Those Genes

Clipart Illustration of a Tough Strong Black Man Flexing His Big

In the first years of my youth, I was told by certain insensitive adults that I would grow up to be a short man.  If that was not an oxymoron, I don’t know what is. Their reason for such crass talk? My mum is about 5 foot 5 inches tall, and my dad is shorter. My siblings were not tall either. Taking a family portrait, we all looked like Igbo Smurfs.

But sometimes genes and talents skip a generation – and certain traits and faults do too. On my father’s side of the family, the men tend to add weight easily around their torso.  My grandfather was a rolling stone, and I mean that quite literally. On my mum’s side, individuals are blessed with good frames and bone structure – cheek bones, proportional limbs and square shoulders. They are also very book-smart. However, baldness and receding hairlines are the flip side of their coin.

So in secondary school, when I hit my teenage years, many of the above traits from my mum and dad’s contrived to create a mish-mash of a messy pottage. The result would have made Frankenstein proud.

There I was, in the sullied whites of my secondary school uniform – large bellied with slim limbs, massive nose, a shortish height, a 90s Vanilla Ice high-top hair-cut and the early signs of widows peak. I had the dimples of life, but it was surrounded by teenage acne which became oils wells on contact. I was somewhat intelligent, but not academically brilliant.

And oh, did I mention that I wore glasses – a heritage of my father’s side. Big horn rimmed, coke-bottled spectacles which were always bent out of shape because I dozed off in them. I ended up tying them with a shoe string.

I could have developed a Napoleon complex. Luckily and co-incidentally I found creature comforts in other worldly pursuits like playing video games (especially Streetfighter 2 and ISS) hip-hop, and goofing around with my school click – The Pentagon Pound. In my day, you could not afford to wallow in your physical insecurities as you would be eaten for breakfast by banter throwers. I held up quite well.

Back then, there was no Skype, no hiding behind Blackberry or Whatsapp chats or social media. You had to go out there, and put yourself out there, or remain a crab in the hole forever. Get the wind behind your back, so to speak.

After I finished secondary school, I spent an involuntary gap year (imposed by JAMB and strikes) at home before I went off to University. To kill boredom, I ate everything moving. It drove my ma bonkers.

But then something else happened – I experienced a growth spurt like no other. It was like I looked in the mirror, and transformed from being a “short engine” to about 6 feet tall. My grandfather’s genes came through – he was a Goliath, as village champions come. Oh, and my forehead acne cleared.

So good times, and as Sean Carter rhymed, my situation could be summed as thus:

My gear is in and I’m in the in-crowd
And all the wavy light skinned girls are loving me now
My self-esteem went through the roof – man, I got my swag

As crazy family genes go, it appears that for every gift, there is a concession.

There is the famous Esco Family sheen – we appear to be blessed with a certain glow inherited from our progenitors who discovered the merits of cassava soap (I kid, I kid). My grandmother on my father’s side who was said to be a hot chick in her day centuries ago, aged very well. Even on my dad’s sickbed before he passed on, people who came to see him refused to accept that he had cancer. He looked relatively fresh till his final moments.

And because my pops had cancer, it is something I have to look out for. I will need to have my prostrates checked annually from age 40 onwards – an excruciating and very humbling  procedure.  I also have to keep an eye on my carbs and sugar intake to stave off diabetes – which used to be a family special in my maternal family tree. Heck, I even dropped my cigarette habit half a decade ago, and I have not had a St Moritz in years.

There is also artistic streak in my blood. Otaakara, my daughter, is already pretty handy with Crayola, and has a photographic memory that equals the motion grounds of OAU. I have always had a keen interest in calligraphy, content development and creativity. My mind works 24/7 . I am not able to sleep without dreaming.  Good for wet dreams – horrible for nightmares.

My old man was a super speech-writer and popular choice for chairman of events, as he was capable of captivating and moving an audience with his words. He also had a slick tongue that could mortally injure, if he reprimanded you. My cousin twice removed earns serious corn as a UK based photographer and videographer with a weekend DJ side gig. Another cousin is a super skilled musician, who unfortunately came up in the wrong era. Certain members of the extended family discouraged his pursuit of a music career, as back then everyone crassly wanted their children to study law, medicine, finance or engineering.

These days, I still have this huge girth to contend with. I suffer Nutty Professoritis, as my metabolism is all over the place. One week you could see me in my Buddy Love stance, then the next month I would have added 30 pounds and be plump like the Klumps. Wellness and health management for any gender is a lifelong campaign. Sometimes you lose 5 pounds, and gain 10, and vice versa. Fat can be like those demons described in the Bible; when you cast out one, if you backslide in faith, he returns back manifold. Well, at all, at all, na him bad pass.

