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Contents (march)


HealtH and fitness 8

News Why you need to check the size of your crockery 9 Expert advice Ditch the gym for an outdoor work out 10 The Kettlebell workbook Get toned with just half an hour of exercise 12 Zumba mania The dancercise that will keep you jigging and trim 18 Slimpossible Why being the greatest loser rocks 24 Diabetes Sugar, the bitter truth about it

nutrition 29 31 32

News Foods that help you lower your blood sugar Expert advice Your kitchen’s erotic garden revealed Herbs infusion Aromatic plants to kick start your eat-right plan 36 Read meat alert This food is the best source of iron and protein

body and soul 41 News Gossip isn’t all bad 42 Unwind and relax Tap into your inner calm with yoga 50 Money matters Get paid what you deserve


Hair and beauty


55 News Get the latest looks in hair and make-up 58 Beauty What your skin says about your health 60 Hair Singer Wahu Kagwi lets us in on her natural hair secrets

seXual HealtH 65 Expert advice Foreplay games to turn your man on 68 The big O Three steps to get you closer to climax


style and fasHion 74 Shop the look How to wear a boyfriend blazer 76 Fashion Colour block your wardrobe

last Word 80 Thin-spiration Jennifer Hudson on how she shed those pounds


CompreHenSive liSTinGS For beAuTY, FASHion AnD HeAlTH ServiCe proviDerS


Welcome Every woman’s dream is to be happy. And of course, to have a flat stomach… (or maybe I’m just speaking for myself!). Jokes aside, what is your everyday woman most concerned about? Top on her list of concerns is her family, weight, health, looks, dreams and achievements, but most importantly, her inner peace. HealthyWoman understands this. This publication, the first of its kind in Kenya, strives to reach a new generation of women, who are combining a successful career with family life, striving to look and feel great, physically, mentally and spiritually. We want you, our reader, to be comfortable in your own skin. We know that a sensible exercise regimen and a well-balanced diet will make you happier, healthier and stronger. That is why in our premier issue, we bring you the inspiring stories of three women’s battles with weight gain, and how they overcame them. In an exclusive interview, the winners of Citizen TV’s Slimpossible Season 1, share the challenges they faced during the show and their tips on how they’ve managed to stay slim long after the competition. On money matters, we tell you how career women sell themselves short by not negotiating for the salary they deserve. If you are employed, you do not want to miss this great read. To keep you in great mental and physical health, our fitness experts have just the work-out plans for you: from Zumba moves to yoga poses and outdoor exercise, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Moving to the bedroom, our sexologist Maurice Matheka is urging you to uncover your playful side, with games and a treasure hunt that will leave your man oh-so-turned on! But that is not all we have for you, come inside and explore the HealthyWoman world with us. We would love to hear from you, so don’t forget to drop us an email. Wairimu

Editorial Editor Wairimu Githuka Contributing Editor Phyllis Nyambura Feature Writer Brenda Wangwe intern Christine Odeph Photography Fulani Media image manipulation Kelvin Otieno advErtising Head of media sales Rose Osok media sales Executive Kanja Kamonye media sales international Nancy Gatimu Business development international Edgar Theodore Pr and markEting Pr manager Winnie Gor Pr & marketing Executive Grace Muthoni atlas grouP CEo Amit Radia Publisher Amarjeet Radia Creative director Tahir Iqbal Editorial Consultant Sonali Raha Chief operations manager (COO) Jonathan Dixon Financial accountant Nataraju Narisetty Hr manager Marichu Mosquera mEdia salEs and loCal agEnt atlas international limited Mayfair Suites Parklands Road 4th Floor, Suite No 6 Nairobi , Kenya For general editorial enquiries: t: +254 (0) 707 521 103/40 E: For general sales enquiries: t: +254 (0) 707 521104 E: The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or omission contained in the publication. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on any information contained in this publication, which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for readers’ particular circumstances. The ownerships of trademarks is acknowledged. No part of this publication or its contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the publishers permission in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review. Published by ATLAS Media Communications FZLLC, Dubai.

mEEt tHE HealtHyWoman tEam 4 HEALTHY WOMAN

Printed by Atlas Printing Press L.L.C, Dubai

(health & fitness) Get the body you’ve always wanted

Stretch it out Stretching not only helps prevent muscle soreness, it has added health benefits too

Good posture Means better blood flow and natural confidence. Stretching increases blood flow and circulation, sending more oxygen to the brain.

Good for the Glutes if you are a repetitive sitter at work, the glute muscles may start to degenerate. Stretching wakes up those tired muscles. spine strenGth Simple rotational stretches are good for the thoracic spine, located smack in the middle of your back. it’s vital to keep it moving – when the thoracic spine gets tight it creates numerous problems for people who exercise.



(zumba) health & fitness

words Tricia Wanjala photography Kevin Sabuni

s ' t Le ba

m u Z

Oring b h t i w Out with n i , s t u wOrkO e party c the dan


health & fitness (zumba)


airobi is fast catching up with Zumba, a hot form of ‘dancercise’ that is sweeping the planet. With nearly 12 million fans taking classes at 110,000 gyms and studios in 125 countries, the sexy, energetic dance premiered in Nairobi in 2009, thanks to the certified Kenyan Zumba instructor, Liz Baregu. Three years later, the local Zumba network has grown to include eight certified instructors offering over 60 classes a week in various parts of the city.

party” and Beto, the founder, says that 90 per cent of his students actually hate to exercise. Sonia Ingaso, 21, a Zumba addict, explains: “I love that you don't have to get the steps perfectly, or follow a mindless sequence of steps like some regimented aerobics class.” Michelle Akinyi, 42, another Zumba enthusiast, says: “Because it is a collaboration of international rhythms, it unites people from all walks of life. Do people ever tire of good music and dancing? Never!”


Take a class

Zumba, originating from the US, describes a series of trademarked dance workouts created by Colombian Alberto ‘Beto’ Perlman in the late 1990s. Beto worked as an aerobics instructor in his home country. One day at the start of a class, he realised he had forgotten his music tape. He grabbed a random Latin music cassette he’d been listening to on the way to work and improvised a dance routine for each song. The class absolutely loved it. He named this ‘Rumbacize’. After he moved to Florida in 1999, one of his clients told her son, also named Alberto (Perez), about these classes and the two met. They called in a friend of Perez, also named Alberto (Aghion), and the three Albertos went on to create a fully branded worldwide enterprise. In 2002, Zumba was born. Today, Zumba’s celebrity fans include Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and American singer Jordin Sparks. Its popularity lies in the catchy beats from its global music and dance mix. The tagline is “Ditch the workout – join the 14 HEALTHY WOMAN

A typical Zumba class takes an hour, with charges ranging between Sh500 and Sh1,000 per session. All instructors are required to obtain certification from Zumba Fitness LLC in the US by attending an overseas instructor workshop. Josephine Simonet, who takes classes in Nairobi’s Parklands explains: “To be an instructor, you have to attend all-day workshop training. You learn how to choreograph a song by analysing its parts. You're also lectured on the psychology of Zumba and how it was created, as well as safety and overall fitness techniques. Then you dance your heart out.” Zumba sessions target all the major muscles and body areas for a total workout. For more specialised results, Zumba Toning uses sticks for muscle definition. Zumba is also categorised into: Zumba Gold, for seniors and beginners with health challenges; Zumba Atomic for children and teenagers; Aquazumba; and Zumba cardio, or basic Zumba.

