Sitting still is the new move: On meditation

meditation

Almost everyone I know is either busy or tired. In this age of hyperconnectivity, we’re always “on.” In the race to stay on top of work, news, and friendships, it’s difficult to find time for self-care. By creating the space to embrace the present, meditation gives us the time to tune out the noise and listen to our inner voices

I first learned the importance of meditation at my Quaker high school. Silence is a unique features of a Quaker worship service. Through silence, Quakers believe they can listen, reflect, and deepen their connection with God, their community, and themselves. For forty-five minutes once a week, teachers and students met in a sunlit room to sit in silence. In such a competitive, Type A environment, the fact that we came together weekly to affirm the time to reflect and to dream is extraordinary. Taking the time for mindfulness helped me listen to my inner self rather than follow the crowd.

As a teenager trying to figure out life, that space was essential. But as a young woman in the digital age, I find the need for silent reflection even more essential. It was easy to meditate in high school when the time was carved out for me—it’s harder to accomplish now as an adult with a hectic schedule. But according to experts, meditation one of the best ways to focus and be present rather than in “react” mode.

Ready to start meditating? Here are a few tips for incorporating it into your life:

Start small

Sit for just five minutes a few days a week, and gradually build upwards.

Check in with yourself

How do you feel—tired, anxious, energized? Focus on your state of being and you’ll learn more about yourself.

Don’t worry about doing it right

For some people, meditation is about clearing the mind or avoiding all thought. While that can happen during meditation, that’s not the point. It’s normal to have thoughts, and meditation can help you better focus the direction of your attention.

Create a space

When you’re meditating for short periods of time, your location might not matter as much, but as you increase your time spent meditating, you should be comfortable.

What does your soothing environment look like? Do you need a pillow? Do you prefer sitting in the sunlight or an evening session with candles? Design a calming space that helps you clear your mind.

Make it part of your daily routine

Set a reminder to meditate each morning to help get your day off to the right start. Switch off your phone and find a quiet space. Can’t take the time before the morning commute? Try carving out a little bit of your lunch break or use meditation as a strategy to unwind before bed.

Join a community

There are Meditation Meetups in thousands of cities worldwide. If you can’t find a group that suits you, create one with family, friends or colleagues. Depending on where you are, you can look into your company benefits—many employers now provide meditation training to promote wellness and productivity.

Try an app

Some crowd favorites include Headspace, Buddhify, and Mind.

Every morning, I take half an hour to meditate. The silence helps me cope with the deluge of information I receive everyday in my full-time job as a Communications Manager at a multi-stakeholder industry association and my night-owl assignments as a freelance writer and editor.

In the words of Buddha, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”

You’re now a Motherland Mogul, have you thought about safety?

A light bulb just came on and you’re already smiling at the money you’d be making from the business idea…

You just slammed a pitch and you’re already practicing the speech you’ll be giving other young people on how you made it…

You’ve launched your website and have snagged a client or two, business is looking promising…

Your business is expanding, income is rolling in, your reputation is soaring, you’re making impact…

You are now a known brand…

Pause. Hold up. Wait a minute.

Have you given any thought to safety on the job?

Chances are you haven’t thought about the safety of both yourself and your employees. Yet, whatever stage you are on your entrepreneurship journey, it is important to consider the health and safety of everyone involved in your operation and invest in it. A safety management system (SMS) is a proactive and systematic process of safety. It involves developing a safety culture that ensures your organisation/business remains safe from loss of any kind. There are numerous benefits to incorporating a SMS in your startup.

It reduces business costs and increases efficiency. With a SMS in place, you won’t have to worry about spending limited resources addressing the fallout of accidents and other incidents such injury, loss of goods, damage to business property, even death.

Financing

Banks and investors are more likely to invest in a business that is set up on a right foundation. No one wants to lose hard-earned money to accidents that could have been averted.

Employee morale

In business, word of mouth travels faster than any advertising. Employees do not want to leave a job worse than when they got into it, broken bones, injuries or ill-health.

 

A safety system boosts their morale and lets them know that their employer is interested in their overall well-being. This morale of staff is inadvertently manifest in improved client relations and that is a plus to a business.

Business confidence

Big companies in construction, aviation and oil and gas seek credible businesses with a safety culture to work with. This singular investment in a safety culture could set you apart from other business owners

Legal compliance

And of course, using SMS means you would be complying with relevant laws in your country of operation.

