Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai: Day 3

On Day 3 (Tuesday) I decided to try out the gym in our building. It’s in the same complex but you have to collect an access card from reception and walk across to the car park. The pool and gym are on the top floor/roof of that building. When I got to the sixth floor, I couldn’t figure out how to use the access card. The machine on the wall had a number pad and I had a card that (I thought) needed swiping. There was an office across the hallway so I went in and asked if anyone knew how to get to the pool/gym area? One of the guys came out to help me – he tried holding the card against the machine but nothing happened so he punched in a code and let me in. 

There was an entrance to the pool, a door which said ‘Aerobics’ (I didn’t go in), and the gym. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I think there’s enough equipment there to keep me busy! It’s not the most up-to-date equipment I’ve used but it’ll do. 

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I usually use the bike but I had another ‘blonde’ moment and couldn’t figure out how to use it. I started pedalling and followed the instructions but the machine didn’t start. So I decided to use the treadmill. A few minutes later a guy came in, sat down on the bike, started pedalling and it worked – eh?). Anyway, when I pressed ‘start’ on the treadmill, cold air started coming out of the top of the display. I’ve never seen or even heard of treadmills with fans before! I also bumped into someone I know, who also lives in the building, but apart from that it was very quiet. No people-watching, no music, no screens to watch the news on… Very different to LA Fitness! So I watched the poolside (which looks much nicer from pool level than from up above). I did some weights, some lunges (yes, lunges!) and some stretches and went back home. On my way out of the gym, I tried holding the access card against the number pad on the machine. And it worked. 

My brother-in-law hired a car and driver after lunch and we drove to Sharjah. The plan was to go to the Arabia Wildlife Centre and show Vinay some animals. It took us about an hour to get there and when we finally arrived, the couple outside the Centre told us it was closed. WTF? After all that! And that meant the Children’s Farm next door was closed too. Hmm – someone didn’t read the website properly. So we piled back into the car and Googled other things to do in the area. The driver must have thought we were morons. The Sharjah Aquarium? Yes, we’ll go there! It took us another 30 minutes or so to get there and when we did it looked like the building was closed – it was under scaffolding and looked like it was being renovated. Thankfully, it wasn’t and we went in. It cost AED20 (approximately £3.50) per person.

The aquarium was interesting – they had a variety of aquatic life on display. The only thing I’d complain about was that at every exhibit they had touch screens where you could find out more about the creatures in the exhibit but none of them worked. Each time I clicked on the screen, it would bring up starfish and other ‘harbour’ creatures, but nothing about the sharks that were in the tank.

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We got to walk through an underwater tunnel where stingrays and other big fish were swimming around, but I have no idea what they were. It was interesting nevertheless.

After the aquarium, Vinay played in the children’s area outside. He loved going down the slide and did it over and over again with a huge grin on his face.

The drive home didn’t take as long as the drive there and we were home in time to see the sunset (ignore the streaky windows!).

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My dad finally got me a du SIM card – I put it in my phone and nothing happened. He told me to wait an hour or so and it would start working. About two hours later, the only things working were the phone and Twitter. And really, who uses the phone any more? My BlackBerry service wasn’t up and running yet so I wasn’t getting any emails or BB messages. It’s shocking how much I rely on my phone!

That night, my sister, brother-in-law and I went out for steak. We went to The Meat Co in Souk Al Bahar at the Dubai Mall. We sat indoors as it was quite cool outside. After we ordered the waiter brought over some bread – a chocolate and cranberry loaf and an onion loaf. It looked so good.

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The two of them had some bread and butter, and by the time the real food arrived I was too hungry to take any photos… I had calamari and they had bruschetta to start, and we each ordered a steak. I had the USA Black Angus 160 Day Grain-fed Cut steak, they both had the Brazilian Grass-fed Beef. I asked for a salad instead of the fries that came with the steak. The other two rolled their eyes. We also ordered some broccoli and spinach as side dishes. And a bottle of red wine, which soon became two bottles… 

We were home soon after 11pm – it had been a long day! 

