Mark Pilgrim Kia

Whipping my body back into shape

I've always been someone that looks after myself. I generally watch what I eat and go to gym a few times a week, but over time the food rules relax and before I know it I have an extra 5cm around the waist. It's so easy to say "yes" to the fries when you order out. About once a year I get a bee in my bonnet and get really strict with eating and lose those darn unwanted centimetres.

I am not some amazing fitness guru or health expert, but simply an average guy doing the basics. If you feel like losing a few kgs this is what I do:


Opti Grill
You have to have the correct tools in your box. First up, I always use my Optigrill to cook meat. It's like a George Foreman griller on steroids. It has intelligent settings so you don't have to keep opening the grill to see if your meat is done the way you like it. It measures the thickness of the cuts and knows how long the timing should be according to whether you want your meat rare, medium or well done.

It's great for steaks, chops and chicken. My tip though, if you're cooking chicken breasts (which are renowned for being dry), take them off the grill when it says they are cooked "rare". They are not under cooked, but you are able to catch them before they turn into the bottom of your shoe.

Cleaning it is easy as the grill plates just pop off and you can put them in the dishwasher.

Nutri bullet
My next little bit of magic is the NutriBullet. I use this if I feel like a mid-morning shake. The advantage of the NutriBullet over a traditional blender is that it doesn't remove any of the fibre, so you retain a lot more of the goodness. You can blend almost anything in this thing (I usually have a smoothie at about 9am, made up of a banana, carrot and almonds). It takes a few seconds to make and without too many loose bits, you can pop the container in the dishwasher afterwards. I normally make the smoothie in the morning and keep it in a flask until I feel like having it.

The trick to any healthy eating is to be prepared. If you're hungry and have nothing but junk food around you, you're gonna eat it. I am a tupperware king. If I know I'm out for most the day I'll make sure I have my smoothie and packed lunch with me.

Food rules

So what is lunch? In fact, what is breakfast and dinner? Let me say right off the bat, that I am not banting. Why, you may ask? Because I don't want to. It's as simple as that. I find that a lot of banting people try and indoctrinate you as if on some evangelical mission where they have to convert 5 people a day.

So I have no prescriptive eating plan, I just use some simple guidelines.

1) Gone is nibbing the girls' food (they often eat healthy, but also love things like chicken nuggets and mac & cheese).

2) Gone is the wine. Shit, how I miss that. They say a glass of red wine a night is fine, but my problem is, one glass is just enough for me to be happy enough to relax the rules and have a second glass, and a third. And then, after 3 glasses of wine, I want chocolate. So, no wine. Instead I drink about 3 cups of decaf green tea each night. It might not be wine in my hand, but at least I'm still sipping something in the evening.

3) Chocolate and all other forms of candy gone too

4) No sauces. If I want to juice up my meal I use olive oil or some apple cider vinegar

5) I'll sometimes have avo on cracker bread, but won't tuck into normal bread

By sticking to these rules I find that I can see a difference after 2 days. I wouldn't have dropped body fat that quickly, but that bloatedness disappears around my gut.

Some meals

Some people want examples of meals I eat so here are one or two things. It's by no means prescriptive and I'm not saying this is all you must eat. Just be sensible.

Woolies egg whitesBreakfast is always a double plated affair:
1) Small bowl of instant jungle oats (mixed with water and tiny splodge of milk). I sometimes add a squirt of honey

2) Egg whites mixed together and scrambled in a frying pan (use spray and cook, not oil). There's a lot of debate around eating the yolk, with latest research saying all is good as it contains a lot of the good fats and vitamins. I just prefer not to eat it when being strict, simply because that's what I've always done and I'm a creature of habit.  A good buy is the Woolies egg whites, which works out cheaper than buying the full eggs and tossing the yolk.

Mid morning I tend to have my nutri-bullet shake. I also carry 2 or 3 hard boiled eggs with me for those moments I want to pop something in my mouth (I squeeze the yolk out like a ripe pimple, but once again not saying YOU mustn't eat it).

Lunch/dinner is often the same thing:
1) Grilled chicken (cooked on the Optigrill)
2) Mashed sweet potato (it tastes just like normal mash. Simply buy the sweet potato in the packet from woolies, cook it in the microwave and then mash it will a little milk, salt and pepper)
3) Broccoli (once again, just steam a whole packet from Woolies and keep it in tupper ware)

Be creative, change the broccoli for cauliflower. If you're craving something like french fries, buy whole sweet potato, cut it into slices and grill it on the Optigrill. Have some avo on cracker bread. It's not about eating so clean that you might as well prepare for a bodybuilding competition. It's just about being sensible with your choices.

I still have a cheat meal and a glass (or 3) of wine once a week, and I'll lose a few kg over the next 2 to 3 weeks.

I'll post a before and after pic!

