Women Need Help Too!

I have a serious bone to chew with whoever comes up with some of these things.  Don’t get me wrong I am all for taking care of your other half but lately I have been wondering.  Who takes care of the woman once a couple gets married?  Our culture expects the woman to bend and break for her husband.  From cooking, cleaning, making sure the house is in order, being intimate with him as many times as she can take it, taking care of the children, showing up for funerals, family functions, taking in in-laws…the list is endless.  In all this you are bound to ask yourself what the man will be doing in this equation.  The answer is easy really.  He will be sitting in front of the TV watching who knows what and relaxing all day long.  Basically the man does nothing.  Before you get all worked up it’s obvious its not ALL MEN who are like that, but in our culture most men are.

I am going to keep this post as short as possible so that it doesn’t turn into a man bashing rant.  What I would like to know is who is taking care of the woman in all this?  After a long days work she is expected to get home, prepare supper, make sure the children have done their homework and a whole list of other things married people do.  Would it kill the husband to actually cook once in a while if he got home before the wife?  If he isn’t much of a cook maybe pile up the dishes nicely, boil the meat, chops onions and tomatoes (do something) so that when the wife gets home she can start from somewhere and not feel like a slave who has to wait hand and foot for her husband.  Maybe my way of thinking is crazy but it would make the world a better place if people worked as a team.  Heck, women get tired too they are not energizer bunnies who just keep going and going.

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Image from Google

I know a man who is reading this and saying to himself “But I pay all the bills around the house and she doesn’t have to worry about the financial side of things”  Well yes, thank you for doing a great job mister, but it’s not always about the money.  It’s about the small things that make a woman feel a whole lot more appreciated for everything she does.

Our culture has a long way to go…  If by any chance a man is seen by his friends or relatives helping around the house (there are very few of these by the way) he is considered weak and chances are his wife fed him a love potion so that he can do as she pleases with him.  Wrong thinking right there.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with sharing tasks.  It actually makes for a better home and chances of getting more sex because “I am tired” won’t be featuring in the wife’s’ list of excuses.

Teamwork people teamwork!

But then again, I’m not married, what would I know about the ins and outs of a marriage?  It wouldn’t hurt to consider it though, I am sure your wife would be happy to see you do something to make tasks around the house a little easier.

What are your honest thoughts on this subject?  I know not everyone will agree with my line of thinking so I would love to hear from you.

©MaKupsy 2017

My Battle With Suicidal Thoughts

In our African Culture suicide is something people don’t openly talk about.  I would like to believe there are people who have gone through what I used to go through but never told a soul or perhaps went on to carry out the act of suicide because they had no one else to turn to.  This is not an easy post for me to write because I know it will open old wounds and raise eyebrows but I feel it’s a story that needs to be shared and hopefully help someone who is probably contemplating suicide.

I have three close friends and I have told them about my battle with suicide thoughts.  It wasn’t something I just woke up one morning and decided to share with them; I had to make sure I could trust them with my dark side and have confidence that they would not ridicule me…I have always been a neat freak.  The state of my house reflects the thoughts in my head.  If I am in a happy and healthy space my house is sparkling clean.  If I am upset and overwhelmed then as you can expect my house will be an actual mess.

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Image from Pinterest

However, there was a time being a neat freak was not only about keeping my house clean.  It was my way of preparing to leave.  Why was I sticking around anyway, no one loved me, no one cared about me or believed in me so what wast the point of it all?  I thought to myself if I finally decide to end my life then at least people should come to a clean house and pack my things away without a hassle.

This happened to me for months on end. I would think about how I was going to go about it.  I walk to work and I cross a very busy street.  Some days I would contemplate throwing myself right in front of an oncoming car, other days I would think of jumping off from an office building and on the worst days I would think of getting run over by a train.  The one time I even asked my doctor friend if slitting my wrists would kill me.  I obviously asked in a round about way and when he told me it would send me straight to my death bed I had one more method to add to my list.  What made all these thoughts more real was all the suicide incidents that I would read about in the paper every other day and I would think to myself, why not; this will definitely end all my misery!  I was in a very dark space and what fueled these suicide thoughts were the obstacles that I kept facing; (heartbreak, unfulfilled dreams, low self esteem, no life purpose).  

The thing about suicidal thoughts is that you can’t go around telling people that’s what’s going on in your head incase they might think you have lost your marbles.  You will be fighting demons that you can’t see but can feel at every waking moment.  I had an injured soul and I took to many devices to try and cure it with no luck.  My friend used to complain about my “mood swings” not realising that they had more to do with my thoughts more than anyone in particular.  I could go for weeks, months on end without wanting to speak to her and some of my friends.  I just wanted to be left alone.  I withdrew from social media platforms, I even stopped going out but took to drinking alcohol instead to numb my thoughts.

From my experience suicidal thoughts come with depression which is unfortunately not acknowledged in our culture.  Tell most people that you are depressed and they will tell you to get over it.  I know you are reading this probably asking yourself why I didn’t talk to anyone about what I was going through.  Well, I did actually but I didn’t tell them the full details. What I got in return was “It’s a phase it will pass.”  Unfortunately this phase stuck with me from College days till just a few years ago when the suicidal thoughts finally left and set me free.

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Image from Pinterest

I would be lying if I tried to give you a formula on how to get rid of that heavy feeling you feel around your chest.  The thoughts of how you are worthless and how you are not serving any purpose on this earth.  The thoughts that suicide will make things right for you.  I don’t have that because for me I just woke up one morning and the dark cloud that had been hovering above me was gone.  I think whatever it was realised that it was putting me through unnecessary pain because with each day I was becoming more and more disinterested in life and I could hardly recognise myself.