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Week 16 update: 10 kilos by Christmas

What can I tell you about this week? As it’s my third last week in London, there was much socialising, much drinking and much eating. By Thursday I realised I was going to have to write off this week in terms of alcohol consumption. I was out for dinner every night apart from Monday, and drank at least one glass of red wine every night apart from Monday and Tuesday. I also had my work leaving drinks on Thursday (more about that later) and a friend’s wedding on Saturday so I knew the week was pretty much doomed from the beginning…

On Tuesday night I met up with one of the girls – the new Everyman Cinema is finally open in Maida Vale and I wanted to go before I left. It’s a three-minute walk from my flat and I wish they’d opened a year ago! We had dinner at Raoul’s and then went to see Hugo at the cinema. I’d only ever had dinner at Raoul’s once before and that was a while ago. I ordered the Shish Raoul’s (without the bread) and it was actually very good. The new cinema is lovely – there was a nice bar area/foyer and the plush red sofas were really comfortable. The only downside was that the sofas were so comfortable it was hard to motivate ourselves to get up and back out in the cold again!

On Wednesday I had dinner with a couple of friends at The Harwood Arms, the only pub in London to be awarded a Michelin star. We shared a couple of starters from the Bar Menu – the venison Scotch egg and the cod croquettes – and then two of us ordered the Berkshire roe deer, and the third ordered the aged English beef. We each had a glass of wine. After dinner, the two of them shared the lemon curd doughnuts for dessert.

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The food was excellent – I’d definitely go back if I was in London for a longer time.

I had my work leaving drinks on Thursday – it was a brilliant evening. There was prosecco, red wine (lots of it), champagne, and red velvet cupcakes (made by Laura – and delicious). I decided to choose red wine over white as I drink it slower – and I thought that would be a good idea for the evening as I wanted to pace myself! A few of us ended up at Maroush afterwards – we ordered food and more wine… and I got home at around 2.30. Thank goodness I’d taken the day off on Friday!

On Friday night I met up with a couple of friends and we went to Demartino in Great Portland Street for dinner. I’d been there before, a few weeks ago, but I wanted to go back. I had the Jerusalem artichoke to start followed by the grilled swordfish with olive oil, lemon and pine nuts. And then I had three bites (or was it four?) of the hot chocolate fudge cake. And some red wine. 

Saturday was a long day. I was invited to a wedding at Hampton Court Palace and had to be there by 2.30 for the civil wedding. I was up early, had a banana, got ready, and went over to a friend’s place – a few of us were going together and he was driving – and then realised I’d forgotten my camera (doh!). We got to the Garden Room just before 3pm only to find that they were running late and nothing had started. After the civil wedding there was a tea/coffee break while the bride and groom got ready for the Indian ceremony – which went on until 5.15.

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After that we walked from the Garden Room to the main building where the reception was being held. The venue was fantastic – champagne and canapes were served in the Gallery. Dinner (platters of Indian food) was held in the Great Hall, followed by dancing in another room downstairs…

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Again there was lots of red wine – but it was partly to stay warm!

I met up with a friend for brunch on Sunday morning. I usually have yoga on Sunday mornings (but not this week) so rarely leave the house before 1pm – I had no idea Raoul’s would be so crowded at 11.30 on a Sunday! I had an omelette but made him order the French toast – because it really is out of this world. I’m definitely going to have some before I leave…

In spite of the heavy social schedule, I still had my usual session with Gus on Tuesday. We did some boxing this week – and thankfully I didn’t have to drag him around the gym! I asked him if he planned what each weekly session would entail rather than what he felt in the mood for at the time. He looked amused and said of course he did. ‘It doesn’t just happen by accident.’ I made it to the gym three more times for my cardio sessions. I told him that I felt no different from how I looked/felt 2-3 weeks ago and he suggested upping my cardio sessions to four each week. I have no idea how I’m going to fit that in over the next three weeks and do all the things I need to – it would mean going every morning before work – and I’ll be exhausted by 8pm every evening… Let’s see how it goes.