With 16 Natural Ingredients for the tastiest stew


(zumba) health & fitness

Zumba helps release stress, gives yOu a tOtal bOdy wOrkOut, it’s fun and expands yOur sOcial circle

Get virtual For video-game fans who don’t want to attend a class, Zumba has designed three different fitness games for X-Box, Nintendo and PlayStation consoles. These live video games with over 30 different routines record your score and trace your movements, enabling you to get a full-fledged workout. Or you could get yourself the Zumba Exhilarate DVD experience set from, ebay, Amazon or

Plenty to choose from The list of dances employed in Zumba routines reads like a world dance show. Included are salsa, merengue, cumbia, reggaeton, mambo, axe and hip-hop. International sounds abound, such as bhangra, afro-Brazilian, quebradita (Mexican cowboy music), belly-dance, calypso, tango, flamenco and cha-cha. Beto has collaborated with big names such as Pit Bull, Wyclef Jean and other stars to create music especially for Zumba. All instructors wear the signature ’80s-inspired gear, emblazoned with the Zumba label and slogans such as ‘United we dance’. The tank tops, bikers, sneakers, t-shirts and cargo pants are available exclusively from their website or by order through certain instructors. Of course, this is not a uniform, and class participants are encouraged to wear something comfortable.

Calypso salsa Step 1 We start by opening our legs in a comfortable position for a 'Calypso basic'.

Step 2 Step forward with left foot, and return your leg to original position, then step forward with right leg and come back to original position. Repeat this four times. Step 3 Repeat the same step but push your weight forward while making the steps. Step 4 Add some hip movements to routine and repeat for another eight counts. Step 5 Keep doing the basic step, you are doing great! Now add some flavour with some 'jimmys' (rapidly shaking your upper body and shoulders while you slightly open your arms)... do not forget to keep your basic foot steps while you do this one!


Counselling psychologist Naomi Karuga explains: “Zumba sessions stimulate the brain to release the chemical dopamine, which acts as an antidepressant, together with endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that give you a natural high. This buzz prompts you to keep going back.” Zumba is also a great way to lose weight. The world record for Zumba weight loss currently belongs to 38-year-old American teacher Wendy McConkey, who lost 137 kilos over a period of five years. She previously weighed 204 kilos. Here in Kenya, Zumba instructors such as Liz Baregu combine customised eating plans and nutritional guidelines with workout sessions for interested participants. Overall, Zumba helps release stress, gives you a total body workout, keeps you exercising because it’s fun and expands your social circle the moment you join a class. And because everyone above four years old can Zumba, it’s a great way to channel hyper-energy in tweens and teens.

instruCtor Mike Byola, 28 “I have been teaching dance for 10 years and obtained my Zumba certification two years ago. I have seen a number of clients lose weight and gain confidence. You do not have to worry about not being a skilled dancer. The moves are easy to learn, noncompetitive and fun to do. If you can walk, you can dance.” HEALTHY WOMAN 17

(diabetes) health & fitness

words Brenda Wangwe photography Kevin Sabuni

Young and Slim? But you’re still at risk of catching diaBetes


ess than two decades ago, diabetes was rare among the young. It was known as a disease for the elderly and the affluent. But that has since changed. About 3.5 per cent of Kenyans are now living with the condition, with figures projected to rise to 4.5 per cent by 2025, according to a report by the International Diabetes Federation. Obesity rates among those aged below 18 currently stands at nine per cent. This is all thanks to increased body mass, sedentary lifestyles and consumption of fatty and processed foods. And as younger women’s waistlines grow, so does diabetes. Studies show that five out of 10 women are obese, compared to three out of 10 men, a situation linked to a higher risk of diabetes among women. Current World Health Organisation (WHO) reports show that diabetes type 2 is more prevalent (70-90 per cent) with women being more susceptible. This type is more pronounced in urban areas – 14.7 per cent – where people tend to be less physically active and also eat a diet rich in saturated fats and refined sugars.

Experts, however, warn that just because a person has an ideal body weight, this does not rule out their risk of getting diabetes, as Carol Musumba found out. At the age of 36, she considered herself youthful, was slim and had no family history of diabetes, and therefore did not consider herself at risk of getting diabetes. But all that changed when she fell sick and ended up in hospital. “I had a series of headaches, high fever, weakness and dizzy spells. At first I thought it was malaria. But the tests were negative," explains the mother of two, who works as an office administrator. “Then I was told it could be typhoid and put on medication, but I didn't feel better. I was still on bed rest when I fainted on the way to the bedroom.” Carol's husband found her unconscious and rushed her to hospital. “How could this be happening to me? I am size eight, and at my prime,” she remembers questioning herself in shock. “I couldn’t believe it. I asked the doctor to take a second test.” HEALTHY WOMAN 25

The diagnosis was confirmed. Carol was suffering from type 2 diabetes, a lifelong disease in which there are high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. She learned that her unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise had brought on the disease, also known as 'adult onset diabetes'. Today Carol has cut sugar and alcohol from her diet, and regularly exercises to keep her illness in check.

alarming numBers

According to, diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases characterised by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin. From a low of 1.4 per cent of the population up until the '80s, the disease has consistently grown to 7.1 million Africans by the year 2000, with predictions putting the figures at 18.6 million by 2030. According to the WHO, 346 million people worldwide have diabetes. The world’s top health authority says that more than 80 per cent of uncontrolled diabetes deaths occur in low and middle income countries, and projects that diabetes deaths will double between 2005 and 2030. Although there are three categories – diabetes type 1, type 2 and gestational – more people are prone to type 2 because of poor diet and lack of exercise. Vincent Mbugua, a diabetes educator with Kenya’s Diabetes Information and Management Centre, confirms a rise in the disease. He says 20 per cent more people want diabetes education today than they needed 10 years ago. Sara Irungu, 59, has been there herself. Eleven years ago she was diagnosed with diabetes. Once she retired, she chose to work at the centre as administration manager and help to spread the campaign against the dreaded condition. “I was diagnosed at 48,” she remembers. Like Carol, Sara suffered headaches, dizzy spells and frequently passed out. This, she says, led her to be misdiagnosed with epilepsy, as her mother also suffered from the condition. For 10 months, she received the wrong treatment, and her condition deteriorated. She was finally diagnosed with diabetes. “I could not believe it. I was always trim. But looking back, it all makes sense now," she says, blaming her job for the bad diet and sedentary lifestyle. "I hated vegetables, drank too many cups of tea with three spoons of sugar per cup and never exercised. I was in Indonesia for two years and lived on rice and chicken only." Sara says that she initially took her diabetes diagnostic lightly, until a trip to a diabetes clinic gave her a wake-up call. “I was at a diabetic clinic, seated next to someone who had lost an eye to the illness, and another who had lost one leg to diabetic gangrene. I saw my reality. I went on a low calorie diet, ate more fruits and vegetables, started working out every day and had regular checkups,” she says. Today, Sara has one goal: “More people should know that diabetes is not just hereditary. It is caused by our bad lifestyle choices.” And that is what she is doing through her work at the Diabetes Information and Management Centre.

Warning signs

Dr William Sigilai, internal medicine and diabetes specialist at the Kenyatta National Hospital, confirms that diabetes is on the increase. He attributes this to our passive lifestyle that comes with increased use of cars for travel, coupled with the night school boom and more junk food options. 26 HEALTHY WOMAN

“The shrinkage of space in estates and schools, denying children room to play actively, is breeding another generation of diabetes type 2,” he warns. Having worked with diabetics for 14 years, he points out that if you start to experience blurry vision, if your cuts or sores are slow to heal or you have itchy skin, you should get checked for diabetes instantly. Other symptoms include recurrent yeast infections; increased thirst; dry mouth; the need to urinate often and frequent leg pains. Dr Sigilai advises anyone diagnosed with diabetes to start taking care of their diet and exercise immediately. “Poorly managed diabetes exposes you to heart attacks and strokes, high blood pressure and blindness. One could also suffer from kidney disease (a good number of patients on dialysis are diabetic), nervous system disease, gangrene and amputation,” he adds.

