes sluggish, dragging the body with it. It is of utmost importance that we service our brain, optimise its functionality, and assist its everyday working to preserve it for the long run.

I have to confess that as much I follow a very healthy diet, I do not exercise. My body and brain in the past year have been perforated by sluggishness—a tiredness that grew and grew out of proportion the more I tried to rest. This slowed me down, got me unmotivated, and reduced me to a somnambulist dragging her feet through life wearing metal shoes. When your body is feeling this way, it takes a toll on the brain engine: I found I needed to channel a lot more energy just to read a book; I wasn’t motivated to hike up any mountain; and of course my PhD suffered most.

Since dreaming about dying last week, I proclaim “no more”! Dying signified rebirth, and I am embracing a better life of physical and mental health, which go hand in hand. I have stopped drinking and smoking (yes mom I used to smoke socially); started cycling, which is the most exciting thing and makes me feel like I’m in Amsterdam; joined the gym, which I started yesterday, and will elaborate on it below; and have completely adopted a better approach to life: juicing vegetables every day, waking up all of three hours earlier, and cutting meat out of my diet.

This year I’m turning 30, and it has brought with it decisive moments. I want to be proud of myself instead of a sluggish somnambulist; I want to be available on a fuller level to those I care about; I want to say yes to invites to hike up Lion’s Head; I want to feel every muscle in my body; I want to a better lecturer to my students; I want to be the best wife to Reineir; I want to be up early on a Saturday morning to join yoga at gym; I want to cycle the Cape Argus; I want to be Dr Phalafala-Smit! All these desires: all possible though positive brain function and a healthy lifestyle. Period!   Blue

Zone Fitness: Kloof Street

Yesterday morning I woke up and sighed hopelessly, as I have done most of the days the past year. My morning routine includes doing 50 sit-ups in bed before I proceed to make tea. Lately it’s been getting more difficult to get to 45, then to 40, and then just avoiding the whole thing entirely, leading to disappointment in myself: the worst feeling one can experience.

I did a harsh overhaul and took stock of my life, this time for the positive, and not towards deeming myself a useless sloth. I checked who I am, where I am, and what I’m doing: I’m a privileged young woman, married to the love of my life, living in recently-voted best city to live in in the world, doing life work that fulfils me. So then what is the problem?

I haven’t serviced the engine that is my brain and body in a long time. Yes, through mental activity like blogging, writing my thesis, and having ‘intellectual’ chats with my best friend Richard I have toned the brain, but the body was suffering a malfunction. The body, just like the brain, is made up of muscles that are intended for motion, not inertia.

I am privileged. I am smart. My body is communicating with me. I must respond. I picked up the little I have of exercising clothes and headed for gym. I had a particular gym in mind: Zone Fitness on Kloof Street. This gym is only for women and has fantastic facilities. After explaining to the admin lady that no, I can’t take a year contract because I live in two hemispheres, we signed, paid, then got to it.

Muscles have memory I can tell you that much. The minute I got on the treadmill my body immediately gave itself to exercise. That is just who I am from a young age: a soccer player, a gymnast, an athlete, a netball captain, and an energiser bunny. It really was like riding a bike. I felt muscles waking up with zealous energy, and congratulating me on heeding their call. I spent 2 hours waking myself to me.

The gym itself is great. It has a huge sauna, a Jacuzzi (which I used to get the blood circulating in my body going), a sun bed (a complete MUST in my books 🙂 ; classes that range from yoga, pilates, aerobics, spinning, and dance; access to personal trainers to help your reach your goals; and beautiful, homely bathrooms which you can use to move from gym straight to work.

This morning I have an induction, where I will have a personal trainer for an hour, listening to personal issues like my capped knee from soccer injuries, and subsequently recommending exercises and machines for me. That’s it. The power of the mind when all else seem to lack direction. My serotonin levels are high, I am full of energy, and I am conquering in my small corner. Now I can finally enjoy the quality of my life. This is the life I choose to live! Now…

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It’s about balance…

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… harmony…

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… and lightness of being

***These are not New Year resolutions; these are resolves: I am bigger than yesterday, I want to be wiser than yesterday, I want to use my mind and body as an engine to propel me forward to my dreams, I want it now, and I have the means to make it happen. Not in the new year, but in my life.

This song is dope!