Suicide is real.  I have seen friends take their lives over a heartbreak, people throw themselves off a building because of financial stress and wives burn themselves to death after finding out about their husband’s infidelity.  Before I experienced suicidal thoughts I mocked them and thought to myself who in their right minds would end their lives over things that could be fixed? I hadn’t walked in their shoes and it was easy for me to judge them.  I didn’t know that sometimes the thoughts in your head can be so bad you have to find a way to run away from them and suicide may be the only way out.  Now I understand that some people, me included will go through and have gone through some dark phases in their lives and unfortunately for some they will not live to tell their story but for the lucky few you get a chance at life again.

I am thankful that I never went through any attempt to commit suicide.  It all ended in my head.  Had I gone through with it I would have never had the chance to see my beautiful little girl.  I would have not seen how much of a positive and determined individual I have become and I would not have had the chance to write this and share this with you.

I am generally a bubbly individual. I have great days and not so great ones but my life experience so far has made me realise that we are all going through something.  It’s easy for us to forget to be kind to the next person but if you can be good to those around you.  You never know the difference your encouraging words or smile can alter their entire day.  Your positive energy may the the one reason they won’t go ahead and commit suicide.

In most cases of suicide a person doesn’t want to die they just want to stop the pain.

©MaKupsy 2017

#UrsulaChallenge

I have to be honest with you, when I initially started working out I never in my wildest dreams thought that it would inspire so many people around me.  It has been and continues to be an interesting fitness journey.  I created a WhatsApp group with amazing individuals and everyday we push each other do to better than we did the day before.  Within the group there are Fitness Instructors, Physiotherapists, Lawyers, IT Personnel, Secretaries, University Students, Bloggers…tell you what, the list is endless and the group is diverse.

The great thing about it is thanks to technology we don’t have to be all in one place to run, just a running application on your mobile device and you are good to go.  There are runners from the UK, Algeria, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa,Zambia, Zimbabwe.  Minus running we get to learn different languages, cultures and foods.  Okay, I will have to expand on this on a different day, for now let  me talk about the #UrsulaChallenge

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Flyer by @KingKGC (Twitter)

The last challenge we had, Taku won hands down.  We have a rule that whoever wins the challenge is the one who will choose what the next challenge will entail.  I decided to have a little twist to it because I realised that to keep the motivation alive runners who are improving need to get some form of recognition as well and so Ursula was the lucky runner to get chosen. She has been running with the team since October and she has outdid herself, even running after a long day when all she wanted to do was sleep.

There are a few additions to her challenge which are:

  • Participants are to weigh in on Monday morning or Sunday evening and have their weight recorded.

You are encouraged to weigh in at the same time you weighed yourself at the beginning of the challenge and to use the same scale.

The one who loses the most weight during this weeks challenge gets 15 bonus points.

P.S The weight loss is for those who have it as their goal to lose weight, if not please do not worry yourself with the weigh in.

  • There will be a cook off on the Rest Day of the challenge.  The participant who sends through a plate that has healthy  food options, is well presented and appealing to the eye will get 5 bonus points.

I hope you will take part in this challenge, trust me, if you are a fitness enthusiast you will completely enjoy it and probably come back for more.  All the best in the upcoming challenge team, and may the best runner win!

#UrsulaChallenge #RunWithFitnessBae

P.S We always use Nike+(read as being resistant to change) for the challenges but this time the rules are more flexible and participants can use Strava, Cardio Trainer, Adidas and NRC.

Share. Like. Join.

©MaKupsy 2016

Of Lobola, Weddings & Such

The moment a friend tells me that they are getting married I get very happy for them because for most women marriage doesn’t come easy.  If you meet a guy who loves you enough to wife you up then happy days.  In our culture you first pay lobola and then have a court wedding or white wedding or not, whatever tickles your fancy really but to be official you need to get the lobola thing going.  This is the part that baffles me the most…why do people make such a big secret of when their boyfriend will actually go and pay lobola for them?  I have three or four “friends” who only told me on the actual day their lobola was being paid.  It left me questioning our friendship.  If we are supposed to be that close and that happy for each other why would you tell me on the very day of your big day???  Someone help me understand why you would keep such good news away from your friend?  I have concluded that it’s their way of letting you know that you have been left behind in the world of singledom so they just want to give you a quick surprise for you before they carry on into their married life.

As the story continues…

Then we get excited about their wedding day if they go the white wedding route.  I help out when I can with the planning, the ideas for the venue, decoration; most of the time they complain about the in laws who are making things impossible, we go through dresses, we think of a playlist the whole shebang.  My phone is always on the charger because she needs help with this or that and we are constantly in touch.  It actually feels like my wedding by the time I go to sleep because of the levels of fatigue but I won’t be complaining because that’s what friends do right.  You help each other through good and bad times even though at this point I start feeling like an underpaid wedding planner. Hahahaha

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Anyways, the big day finally arrives and guess what has happened to me in the past for some of my “friends” weddings.

Friend 1. I was sent an invite to the wedding, oh happy days, even though I am not such a huge fan of weddings.

Friend 2.I got to be a bridesmaid for the first time and I had a fabulous time because the wedding reception was short and sweet and we wore some pretty delicious colours on the day.  Who would have thought purple and gold would rock?!

Friend 3. I never heard from her again.  A few days before her wedding she went cold turkey on me.  I knew the venue of her wedding which was out of town by the way but she never sent me a wedding invite so there was no way I was going to just rock up at her wedding uninvited.  I am not about that gate crashing a wedding life.  Some friend huh?

Enough about that let me get to the juicy bit.  So now some of my friends are married.  Remember we used to talk all the time?  I have noted that a few weeks after they get married they go missing in action.  I ask myself if they are happy, sad, overwhelmed, enjoying their honeymoon phase or just don’t want to be associated with a single someone.  Please do not get me wrong, I am not the jealous type but the I wonder what’s up type.  The moment they are married they just snub me and I never hear from them again.  Is it a thing that married women do or it’s a thing that I get dished out from my “friends” only?  Does marriage really take such a toll on an individual that you forget about your friends or at least those who considered you their friend?  Do you honestly expect me to respond to your message at the speed of lighting the moment you finally decide to communicate with me?