What the Doc says Dr William Sigilai, diabetes specialist, answers your questions What are the various types of diabetes? There is diabetes type 1, diabetes type 2 and gestational diabetes (GDM). People with type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin. The disease can affect people of any age, but usually occurs in children or young adults. Patients need injections of insulin every day. Type 2 diabetes, sometimes called non-insulin dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes, is linked to about 90 per cent of all diabetes cases. Unhealthy eating habits and insufficient exercise cause the excess sugar to tamper with the pancreas, resulting in poor blood sugar controls and insulin resistance. Gestational diabetes develops in one in 25 pregnancies worldwide and is associated with complications in the period immediately before and after birth. hoW often should a diabetic pregnant Woman monitor her bg levels? Every woman with diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) who becomes pregnant is required to monitor her BG levels up to eight times a day. It is advisable to do so before each meal, 1 or 2 hours after each meal; at bedtime; and occasionally at 2am-3am. does diabetes affect sexual health? Poorly managed diabetes could lead to lack of interest in sex; pain or discomfort during intercourse and reduced production of vaginal lubrication. do birth control pills affect a Woman With diabetes? Birth control pills may raise your blood glucose (BG) levels. If you develop high blood pressure while on the pill, you increase the chance of an eye or kidney problem worsening. hoW necessary are gynaecological checkups for diabetic Women? These should be done as regularly as your doctor stipulates. Since diabetes is known to attack organs, the reproductive system is not an exception.

(diabetes) health & fitness

“Poorly managed diabetes exposes you to heart attacks and strokes, high blood pressure and blindness”

test your blooD sugar at home At-home blood sugar monitoring devices called glucometers provide you with instant feedback Time required 10 to 15 minutes How To use iT 1 Set out your glucometer, a test strip, a lancet and an alcohol prep pad. 2 Wash your hands. 3 Decide where you are going to obtain the blood from, usually a finger. 4 Sometimes it helps to warm your hands first to make the blood flow easier. 5 Turn on the glucometer and place a test strip in the machine when the machine is ready. Watch the indicator for placing the blood on the strip. 6 Make sure your hand is dry and wipe the area you’ve selected with an alcohol prep pad and wait until the alcohol evaporates. 7 Pierce your finger tip on the soft, fleshy pad and obtain a drop of blood. Place the drop of blood on or at the side of the strip. 8 The glucometer will take a few moments to calculate the blood sugar reading. Follow your doctor’s orders for whatever blood sugar reading you get. 9 You may use the alcohol prep pad to blot the site where you drew the blood if it is still bleeding. 10 Write down your results. Keeping a record makes it easier for you and your doctor to establish a good treatment plan.

Tips n Make sure you keep batteries in stock that fit your glucometer. n Lancets come in different gauges. The higher the number, the finer the lancet. A 21 gauge lancet may not be as comfortable as a 30 gauge lancet. n Keep your glucometer and test strips in a clean, dry place. n Discuss with your doctor how often and at what times of the day you should be testing.

Test kits available are available at local pharmacies and clinics.


(nutrition) Diets and healthy eating that really work

got Milk? Why the white stuff can help your work out



Your body needs both slow and fast digesting protein to stay lean. Casein and whey proteins, found in milk, help with muscle formation.


The fat in milk keeps you full for longer. This decreases hunger and helps you lose fat.


Research indicates that milk is richer than water and sports drinks for better post workout re-hydration.


It has vitamin D, necessary for calcium absorption. Vitamin D and calcium, both found in milk, prevent bone loss, which if left untreated could develop into osteoporosis.


Milk is also rich in protein, essential for brain regeneration, body tissue growth and heart health.


DiD you know?

Ostrich meat is getting increasingly popular. Strangely, it is all red meat! One serving of 4 ounces contains 2.5 grams of fat and a lot more iron than its equivalent of beef


(foods) nutrition


et’s face it, red meat has had a bad rap for years. The debate on whether the succulent chunks are good or bad for you has raged for decades, with both sides firing compelling arguments. Most of us subscribe to that school of thought which says red meat was bad. Period. So it might come as a surprise that exactly the same foodstuff is now being hailed as a frontrunner in the management of high cholesterol levels. According to a recent study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a lean beef diet may actually produce the same health benefits as those of a diet focused on fruits and vegetables. “A vegetarian having a cheddar cheese salad will eat seven times more fat, pound for pound, than lean red meat contains,” the 77-page review by the British Nutrition Foundation notes in the journal.

meateater words Christine Odeph

A great natural source of iron and protein, who says red meat is always bad for you?


CuTs Of bEEf Do you know which part of a cow you’re eating? Know your brisket from your rump with our simple diagram

And of course, nutritionists have always agreed that red meat provides high levels of protein as well as vital nutrients, including iron. Red meat has specific amino acids that the body cannot naturally generate and is sometimes termed as a “complete” protein source. The term includes beef as well as other meats such as mutton and lamb. Dr Claire G Kinuthia, a resident obs/gyn at Kenyatta National Hospital, says red meat is indeed a wonderful source of protein, particularly for the younger population, since it is an active component needed for growth and development of the body. Protein is needed for the building and repair of body tissues, and this food group also regulates important body processes such as water balancing, transportation of nutrients and muscle contraction. But, Dr Claire points out, red meat’s benefits are outweighed because too much of it slows down the metabolic rate and so the body has an increased tendency to store fat. Therefore, moderation is the key. The British Nutrition Foundation says that you will be at risk of disease ONLY if you are eating more than 38 HEALTHY WOMAN

140g of red meat a day. According to the British Dietetic Association, up to 90g of lean red meat each day is perfectly acceptable. The Food Standards Agency, UK, points out that different cuts have different nutritional values. The main culprit is the saturated fat in red meat, which is known to increase our cholesterol levels. Cuts trimmed of fat are naturally healthier. We also have to be wary of processed meats as they have harmful additives. Nutritionist Gurkirat Channa says that it all depends on how the meat is cooked. To reap maximum benefit, avoid overcooking the meat during stewing or constantly using the fatty cuts over an open fire. So, if you are a Nyama Choma lover, there is a need to scale down your red meat intake! But, if you get yourself the right cut of meat in the right portions, there is no reason why red meat cannot form a part of your diet. Try flank steak as well as marbled cuts (the chunk run through with white lines). These cuts are best cooked over low heat and turned into stews.

illustration yogita mhatre

“Cuts trimmed of fat are naturally healthier, but be wary of processed meats as they have harmful additives”

(foods) nutrition

HealtHy SteaK


• 2 x 100g fillet beef Sirloin • olive oil • pepper • balsamic vinegar/ dark soy sauce • Salt and pepper to taste ServeS 2

Method CHOOsE YOur bEEf each cut of meat displays different flavour and nutritional characteristics. Cuts of meat such as the sirloin and tenderloin are lean, yet have enough veins of fat to give the steak both flavour and a tender texture. MAriNAdE It is important to remember not to marinade your beef with salt; otherwise it will dry out and lose flavour. lightly brush your meat with olive oil and pepper to enhance the flavour of your beef and avoid it sticking to the grill.

GriLL Remember to use a non-stick grill to avoid having to use additional oil. While grilling, brush with balsamic vinegar or dark soy sauce for both colour and additional flavour. Grill to desired rareness. Remember that well done steaks have less fat content. sErvE lightly season your steak before plating and serve with a leafy green salad and roasted baby potatoes (with skins). Using rucola (rocket) as an accompaniment is both healthy and enhances the peppery flavour in steak.

log onto for a pick of Nairobi’s finest steak restaurants

Lean protein anD weight ControL

It’s comforting to know that lean meat actually plays a key part in weight control. The proteins give us a sense of fullness, for one. If you are very active, you will need to have a protein-rich diet to stay healthy. Plus, of course, proteins also help protect muscles.

