By Mukurima Muriuki
When Milly emigrated to the United States of America in 2004, she did not assume that life would be a bed of roses; however, she was willing to work hard in order to realize her dreams. Living in Atlanta, Georgia 15 years later, Milly reflects on the path she has followed and the dreams she has realized while remaining focused on her future. She finds balance in being a single mom to twin four-year-old daughters and as a finance professional in an Atlanta quasi-government firm. Fitness is her passion, and she makes time to maintain a first class exercise regime. Because she stays fit and trim, it would be an injustice for African Warrior Magazine not to point out her perfect figure which is undeniably the envy of many.
We caught up with Milly to ask her the following questions and to hear more of the story of her success.
What stands out about Georgia?
Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, has become the City of Opportunity. It is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies such as: Delta, Coca-Cola, and CNN. We now headquarter Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, and we have a diverse, young and educated workforce. Companies are confident in relocating here because there would be no issues finding the talent they need. Unemployment is at a record low 2.9%.
Georgia is consistently ranked as one of the best places to do business. It’s also another Hollywood – if you know what I mean.
Not only is business booming, but the housing market makes it possible and easy to afford your own home. Also, you can’t forget about the southern hospitality and that southern cooking! (And yes. you can be fit and still eat soul food. It’s all about discipline and moderation).
How is it raising a family in Georgia?
I am a single mother of 4-year-old twin girls who are currently in pre-k. Initially, being a single mother was challenging as I had no idea how I was going to support my two daughters and myself. It is a daunting task doing it all alone with your family being 8,037 miles away (distance from Nairobi, Kenya to Atlanta, Ga).
However, I can say this experience has strengthened my faith in God and my faith in my abilities as a woman and a mother. I’ve always heard women say, “having kids changes you,” and they are correct. There is an instant maturity and heightened intuition that comes with being a mother. Of course, there is no ‘parental how-to manual’ that comes with your child’s delivery. It’s more the wisdom from the matriarchs of your family, God Himself, and Trial & Error. There are no days off, sick leave or paid time off (PTO).
In addition to being the mother, you alone wear all of the other hats – father, doctor, counselor, house-help, chef, teacher, etc. You do not have time to give up or to have self-pity because you now have people who look up to you and rely on you. It is my firm belief that parents should lead by example. You may have to sacrifice on certain things (outings, trips, etc.), but your health and fitness should never be a part of that category.
Your Facebook posts show that you are a gym freak. How do you strike a balance?
I joined LA Fitness back in 2004 when I first moved to Atlanta. I have been working out since then. I still worked out when I was pregnant for the first 6 months. Unfortunately, I was placed on bed rest. I realized how important health and fitness was to me because when I am unable to workout, I begin to have withdrawals.
What keeps me motivated to stay fit are my children. I also want to be able to keep up with them, and all of their excitement and energy that they bring to the table. Additionally, I do it for peace of mind. Once you remain consistent with being healthy and truly make it a lifestyle, the motivation will stem from the value you place on being healthy.
How challenging is it for a woman raising a family to keep fit?
It’s not challenging at all. I believe that challenges are mental, and some are derived by another’s experience that has absolutely nothing to do with your own experience. It is what you believe (in your mind and heart) that determines your outcome. I’m a strong believer in ‘you make time for what you want to make time for.’
If you make your health a priority, then you will find ways to work it into your schedule. Even if it means exercising at home while cooking (leg lifts), in shower (squats), or using your child as an added weight. And when they become of age, having them join you in your exercises. There are a variety of ways to incorporate working out and managing the family. There are even gyms in Atlanta that offer child care.
If you had a partner, would you like him to be working out with you?
When I do have a partner/husband, I want us to be on the same page when it comes to our health and fitness. I would like him to hold his health and fitness to that same regard that I hold my own. And essentially, always motivate each other to be our best selves.
What defines a woman who is fit, and is it true that being fit boosts one’s confidence?
A woman defines herself and fitness is the result of her definition of who she is. When it comes to exercise boosting one’s confidence, I agree 100%! When you look good, you feel good also! But confidence stems also from knowing who you are and your self-worth. It should stem from within you, but being fit is a huge boost. There is a saying ‘people should be comfortable in their own skin’ which is true. Love what you’ve got. But the better you take care of that “skin” the more comfortable you will feel. The same applies regarding fitness & confidence. The better you take care of your fitness the greater the boost in your confidence.
Do you get a lot of compliments? If so, what do people first notice about you? How do the compliments make you feel?
Haha! I do collect quite a bit of compliments from day to day. What people notice depends on who is watching. I’ve received compliments on my smile, skin, arms, legs, booty, breasts, stomach and feet! How I feel is based on how the compliment is delivered. Some people are most respectful, and others need a little bit of work, lol. But all in all, I compliment myself first. I don’t need people to validate what I already know to be true to feel good about myself. I appreciate those who voice their opinions on my physique or appearance, but their praise doesn’t determine my value or self-worth.
What activities do you do as part of your exercises?
I always start with Cardio. It can be treadmill or Stairmaster for 30 minutes. After that, I do weights depending on what I am working on.
What about food? How does one balance the diet and exercises? What is the best way to go about it?I
I eat 6 times a day (every 3 hours) just handful portions. My first meal starts at 7am and my last ends at 6pm. Anything after 6pm is water. I try hard to stay away from carbs. I don’t eat bread. I rarely eat rice and Ugali. I also stay away from red meat. I bake or steam most of my meals which consist of chicken and fish. Meal prep is vital.
For example, I substitute salt with Mrs. Dash salt-free seasonings, regular potatoes with sweet potatoes, bread with oatmeal, rice with cauliflower/quinoa rice, sugar with honey or no sugar at all and beans with red meat for protein. I also drink a lot of smoothie made of kales, spinach, ginger and lemon as part of my healthy routine.
I have to drink a gallon of water everyday. Let’s face it, we are all humans so of course I have my cheat days. Trust me, when I feel like I want to eat some wings or a good steak, nobody can stop me. Just know that I can manage these cravings. I can cheat maybe twice a month because I have discipline myself to maintain a strict diet.
What else would you like to share?
Being a mother married or not is not a disability. You can be a mother and still look sexy. I am so proud of women in general that work hard to keep fit.
Because I have been doing this for the last 15 years, it is now second nature to me. Everyone has to start somewhere, and of course there are challenges. Nevertheless, you have push through.
My inspiration comes from God and my twin girls; however it is vital to have an accountability partner to assist you in overcoming your challenges.
Find someone that will support your decision to be healthy and help you stick to it. I recently joined a group on Facebook called ‘Fitsistaz KE’ and this group was created to motivate women’s health journey in Kenya. I am so proud to see women uplifting each other!
African Warrior Magazine is exploring the idea of hosting an awards ceremony for the top 40 Kenyan men and women that you nominated. This will be around the second or third week of September. First, to help with the planning, we want to know if you are interested in attending!
If you are keen on this idea, please sign up below (Blue, sign up button). Remember to share this with your friends. If more people are interested, then we will put together this event!