I caught one beautiful sunrise on Monday morning:

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And that was my eating, drinking and working out this week! That is a LOT of eating out (and drinking), even for me. And next week isn’t looking much better… I think I need to resign myself to the fact that the next couple of weeks are going to be hectic and that if I get my workouts done I’m doing really well and just not stress about the rest of it… 

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Week 15 update: 10 kilos by Christmas

As you know, last weekend the girls and I ate our way through Paris. I came back exhausted and when my alarm went off on Monday morning for the gym, it was the first time in the last few weeks that I thought, ‘No, I need to sleep.’ So I re-set the alarm for a couple of hours later and passed out again. I needed that sleep. For some reason, I’m finding it difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep. I keep waking up every few hours thinking of all the things I need to do before I go… At least the heating‘s back though!

I had my usual session with Gus on Tuesday morning – it was tough: squats and lunges with the ViPR – and a bigger ViPR (which apparently weighs 3 kilos but I’m sure it’s heavier than that). For one exercise I had to wear a belt which had straps behind me (which he was pulling on) and I had to drag him up and down the studio. ‘Run!’ he shouted. Run? I could barely walk. I suppose that’s one way of holding on to your clients – literally. That was my least favourite thing that day. 

Because I skipped the gym on Monday, I went on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to make up for it. By the time Friday came around, I was ready to hit snooze on the alarm again, but the sunrise got me out of bed:

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I also had a pretty busy week socially. On Tuesday evening I was invited to a drinks reception by Thomson Reuters at the top of The Gherkin in the City.

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Getting into the building was like going through airport security – I needed a form of ID, my bags had to go through an X-ray machine, and I had to walk through a metal detector. We were then instructed to take a lift to the 34th floor. When we got there we had to take another lift to the 39th floor. And when we got there, we had to walk up a spiral staircase to the 40th floor. Wine was flowing – I decided to go with red as I drink white wine way too fast – and (tiny) canapes were circulating.

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The view from up there was spectacular. It was a clear night and you could see all across London in every direction. Unfortunately my camera wasn’t cooperating with the light inside and darkness outside but I got these photos from one of our hosts:

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I think it was the perfect way to see London before I left. I had two glasses of red wine in about three hours, but still ended up with a splitting headache by the time I got home. 

I was also out for lunch on Tuesday (Trattoria Semplice), Thursday (the RSM Restaurant) and Saturday (Raouls’, of course), and out for dinner on Wednesday (Arirang), Friday (Osteria Basilico – and half a bottle of wine), Saturday (J Sheekey Oyster Bar – and prosecco, wine and dessert wine) and Sunday (a friend’s place). Quite exhausting! On Thursday I went to see my tarot reader – I wanted to have a reading before I left – and after my reading we ended up chatting about all sorts of things, especially synchronicity (but more about that later)…

How have I felt this week in general? Tired. Cranky. Emotional. Too much to sort out before I go – and when I do have the time to sort things out over the weekend, I can’t be bothered. The thought of sorting out my cupboards makes me want to get into bed and pull the duvet over my head. I think I’m in as much denial as my friends/colleagues! 

And how have I felt this week about my training/eating? I’ve struggled to get out of bed every morning this week and my attitude has varied from ‘bored’ to ‘kill me now’ (also how I’m feeling about work right now). But I’m still doing it – I think I’m just tired. Hopefully next week will be better!

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Week 14 update: 10 kilos by Christmas

After the disappointment of having lost *no* weight last week, I met someone on Monday evening who said ‘What happened? You were looking so good the last time I saw you but I think you’ve put on weight again.’ So I punched her in the face. OK, no, I didn’t. But I wanted to. Instead I told her to get her eyes checked. I was already irritated about not losing any weight and she wasn’t helping. I’ve been snappish since then. Isn’t it incredible that sometimes all it takes is one (irrelevant) person to bring you down?

On Tuesday I told Gus I hadn’t lost any weight since the last time I weighed myself a few weeks ago. He said I was losing fat, not weight, and that I shouldn’t worry about it. That made me feel a bit calmer, because I have been working my ass off. Literally. He asked me to keep another food diary for the week. Oh good, I’m in Paris for the weekend too. I haven’t had bread since 1st October – but I intend to have a croissant while I’m there!