Beef aLternatives

It’s good to vary your diet by introducing new foods with different tastes, but equally necessary, nutrients. If you’re getting tired of red meat, try these alternatives. There is an easy way to calculate how much you need. As Madelyn Fernstrom from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center points out, at least 10 to 15 per cent of the calories you consume should come from proteins. Work it out as at least one gram of protein per one kilogram of your body weight. But remember not to overdo it! Give these alternatives a go and spice up your dinners:

veaL This is the meat taken from younger cattle. pork But only opt for the tenderloin cut. Unlike other pork, this is as lean as poultry and incredibly has almost no fat or cholesterol.

soy meat Soy is a culinary phenomenon! It allows itself to be

flavoured and formed to look and taste just like beef. It is a great alternative because it is a low fat vegetable protein that has absolutely no artery-clogging saturated fat. spinaCh This simple garden vegetable is a delightful source of so many valuable nutrients, particularly iron. Red meat has a higher amount of iron but spinach can be a good substitute. Include it in as many dishes as you can or simply serve it sautéed with a dash of garlic or steamed, as a side vegetable dish. nuts They are a great source of protein and can be the means of giving us our daily protein content. But be careful with nuts as well, as cashews etc also contain high levels of saturated fats. tofu Another great non-meat source of protein, tofu, or bean curd, can be cooked in many styles because of its wide versatility. HEALTHY WOMAN 39

(body & soul) Taking care of your wellbeing from within

Get yourself a soothinG massaGe for instant stress relief. here are five ways it works for you: n Thegentle,yetfirm,kneadingon pressurepointsincreasesblood flowandoxygentothetissues andreducesbloodpressure. n Itstimulatestheenergy pathways(meridians)inyour body.Thishelpsmaintain balanceandprevent/correct healthproblems. n Massageincreasesflexibility andsopreventsmuscletension. n Itreleasesendorphinsfor naturalpainrelief.Manystress headachesgoaway. n Massageboostsyourimmune systemandlessensanxiety, evendepression.

Stress buster Take control of your inner peace


body & soul (yoga)


Unwind & Relax It’s not a New Age fad, but a way of staying healthy. All you’ve ever wanted to know about the holistic practice of yoga is here


arah Wambi sits with her back straight and neck arched. The busy customer service executive taught herself yoga through DVDs a couple of years ago and stays in practice through regular sessions at home. She says she has seen many changes in her body. “I became very conscious about breathing; it became slower and deeper. My body toned up and I certainly became more flexible. As a person, I have really calmed down,” she explains. In 2009, Sarah fell into a depression. “I think yoga played a pivotal role in getting me back to a place of calm,” she says. “Last year, I had a kidney problem and yoga helped again.” Sarah is among the many Kenyan women who are realising the benefits of yoga, a practice whose power has been felt around the world. Yoga is a holistic system of exercise that works on the union of mind, body and spirit. An ancient Indian science, it spread to the West in the 20th century (Lady Gaga and Jen Aniston are big fans) and is now gaining recognition in Africa as well.

The benefits of yoga

For women, the regular practise of yoga is known to minimise the effects of PMS, particularly the mood swings and that bloated feeling. Yoga also helps pregnant women stay healthy. As the exercises increase flexibility, they can actually help in the process of labour. Because yoga uses physical postures, meditation and breathing exercises, it has a tremendous benefit on your physical organs as well as spiritual wellbeing. It is an alternative medicine and also a lifestyle. Do not separate lifestyle and medicine, because without proper lifestyle techniques, yoga may be useless. “The health benefits you get from yoga are threefold,” says Dr Ameet Aggarwal MD, a naturopathic doctor and advanced Bowen therapist who practises Gestalt therapy in Nairobi and Nanyuki. The doctor says that by practising the correct postures specific to your health issues, you will be able to get rid of symptoms, especially if you combine


body & soul (yoga)

“You don’t have to be a certain size, or know how to twist your legs to your torso. Yoga is about knowing how to hold it together” yoga with the right natural therapies. As you begin to get healthier, you will have more energy to do better things for yourself. Finally, you’ll keep illnesses away because you have made yourself healthier. Yoga can help you lose weight since it improves your body`s metabolism, detoxifies your organs and improves oxygenation of your tissues. Overall, yoga improves blood circulation, breathing and muscle endurance, apart from focusing the mind and reducing stress. Yoga poses, known as ‘asanas’, help relieve lactic acid build up in the body. Studies indicate that just a few sessions show surprising results. Continued practise can even slow down the process of ageing, allowing skin to stay firmer and the figure to stay in shape.

You and stress

Numerous studies show that between 75 and 95 per cent of all visits to primary care physicians are due to stress. While excess stress can take a toll on you, the very things that cause it are often the same things that make life rewarding and full. We want a loving family, a rewarding career, great friends – yet these are also the stress builders. The good news: you CAN reduce your own stress. Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on. That’s where yoga comes in. Imagine feeling capable of handling whatever life throws at you, without having to panic, overreact or plan your exit strategy! According to yoga instructor Mandy Parkin, yoga does not have to be viewed as a complicated exercise routine that only certain people can do. “You don’t have to be a certain size, or get prior coaching, or know how to twist your legs to your torso. Yoga is about knowing how to hold it together,” says the Nairobi-based instructor, who has been teaching the ancient technique for decades. Holding it together is the key here. You first need to understand how your stress affects your body. Let’s say you’re stuck in a traffic snarl for hours. A major client, who you were supposed to meet, is tired of waiting for you… and the road builders are hammering a few feet away. You are about to enter the stress zone. 46 HEALTHY WOMAN

This is how your mind reacts: it reads the situation as a threat and triggers an immediate response in the autonomic nervous system. Your body mobilises all internal defences and launches immediate countercalm hormones (cortisol and norepinephrine) which heighten the senses, increase heart rate and blood pressure, and focus the brain’s activity. You are now primed to respond with energy and focus; but also with anger, anxiety and aggression. This is an important survival mechanism that has helped humans flee from life-threatening dangers. But the trouble is that some stress hormones don’t know when to quit pulling. They remain active in the brain for too long – injuring and even killing cells in your memory. When chronic stress takes toll, other hormones shut down functions unnecessary during the emergency. Growth, reproduction and the immune system all go on hold. Blood flow to the skin is reduced. That’s why extreme stress leads to sexual dysfunction, increases your chances of getting sick, and often manifests as skin ailments. So, it is critical for you to see each stressor as a challenge you can handle. And yoga helps to give you that equilibrium.

How yoga fights stress

A growing body of research on heart-rate variability and yoga shows that the practice can help everyone in their quest for healthier stress responses. Researchers in 1997 found that six weeks of practising Hatha Yoga increased the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (the calming side) without decreasing the influence of the sympathetic (the arousing side). Yoga is excellent for mental health because it improves circulation to the brain and also heals organs which affect neurotransmitter levels in your brain. According to Dr Ameet, “Meditation and breathing exercises help calm your mind, reduce stress and elevate your mood.” Another study suggested that even a single session of yoga can encourage the nervous system to find flexibility and balance. The German research hooked 11 healthy yoga practitioners to instruments that recorded their heart-rate variability over 24 hours. All the participants weren’t just more relaxed; they were in a state of autonomic balance and flexibility driven by the parasympathetic – which is exactly the type of balance and flexibility that predicts greater resilience to stress. Yoga will prepare you to meet life’s challenges, not just recover from them.

exhale first from the chest as it empties and falls and then continUe exhaling from the abdomen as it draws inwards completely

RemembeR! 1 Yogatakestimetolearn andshowresults.Commit atleastanhouradaytoit. 2Findaqualifiedteacher. 3Keepitmixedupwith regularexercise. 4Listentoyourteacher– donotoverstretch.

