7 Day Healthy Eating Challenge

Lets face it, we all tend to get in the habit of indulging in unhealthy meals due to various reasons – some use food as the source of comfort, some are overwhelmed by life’s pressures and turn to food to release the pressure, some – well – some of us can’t help but to eat unhealthy simply because unhealthy food are constantly before us and they look appealing. Yes, we are bombarded by all these processed meals all in the name of profit and even though we know we are not supposed to be eating them regularly, the thought of switching to healthy meals seem to be difficult and the meals don’t look human friendly.

This 7 day healthy eating challenge is designed to slowly get us into the habit of eating healthy. Any goal that seems out of reach can quickly discourage even the strongly motivated minds. Before cleaning out the pantry, let’s take baby steps to healthy meals, a day at a time. Once eating healthy has become a daily habit you’ll notice great benefits, for instance some moods are closely associated with poor diets, poor diet lead to a negative mood. Whereas by merely switching up your diet you will slowly start exuding positivity. Healthy meals also reduces the risk of developing chronic illnesses, they reduce obesity and diabetes as well, the benefits are endless. So to have a share in these benefits, let’s challenge ourselves to a better diet. Let’s get started.

Day 1: it’s all about healthy fluids today. Stay well hydrated by drinking adequate amount of water, fresh juice, and green smoothies and limit caffeine intake

Day 2: Rainbow colours. Lets have a variety of colourful salads throughout the day

Day 3: Increase your portions of fruits and vegetables

Day 4: Healthy hot drinks day, including green tea, feel free to play around with the flavours to make it even more interesting.

Day 5: Protein, Protein and Protein. Eggs, chicken, fish, steak etc, feed your body nutritious proteins, it needs it, not forgetting a portion of carbohydrates, talk about a balanced meal.

Day 6: No refined sugar day. Sugars such as doughnuts, cake, cookies and candy are fine examples of refined sugars. Regardless of how palatable they are, they are not for daily consumption as they contain high sugar levels your cell could do without. Replace these cravings with fruits instead

Day 7: Healthy snacks day. Cheese, fruites, nuts, dark chocolate, carrots and so on.

Now that our bodies are cleansed, rejuvenated, mentally alert, we are ready to face whatever the new week has in store.

Success redefined

Success by definition is an event that accomplishes it’s intended purpose. However, we live in a society that boils down success into one relatively tiny object that fits in our pockets – money. Once you attain a large sum of money you have arrived, they utter.

Let’s face it, more money leads to greed , no one is ever truly happy with a specific amount of money. The more money a person gets the more they want. There’s always something bigger, better, more appealing thanks to the world of advertising. Media has deceived people into believing there’s more out there that you should be getting, the lavish cars, houses, gadgets and lifestyle. “It’s not enough that you are already providing for your family and needs” is the narration “work hard, pursue that money, go get that loan and forever be a slave to that debt.” It’s an illusion, an altered state of mind that has contributed to anxiety, mental illness and mankind’s problems.

There’s a saying my mom has always reiterated to me ever since I was a little girl: “if who you are is what you have and what you have is no more, then who are you.”

Success can only be defined by you, not the next person let alone society for our journey, circumstances, strengths and weaknesses differ. For me, success is reaching a state of contentment in every aspect of life, mind, body and spirit. Success is being happy with the person you chose to spend the rest of your life with. Success is getting paid for doing what you love. Success is feeding your spiritual needs. Success is being physically, emotionally, mentally healthy. Success is surrounding yourself with people that add value, joy and meaning to your life regardless of the age difference. Sucess is finding answers to life’s big questions: why do we grow old and die? Is there really a God? Why does God allow suffering? What happens to us when we die? What is the purpose of life? Success is being of service to others.

The colloquial term for success is used to describe a person that has achieved his or her financial goals and has more material possessions relative to other individuals. This colloquial term has to be changed if not for our sanity then for the next generation.

According to the business insider, here is how some wealthy people define success:

1) Billionaire Richard Branson: “too many people measure how successful they are by how much money they make, or the people they associate with…in my opinion, true success should be measured by how happy you are.”

2) Legendary investor Warren Buffet: “I measure success by how many people love me.”

3) Acclaimed author Maya Angelou: “success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.”

How do you define success? Let’s redefine it!!!

