Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

The final few: Week 6

I had my 30th session with Rama on Sunday morning. Thirty! Time really does fly… While I was on the cross-trainer, he told me I was going to do some of the fitness tests which I hadn’t done for a while: push-ups, crunches, wall squat, plank and 500m on the cross-trainer. I’ve done burpees in the past as well, but he said the last time I managed to do over 80 in 7 minutes so it wouldn’t be much of a test. Thank goodness, because I hate burpees.

I did the following:

  • 1 minute of push-ups (39 push-ups, 36 last time)
  • 1 minute of crunches (39 crunches, 40 last time)
  • Wall squat (1 minute 8 seconds – an improvement of just 7 seconds)
  • Plank (2 minutes, an improvement of 26 seconds)
  • 500m on the cross-trainer (3 minutes 12 seconds, an improvement of 29 seconds) 

The wall squat was torture and the 500m on the cross-trainer killed me. Rama told me to aim for 500m in 3 minutes and 30 seconds, and even he was surprised at my improved time. I told him there wasn’t a vast improvement with my push-ups or crunches, but he said my technique and range of motion had improved so each push-up/crunch would take a little bit longer. Neither of us could remember what my first results were. I had a rest after that and then did some lower body exercises, wall squats using a Swiss ball, stepping on and off a bench, Swiss ball crunches, and finally a cool-down on the treadmill. 

I woke up on Monday with a sore lower body: abs, hamstrings, thighs, they all ached. I had yoga on Monday morning. It was much better than the week before, and much quieter for most of the class! That evening Rama sent me a message with my first ever results: push-ups 22, crunches 26, wall squat 32 seconds, plank 37 seconds, burpees 11 (pathetic), 500m on the cross-trainer 4 minutes and 53 seconds. And that was four months ago. I was pleased about the improvement, but feel the wall squat could be much better…

I got to the gym quite late on Tuesday morning to find four Lebanese women there. I’d spoken to them all before, but had never encountered them together. They were chatting and cackling, the iPod speakers were on, it was noisy. I felt like I was at a Lebanese hen night. I still managed to do my 5k and left.

My Wednesday session with Rama consisted of target training using free weights and the weights machines. I worked each targeted area for 4-5 minutes, starting with abs, then moving on to legs, then hamstrings, then my upper body, then some cardio (boxing moves holding the 3-kg weights) interspersed with squats and burpees (still holding the 3-kg weights), and then back to abs again. It was tough – and I woke up sore all over on Thursday.

Even though I was sore, and a little hungover from Havana Night at Blends Bar on Wednesday night, I went to the gym intending to do just 3k. Something is better than nothing, after all. 

I planned to go to the spin class at the Shangri-La at 7pm on Friday evening, but I was so full from lunch at Sakura that I didn’t think it was a good idea. Instead I went to the gym: I did 3k on the treadmill, two sets of tricep extensions and two sets of Swiss ball crunches. Of course I could have gone on Saturday morning but I’d decided to take Saturday ‘off’ as I wanted to spend the morning at the pool after taking Joy to the airport… 

On Sunday, Rama asked me what my target weight was, and I told him I wanted to be 23 kg lighter than when I started, so I’ve still got just over 8 kg to go. And actually, even if I make it to 20 kg I’ll be pretty thrilled! It seems to be taking me a month to lose just 1 kg so I should hit my target by the end of the year. And if I do, I’ll be the same weight I was when I was in my early 20s!

Low point of the week? Having a burger (without the bread) and fries on Saturday night. By the time we sat down to dinner it was almost 10pm and I was famished. The only thing that looked good on the menu at Social House was the burger… 

High point of the week? As loud as the Lebanese women in the gym were, when I saw them they told me I looked like I’d lost a lot of weight (I hadn’t seen one of them in a few weeks). They asked about Rama (they’ve all seen him at the gym at some point), they asked whether I was on a diet, they seemed impressed. 

Weight loss? I’ve now lost 15.1 kg (just over 33 lbs), which I was surprised about considering how much I ate and drank this week! 


Read more updates here.

Leave a comment »

The final few: Week 4

I was a little lazy this week. 