Like what the actual fuck is up with that??!!

I wonder…

©MaKupsy 2016

My Hair Grows Towards Heaven!

The first time ever Hair Meet Up was held last Saturday between 10am and 1pm.  Before I left the house a few minutes before 10am I thought I would be one of the first people to get to the venue, you know how terrible most people are with time.  Surprise surprise there were close to 20 people when I got there.  What time did these women wake up??  Wait, the first 5 people to get to the venue were going to get a free hairdo, now it made sense!  The way my hair was a hot mess I should have left home early as well but there is always next time I guess.

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The venue was beautiful.  Chairs close to the pool in the shade away from the unforgiving sun.  I have never seen so many women with different natural hairstyles in one place.  The event started a few minutes after 10am and the hostesses and guest speakers were lively and got the crowd taking part.

We had an amazing time and I learnt some very valuable lessons from this meet up.  I realised that I have been doing more harm than good to my hair without even realising it.  We have too much information around us and thanks to Google we now search for everything and automatically assume that whatever we find there holds true to our own situations.  Below are a few tips and sayings I found very useful and inspiring:

  1. You need to learn what your hair likes so that you know which products to try. Do not use too many products at once otherwise you will not figure out what is actually working for you or not.
  2. Move around with a bottle of water and spritz water to keep it soft. Sometimes you can try adding some oil. Just a bit of oil, maybe a tablespoon or less.  Zimbabwe is dry; your hair needs WATER more than anything.
  3. You can use eggs and avocados on your hair without having to break a budget on expensive products. Most times home remedies work wonders on your hair.
  4. Tea tree and peppermint oil are good for dandruff.
  5. Remember that hair is different. What works for Chido won’t work for Chipo.
  6. Never comb your hair when it is dry.
  7. Our hair is the only hair that grows towards heaven. God did not make a mistake by making it the way it is.

  8. The moment you undo your hair and there is that stickiness it means you are using too much product in it.
  9. Castor oil and blended red onion is good for your hairline.
  10. Speak affirmations of love to your hair.
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MaKupsy & @Pineapple_ZW (Twitter)

We were sold a dream though, the ticket said that Kudzai Sevenzo would be the special guest appearance but she didn’t come through and there was no mention or explanation of why that did not materialise.

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The hamper I won for Tweeting about the event like a maniac 🙂

Over and above the event was well organised.  A number of women walked away with prizes myself included and it was a day well spent gathering priceless information.  I know for a fact that from now on I will NOT buy any hair product that does not contain Aqua in it.  My hair journey has already begun and months from now I will show you if the tips above helped or not.  I really need to get my hair line back it is currently in ICU!

Do you have any more natural hair tips you would like to share?  If yes please feel free to get in touch so that we can have more information available for natural hair enthusiasts.

©MaKupsy 2016

 

Shona Lobola Procedures

Roora (Lobola/Dowry)

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A man marrying a woman from the Shona culture has to observe the roora. This is a sign or show of love and affection when a man saves up and marries his beloved. There are many ways this can be done but I will dwell on the general procedures followed on the following condition  The man has done all the other necessities e.g. proposing (not musengabere, kutizisa), formal Introductions (dated for over 6 months) and more importantly girl is not pregnant (damage) or previously been married (virgin?).  In Zimbabwe, roora takes place in a number of stages and each stage has its own traditions and small amounts to pay. The process can differ from place to place due to the fact that in the Shona culture there are 12 different ethnic groups.

Stage One – Introduction

This stage involves the ‘munyayi’ who is a go-between when a man goes to pay the bride price at his future wife’s family stating to the family his intentions and purpose of visit e.g. “I have been sent by (the husband) to look for Sadza” , literally translated to I have come to marry your daughter (name). Here they are asked who they mean. Once this is done the bride’s family will ask the daughter if she knows the people who have come to marry her.

Stage two – Grocery

A list is given to the groom prior the ceremony, this will be a list of groceries required to bring to the family. The items are then checked and should match that on the original list for example, if its 5kg of sugar he should bring exactly that and not less.  Adhering to the stated requirements of the new in-laws is a show of respect from the new son-in-law. It is often advisable to do exactly as stated or better, to ensure smooth relations between the newly united families. Some families are more tolerant than others; A LOT of tolerance is needed as this is not a money making ceremony.

Stage Three – Preparations for payment

At this stage the bride’s family will ask for ‘ndiro’ normally a wooden plate from the munyayi and if he has brought one he would present it. This (the plate); in the past used to be provided by the bride’s family but since some people began charging for them some go with their own wooden plates.  Once the plate has been placed a process known as ‘sunungura homwe’ (loosening pockets) or ‘Vhuramuromomo’ (meaning opening of mouth) where a small fee is paid to for the greeting of the guests. At this stage some fines may be imposed.  For instance if the groom failed to meet an earlier date even if he notified the bride’s family well in advance and any other misdemeanours he might have done, These however should done with humour and laughter just to make the ‘munyayi’ feel at home and comfortable.

Stage Four–Payments

The process of Roora negotiations can be long and complex, and involves many members from both the bride’s and the groom’s extended families so these days due to our busy nature in some parts it being shortened and made less complex. The payment stage has quite a many stages which can even take days to complete. These are now grouped in two main sub processes which are:-

1.    Zvireverere zvaBaba (Gifts for the father)

This stage involves payment that are direct from the bride’s father (a guardian or representative can accept charge for these if the paternal father is deceased or not known) which in the old days had a lot of very long sub-processes and has been shortened. The main payment is the ‘Matekenyandebvu’ to acknowledge him for “the pulling of the beard” as she sat on his knee, or putting up with the playful antics of his daughter as a child. The amount paid for the father is negotiable.