Self Love Challenge

Self love is often ignored due to the negative connotation it carries, it’s often deemed as being cliché, vain or self indulgent and the list goes on, these are all social myths. Love – just like oxygen and water- is a component we can not live without. In order to receive the kind of love you need from others, you ought to love ourselves first. Yes true love begins from within. When self love becomes a habit in your daily routine you will hold yourself in high esteem, you will exude a positive energy, you will develop a better attitude towards life’s adversities, you will find joy in daily activities, you will develop a better mental health and reduce stress levels including neediness. If acts of self love have so much benefits, why not make it a habit?

As a stern believer of growth and the proud ambassador for anti stagnation organisation, I’m making it a habit to post weekly dose of practical challenges that promotes growth – challenges I’ll be implementing in my life. The first one is the self love challenge. Let’s get started.

Day 1: You are not your feelings

– Acknowledge whatever emotion you are feeling today and take note of how you react to each emotion, allow yourself to feel them fully. Emotions such as pain, anger, anxiety, fear, joy etc allow them to flow and try not to make any important decisions based on these emotions. Be true to who you are and to how you’re feeling.

Day 2: Develop your mind

– Engaging in a stimulating activity that will enrich the cognitive mind is one of the best ways to say “I love you” to self. Mental exercises such as crossword puzzles, chess, reading, and yep, math exercises will not only increase your IQ but will help you think faster, be more creative and make better decisions.

Day 3: Develop your physical body.

– What better way to express self love than taking care of your physical body. Our bodies – like vehicles – need to be cleaned, serviced and taken care off. We clean our bodies by eating balanced healthy meals everyday which will enable your body to detox naturally on its own. We service our bodies by exercising daily. We take care of our bodies by not engaging in reckless activities.

Day 4: Time management.

– Nothing is as precious as your time – time you will never get back. Self love is using your time wisely and productively, accomplishing goals and prioritising on the more important things. That podcast? Launch it. That blog? Start it. That book? Write it. That idea? Flesh it out. That app? Develop it. That gift? Put it to use. That life? Live it. Prioritise your activities and end procrastination.

Day 5: Be mindful of your spiritual need.

– As the greatest man who ever lived – Jesus – once said: “happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.” Yes, happiness stems from being mindful of our spirituality. Do you understand the power of prayer or do you only realise it once it been answered? We ask God for so much but when do we take the time to listen to what he has to say? We listen to him by reading the bible and applying its counsel. We do well to meditate in the wonderful things God has done for you and on his future promises contained in the bible.

Day 6: Take yourself out.

– Yes I said it, TAKE YOURSELF OUT. Why do we feel awkward or cringe by the thought of taking yourselves out on a date? The narrative behind this notion should seriously end. Go to the movies, go to a coffee shop have a slice of cake with your favourite coffee, a bit of retail therapy once in a while wont hurt. You are not lonely, you just want to be left alone.

Day 7: Extend your love

– Now that your love tank is filled up, extend your love to others be it strangers, neighbours or loved ones. Do something kind for someone especially when you know you wont gain anything in return.

Wisdom is better than gold

One thing I have always cherished and am particularly fond of is wisdom. If wisdom was human I’d definitely be married to him. Its sound advise never goes unnoticed. What baffles me the most is how it never receives the necessary attention it deserves. Mankind tends to shine the light on acquiring knowledge or understanding. You might ask: is not knowledge, understanding and wisdom the same thing? No, they are not.

When we take the time to study and meditate on a material, do research, and ask the right questions. That is knowledge. When we see how this knowledge connects with what we already know and how it can benefit us personally. That is understanding. When we use what we have learned and apply it in our lives. That is wisdom. It could be illustrated this way: Imagine you are standing in the middle of a road and a bus is coming toward you. First, you see that it is a bus—that is knowledge. Next, you realize that if you remain standing there, you will be hit by the bus—that is understanding! So you jump out of the way of the bus—that is wisdom! The Bible tells us to “safeguard practical wisdom” because it can save our life. Yes, wisdom delivers its owners from bad ways and preserves them alive! As a lover of all things practical, it’s no wonder wisdom surpasses them all and is closest to my heart.

I have compiled a collection of some of my all time favourite proverbial sayings guaranteed to improve your life octaves better when read (Knowledge), understood (Understanding) and applied (Practical Wisdom).