I had my usual session with Rama on Sunday morning. I did my 5-minute warm-up on the cross-trainer and then the Ramanova circuit began:

  • Lateral pulldowns x 15
  • Squats x 15
  • Clean and presses with a weighted bar x 12
  • Push-ups x 15
  • Military presses with a weighted bar x 12
  • Squat jumps from a sitting position x 12
  • Bicep curls with a weighted bar x 15
  • 500m on the cross-trainer (at resistance level 10)

The last time I did 500m on the cross-trainer it took me 3 minutes and 58 seconds. This time it took me 3 minutes and 28 seconds – exactly 30 seconds off the time!

I had a rest and Rama told me I was going to do the circuit again! The second time I did the 500m in 3 minutes and 21 seconds – just 7 seconds off. By the last 150m I was ready to give up. 

I had another rest and then we began a Tabata circuit (30 seconds on, 20 seconds rest). It consisted of:

  • Squats
  • Stepping on and off a bench
  • Hamstring curls using the Swiss ball
  • Stepping on and off a stationary treadmill
  • Walking lunges
  • Calf raises

I had a rest and did the circuit again.

Then there was more lower body work on the floor followed by abs and then I was done.

I didn’t have yoga on Monday as my cousin couldn’t make it and I didn’t go to the gym on Tuesday either. I’d had a Brazilian keratin treatment done on Sunday afternoon and couldn’t get my hair wet, tie it up, swim or exercise for three days. It is all about the hair.

On Wednesday morning I had another session with Rama. I did my 5-minute warm-up on the cross-trainer. I then did two sets of bench presses alternated with squats. After that I did the circuit that consisted of:

  • Squat jumps with 3-kg weights x 15
  • 1 minute rest
  • Squat jumps without weights x 15
  • 1 minute rest
  • Bear crawl x 4 lengths of the gym
  • Star jumps x 100
  • 1 minute rest
  • Push-ups with 3-kg weights x 20
  • Ski jumps with 3-kg weights x 100
  • 3 minutes rest

I did that twice.

The second time round, during the bear crawl I started feeling a bit queasy/light-headed. Had I had breakfast, Rama asked? All I’d had was a cup of tea and a teaspoon of peanut butter and I was starting to wish I hadn’t even had that. Anyway I took a breather, then carried on and finished the circuit. After the rest I did three sets of tricep dips alternated with tricep extensions, two sets of lower body exercises alternated with walking lunges, and three sets of crunches on a Swiss ball. And I was done.

By the time I got home I still felt a bit sick. I kept sipping on my water and eventually started to feel ‘normal’ again. Perhaps I was tired or perhaps it was hotter than usual (the temperature hit 40C on Wednesday), but I hated feeling like that.

On Thursday I did 5k on the treadmill but it was a real struggle. The treadmill I usually use was being used by someone else and I just wasn’t comfortable on the one I was on. I thought about stopping at 3k and again as I approached 4k. I did the whole 5k but it seemed to take forever that morning. I still did it in under 49 minutes but it seemed like I would never get there.

I called the Shangri-La to reserve a space on Friday’s spin class and was told that the time had changed to 7pm. I thought that was a bit too late because by the time I got home it would be 8pm and I was sure we’d go out that evening, and so on. I asked them to email me their class schedule for May – there were a lot more classes listed than the April schedule, including a Saturday morning spin class at 11am. I decided I’d take Friday off and go to the spin class on Saturday morning. 

On Saturday morning I walked over to the Shangri-La – it’s a 3-minute walk but I could feel the sun burning my skin in that short time! I went up to the gym and told them I’d booked a space on the spin class. The two women looked at each other and said they didn’t have a spin class on Saturdays. I told them that the person I spoke to on the phone should have told me that when I called – and why had it been added to the timetable if it wasn’t going to happen? They apologised and the receptionist suggested that as I’d already come all the way there (I didn’t tell her I live next door) why didn’t I use their gym facilities to do my own workout? I didn’t have my iPod with me so I was a bit hesitant. She gave me headphones, a towel and a bottle of water – so I did my 5k on the treadmill at the gym there. The gym is obviously much better maintained than the one in my building – there are eight treadmills, two cross-trainers and triple the amount of weights machines than the gym in my building. I plugged the headphones into the treadmill, selected MTV and got started. All the treadmills face the windows – towards the back of the building. The view was disappointing – all I could see was an empty tennis court and the car park. D-U-L-L. A few minutes later a shirtless man came on to the tennis court and started practising his serve. Things were looking up… He was there the whole time I was on the treadmill. When I was done I headed home – not an entirely wasted walk to the hotel!

Low point of the week? Not being able to exercise for those couple of days I couldn’t get my hair wet.