I decided that because I was away on Friday, I’d do my cardio on Wednesday and Thursday instead of my usual Thursday and Friday. I don’t know what happened to me on Thursday but I had a ‘blonde’ moment. I got to the gym, sat at the bike, adjusted the seat, put my headphones on and pressed the ‘Quick Start’ button. Nothing happened. Weird. I tried again but nothing happened. I leaned over and pressed the same button on the next bike. Again, nothing. It was like the situation with my dryer all over again. I looked around, went over to one of the trainers and asked him whether the bikes were working? He said that they wouldn’t work until you started pedalling. Doh! How could I not have known that after all these weeks?? I felt *so* stupid.

On Friday morning the girls and I left home at 7am and headed to St Pancras for our 8am train to Paris. I took a banana and some almonds for the journey as I didn’t want to eat rubbish on the train – I was saving myself for Paris! Considering how much temptation there is in that city, I think I did pretty well with the food – I ordered a pastry (millefeuille au chocolat) at Ladurée (but couldn’t finish the whole thing), I had a couple of French fries on Friday night at dinner and a croissant on Saturday morning, but the rest of the time I stuck to a decent diet.

On the alcohol side – well… I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in 15 years and we caught up over a few beers, reminiscing about the summer of 1996 in Myrtle Beach (where all we did was drink beer). I had a glass of red wine with my dinner on Friday night too. On Saturday night back in London I had dinner with my cousin at Bincho – we polished off two flasks of hot sake – and we went on to a bar where I had one vodka soda…  

But you know what? I don’t think it matters. It’s one weekend out of many and they’re meant to be enjoyed. N’est-ce pas?

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Week 13 update: 10 kilos by Christmas

Not a very eventful week in terms of food and exercise (apart from the vodka consumed on Friday night and a Coke on Saturday to help with the after-effects of the aforementioned vodka). 

I felt miles better after being down with flu in week 12. I did my usual sessions at the gym during the week (my upper body strength is laughable) and had a great yoga class on Sunday morning after a two-week break. My yoga teacher was surprised when she saw me – she said I looked really toned. And she was seeing me after only two weeks. That felt so good!

On Sunday evening I was at a friend’s place and decided to weigh myself on her scales. After what my yoga teacher had said surely I must have lost a few more pounds since the last time I weighed myself in week 9. I stepped on the scales and… I really wish I hadn’t. I haven’t lost *any* weight since the last time a few weeks ago. In fact, I’ve put on 0.5 lbs. It’s not much, I know, and it’s probably muscle, but I’ve been irritated ever since. If this continues, I definitely won’t achieve my goal of 10 kilos by Christmas (just a month away now) – especially with a couple of days in Paris coming up soon… 

So there you go. Uneventful, unmotivating and now I just want to eat chocolate. Lots of it.

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Week 12 update: 10 kilos by Christmas

A pretty shitty week, to be honest.

I woke up on Monday morning with a temperature and scratchy throat. It hurt when I swallowed and I felt like crap. I was so annoyed – it’s not like I have any time to waste being sick at the moment. I spent all of Monday and Tuesday at home, mostly in bed. I did learn that ‘Hawaii Five-0’ is on TV during the day and considered never going back to work!

I felt much better on Wednesday – I went to the gym and to work, and then over to a friend’s place. By the time I got home I was exhausted. I woke up on Thursday feeling even worse than I felt on Monday. I shouldn’t have done so much on Wednesday. All I wanted to do was stay in bed again, but had to go to work as I had someone coming to see me at 11.30. I decided I’d leave as soon as my meeting was over – but he didn’t show up until 12.30 and I didn’t leave the office until 3pm. I came home, got into bed and stayed there.

On Friday I had a session with Gus – he went a bit easier on me (apart from ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ stretch) as I don’t think I’d have been able to cope with a regular session. I still felt a bit sniffly but decided that I’d had enough of feeling ill and had to get on with my life. I showed Gus my (rather dull) food diary for the week – I thought my Saturday ‘dinner’ would raise some eyebrows but it was all fine, if anything I’m not eating *enough* (and I don’t remember the last time that happened)… 

So I only had two sessions at the gym during the week. Disappointing, but there you go. And I have no idea what I weigh now. Is there any point in buying new scales just for the next five weeks?

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Week 11 update: 10 kilos by Christmas

Wow, time is flying! In under seven weeks I’ll be leaving for Dubai. The packers came this week – and most of my things have been shipped already. It’s taking a lot of self-restraint not to re-fill that bookcase!