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My book is out soon. Here is the trailer...

I literally mean a "trailer"!  When I was growing up in England, I lived in a trailer park...


My autobiography is almost finished! The manuscript has been written and edited. The cover has been designed and the blurb at the back has been put together. Yesterday I was selecting photographs to go in the middle. "Beyond the Baldness" on shelves in time for Christmas. 

Speaking of Christmas, it's hard to believe that it's just 2 months away. My girls are already asking about when they are getting a new video from Father Christmas. Each year "he sends them one". Actually, it's from a great website called The site goes ready to produce videos sometime in November and they do a fantastic job of it. Here is Alyssa's from last year:

It's well worth leaving your email address on their website and they'll let you know when their 2015 Christmas portal is up and running! 

When it comes to Christmas gifts, this may be one worth considering... a NutriBullet. I received one yesterday and am giving it a test for a few days to evaluate it's practicality and usefulness. What I do like about it already, compared to normal juicers, this one retains all the pulp and fibre that is needed. I'll write a blog about it in a few days. 


Thanks for popping onto my blog! Chat soon! 

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The V snip done... easy peasy

For some guys, this is the much anticipated report back!

Right off the bat though, just to clarify when I said I was going for the snip, I meant vasectomy...  and not circumcision (it took me a while to figure out why some people on twitter were telling me to lay in salt water after the op).

Yesterday morning I was a little apprehensive on arriving at Morningside Clinic, but I think I was more anguished because, in preparation for the anaesthetic, I couldn't have my morning cup of coffee:


Fortunately, the kind Client Services team promised me a strong double espresso after the op so I calmed down, and started thinking about what was about to happen. Some dude was about to place his hand on my nut (yes, singular) and slice open the sac. That caused me to scream again:


Fortunately, and I think some guys really want to know this, they don't remove the ball. They simply snip and clip the pipe that transports the wigglies to the river of fluid. So when all is healed, you still have the fluid, just no swimmers. Your nut also still makes testosterone which enters your system via the blood stream (you don't fire your testosterone via your gun chamber anyway).

Layman's medical lesson over.  And I did have to lay down for a while after waking up:


All in all though I was in the hospital at 8am and on my feet and out by 11am:


It was such a small op that, in all honesty there is absolutely to be apprehensive about. Just make sure you remember the difference:
A urologist ties the tube
A vet chops off the nuts

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Okay boys, I'm going in!

Next Wednesday it's "snip snip"!

It's the conversation so many couples have once they've decided not to have any more kids. Nicole and I have 2 beautiful girls, and based on my history with testicular cancer, they were miracles in themselves.

Having said that, we've decided we DEFINITELY don't want an unexpected third child... and so I'm taking the plunge. Or rather the urologist is.

To cut through the misconceptions, it doesn't make you "limp" and they don't chop your balls off. They just tie a tube. In fact, since I only have one ball, I should get a 50% discount.

So for the lads who are contemplating having it done, I'll let you know how that goes.They say you're on the operating table for about 30 minutes, and in total only in the hospital for a morning. The next day you're back on your feet (even if you're walking like John Wayne with a swollen nut).

The irony is, after the op, you're supposed to "fire your gun" another 20 times before your pipes are considered wiggly-free. That's a LOT of firing if you've been married for while!

Anyway, I'm telling you about it on my blog because so many guys are scared of doing it. I'm more scared of an unexpected pregnancy, so the snip is looking quite favourable.

If my voice sounds a little higher next Saturday... you know why!


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Pilgrim's progress

The surgery went well. Tayla-Jean is home and back to her old self... with stitches on her chin. She was surprisingly calm when she had to go to hospital yesterday. I think now that she understands what its about and its to make her better, the rationalisation helped her deal with it. Besides, she's loving all the get well pressies!

Staying with Tayla-Jean, she is usually quite "camera averse" and does not like anyone pointing one at her (even Dad). So we were extremely happy that she was in the mood to pose for her annual school pics (before the chin incident):


Alyssa was also at the doctor yesterday as she has Pharyngitis (which I had last week). Her temperature has stabilised again and now it's just getting through a course of meds to sort out the issue.

Onto other news. Yesterday we wrapped up one of the TV shows I do for the year. For the last 13 years I've been hosting a Standard Bank show that is broadcast up Africa. Yesterday we filmed on the top balcony of the Standard Bank building in Rosebank. It has quite a view!


Onto my quest to shed a few kilos. I'm getting used to not drinking wine at night (never thought I'd say that!). Green tea is the replacement (if you do it, make sure it's the decaf one otherwise you'll be up all night like I was the first night I did it!). I've realised it's more about sipping SOMETHING at night, rather than it HAVING to be wine. I usually have 3 cups of decaf tea to make up for the 3 glasses of wine I was always having:


This morning I was down a few more hundred grams and sitting at 83kg (from 86.9kg last Monday) and this old body is starting to take shape again:


Another 2kg to go and i'll be where I want to be. I didn't go to gym at all last week as I had Pharyngitis, so looking forward to burning a few calories this week.

