Wellness is a choice

So, there I sat.  Listening to everything the wellness guru is saying.  Hanging on her lips and realising, uhmmmmm I’m not there yet.  Don’t get me wrong, I do cycle when I get the chance, attend spin classes every Tuesday and Thursday and take the stairs sometimes instead of the escalators.  That’s enough right?  No, not even remotely.

I was fortunate to attend a wonderful PR launch of the Wellness Warehouse Brooklyn branch where they presented a lovely menu from the #BrooklynBuffet range.  My fellow bloggers and I were enticed to a delectable menu of roasted vegetables, lovely lasagne, Quinoa salad, Broccoli bake, grilled chicken and off course, the Tofu was the best I have had.

We can have a lot of discussion around what a healthy lifestyle is and what we understand around the term ‘being healthy’.  Sharing a meal at the #WellnessWarehouse Cafe in Brooklyn Mall Pretoria with fellow lifestyle bloggers, you do get a sense that they (and yes, I say they) are so sensitised to living healthy lifestyles because some of them have children and want to offer them the best opportunities to grow healthy.  The question popped…. how healthy am I living really? I don’t have children and therefore I don’t have that motivation, but the motivation lies in the sole fact that I need to be less heavy (see my choice of words there?).  Adapting to a new diet is only one dimension in a multi-faceted pool of dimensions when we talk about healthy living.

Being healthy or looking after your own wellness has less to do with dieting and more to do with making conscious choices.  Being a food & lifestyle blogger it is increasingly more challenging to ‘go healthy’.  Visiting restaurants, enjoying food and writing about it has become a part of my routine, but picking the right meal from the menu is still IN my power.  This is a harsh reality to face when you are a few kilo’s (ok, quite a few) heavier than usual.

So what am I to do then?  Here is my list of the 5 steps I am taking towards looking after my own wellness:

  1.  Realising that I am not a gym junkie:  I am never going to be one and I think this has more to do with acknowledging the current reality of my health and knowing what I’m dealing with.  Getting a grip on my current wellness and as my friend always say: “know your demons and then face them”.  So there we have it, a reality check!
  2.  To eat or not to eat:  I say EAT! Diets already puts one down emotionally and therefore I say, stop dieting and just start eating right.  Looking at the Wellness Warehouses #BrooklynBuffet, there were options and they were colourful and wonderful.  More colour means less processed.  So eat a colourful meal and try to have it as unprocessed as possible.  Freshness is key!  To all of you saying “I don’t have time”, MAKE TIME!  I’m not a super model and I realise it’s going to be challenging, but there is always a way to make things happen. O ja, go easy on the starches.
  3. Chill:  No, not talking about chilling the wine, I’m talking about taking some time out.  Make time to spend time, doing nothing.  Meditate, write, read, sleep, or do the things that fuel you.
  4. Join a club: A gym is great, but it’s expensive and the idea around going to the gym can sometimes be a bit daunting.  Rather join a walking club or a group of friends doing something active.  It shouldn’t cost you an arm or a leg and if you go about it the right way, you can have a good support structure in place to keep everyone motivated and ready to go walking, cycling or running.  Group motivation can work wonders.
  5.  Dream:  It’s important to escape from reality sometimes and start dreaming up things for the rest of the year.  Make that dream of going to Greece a reality by planning for it.  Dream of all the things you still want to achieve, do, experience and start making plans to motivate yourself to get to it.

Wellness in my view is a shotgun approach and should be handled as such.  Health shops like the Wellness Warehouse, gives us necessary tools to live more healthy, but in the end, we need to make the choice to be more healthy.  Choice is the bugger here, but choice is also the golden opportunity that you have power over.  I am not a wellness guru, but strangely enough, we all know what we ought to do.  So my advice to you today, is go do it.  Live well! Go! Now!

Painting the picture…

Ok, so this isn’t about food at all, but a cause close to my heart.fullsizeoutput_4aa7

Not everyone can say that they love what they are doing for a living.  If you are indeed one of the fortunate few who can’t wait to get to the office every day, well done.  You are probably living your calling.  To the rest, do what you need to do and find purpose outside of your work life.  Ok, attention back to me.  I love what I do.  Being involved within the non-profit sector for a number of years, I really got to experience a whole lot of different dimensions to doing what you love doing.

I have experienced pain, tragedy, horror and the ‘not so nice’ things of a society that lives in poverty a few times.  While these negatives was part of my work life, there are also amazing stories that I can tell about people that transformed themselves, living healthy, meaningful lives in spite of all their challenges.  Stories here, was the essence of understanding a day in the life of someone working at an NGO or non-profit organisation.

