7 things a No Carbs Challenge reveals

For the whole of September myself and my house mate decided to challenge each other to a No Carbs September. The stakes were high if one of us slips up and we are equally competitive so the month that followed was a lesson in itself. These are just a few of my observations from the challenge.

Sugar

“I am everywhere!!!!”

We are SUPER dependent on addicted to sugar
Quick, take a look at the nutritional content of whatever you are about to eat. Unless its meat or roasted nuts or a pack of celery, odds are, there is sugar in there. It’s quite scary how much sugar we consume on a daily basis. BUT, there are also good and bad sugars, just like there is good and bad cholesterol. I could get all GR12 biological on you, but I will spare you. On that note…

This would be a good Sugar!!

Coffee tastes shitty without sugar
I have a love/hate relationship with coffee. It’s like the guy who steals money from you but is just SUCH a good kisser. I know coffee in extreme masses is not good for a person, that being said, I actually think coffee itself, on any level, is not good for me, personally. So when I cut sugar, I cut coffee, because coffee without sugar tastes like something you kill a child’s dreams with. I also refuse to use sweeteners because that stuff will kill you. Double cold turkey whammy. So then I found out…

Sugar`

A is for…. ADDICTION!

That sugar & caffeine withdrawals are the stuff nightmares are made off
It starts with headaches, I never get headaches, I’m superhuman like that. But as soon as I cut out coffee and sugar without wheening myself off, it felt like a dozen gremlins with jackhammers were redoing the hardwood floors of my brain for days.

Then on top of the headaches, you feel dizzy and fatigued. I can’t say tired because tired goes away after a nap. Fatigue stays with you like that stray cat you fed, ONCE!

As the headaches fade and you just become tired all the time, your kidneys start aching. It’s so bad that walking, sitting and laying down is too painful. Anything that puts pressure in any way on your lower back is out. Health tip: (Cos I’m such a glowing example of healthy living) Drink shit loads of water. Have an IV of water constantly filling and clearing your kidneys. Again, I could give a biology lesson of the function of the kidneys, but I shan’t.

Oh and did I forget to tell you? PMS aint got nothing on the emotional nightmare you become during the first 2 weeks of going off of coffee and/or sugar. there is a chance that you insulted and or lost a few friends during this period. Bridges burn!!! It’s ridiculous! But there’s a plus side.

Energy levels DO go up, eventually
Once that nightmare is over, you will have more energy, not STACKS more but more. I must say I don’t feel super energetic, but I am not tired all the time either, so that’s nice. My housemate noted that he felt 4 times more fit on the rugby field and he is faster (probably due to the weight loss). I know this is the ONLY thing you really cared about when you clicked on my blog… “yeah, yeah, but how much weight will I lose?”

Weight

Get off of me!!!

Weight just a minute…
Since the beginning of September I have lost almost 6kg. I feel it should be noted that I had picked up a crap load before that but still, a win is a win. My house mate lost more, I think he lost about 7 or 8 kg. I don’t like to play this card, BUT, it is easier for men to lose weight than for women… so there’s that.  Also he is active so he burns more than I do. I realise I am making excuses but so what.

You save loads of cash
How much money do you spend on food a month? And I’m not really talking about groceries. I am talking about snacks, take outs, feel-good-period-craving chocolates? Hmm? Have you thought about it? Well, I got to save some money by simply not buying a chocolate or chips of pack of sweets every time I go to the shop. Instead I bought a bad of apples or bananas. I will add that I would have saved way more if biltong and droëwors had sugar or carbs in, that stuff can dig a hole in your wallet! You still save a lot of money though.

Lastly, creative cooking
Since you can’t eat pasta, or rice, or potatoes *Cries a little*, you have to come up with new things to cook, with the added extra that the housemate is not a BIG veggie eater. Sometimes you have a hit and sometimes you miss, sometimes you have a real South African supper… just MEAT. After a while you’ll feel like you would sell a piece of your soul just to have a baked potato. I think it must be psychological, it has to be, because I have done this whole no carbs thing (not as harshly) before and I was fine. Which takes me back, again to biology, this time I will explain some, you can’t cut out something completely. Your body needs carbohydrates, protein and fat (and of course minerals and vitamins). Each one of these three has a specific function in your body. Where we lose the plot is when we over indulge in one or more. That’s when we start being unhealthy and pick up weight. A wise woman says this to me very often “Everything in moderation”

Sugar

Can we just take a minute to appreciate how adorable he is… Google Sugar and this little sugar glider comes up. I WANTZ IT!!