They say, train a woman and you train a nation. Here is to building safer businesses and workplaces as we become Motherland moguls.

Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu: Achieving health and wellness in your 20s & 30s

H.E Dr Bagudu (First Lady Kebbi State and Founder Medicaid Raidology) teaching a session on Health & Wellness in your 20s and 30s

It wasn’t all business and career talks at She Hive Abuja 2016. Motherland Moguls were treated to a presentation by Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu on achieving health and wellness in their twenties and thirties. She is a paediatric consultant, Founder of Medicaid Cancer Foundation and CEO of Medicaid Radio Diagnostics. Dr. Bagudu is also the First Lady of Kebbi State and a mother of two beautiful girls.

She shared some insights particularly on her work with cancer. We created a list of some of our highlights from the discussion:

• “It is essential to look after yourself. In my career, I have found it is easier to spot those who have versus those who haven’t.”

• “Breastfeeding is one of the biggest protective factors against breast cancer. It is also best to space out your children.”

Whilst, she acknowledged that sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t work out for mother and baby, it is best to try as much as possible due to its several advantages.

• “We’re gradually losing our natural immunity due to poor diet compared with past generations.”

She blamed our reliance on red meat and processed foods as well as a higher intake of antibiotics as principal causes of more health issues today than our grandparents experienced.

• “It is the seeds that you sow early on that will carry you to term.”

• “Self-examination of the breasts should be carried out regularly to detect anything usual.”

In addition, she expressed that ultrasounds can help pick up abnormal cells but mammograms may be a more ideal test as a woman progresses into her mid thirties and forties.

• “Early period onset and late menopause may often be indicators of abnormality and such women may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.”

• “Every sexually active woman should routinely get a pap smear done because there is a higher risk of contacting HPV which causes cervical cancer.”

As an advocate against cancer, Dr. Bagudu encourages young women to invest in the HPV vaccine. Although she and other health advocates are working with the government to make the vaccine more cost-effective, she described it as a worthwhile investment.

• “Early marriage is a hindrance not only to education but also a big contributor to certain health issues.”

Participants went home with new knowledge and the discounted screenings offered to the She Hivers at her diagnostics services didn’t hurt one bit either. Who are we kidding? The ladies were all for it!

Dr. Bagudu concluded the segment by making reference to game-changers such as Bill Gates and Olusegun Obasanjo, and charging young women to be outliers. She encouraged them to differ from the norm by having a dogged approach to life and work. Black Bill Gates, anyone?

Catch her TEDx talk titled ‘Outlier, paradigm shift and cancer‘.

Remi Owadokun: I started with N10 and now have customers in 7 countries

Remi Owadokun

Remi Owadokun used a major life change to kickstart her online business as a weight loss coach and nutritionist. She also used that motivation to start an online video series that spreads health consciousness in a fun and interactive way.

Remi shares with us her thoughts on what’s keeping young women healthy, how she started her business with only N10 in her wallet and how she’s planning to take her business global. 


Why did you start the Total Makeover Program?

I started the Total Makeover Program when I made the decision to change my life and lost 40kg. During this process my life was transformed emotionally, financially, spiritually and mentally and I wanted other women to experience this power as well.

The first thing that came to mind was simply to blog about my experience because many people who knew me wanted to know how I did it. How many people do I want to tell? So one weekend I sat down and started compiling my experiences.

Once my blog was up I started sharing it via email to friends and family. When I went out and people asked me about my health transformation I always referred them to my blog. It was meant to start and end there but I started getting a lot of feedback from people who wanted me to keep writing.

There were people who had started their weight loss journeys simply by reading my story and I started getting emails from people who wanted me to coach them. I initially said no because I was not comfortable with people coming to me or me going anywhere.

But one day, a lady emailed me and said; “Please coach me, we never have to meet, just email me meal plans and exercise plans.” That was when it occurred to me that I could turn this into an online business. I imagined that if one person was interested, I could get more people interested too.

Why do you think most young professional women struggle with living a healthy lifestyle?

Many young women are misinformed about what good health means and how they can maintain a healthy lifestyle in today’s environment. Most people assume that someone who is healthy is slim. This is not always the case, there are several “fit looking” people who are unhealthy.

