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‘Fetch your body’ challenge

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No one diet is a one-size-fits-all. But there are certainly many diets that do not fit anyone at all. Remember the to-do list that you wrote in the beginning of 2020. Yes, the one you diarised and solemnly vowed to adhere to no matter the costs. Prophecy is not required here, but deep down you know weight loss was one of the prioritised actions on the list. Twelve months down the line, how far are you from achieving the hyped “fetch your body” slogan?

As God is your witness, many are still where they were when they first started engaging in the diet they thought would at least help them shed some few kilos. Others are far worse than when they first began. How did the “protein shakes” do in your fight to lose the weight? Did that training regimen given to you by a colleague help in anyway? How about those pills you bought that promised 10 kg loss within a month? Did that tight-belt help your belly from sagging after enduring 12 hours of laborious breathing?

Then there is that article from your favourite magazine promising you that drinking a certain overpriced concoction will surely guarantee you lose weight within two weeks. You are now disappointed to realise that most of the items on your to-do list have worked out well except for weight loss promise.

Then there is Lineo, who seemed to have her body weight in check despite the fact that she is always eating everything without gaining a kilogram. At one point you have tried so hard to mimic Lineo. Tried everything by the book to be like her, but to your utter disappointment you have just gained more. Lineo could eat three slices of cake, doughnuts, soda drinks, deserts and gobble up some muffins all in one seating, but her body weight still remain intact.

“Why can’t I just be like her?” Your shaky disappointed voice whispered in your head as you dress up for work in one of those baggy-sized dresses that you hate. You realise that you look like a nine-month pregnant woman who might never give birth at all. Your figure is out of spec and you hate yourself for not having enough will and power to change how you look. You could be blaming yourself for all the wrong reasons. The secret lies in your body’s ability to deal with carbohydrates.

Do not despair, you are not alone in this weight loss battle. Thousands and thousands of people around the world have a problem with obesity mainly due to a high consumption of processed foods that are mainly made of carbohydrates. Go to your nearest grocery store and bear witness to a fact that aisle after aisle is packed with highly processed carbohydrates meant to entice you into buying more. These foods were never created to satiate, but rather to hook you into buying more.

The high consumption of these products was never meant to prioritise your health. The casino was never meant to enrich the one who bet, it was only meant to enrich the owner; so are the processed foods we see lining the isle of our local grocery stores. They are meant to make money for their maker, regardless of their detrimental impact on your health. Obesity is on the rise because we have placed our faith in the hands of others who might not have our best health interests at heart.

A lot of money is at stake here and a lot more could be made due to your ignorance. The food industry wants you to eat more so that they can make more money. The pharmaceutical giants need you bed-ridden so they could milk you dry. This is a no brainer. This is not some conspiracy theories you have been hearing on social media. You have been battling with your weight for eons now, but the results are nothing nearer to what you have been anticipating. You are getting bigger and bitter by day.

Here is a bitter pill to swallow; your weight is not your fault, but it is all in your hands to change it. Your being sick is making you poor, your future savings are depleted due to hospital visitations due to some problems you could just have remedied without a doctor. Guess what! Your poor nutrition is only poor to you and your health, but the same poor-quality food you are buying, is making someone rich. But all is not lost, you still have a greater chance of turning the wheel in your favour.

Here is the 2021 golden challenge for you. Take it for the next four weeks and see if it will not bring some little change that could motivate you to continue. This is not a quick-fix to your weight problem and you are not going to have to fork out some money for it. It is absolutely free and very effective if you adhere to the regimen. This is going to be a life-changing experience if you have been battling weight loss for years. You are going to have to rethink your grocery list. Remember there are three micronutrients in which our body derive all the required nutrition.

These are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Of all the three, carbohydrates are the only macronutrients that are not essential for the proper functioning of your body. Meaning you can do without them as the nutrients they provide, your body can make in their absence. The other downside of carbohydrates is that they increase the glucose (sugar) content in your blood and conversely spike insulin, this is the hormone that is responsible for storing fat in your body.

Does that ring a bell? The fat-rolls on your waist? The ever-bulging thighs? You must have been blaming the wrong foods your entire life till today. Unlike the carbohydrates, proteins will slightly spike your insulin levels in your blood and for a short period of time. So, the consumption of protein foods will not significantly interfere with the fat-burning process in your weight loss journey. Eat the proteins. The healthy fats that are found from animal-based foods such as meat and from coconuts, olives, avocados as well as dairy and eggs will not have any impact whatsoever on your insulin levels.

In the absence of carbohydrates, you stand a better chance to lose weight. For your breakfast, eat eggs, green non-starchy vegetables, meat (beef, lamb, chicken, fish, etc) and these should be eaten together with their fat. Unsweetened tea or coffee is permitted. Sugar (white or brown) is a carbohydrate and it will still do what bread and potatoes do; spike your fat-storing hormone.