Tap into your inner calm

Kerstin Khattab, MD, an Iyengar Yoga teacher and one of the researchers in the 1997 findings, believes that the key is yoga’s dual demands on body and mind. “Some poses such as Dhanurasana [Bow Pose] or Sirsasana [Headstand], are likely to cause a strong sympathetic nervous system reaction. But as you learn to hold these poses with a calm mind, focusing on the breath, the poses become a training in how to remain calm in stressful situations.” Yoga works on five principles: meditation, exercise, relaxation, breathing and diet. For yoga to work, you have to tune in to your body and mind. The physical challenge of a pose becomes the equivalent of a stressor. If you do aerobics, which has no direct breathing or mindfulness component, the physical challenge can trigger a full-fledged stress response in the body. But when physical demands are met with mindfulness and steady breathing, as they are in yoga, the nervous system responds differently: it remains skillfully engaged but without going into fully-fledged ‘fight or flight’ mode. Yoga greats advise that yoga postures should embody steadiness and ease. If you can find both elements in the midst of a stressful arm balance, you’re not just training your mind. You’re enabling your autonomic nervous system to imprint that response and therefore allow you to return to it during everyday stresses. HEALTHY WOMAN 47

body & soul (yoga)

instructor’s tips Mandy Parkin, a Nairobi-based trained yoga teacher, answers some FAQs

What does yoga entail?

Can it help your sex life?

Yoga is a path to achieving sustained happiness and contentment. It actually means ‘union’. Yoga is a holistic practice that involves postures that positively affect the physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological aspects of your being. It has its roots in ancient India and has evolved over time.

Certainly. It has beneficial effects on all body systems so naturally it will improve your sex life greatly. When you feel back into your body you are certainly more open sensually.

hoW did you start? I learnt yoga originally from Fiona Fallon, who teaches Iyengar Yoga. There are different branches in the yogic tree so over the years I sort of meshed together different disciplines and made it my own approach. I began at Karen Club Nairobi but I go where I am needed now. I have been teaching for 19 years. I also went to the White Lotus Foundation in Santa Barbara California and took a course two years ago.

Can i begin at any age? Yes. I started when I was 30 and I am 57 now. You can do it at any level. There is prenatal yoga, yoga for people in wheelchairs, yoga for children.

Why Would someone do yoga? You learn how to breathe properly. This is breathing more from the chest and less from the nose. It also affects all the different systems in the body. You gain strength, stamina and grace from the postures. You also tune back inward into your body and learn to listen to it instead of all the noise in your head.

What is your take on yoga in kenya? There is a burgeoning middle class now that has more time on their hands for thought and reflection. Education and globalisation has also helped bring people into it. People want to focus on their wellbeing more.

Get started

Your first step should be to choose a style that suits you – Hatha (physical yoga) or Vinyasa (breath synchronised yoga) – and then get an expert to help you practise. Depending on the class you are taking, you may have to bring blocks, straps, yoga mats or blankets. Wear gym slacks and cotton vests to be comfortable. It helps to check out instruction books (this article is a good start) and videos so that you don’t feel too unfamiliar with the class. Talking to the instructor, before the class, can also fill you in. But just showing up to a yoga class is not enough. If your stress style tends toward fight-or-flight, and you huff and puff your way through Power Yoga classes and leave before Savasana (Corpse Pose), you probably won’t transform your stress response. For people who move through life in full emergency mode, the starting place to learn balance is typically Savasana. This pose teaches you how to put the usually suppressed parasympathetic nervous system in charge and give the hypercharged sympathetic nervous system a rest. At first, you will need to very consciously tap into this response during your yoga practise by focusing on your breathing and thoughts. But with enough conscious practise, the rehearsed challenge response can become an ingrained automatic response – on and off the mat. By alternating strenuous poses with gentler ones, yoga conditions you to move easily between states of challenge and rest. Letting go of all effort in Savasana, for example, seals in this flexibility, because the pose teaches your body’s nervous system to let go once the challenges of your practice have been met. Keep in mind that no matter how well you condition your nervous system, you also need to change the way you perceive stress. You can start this process by practicing Svadhyaya, or selfobservation. “I suggest combining yoga with natural therapies which enhance your wellbeing. Always treat the root cause of disease and optimise your health by seeing a professional who specialises in nutrition, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture etc who treats your body holistically,” says Dr Ameet. “However, you also have to be careful in certain circumstances,” he advises. If you have any old injuries, certain postures might put too much strain on an injured joint or muscle. Certain postures in yoga are not recommended during pregnancy and could cause a miscarriage. People with heart conditions or blood pressure problems should also be careful not to strain themselves. If someone has fragile bones, then certain postures in yoga would be harmful because of the risk of injury. But if you do not have any inhibiting health factors, yoga is a great path to long-lasting health.

Where to go L’ArENA gYM Sarit Centre, Nairobi HOLidAY iNN gYM Parklands Road, Nairobi rHiNO HOusE dANcE sTudiO, Karen Nairobi 48 HEALTHY WOMAN

8 Yoga poses Power uP Your eNergY ANd burN cAlorIes


tWISteD ChAIr PoSe

Strengthens mid and lower back sections of spine. Improves overall circulation by toning internal organs such as kidney and digestive organs. Tones thighs, buttocks and hips, and improves balance. hoW to: Begin with both feet together, making sure that the big toes are touching. Beginners can set their feet apart. Inhale and lift your arms above your head perpendicular to the floor and exhale as you bend your knees and sink your hips down, as if you are sitting on a chair pushed far behind you. Bring back your hands in a prayer position in front of your chest. Twist your torso as you exhale and bring your right elbow to the left knee. Try to keep the chest lifted the whole time and then hold for 30 to 45 seconds.

ILLUStrAtIoNS yogita mhatre



Opens up the neck, shoulders and back. Compresses abdomen and tones digestive organs, so improving detoxification. Also helps in thyroid function. hoW to: Begin by lying flat on your back with the legs extended and your arms on the sides, palms facing down. Bring up the legs straight towards the ceiling. Bring the arms alongside the body. Press your weight into your hands and lift your legs over your head. If the legs do not touch the ground behind you, then bring your hands to your back for support.



Strengthens and improves flexibility throughout the back, spine, legs, buttocks and all muscles supporting the torso. Relieves stress and fatigue caused by slouching forward. Opens up lungs for better breathing. hoW to: Begin by lying on your stomach with the arms at rest on your sides and the palms facing up. Keep the legs straight behind you, hip-width apart. Lift up your upper body and arms as you inhale, look straight forward. Use your inner thighs to keep the legs lifted up towards the ceiling. Hold 45 seconds or more. Release to the ground and repeat.


CreSCeNt LUNge PoSe

Creates stability throughout the body. Speeds up heart rate and metabolism which improves digestion and the body’s ability to detox. Also strengthens legs and stretches hips. hoW to: Start off with the downward dog pose. Then on the exhale, step your right foot forward between your hands. Lower your hips into a lunge position and then concentrate all your weight on to the ball of your back foot as you bring your hands to your hips. Stay up on the ball of your back foot and then lift up your torso till you are standing straight up. Be sure to keep your hips squared as you bring your hands up above you. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds.


eAgLe PoSe



Stretches shoulders and upper back as it strengthens the hips, thighs, ankles and calves. Builds balance and energises the body. hoW to: Begin in a standing position with the arms on the sides of the body. Bend the knees. Balance on your right foot and cross the left thigh over the right one. Fix your gaze at a fixed point in front of you. Hook the top of the left foot behind your right calf. Sink your hips downwards as if you are going to sit in a chair. Cross your arms at your elbows and wrists in front of your chest and hold for 45 seconds or longer. Release from the pose, shake out the legs and switch sides.