PEN (the NPO I’m working for), is doing amazing things.  Rendering much needed services around healthcare, education, skills development, community support and outreach on many other levels.  Truly I am blessed to be part of their picture.  Today however, I was a bit disappointed.  Disappointed  in the fact that a discussion about funding came up and realised we don’t have sufficient BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) candidates to qualify for funding.  Are you also asking this small yet so big question? Why?

You see, in order for a non-profit to keep supporting our vulnerable communities, we need to access funding for those services.  Funding that keep learning material on the program for young toddlers in our Early Childhood Development program, bandages, medication and ARV’s to be used to keep people alive or that vehicle that we need to drive to collect donations from passionate donors.

Foreigners and refugees are a big chunk of our beneficiary base and therefore we need to look at ways to grow our funding base.  This is the big catch 22 situation.  Do we render services ONLY to South African (BEE) beneficiaries and tell foreigners sorry, you will not get ARV’s because our funding only allows for South Africans?  Or do we keep to PEN’s philosophy that identifies with the vulnerable, not the BEE vulnerable, THE VULNERABLE!

I’m pretty sure that this is not just a PEN problem, but a challenge to every NPO operating in South Africa.  We simply can not stop services to people who are not South African.  Why do corporate South Africa deny us funding then? Simple, they need to adhere to BEE legislation.  If you aren’t BEE enough, you simply don’t make the cut.  I’m not just talking here about being white (sorry, had to say this), but to foreigners who are seen as not BEE.  So where do we need to start changing things then?  Do we have to reach high ranking politicians to lobby for change that will benefit the NPO sector?  Do we ask corporate South Africa to speak out and challenge legislation?  Or do we as NPO’s simply adjust our funding strategies?  The latter sounds the easiest and is probably.

The reality here is that within the South African context, refugees and foreigners need help, they need services and their numbers are growing more each day.  Do we refuse the helping hand of corporate funding, yes, sometimes we have to.  My voice here isn’t one that want to bash corporate social investment (CSI) funding, but rather a “hey, do you realise we need your help and there are a few ridiculous strings attached to your funding” message.  The worlds of donor and receiver need to merge.  We need to understand each other’s challenges and we need to raise our hands and say, “help me understand” when things doesn’t make sense.

Selective funding, will mean selective caring.  Discarding unworthy beneficiaries from services is not what I signed up for, when I opted for a work life in the NPO sector.  I want to tell the stories of Joe from Zimbabwe who was living on the streets, that is now a manager in a health practice, or the story of Given, a South African, that became an entrepreneur and earning a decent living, or Grace from the  Democratic Republic of Congo that are rendering Early Childhood Development (ECD) education to BEE AND foreign toddlers giving them a head start in life.  If you are reading this and your company offers a CSI program, please challenge the status-quo, please raise your hand and ask critical questions on selective funding that results in selective caring.  In the end we are now caring and supporting potential customers and clients that will buy from your company when they are grown up, so why not help us now to change lives and transform hearts that dream of a better life.  PEN will keep supporting our communities that needs help, whether they are BEE, white, Zimbabwean, Mozambican, Kenian, Rwandian and I would even go as far to say an alien from Mars!  Ignite change, heal communities and nurture each individual, that’s what we believe and that’s what we are going to keep doing. 

The Beard struggle….



Well, since I don’t have hair on the top of my head, there is no illusion of baldness on my chin.  Thus, I have grown to love my furry chin.  The only thing is, I had a couple of bad hair days.  Yes, hair days, those on my face!

So how do one tame the beard?  Or is it overrated to say that a bearded person need to have someone to tame his (or her [let’s not discriminate]) beard?  Well, I have learned that being fortunate enough to grow a full beard is more than a science than I anticipated.  It’s not just about shaving your beard and voila you’re done, it’s a technical thing.  It’s about shaping, moulding and touching up where needed and putting the right products, oils, balms on your face.

So how do I go about my beard?  Well, apart from shampooing it in the shower, I do need to make sure that it looks good and smells good.  The beard-market erupted with products specifically for one’s beard.  There are beard shampoos, moisturisers, oils and yes, some beard balm.  Spoiling myself however, gives me the opportunity to have  someone take care of that FOR you.  I have experienced a variety of Barbers but my favourite still is Sorbet MAN located in Cape Quarter in De Waterkant, Cape Town.  They know their trade.  Soon I was in the plush leather barber chair, my face was cocooned in  hot towels, lathered up, trimmed, shaved, shaped (yes, that happens too) and treated with exquisite beard products.  Did I mention my JW on the rocks? Jip, they can “man-handle” me any time! I walked out there with my chin looking, feeling and smelling sophisticated, healthy and shining!  Reality is though, that you do pay an arm and a a leg for some of these treatments.