The Blacker the Berry…

Juicer

Okay, so call off the search! I have found the juicer for me! The Russell Hobbs Juice Sensation, has truly excited me, and today I made my first of many various juices. And then when that was done, I went to the shops and bought more veggies for a second jug of juice. I love the idea of juicing my own fruits and vegetables for a number of reasons: firstly you get all your vitamins raw and organic, as they are unmediated by cooking/steaming; secondly, at this rate I will never get sick because I have all the nutrients packed in one glass of juice (you have to imagine I use a bunch of spinach, five beetroots, eight carrots, a bunch of celery, and a big bulb of ginger for a jug of juice); thirdly I am missing out on all the refined sugars found in the juice from the supermarket; fourthly, I have my intake of iron, potassium, fibre, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, etc… and many other health reasons. Raw juices, as I am now going to call them, are my new best friend thanks to the Russell Hobbs juicer.

What gets me truly excited is that this machine has begun to, and will change my life. Imagine starting your day with a glass full of essential nutrients! You don’t have to peel or remove pits from the fruits and veggies you use (except of course for hard skin like citrus and pineapple), and you can basically get all your daily requirements of some essential vitamins found in veggies that feature less and less in our diets. The machine is easy to clean and all the pulp and other nutritious mess left out of the juice can make great vegetable patties (will furnish you with recipes and pics soon) for those nights we don’t want fish or other animal proteins. Check out some of juices I made today; I just played with some sweet fruits and vegetables, and the results were amazing…

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This morning I broke the machine in with a lovely vitamin C packed juice, consisting of all the yellows: carrots, pineapple, grapefruit, ginger, and lemon. I didn’t use the banana ‘cos common sense prevailed.

There goes the carrots...

There goes the carrots…

And out came the juice! I felt like a child again

… and out came the juice! ! I am a child again!

Ooooh oooh there goes the pineapple... Yummy!

Ooooh oooh there goes the pineapple… Yummy!

When that excitement waned and I went to the shops and bought the above veggies for less than R50. I juiced them and mixed cold pressed aloe vera extract in. This MUST be the healthiest juice I've ever had!

When that excitement waned I went to the shops and bought the above veggies for less than R50. I juiced spinach, celery, beetroots, pineapple, ginger, and apples, then added cold pressed aloe vera extract. This MUST be the healthiest juice I’ve ever had!

I would recommend this lifestyle kitchen appliance for everyone, especially those with these diet-related diseases like diabetes, heart failure, stroke, etc. Please read the below post as well on how a visit to the Wellness Warehouse changed my whole perception on eating well. Also, check out how this guy took juicing to a whole new level:

 

 

 

Living My Best Life

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This month marks five years since I have eaten any commercial fast foods. I made this personal decision, the best decision of my life, five years ago when my father was diagnosed with sugar diabetes. I knew that the disease was in our family, but when it hit closer to home, I wanted to make personal changes, as it can be hereditary. Five years ago I would have consumed anything from street pap & steak, to KFC, to Spur ribs with deep fried onion rings; but not anymore.

Well, over the last five years I realised that my body is like earth itself; I must treat it with kindness and care. In general I do not litter, and have not littered for over 10 years. I realise that the earth struggles to biodegrade and ‘digest’ all that we throw ‘away’ on its grounds. My body is precisely the same. It is very happy digesting biodegradable foods like fruits and vegetables, legumes and seeds, fish and freshly-pressed juices, and lots of water.

If I throw plastic in my stomach, it will probably stay there for months on end before I can excrete it. By plastic I mean McDonalds, food rich in saturated fats, and any kind of meal that is not balanced but comprises of more meat and carbs/starch than veggies. These kinds of food overwhelm the natural ecosystem of your stomach. It’s like that wondering plastic bag in a desolate desert, never ever to enter the ecosystem.

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We only buy and cook with olive oil in our house, as a matter of rule. We also indulge in fatty fish that are rich in omega 3, like salmon and mackerel. We try to eat walnuts, which are great brain food, at least twice a month. In general, we consume all our food consciously, and with purpose.

So I still try to follow this guideline: wake up and drink a litre of water to rehydrate your body. If possible have tea too. Then eat grains and seeds for breakfast. You cannot eat bacon and eggs every morning: your body is still waking up and needs some tender lubrication as opposed to a forceful shoving of heavy, saturated fats. So muesli, fibre-rich cereal, fruits, and yoghurt for live probiotic cultures is best to ease your body into the day.

For the rest of the day eat leafy salads, vegetables, nuts, lots of water, and fruits. I eat my dinner—no carbs; lots and lots of vegetables and fish—before 19:30 so my food is digested before I go to bed. I cook every day to avoid the creams and deep-frying of chain restaurants; or R and I only visit restaurants that pride themselves in honest, organic foods. Carbohydrates in general are the devil with lots of sugar. Luckily I just have an aversion to them. If I eat any at all I eat brown and wild rice with lentils. It is very rich in fibre and assist with digestion.

