Monday, October 27, 2014

Early Morning Musings - Nothing New Under the Sun

Anytime I have cause to wake up before the crack of dawn, it is usually a decision I have made with the greatest reluctance because I had NO OTHER choice. Recently, I had to do an airport run and we had to drive out by 4.30am. I wasn't happy about this at all. Surely, there would be no sensible people awake at this time of the day. It was cold and dark and I felt extremely sorry for myself.

Upon driving out, I was shocked to see that the city was up at 4.30am. Cyclers heading to work (?), a lady smoking at the bus stop, runners doing their thing, cabs, cars, motorbikes. It was a whole new world - the 4.30am world. As we approached the airport, there was even more hustle and bustle. Suddenly I felt silly for feeling sorry for myself. None of these people up and about looked like they were missing their beds one bit. I wasn't alone. Many other people wake up early on a daily basis. Wow.
Photo credit:

Nothing is new under the sun. No struggle I'm going through is novel. Someone has gone through it in the past and someone will go through it in future. We're all interconnected, sharing this big world with it's blessings and burdens.

Thanks, community of 4.30am hustlers for the reminder.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Fast and Flourish - The fasting diet

Some of my friends have been asking me to share my fasting diet with them, so here goes. 

I have a family history of diabetes and during my first pregnancy I had gestational diabetes, so I was informed by the doctors that this put me at a high risk of  developing Type II diabetes later in life. The advice was to make sure I was at a BMI of around 25 which means I should weigh around 58kg to 60kg. After my first child my weight settled around 82kg so my weight loss journey began. I started with circuit training at a Women's health club and eating the recommended amount of daily calories but I was only able to shift a few kilos so I changed to a Fitness First gym. I enjoyed all the class workouts like body attack, RPM and I lost weight at first, then after a while, I plateaued at 70kg and couldn't shift any more weight. After a few weeks of frustration, I decided to take drastic measures so I started what I called a 'cleansing diet' and quit the gym. I ate fruits and vegetables only for 2 days, did a fast on the 3rd day (only ate one meal of vegetables and fruit at night) and then ate a normal diet with anything I wanted but in smaller portions for 3 days in the week and indulged on one day. I combined this with a 45 minute daily walk and I lost all the rest of my weight and got down to 59/60kg. 
As a result of this weight loss, i didn't have gestational diabetes in the second pregnancy. 

5 Years on and I now have 3 kids and went to see my doctor who asked me to do 'what I did the last time' to lose weight. So this got me researching why I had success with my diet the last time and I dabbled into a subject called the 'fasting diet'. Basically, some researchers are finding that when people restrict their calories a number of days in the week (which was what I was doing on my fruit and veg days), this drastically reduces the incidences of cancer, heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes and alzheimers. The side effect of this diet was weight loss.  You can watch this BBC documentary for more information
Christians and members of many religions normally engage in fasting for spiritual reasons. Now research is showing that literally man does not live by bread alone, but also by abstaining. 
I have lost some weight by restricting calories some days in the week, and then eating normally on the other days. At first I was doing 3 days low calorie from Mon-Tuesday and then feasting the other days in the week, but I've started Alternate day fasting. You can google this for more information on the research behind it. I think it's easier to resist temptation since I can eat what I want 'tomorrow', also, it's easier for my body to get into the routine. Here's how I do it:

I eat 500 calories every other day. I find that it helps to pre-plan my meals for my low calorie day and even on the days I do a spiritual fast, I also have to pre-plan my meals so I don't over indulge. I use the fitness pal app on the mobile phone app store. A typical low calorie day's meal would be:
  • Breakfast: 1 hard boiled egg (76 cal); sourdough bread with small butter & jam (128+18+8); black tea with 60ml low fat milk and 1/2 tsp raw sugar (25+8) total = 263cal
  • Lunch: 1 small 100g apple (49cal)
  • Dinner: 50g spinach/rocket; 100g tomatoes; 100g mushrooms; 100g cucumber; 40g chicken breast without skin and 75g carrots: Total = 182cal
A typical normal day's meals would be:
  • Breakfast: hard boiled egg, sourdough toast, white hot chocolate with coffee
  • Morning tea: Brownie & cake
  • Lunch: Sandwich, or Sushi or Rice or Whatever I want
  • Afternoon tea: Plantain chips, fruit and yoghurt
  • Dinner: Lasange, or Spaghetti, or Whatever I want
On a spiritual fast day, I will usually break with one apple and carrot around 3pm and then eat a light meal at night.