High point of the week? Taking those couple of days off at the beginning of the week has done my left knee some good. Over the last few weeks it had started to ache and nothing seemed to help it. Rama suggested I ice it after each session but by the time I’d get home, I’d forget to do it. This week it hasn’t hurt when I’ve moved from standing to sitting or the other way round. 

Weight loss? I lost the 0.5 kg I put on last week in spite of working out only 4 days this week. Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed something really strange. I weigh less on the mornings when I’ve been out eating and drinking the night before. Perhaps I should go out more? 


Read more updates here.

1 Comment »

Dubai: Week 17

It started off as a quiet(ish) week. I didn’t have my usual session with Rama on Sunday, and I didn’t go to the gym either. I’d invited my friends from London and their kids over for lunch – and invited my cousin too. I’d asked Joy to make spaghetti and minced chicken (separately in case the kids wanted plain spaghetti), and broccoli salad. For dessert there was fruit (watermelon, blueberries, strawberries and kiwis) and vanilla ice cream. Most of the food finished – and while we were lingering over dessert the kids were running around the bare living room. They caught sight of the pool below and that was it – they had to be there. We went down for an hour and a half, the kids splashed around for a while, and then we came back up. The kids were changed and they all left at about 5pm.

I had no plans for the rest of the day so I got into my pajamas and watched ‘Game of Thrones’ in bed. 

On Monday I had yoga and then was home working for the rest of the day. At about 4.30pm I decided to take my book down to the pool – it was such a nice day. There were a couple of kids and their nanny already there, but by the time I left at about 6pm, there were nine other people there. It was so nice, I thought I’d do the same on Tuesday.

But Tuesday was cloudy and grey and windy. I went to the gym in the morning, did some work and then decided to get my hair coloured. When I left the Fairmont, I walked to Gloria Jean’s – I was at a good part of my book so I decided to sit in there and have a coffee while I finished the chapter I was reading. It wasn’t hot at all and I thought about walking the rest of the way home. It would have taken me 15-20 minutes, but in the end I opted for a cab.

Wednesday was a busy day. After my session with Rama, my Dad and I went to Hakkasan for lunch with my uncle, aunt and cousin. We all had the set menu, but were there for quite a while. We didn’t leave there until 3.45pm. After that Dad and I went to Festival City to collect our new car. He had been toying with the idea of getting a Jaguar or Mercedes, but I asked him what the point of that is when the only person who’s going to be driving the car is the driver? So he settled on a Volvo. We got there just after 4pm and were there FOREVER. Paperwork, registration, insurance, plates. I had two coffees (which were very good, I have to say) talked James (the sales exec) to death, and at 6.30pm one of their drivers drove us home in our new car. 

A little while later I went to MoE (by cab) to meet a schoolfriend for dinner. She was another friend I hadn’t seen since I left school 20 years ago and she was in Dubai for work. We ended up at More Cafe and talked about school, and what we were up to now, and so on. Her flight back to Tokyo was later that same evening so we said goodbye a little after 9.30pm. It was nice to see her – and I think she’ll be coming to Dubai twice or thrice a year. I think I’ve met more Cobham girls in the last couple of weeks than I have in the last year!

On Thursday I was home all day working (or trying to) and in the evening I went to a wine club meet-up.

I had lunch with Dad at Lemongrass on Friday. We both like the food there and it’s reasonably priced too. After that we went for a wander around Lamcy Plaza – he was looking for a calculator but we couldn’t find one. We went home and I went to my spinning class at the Shangri-La.

That evening we went to see ‘Battleship’ at the Dubai Mall with my cousin and her parents. It was so bad. It should be called ‘Battlesh*t’. It’s set in Hawaii – and I kept hoping Alex O’Loughlin and the 5-0s would show up, save the day and cut the movie short. Bad script, bad acting, too long – the first and last 20 minutes were OK, but the rest was awful.

While we were at the mall, I could hear a lot of activity from the ice rink below. I walked over to the railing and looked over. The ice had been covered and people were playing football instead!


I had planned to spend Saturday by the pool, but that morning one of the women I’d met at the British expat drinks in January sent me a text about a new writing group that was meeting that afternoon. I decided to go as I hadn’t done any writing since moving to Dubai (apart from this blog). I went down to the pool after breakfast and read for a while. I could only manage an hour as it was so hot. That evening I got into my pajamas, read a little and caught up on some TV shows. 