◆ Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still – Chinese proverb

◆ If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap. If you want happiness for a day — go fishing. If you want happiness for a month — get married. If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else – Chinese proverb

◆ I hear and I forget, I see and I remember. I do and I understand – Chinese proverb

◆ In teaching others we teach ourselves – Proverb

◆ A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials – Chinese proverb

◆ Teachers open the door but you must walk through it yourself – Chinese proverb

◆ Self-exaltation and pride . . . I have hated – King Solomon (Pride and wisdom are poles apart. We need to act with wisdom and be careful not to develop a haughty, or arrogant, disposition. Especially should we be on guard if we have enjoyed success in some areas of life)

◆ Pride is before a crash and a haughty spirit before stumbling – King Solomon (How important it is to guard against feeding the pride of others as well as allowing it to develop in us)

◆ The one that is wise in heart will be called understanding, and he that is sweet in his lips adds persuasiveness. To its owners insight is a well of life; and the discipline of the foolish ones is foolishness. The heart of the wise one causes his mouth to show insight, and to his lips it adds persuasiveness – King Solomon

◆ The laboring man’s appetite labors for him; for his hunger urges him on – King Solomon (Normal desire, such as our appetite for food, can motivate us to be productive. Such a desire is constructive. However, what if proper desire is allowed to become so excessive that it turns into greed? The results are similar to what happens when a campfire used to cook food becomes a full-blown forest fire. Greed is desire out of control and is destructive. Realizing the danger, a wise person keeps even his wholesome desires in check)

◆ Be not disturbed at being misunderstood; be disturbed rather at not being understanding.”” – Chinese Proverb

◆ Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime – Chinese Proverb

◆ He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. – Chinese Proverb

◆ If you must play, decide upon three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time – Chinese Proverb

The beauty of unrequited love

Unrequited by definition is love or affection that is not reciprocated. At some point in our lives, we have all experienced it.

Falling in love is a beautiful experience. It reminds you that you are alive, your heart jumps and leaps like an innocent child when in their presence, you forget to breath, you cant get them out of your mind. You become infatuated, go to the end of the world (note to flat earthers: not literally) just to impress them, you find yourself listening to their favourite music – music you once couldn’t stand. What happens if that love is not returned?

Honestly, words can not begin to describe the feeling of hurt. You start seeing the relationship between physical pain and emotional pain and realise that they go hand in hand. It’s like undergoing a heart surgery without anaesthesia or any numbing medication. You feel the surgeon grabbing your heart and pulling it out of its socket, you watch it beating in his hand, eventually it stops. Acknowledging they don’t love you is the hard part, accepting it is the hardest. It puts you in a negative state of mind, you are still reminded you are alive, only this time you question why? All your flaws and weaknesses step forward for you to see their existence, just in case you thought you got rid of them. Misery is your best friend, loneliness your advisor. Every hour, every second seems to drag, time moves in slow motion as if misery, loneliness and time have teamed against you.

None of us are immune to unrequited love. A close friend of mine experienced it in her previous relationship, she had this to say: “unrequited love affected me so much that I almost lost my relationship with Jehovah and almost lost my family, the two most important things I cannot live without. I tried so hard for him to love and be attracted to me, he made me feel like I was not woman enough for him. I knew how love looked like, this wasn’t it. I went through an emotional roller coaster of disappointment, worthlessness, anger, depression, as a result I rebelled. I don’t know how I got over it, I guess with time. With time, you grow, you learn that some things are not your fault. In one of my blogs I wrote about closure and for the longest time I wanted closure from him, but I learned that you dont need the other person to give you closure. Closure comes from within.” Somehow we can relate to this experience, what baffles me the most is why does unrequited love carry such a negative connotation? Why does it have a bad reputation? Why are we quick to render comfort to those hurt by it? Why should it break your heart? The narration behind unrequited love should change. Why? Note what Jack Schafer Ph.D said in his post ‘love is a one way street’: “the opposite of love is not hate, the opposite of love is greed, greed takes from others and provides for self. Love is not fair nor is it reciprocal. When you love someone you give without expecting anything in return.” Essentially, that is unrequited love – loving someone who doesn’t love you back. Jack Schafer continues: “love cannot be betrayed, love has no expectations, so betrayal is not possible.”

Don’t be ashamed when your heart is particularly fond of someone. Recognise what is it that you love about this person and appreciate those qualities, be friends with them or – as is the case of reality – love that person from a distance. Smile when you think of them, knowing and understanding that receiving love in return is rewarding and reassuring but it is not a requirement.

The perfect demonstration of love is expressed in John,3:16: ” For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” Yes, God gave the world his beloved son without expecting anything in return. So love – just like a sincere act of kindness to the needy – expects nothing in return but wants the best for the one who is loved. For he who that loves is the greater one.

