Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces ~ Proverbs 13:20 The Message (MSG).
One of the more difficult things for me to work out postpartum was a consistent routine that allowed me to feel my healthiest and keep excess weight off. Pre-baby and during maternity leave I had plenty of time to exercise which meant I could eat almost anything or, more accurately, any amount of food, with minimal consequences.
After returning to work, I just could not get the balance right so my weight fluctuated up and down. I knew I had to compensate for my greatly reduced exercise time by eating healthier but it was just so hard. This was especially so because everyone else in my home didn’t need any of that. I tried a couple of “oh I’m not eating that” diets but it just made the weight fluctuations worse because I love food too much to be as disciplined as those diets required.
A couple of months ago, my husband had to start eating clean too. He went for his annual health check and turns out we are not in our 20s anymore. The body needs extra care. We decided to start eating cleaner as a family. There would be no “quick” diet. It was a lifestyle change. We researched food (Hello YouTube) and learnt the basics. Among the things we did was:
- substituting white rice for brown rice;
- substituting sugar for honey ;
- drinking more water;
- substituting processed food for a less processed equivalent e.g. switching from white to brown bread;
- buying more fruit, yoghurt, and vegetables which enabled us to snack on fruit or yoghurt instead of whatever was handy;
- cooking with healthier oils;
- putting more veggies and protein on a plate accompanied by a significantly reduced portion of carbs or no carbs;
- cooking enough to carry to work for lunch the next day;
- lowering the amount of red meat in our diet to 2 times a week or less; and
- grilling and baking versus frying when cooking etc.
We also purposed to workout more in the way that was more convenient for each of us. I really thought the food thing would be extremely difficult because of my track record with dieting. To my surprise, the old adage that good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter turned out to be true. The fact that the entire household was eating cleaner slowly made it the norm ergo, it was not burdensome. It felt different for a week or so and then I got used to it. It has changed the way I shop and cook permanently and truth be told, the proof is in my husband’s shrinking waistline.
Enter the true subject of this story: my helper. My helper/nanny is one of the funniest people in my life at the moment. She really is an unexpected blessing. She watched my postpartum weight journey with great amusement and plenty of honest, funny chirps. One time, when the numbers on the scale had fluctuated 4 digits up, I put on one of my skirts and it bunched up weirdly. She was sitting with the baby watching me fiddle with my skirt. In exasperation, I finally said, “something is wrong with this skirt!” In her classic style, she chuckled and said, “there is nothing wrong with the skirt Mama Simba. You are just getting fat.” LOL.
It is very important for me to emphasise that she is not and has never been mean-spirited so seeing and enjoying the humour in her comments is inevitable. I know that it’s from a good place.
She found the whole lifestyle change story hilarious. She would watch with great amusement as the hubby and I served veg and meat only for supper. She would always wait until he was out of earshot before hitting me with the chirp of the day like”while you are starving, I will sleep nicely because I have all the pap to myself.” She honestly found a new, very funny chirp every couple of days.
That was until she started to see the difference. In hindsight, it started around the time I wore the problem skirt again and it fit perfectly with a couple of mm to spare. I celebrate with a little booty shake, we laughed about it and I moved on.
So I didn’t really notice when the chirps disappeared and were slowly replaced with more vegetables on her plate. To be honest, I didn’t notice at all until one morning she came down the stairs as I was getting ready for work and she was sweating. Alarmed, I asked if she was ill. “No Mama Simba,” she said with great enthusiasm. “Today I was like you. I woke up and jumped up and down 50 times like a frog. The only problem is I tore my pants.” I nearly fell off the couch laughing.
Maybe this is evidence that the company we keep rubs off on us given enough time. If one has a sponge-like personality like me, the time involved is very short. Catty people will make me catty eventually. People who complain a lot will lead to me complaining a lot. People who persistently point out my flaws make me feel insecure. Bold people make want to be bold too. Strong career women make me reach higher. Strong women inspire me to be better. People who persistently talk about how miserable marriage is change my perception of love and marriage for the worse. People who are studying make me believe it can be done.
I almost gave up on my Masters Degree before I applied for it. I confided in my friend that I didn’t think I would be accepted into such an exclusive program and I hate rejection. I will never forget my friend, Theo, looking at me in surprise and asking why on earth I would think I am not strong enough academically when I absolutely am. She didn’t even think about it. She didn’t even doubt it. So I thought maybe and filled out the application form. The rest is history. Being aware of all this makes me very cautious of who I surround myself with because that will have an effect on who I will become. Even the Bible says “become wise by walking with the wise…”
We must always be cautious of what those around us are sowing into or weeding from our lives. We must also be particularly aware of what we do to make the lives of those around us better by association too.