Stimulates digestive system and strengthens spine. hoW to: Start by lying on your back. Bring up both your knees inwards towards your chest. Take the left knee into your chest as you inhale and let the right leg straighten out onto the floor. Bring up the bent left knee across your body and keep your shoulder blades on the floor. Turn your head to look over the left shoulder to twist the body. Hold for 45 seconds. Bring both knees into your chest then switch to the other side.




Calms the body by stretching front neck muscles. hoW to: Begin by lying down on your back. Bring your hands under the buttocks, palms down. Bend your elbows and lean on them while pressing into the floor. Lift your torso towards the ceiling so that the back arches. Bring the elbows towards each other and then drop your head back to the floor behind you.

BoW PoSe

Boosts energy levels as it keeps the metabolism going. Strengthens spine and back muscles. hoW to: Lie on the floor with the face down and keep the hands alongside the body with the palms facing up. Bend the knees and reach backwards to grab your ankles using your hands. Keep the legs hip distance apart as you lift your heels up and away from your body, so that your chest is pulled off the floor. Make sure the shoulder blades stay down and as far from the ears as possible.


To place your adverT here ContaCt Rose Atieno osok HeAd of MediA sAles tel 0707-521104 Cell 0722-787372 email

(hair & beauty) Beauty news, expert advice and inspirational ideas

use light neutral colours. try a smoky eye in brown or purple hues – it’s less dramatic for the office


opt for medium tones such as brown, peach or mocha. use lip gloss, but avoid formulas that shimmer

You are gifted, brilliant and energetic. So stop blinding your superiors with that over-painted face! Keep your make-up subtle and sophisticated at the office – a great way to show off that professional side while still looking groomed and gorgeous. Keep focus just on the eye and lip, after setting your face with a smoothing foundation.

Groomed for success Less is more… HEALTHY WOMAN 55

Beauty tip

hair & beauty (news)

Get fuller lips by adding lip gloss. Once you apply your lip colour just top it up with a sheen of clear or same colour gloss.

Expert advice and inspirational ideas


Layered lips – wearing varying shades of lipstick at the same time – have entered mainstream make-up. You might want to adopt it for those daring nights out. This is how you can nab this two-tone lip look that makes your pout appear even fuller.

pick YouR shAdE Red, pink, mahogany, plum… it’s up to you. Start with a darker shade of lipstick.

choosE A compLimEntARY shAdE Whatever shade you choose, you want to grab another one that will show some contrast, but still looks effortless with your base colour. Some great hue pairings include red and pink, dark pink and light pink, red and orange, plum and violet.

FiLL in thE EntiRE Lip with thE dARkER shAdE Use a matte formula for easy application.

dAb A LittLE oF thE LightER shAdE in thE middLE oF thE Lip Put a bit more on the bottom lip than on the top.

An EvEn EAsiER wAY to woRk this tREnd Just use one colour. Fill in your entire top lip and then smack your lips together. This will cause some of the shade to wipe off on the bottom lip. Now just smooth out the colour with a lip pencil. Add a gloss over top if you like the shiny look. And that’s it. With ombre lips, keep the rest of your make-up simple. Don’t be scared of this trend. Go rock it, ladies!

TATTOO YOur EYEbrOWs Too busy to fill in the blanks on your face every day? Permanent make up is becoming increasingly popular in Kenya. You have the choice of getting a lip liner or eyeliner tattooed or even permanent laser surgery to shape the eyebrows. The art of applying this is micropigmentology. Find it at Jared Babu, Old Mutual Building, Kimathi Street, Nairobi (tattooingwithstyle@ or 0722691272). Before going permanent though, make sure this is a look you want to live with. 56 HEALTHY WOMAN

(news) hair & beauty

runway trends Key looKs from this year’s catwalKs

cat eyes Classic black liner with a flash of colour dominated the runway.

coloured streaKs Embrace clever hair tinting techniques, like rose gold. Also pay attention to textures and contrasts. If you have grown-out roots they will add an edge to lowlights and can be easily simulated with a few spritzes or contrasting tinted dry shampoo.

statement lips Think velvety red, a mixed bag of blues, purples, greys and oranges – all a modern matte finish.

extra-full Brows Arches that are bold, erring on the side of boyish and bushy, were a hit on the runaway. To achieve thick architectural brows, pick pencils one to two shades darker than your actual brows for enhanced definition.

Hair, Hair!

Research indicates that living in an over-populated area can actually affect your hair. Absorption of toxic substances into the body from the environment can directly slow down hair growth

hair style tips for your worKout sessions sleek Braids This is a great way to keep your hair straight and sleek if your hair is long. Use a pomade to smooth out the edges before braiding and wrap it up in a silk scarf to preserve it.

Bikini wax tips n Reduce waxing pain by popping a painkiller at least 45 minutes before the session. n Skin is most sensitive before your period so do not schedule the wax close to your cycle. n Go between 3-5pm. Your tolerance to pain is highest at this time of day. What would make you yell at 10am would only make you wince at these times. n Avoid tight clothing 48 hours after your wax because your skin is extra sensitive when it is newly hairless. Wearing tight clothes like leggings will increase the chances of pimples from sweat and bacteria.

wrap up For short styles an up-do silk head wrap is the way to go.

ponytails Ponytails will never fail to keep that hair off your face. You can mix it up by doing a side sleek pony braid.

Beauty tip To stop your mascara from drying out, never pump the wand up and down. This pushes air into the tube


NOT skin deep What your break-outs really are saying about your health


es, we know beauty is more than skin deep. But that doesn’t stop us from agonising over a pimple! We take our faces very very seriously and that is why the skincare industry is a multi-billion shilling enterprise. But worrying about our skin is not just about vanity. “Your skin is an important indicator of overall health,” points out consultant dermatologist Dr Melanie Miyanji. “You should not ignore any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms on your skin.” She helps us list out some common skin problems and their possible solutions. We give you some quick beauty tips as well.

Skin rashes and blotches

Blemishes and rashes may be of little significance, but could also mean that a serious condition is lurking beneath the surface. It may be the symptom of a disease that affects a number of inner organs and tissues. It could also mean stress. If you have been feeling more tired than usual, or your skin is bruising easily, then it could mean an immunity problem. “You need to see a specialist and get a right diagnosis done,” Dr Melanie emphasises. HealtH option Try not to use a beauty product before you get your rashes checked out by a medical practitioner. Many beauty products could contain ingredients that aggravate the situation. In case they are resulting from stress, consider stress-relieving meditation such as yoga. 58 HEALTHY WOMAN

(skin) hair & beauty

Quick home remedies Staying beautiful doesn’t need to be an expensive affair

normal skin

“Your skin is an important indicator of overall health, you should not ignore any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms on your skin” Beauty quickie Concealers and foundations can work wonders when applied properly,” says make-up artist Susan Wokabi, proprietor of Suziebeauty Ltd. However, make sure they go with your skin type and are medically approved.

Dark circles and puffy eyes

extract juice from half an orange or tomato and mix with two teaspoons of curdled milk. lightly massage the mixture on your face in an upward direction. let it dry completely. then wash your face with cold water and wipe dry. this will give your skin a nice glow.

oily skin Mix two teaspoons of milk, the same quantity of cucumber juice and a few drops of lemon. apply the solution on your face with a cotton ball and leave to dry. then, wash with water and pat dry. this takes away the excess oil and keeps your skin glowing.

Dark circles indicate exhaustion or too much drinking. Smoking also affects your skin tone and increases your chances of wrinkling. Puffy eyes could also indicate an allergic reaction affecting your blood vessels – making them leak. HealtH option Ease up on the partying. Get some beauty sleep urgently. A rested body reflects on the skin. If the dark circles and puffy eyes don’t go away with rest, it could be an allergic reaction. Get medical attention. Beauty quickie Susan suggests an eye cream that contains caffeine, and products that have hypoallergenic properties (causing the least allergic reactions possible). Read the label to get the contents.