2.    Zvireverere zvaMai (Gifts for the mother)

Same as the process above the payment are strictly for the bride’s mother (a guardian or representative can accept charge for these if the maternal father is deceased or not known).

The gifts for the mother of the bride in the old days included things like ‘mbereko’, for carrying the bride in a pouch or sling when she was a baby, and ‘mafukidzadumbu’ for covering of the belly; this is alternately translated as “carrying the baby in the womb” or “tucking the baby in with a blanket (when she wakes in the night)”. These are now charged under this blanket term due to the complexity of the past processes as well as the fact that people may have even forgotten exactly the names of the processes. The amount paid for the mother is non-negotiable.

Stage Five – Mbudzi yedare (yemachinda) Goat

This is a live goat that is brought by the man and is slaughtered during the payment process. The whole goat is then cooked and made ready to be served after the completion of the ceremony. If they don’t bring a goat a payment will be asked for and this money is shared equally between all the boys available at the household (usually can cause a lot of commotion if the amount is not even).

Stage Six – Musikana/Tete (Gifts for the bride)

The woman being married is required to pick some money from the plate for herserlf.  This money in some places can be set by the aunt or the woman’s sister. This is a small allowance for ’Mari inonhongwa nemusihare’ for the purchase of household or cooking utensils, and this amount is given to the bride. If there are younger sisters or siblings, she may give them a portion of the money. This money is for all the cooking that would have taken place for the party which the groom will finance after the ceremony is concluded. Usually this money can be returned by the woman to her future husband to cover the other payment that would follow.

Stage Seven – Rusambo (Roora, Dowry)

This is the most important stage called “Rusambo” and although the above process is referred to or called “roora”, this is the name given to the whole ceremony and all of the gifts, not just the bride price or dowry. Paying Roora is called ‘kubvisa pfuma’, giving (or parting with) wealth. Roora is wealth and its quantum must be consistent with wealth. This stage can only be reached if the stages mentioned above have been fulfilled. The bride price varies and nowadays factors in things like the social class of both the groom and the bride. This however can be paid as a part payment as long as some form of payment is made. For illustration purposes maybe the above processes may have cost the groom $1400 and he had only brought $2000 it is accepted for him to pay $600.00 and then the rest will follow for the next twenty years. If the groom fails to come up with any part payment then the whole process becomes null and void and will have to be started again at a later date and he will not be give his bride.

Stage eight – Danga (Livestock)

This stage traditionally is a gift of cattle and nowadays it is most commonly paid in cash, although the amounts will still be representative of fair market price for cattle.  Normally the number is between seven to eight cows and in those the most important one is the one for the mother known as ‘mombe yeumai.’ This should always be a live cow that the groom gives to the mother in law.  The cow is expected to produce an offspring as proof that the union has been blessed, also our belief the most powerful ancestors that protect us are the maternal ones.  ’Mudzimu wamai ukadambura mbereko’ (if maternal spirits let go) spells disaster.  To keep these spirits happy and attentive there is need to follow the ‘mombe yeumai’ protocol to the letter.  To to give ‘mombe yeumai’ is to acknowledge this spiritual symbolism. Once the offspring is weaned it is then expected that the cow can be slaughtered by the bride’s family and eaten by both families just as thanks giving and strengthening both the couple’s relationship as well as the family as a whole.  This will take place after two to five years. This stage is dependent on the Rusambo stage and if Rusambo is not available then they cannot proceed to this current stage.  In old times ‘pfuma/roora’ consisted of cattle, ’mapadza’ (symbolic iron hoes) and ‘machira’ (imported cloth) as indicative of a rich agricultural community.

Stage Nine – Majasi (Clothes)

This stage also dependent on the Rusambo stage.  It is the gift of clothes that the groom is expected to buy for his in-laws. As stated after Rusambo has been paid and the bride’s family are happy the groom and his party will then be invited and welcomed into the family ‘Kupinzwa mumusha’, the groom will then greet the in-laws as a new groom (no longer a prospective groom or stranger, but a member of the family) with the special traditional clapping greeting ‘Gusvi’ and is permitted to be a part of the household. At this stage he will be given a list of items of clothing that both the mother and father require normally full attire from top to bottom.

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N.B Lobola Groceries vary from family to family but the standard grocery list is:

Cartons or boxes of:

Rice
Hupfu
Meat
Cooking oil
Tissues
Soap
Drinks
Flour

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Photo Credit: Blessing Mutinhiri

 

This article was written by Richard Chashamba Thank you very much for the information you shared with me, I hope someone will have a clear view of what the Shona Lobola Procedures comprise of and not be in the dark like I was.  This was very a very insightful article.

© MaKupsy

A Journey Through Thick & Thin

We are investors in our lives, shareholders to the consequences of our actions. Shareholders because we never quite admit to all our mistakes, we apportion part of them to others.  Maybe that’s the reason why some people also lay claim to contributing to our successes when we do well.  That’s what l believe partly contributes to our natural denial as human beings.

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My denial for many years has been mostly about my state of health or rather “weight”. Growing up in an African setup the myth that weight signifies success is the very source of pride for many overweight people. We seek to hide using the complement of our culture giving respect to the large and hugely bodied figures who roam our streets. It is no accident that some even aspire to become bigger body wise while using the wrong route to getting there. However, my denial was slightly different from the normal African standard. I grew up in a middle class family that could afford to place before me a plate of sadza and meat more often than the average family in our country. We hardly lacked in resources and l was encouraged to finish my plate like “all good kids” are expected to. Unknown to my well-meaning parents is that l was consistently “slightly” overfed over a couple decades of my life as a kid and a teenager. During this process l came to be known as the chubby kid.