On Low calorie days, I try not to eat things that I cannot verify their calorific values. For example, I make my own sourdough bread and it's luxurious with pistachios, pumpkin seeds, golden and brown linseeds, raisins or sultanas and honey. So to be able to eat this on a low calorie day, I had to determine the amount of calories within a serve and I used the 'recipe' section of the fitness pal app to do this. 

I find that I loose more weight when I do a cardio for 30 minutes in the morning and compliment it with a 30 minute walk during the day, but my routine has recently changed, so I'm eating my lunch in the office at my desk and then using my lunch break + morning & afternoon tea breaks to fit in a 1 hour walk after eating my lunch and then fitting in another 45 minute walk after work to my car. I find it easier to stick to walks only because I absolutely love walking and can walk for 5 hours straight if I am rewarded with good views. So my advise is to find that activity that you love doing and you will have more chances of sticking with it in the long run. 

I am finding that our bodies was not made to eat and eat and eat. We need to slow down the eating some days so that our bodies can rest and repair itself. After my normal days, I feel sluggish at night and can't wait to eat very little just to recover from eating (lol). Also, it is good to feel hungry sometimes and to remind your body that this is a natural feeling and that it will not die because you're not feeding it as usual. This helps us gain self control and mastery over our bodies.

Drop me a line if you have questions or you want to share what else is working for you.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Is it a Mansion, Is it a matchbox of sticks, Nah, it's a HOME.

Stand outside, look at a house. What do you see? A mansion with a driveway and a fountain. Nice. Come inside. What do you hear? The pitty patter of feet, clanging pots in the kitchen, a child is singing at the top of her lungs, someone is twirling around in front of a mirror, someone is reading the paper, a child is crying upstairs. It's a home.

Stand outside, look at a house. What is it to you? A unit with trees at the front and a small red door with a red doorbell. Ring the bell. Come inside. What do you see? Careful, someone is crawling and creeping around. Another one is performing in front of a small audience of mom, dad and one other sibling. There's no judgement or comparison in here. Only applause and acceptance. She's a star. She's got fans. She's loved. She can take on the world! Pictures hang on the wall. Happy memories. The hum of the dishwasher can be heard in the midst of all the family's noise. This is a home. 

Stand outside, look at a house. What do you think? A wooden house standing on stilts. Climb up the stairs. Come inside. What do you notice? Hmm, the smell of toast, porridge and coffee. A little clean kitchen shows the hard-work and love of someone special in this house. Look outside the kitchen window. Clothes hanging on the line. Little clothes for little people, made clean again after their rough and tumble. Work shirts hanging there too. A few aprons hanging there as well. Some work dresses hang there too. Someone's labour of love. Feet thundering down the wooden stairs. It's time for breakfast. This is a home.

Sit on your couch, watching TV, look at a house. Or what is left of it. There was a tornado. A typhoon. A hurricane. A flood. Call it what you like, but it was the Big Bad Wolf and he blew this house down. Was it made of bricks? Perhaps. Was it made of sticks or straw? Perhaps. What is it to you? What was it to them? The pitty patter of little feet. Clanging pots in the kitchen. Children singing. Children dancing. Someone reading the paper. Babies crying, crawling, creeping. Someone performing, others accepting, applauding, loving, instilling the confidence to take on the world. Pictures on the wall. Happy memories. Dish-washing. The smell of breakfast. Clothes hanging on the line. It was a home. 

It doesn't matter how it looks, how grand or humble, how big or small. Let's make home 'Home Sweet Home' and let's show our compassion and help to those who have lost their 'Home Sweet Home'. 

Dedicated to people round the world who have been affected by natural disasters.

                                                                                                           - Nancy Eluigwe.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ten confessions of a real wife / mum

I am first of all a wife and then a mother of 3 (to be honest, my first confession should probably be that I am first of all a mother of 3 and then a wife). My assumption is that the correct order will be reset to the default position when the kids leave home.

Confession #2:
Sometimes I feel like running away. This is nothing to worry about though as it doesn't happen so often (only at 6pm everyday when I have to figure out what to cook for dinner). The good thing is that I'm quite mature so I don't give in to every whim. Moreover, the feeling turns into exhilaration once I've nailed dinner or ecstacy when I remember that I've got some leftovers that I can serve for dinner! #winning