So lets change the narrative. Unrequited love in essence, should be a greater expression of love. Next time when your friend, colleague or a loved one experiences unrequited love, dont sympathise with them, go out and celebrate.

Madame Athy xxx

Letter to my younger self (part 1) – it’s ok to be different

As I’m writing this letter, I am sitted under a large apricot tree, the one I planted with grandpa and thought nothing of it. Birds are chirping and singing like stage performer’s. The sun is hidden behind a few clouds, fighting its way to be seeing and felt. The gentle waves of the morning breeze is striking my soft skin. See, I am supposed to be studying for an exam, but my attention drifted elsewhere as is the norm. For some reason, I felt like this is the perfect moment to do some self-reflection. I mean, it’s not like I have an exam to study for.

◆Dear mini me, through the lense of a young child, being different is difficult and frowned upon. One writer said: “the world tends to see what is different as something wrong as if anything ‘abnormal’ is something needing to be fixed” the writer continues: “if I were to see myself through the eyes of the world, I’d be frightened to look at myself in the mirror.” You’ve always being the rose amongst thorns, the white cat amongst black dogs. The worst part of being different is not understanding why. So dear mini me, it’s ok to be different.

◆You hate playing outside, getting dirty, participating in sport activities, you think something is wrong because every child does that. Instead, you prefer something more relaxing, engaging in activities that take you to your fantasy world (where you reside 80% of the time). Its ok to get lost in a book, it’s ok to watch old sitcoms including black and white movies and It’s ok to enjoy the company of the elderly, to find wisdom in their advice to laugh outrageously at their jokes. It’s ok to sit outside, meditate and be one with nature even at such an early age. It’s ok to be an old soul,. It’s ok to be dreamy, to have one foot in the real world and one foot in the next, that’s what I call striking a balance.

◆You realised from an early age that you are highly intuitive, not only does it scare you but you don’t know what to make of it. Dear mini me, it’s ok to see and feel things that go beneath and beyond life’s surface. Its ok to explore the depths of your emotions that run deeper than the oceans. Just like your emotions, those waters are endless. Listen to your intuition, swim in those waters. As you get older, you will realise that those things will give you a unique perspective of day to day dealings and the ability to understand and feel what others are feeling. However, you are going to need to learn to protect yourself from empathic overload. You naturally feel deeply, but theres only so much emotion you can take before feeling overwhelmed. As you grow older and are well in your adulthood, you will feel like people are using you as an emotional bin, throwing all of their problems at you. You are an imperfect human being, theres only so much you can take. Coming across as insensitive is not the solution, nor is distancing yourself and disappearing. Due to your constant need to reach out to those in need and in pain, you will be a doctor, and patients won’t just be coming to you for healing, they will be coming to you when they are hungry, when they lost their loved ones through death and otherwise, they’ll come to you for several reasons that has nothing to do with your proffession. Note to self: avail yourself, it’s not about you.

◆ Expressing yourself does not come easily. That is why you gravitate towards the artistic world: theatre; music; contemporary dance; books; writing and foreign languages those are areas in life you are most comfortable in, areas that finely express who you are. You reveal to the world a glimpse of what you want them to see and hide the rest from the human eye. One minute you are talkative and confident, the next minute you are shy and quiet. But dear mini me, its ok to be different. It’s ok to over analyse situations, to read between the lines, to believe in miracles, the world says you can’t I say you can and it’s ok.

◆ The better part of your childhood right up to your late teens you are too soft and feminine to fend for yourself. But dear mini me, you will outgrow that weakness. You will realise the deep well of personal strength, resilience and capability that lies within you. You will be strong enough to fend for yourself and most importantly, fend for others.

◆ It is difficult for you to say ‘I love you’ to the people you truly love, and it’s ok. Remember to always demonstrate your love through your actions. You would rather show your love than say it meaninglessly.

◆ It’s ok to look and come across as serious, detached, insensitive and matter of fact, while deep down you are one big bowl of fluffy cotton candy. It’s ok to be misunderstood. Dear mini me, you will learn how to smile more even at strangers and you will learn that you are a confidently shy (sometimes socia) bubbly introvert and it’s ok to be different.

◆ Never stop walking with Jehovah, don’t walk away from his love and guidance. The world has nothing good to offer, it all looks fancy and tempting, but no one will ever tell you what happens behind the scenes. Don’t be too curious to find out. Stick to Jehovah and you will truly know and experience the real meaning of love, contentment and happiness in this darkened world.