Chubby was a good thing and that was my means of standing out from the rest of the pack. The great irony is l never really sucked in sport, l made 1st team volleyball at all the schools l attended and l was on a good day, a descent goalkeeper. For me food became less about eating to live and more about eating to be always full. When you hardly lack you become very generous with your portions and portions eventually had me very rounded up. (So to speak)  My earliest memory of how much l was overweight was when as a 15year old l tipped the scale at about 80kg during a blood donation which l found to be quite amusing. Publicly l displayed pride that l was possibly in the top 5 heaviest students in our age group. Quietly though l was slightly embarrassed that l was one of the odd ones out. I wanted to belong not to become a freak show (no offense to my counterparts). By the time l reached University l had become quite obese. That phase of my life saw me pile on more weight due to the rigorous requirements of my program and my own share of laziness.

Fast forward to my 2012 l was weighing about 110kg and 2013 brought an extra 10kg onto my scale. By then my lifestyle revolved around long hours at work, a very outgoing weekend schedule filled with braais and not a drop of physical activity. It was amusing that even my workplace was located 200m from where l would drop off my lifts and l would use the elevator to our 3rd floor offices so that basically summed up an activity deficient lifestyle.

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Realities of being overweight

At one point in my denial that my situation needed a change, l got so big l blew open my work suite and had to ask my lovely girlfriend to buy a needle and thread for me. Yes you guessed correctly, she promptly delivered the goods and l had to sew up my trousers in the gents while she waited for me at reception in shock. She was always kind in her approach with me though she was getting extremely worried with each day passing. I had a challenge getting into high rise vehicles and there was always a risk l would blow a pair of trousers. I am a short guy, let’s just say am slightly below 170cm so carrying 120kg was a health hazard (this is the last time l will write the figure!) l was very huge. More shockingly l was on the chronic side of the BMI index. With time more realities started to settle into my life, for example during a boozers game of soccer l was out of breadth after every defensive play by the goals even if the goalkeeper is the least active player on the field. Whenever my work lift was not working l would have to remove my work suite jacket so that l could cover up my wet shirt by the time l got to our floor. It would be greatly embarrassing to face corporate clients in a wet suit. So the dry jacket covered up the wet shirt from the climb up. Soon even in winter l could no longer wear a suit without having a vest worn below the formal shirt. Sometimes l would sweat profusely if the air-conditioner was not working properly. Remember my point about denial? Yes, my denial only served to give me educated reasons on why all this was happening. I would blame the clothes and not the body. I would blame the air-conditioner, blame the flight of stairs, blame the hot coffee l just drank and sometimes blame the pressure of work on my state of sweat.

The wake-up call

There were a series of wake-up calls that came in slow succession which lead to some change.

  1. One day while l was on a business trip l ate so much l almost suffocated in my sleep. Seems as l was turning in bed after a generous meal the food found its way up my canal and l woke up without any air choking on my own vomit. Luckily the gag reflex we possess naturally assisted me somewhat to avert danger. This story is known by only 5 close people in my life, but it’s important that many more understand the dangers of over-eating.
  2. The next time l received my wake-up call was when my snoring got so bad that people l would travel with volunteered to have me get a private room to myself and not share the hotel room with them. I took that to mean more freedom for me but it was only when my cousins recorded me snoring on their smartphone that l saw how bad it really was. It sounded like l was dying, l was shocked and it was extremely embarrassing. The saddest part is l never had the maturity or enlightenment to do anything about it.
  3. For short stints l under ate because it seemed like l kept gaining. Soon l was hunting for trousers in the unlabeled area looking for old stock on the no size section of the department store. I would wear trousers for very tall people and have to get a tailor to cut almost half the length on the legs to get my fit.

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The unlikely invitation

I grew up in the lovely City of Kings, Bulawayo.  Late 2013 my job took me to Harare for a fixed term period to be part of a project at work. While there a brother of mine would ask me to meet him at his gym so l could grab a free lift home. It was during this period that his trainer became fond of me often encouraging me to come watch their sessions but l would laugh it off. With a society that does not see many thriving weight loss stories l stuck to television shows to get visual inspiration but l never amassed enough interest (read as courage) to start my own journey. Many weeks later my brother informed me that l had been offered free membership at his gym for a week and if l liked it then l would formally join and start paying subscriptions. Till now over 3years later, l have never tasted the hell l went through that week. The 1st day l could hardly walk, l was grossly unfit and l skipped the shower after and went to sleep in my brothers car. He found me snoring and till this day he tells anyone who cares to listen that l almost died at gym. But dying evaded me, the next day my joints were protesting, my lung capacity seemed hugely insufficient and l was begging to die. But my trainer assured me that l would not die! I never believed him, l cursed at him (in French) and l felt everyone in the class was showing off.

They say never compare your journey to that of others. There were figures in the gym that looked bigger than me and l never understood why they were having a good time while l was suffering. I have no academic reason for this but somehow when the week was over l paid for the whole month in one go. I never stopped attending and within two weeks l saw a lot of changes. An old pair of pants that l had decommissioned suddenly started fitting, l could go for 10minutes in class and not need a break then soon l could talk during the session. Interestingly round about that time Corporate24 opened their premises in Harare and they had a machine that could record height, weight, and temperatureplus body fat percentage. It was during my soon to be many visits there that l started seeing the weight fall away as their scale machine offered more privacy than the public scales out there. Soon my belt loops started moving backwards. I was ecstatic!However the process is never smooth, many before me claimed not to see the changes and many more felt it was a phase. Somehow the maturity started settling in and l needed less re-assurance from people and more assurance from my clothes that l had really shed weight. That is when the best days of my life became sculpted.

Research is key

Many myths exist on the road to weight loss. Many supposed scientific researchers exist in the world of fitness.