They eat junk, don’t sleep well and are constantly stressed. Most people assume that by just eating right and exercising, you will automatically be healthy. There are many factors that contribute to being healthy and whole.

You can eat all the greens in the world and exercise 2 hours a day, if you are a bitter, angry person, you are upsetting your biological make up. You can actually find rare cases where an individual eats all sorts of crap but because she is happy and fun loving may end up being in a healthier state than most.

Being healthy and living a healthy lifestyle requires a more holistic approach that most ignore. The tendency is to focus on just one area of life and ignore the rest.

What makes Total Makeover Program different from other health startups?

Most health start ups focus solely on exercise and diet. At TMP we focus on two things: primary and secondary foods. Primary foods are things that feed us but don’t come on a plate like love, relationships, career, spirituality, education, etc.

Secondary foods are the items we actually eat on our plates every day.  We know that there is no point trying to control your diet if you don’t focus on the things that trigger you to eat. If we can fix the triggers then we worry less about your understanding of food.

Most people are emotional eaters but most start ups never focus on the emotions. People eat when they are happy, sad, angry, stressed, etc. For some people a fight with the significant other that displaces them and sends them into over eating. For others it is boredom, being stuck in traffic, or a fight with their boss.

I don’t see the point in telling people if they are ill equipped to deal with their emotions when stressful situations arise. I want to avoid the situation where someone I’m working with faces the same triggers and they revert back to their old habits and get so disappointed that they don’t want to try again.

Life can be unpredictable and it is unhealthy and unwise to build our lives based on the happenings around us that are outside our control. At TMP we empower you to take full control of the only thing you truly have control over, YOU.

For your business to get to the next level, would you prefer funding or a mentor? Which one would you choose and why?

I started this business with N10 in my wallet and built it to where it is without needing to look for funding. I would pick mentoring any day as I have always had mentors and I understand the role they play in my life and how they have created opportunities for me.

Proper mentoring provides value that will eventually translate to money. As a thought leader and as a mentor, I find that people who have worked with me are more impacted by the time spent together than anything else. Money will finish, then what next?

What can we expect to see from Total Makeover Program over the next 6 months?

I have coached a little over 80 men and women 1-on-1 in 7 countries in the last 20 months. There is a limit to the amount of people I can coach 1-on-1 , so I am currently creating an online course where people all over the world can download, partake and achieve results without having me there full time.

I recently became an international best selling author for my book “How I lost 40kg” when I hit the number 2 spot only 8 hours after it’s release on Amazon. My next book is due in December and I hope to hit number 1.

I am also starting the 2nd season of the Phat Gal Series. The Phat Gal Series is an online based animation series aimed at spreading health consciousness. It is based on my stories as a fat girl and the lies I chose to believe.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned on your journey towards health and wellness?

Along this journey towards my personal health and wellness as well as building my business, I’ve been reminded that every single person is different and there is no one size fits all approach. What works for one person may not work for the other. We are all in different stages of our lives and all in different environments.

I’ve also witnessed the ripple effect that changing one person’s life can have beyond just themselves. When you work with one person, you are impacting the entire family and possibly a generation.

Women on my programs have also been able to influence their families towards healthier lives. This for me has been an important lesson and has also reminded me of the weight of responsibility I have towards my clients.

Finally, I am constantly reminded of the old adage, you are what you eat. What you eat, whether primary or secondary plays an important role in how you ultimately turn out.

Everything matters, your friends, the type of music, the words you hear and say, what you watch and of course what and how you eat.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

6 ways to stay fit on the entrepreneurial hustle

Serena Williams Stay fit

The initial stages of starting up are always the hardest. You’re working tirelessly to lay business foundations, you’re probably not getting much sleep and you might be working another job.

SLA founders managed 3-4 hours of sleep a night when starting the company as, they were both working full-time jobs at McKinsey. Becoming a Motherland Mogul means working hard, extremely hard, round the clock, so how does one stay fit when you have #nodaysoff?

1. Make it a priority

This is just one of those harsh realities. If working out isn’t on your daily to-do list, you will always find some excuse not to.

 There’s no such thing as not having time to exercise. You have to make time. Just thinking about it also won’t get you anywhere. That burns about 0 calories.

