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My health, my story – Mandarina Khabetsa

After starting a cake business, Mandarina Khabetsa’s sweet tooth took over a once fitness conscious woman she was. But she got on her health track again becoming a health and fitness enthusiast

As we start the year, many people have drawn their New Year resolutions. Following a period of wining and dining, it’s not a wonder that top on the list would be staying healthy. Mandarina Khabetsa or as people fondly calls her Manda knows this too well.

Born 31 years ago, the self-made health and fitness enthusiast seamlessly fuses her mind, body and spirit into a strong component. Because of her passion for keeping fit, the young entrepreneur is seeking to change mindset of people’s lifestyles.

Through her strong social media presence, she is a force to reckon with given the health tips she shares, especially on her YouTube channel and Instagram page @Itismandatory. Her journey to the path of creating a name for herself stemmed from a personal experience that she happily shares. “After my university, I started a cake business operating from home called Heavenly Delights.

In the process because of my sweet tooth, I indulged so much on my product thus gaining weight. I did a random Body Mass Index and I was in the red zone of obese. Going through one of my photos then, I knew something had to be done,” says the last born of two.

Incidentally, growing up, she was an active child and was so often involved in a lot of sports-related activities such as swimming and played competitive tennis representing Kenya on several occasions.

“In school or at home I was all over the place. My brother and I literally engaged in everything and I particularly had fun doing the activities, which developed into a great passion. I recall I got a partial scholarship in the arts and sports for my A levels at Imani School purely based on my performances in all spheres I was involved with,” she adds. But after her over-indulgence, Manda had to fight with her poor health habits.

“I had to make some drastic changes because I was not pleased with what was happening to my body. I tried different diets just to get back in shape. However, my biggest achievement was signing up to climb Mt Kenya in 2013 seeing as I was big on adventure and outdoors,” she says.

The experience was a mixture of pain and joy because of her state of health prior to the assignment, but her zeal pushed her through. “Despite being told not to participate, I had a strong urge to do it and satisfy myself.

It did not matter that I had food poisoning or whether I had to deal with altitude sickness,” she recalls. Manda was to later partake in two triathlons in 2013 and 2014, which revolutionised her thinking about staying healthy. In between, she also got to run two Stanchart Marathons for 10 kilometres and 21 kilometres and last year took part in the Shompole half-marathon in Magadi.

Athletic Manda got her mojo from staying fit and sharing tips with the public through her platforms. However, the one thing that kept her going was her strong belief and faith in God.

“The Lord has been a good guide and because of Him, I am in this place. He is my shield and guide through the ups and downs. That coupled with the support of my spiritual and biological circle has been my absolute rock,” says Manda who got saved at the age of 16. In her journey, Manda has had to manoeuvre the fair elements of consistency and temptations to resort to her old habits.

“It calls for discipline and thankfully, I have been able to keep it orderly. Occasionally, I get to indulge off my usual diet, but essentially I know the limits,” she adds in jest. Her fitness regimen keeps her alert and going while at the same time is a door to network with other people who have had similar experiences.

“People have been appreciative and others have called for help on diet and exercise. I feel humbled that I can influence change out there,” offers Manda who has revealed that her mission is to grow her channels into global brands.

She is thankful to her parents for being liberal and giving her the opportunity to discover herself. “I am grateful for my dad, especially. From him, I have learnt the value of staying authentically and unashamedly me,” offers Manda who is currently pursuing an online nutrition course with a United Kingdom College.

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