Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

The final few

So, after that one Zumba class in Jamaica I did nothing for a few weeks!

It was just too hot in Kingston and in London I was just too busy. I was walking a lot and I thought that might make a difference, but when I got back to Dubai I weighed myself. I’d put on 1.4 kg in eight weeks. It could have been a lot worse, I suppose! I ate really badly when I was in London for the last ten days of my holiday – pizza, chocolate, wine.

The good news is that in the six days since I’ve been back I’ve managed to lose almost 1 kg already – just by being back in a routine of sorts.

The bad news is that I’m going to have to find a new trainer. Before I left, Trevor told me he’d been promoted and would be managing a new branch of Fitness First – he didn’t think it would make any difference to our sessions. Now that I’m back he’s discovered he has no time… He says he’ll finish off our package (there are only three sessions left), but what a shame! I enjoyed training with him. I’ve been given the number for a new trainer from a friend (in fact, Trevor recommended him to her) and will call him in a couple of days.

Low point of the week? Weighing myself after two months!

High point of the week? Being back home and trying to get back into a routine.

Weight loss? 0.9 kg this week.

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Jamaica 2015: Week 4

On Sunday morning, we decided we’d go to Hellshire for lunch. I’d never been there and my parents keep raving about it, so I was keen to go. So my brother (S), sister-in-law (T), nephew (Baby A) and I left home at around 12.30. I was told it was about 45 minutes away. On the way, we stopped to pick up one of S’s friends – and off we went. When we were about 20 minutes away, T called Screechie’s (the restaurant) to order our food as it gets quite crowded on Sundays.

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Hellshire Beach consists of several different restaurant shacks on the beach – all serving fresh fish and seafood. We’d ordered four fried snappers (each one comes with ‘festival’ or fried bread), one fried bammy (cassava) and one steamed bammy with vegetables.

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Screechie’s wasn’t crowded but we still waited a while for our food. The beach was quite crowded but the breeze was lovely! The only thing that was annoying was that people kept trying to sell us things every few minutes – from toys to sunglasses…

The fish was excellent – and so was the ‘festival’! Then again, most fried things are good…

Before we left, T and I went to use the washroom – we had to walk around the back of the restaurant to an enclosed area. The door was held closed by a nail at the top of the door which could be twisted to open and close the door. Inside this space, it looked like a junkyard – there were a few people milling around, a couple of dogs, an old car engine, an old Pepsi machine which had been taken apart and a few other random bits and pieces. Fortunately the bathroom was clean. Well, it seemed clean – but it’s hard to tell when the tiles on the floor and the walls are dark brown!

The drive back didn’t take very long at all and we were home by 4pm.

I spent the whole of Monday at the office and got lots done.

On Tuesday T and I were invited out to lunch by a friend and her mum. They took us to East – a Japanese restaurant in Marketplace. We had some edamame, a couple of salads and the yellowtail with jalapenos to start with, and then shared a spicy Philadelphia roll and prawn tempura roll. For dessert we shared a coffee-flavoured dessert which was covered in whipped cream. I’m not sure what it was called, but it was delicious – and I’m not even a big fan of coffee desserts.

Some general observations while I’ve been here:

  • People walking in the street seem to be in no rush whatsoever to get where they’re going (if they even know where they’re going) – then again it’s pretty hot so perhaps they’re simply conserving energy
  • People (mostly men) ride bicycles that are way too small for them – but then I don’t think they really care as long as they can get from A to B
  • My hair seems to be getting more and more curly each day that I’m here – it’s out of control
  • Mosquitoes love me

I spent Wednesday at the office again – and in the evening, S, T and I popped over to my aunt and uncle’s for a while.

On Thursday morning, T and I went to a Zumba class at Chai Studios, not far from the house. And that evening S, T and I went to watch a CPL (Caribbean Premier League) cricket match at the National Stadium with some friends – it was my first cricket match. We had tickets for the ‘Party Stand’ (what used to be the ‘Mound’) – tickets were J$1500 (less than US$15) and included a ticket for a meal (options were burgers, chicken wings and jerk chicken) and drinks were free. Sponsored drinks, that is – so Appleton Rum, Stag beer and I’m not sure what else. The Jamaica Tawallahs played Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel. Jamaica batted first – so that part was fun and everyone was really into it. In the second half, people lost interest and we didn’t even stay to the end.

I spent all of Friday at home. I read some of my book, I did some work, I played with my nephew. We ordered some Chinese food that evening and had an early night.

On Saturday we went to the beach on a friend’s boat which is docked at the Yacht Club, close to the airport. Just before we got on to Norman Manley Highway, I noticed a sign that said ‘Crash hot spot’ but didn’t think anything else of it. Less than two minutes later, as we turned a bend, we came extremely close to a head-on collision with another car that was overtaking a third car. Fortunately S has quick reflexes and managed to swerve out of its way. And fortunately there was enough space for him to swerve into because it would have been a terrible accident. We made to the Yacht Club and found the boat.