Dry skin

acne or pimples

Facial treatment

Certain pimples are unavoidable, like the ones that come on your chin area around menstruation time. However, if you get painful pimples all the time, get dermatological advice. “Any stage of acne can be treated,” assures Dr Melanie. She says a clear skin can surely be achieved with the right medication. HealtH option Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water. Avoid oily, fatty foods, refined sugar and fizzy drinks. Keep your skin clean all the time. Beauty quickie Good quality foundation that is oil free and non comedogenic (one which doesn’t block pores) is fine for a quick fix.

Mash half a ripe banana, add a teaspoon of honey and make a paste. apply the mixture on your face. once it dries, wash with cold water and pat dry gently. this acts as a moisturiser and helps to tighten your skin

Wrinkles apply almond oil to the frown lines and leave it on as long as possible. Do this once a week. it has been found to work well for smokers – when applied to the upper lip just before sleeping.

Jojoba oil comes closest to sebum – the skin’s natural oil. it is therefore ideal for facial treatments.

late night cleansing a mixture of milk and lemon acts as a great night cleansing lotion.


hair & beauty (healthy hair)

Natural suits me

Musician Wahu Kagwi has been setting trends with her natural hair style. Low maintenance yet super-chic, she says it fits her lifestyle, both onstage and off Why did you decide on the natural look? It was a question of convenience. I like swimming and working out, so I wanted hair that looks good but is easy to manage on a day to day basis. hoW long ago Was that? I went natural in 2008, so I have variations of the same thing. I can sometimes go really short, sometimes have side cornrows, sometimes go really blonde – but it’s always natural. hoW do you go about daily maintenance? I wash my hair almost daily and use a colour sensitive shampoo and conditioner. I also use a hair lotion that protects my hair from the sun. That’s the tricky thing about hair with colour – you really have to make sure it’s moisturised and protected from the sun, otherwise it will break. hoW do you change the look to suit different occasions? That’s the cool thing about short hair! One hairdo fits all occasions, so all you’re left to worry about is your make-up and outfit. Is there any special care you’d advise? You still have to maintain the same care regimen as relaxed hair, i.e. shampoo, condition and moisturise often, and treat it from time to time. It’s also important to use products that are designed for afro hair. If you want to have the ‘rough’ hair look, that’s something like baby locs (which is what I have majority of the time), all you need to do is rub your hair in a circular motion while going through all the various stages of washing. Keep the direction the same while you are towelling dry. Once dry, apply your hair moisturiser, again in a circular motion. Use the tips of your fingers to comb it out and style it as you desire.

hoW often do you colour your hair? I colour it every two months or so. What about home treatments? I treat my hair at home, once a week, on a day that I don’t have much running around to do. I apply a treatment after washing and leave it on my head under a shower cap for about an hour, then I wash it out and moisturise. do you have any bad hair days? Yes! There are those days I just don’t feel like doing anything to my hair. So I wear a nice hat or a head wrap. do you get people coming up to you for advice? Yes I do and I gladly advise them and follow up on their progress. I normally say that everyone’s hair reacts differently when subjected to the same kind of treatment, because we as Africans have different variations of hair curls. Once you understand your hair texture and the kind of curl that you have, then you’re best placed to bring out the best in your hair. hoW does the corporate World react to your look? Some people have very strong opinions against my hair; some really like it and others who are indifferent! That’s life though. You can’t please everyone, and frankly speaking, I don’t think you should be doing things to try and please others, especially with something as personal as your hairdo. The most important thing is how you feel about your look. If you’re happy when you look in the mirror, then you’re more confident in how you approach your day. And that’s what matters. HEALTHY WOMAN 63


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(sexual health) Real advice for real women on sex, love and fertility

Less is more Giving a down-to-the-skin description of your sexual fantasies may end up being more scary than fun. Flirt-texting experts Olivia Baniuszewicz and Debra Goldstein advise that you give a suggestion of eroticism, instead of throwing yourself into the fire. Know when enough is enough Don’t sext someone you don’t know too well. Start off with “Thinking of u...” before you go into “Thinking nawty thots of u”. watch that auto correct Auto correct can really damage a good text. Think “Lol your face” instead of “love your face”! Don’t KiLL the mooD Too many emoticons kill off a mood very, very fast. So keep off those smileys and lean on word power. sip more, text Less If you feel inspired to text when drunk, hand the phone over to your (sober) girlfriend. Because you are not as funny as you think you are! BefrienD the DeLete Key If that sext is too wild to be looked at twice, delete it. We are thinking playful, not insane. And remove all sexts from your phone. ASAP.


photo ops If you’d like to cross this line, keep your face out of the picture and avoid a full body shot. Instead, take a shot of your neck and say “there is a lot more below…”!

Let’s get sexting words Christine Odeph

Sexting is fun and flirty, letting you say things you’d never say in person. So, here’s what you need to know before you hit that send button HEALTHY WOMAN 65

sexual health (the big o)

The Big

Our experts tell yOu hOw tO find – and keep – that elusive climax

AAAAh, who doesn’t love that first sip of chilled wine after a crazy work day? Or the rush that comes from diving into a cool pool during a hot day? But none of this comes even close to that incredible sensation of climaxing. That is why it is infuriating when you have sex but cannot reach the Big O. Innumerable surveys put the number of women who climax during sex to around 25 per cent – a dismal statistic. For the rest of us, it is a hit-or-miss situation. On the other hand, over 90 per cent of men climax while having sex. What in the world was Mother Nature thinking? The female O is an elusive phenomenon that has been chased by sexologists and biologists for decades. Because women can get pregnant even when they are faking it, no one really knows how a female orgasm is linked to the propagation of the species! Maurice Matheka, a Kenya-based relationship and sex therapist, gives Kenyan women a modest 40 per

cent on the orgasm score sheet. But he admits this figure could actually be much lower if an extensive survey was done. He blames it on partners not knowing how to please each another and also on taboos surrounding sex. “I think that men are rushing their women through the entire process and the women are not speaking up,” he emphasises. Sexologist Rose Ochar says many of us are also not aware that there is a science behind having a successful orgasm. “If partners were more open with their sexual urges, and were fully liberated during intercourse, then the percentage would go up,” she insists. There is reason to celebrate though. Most scientists and sexologists are in agreement over the 'how' of an orgasm. And with that information, you can learn how to blow off your roof more often. Truth is, even if an orgasm will not help with the species’ survival, that high still feels pretty good! HEALTHY WOMAN 69

sexual health (the big o)

The physics

The orgasm hormone research shows that the most intriguing side effect of an orgasm is the release of a hormone known as oxytocin by your brain into your bloodstream. Called the “cuddle hormone”, it is responsible for that desire to be affectionate. oxytocin has been shown to strengthen uterine contractions during an orgasm. recent research suggests oxytocin also allows us to trust our partners more!

3 mustdo steps


Find your triggers. every woman is different. some may get into the mood with candle-lit dinners, some may need a massage. Find out what’s your mood-setter. and use it.


Know your spots. no one knows your erogenous spots better than you. Conduct a body expedition and map out which parts of the body trigger the wave.


Build it up. Play your fave song, wear sexy lingerie and think sexy thoughts all day if your evening is going to be all about letting go. That will help you get your Big o.