In conclusion, I plan to challenge myself for the rest of the year to cut out all preserved food, all bread, pasta and rise and to only eat moderate amounts of biltong and droëwors. I might even do this permanently, food should be enjoyed, but it should also be respected.

Dr Liezel (I wish)

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The time we got attacked in Africa, Part 2!

If you missed part 1, I suggest you read it HERE, before reading Part 2. You wouldn’t watch The Desolation of Smaug before watching The Unexpected Journey would you? Actually, just read the book, it’s way better. (It’s The Hobbit, people… honestly!)

Lara and I hugged and cried for about 10 seconds and then survival mode kicked in. We got Henry and tried to clean his wounds (he had open wounds on his left arm and both lower legs). Luckily, there were bags full  of clothes that had been brought with as a donation in the back of the car, so we got a t-shirt and tore it into strips so we could dress the wounds and stop the bleeding. We also gave Henry some of our “padkos” (breakfast bars and energade) to help with the shock and get some sugar into his system. Chris then decided to follow the direction that the the guys ran away in to see if they maybe dropped the car keys or anything. I grabbed a big metal hiking stick and went along, thinking that I would swing at anyone with all my might if they had to jump at me.

After a few meters of walking and not finding anything we turned back to the car. Henry was really weak and could not walk, so we couldn’t get back to the town, which was few kilometres away through semi-rough terrain. So Chris tried to hotwire the car, but that didn’t work as it is an automatic and they have that immobiliser thing going on. Chris did get the car to switch on so that we could open and close windows and flash the headlights. We got Henry comfortable on the front passenger seat of the car and the 4 of us sat in the car, singing worship songs. I could only remember about 2, which is embarrassing considering how much time had been spent on the worship team. During the attack and after, siting in the car was the most time I had spent praying in tongues, ever. When fear grips you out of the blue like that… sho. It was in that time, sitting in the car with Henry injured and stranded in the bushes with potential attackers, that I thought about all the “what if’s”.

Lara and I were wearing skirts, what if they raped us? What if they killed Henry? What if they killed us all? What if they come back hoping that we had abandoned the car because they had the keys, and we were still there? What if some wild animals came and attacked us? All these really useless thoughts that cripple you if you do not stop them. I think that’s why I kept on singing even if this was the 20th time I sang How Great is Our God, and praying, it was far better than thinking about the “what if’s”. I remember asking God to please would give those men the wisdom to read the Bible and get to know Him but not the wisdom to forge our passports.

I’m not entirely sure about the time frames but I think the attack happened at about 16:00 and by now it had started to go dark. Chris would signal an SOS with first the car’s headlights and then get a big torch and climb to the top of the outlook and signal SOS from there. We could see the lights of the nearest town and we hoped that someone would look to the mountains… I think he did this about 6/7 times during the night. It got so dark (that time before the moon sits high enough), can’t see your hand kinda dark, and we had to go wee behind the car in that dark. Now that I’m fine with in NORMAL situations, but with impending danger AND with hyenas laughing in the distance, That I’m not so fine with, help with the weeing tho. (Too much? Meh). At around midnight it started getting really cold so we got some of the clothes to warm up. Then the mosquitos… God, why do those exist? I mean really, how do they bring honour to Your name? Anyway, any piece of skin that was exposed got attacked.

We dosed off for a few minutes here and there and Chris assured us that our hosts in Zambia is surely looking for as and must have notified the authorities that we are missing. I just kept thinking, these guys are going to come back and find us here. That’s when, at around 02:00 we talked and somehow, (I can’t remember all the details) decided that Chris, Lara and myself would walk back to town and go for help. I felt bad leaving Henry defenseless and alone, but what other help was coming? So we prayed for God to protect Henry and then we walked, and walked… and walked. In just moonlight, afraid to use a torch so as not to draw the attention of other attackers that might be in the bushes. God provided us with an extra bright moon that night so we didn’t really need a torch most of the time. Lemme tell you, that walk felt like forever, walking in complete silence, at the back, EVERYTHING sounds suspicious. Everything sounds like you are being followed. I don’t know for how long we walked, it must have been about 2 hours give or take. We eventually got to the main road and saw a girl, walking to school, at like 4 in the morning. We got her attention and asked her if she could show us where the police station is. She told us to follow her to the bus stop where all the other school kids were waiting, the bus driver will take us to border patrol, which was the closest police station.