Arriving back at the capital I also enjoyed Sorbet MAN in Menlyn Maine and was equally impressed with their whole set up and the experience did not fail in my expectation.  One day in casual conversation with one of my (non-bearded) friends, I heard about a Pakistani gentleman that had a barber shop not far from where I am staying.  So I gave it a go!  I arrived there sitting in front of my steering wheel thinking.  The shopfront was not appealing at all but hey, it’s all about experiences.  I entered.  He walked closer, without greeting and nudged me to the chair in the far left corner.  He wasn’t very talkative either.  I think his name was Sindha. There were no expensive tiles, aromatisers, masculine decor or flush ambient lightning and immediately knew, this was going to be a different experience.  Well, the barber knew what to do.  Trimmed my beard, shaved my neck, shaped my beard and although he didn’t have all the cutting edge equipment (see, I used a pun… cutting… **goofy smile** ….. ok, moving on swiftly), expensive oils, balms and moisturisers he did his thing.  I was equally impressed with his skill and yes it was a different experience.  A good one I might add and paid a third of what I should’ve paid at my favorite spot.

The question then lingers….”Do one need expensive stuff around when going for a trim and shave?”.  The answer is a combination really.  Yes, I love the finer things in life.  I love the ambient lightning, I love that the staff are all uniformly dressed, looking hip.  I looooooooove especially the fact that I get swirled and treated with the best beard and face products (even the JW on the rocks…. well… it rocked).  Thinking about my two experiences though, one needs a barber with a good steady hand, with skill and when you subtract all this whirly pearly swirleys, you just needed to have your beard trimmed. That’s all.

If you are a bearded fellow. Instead of hacking away on your own, why not go and explore your neighbourhood and see what works for you.  Sorbet MAN might be your thing, the Pakistani around the corner might be your thing, or you like to go about it on your own, but most of all make sure that you care for your chin the right way and make that your priority-thing! Go! Now!

PS. My favourite Beard Balm & Oil is the Hairy Eye range and they are available at Sorbet Man here in Menlyn Maine Pretoria


40 is the new 40 right?


Most people arrive at a point in their lives where they reached a proverbial ‘reality check’.  Turning 40 last year, I felt really good about it.  I’m fit (but overweight), sucking every ounce out of life and making time for the things that are important.  Friends, Family, being active, food and the list goes on.  No reality checks that are needed at this stage.   Didn’t someone or some magazine say that 40 is the new 30?  Assumption right?

Wrong!  That reality check has dawned on me the last weekend where the blood pressure was scarily high, despite my active lifestyle and the doctor frowning upon me when I tried to humour the situation.  She didn’t think I was funny, she was my reality check.  I am indeed 40 and need meds. Bummer!

We all assume that we have enough time, we are doing enough, being in the spinning class or the bike at least 6 days out of the 7.  Are we doing enough?  Am I doing enough?  Well, this isn’t the whole story.  When we start to factor in things like, a diet that includes wine (not copious amounts, but a decent amount of it), fast food and a family history of hypertension and a bit of irresponsibility when it comes to healthy choices, surely it need to start showing somewhere.  My health.

Time. The one thing we do not have in copious amounts.  When we say 40 is the new 30, it can surely be that to someone.  We can still feel 30, but we need to manage this vessel that is indeed 40 years and 3 months old.  It will mean that I need to monitor the way I live life, the way I do life.  This doesn’t mean a radical change like braiding my beard, start a Peta process and becoming Vegan (heavens forbid), but it does mean that I need to exercise the healthier option where possible.  Taking the stairs and not the lift, leaving the cheesecake for now and rather enjoy the tea by itself, instead of Netflix, taking that walk, instead of dining out every evening, making that salad or veggies that are in the fridge and cooking up a storm in your own kitchen.

May I NEVER reach that point in my life where I cannot do the stuff I love, like restaurants and their delicious foods, making time for friends and enjoying that ‘kuier’ over a glass of red wine. Yes, I am 40 and I will never be 30 again and that’s pretty fine with me.  However, my 40 year old self can do something today to help my 50 year old self in the near but not so distant future, enjoy life better. Reality check: 40 is the new 40, but we can have fun and be wholesome while doing it!

PS. Sorry if I offended any braided beardy, protesting Vegans in this post.