You wouldn’t feel an earthquake in the middle of an orgasm, so naturally you are not aware of the changes happening to your body. Luckily for us, that is what researchers are for! Findings indicate that the mad rush of heat that you experience during foreplay is the direct result of blood heading straight to your vagina or the clitoris. The walls of your vagina begin to secrete beads of lubrication that eventually become bigger and then start to flow together. That’s what we mean when we say 'turned on'. As you get more turned on and more blood flows into the pelvic area, your heart rate increases and the nipples become erect. The lower part of the vagina becomes narrower since the body is working towards gripping the penis and the upper part expands to allow the penis somewhere to go, if all goes according to plan. At this stage there is an incredible build-up of nerves and muscle tension that focuses on the genitals, the pelvis, the buttocks and thighs. It is at this point that the tension is too great for the body so it is involuntarily released – that’s what we call the climax. According to Beverly Whipple, PhD, co-author of The G-Spot and Other Discoveries about Human Sexuality, many women are reported to having variations of orgasms from clitoral stimulation and vaginal stimulation or from a combination of the two. A small orgasm may last 0.8 seconds of involuntary contractions while a biggie can last up to 15 seconds. The point-of-no-return is when the uterus, anus and vagina all contract at the very same time. The reasons for the variations may lie in different parts of the vagina being stimulated differently, so different parts have differing amounts of tension to release. During an orgasm, other muscles in other parts of the body can contract as well. That explains the goofy faces and the curling toes. On the crest of an orgasm, the body glides into a state of bliss. A study done at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands found that areas in the brain involving fear and emotion are also deactivated during an orgasm. (The fake ones don’t count, so don’t even try!) If women do not reach orgasm then they can experience pelvic heaviness and aching. Not to mention being just a little cranky!

So what's going wrong?

It’s been said before but, as with all good things, achieving an orgasm is all in the mind. “Some women may have men who speed up everything but what they need is a marathon man and not a sprinter. Orgasms are all about the build-up for the women and this is not something to be rushed,” says sexologist Maurice Matheka. “Others may have learnt their bodies so they know what it is that gets them there, but still find it difficult to express this to their partners.” Rose Ochar agrees. “Women need to realise that their body belongs to them, so they cannot expect the man to understand it completely without assistance. Most of us are afraid to speak up on our needs so we are content with faking an orgasm.”

(the big o) sexual health

“Most of us are afraid to speak up on our needs so we are content with faking an orgasm.”

The solution

The woman on top position can solve the problem of inadequate stimulation since you are in control of the angle and speed of the thrusts. If you move back and forth while astride your partner, you increase your chances of clitoral stimulation because it rubs against his skin. “Touch is a very understated and yet vital part of arousal and sexual satisfaction,” Maurice points out. Most nerves are best excited using fingertips during foreplay so this is something you need to take your time doing. If you are properly aroused before penetration, you are halfway home to acheiving that big O. Another way is to find a position that best mimics how you satisfy yourself. If you are free enough to let him watch what you do then he will know what to do himself. The paradox is that if you get into the game with your mind solely focused on the result, then you will not reach your climax. If you want to have an orgasm, you have to ease off the pressure on both of you. Concentrate on the sensations that your partner is giving you and enjoy the moment. Communication will always be the key. Let him know when he hits a spot that does the trick because not every technique will work on you. Learn how to mix up the anticipation and tension because these are powerful tools used to crank up sexual tension. Vary the paces in the act of foreplay. Men just need to get to a point of arousal and that’s it but with women a gradual escalation in order to come to a point of climax. There is no way in the world you will ever have an orgasm if you use up sex time to tick off a mental to-do list. You need that brain to work other areas. You can also forget the Big O if you worry about stretch marks and not-so-perfect body parts. Focus. Breathe. Let go. “It may seem counterintuitive, but you need to relax to build sexual tension,” says Dr Ian Kerner, PhD, sex therapist and author of She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman. Have a steamy shower, full-body massage or at least 10 minutes of oral sex to ease up the tension. “Many women need a transition period between dealing with the stress of everyday life and feeling sexual,” Dr Kerner says. “A few minutes of foreplay usually aren’t enough.” HEALTHY WOMAN 71

(style & fashion) Dress to impress, whatever your body type


COLOr bLOCk HEELs, Ksh 5,500 BacKyard ShoeS HOrN bANgLE, Ksh 150, MaSai MarKet suNgLAssEs, StyliSt’S own

Lust buys The hottest styles, in stores now!


style & fashion

elsie wears Navy blue suit, Ksh 7,000, Joshua owino brass aNd alumiNium Neck piece, Ksh 2,000, Bahati red suede aNkle boots, Ksh 6,500, BacKyard shoes

Block party photographer Kevin Sabuni photographer’s assistant Jacqueline stylist Sunny Dolat model Elsie Njeri make-up Muthoni Njoba

HealtHy WomaN 77

style & fashion

elsie left wears mustard cHiffoN sleeveless sHirt, stylist’s own, strapless greeN dress , Ksh 1,800, Jorge’s wardroBe blue suede Heels, Ksh 5,000, BacKyard shoes greeN beaded earriNgs, Ksh 250, Masai MarKet copper baNgles, Ksh 50 each, Masai MarKet

78 HealtHy WomaN

elsie below wears coral jumpsuit, Ksh 3,500, Kepha Maina yelloW tube top, stylist’s own pateNt fuscHia Wedges , Ksh 5,000, BacKyard shoes large disc earriNgs, Ksh 500, Masai MarKet

elsie wears greeN double breast coat, Ksh 3,500, Jorge’s wardroBe strapless plum dress, Ksh 1,800, Jorge’s wardroBe multi-layered Necklace, Ksh 700, Masai MarKet viNtage earriNgs, stylist’s own

HealtHy WomaN 79

last word (thin-spiration)

Jennifer Hudson On losing weight and loving it

Jennifer Hudson, Oscar-winning Dreamgirls actress and brilliant singer, is a thinspiration for all of us. Through Weight Watchers, a programme for which she is a spokesperson, Jennifer has lost a whopping 36 kilos. Here’s her secret...

Watchers I hadn’t had pizza in over 10 years because I had the diet mentality which clearly did not work. With Weight Watchers I am enjoying the weight loss because I’m doing it the right way – I feel empowered with what I’ve learned, everything from portion control to what foods will help keep me satisfied. It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet.

On Her iniTial resisTance TO dieTing and WeigHTlOss... It didn’t sound realistic to me. I had the ‘diet mentality’ – that to lose weight you have to deprive yourself or you have to work out massively. Her dieT plan Tips... yself, ‘Why do I want this? I had to ask myself, What is the real reason?’ At times it was comfort food like chocolate. So when you acknowledge what the issue is, you can control it better. Now I have pizza all the time. I have whatever I want, it’s just how to have it. Before I started Weight 80 HEALTHY WOMAN

aBOVe Jennifer with her co-stars from dreamgirls lefT looking stylish whilst attending the grammy awards

On WHeTHer HOllyWOOd is TreaTing Her differenTly... Oh definitely! People are friendlier... there are more opportunities, more flexibility in so many different ways. I think it’s messed up that people are so image-driven and your appearance affects the way people treat you. It’s crazy and it may be something we do subconsciously, but there it is. On family suppOrT... I had the greatest motivation on the planet – my son. He deserved to have a mama who could chase after him around the house without getting winded. Jennifer’s secreT: Exercise, including biking and playing hoops, has helped.

“When you acknowledge what the issue is, you can control it better”

This arTicle has been compiled from various sources

On THe Way HOllyWOOd TreaTed Her sTruggle againsT Her WeigHT... I remember one of my first times on the red carpet when an interviewer asked me, ‘How does it feel to be plus-sized in Hollywood?’ I looked around, like, ‘Who is she talking to? Oh, me? I’m plus-sized?’ In my neighbourhood (Chicago) a 16 is normal. But in Hollywood, everyone looks exactly the same, so I stood out.

Healthy Woman March  

Launch Issue of Healthy Woman magazine a new launch in Kenya