I got sick of feeling like a deflated wheel in the streetcar called desire. I also discovered that sleep apnea is the cousin of death.

So I started this 24 day cleanse program last month called the Advocare 24 Day Challenge and have dropped over 10 pounds so far, and gained some major muscle. I feel more energized like a Tiger-head battery.

The Challenge contains an eating plan made of many readily available foods or healthy equivalents – sweet potatoes, brown rice, brown pasta, roasted boli. You take healthy supplements, eat clean, hydrate and exercise, and “lean-back” (lots of pun intended). There is no way you can lose. Or scratch that, there are plenty ways you can.  It is not only for weight loss. There are different weight gain, wellness and rejuvenation packages. Check out more information here  , and USA and Canada based readers can also order directly from here too. If you have any questions, please send an email to



You are beautiful…

The nature of genes is learning how to work with the hardware you are blessed with, and calibrate the supposed “bugs” by action and supplication. No seed of man has no choice over his parents, fore-bearers or constitution.

Trivia in closing: If a cockroach accidentally makes contact with a human being, it scurries away somewhere and cleans itself. Let that sink in for a bit.

Caught a glimpse of myself in the Barney’s shop window/
Kind of  see my father’s features creeping  in a little/
Got an office on Broadway, business in Jamaica/
Tell my daughter to  try the hardest so the best schools will take her/

Nas, War (2004)


Sunday Best


As a working adult, I thank God when it’s Friday.

However, growing up, Sundays were special. Everybody in my house had to attend church, even if they were near half dead from exhaustion. Planning to give church a miss because you didn’t feel up to it? Not in my father’s house; not on my mother’s watch. My old man literally threw the holy book at ya: “If you like, when you are grown up and out of my house, you could decide to worship at the temple of the Golden Calf, but until then off to church you go”

And off we went, gnashing out teeth under our breaths, and stamping on the floor, albeit out of earshot of Papa Esco.

My siblings and I would squeeze into our formal clothes, which were especially reserved just for church or weddings. Back then, you would not wear casual clothes like jeans or T-shirts to church. They looked rather out of place in the church’s marbled cathedral with its cross spindle. You should have seen how geared up the women attendees at my church were too. They wore hats with brims so wide, they could, err, throw shade. And they literally did – seating in the middle and back pews and dissecting every in-coming attendee’s dress sense. Or lack of.

Husbands or drivers dropped their wives and female members of the family off at the front of the church, as heels were not made for walking the distance from the parking area to the church. Everybody came through looking real fine –styling like they were fresh off a runway or beauty salon. The bigger the leather case bound bible, the better. And sometimes the holy books stayed shut, all through the service.

Meanwhile kid’s clothes in the 80s and early 90s were hideous. My suit was 7 buttoned, and the pants were bongo at the bottom, with a tight crotch area. If I stretched my arm, the cuff pulled up almost to my elbows. If I took long strides, the crotch area crushed my little scrotum. My sisters fared a little better, only because they could accessorize their periwinkle plaits. You kids of nowadays don’t know how good you have got it? Jeans and sneakers to church? Jeans was for hoodlums or discos.

Then we would go ask my dad for money for offering. He would usually be in his bathroom shaving with his trusty bic razor, and would grunt a direction to bring up his wallet. Five naira usually did the trick.

My rogue of an older cousin thought me how to split the collection plate money, so I could have some extra for Fan Ice Lollies during service. If I was smart and patient and obedient, I could have enough for a Big Dip – which was a chocolate covered vanilla ice cream on a stick. I had to be quick and nimble to sneak out of church during service to buy it, eat it fast while perched hiding between two vehicles in the car park; and then wipe my hands on my corduroy pants and rush back to the church unnoticed.

If my dad had found out, he would have split me into two. If our bishop had found out, he would have casted the demons of gluttony influencing me, with 6 degrees of separation.

The clergymen back then didn’t suffer fools gladly. They preached not minding whose ox was gored, or which fox got bored, or whose ego was bruised. They threatened fire and brimstone to early leavers, if they tried to sneak out  to give the after-service festivities a miss. The longest services were the confirmation or baptism ones. Service sometimes ended in the early afternoon, and then you had to wait until your parents exchanged greetings with all and sundry.

The choir was awesome – Sister Rebecca led us in an old negro spiritual with Ms. Gladys a perpetual spinster chorusing in falsetto. And Ms Gladys looked the part too. She had a particular chorister stance in which she stared into the distance as if in a trance, while pursing her lips ever so slightly as she hit the high notes.