Your lunch could be comprised of fried vegetables, or green salad, with unprocessed meats of all kinds. Avoid sugary beverages such as fizzy-drinks, juices and sweetened waters. Water, soda-water and green tea are ideal. For your dinner, you can still be a little creative by having similar or a mixture of what you had for breakfast and lunch. Take your green-tea, unsweetened tea or coffee if you like.

This will not be an easy challenge, but if you stick to it for four weeks, a change will be noticed, small as it may look, but you will feel good about yourself. This is enough to push you further into this way of eating as you slowly but surely lose some weight. In the next articles, we will delve deeper into what you really should eat, what you should rarely eat, and what you should completely avoid if you are going to be serious about losing weight.

Tšepang Ledia

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Insight

The Joker Returns: Conclusion

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Last week I was talking about how jokes, or humour generally, can help get one through the most desperate situations (although it’s like taking a paracetamol for a headache; a much, much stronger resort is faith). I used the example of how Polish Jews, trapped and dying in the Warsaw ghetto, used humour to get them through day by day.

A similar, though less nightmarish, situation obtains in today’s Nigeria. Conditions there are less hellish than those of the Warsaw ghetto, but still pretty awful. There are massive redundancies, so millions of people are jobless. Inflation is at about 30% and the cost of living is sky-rocketing, with the most basic foodstuffs often unavailable. There is the breakdown of basic social services.

And endemic violence, with widespread armed robbery (to travel by road from one city to another you take your life in your hands) and the frequent kidnapping for ransom of schoolchildren and teachers. In a recent issue of the Punch newspaper (Lagos) Taiwo Obindo, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Jos, writes of the effects of economic hardship and insecurity on his people’s mental health.

He concludes: “We should see the funny side of things. We can use humour to handle some things. Don’t take things to heart; laugh it off.”

Professor Obindo doesn’t, regrettably, give examples of the humour he prescribes, but I remember two from a period when things were less grim. Power-cuts happened all the time — a big problem if you’re trying to work at night and can’t afford a generator.

And so the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) was universally referred to as Never Expect Power Always. And second, for inter-city travel there was a company called Luxurious Buses. Believe me, the average Lesotho kombi is a great deal more luxurious (I can’t remember ever having to sit on the floor of one of those).

And because of the dreadful state of Nigerian roads and the frequent fatal crashes, Luxurious Buses were referred to as Luxurious Hearses.

Lesotho’s newspaper thepost, for which I slave away tirelessly, doesn’t use humour very much. But there is Muckraker. I’ve always wondered whether Muckraker is the pen-name of a single person or a group who alternate writing the column.

Whatever, I’d love to have a drink with him / her/ them and chew things over. I like the ironic pen-name of the author(s). Traditionally speaking, a muckraker is a gossip, someone who scrabbles around for titbits (usually sexual) on the personal life of a celebrity — not exactly a noble thing to do.

But thepost’s Muckraker exposes big problems, deep demerits, conducted by those who should know and do better — problems that the powerful would like to be swept under the carpet, and the intention of Muckraker’s exposure is corrective.

And I always join in the closing exasperated “Ichuuuu!” (as I do this rather loudly, my housemates probably think I’m going bonkers).

Finally I want to mention television satire. The Brits are renowned for this, an achievement dating back to the early 1960s and the weekly satirical programme “TW3” (That Was The Week That Was). More recently we have had “Mock the Week”, though, despite its popularity, the BBC has cancelled this.

The cancellation wasn’t for political reasons. For decades the UK has been encumbered with a foul Conservative government, though this year’s election may be won by Labour (not such very good news, as the Labour leadership is only pseudo-socialist). “Mock the Week” was pretty even-handed in deriding politicians; the BBC’s problem was, I imagine, with the programme’s frequent obscenity.

As an example of their political jokes, I quote a discussion on the less than inspiring leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer. One member of the panel said: “Labour may well have a huge lead in the polls at present, but the day before election day Starmer will destroy it by doing something like accidentally infecting David Attenborough with chicken-pox.”

And a favourite, basically non-political interchange on “Mock the Week” had to do with our former monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Whatever one thinks about the British monarchy as an institution, the Queen was much loved, but the following interchange between two panellists (A and B) was fun:

A: Is the Queen’s nickname really Lilibet?
B: Yes, it is.
A: I thought her nickname was Her Majesty.
B: That’s her gang name.

OK, dear readers, that’s enough humour from me for a while. Next week I’m turning dead serious — and more than a little controversial — responding to a recent Insight piece by Mokhosi Mohapi titled “A reversal of our traditions and culture.” To be forewarned is to be prepared.

Chris Dunton

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Insight

Reading, writing and the art of reflection

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There is a close thread that runs through what you reflect on, what you read and what sticks in your mind. It’s almost a cyclic process with regards to how all these processes unfold. Today, in this installment we focus on the thread between reading, reflection and writing.

This appears a bit cumbersome to explain. But let’s simplify it. Let’s begin with a beautiful poem which encompasses what we have so far spoken about. Here we are! The poem is penned by “Tachibama Akemi.” It goes:

It is a pleasure
When, rising in the morning,
I go outside and
Find that a flower has blossomed
That was not there yesterday.