Are you doing it with me? If so, let me know how it's going!

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Surgery today

Sunday was just one of THOSE days where everything goes pear shaped.

In fact it started on Saturday when Eskom kicked in load shedding at Forest Hill City at 2pm, slap bang in the middle of payday weekend trade. I lost just over 50% of my turnover as everyone just left the mall and it never recovered after that. Hoping to make things up yesterday turned out to be an absolute disaster because thieves stole City of Tshwane power cables (for the fourth time in a month) and we could not trade at all. I lost 100% of my turnover for the busiest Sunday of the month.

Our frozen yoghurt machines pull a lot of 3 phase power, so as a small store, we simply can't afford a generator big enough (besides there would be no place to put it). But, even if we had a generator, with everyone leaving the mall during a blackout, we'd be trying to sell to nobody. The only option is for the mall to have a generator to power the stores, costing a couple of million. I feel it's their duty to keep feet in the mall, because these constant power cuts (whether by Eskom or thieves) is seriously damaging the reputation of Forest Hill City Mall. Businesses will start folding if this isn't sorted out soon.

As if that wasn't enough, we had our medical emergency on Sunday afternoon. Tayla-Jean slipped and smashed her chin into a tiled floor. It burst open like an over ripe tomato. As you read this blog today, she is in hospital where a plastic surgeon is operating on her. She has been very brave throughout the whole ordeal, but Nicole and I are wrecks!


And then the icing on the cake was Alyssa developing a 39C temperature last night. Fortunately this morning the temperature has subsided.

So forgive me for not sticking to my clean eating 100%, but by the end of Sunday I needed a cheat glass of wine! At least my meals were still on track and it's been a weekend of egg and chicken salad. Having dropped 3.5kg last week, I'm determined to drop another 1 or 2 this week to get the body fat percentage down.


On a lighter note, since I couldn't be at my store with no power, I joined the Vespa team for the biggest Vespa gathering ever in Johannesburg on Sunday morning. About 200 of us made our way through Sandton with the final stopping point being Parkhurst. We looked like a swarm of bees descending upon the restaurants late Sunday morning!


Here's to a good week ahead, where my girls get better, the power stays on, the Vespa stays upright, and my weight comes down.


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Day 5 of clean eating

It's now the beginning of day 5 of clean eating. I've had a few tweets from people (yes, TWEETS, not SWEETS), saying that they're doing it with me, so good to have you on board!

Yesterday's breakfast was once again a bowl of jungle oats and hot water along with a 4 egg white pancake.

About 3 hours later I was nibbly and chowed boiled egg whites I brought to work. It's not always the most appealing looking snack:


What you can't really notice in the above pic is that I'm in my SMOOCH store office, which is also the sweets storeroom. Packed behind me are 4 shelves full of candy and chocolate. I was good though, and just chugged down my eggs.

At 1pm I ate some left over hake from the day before (always a good idea to make more than you need so you have some food in the fridge when you need it):


And then yesterday afternoon I bought a gadget that I think is going to change the way I cook food from now on. My George Foreman packed up last week and I popped off to GAME to get a new one. While there I came across this machine, the TEFAL OPTI GRILL:

It retails for about R2600 (double the price of a Foreman), but the technology attached to it is brilliant! Once you tell it what you're cooking, its sensors measure the thickness of the food and it knows exactly how long to cook it for, even indicating when your steak is rare, medium or well done. It also has an option to cook chicken, fish etc from frozen.

Initially I thought it was a bit of a sales gimmick, so I gave it a test run with some ostrich steak. I'm no chef so I usually end up with a clump of tough meat, but this machine got it spot on:


The nicest part about the Opti-Grill is that you don't keep opening it up to check the food. It tells you when it's ready! So this was my 5pm meal.  I'm gonna try it with chicken a little later today and will let you know how it turns out. Oh, by the way, to clean it, simply click the heat plates off and stack them in the dishwasher! (This is not a sponsored blog. Mark simply likes chatting about gadgets that really work).

Nicole and I went out last night so I got a little nibbly around 8pm. We made a pitstop at Mezepoli and I snacked on a chicken kebab and some grilled calamari.


I'm showing all my meal pics because it keeps me in check, and also just goes to show that there's a variety of stuff to eat. Once again, it's no special meal plan, just clean eating. As of this morning I have gone from 86.9kg to 84.5kg since Monday.

Onto other news, I'll be a guest on the Casper Rasper Show on CliffCentral at 12pm today. Casper de Vries is a legendary South African comedian and I can't wait to hear how he rips me off!

