THE FIT AND SASSY DIPLOMAT

My name is Musonda Mumba and I am a Mother of 2 children aged 8 and 6 years.

I am definitely over 40 years! and I will let you guess my age. Let’s just say am closer to 50 than 21! 🙂

By profession, I am an Environmentalist, a trained Wetland Ecologist with a PHD from University College London. And I have been a Diplomat with the UN for the past 12 years.

After the birth of my son in 2014, I put on so much weight and I had friends and family telling me that – that’s what happens when you have kids!

I thought to myself, this cannot be the end in itself! I wasn’t confident with my potbelly and my sudden bigger breasts! I felt totally fat and so unattractive, that my confidence began to plunge.

As a new mum, here I was dealing with a small child and at the back of my mind, I was constantly thinking about what I could do to deal with my weight. One day, I tried on my amazing dresses and I could not fit in them! It was so depressing! I felt rather anxious and even going for events or meeting up with friends became so stressful.

On top of my weight challenge, right after giving birth to my son, I developed blood pressure issues.

All these factors combined, I knew I had to do something.

Refusing to Settle

When my son was around 8 months old, I spoke with a friend who suggested I start walking and take up yoga.  It took me three months to act on those words and get off my backside!

I started with yoga and no matter how tired I was, I did stretches and yoga every single day, even if it was just for 10 minutes.  After consistently doing yoga for a year, I started losing weight and my confidence started to grow back. My blood pressure also normalized and I have been off medication for 4 years now.  

Changing my Diet

The other big shift for me was switching up my diet. I shifted to a plant-based diet and totally cut out beef.

This was not difficult to do because I was raised by a grandmother who was vegetarian for 30 years.

If you are wondering about my diet, it mainly comprises of a combination of pulses and greens. I also incorporate tofu since am lactose intolerant and I don’t eat cheese nor take milk.

I have become such a foodie! and love experimenting with my cooking.

I am trying to explore veganism to the fullest and I even grow most of my vegetables.

I stick to what is in season with a “Farm to Fork” philosophy. 

To start off my day, I take plant and nut-based smoothies for breakfast, where I include fresh herbs from my garden

Changing to a plant-based diet has helped with my sleeping tremendously! For a while, I struggled with insomnia. Now I sleep so much better.

My skin also glows and for sure, nowadays I have so much more energy and zeal for life! 

Embracing Fitness 

I have been working out consistently for the last three years and currently do a combination of running, cycling, yoga, walking and dancing. 

I like to vary the various workouts so that I don’t get bored. I have also plugged in into various platforms to stay motivated like Team Jasho running club and also my #RunnermumsSheVillage.

These two platforms have been my accountability mechanisms which I love!! We regularly share with each other updates of our mileage achieved which keeps us going and encouraged.

It’s a pity that in this new Covid-19 world, we cannot meet in person. However, sharing these mileage clocked after workouts with each other, has been very helpful in staying motivated and committed.    

To track my progress and transformation, I periodically share my before and after pictures with my teammates. This has been very helpful in raising my confidence as they cheer me on every step of the way!

Fitness on the go …

Speaking of pre Covid-19 times, as a career Diplomat, I used to travel a lot! To keep up with my fitness, I devised little ways to stay fit and eat healthy. Let me mention a few, as am sure some of these tips might be helpful to others.

When I travel, I often put on comfortable walking shoes and clothes. Sometimes if I have a long lay-over, I would jog through an airport pretending to be dashing for a plane!

I also create time to squeeze in yoga even during my travels. I never use hotel gyms, but yoga is something I can easily do and I dont need any equipment.

Alternatively, I walk around the city and visit different sites. 

To keep my food habits in check, I often carry my mix of nuts and my nutri-bullet on all my travels. This has helped me when I am particularly in places that serves a lot of meat or dairy products. In such instances my mix of nuts came in handy.

When I travel, I usually stick to cooked vegetarian meals as opposed to raw food to minimize any infections. 

A Message to Busy Mothers

Especially working mothers – we need to plan better. In the kitchen, have meals planned ahead of time and cook foods that freeze well, so that you are not cooking every day. 

Secondly, my word of advice to younger women is always “take care of the body that works for YOU!!” you are never too young or old to do that. 

Sadly, in some African cultures it’s seen as cool to be “round and brown” a.k.a FAT!! That said, I also encourage women to embrace their bodies because the world is full of body shaming. What’s important is to strive to be healthier and make it a lifestyle.  

As a mother of young children, the only thing I told myself was to stay healthy for my kids and also make them part of my healthy lifestyle. They know we don’t eat junk. 

I also purpose to workout with them and we often go for walks at Karura Forest in Nairobi or cycle together – which is fun! Sometimes, working out together could be as simple as joining in and jumping with them in the trampoline! I try to make fitness fun for them as well.

Choose You!

Embracing fitness has transformed me in amazing ways and I know it can do the same for you!   I have more energy, I feel sexy and though am a work in progress, I absolutely love my body!

Seeing how I have transformed has inspired those around me, and I often get compliments coming from friends who are equally encouraged,motivated and inspired to do something about their fitness.  

In my fitness journey, I have come to appreciate that discipline beats motivation any day!
Let’s make time for fitness regardless of our busy schedules. You are ONLY as busy as you make it out to be. Find Time, Make Time!!!

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