Seemingly, the poem is simple. But, on close analysis, it reflects very deep reflection and thoughtfulness.

The persona, in an existential fashion, reflects all about the purpose and meaning of life and his place in the overall matrix of life.

The persona carefully reflects on nature. This is what makes all this poem rustic and romantic.

The persona thinks deeply about the blossoming flowers and how the process of the growth of flowers appears almost inadvertently.

It is a poem about change, healing, the lapse of time and the changes or vissiccitudes in the life of a person are reflected creatively through imagery and poetry. We all go through that, isn’t it? We all react and respond to love, truth and beauty.

So far everything appears very interesting. Let’s just put to the fore some good and appealing thoughts. Let’s enlarge on reading, writing and reflection.

Kindly keep in mind that thoughts must be captured, told, expressed and shared through the magical power of the written word.

As a person, obviously through keeping entries in a journal, there is no doubt that you have toyed about thoughts and ideas and experiences you wish you could put across.

Here is an example you can peek from Anthony. Anthony likes writing. He tells us that in his spare time he likes exploring a lot. And, more often than not he tells us,

“I stop, and think, and then when I find something, I just keep on writing.”

So crisp, but how beautiful. Notice something interesting here; you need to stop, to take life effortlessly and ponderously, as it were; observe, be attentive to your environment; formulate thought patterns and then write.

To some extent, this article builds on our previous experiences when we spoke at length about the reading process.

But how can you do it? It’s not pretty much different. I can help you from my previous life as a teacher of English Languge.

The most important skill you must cultivate is that of listening, close listening. Look at how people and events mingle.

What makes both of you happy; enjoy it. I am sure you still keep that journal in which you enter very beautiful entries. Reflect about Maseru, the so-called affluent city. So majestic!

How can you picture it in writing!

I am glad you learnt to reflect deep and write. Thank you very much. Kindly learn and perfect the craft of observing, reflecting and writing. Learn that connection. Let’s meet for another class.

Vuso Mhlanga

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Insight

The Joker Returns: Part One

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Don’t be put off by the title, esteemed readers; what follows has nothing to do with the Batman films. As you will be happily (or unhappily) aware, I am a big fan of jokes. There’s a common understanding that a joke is ruined if you have to explain it, and this is true, but some jokes do need a bit of background explanation. Anyway. I like jokes and I like thinking about how they work.

Many of my favourite jokes have to do with language and the way we use it. For example: “I just bought myself a thesaurus. I similar it very much.”

Other jokes have to do with human behaviour and here it is important, out of respect for others, to avoid jokes that perpetuate stereotypical ideas about gender, race, nationality, and so on. I’m afraid the following joke does depend upon a stereotype (I’ll come back to that), but here goes, after a bit of background information.

In Lesotho you have an insect called a praying mantis — stick-like, bright green, and with great bulging eyes. They are rather lovable, despite the off-putting fact that the female practices insect cannibalism; after mating, she consumes the male. So, now you’ve had your zoological primer, here goes.

Two praying mantises are getting up close and personal. The female says to the male: “before we have sex and I bite your head off, could you help me put up some shelves?”

Apologies to female readers, because, as I said, that joke perpetuates a gender stereotype, namely, that women are good with a vacuum cleaner or a dustpan and brush, but hopeless with a hammer and nails.

There are many jokes that are, as it were, much more serious than that. As I rattled on about in a couple of earlier columns, many of these are satirical — jokes that are designed to point a finger at human folly or even wickedness. In another column, titled “Should we laugh?”, I explored the question “is there any subject that should be kept out of the range of humour?”

Well, apparently not, if we take on board the following account of the Warsaw ghetto.

Historical preface first.

The Warsaw ghetto represents one of the worst atrocities in modern history. In November 1940 the genocidal Nazis rounded up all the Jews in Poland’s capital and herded them into a small sector of the city, which they euphemistically, cynically, dubbed the “Jewish Residential District in Warsaw.”

Here nearly half a million Jews were in effect imprisoned, barely subsisting on tiny food rations. An estimated quarter of a million were sent off to the death camps. An uprising against the Nazi captors was brutally crushed. Around 100 000 died of starvation or disease.

Not much to laugh about there, you might say. But then consider the following, which I’ve taken from the New York Review of Books of February 29th this year:

“In the Warsaw Ghetto in October 1941 Mary Berg, then a teenager, wrote in her diary about the improbable persistence of laughter in that hellish place: ‘Every day at the Art Café on Leszno Street one can hear songs and satire on the police, the ambulance service, the rickshaws, and even the Gestapo, [on the latter] in a veiled fashion. The typhoid epidemic itself is the subject of jokes. It is laughter through tears, but it is laughter. This is not our only weapon in the ghetto — our people laugh at death and at the Nazi decrees. Humour is the only thing the Nazis cannot understand.’”

To be concluded

Chris Dunton

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