And then, I'm back on radio tomorrow at 12pm with the Saturday Choose-a-Choon on Hot 91.9FM (which is now available on the TUNE IN app as well). I'll be playing all your favourite tunes from the 80s to now.

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UPDATE: Day 4 and 2kg lost

So it's been 3 full days that I haven't had a single cheat... and that means not even a single glass of wine. My replacement (which is not quite the same)... green tea!


I had 3 cups last night so landed up peeing like a racehorse during Johannesburg's violent storm at around 12am.

Dinner was also healthy. While the girls were tucking into spaghetti bolognese (which I LOVE), I was going with the healthier option, grilled hake and salad:


The good news is, I am already down from 86.9kg to 84.7kg. Not bad results. I think I'll continue posting my lunches and dinners on the blog so it'll force me to not cheat. And, I have laryngitis and feeling shitty so haven't even been burning the calories at gym this week.

It'll be a little harder tonight though as my mate owns Churchill's in Melrose Arch and we are there for his Christmas party this evening. It's going to be difficult just drinking water and not having a glass of wine or champagne, but I do things all or nothing. There can be NO cheating. My goal is to get down to 82kg (losing a total of about 5kg) by the end of next week.

I hate doing things alone. Why don't you do the healthy thing with me? (For details about my eating regime, see previous blog).

By the way, on a different note, lots of people have been asking how to listen to Hot 91.9 if they are not n Jo'burg North. As of yesterday, Hot 91.9 is now on TUNEIN Radio, so you can either listen via or download the TuneIn app to your phone!

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The Pilgrim household lurgies.

Just a quick morning blog from the Pilgrim household.

When one person becomes ill it has a domino effect on everyone. Little Alyssa has been ill with tummy problems for about 2 weeks. On Friday Nicole came down with flu and just as she gets better Tayla-Jean gets it,  so she's not at school today.

I'm also still man-down from the bloody spider bite. It's now 5 days since I had surgery where they cut out the infected flesh.  In fact, based on the colour of my bandage right now, it looks like someone's slaughtered a cat under there and I'm back off to the surgeon this morning to make sure the wound is indeed healing the way it should. I won't show you another picture!

Someone used to seeing blood and gore is my cardiologist. This last Friday was quite an emotional afternoon as I was booked to give a motivational talk at a Cardiologist conference and in the audience was the heart surgeon that saved my life. I've spoken to literally hundreds of audiences over the years, but this was a hard, yet immensely gratifying one as I was able to personally thank him whilst he sat with his colleagues and peers.

Dr Steingo will always be my hero. In fact, I'll never forget bumping into him the elevator the day Tayla-Jean was born and thanking him for saving my heart, so that my daughter could steal it.

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Poo, fish and other bits

So why does my daughter feel the need to poo in the bath EVERY single night? She's like Pavlov's dog hearing the bell ring, every time Alyssa gets in the water, she drops a parcel. I'm not going to go into any graphic detail, suffice to say that even with a rubber glove, it's still one hell of a mess to have to clean up!

It takes me back to the classic scene in Caddyshack:

At least in Caddyshack they disinfected the pool. At Zimbali Resort a year ago, they just scooped one out the pool with the net and it was business as usual.

Getting back to our log situation at home, I've now banned my 1 year old from having a bath and she can only have showers. Having to disinfect our bath every day is not something I enjoy doing.

Onto things that are more sanitary, it's great to be on television again, this time doing a commercial for Cell C. Just in case you haven't seen it, here it is:

I'm changing topics every few lines, but I guess that's what happens when you haven't written a blog in a few days and you're trying to cram it all in. My 2 week gym diet is going well. I've dropped 2.5kg in 4 days. It's a little tough eating a kilo of hake a day, but the body fat percentage has definitely dropped. I've had people moaning on twitter saying my eating plan is not sustainable. I know, that's why it's called the "2 WEEK pre-competition ripping program". Besides, if you're not very active at gym I definitely wouldn't recommend it. Some say eating fish every day is not healthy (by the way, hake is low in mercury). Well, eating junk food every day is unhealthy too. The hardest part about these 2 weeks (and I'm only 5 days into it), is not having wine.

Anyway, that's my quick rambling. I'm off to sign some documents today which will branch my career into a new direction. I'm very excited to tell you about it on Monday!

Happy weekend... and happy Valentine's Day!

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Something fishy is going on at home

I got asked by someone on twitter yesterday why I'm not blogging like I usually do. Apologies! I've been so busy that I haven't had 10 minutes to do it. I'm in the process of setting up a new business venture and it involves a lot of site visits, meetings and lawyers documents at the moment. It should be locked down by Friday and then I can reveal more!