Today I feel great. I look great too. My body is clean and at ease with itself. I am no longer as bloated and constipated as I used to be. If you’re still doing number two less than six times a week—you should be going to the toilet everyday—then please treat it as an urgent matter. The fat stomachs, if you don’t have a child, are a sign of the times we live in with bad diets. Stomachs today are full of nothing but barley and hops, unsaturated fats, and fats from rich creamy foods. Avoid them at all cost.

You only have one body. And as you know your body is a temple. Take your first step today to a healthier lifestyle. After a 30 day challenge of drinking 3 litres of water a day, 5 fruits, nuts, salads, and fish, you will then see that you can’t go back. Your body will communicate with you directly. The ecosystem of your body will be effective and balanced that your skin will clear, you will have more energy, and of course that excess fat around your little areas will also abscond.

You might also want to look at an earlier article I wrote on the body as a motherboard, here https://uhurumahlodi.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/the-body-is-the-motherboard/?relatedposts_exclude=3438

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Saturated fats raise the level of cholesterol in your blood, and increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. These fats set at room temperature and are not absorbed effectively by your body. They are usually found in animal and dairy products.

Sensual Creative Feast

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Nature makes you creative. This is an undisputed fact. Creativity has lost its true meaning over the centuries, when its name was dragged to high-end museums, opera houses, and city halls. Creativity is the simple act of creating. The process itself may not be that simple but it’s the simplicity that makes a creation creative. In nature, with minimal resources, one has to be in constant production. One has to create a way of living. Fires have to be made, fridges have to be improvised under the earth, and modes of entertainment must be constructed.

I very much doubt that the ‘first people’ were dropping like flies from eating the wrong kinds of plants. In fact, I believe because nature makes you shed your skin and rely on instinct and intuition, the first people knew exactly what to eat, and it was no mistake when they went under a trance of hallucinations for days. If you are accustomed to nature, you will know a fruit tree when you see one sans the fruits. The same principle applies to wild spinach, or morogo—when you find it in nature you will know exactly which is edible and which is not.

Nature trains your senses. You are fully awake and livened in nature. You use your sense of sight, before you pick up and smell, then you put in your mouth, but not without applying your sense of feel and touch: what follows is an engagement with your fifth sense of taste. All these senses would’ve been roused by the sixth one which is intuition. You don’t just pick anything in nature. You need to be as balanced as nature is to dwell in it. You must live harmoniously with the flora and fauna.

Artists have to train their senses. Artists function and create from their senses: they’re sensitive, sensible, and sensuous. They will function best in nature I tell you. Right now being in the Drakensburg for what seems timeless has immersed me in a crazy spirit of creativity. My senses are at work: the mist, the greenery, the river, the water lilies, compost, birds, butterflies, nests and age-old trees are all magic to my soul. I am a child, and I see now that we have to return to nature. [It’s gonna take some doing convincing R to move here].

Nature makes you creative. Our great-grands made musical instruments out of wood, skin, twine, seeds, pumpkin shells, and many other organic products that spoke to their sixth sense. They sought a particular sound and feeling, so they improvised and created it. They baked bread without ovens, and they had showers way before the conventional shower was conceived. They lived as creators. Creativity is not elitist or reserved for the trained palettes. Creativity is in our everyday modes of existence. We are all creators; we can make something out of nothing.

This post is inspired by a meal I made last night, pictured below. I just used what we had in the fridge, and stirred it in the one pan we have. It was a marvellous creation. I worked with what I had, used my intuition, and came at this delicious aubergine tartlets. I will definitely be making it again back in the city, even with the many other resources that we would be back to. I think it is a lovely treat for kids too, and works best when you don’t really like meat.

Food

 

You will need:

  • Aubergines
  • Mushrooms
  • Courgettes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chillies
  • Ginger
  • Feta cheese
  • Red pepper
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Hummus to serve

I cut the aubergines in circles so they may create a nice base, then grilled them in olive oil with onions, garlic, chillies, and ginger. When soft but not mushy I laid them onto the plate, and sautéed mushrooms and courgettes. When lovely and soft I topped the aubergines with them. Then I put crumbled feta cheese on the tartlets, then for a lovely splash of colour I grilled red peppers and cherry tomatoes, and finished the toppings with them. I served with a lovely hummus and bread if you will. You may also use olive tapenade. I think it will hit the spot.

Obviously the ingredients may vary: I would toss ginger carrots on there, or even top the aubergines with round beetroot. It’s your kitchen. Create…