Sister Pasqualine usually came to church late, and the clack of her high heels as she squeezed herself between the pews looking for a spot to seat added to the medley sounds. The hisses of other inconvenienced church-goers provided a beat. Then the wail of  a toddler from a nursing mother added another note, before the rustle of a biscuit packet, as she tried to placate it with an Okin square. Ah biscuits. Been calming toddlers throwing tantrums at church since 1914. Cookie Monsters…

I was glad when I was old enough to leave the kid’s section of the church for the adult section. For me it was a coming of age. I could finally have my own hymn book, and pretend to sing along. I couldn’t wait to get confirmed so I could taste the communion. Swap my “book of bible stories” with colorful illustrations for a Holy Bible with Kings James text. I couldn’t wait to act all grown up and adult as I went to pick my junior ones from the kids section.

Besides in the children’s section, one of the aunties was bit stern for my tastes. She made us make crosses out of palm fronds on Palm Sunday. On the flip side she was the first one who taught that BIBLE stands for Blessed Information Brings Life Eternal.

Years later, hip-hop would teach me that it also stood for Basic Information Before Leaving Earth. Many, many, years later, I would see fake deceitful preachers manufacture interpretations out of the Holy Book to control and deceive their congregation for financial gain.

Around 12ish, we returned home from church.

Then I could finally sink my teeth into the jollof rice of life. Jollof rice was another Sunday special you see. And if the beans were peeled fast enough for them to be sent to the neighbouring market for grinding, moi moi was added to the lunch menu. I couldn’t wait to take off my Sunday best, and ended up ripping the 7 brass buttons off like Clark Kent. My mum came with the kryptonite.

Then I could watch Sunday Rendezvouz . Prince 2000 was like Don Cornelius – he made the dancers on the show break into jigs for bottles of Limca or Parle Soda. Hit me, hit me, hit me….

And my sister would indeed hit me, as she tried to wake me up, having snoozed off on the sofa after stuffing myself silly with glorious jollof. Why? It was time for Tales by Moonlight.

We would gather around the TV, and laugh at the hyena’s costume that made it look like a cross-eyed werewolf.  The elephant costume that looked made it look like it had muscle pull.

Evening time came, and then we would watch soap operas, sponsored by Thermocool and Joy Soap.

Then it was bedtime, and I could not wait for the school week to come and go, so that I could experience Sunday all over again.

Check out this song by Scarface:


Scarface All Bad




Advocare -24DC (24 Day Challenge)

The 24-Day Challenge is a comprehensive supplementation and nutrition program designed to give your body the jumpstart it needs to help you reach your goals. There’s something for everyone whether you are looking for weight management, energy, overall body composition or overall wellness. Thousands of people have experienced success on the 24-Day Challenge – you could be next! Click here for success stories.

Cleanse Phase

Proper absorption of nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals is essential to maintaining a healthy body. However, periodic lifestyle changes may generate the need for a “fresh start” – that’s where the Cleanse Phase comes in. On Days 1-10 of the 24-Day Challenge, you will take three products.

These products, in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise, help to rid your body of waste and prepare your body to better absorb nutrients.* This isn’t the kind of cleanse where you drastically reduce calories or consume only liquids – this is the beginning of a healthier lifestyle!*

Herbal Cleanse SystemThe AdvoCare Herbal Cleanse system can help rid your body of waste and prepare the body for optimal nutrient absorption with its unique blend of herbal ingredients.* Using a systematic approach, this 10-day system guides you through the daily steps for thorough internal cleansing and improved digestion.*Each Herbal Cleanse box includes these two key products: ProBiotic Restore™ capsules and Herbal Cleanse tablets. For the complete system, use these two products as well as AdvoCare Fiber for the duration of the 10 days.

OmegaPlex®The second product you will use in the Cleanse Phase is OmegaPlex®, which is a high-quality blend of essential Omega-3 fatty acids for overall wellness.* Omega-3 fatty acids are essential components of heart, nerve, muscle, skin, bone and immune health. As with all of the AdvoCare products, OmegaPlex®meets high standards for safety and efficacy so you can be sure you are getting some of the purest Omega-3 fatty acids on the market.*
AdvoCare Spark®AdvoCare Spark® is a unique multi-nutrient system that was developed as a nutritional source of energy and enhanced mental focus.* It’s sugar free with more than 20 vitamins, minerals and nutrients that work synergistically to provide a healthy, balanced and effective source of energy that won’t overburden or over stimulate your body.*

These three products work to cleanse and prepare your body for the Max Phase, days 11-24.
Note: Do not take thermogenic products (MNS® color packets, ThermoPlus™ and AdvoCare® Slim) while in the Cleanse Phase.
Other AdvoCare supplements may be continued, although they should be taken at least a couple of hours after the AdvoCare Fiber.