It was our friend’s new boat and S and T hadn’t been out on it either. It’s called Jus2Bad (seriously, it is). The boat was big. When you walk in, there is a living area with an L-shaped sofa on one side and another seating area on the other side. Down a couple of steps is the kitchen area with a sink, fridge and microwave. Down a couple more steps are three bedrooms – the master bedroom with ensuite bathroom, a second bedroom with a double bed and ensuite bathroom, and a third small room with bunk beds. It can sleep six comfortably, but if you use the sofas in the living area as well, you could sleep about ten or twelve on the boat. There’s also an 11-foot whaler on the bow.

It took us about an hour to get there but ‘the beach’ turned out to be Maiden Cay – a mound of sand in the middle of the ocean. On weekends, boats drop their anchors while their passengers swim, drink, snorkel, barbecue and dance in the middle of the sea.

We were there till about 3.30pm, sailed back by 4.30 and were home by 5.30 or so. We had to get ready in a rush as we were going out for dinner and were supposed to be there at 7pm. We left home shortly after 7pm and got there at around 7.20pm.

Dinner was in one of S and T’s friend’s gardens. She’s a caterer by profession and every couple of months she hosts an evening called ‘Dining with Lex’ where she charges a fixed amount per head for food (drinks were extra). There were eight of us on our table, but there must have been about fifty people there for dinner.

Dining with Lex - menu

Dining with Lex – menu

I thought the food was really good and the presentation was innovative. What a creative way to get more clients! There was also karaoke for those who wanted to sing. We left after dinner at around 10.30pm as T and I had to be up early the next morning.

I love my life.

To read more about Jamaica, click here.

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The final few

After my sister-in-law (T) and I came back from our yoga retreat, I did nothing (in terms of exercise) for a week. On Wednesday evening she suggested we go to a Zumba class the following morning. I agreed to that – I felt like I needed to get off my ass and do something.

So we left home at around 9.15 to get to Chai Studios, just a few minutes away. I registered and paid the drop-in fee of JA$1500. I didn’t think the class would be busy at 9.35 but there were about 15 women in the class. There were several fans in the studio which were on – and three air conditioners which were switched off. I’d done Zumba when I lived in London and I’d enjoyed it. In this class I didn’t know any of the songs – which made following the moves harder. Does that make sense?? I think the class would be better described as ‘Island Zumba’…

Halfway through the class the instructor switched on the air-conditioning – thank God, because we were all drenched in sweat by then. I don’t think I did too badly for my first class though. There were only two songs where I really had no idea what the f*** was going on!

T suggested we go to Zumba on Friday morning at 8.30 but after going to the cricket match the night before, it didn’t happen!

Low point of the week? Being lazy and unmotivated – and feeling hot all the time!

High point of the week? At least I made it to one Zumba class!

Weight loss? Very funny. Ha ha.


Read more updates here.

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Week 4 update: 10 kilos by Christmas

I had a great week in terms of diet and exercise, but the weekend was atrocious. It’s shocking how quickly the calories add up. 

As I said, the week was fine – I thought I ate well (apart from Thursday night when all I had was a glass of champagne, two martinis and some olives as dinner).

I had my induction at LA Fitness on Tuesday evening as scheduled – I was asked what my goals were, how often I intended to get to the gym and how long I was going to spend each time I was there, what my eating habits were, and then I was measured (height) and weighed (embarrassing). The trainer walked me through various exercises – I did some sets on the leg press and lateral pull, sets of crunches, push-ups, weights. I was knackered by the end of it. And the gym was *packed*. I decided right then that I would prefer to be there in the morning when I didn’t have to wait for a treadmill or weight machine to be free!

I went back on Thursday morning for a workout. I was there just after 8am – I did 15 minutes of cardio, another 20 minutes on various machines and then spent the last 20 minutes on the mat followed by stretching. I felt really good at the end of it – like I’d accomplished something! One of the perks of going at that time is that by the time I’m back in the changing room, there’s just a handful of women there. I can’t bear crowded changing rooms. I got ready and was at work a little before 10. Tip: avoid Regent Street in the mornings, the traffic is horrendous. I spent 10 minutes stuck in one place (by the Langham)!

On Friday evening I decided to go to a Zumba class at the gym. The class was at 6pm and I didn’t think it would be very crowded being a Friday night, but there were about 25 people there. It was a good class, but nowhere near as good as the class I’ve been to in Maida Vale. 