  • You will meet those who tell you not to take carbs as the means to real weight loss.
  • Some will advocate for a meat free diet.
  • Others will swear by a liquid only diet.

Put simply, you will bump into a lot of different theories.

When l successfully lost my first 15kg the situation changed for me. I could no longer sustain a good rate of weight loss on my once a day gym session and eat whatever l wanted. That’s when l taught myself nutrition through our dear old cousin Google, some books and expert advice through various trainers. I found that there is no one size fits all approach to weight loss. I soon found out there is no such thing as being big boned and small portions do not necessarily lead to weight loss (its actually the quality of your nutrition and of course limiting serving size that leads to long-term success).

 

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What my breakfast now looks like on some days.

l began doing morning runs, threw away my over –sized t-shirts l used for running and invested in fitness clothing even to the extent of buying my 1st running shoes. Starting at 3.1km l would finish that distance in 40mins. Soon the time started dropping; l asked my trainer to include me on his weekend schedule.  In 5 months l had lost a whooping 20kgs and l was more confident and focused.

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I rewarded myself with regular cheat meals. I started to challenge myself, increase my running distances and train the right way so as to avoid injuries. Soon even the skeptics began to throw good vibes my way. By the time l had lost 25kg l became swamped with enquiries and my trainer who was now a very close friend of mine was on the receiving end of new clients. Life changed, l fell from size 46 to 38, couldn’t remember when the last time was when l last wore trousers or shorts in the 30’s. By the time l moved back to Bulawayo l had a plan once back home.

  1. Within my 1st week l had joined a gym.
  2. I was now running 5km 3 times a week and using jump rope heavily.
  3. By the time l went below 90kg l was running 6km 5 times a week.
  4. l was doing morning runs, aerobics after and to top it up an evening session.

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I have to clarify that l hit 85kg 2years after l started my weight loss journey so take your time to build descent consistency. When l hit the 40kg lost mark l was now rocking size 34pants with descent loose skin. 78kg l became a 10kilometer specialist and then l became a competitor in distance races. 2015 October l ran my 1st competitive 10km race. March 2016 l ran my 1st 21km race the PPC Matopos Ultramarathon then July 2016 l ran my 2nd Half Marathon at the Victoria Falls Marathon.

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The realities of an unlikely journey

Yes l have fallen off the wagon, had bad weeks and many more better weeks. The art in this journey is to never quit. To be mature enough to take criticism constructively and to also embrace pain. There is a lot more happening in my life now, l’m busier with my job but l have created a schedule around all this chaos around me to keep fit. What many should know is keeping fit to maintain weight loss is a lifestyle. You can’t really take a year off this journey, it’s a continuous journey.

My milestones currently are that l do not snore anymore, so it’s safe to sit next to me on the bus on a long trip. Somehow l haven’t had a flue in 3years and l credit my morning runs for that. I have a totally new wardrobe now with much nicer gear than before. I have made friends through this lifestyle but the best part is l have become a positive influence on many individuals. Two friends l recruited have lost a combined 30kilos this year alone and it keeps getting better. I have a lot planned ahead and l look forward to doing more. Maybe run the Comrades Marathon one day, do the Ironman Race and participate on the Spartan Race. But before that l need to learn how to swim!

Unlikely journeys have unlikely results, l set out to lose a bit of weight to retain my old clothes. I ended up getting rid of my new clothes to purchase new ones. I hope this unnecessarily long biography helps someone out there who has no idea what to do; to believe and pursue lasting change.

I am not losing weight, I am getting rid of it.  I have no intention of finding it again!

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Feel free to get in touch on social media on either Instagram or Facebook for inspiration on how to go from obese to healthy and active.

Thank you to Chris for featuring on my blog today, you are a real gem!  I hope this inspires anyone going through a tough time with trying to lose weight.  It is possible to get the body of your dreams.

Have you gone through a weight loss journey?  What prompted you to finally make a change and get active?  I would love to hear from you.

 

©MaKupsy 2016

 

One Zimbabwe #ThisFlag

The Story Of One Man Who Changed A Nation With A Bible, Flag & A Smartphone BaeZel

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The first time I heard about Pastor Evan was when I heard him on radio.  You can listen in here.  I just sat on my bed and thought to myself, WOW, this man is saying nothing but the truth.  He talked about all the issues in our country that we are too afraid to speak out on.  This was nearly two months ago and since then there have been a series of events that led to yesterday.  My heart would not let me simply sit at home and do nothing, tweeting did not feel like it was enough so I dressed up and went to join the crowd outside the court.  I was part of the crowd in the evening at Rotten Row Court and the experience there was indescribable.  Never have I seen so many people in one place joined together for one cause and that was to free #PastorEvan.  Black, White, Indian, Coloured all races were there; the diversity was overwhelming!  This will surely go down in the history of Zimbabwe!!!!  People in almost every part of the world were praying and doing any and everything to spread the word.  Social Media is indeed a powerful tool; a wildfire.  The hashtag that was and still is trending is #ThisFlag “#ThisFlag movement’s goal was to “get as many citizens as possible involved in nation-building”.  I tweeted and asked if anyone wanted to feature on my blog today and Mako came through.  This is her story…

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It’s hard to put into the words, the thoughts and emotions I’m experiencing. As a writer, this is both surprising and frustrating – I’m trained to use words as my weapon but words yesterday failed me. That’s what tends to happen when I write about my country. I experience a torrent of emotions that leave me unable to type a thing. However, reflection is a beautiful gift. Sleep and a short break from social media has afforded me time to look back at everything that has happened.

The first time I saw Pastor Evan Mawarire’s very first video, I got chills. The last time someone had dared to speak up, he had been dragged away, never to return. As I sat in my room in a university far away from home, I felt as if he was speaking to me. His struggles were my struggles. His frustration was my frustration. And it felt so good to hear someone say what many of us felt and experienced. It felt empowering to hear him say that our hardship was real and oppressive.  And when I saw the flag around his neck I was reminded of who I was. I am a Zimbabwean, and it’s my duty to do what I can to break the culture of fear and silence.