I love my life.

See more Dubai updates here.

Leave a comment »

The final few: Week 2

Not a great start to the week. Rama cancelled our session due to a knee injury and although I planned to work out on my own, I ended up going back to sleep and not quite making it to the gym. I could give myself a hard time about it, but I did work out six times the week before and I feel good about that.

On Monday I had my usual yoga class at home. For some reason I’ve been thinking a lot about Bikram yoga and I wonder how much of the class I’d be able to do – now that I’m fitter than I used to be. And then I think about how hot it is in the studio, and that the only thing I want to be doing in heat like that is lie by a pool… I think I might find a sauna/steam instead.

On Tuesday I went to the gym and did 5k in 48 minutes and 41 seconds. Until now I’d been walking for 40-45 minutes, varying the speed and incline depending on my mood, but I think from now on I’m going to aim for at least 5k each time and see how I get on. 

I had a tough session with Rama on Wednesday morning – I did the usual 5-minute warm-up on the cross-trainer and then he put me through a short series of fitness tests: wall squat, plank and 500m on the cross-trainer at resistance 10. I had to hold the wall squat and plank for as long as I could. I held the wall squat for 1 minute and 1 second (the last time I held it for 43 seconds). I held the plank for 1 minute and 34 seconds (the last time was 1 minute, I think?). I did 500m on the cross-trainer in 3 minutes and 41 seconds (last week it was 3 minutes and 58 seconds but that was after a tough circuit).

I then had a choice: I could do the 100s workout from a few weeks ago or the 30-second on, 20-second rest workout from last week. I went for the latter. I just couldn’t face 100 push-ups, crunches, bunny hops, etc. so I suggested we ‘save’ that for the next session!

Some of the exercises I did were:

  • Push-ups
  • Squats (standing on a balance trainer)
  • Tricep exercise – in a push-up position with my hands on the edge of the treadmill, putting one hand on the floor and then the other, and then putting the first hand back on the treadmill and then the other
  • Hamstring curls and pelvic lifts with a Swiss ball
  • Tricep extensions
  • Abs

There were probably more but I’ve blocked them out of my memory. Thankfully there were no bear crawls or burpees! 

I woke up with sore abs on Thursday. When I got to the gym (which was empty), I stood on the treadmill and pressed play on my iPod and… nothing happened. I pressed it again. Still nothing. Dammit – I’d forgotten to charge it! It was going to be a painful session. I thought about humming something but the only thing in my mind was ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’ (no, I don’t know why) so I scrapped that idea. I did 3k on the treadmill in 29 minutes and 14 seconds and decided I’d had enough. I did two sets of tricep dips (I have no idea what came over me) and then went home. I suppose something is better than nothing!

On Friday I called the Shangri-La to find out what time their spinning class was that day. I reserved a space on the 6pm class. I had lunch with Dad at Lemongrass, came home and relaxed, and then walked over to the hotel next door. I went to the gym on the fourth floor, paid my AED60 and was taken to the studio. There were eight spinning stations in a semi-circle, each facing the instructor’s bike, with bottles of water and towels on the handlebars. I was the first one there but we ended up being five in total (not including the instructor). I’m glad I went early because I hadn’t done a spinning class in about 9 years – she showed me how to adjust the height of the seat and handlebars, and how to use the resistance dial. Not much has changed since 2003.

And then the class began. I wasn’t sure what to expect, whether I’d be able to do it all, and I imagined it to be a complete nightmare. The music varied from ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and ‘Footloose’ to LMFAO and other contemporary dance tracks. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be – I could do most of it, apart from when we were spinning and doing push-ups across the handlebars simultaneously. It wasn’t because I couldn’t do the push-ups, though – I couldn’t quite coordinate myself to be able to do both at the same time and thought that if I even tried the one-armed push-ups I’d end up on the floor with my feet still stuck on the pedals. By the last song, when we were spinning as fast as we possibly could, sweat was dripping off my nose and eyelashes. I didn’t feel completely out of breath at any time during the class – maybe I wasn’t working hard enough – but I was drenched by the end of it, just like the others… There was some stretching at the end, and then it was over. 

It was hard work, but I’m definitely going back next week.

I took Saturday off and sat by the pool – working out five days in a row is enough, isn’t it?

And my weight? I’ve now lost 14 kg (just over 30 lbs), 6 kg left!


Read more updates here.

Leave a comment »