Onto things of a fishy nature. I've decided it's time to lose a few percent body fat. I've always been in decent shape, but as a gym bunny I want to look a little more ripped so that my wife salivates every time she sees me :). It involves a 2 week bodybuilding pre-competition diet (except of course, I'm not entering a competition).

It's strict training 5 times a week and eating every 2 to 3 hours. I'll list what I'm doing here as a few people have asked for it.

As a disclaimer I must stress that this is just MY eating plan and I am in no way whatsoever recommending you try this. All diets should be cleared by your medical practitioner first. 

For 2 solid weeks (without a cheat!), this is what i'm doing:

  • 6am: Plain jungle oats and then 4 boiled eggs whites
  • 9am: Hake x 2 (dry grilled in oven for 15 minutes. Just add a bit of lemon juice and fish spice)
  • 11am: Whey protein powder
  • 1pm: Hake x 2 and a fist of sweet potato
  • 4pm: Hake x 2 and a fist of sweet potato
  • 7pm: Hake x 2 and salad (lettuce, tomato and cucumber drizzled with olive oil)
If I was entering a competition I would still be supplementing the meals with more egg whites, but I respect the poor chicken's bum. I'm also taking Flaxseed oil with every meal. Alcohol is a no-no (bugger, as I love my wine). All I can drink is water (about 4 litres a day), black coffee and green tea.

hake and sweet potato

hake and salad

It's only day 2 and I'm already tired of fish! It's gonna be even harder tonight as we have 7 close friends coming over for dinner. While they nosh on a gourmet meal and the red wine flows, I'll be eating out of a tupperware container! It's a challenge, but I'm up for it!

Here's hoping for a six pack peeking though at the end of next week.

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My heart and Rihanna

Last night, all the major news networks in the States were chatting about George W. Bush who just underwent heart surgery and had a stent placed in an artery as a result of heart disease. He's an incredibly fit and active man, so it once again highlights that regardless of whether you're healthy or not, young or old, if it happened to him and it happened to me... it could happen to you.

Last Friday, Doctors Orders on SABC3 featured my story in their programme:

So it really is all about popping off to your doctor once a year for a checkup. Bush was lucky in that they picked it up before he had a heart attack. I was not so lucky, and as a result I have heart damage.

Onto lighter news. Did she lip sync at her concert on Sunday night?  I didn't go (i'd rather shoot myself in the foot), but according to a lot of people on twitter, Rihanna didn't sing much. Whereas some people aren't phased by that, I would be incredibly pissed off if I paid for a ticket and she wasn't really singing. I know there's hectic dance routines and she might get out of breath, but that's all part of performing live.

Based on this photo taken in Cape Town yesterday, even the penguin has read what some people were saying on twitter.

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Raising hope for Layla

Take a look at young 4 year old Layla O'Niell...

Sadly she doesn't have an opportunity to smile much lately. 4 months ago she was diagnosed with Neuroplasm Glial Ependymona, which is tumours on the brain and spinal cord.

Yesterday I received an emotional email from a friend of Layla's mum. They are desperate to raise as much money as they can to send Layla to the States for life saving treatment.

As a parent myself, I can only imagine the pain and anguish both Layla and her mum Sharyn (a single parent) is going through.

To date they have managed to raise R700000, but need R3.2 million to save her life.

If you are in the Johannesburg area, this coming Tuesday (public holiday) they are doing a crossfit session in Sunninghill to raise some more funds. Here is the flyer:

You can also make a small donation of R10 by SMS'ing LAYLA to 38008. We spend that on parking money. If enough of us SMS that small amount it can make a huge difference for Layla.

PLEASE. Let's help Sharyn save her daughter's life.

Sharyn has also created a facebook page:

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The hottest virgin I've ever seen

No. It's not what you think (but welcome to all the guys that popped onto my blog for the first time ever).

Virgin Active opened their new Alice Lane "Classic" club last weekend and it's pretty much wowed every single member that's been there over the past couple of days, including myself.

If you're not familiar with the "Classic" range, it really is a 5 star gym experience and there are now 3 of these flagship Virgin Active clubs in South Africa. The Branson boys injected R150 million into this new state of the art heath facility and it shows.

For member privacy reasons I couldn't take many pics to showcase it, but the first thing you notice when walking in is the spiralling red marble staircase taking you up the the fitness area.

I've been going to gym for almost 25 years and had to do a double take at some of the Technogym machinery. They're designed for comfort and functionality and we're one of the first in the world to experience the new technology.

Virgin Active Alice Lane has a concierge, there's a restaurant with full time chef, an aqua lounge for relaxing in a bubble and jet pool after your workout and even a dedicated room for suspension yoga (haven't figured that one out yet).

But for me, one of the most exciting elements of the new Alice Lane club is the view. Granted, it's not Cape Town so it doesn't have the sea, but with a second fitness floor on the roof, the panoramic view is breathtaking.