The stereotype that Zimbabweans are ‘passive’ or ‘lazy’ is a misconception that I have always loathed.  We were not passive when Mbuya Nehanda happily danced and sang to her death knowing that the fight would continue.  We were not passive when young boys and girls left school, crossing the border to join the fight for freedom.  We were not passive when people nationwide stayed at home on 6 July in protest against a system that seems to go out of its way to make life a living hell. We were not passive when we rallied together in support to help free a man that we all know did nothing wrong.  We are determined, hardworking and fiercely patriotic people.  When we rise to the challenge, we do not back down.  Yesterday serves as proof of our perseverance.

The news of Mawarire being called in for questioning made my heart drop. I remembered others whose voices were muted: Itai Dzamarara, Learnmore Jongwe, people whose names never got to reach the public’s ear. The pessimist in me slumped back in defeat.  It was going to happen again. Another one, gone, disappeared, or dead.  However; I remembered my favourite line from the movie The Prince of Egypt, “though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill.”  That tiny voice inside me beat back against my resignation, telling me not to give into that sense of despair. That night I prayed not just for the good pastor, but for all of us, not to give in, not to run out of steam. Then I set my alarm for 8:30am and slipped into an uneasy sleep.

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Image taken from Twitter

I woke up at 9:30am on 13 July. I scolded myself for being so complacent as to sleep through my alarm. Others had woken up much earlier to go to the courthouse and make their presence known. I’d simply hit the snooze button and wrapped my blankets around me. As I got out of bed I felt an all too familiar pang in my stomach. A sharp stabbing sensation that spread across my tummy and made my knees buckle. My period had arrived, and this was going to be a bad one. I walked bent over like an old woman, each step on the cold floor amplifying the pain in my stomach. I chastised myself again. It meant that I would be rendered immobile, confined to my bed, battling with nausea and dizziness (I get particularly bad periods). But it would not prevent me from doing what I could to support and spread the word. So blanket, painkillers and hot water bottle in tow, I sat and tweeted and retweeted and posted until past midnight.

The day’s momentum was stop and start. I expected that we’d have to do the VPN dance once again, but to my surprise the Internet connection was working just fine. As I sat scrolled through news sites and social media, conflicting stories came in. Evan Mawarire isn’t at the courthouse. Wait, he is! But there’s been a delay. Oh they’re moving it to a secret location. It’ll be at University of Zimbabwe, a move to have the hearing in secret.  No, that’s a lie; it’s still at the courthouse by Rotten Row. The only certainty was the people coming through to support.  With their flags and their voices they stood outside the courthouse, watching and waiting for any news or development. I’m so grateful to all of those people. They represented all of us that day; those that couldn’t come because of distance, those that couldn’t come out of fear and even those who ridiculed and trivialized their efforts.  They showed power and dignity in their loyalty to the country and to the flag, and by keeping the rest of us informed as to what was happening, they provided factual and up-to-date coverage of what was happening.

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And a lot happened… Mawarire’s arrival at the courthouse.  The sight of 100+ Lawyers from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers Association showing up and all volunteering to represent the accused, free of charge. The police who stood and watched as their fellow countrymen sang and danced.  For a moment, I felt sorry for these police: many looked like they too wanted to drop their uniforms and join their peers, but they couldn’t.  There were celebrities, businessmen, civil rights activists and politicians that came through and raised their flag in solidarity. It was so beautiful to see everyone together for a common cause. I can’t imagine how it must’ve felt to be part of the gathering at Rotten Row.

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Two announcements symbolized the nadir and zenith of my emotions. The first was the change in charges, from inciting violence and disturbing the peace, to treason and attempting to overthrow the government. I laughed out loud. It was a harsh, joyless laugh. Same old, same old. Even as I felt that familiar resignation creeping in I refused to slump back and accept the injustice. That mental shift wasn’t just reserved for me alone. Many others also refused to simply accept it and walk away. We failed others who spoke up for justice with our silence. We could not let it happen again.

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Then the big news came. HE WAS FREE. The tweet from one of the people on the ground flashed on my screen and I exhaled in shock.  As much as I had fought hard against that nagging doubt, the news of Evan Mawarire’s release stunned me. They had done it. We had done it.  I immediately turned to tell my mother.  She almost dropped the cup of tea in her hand and asked me if I was sure. It was true.  Justice had prevailed.  Pictures and videos of people celebrating outside the courthouse filled my Twitter feed. I drank it all in, inspired, humbled, and proud, so proud. It was an unfamiliar pride, something I can’t quite put into words even now. It was the pride of knowing that, despite everything that had happened to us, we still had a voice. We’d just forgotten about it for a while, but now we’re reclaiming it.

I want to use my voice more. I want to give of myself to my country, my people and my future. I want to play a role in building the kind of Zimbabwe we all want: a prosperous, open, fair society.  To everyone who’s been tweeting, taking photos and videos, hash tagging and reporting these past few months, I salute you. Thank you for reminding me that this flag is for all of us.

Mako

 

 

 

I can’t wait for the day we become a stronger, richer and enthused nation.  A country with better opportunities, a country where no one thinks of relocating and leaving their children and loved ones behind because they are happy and content.  I feel like that day is coming soon though, yesterday proved that together we can make a world of difference.  Thank you to EVERYONE who supported this in each and every way they knew how to. #ThisFlag #PastorEvanIsFREE

 

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Got this photo from his Twitter account @PastorEvanLive , he certainly is a History Maker!!

