Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why Weights?

Oh god. Weights are dreadful, aren't they? I dread the gym much, much more than I do outside work outs. I NEVER go on treadmills because I feel like a hamster, so I only go to do weights. I have weights at home, but I hate using them there too, so I guess it's not exclusive to gyms, this feeling of loathing I have for them. But I do still hate gyms.

Reps. Even the word is boring. Repetitions = monotonous.

But,it's something I need to do. I have weedy arms,and I can see that the strength training helps my yoga. And it's the only thing I do that gives me that satisfying ache the next day. I like it when my lower back and my shoulders ache so much that it makes breathing harder... so it hurts to laugh. THENI know I have done a really hardcore workout. Kickboxing is great for this, but unfortunately it is on the same days and time as my yoga, and yoga comes first, so unfortunately I have to do weights as a substitute. Yuck.

Is there a way to trick your brain into thinking it's fun? I'd love to know. All that clanking of metal, rooms full of butch men lifting weights too big for them, machine whirring and eyeing up from both sexes makes me very sad. Surely there must be a better way? It feels like this doesn't fit in with my holistic fitness ideals. Or maybe I am just making excuses not to go to the gym?

Thursday ramblings

Yesterday was a good day. I am well on the way to completing my training schedule for the week because I am devoting every evening to working out. It’s easy when all your friends have left the country or are otherwise engaged!

Yesterday I ran 6km. It’s the longest I have ever run. I walked for about two minutes about 1.5km from the end, but other than that, I ran the whole thing. It took me about 40 minutes, which is pretty rubbish, but I don’t care – I am just so proud that I didn’t collapse in a sweaty heap. I went to yoga straight afterwards and managed to do the chaturanga properly. I’ve never been able to before because I lack upper body strength.

This schedule is tough to keep to, but I hope it will just become second nature. I’m seeing such promising results that I really want to keep it up.

There is one blip at the moment, which is that it’s too hot to run at lunchtimes now. It’s only February, but already Dubai is about 30 degrees centigrade. I can’t comfortably run 5km plus in that without returning to work as a sweaty, red-faced monster. I’m not sure how to get around this, but I will find a way so that it doesn’t impact my training. Perhaps I will just have to make more time in the evening?

I have until the end of Sunday to finish my goals. I still have the following left to do:

Run 15km
Yoga for 2 hours 30 minutes
Strength training for 1 hour
Swim 90 lengths

Friday and Saturday are my weekend, so I will try to pack lots of exercise in. I have literally no other plans. Wow – that sounds very sad. All of my friends seem to be out of the country, though. Might as well make the most of the time, then. I think this calls for a mini detox.

In Other News..............

I’m handing my notice in on Sunday. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, and the time is definitely right now. Everything has slotted into place – the stars are aligned and all that. I really can’t wait.

I will work one month’s notice, and then leave the country and stay with my mum for a while before heading to South Korea. I think I can start to feel alive again when I go there. At the moment I feel in suspended animation. I’m waiting for a month of admin, heartbreak and stress. When that’s over things will get better. You have to demolish everything before you can build your palace, I guess?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Love Your Lungs

I mentioned Max Strom in my last post, and it reminded me of something else interesting he said in the seminar I had with him last month.

He said that we carry our feelings in our chests, and that is why pranayama is so important. This is what my understanding of what he said was, anyway.

He said that though science would dispute it, his scientist friend couldn’t explain why it was that when we are depressed we deeply exhale, when we are excited we take short, shallow in breaths and when we cry, our chests pump up and down. If we can control our breathing through pranayama, we can start to take some control over our emotions, our thoughts and our bodies. The chest is a vital gateway to that.

I have only dabbled a little bit into pranayama so far – I take deep belly breaths when I am stressed, and when I remember to, and I activate the ujjayi breath throughout my asana (though I have to remind myself to keep it up sometimes, and try to take a lion’s breath before I resume). Anyway, it’s something I plan on exploring a lot more. I think it has the potential to be so much more powerful than it is to me now. I will keep you posted.

Some Wise Words

So far, so good. I’m on day two of my Holistic Health Fortnight, and I’ve kept to it reasonably well. There was a naughty dinner last night of fajitas and a couple of biscuits today, but the exercise, meditation and breathing have gone well.

Tonight I am keeping it holistic by doing one or two hours of strength training (depending on how bored I get), and a little bit of shopping. The shopping covers the spiritual happiness, I think; especially because I am planning on buying harem pants. What could be more spiritual than that?