2. Make it short

You don’t have to run 10 miles every day. Chances are you don’t have the time. Unless you’re training for a marathon, you don’t actually need to. A thirty minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session four times a week should be sufficient.

HIIT increases your metabolism and burns more calories than steady cardio and you don’t even need a gym to do this. Anything plyometric will get you well on your way.

3. Wakeup. Workout

The early bird catches the worm. Beginning your day with a workout kick starts your metabolism and helps you burn more calories during the day than you normally would. You’ll be more alert and happier (rise and shine by releasing some endorphins), which is sure to help with building your empire.

Morning exercise also frees up your day to focus on other things and you’re less likely to skip it if it’s the reason you  get up.

4. Keep it fresh. Keep it clean

The chances of any packaged food being healthier than a home cooked meal are slim to none. When you eat out or buy a packaged meal from the grocery store, you have no control over the quantity of butter, cream, or oil in it. Cooking your own meals affords you quality and quantity control.

If pressed for time, cook enough food over weekend to take you through the week.

  • Remember: Eat small meals through our the day to maintain your blood sugar levels.
  • Salads and fruit are healthy.
  • And your body will thank you if you eat lean protein.

5. Hydrate

H2O is your best friend, especially after working out. Water helps vitalize your muscles so you don’t end up feeling weak after exercise. Also, drinking water before and after you eat makes you feel full.

woman drinking water

Substituting good old water for juice or soda is an easy way to cut back on those unnecessary calories. Water is  also good for the skin. You’ll be a fine girl – no pimples.

6. R&R is a must

Give yourself breaks for muscle recovery. Overexercising doesn’t give your body time to repair, and you’ll end up fatigued, too restless, or sore to be productive.

Rest days reduce risks of injury and help you sleep better.

What tips are you using to stay fit in your journey? Share them with us.

Mildred Apenyo: Creating a safe space for women’s health

mildred apenyo she leads africa

Mildred Apenyo set out to create a warm, supportive and safe space for women when she started FitcliqueAfrica. The women-only gym, the first of its kind in Uganda, offers a wide variety of classes including; aerobics, African yoga, dance, kickboxing, strength training and personal safety. The Kampala-based startup is focused on the overall wellness and safety of women rather than attainment of the elusive “ideal body.” By so doing, it aims to provide women with the tools that they need to empower themselves both physically and psychologically.

Mildred wants women to be able to workout without harassment, discrimination or any restriction. Through FitcliqueAfrica, she hopes that women will be inspired to own their bodies and their spaces. I caught up with the fitness entrepreneur, who is also a writer and human rights activist, to talk about her experience and her unique venture.


Tipping point

Mildred didn’t start out in the fitness industry. After graduating from university with a degree in Mass Communication in 2012, she worked in advertising. Her office was located in Kamwokya, a neighborhood she calls the hub of street molestation. Having to navigate this environment daily caused her to experience anxiety. Running became her coping mechanism. “It helped me learn how to inhabit space,” said Mildred. “It made me feel like I owned the streets. It made me feel like I owned my body.” Mildred broke her leg and had to stop running, then decided to join a gym so that she could workout.

Her gym experience was awful. The trainers did not pay attention to female clients unless they were in the aerobics classes. Mildred, who was interested in weightlifting, was dismissed by some of the instructors. The people who paid attention to her instead were lechery men. While working out one day, a man threw a dumbbell at her because she refused to give up the exercise equipment she was using. “I vowed never enter a mixed gym again,” she said. It was then that she decided she wanted to create a warm and supportive space for women.

Two months after the idea solidified in her mind, the first draft of Uganda’s Anti-Pornography Bill was released. The media and the minister of ethics and integrity turned the narrative it into an anti-miniskirt campaign. As a result of this, there were many women who were undressed and violated on the streets. This enraged Mildred. “The only thing that presented itself to me was that nobody cared about the safety of women,” she said. “Not even the men who society says are the protectors.” This further fueled her desire to pursue her idea. She realized that she had to find a way to ensure that women become stronger and have more agency. “While rage will be the spark for an idea, the building of the idea depends largely on how you can begin to channel this energy to something practical, something that people will come to,” said Mildred. “That is how the space and the gym happened.”