And there ends the ‘good’ part of the week. On Friday night I went to The Engineer in Primrose Hill with some friends. I’d read on Twitter that it was being taken over at the end of September and wanted to go before it changed hands. We shared the cured meat platter as a starter and each had our own main course. I couldn’t decide between the lamb and the tortelloni – but the artichokes won in the end. I had the tortelloni stuffed with artichokes and truffles in a butter sauce. Now if that doesn’t scream 1000 calores, I don’t know what does! It was amazing. And I was so full by the end of it, I didn’t have a bite of dessert. Not one bite. And of course there was wine – we had an Australian Pinot Noir. Lovely.

I had a carb-free lunch with the girls on Saturday, which I was pleased about. On Saturday night I went to Le Cochonnet for dinner. I love their pizzas but thought I’d give it a miss and go for a pasta instead. The pasta special was papardelle with salmon and spinach so I ordered that. I didn’t think it was too bad a choice. Better than the pizza at least. But I did end up sharing a chocolate brownie for dessert – which was yummy. And of course there was wine – a French rosé, but I can’t remember what it was called.

Lunch with my parents on Sunday was at Kamil’s, a Lebanese place on Boundary Road. We weren’t planning on going there at all, but to another restaurant on the same road, but we ended up there when I decided I couldn’t possibly eat any more pasta – for a few days! I’m pretty sure Lebanese food must be the worst choice when you’re trying to watch what you eat. Everything (all their vegetarian food I can think of) is fried.

Nope. Definitely not a good weekend for food.

And so Monday came round again. I’d booked a 7pm yoga class at the gym, but was at work till 7.20 so didn’t make it. I’ve booked a step class for this evening – which should be interesting. The last time I did a step class was when I was in my early 20s – God help me.

I was totally expecting to have put on weight when I stepped on the scales this morning but found that I was exactly the same weight as last week. I was relieved! I can handle the plateau but to go up again would have been really annoying. I need to start wearing those HotPants again! And eat less and exercise more, of course.


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Up, up and… up

I could be talking about a number of things here (inflation, property prices, etc.) but what I’m referring to is my weight.

I happened to weigh myself a week ago after a very long time – I think it had been about six months since I last weighed myself and as soon as I did it, I wished I hadn’t. I was shocked. Basically: I’ve put on 5 kilos in the last year. And in the last 15 years, I’ve put on about 25 kilos. That’s a scary figure (pun intended). Yes, my clothes are a little snug, but 5 kilos? When? How? 

I guess it all adds up – lack of exercise, the biscuit tin on the filing cabinet at work, lunch at the staff canteen, evenings at the pub. Shall I go on? No, I didn’t think so.

I’ve tried (and failed) to lose the weight in the past. Or I’ve lost it but regained it (and more) after a while. A few years ago I found some old photos of some friends and I – taken in the mid 1990s to the early 2000s – and I was surprised at how thin I looked. And what annoyed me was that when those pictures were taken, I remember thinking *then* that I was HUGE.

A while ago I tried Bikram yoga but now I just can’t handle it. I recently started going to Zumba classes near my flat, but the regular teacher is away until September – and the different teacher isn’t as fun but I’ll carry on because it’s better than nothing. I had house guests for a month so even my weekly yoga class went out the window as my living room was taken over by shopping and suitcases. My Zaggora HotPants arrived last week but I haven’t tried them on yet. Forget about trying them on, I haven’t even opened the package. Talk about lack of motivation.

But now, I’m on a mission. I’m off to Lagos in 37 days for Vinay’s first birthday and I will lose some weight before I go (I don’t want to frighten the baby)!


(No, that’s not me – but at the rate I’m going…)

Any (sensible) tips and suggestions will be appreciated! What works for you?

Read my updates here.


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Don’t stop… keep it moving…

… put your drinks UP!

'On the Floor' by Jennifer Lopez was the first song played at my Zumba class this evening. If you haven't heard of Zumba, clearly you've been living under a rock for the last year or so – people are talking about it everywhere… It's the latest fitness craze – inspired by Latin music, it involves dancing and aerobics – the choreography includes hip-hop, salsa, samba and even Bollywood (and lots of shimmying).


(Just so you know, nobody in the class actually looks like that.)

I went to my first class last week and was so intent on getting the moves right that I didn't realise how tough the workout really is – until I couldn't move the following morning. Last week, I was quite comfortable at the back of the class, but today my friend decided we were going to be at the front so we could see properly. It's much less crowded at the front – nobody wants to be there (including me) – but once the class starts everyone's doing their own thing so I felt less self-conscious. It was easier the second time round – I knew what to expect – although at one point, I just ended up walking from side to side because I just couldn't figure out what the instructor was doing. That's the problem – they don't really break down the moves for you: the class starts and you just have to follow and try and keep up (think of Goldie Hawn in Housesitter in that African dance class)! 

It's a great class for when you've had a bad day – you're focusing so hard that you tend to forget about everything else. And the music's good so it's bound to make you feel better… And when you've had a good day, well – who could say no to dancing? I'm definitely going back to Zumba – it's much more fun than Bikram!  
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