Confession #3:
I take my time when I've gone out alone and left the kids (especially the 3 mth old) with my husband at home. I usually expect a call within an hour because my newborn has refused to drink the EBM I've left with my husband and even though I sound like I'm concerned and hurrying back home on the phone, I'm not. I figure that when she's hungry enough she'll drink from the bottle and I'm also usually happy that dad is feeling the heat of looking after a newborn without anyone else to help him. I see it as a little payback for the expression of pure joy he usually has on his face when he's merrily signing out of the family home to hang out with his mates without the burden of a wife and kids.
Confession #4:
95% of the time, I would persist in completing a small chore before attending to my crying 3 mth old(depending on the pitch of the cry). I like to think that I'm passing on life skills so that she realises that the world doesn't revolve around her...i.e. people are not going to drop whatever they are doing to attend to her all the time...i.e. mummy has also got other things to do asides from feeding and rocking her. Also, if she happens to cry when i'm making a lasagne, she had better not choose to do it while I'm making my bechamel sauce as I have't figured out what happens if I leave the sauce midcooking to attending to a crying baby. It hasn't been a chance I have been willing to take at 6.30pm on a weekday so I am always going to finish cooking the bechamel sauce before attending to anybody else. 3% of the time, if dad is home, he graciously comes to pick the baby up while i finish up the chore. 2% of the time, the pitch of the cry requires that I drop whatever I'm doing and pick her up.
Confession #5:
I think that we are really really good parents and that my kids are always well behaved therefore, any bad behaviours have been learned from other kids at daycare or school.
Confession #6:
I buy his & hers snacks when I really like something and would prefer not to share. I also prefer that my husband gives the kids some from his. I reckon I've done more than my part of sharing when they were in the utero. However, I usually sneak behind him and eat a little bit from his as well. #Shhhh
Confession #7:
I dislike parents who let their children be unruly. I also have to overcome the intense desire to smack/pinch these children. 
Confession #8:
Anytime I've taken the kids somewhere and we're 5 mins into the drive home, I always have a panic attack because I think I've forgotten one of the kids so I do a quick glance at the back of the car to do a head count. This didn't happen when I only had 2 kids.
Confession #9:
I get ticked off when my husband refuses to take the kids out shopping and yet expects me to take them shopping. Hello? Do men get stressed handling any number of children in the shopping centre; rushing through the checkout to take one of them to the toilet for a wee only to get back into the shop and realise that they now want to make a poo; dealing with a tantrum when one kid has spied a biscuit/candy that you are determined not to buy them; having to rush to the parent's room to change a nappy and feed the hungry tired kids? Oh, welcome to the club of human beings. We also feel the same way, so we wouldn't mind leaving the kids at home when we go shopping too. If it seems like we know how to look after the kids better, it may be because we've have had more practice and you know what they say, "practice makes perfect".
Confession #10:
I would like to be rewarded for being a good mother and a wife by being treated to a spa and massage once in a while (where a while = 1 week). I am well aware that there are millions of mothers who are alcoholics or just lazy and can't be bothered working or taking care of their family or feeding them vegies so I think I'm doing a fantastic job. I am also aware that my husband is a good dad and husband so I reward him with a nice lunch and dinner everyday.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Stolen Diamonds...The greatest heist ever

image source: 

Some weeks ago, the entertainment world was abuzz with news of the Cannes million dollar jewellery heist. Any time this sort of theft is pulled off, readers can expect the media to refresh our memories with the biggest diamond heists of the past. Some recent experiences caused this event to remind me of a heist far greater and more serious than stealing physical diamonds.

One of them was reading an amazing book called The Diamond Polishers in which the writer refers to children as diamonds - valuable, priceless, beautiful and individually unique but requiring to be cleaned, polished and shaped so their brilliance can be seen. It would change the way I viewed children forever.  In the book she also writes about how children like diamonds have to be protected from being damaged, broken or lost ( What an amazing way to view children and an enormous responsibility we have to protect these precious gifts.

The second experience was watching a documentary called The Fighters on CNN, which was based on the battle of a woman in the Philippines dedicated to rescuing children and women that have been trafficked as sex slaves. Yet another experience was watching some video clips in a Women's conference in Sydney by the A21 Campaign that showed little girls as young as four who had been born to trafficked women and were already been exploited to perform oral sex on men!  As a mother of 3 girls 4 years and under, I am still sickened to my gut. It's difficult to digest these news and to know that human beings are capable of such crimes against children. It is also hard to imagine what these children and women have been subjected to... children just like mine and yours. Women just like me.
The more I thought about it the more I couldn't shake the thought that these ARE the stolen diamonds and every one of them needs to be rescued. When I think about the enormity of the crime and how hard it is to fight this battle, I feel extremely helpless. I know there are organizations that are dedicated to fighting this battle, but sometimes I think, "Wow, they're doing a fantastic job. I wish there was something I could do". However, apart from sending a donation, I wasn't sure what else to do. Then the other day I read 21 ways to get involved in stopping Human Trafficking ( ). So I finally decided to do my own part. I will pray. I will blog about it. I will partner with these organizations to offer whatever I've got - money, time, talent, etc...