But back to the update. I did my usual cardio sessions on Monday, Thursday and Friday, and had my usual Tuesday morning session with Gus. Once again, I was ready to go home after the warm-up on the bike, but stayed for the squats and lunges and weights. Yes, more lunges. He must hate me or something… Anyway, I’ve committed to five more sessions with Gus – so hopefully those lunges will get easier! He also asked me to keep a food diary for the week.

The food side has been dull this week – I had the same lunch on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Nothing in the canteen appealed to me so I just popped over the road to EAT for a salad and a yoghurt each day. Nothing terribly exciting. I mentioned earlier that I’m allowed one cheat night – and cheat I did. My dinner on Saturday consisted of olives, nuts, a glass of champagne, three passion fruit martinis and a vodka soda. I must check whether the passion fruit counts towards my five a day. 

After that heavy Saturday, I had my yoga class on Sunday morning – thankfully it wasn’t until after 11am and it turned out to be a really good class. I was able to do more than I’ve done in the past – and was able to get into a shoulder stand quite easily. That hasn’t happened in a long time.

I’ve been feeling a bit ‘blah’ this week about the whole exercise/diet thing. I’m doing it (apart from Saturday night), but I’ve been feeling like I’m not really getting anywhere. And I know that’s not true – because I wore a pair of trousers to work on Thursday which I hadn’t worn in ages, and they were quite loose on me! But I still can’t shake that ‘blah’ feeling. I wanted to weigh myself on Friday but then realised the packers had taken the scales! I hadn’t counted on that. I’ll have to weigh myself somewhere else. You’d think they’d have scales in the changing room at the gym, right? I’m sure they used to when I joined when they first opened a few years ago… 

So that was my week – quite uneventful, I have to say.

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Week 10 update: 10 kilos by Christmas

A difficult week, I think – with Diwali on Wednesday and a friend’s 40th on Friday night.

I did my three cardio sessions on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I didn’t have my usual Tuesday morning session with Gus as he was ill. When I got his text in the morning I thought ‘Hmm… shall I get back into bed for an hour?’ and then thought ‘You’re up. You’re READY. Just go anyway!’ So I did. I trained with Gus on Friday. It was relentless. I started off with a warm-up on the cross-trainer, doing intervals between levels 8 and 15. After 13 minutes of that I was ready to call it a day and go home. But I didn’t. There were lunges and squats and weights and stretches. It was hard. And I usually feel like this when each session is over:

And here’s one of the photos I took this week:

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On Wednesday night we had our Diwali dinner at an Italian restaurant called DeMartinos in Great Portland Place. No, I know that’s not very traditional! Being a vegetarian day, there was no choice but pasta. We’d all shared salad, asparagus and melanzane for starters, but everyone ordered their own main course – I ordered the spaghetti with chilli and garlic in olive oil. It was excellent – and the portion was so big I couldn’t finish it. And I had a teaspoon of tiramisu… And a glass of red wine. Oh well, it was Diwali!

On Friday night I headed to Annabel’s for a friend’s 40th. We had a drinks reception in a small room behind the main bar and then headed to the private dining room for a sit-down dinner. The table looked stunning – candelabras, flowers, place cards… I did fine with the food, but it was the alcohol that got me. I haven’t had that much to drink in a long time. A glass of champagne at the beginning, a shot of vodka when we sat down to dinner, followed by red wine, followed by a couple of vodkas with soda after dinner when we were let loose on the dance floor. And I really felt it the next day. But it was a fantastic evening – and it’s not like I do that every weekend (any more)!

I haven’t weighed myself again – I fear the excesses of this week’s celebrations may have taken their toll! 

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Week 9 update: 10 kilos by Christmas

Another good week, I think!

I had my usual session with Gus on Tuesday – again, it was bloody hard work as he decided we should focus on my upper body. His favourite piece of equipment is a rubber tube called a ViPR and whenever I see him with it at the start of the session, my heart sinks. I told him this on Tuesday and he said ‘Oh, this isn’t for you today.’ ‘Really??’ ‘No, just kidding – it’s all yours.’ Thankfully we only used it for one of the exercises he had lined up for me. He also discovered I have no stomach muscles whatsoever (I say ‘he’ because I’ve known this for some time) so I have a feeling it’s going to be a target in coming weeks!