Everything is designed to make you feel like a million bucks even before you start your training session. Well done Virgin!

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The power of dreams.

I've been an ambassador for Reach for a Dream (we just call ourselves "friends of the organisation") for over 13 years and this weekend Nicole and I went to a gala banquet dinner to celebrate Reach for a Dream putting smiles on young faces for the last 25 years.

Every family that Reach for a Dream helped probably said at some stage "it won't happen to me". But it did. As some dreams were re-visited on Saturday night, it was awe inspiring to see the bravery these young children have in the face of disease.

PJ Powers kicked off the evening by singing a song she wrote for Reach for a Dream many years ago, and it has become their anthem. PJ herself is such an inspiration. She openly talks about her addiction to alcohol and the strength it took to fight her inner demons. She's a South African icon and it was such a pleasure sitting next to her and chatting about the music business.

The highlight of the evening though was 15 year old Robyn van Rooyen. Suffering from a life threatening illness, her dream has always been to sing in front of a crowd at a banquet.  On Saturday night she took to the stage and sang HALLELUJAH.  It had the crowd in tears.

Happy birthday Reach for a Dream. May you celebrate MANY more years of fulfilling dreams of children who have life threatening illnesses.
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National Cancer Survivors Day in SA is this weekend.

It was during my second year at Wits that I picked up something was wrong and one of my gonads were swollen. Because I ignored it I gave cancer the opportunity to spread to other parts of my body. By the time I was diagnosed it had spread to my lungs and kidneys as well. It's called Stage 4. There is no stage 5.

It was a long battle, but I won and have been in remission ever since. Every 2 years though I still need to go for checkups to make sure all is okay, and that checkup was yesterday.

I'm not going to lie, I was more than a little apprehensive, but my daughter Tayla-Jean came along with me to hold my hand and keep me smiling:

The news came back "clear". It was a good day yesterday! After leaving the Oncology Centre Tayla-Jean and I celebrated by going for lunch and sharing a Freezo!

My check up came around just a few days before National Cancer Day on Saturday. It's a day where the country honours the strength and courage of cancer survivors.

If have cancer at the moment and need someone to talk to, please pop on to It makes the journey easier when you chat to people that can relate to what you are going through.
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Flu and apples.

This long weekend I was plagued with the flu (again). I'm not surprised considering my kids have been swinging snot around for over a week.

Besides it affecting work, it's frustrating not being able to exercise either. Bugger. Being a viral infection (which anti-biotics can't help), a good doctor friend of mine has recommended Olive Leaf Extract, which I'm taking at the moment. Here's hoping it clears up soon. The red wine helped a little yesterday too!

Speaking of the medical world, I go for blood tests today in preparation of my 2-yearly cancer check up on Wednesday. I'd being lying if I didn't get a a little nervous whenever it's time to go and get checked out, but always remain positive!

The old cliche "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" brings me to some Apple news! (I like connecting my stories!). It seems that 10 September is the rumoured date that Apple will hold their next media event, where it's expected they'll reveal the iPhone 5S. I'm hoping they'll surprise us with the iPhone 6 instead, but very much doubt that will happen. I'll keep you posted as more news gets leaked before the big day.
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Why men always want chicken soup

Having the flu is never fun. My kids have had runny noses for the past few weeks, and I think all the wiping by Dad has eventually taken its toll, because for the last 2 days i've been man-down.

Last night, having a blocked nose, I was snoring so loudly I woke up at one stage to see Nicole had a pillow over her head. I think she wanted to put the pillow over MY head. She said I was sounding like a walrus giving birth.

It amazing to read all the different remedies people suggest. Some are as simple as taking an effervescent tablet, whilst others are so complex (like chwing the toenail of an ancient Tebetan Phoenix), by the time you got all the ingredients you would have recovered naturally anyway. 

But the one thing almost all guys agree one... When we're sick we want chicken soup. It's a bit of maternal nurturing in a bowl. No matter how rough and tough we are as guys, when we're sick, we want someone to say it's gonna be okay...even if it is just the sniffles.

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My house with a hole.

It was a rough night last night. Little Alyssa had a 39C temperature and was not a happy camper. Someone told us that kids having temperatures all the time is just nature's way of letting parents know quickly that the child is sick and not just grumpy. We took her to the doctor this morning and it tonsillitis (again).

Tayla-Jean (my 3 year old) is doing much better since having her tonsils removed about 2 months ago. Here she was this morning taking photos of me while I was taking photos of her.

It's been a stressful few days in the Pilgrim household. We've been doing a small renovation to our patio, knocking out a wall and about to put a stacking door in it's place. There was a water pipe that we had to cut, but realised we couldn't shut off the house's water supply as the shut off valve had broke. It's taken 4 days to replace the valve. In the process, the water drained out the geyser and blew the element (which meant after the hot water back-washed into the toilets, we had no hot water left).