The golden rule is to do to others as you would have them do to you...If we or our children were in the shoes of these children/women, what would we want people to do for us? How much effort would we want them to put into rescuing us? We should do the same. The cause is urgent and we cannot afford to slack or be afraid and do nothing.  I look into my daughters' eyes and my heart burns within me. My children are my precious jewels. All children are precious jewels. None of them were intended as sex slaves. Every one of them was intended to be jewels in this world and on God's crown. Let's do all that is possible to make sure that these stolen diamonds are recovered. We were born for such a time as this.

Here are some articles to provoke you:

The face of Modern Slavery
Lost Boys
How tourists can help stop child sex trafficking
10 things men and boys can do to stop human trafficking

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Big blessings in small everyday packages

At the end of last year, I was taking stock of the year gone by. I thought about the good things that had happened and I made a list of my blessings. Things that featured on this list included getting a new job, a successful overseas trip, a healthy family, etc. The big and obvious things and they were about a third of a page long. I felt blessed. Then I remembered that there had been a few tears or depressing days here and there and thought it might be worthwhile making a list of the things that made me cry or sad. There were only four that I could think of. The amazing thing was that apart from my the passing of my father-in-law, in hindsight the intensity of my distress at the other three items seemed a little misplaced when viewed alongside the third of a page long list of blessings. While holding on to that thought, I figured it might be even more interesting to make a list of things that made me happy, or smile, or excited, or even laugh. My list quickly got out of hand (or page) because they included everyday things like singing opera in the shower, watching peppa pig with my girls, dancing to the madagasca sound track, waking up to a clean crisp kitchen with the sun shining through the window, a cup of cold milo, the sound of my girls coming down the stairs, Iva trying to feed herself, Izabelle asking me to tickle her, watching my husband cook....I think you get my drift. And yes, this list was about three times my original list of big and obvious blessings. But hang on a minute, aren't these the big blessings? They are obvious but because they are everyday blessings, we get used to them and then we take them for-granted. AT least, I do. I reckon these everyday blessings were purposely allotted to each day to make the hard times that much easier to deal with. For example, I've had a bad day at work and I remember my girls fighting to give me a kiss in the morning. That helps me get through the day. I have changed the way I count my blessings. Everyday presents huge and gigantic blessings that totally overshadow and swallow up the little stresses that pop up here and there. Who cares about the bills when the birds are singing on my window sill and there's a cold cup of milo and toast + butter + honey to be had? And why worry about the fact that my car service is overdue when the kids are singing along to the car radio? What are your big blessings disguised in small everyday packages?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Childlike repentance

"Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven." - Matthew 18:3

Today my older daughter stunned me by throwing her pyjamas into the toilet. No, the toilet was not flushed and No, there wasn't any poo at the time. I dispensed discipline and correction and upon her remorse, repentance and tears, I offered forgiveness verbally. She asked if I was still her friend and I replied in the affirmative. Happy with my verbal commitment, she moved on. I did not. I was still upset about what she did and the fact that I was now required to wash those pyjamas. However,when I found that I couldn't justify punishing her further by silence because I continued to ponder on her actions, I had to shake the thoughts and move on.
Flip the coin the other way. We sin, we are remorseful and repent of our sins. Once we confess them, God forgives. All the time, God moves on. Many times, we don't. We refuse to forgive ourselves and hang on to self condemnation - "How could I have failed God in this way?" Similar questions ravage our thoughts for days on end and we find it difficult to accept God's forgiveness like children and move on. Why is this?
The way I see it, Pride is the cause. Somehow we don't want to have a reason to ask for forgiveness. Perfection is what we have been commanded by God, however, when we want to be perfect for the purposes of boasting in our inability to sin rather than in his grace, we sin because we desire to boast of our achievements rather than to please God. Refusal to accept the forgiveness God offers implies that Christ's sacrifice is not enough to forgive whatever sin we have committed and that somehow God lies when He says it's enough. Pride.
On the other hand, does humility and acceptance of Christ's sacrifice give us a license to continue to sin? As Paul says in Romans 6, a resounding "NO". However, if we do fall short of God's grace, He expects us to repent as sincerely as children, accept His forgiveness with the faith of a child and move on with the joy of a child - confident and comforted in His love and forgiveness.