We spent about 3 hours there, waiting for a police car and filling in reports and papers ect. I remember there was a chicken… what was the chicken doing in the police station?? Anyway, it turns out, we had decided to stop for a tourist moment right in the middle of gang turf. The policeman also had words on how ill-advised it was to be at abandoned tourist sights. We should have known better. Yeah, hindsight always has the clearest view. The sun was sitting high when at around 07:00 we got into a police car and tracked our way back to where we had left Henry in the car. It was 4×4 terrain and the police car had some trouble getting up some of the hills. As we turned the second last corned before we got to the car, my and Chris’ eye caught something glimmering on a rock on the side of the road, and there was all our credit/debit/account cards, passports, the car keys, driver’s licences, everything taken out of our wallets and neatly put in a pile on the rock, on the only way back up to the car.

We got to the car and Henry was still as okay as could be expected. We drove back down to the police station for another statement, and there our hosts were waiting for us with hugs and joy on their faces. They had been in touch with the church in South Africa and everyone had been praying for our safety.

Zambia

Not sure at which hospital this is.

Thereafter we took Henry to the only hospital that was available where sadly he didn’t receive the kind of care he needed. Both his left radius and ulna (both bones in the forearm) had been broken and he needed treatment for the cuts on his legs. He had to fly back to Johannesburg the next day to receive proper care. We did have a team photo taken when we got back to South Africa after the mission trip.

From Left: John, Henry, Chris, Me, Theon (Tall guy), Lara and Mark crouching in front.

From Left: John, Henry, Chris, Me, Theon (Tall guy), Lara and Mark crouching in front.

After being at the hospital for an hour or so the rest of us drove back to our host’s house/farm where we got taken such good care of. After a bath in a bucket (no jokes), Lara and I tried to get some sleep until the boys and John arrived back. John and Chris then came and sat with us, counseling, talking and praying that we would not be traumatised in any way and that God would keep our minds safe. We still had about 2 weeks of mission left in Zambia.

Livingston

I think this is Livingston, in Livingston. That is our team, minus Henry.

That night our host had to shoot crackers in her crops, that grow right up to the house, with only a fence dividing the grass of the yard and the crops, to keep the elephants away from the house… TIA – THIS IS AFRICA.

Zambia, Victoria Falls

We stopped at the Victoria Falls on our way back to SA.

That time we got attacked in Africa, Part 1!!

In 2009, myself and 3 young adults/old teens did a gap year, called In2Change, at a local church here in Johannesburg. Lara (19 y/o, South African born Swedish citizen, whose father had been part of the founding church of our ministry before moving to Sweden), myself (20 y/o, who had only been a Christian for about 7 months), and 2 guys, Mark (18 y/o, who came out of strict Catholic background in Port Elizabeth) and Theon (18 y/o, who had been part of a charismatic church in Pretoria for some time) lived on the church property. During this year we did the equivalent of 1 year’s Bible School, a bunch of outreaches in South Africa, we visited other churches from the ministry network all over South Africa and attended 2 big conferences. Our group was the second of 5 groups to do this gap year. In2Change 2009 is a year of my life that I will NEVER forget… for a number of reasons. One of them being the time our missions group got attacked in Africa.

See...

Yes, I know South Africa is in Africa (yes, dear American, Africa is NOT a country, it is a continent), but still, it sounds badass.

One of the churches in our ministry network is located in Zambia (Southern Africa – look on the map) and our church sends a mission team up to Zambia (and other African nations) every year. This year our In2Change team along with 2 pastors from our ministry, Chris, who at the time pastored a church in Durban and John who still pastors a church in Kokstad and a gentleman from the Johannesburg church, Henry.  All in all, 7 of us missioned up in two 4×4’s to Zambia. It was a 24 hour or longer (due to potholes the size of houses) trip, tracking through Botswana to get there, about 2000kms. Anyway that is a story for later… If I feel like it.

Zambia, Lusaka, Sesheke

Good ol’ Google Maps.