After that Tuesday session, by the time I got home, I was so tired I couldn’t even bring myself to watch the latest episode of ‘Hawaii Five-0’. In fact, I didn’t even switch on my computer – unheard of for me.

Gus saw me on Thursday morning when I was doing one of my cardio sessions and said I had definitely lost weight – I told him that at times my target still seems a long way away, but he disagreed. 

I did two more cardio sessions on my own (three in total this week) and also had my Sunday morning yoga class where we focused on hip openers.

I’m the kind of person who will sleep or snooze till as late as possible, skip breakfast, rush while getting ready and be late for work. Every day. So how am I getting up at 7am four mornings a week to get to the gym before work? Well, I’ve been taking photos of the sunrise each morning because they have been so incredible. Like this:

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I love how the sun is coming up but you can still see a sliver of moon in the darkest part of the sky.

And this:

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Those were taken on the same morning, just minutes apart. And I didn’t use any filters or special effects. So this seems to be working for now, but let’s see what happens when the clocks go back…

On the food side, it’s still going well. Gus looked at the food diary I’d kept for the previous week and seemed happy with it – I think I’ve been doing everything he’s told me to do… I’m allowed one cheat night and this week it was Friday. I went for a sushi dinner with some friends and not only did I have some sushi rolls (which contain rice), I also had some sake – but again, not as much as I would normally have had. I haven’t had bread in three weeks.

I caved this week and decided to weigh myself – I needed to know. And I was shocked. I’ve lost 2.5 kilos (5.5 lbs) in the last three weeks! So that’s a total of 4.6 kilos (10.1 lbs) since the beginning of August. I can’t believe it!

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Week 8 update: 10 kilos by Christmas

Another good week, I think!

I feel like I’m spending most of my time at the gym (when I’m not at work) or at least thinking about it! I’m thinking about when I need to do the laundry so that I have enough tops, bottoms, towels, etc. I’m thinking about what time I need to sleep in order to be able to wake up. I’m thinking about what the *latest* possible time is I can get there to have a decent work-out.

I had my regular session with Gus on Tuesday – it was TOUGH (but I wasn’t crippled afterwards like the first time). He seemed to think my body has already changed – and sometimes I do think so, but there are other times when I feel that my goal is as far away as it ever was. More squats, upper body work, more squats… I didn’t tell him that one night I actually dreamt I was doing squats. It will all be worth it, I keep telling myself. He asked me to keep a food diary for the week – which I’ve been doing.

Aside from my Tuesday morning session, I managed cardio sessions on Monday, Thursday and Friday before work. As a result, I was in my pajamas by 7.30 on Friday evening – and totally shattered.

I also had my Sunday morning yoga class – and that’s where I’ve noticed the most changes. I thought it was a hard class – and I also think I was able to do more than I’ve been able to in the past. My legs are a lot stronger than they used to be.

On Friday afternoon, I had my third session with the hypnotherapist. She asked me what had happened since our last session. I told her what I’d been doing – exercising, watching what I eat, how I’d been feeling – amazing when compared with our first session, how I actually feel in control of things for the first time in a long while… ‘Do you actually need me today?’ she asked. Funnily enough, as I was walking to her office, I kept thinking that I felt great – I didn’t need any more of this… She said it takes people between 2 and 6 sessions to start feeling like they’re back on track and I was already there. That felt good!

The food side has been going well too. I was out for dinner on Thursday – I had one glass of wine with my meal. Three weeks ago, that glass could easily have been at least a bottle. I also had dessert which I haven’t had (or wanted) in ages. But that was the only sweet thing I’ve had all week. I’ve managed to avoid carbs at night and haven’t had bread in two weeks. Oh wait, I had a bite of focaccia on Thursday evening but it did nothing for me – I realised I haven’t missed bread at all.

I still haven’t weighed myself – I think I’m scared I might be disappointed if I haven’t lost any weight! I have had to tighten my belt by one notch though – now I’m just waiting for the rest of my body to catch up!

2011

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