I've now replaced the element, and put a "non-return valve" on the geyser so we no longer have hot water in the loo (a steaming bowl of excrement is not a nice smell).

The irony is, even when the element in the geyser blew we should STILL have had hot water because it's a SOLAR geyser too. So, with all these mini disasters we realised the solar panels aren't working!  So that will hopefully be fixed today. I've spent 3 solid days with contractors ... keeping a house functioning is an expensive task!

When I need to retreat for a few minutes I would normally go to my "man cave", but that was converted into a kid's playroom a few months ago. So I do the next best thing... I buy something online! Any yes, it's always a gadget.

My new one is being delivered by UPS from the UK this morning... it's ANOTHER CCTV camera! This one is a Y-Cam HD Outdoor Bullet Camera. I swear hosting Big Brother must have rubbed off on my psyche.

After spending all the money on contractors to fix everything that's gone wrong and also buying the camera, maybe I should focus on actually buying the stacking doors now so I don't have a gaping hole on the side of my house.
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They don't tell you this in parenting 101

This is something only a parent can relate to. If I see someone else's child vomit I curl my fingers and toes, block my nose and run in the opposite direction. When it's your own child, you dig in the trenches so to speak, and those same hands uncurl and you try and catch as much of it as possible so maybe you don't have to clean the carpet afterwards.

We've had a 6 week run in the Pilgrim household of the girls having fevers, vomiting and runny tummies (not that I try and catch THAT with my hands). The latest bug has had both girls throwing up so much that our poor washing machine is taking strain with the constant barrage of linen and pajamas.

In fact, Nicole has taken the kids to the doctor so many times over the past few weeks she's worried the doctor might think she has Munchausens Syndrome. No, that's not where you snack on little people. It's where you continually feign illness to get attention.

The reality is, when your child is sick, especially losing lots of fluids, you simply can't take a chance. It needs attention. Tayla-Jean had nausea so badly she had to have anti-vomiting tablets they give chemo patients.  She's been better since Saturday (hot on the heels of the Tonsillectomy that knocked her out for 2 weeks).

On the weekend Nicole and I both got sick with the same bug, and are both feeling better now. But little Alyssa is still sick and as I write this... Nicole is at the doctor with her! Here's hoping my little Chicken Sausage is okay. We were up at 3am this morning giving her a bath to clean her up after a 4th night of hurling.

Being a Mum or Dad is definitely not for the faint-hearted or squirmish!
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Muggles and make up

I've been spending quite a bit of time traveling lately, and today is no exception as I'm off to Durban for a gig tonight.

To pass the time at hotels, airports and on the plane itself I've been watching a few iPad movies. About a week ago I decided to give Daniel Radcliffe another chance and I loaded the Potter movies (all 8 of them). So, for the last few days I've once again immersed myself in the world of muggles, sorcery and brooms. I'm four movies down with four to go and I have to once again conclude that I really don't think Mr Potter acted well at all. Having said that though, I really love the special effects and the storyline, so today in the 5 minutes of the Durban flight which is not ascending or descending, I'll switch on my "electronic device" and start the 5th movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Think of it as trivial escapism.

The worst thing about traveling for me is missing my girls. Even for one night. I think I might just miss one of the "moments" when the girls do something for the first time. Like last week when Tayla-Jean decided to apply her own makeup for the first time...
In fact, she could do with some make up now because she's as white as a sheet. Last night Nicole and I were up all night because she was vomiting (the first time I expertly caught most of it in my hands... it's an instinct thing!). This morning I have cancelled a meeting so I can lie in bed with her as she's still quite weak. It's weird being in my pajamas on a "work day".
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My daughter and the North Korean bum bullet

Tayla-Jean had her tonsils out yesterday. While she was still goofed on medication at hospital she managed to smile a little and was very happy when Dad got into bed with her.

After a few hours at home though, the pain started kicking in and there were more than a few tears last night.

She's on a lot of medication, including the ones she hates the most, the bum bullets (suppositories). In between the sobs as the North Korean nuclear missile was latching on to its buttock target, she said to us:
"I'm not having a good day. You're bending my bum with those small things".

She's in for a rough few days, especially in a week when the scabs form in the throat. Mum and Dad are psyched and ready.

On a lighter but colder note, 48 hours ago we were using aircons to cool us down at night...  and then somone suddenly opened the fridge door in Johannesburg. It took me about 20 minutes to get the gas fireplace working (had to bleed the pipes), and in the kitchen I used a bit of psychological warfare on the cold... I switched on my virtual fireplace!
It might be cheesy, but it makes the room seem warmer!

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My worst fear in a restaurant loo

Yes, I admit, I'm a bit of a germaphobe.