If I remember correctly, myself and Lara stayed in Sesheke with Chris and Henry while Mark and Theon went with John to Lusaka for 3 days. At this point I would like to say that this happened 6 years ago and my memory is not alllll that good with the pre-attack details. Anyway, on the Sunday, 17 May 2009 (I deduced this from the stamps on some photo’s, I couldn’t remember the date), Lara, Chris Henry and myself went to the morning service of the local church. Chris delivered a sermon, the worship was otherworldly (as in there was no instruments but it was still amazingly beautiful and moving just as at the biggest, most technologically advanced western churches) and Henry, Lara and myself did ministry with the children.

Zambia

I think we were teaching something about fishers of men and showing then how to fold paper boats.

After church we went for some touristy sightseeing through Livingstone and then ventured up to the gorge. Now the gorge is the part that you don’t see when looking at a waterfall. Where the waterfall has been eating away at mother earth for millions of years. Anyway, this particular gorge is the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia at some points and the Victoria falls “fall” into it. There are about 5 sight seeing, tourist attraction points along the gorge and at each one you could do something different. There was abseiling, gorge swing, zipline, and then at each point there was also a souvenir stall or 2. All of which was abandoned… maybe because it was Sunday. But this didn’t stop us and we didn’t think it weird, we didn’t think anything of it. We stopped for photo’s at each point and then carried on to the next.

Zambia

This photo was taken at one of the outlook posts, behind us is the gorge.

On our way to the 5th view point we stopped at what used to be an outlook post, many years ago. An old metal structure that stood about 3 meters high with steps going up and a broken wooden platform. We all got out the car excitedly, myself and Chris went up this structure and Henry took some photos of the gorge down below while Lara waited to also go to the top. At the top you could just see the Victoria falls, just before they fall. It was majestic, the noise of the water and the scenery. All just beautiful, but it was short lived.

Zambia

The gorge, Victoria Falls is a few meters up this gorge. This is the last photo taken before the attack.

As I turned around to go down this structure so that Lara could also go to the top, I saw 3 men running through the bushes towards Henry’s car. My first thought was, “these are police coming to tell us it was not safe here”, how ironic?! When one of the men started opening all the car doors and gathering our belongings together, I remember thinking that this must be a prank… it has to be. There must be hidden cameras. How western of me? It was then that I noticed that 2 of them had pangas and one had a large silver knife or dagger thing. One of them came towards us and the other went to Henry, who, as soon as he realised what had been going on, tried to fight back with his camera (I think it was a Canon, I just remember it was big) swinging and I think hitting the man with it. The man started hitting Henry with his panga in a wild rage (did I mention that Henry was about 63 years old when this happened?) Henry fell to the floor and covered his head with his arms and the man continued to hit him. I don’t know what made him stop, probably realising that all our valuables had been gathered and he could leave. Probably God, I had never prayed so much and so loud in my life.

We traveled in Henry's car.

We traveled in Henry’s car. 

While this was going on, Chris, Lara and myself were searched for cell phones, moon bags, cameras (anything valuable) and most importantly, money. The man motioned for us to come down the structure and proceeded to grab Lara and myself on our stomachs to feel if we were wearing those tourist pocket things (Think Eurotrip). At one point the guy grabbed at Lara and out of instinct I stepped forward to try and protect her, that’s when the man lifted his panga and threatened to hit my legs. Lara and I were wearing skirts, as in one of the photos, due to the culture in Zambia that women should wear dresses and skirts and not trousers to church. If he hit my legs, it would hurt like hell, was all I could think. All this time the guy was asking for money, just saying “We want money. We want money.” in that broken English. We kept saying we are missionaries, we do not have money, we have Bibles and papers. Nonetheless, the men gathered our bags with passports, wallets and Bibles in, all the cell phones and cameras, the car keys, Chris’ sermon notes and they even found all the money that Henry had brought along for the trip. Which I think was about R8 000. Luckily, Chris hid the money for the trip underneath one of the seats.

I think Chris tried to then bargain with the guys, telling them that he has money in his suitcase, if they would just leave our passports so that we could get back to South Africa (And Lara had a British passport, can you imagine how difficult it would be to get her a new passport?). They just kept saying “We want money”. And as quick as it began, it was over, they grabbed everything and after sending Lara, Chris and myself back up the structure, ran away into the trees and tall grass leaving us there, stranded with a badly injured man.