 

This was the highlight for me yesterday:

@simonallison Judge asks who is representing @PastorEvanLive. 50 lawyers hold up their ID cards. Incredible moment #ThisFlag”

If you were and still are a part of this movement please feel free to share any or all the moments you have experienced through this.  Let’s talk.

Photo Credits : Tino Nyandoro

Blog Credits : Mako also follow her blog on mwanawevhuzim.com

 

MaKupsy

 

 

 

 

 

The Birds & The Bees

You know that talk a child gets just before they enter their adolescent stage?  Well, I got that talk, the only difference was that mine was a very scary version.  You see, in our culture back then most parents were not very comfortable talking about sex with their children.  That job was left to the aunt but with people moving far and wide in the end your mother was left to do all the work and boy did she do a shoddy job of it.  In order to stop me from indulging in any sex her plan was to tell me stories that would stop me from even dreaming about having sex. (they worked for a while though)  I remember the day my mother sat me down to tell me how I should not have sex before I was married.  Mind you she didn’t even use the word sex; I am still to remember what term she used but I just concluded she meant sex.  She told me that if I got too close to a boy or even let him touch any part of my body her back would break.  THE HORROR!!  I didn’t even date anyone during my teen years because I was obviously scared shitless.  Why would I want a boy anywhere near me?  So that my mother’s back breaks??  That was definitely going to happen on my watch, I love my mother too much to cause her any harm!

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And so I sailed through my teen years until one day a boy I fancied started writing me letters.  I was obviously excited and kept this my little secret.  I remember going for a walk with him one afternoon and then before we said goodbye he kissed me!  OH MY FREAKING GOSH!!  I was terrified!  I ran all the way home, locked myself in the bathroom and kept looking in the mirror to check if my parents would be able to tell if I had been kissed.  I was miserable for the rest of the day and when they came back from work I acted normal but my heart was pounding so hard I felt like it was going to jump right out of my throat.  The next morning and the weeks to come I woke up worried thinking my mother’s back would surely break after that kiss!  But of course nothing happened and years later I started dating, I even had sex (protected of course) and no one’s back ever broke. LOL

I had to learn about sex through school mates and talks the women who would occasionally come to school and talk about not allowing anyone to touch your body.  They didn’t actually say anything about safe sex or contraceptives and the whole shebang.  And so I had to read about most of the things in books and or overhear my sisters talk about condoms then I figured that’s what you were supposed to use.  To be honest that was the only form of contraceptive I knew of; that and abstaining.  I still feel that my mother could have done a better job of informing me about sex and not have me wonder and seek answers from outside sources.  She did a very good job of letting me think that sex was a very bad thing not to be talked about, had or enjoyed because something terrible would happen to you.  At the same time I don’t blame her because she grew up in a time where such talks were unheard of. images

I asked a few friends around me to tell me how their “birds and the bees” talk when they were younger and this is the feedback I got:

“Ahh, I don’t remember being told anything by my mum.  She just told me no boys before finishing school.”

“She gave me the finer details about sex when I was around 16.  Even told me how people have sex so that little boys wouldn’t trick me with the don’t worry it isn’t sex line.”

“She never said anything.”

“I had sex figured out from my teacher.”

“We never had the talk she just said if you get pregnant don’t ever come back home.”

“Stay away from sex because you will get pregnant!  If a boy tells you he loves you run for your life!”

I am happy and sad at the same time with this kind of feedback.  Happy because it shows that I wasn’t alone in being told ridiculous things in the name of no sex before your time.  Sad because we were not given enough information about what sex really was even though we were still too young to understand it.  At least one person out of all my friends actually got to know what sex was the rest of us have to figure it out by ourselves!

When my daughter gets to adolescent stage I will sit down with her and we will have an honest and open talk about sex and not hide anything from her so that she knows how to protect herself and be aware of the on goings of her body.  I won’t scare her or tell her any lies because I want her to know she can come to me and talk about anything at anytime.

MaKupsy

Dreaming Out Loud!

What did YOU want to be when you were growing up?  I know with my generation everyone wanted to be a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a soldier an accountant, a businessman or a pilot.  Those seemed to be the only options one had to choose from in order to be labelled successful.  I on the other hand was completely different.  I had other plans on my mind and none of those occupations tickled my fancy.  I had different dreams and who knows some might still come true in this lifetime.  I always felt that if I became or got to do some of the things on my list I would be happier; so here is my list of things I thought I would one day do once I was all grown up.

  1. Study choreography.  I love to dance,(not professionally though) but I always felt that if I had the opportunity to actually study dance I would have one job I would love and literally run to every day because I can never get enough of all the dance styles that keep being created every single day.
  2. Music…sometime in my early 20’s I thought being a Disc Jockey (DJ) wouldn’t be a bad idea considering the way I love my music.  This is definitely a dream that can still come to life if I put my mind to it.
  3. Counsellor.  I would like to believe I am an attentive listener and once I put my mind to it I will encourage someone to talk about issues they feel they cannot normally share with other people.  I already have a qualification in HIV/ AIDS Care and Counselling so one day when the opportunity arises I will step up and use it.
  4. I wanted to travel the world. I didn’t want to have a permanent address.  I wanted my life to be different and planned that each year I would stay in say Kenya for one year, then move to India the following year and off to Netherlands, anywhere but home was going to be absolutely perfect for me.  I wanted to learn about different cultures and traditions while I enjoyed a big travel adventure.  Alas, that hasn’t happened yet, but on the upside I have travelled to some parts of the world and still plan on going to other places.

I have a fun personality and I want to do things that unleash my character.  My current job doesn’t allow that though, it was an occupation chosen on my behalf and each day I make steps towards pursuing what I want and find a way to escape from a job that steals my joy.  I hope it’s not too late though, I want to leave this earth knowing I did everything that brought joy to my life.

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At least I get to travel here and there…

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” — Steve Jobs

MaKupsy