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Building blocks

Mildred’s plan was to start with a Facebook page where she would discuss body ownership and self-love. She wanted people to able to talk about bodies and women enjoying activities that are typically reserved for men in regular gyms. “I wanted it to be that kind of space online and offline,” said Mildred.

She first had to come up with a name for this space. The naming process varies from one startup to the next. It takes anywhere from several hours to months. The key is to pick a strong name that adequately represents the ethos of your brand. As a copywriter, Mildred could have come up with a name utilizing the same process she used for her clients. However, she wanted it to be a community space, and as such sourced for name ideas from her friends on Facebook. Solomon King, one of her friends, suggested the name Fitclique256. “It got the most likes,” Mildred said. “I decided to call the space that.” In March 2014, the fitness movement officially began.

Mildred decided to quit her job so as to fully focus on and dedicate herself to Fitclique. “I said to myself, ‘How can you be seated here writing copy about products that you don’t care about when women are out there being undressed on the streets?’” she said. “FitcliqueAfrica hit me in the soul and demanded to be started.” With two salaries saved from her job, she embarked on taking the open and safe online space offline in the form of a gym.

The first order of business was securing gym equipment. Mildred, aware of her financial limitations, had to get innovative so as to do this. Having done her research, she knew that there were people who had bought exercise and fitness equipment in the hopes of working out but ended up not using them. She started a campaign where she traded training for equipment. People would be able to get a personal trainer to work with them for a certain duration at a reduced cost if they gave Fitclique their equipment. The concept excited people and they responded positively. There are also those who simply ended up donating their unused equipment. Mildred was able to significantly drive down costs using this strategy. The gym has grown since then and is now able to buy its own equipment with the money it makes.

Then Mildred had to find a physical space for the gym. She approached a gym  she had worked on a marketing campaign for while at her advertising job. They agreed to let her hold one class for an hour in their space. “It was a yoga class that was massively successful,” said Mildred. After a while, the owner pulled out of the agreement because the classes only had women. “He asked, ‘Why yoga? Why only women? Are you witches? and added ‘I don’t want this to happen anymore,’” she said. Mildred had to go back to the drawing board, a practice that is not uncommon in the entrepreneurial journey.

Less stress, more VIM: 5 daily activities for a healthier life

Studies show that African women are the most enterprising and hardworking people on the planet. While we fully embrace this title as Motherland Moguls, we know this work takes its toll. While some pressure can increase productivity, sustained emotional and mental strain causes stress, which distracts us and makes us sick.

It’s time for professional African women to take self-care seriously! These five activities are time tested to keep the blues and pain away.

It’s time for professional African women to take self-care seriously.

1. SweatAunt Vivian - Fresh Prince of Bel Air

There’s more to working out than getting a ‘bikini bod’. Exercise has been proven to stimulate the release of endorphins —that good stuff that makes you happy. Some people find long-distance running cathartic while others feel empowered with strength training.

From kickboxing, to dancing, to tennis, physical activity is a great way to release tension and increase self-confidence. No wonder Queen B. is always happy!

2. Set GoalsKermit typewriter

Goal setting  is a proven way to reduce stress. Spend ten minutes reflecting and writing your goals each day. When you know where you are going, you are less likely to stress the small.

Think about your goals – short and long-term. Evaluate your actions towards your goals and celebrate small and big wins often!

3. Control your thoughts and perspectiveShakira Meditation

Meditation is a great way to train the brain. Many people falsely believe that meditation means sitting still. Any activity that allows you slow down and take stock of  life, events, and people is meditative.

Try this five minute meditation technique called The Heart of the Rose; it will also increase your concentration.

4. SmileVeronica Bozeman

You know those annoyingly positive people who say “Turn that frown upside down” when you are upset? Well, sorry to break it you, but it turns out they are actually on to something.

According to studies, smiling reduces stress levels. When we get stressed our hearts beat faster; simply can reduce heart rate and calm us down.

5. Be your own cheerleaderGabrille Union - Bring It On

The journey to lead the pack is tough. At times, there will be no one to cheer you on. But do not lose hope or give up.   Knowing the power of a hopeful spirit, we share a positive mantra with you each morning.

You can also create your own. Remember, to keep your mantra truth; that you are strong, resilient, and powerful.

So Motherland Moguls, which of these activities do you already do and how do they help? Which acts of self-care do you want to implement this new year?