So it stands to reason I'm not a fan of public toilets. I think of them as germ pits, infested with all types of infectious bugs. In fact, the amount of guys who don't wash their hands after going to the loo is horrendously high (and I hear it's the same with the ladies). Some guys, when seeing you at the basin, will make a show of going to the tap, sprinkle a drop of water on their hands, feel like they have done their bit and proudly strut away.

That's why I always try and use a piece of tissue to open the door or turn the tap.

But my worst fear when it comes to a restaurant loo is the DREADED HANDTOWEL.

If you ever see me at a restaurant and I walk out of the loo with damp jeans... no, I didn't wet myself. I just used them to dry my hands. Arrrgghhhhhhh. This was the case yesterday at a restaurant in Fourways. The problem is, half the time they haven't been washed in what seems like a few weeks. They look soggy and just hang onto the hook for dear life.

As a backup I always keep waterless hand cleanser in the car. You just never know when the restaurant bathroom is just too disgusting to enter.

Speaking of germs, the family is getting better after all 3 girls landed up with high temperatures and anti-biotics. It's been a hellish last 2 weeks, but everyone seems to be on the mend at last.

Here's hoping you have a great weekend!
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I'm on my hands and knees

Apologies for no blog yesterday. I was hosting the AECI Sales Conference and I couldn't get near my computer.

My blogs over the past few days have been focused a lot on my girls simply because their condition has dominated our household. So which girl do I start with first?

Tayla-Jean has gone one whole day without a temperature (woohoo!).

After 7 days of anti-biotics she seems to be on the mend, but she still has another 5 days of medicine to go. Now we give her the medicine on a tiled surface in case we have a re-occurrence of 3 nights ago when she simply hurled it (and her dinner) back up again.

I thought you'd rather not see the CCTV footage of the "event", but this was me 5 minutes later, on my hands and knees with a bucket trying to clean up the couch and carpet.

I'm obviously not skilled enough with the way of the bucket, because 3 days later the room is still ponging, so this morning all playroom toys had to go into the lounge so the carpet can be removed and cleaned properly. So this is how I'll watch TV tonight...

Alyssa is on day 3 of a fever (yes, both my girls are sick). This morning is a good one as her temperature is "only" 38.3C.

But there is a moment every night, when both girls are sound asleep, work is done for the day, and for that BRIEF moment Nicole and I can sit down (tonight though won't be in the pukey playroom or toy-filled lounge) and have that first sip of merlot.

Despite living on the edge of chaos, I wouldn't change it for the world. Parenthood. The biggest blessing ever.
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Those swollen dangly things have to go

What a difference a few hours can make. Just yesterday we were all having a nice supper at a kiddy venue in Sandton. A few hours later Tayla-Jean had a raging temperature and all hell broke loose.

Two weeks ago she had tonsillitis (for the 3rd time in 8 months). She's only just finished her anti-biotics, and she has tonsillitis again!

With all of us getting very little sleep, we were back at the doctor this morning. More anti-biotics. We'll see the specialist again next Tuesday and I have no doubt he will want to chop the tonsils out. Let's hope so! Those infected dangling stalagmites have to go (or is it stalactites?  I forget which ones hang down like bats snoozing in a 5 star hotel).

I'm sure the procedure has improved since I had mine out just after World War II, but no parent really enjoys their kid going under the knife no matter how simple the procedure has become. At least if she has the tonsils removed, Tayla-Jean will stop snoring like a drunken Russian sailor, and when we go on holiday next time, we won't have to get her her own room!
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Feeling lazy at gym? I was...

I've always been a relatively fit person. I go to gym and do the treadmill thing. But in recent months (okay, maybe the last 2 years), I've been a little sluggish and lazy. I go to gym 5 times a week but probably spend more time talking and less time working out.

It's not that I don't know what to do. I released a gym DVD for Pete's sake. But if your motivation is not there, no amount of knowledge will make a difference. Granted the USN photo shoot was 9 years ago and I'm in my 40s now, so it's unrealistic to believe that I'll always be in chiseled condition, but I can't let that be an excuse.

A wake up call was when I saw a recent pic and wondered whose stomach that was! Now I know I'm probably exaggerating a little, but we are our own worst critics. All things being equal, I'm still in shape, but I was in better shape before and it's never too late to whip the ass back into shape.

So this week I started with a personal trainer. I haven't used one since about 1999, but what a difference it makes, having someone staring over your shoulder making you train properly. Sure, they are not cheap, but I can feel a difference after just 2 sessions. Baie dankie Anton!

So here's my motivation to do the transformation all over again: my benchmark "before" photo taken at gym this morning. I'll take a photo again in a few weeks and if there's no change, feel free to lay into me!

The challenge is on! Wanna join in? Just for the fun of it, take a pic of yourself now and then get cracking with exercise and let's see how it pans out in a few weeks.
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