Dear mini me, it’s ok to be a complex, dreamy creature who’s full of love

Madame_Athy xxx

Courtship – the path least embarked

Entering into a relationship has, to some extent being viewed as an extreme sport. Regardless of your age, we can all find truth in those words. Lets face it, meeting someone new, hoping they are the most amazing soul living on this planet (as you did countless of those who preceeded them) then giving your heart and trusting they will take care of it as they would take care a fragile imported diamond embedded glass (excuse the simile) all within a fraction of a time should be regarded as an extreme sport. Why? One cant truly discern the next persons intentions let along ‘the secret person of the heart’.

We live in an age that disregards dating, disregarding and objectifying the next person – ‘swipping left’. Everyone has options, changing partners like changing an outfit, keeping their options open for the next better looking individual who appears on their screen. Lets face it, societies take on dating – which refuses to label the whole experience, referring to it as ‘just talking’ – is essentially, preparing individuals for divorce as opposed to preparing them for marriage, which should be the whole purpose of dating.

Thanks to the high christian standards instilled within me from a young age, I knew from the onset that this casual dating sport isn’t for me. In fact I spent my entire life without participating in this recreation, I entered my 20s maintaining my single status. My high values, morals coupled with being an old soul did not allow me to follow my shortlived feelings. If so, mother nature knows how many meaningless relationships, conversations, partners and regrets I would be carrying under my championship belt.

So, how exactly should dating be handled? As mentioned in the preceding paragraph, dating should have an honorable purpose, preparing a young man and a young woman for marriage. Marriage, in my eyes is a lifetime partnership between two best friends. Due to the pivotal role dating plays in ones life – considering where its leading – one should put serious consideration and prayers behind the decision who to date. I’m often left speechless, wide eyed, jaw on the floor, whenever I hear of individuals in a relationship, seemingly happy but have only known each other for two weeks. Besides being led by our treacherous heart, have you acquired necessary knowledge about this individual to know that if all goes well, you’d want to spend the rest of your human days with them? Have you discerned their good and not so good qualities? How do they behave when angry? Does furniture fly across the other end of the room? Do they shut you out or disappear? Do they resort to vulgar speech or hurtful terms or throw temper tantrums? How do they treat their family, how do they behave around their friends? Look, the emotional eye, tends to dwell on the more superficial qualities: good looking; popular; wealthy; sweet. It takes maturity to examine the deeper issues, and discern important qualities that will bring out your strengths and the best version of you living in this beautiful blue planet. Qualities such as goal oriented, morally chaste, spiritual minded, should be of high importance.

Consider what my close friend did with her then potential partner, they met four years ago and slowly got to know each other, their similarities were just conspicuous, as a result it drew them closer. They had an exchange of jokes via text, that conversation led to another conversation which led to another conversation which never ended till now. They became best friends. Somewhere in the midst of their friendship they fell in love – organically. Every minute spent was just not enough. They forgot to do a simple task like how to breath when in each others presence. He knows it when she’s happy, he knows it when she’s sad and all those random moods along the way without having to tell him a word. They tease each other, laugh at each other, she cries during the Titanic while he laughs. They read to each other, talk for hours on ends, they pray together and have quiet content moments together. Instead of pursuing the desires of the flesh and act according to their feelings, they took it upon themselves to not act hasty, they maintained their friendship. Granted, they had an open conversation about their intentions and goals, which is to enter into a courtship relationship at the right time. Mindful of each other, they avoided stumbling the other in whatever way, and avoided been placed in a situation that merely tempted the other. Essentially, they exercised self control.

Indeed, embarking on a path less travelled isn’t an easy task, but someone has to do it. Someone has to discover the routes, go through a series of difficult terrains that can either break or build a mans character, in order to create a reliable map. A map leading to a content, blissful relationship exists and it is not hidden away from the eyes of men, nor is it written in crypted code’s. But it is for all to reach. I also spared my heart from unnecessary heartbreaks, scars, and kept it in tact for my future husband. Courtship requires maturity (not age), self control and the willingness to not conform to societies standards of dating. Most importantly, courtship should be a union between two best friends – the person who makes silence feel comfortable instead of tense – remembering its intentions.

XXX Madame_Athy

Practicing a lifestyle of ingeniousness, simplicity and growth

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