Max Phase

After completing the Cleanse Phase, it’s time to move into days 11-24: The Max Phase. The Max Phase is about fueling your body in order to achieve maximum results. During this phase you will take three products that work together to provide you with sustained energy, appetite control, core nutrition and overall wellness.* Upon completion of the 24-Day Challenge, these products can continue to be taken every day as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Metabolic Nutrition System™ – MNS®During the Max Phase, you can choose from three Metabolic Nutrition Systems which all provide sustained energy, appetite control, core nutrition and overall wellness.*If you’re not sure which system to use, AdvoCare recommends beginning with MNS® 3, which provides you with a foundational level of appetite control and energy.* For a higher level of appetite control you can choose MNS® C, and for more energy you can choose MNS® E*.

All three formulations include: CorePlex® (our multivitamin), OmegaPlex®, ProBiotic Restore™ , thermogenic components and additional wellness supplements.

Meal Replacement ShakeSkipping meals is a common mistake people make in weight-management or wellness programs. The Meal Replacement Shake is a healthy, delicious solution. Each shake includes 22-24 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 5-6 grams of fiber, 26 vitamins and minerals, and 50 percent of the recommended daily allowance of calcium. They come in several great-tasting flavors.
AdvoCare Spark®An additional box of AdvoCare Spark® completes the Max Phase.

When compared to MNS®

Companion Products

Companion products can be used in conjunction with the products that come with your 24-Day Challenge Bundle. Although not officially part of the 24-Day Challenge, these products are fantastic complements to the program and can help target your specific needs.*

It is important to stay in contact with your AdvoCare coach to ensure you are using these products at the proper times and phases during the 24-Day Challenge.

CatalystCatalyst provides a blend of essential branched-chain amino acids and L-glutamine to fuel your body with the muscle-building components it needs.* Catalyst helps repair and protect muscle, and provides the essential amino acids needed to maintain and promote lean body mass, endurance and strength.* Catalyst helps rid the fat and retain muscle when used in combination with a healthy diet, exercise, and other AdvoCare products such as Meal Replacement Shakes or Muscle Gain™.
ThermoPlus®ThermoPlus® is an innovative weight-loss enhancer that contains key botanical extracts to help support efficient metabolism and suppress appetite.* Together, they provide powerful support for stimulating fat oxidation and healthy metabolism when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise.*
Carb-Ease® PlusCarb-Ease® Plus is a full-spectrum product that helps support weight management and body composition.* Carb-Ease Plus contains ingredients that help inhibit the breakdown of fats and particular carbohydrate molecules so that the body is less likely to absorb them.* It also helps maintain weight and healthy blood glucose levels by reducing the negative effects of excessive carbohydrate consumption.*
AdvoCare Workout SeriesThe AdvoCare Workout Series Can You 24 is a two-disc DVD set, which includes seven workouts, 24 exercises per workout, a ColorTrack tool that encourages all levels of exercise, takes only 24 minutes, and requires no equipment! As an added bonus, it is led by some of our top AdvoCare Independent Distributors.

CU 24 Workout Series

AdvoCare Independent Distributors lead these dynamic workouts designed to help real people get
real results.

Nutrition Guide

Good nutrition is a key part of any healthy lifestyle. During the 24-Day Challenge, we encourage you to incorporate a large variety of lean proteins, vegetables, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates as part of a well-balanced and maintainable diet. Use the 24-Day Challenge Daily Guide as your one-stop reference for nutrition, supplementation, water intake and exercise throughout the Challenge.

Healthy recipes

Looking for 24-Day Challenge friendly recipes and more?
Be sure to check out the official AdvoCare Tumblr page.

Daily Guide

Water & Food Portion Recommendations
Hydration is key in any weight management program and it is important to have sensible portion sizes.Daily Checklists
We have included a convenient checklist for each day of the challenge that makes it easy to keep track of when to take your supplements, how much water you’re drinking, what exercise you are doing, and suggests what foods are recommended at each meal.

Food Suggestions
This isn’t a fad diet that eliminates entire food groups. Instead, our food suggestions revolve around a well-balanced diet of lean proteins, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and other snack items such as healthy fats, fruits, dairy, and AdvoCare products.

Daily Guide (English)
Download 4.5 MB
Daily Guide (Spanish)
Download 4.4 MB

The information found in the Daily Guide is merely a guideline and not a definitive list of what can and cannot be consumed on the 24-Day Challenge®.
As always, please consult your healthcare provider before making any dietary or fitness modifications. Be sure to stay in contact with your AdvoCare coach
to help with any questions you may have.

Culled from