In other – less silly- news, I met a really interesting man today. I was interviewing him for a feature about Pakistan.

If I may, I will just sidetrack for a moment. I was told once by Max Strom, a renowned yoga teacher from the US, that when you have a special interest in something, those things suddenly seem to be everywhere. So, if you’re newly interested in fitness you suddenly notice gyms everywhere. If you are buying a silver Ford Focus, you start to see them everywhere. It’s another way to look at the ‘law of attraction’, and one that seems to make more sense to me.

So, anyway – I suppose I am looking for inspirational people at the moment. I am looking for guidance. This Pakistani gentleman was very inspirational. He was talking about the unrest in his country and said that the main problem was the division of communities through religion or political affiliations. One of the things he said, which applies to everyone is ‘if you’re not proud of what you are, then you can’t use it for positive ends.”

I thought that was very interesting, and a concept I hadn’t thought about before. He also said that those who are privileged in life had a duty to help others who weren’t so privileged; otherwise they will be seen as the criminals in history’s eyes. He said that to live in a dream world (which I am completely guilty of) is to deny the truth of what is happening. Sitting back and saying that you can’t change things is tantamount to contributing to the ills of the world.

It was a fairly intense interview, but very, very interesting.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gym Maths

Phew! I’ve made good headway into my goals already, and it’s only 3pm on day one.

So far I have swum 30 lengths and run 5km (I ran once around Safa Park – matching my best time of 20.07 - and then half walked half ran the next lap around).

Tonight I am booked in for an hour and 15 minutes of yoga too. I can’t wait to get back to yoga. I haven’t been to a class in over a week!

I have a private session on Saturday too, and I just had an email from my teacher. She’s been in Goa on a yoga retreat and she said she’s got loads of new stuff to share. My teachers get so enthused when they learn something new. It’s very infectious. I think it’s a great idea to have teachers you admire and trust, but also to occasionally see how another teacher does something. You can never have too many perspectives.

Wow. I feel great after my run. Going round twice really makes the difference. My muscles feel really worked, I look pink and healthy and I feel amazing. The only thing I regret is forgetting to pack spare underwear. (I realised this morning after my swim that I had only packed my gymming undies and bra).

30 degree heat + two laps around the park = sweaty work clothes and upset co-workers.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Trying to stop being mental

After reading back some of my entries, I realised I was quite alarmingly focused on my weight. Which is weird because when I ate three cupcakes last night (after shoveling down some pasta), I didn’t seem too bothered about it.

But because of this, I am spending the next fortnight focusing on a more holistic approach to my health. I actually feel like I look fine now. I’d like to lose a little more in time, but I feel like that will happen naturally. I can only imagine I am so focused on it because I am looking for distraction from The Move.

I’m planning to spend the next week on looking after both my mental and physical health a bit better. Stressing about my weight is not going to help me get through this next month. But plenty of yoga and meditation might!

With that in mind, my goals for this week are:

Meditate for 20 minutes each day

Swimming x 200 lengths
Yoga x 5 hours
Running x 25km
Strength training x 2hours
Pranayama x 5 minutes before sleeping and for 5 minutes when I wake up (some belly breathing will be a nice way to start and end the day, I think)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

So much to do, so little idea where to start

I have learnt to pick my battles a bit when it comes to arguements. I used to get angry a lot and 'unleash the wrath' - as my friends called it. Now, not so much. Now I have another problem when it comes to picking battles.

How do you decide what causes to pursue? I would love to help the people of Burma - that is a cause that just breaks my heart. So does Tibet, Xinjiang, the mistreatment of animals, poverty all over the world - women who can't afford to feed their children, kids who sniff glue to distract themselves from their reality, men who travel to Dubai to work as slaves to keep their families afloat - who literally give up their lives for their children.It's all so worthy. How can we help? How do we choose where to direct our attentions?

After nearly two and a half years in Dubai I would like some reality. And I would like to know I am doing something to make the world a nicer place.

How can we make a real difference every day?

Must be Mellow

I had a migraine today. My second in as many weeks. This is not normal for me, so I know it is related to the stress I have in my life at the moment. I cried a lot today; at the hairdressers (he asked how I was - I told him and then burst into tears when he put his hands comfortingly on my shoulders- poor man), on the metro (when I went blind in my left eye when my migraine started), when I tried to blindly walk down the street to meet my friend who said he would drive me home, and then again when I got in the car.

I have a feeling this last month in Dubai, and the upheavel that comes with it is affecting me more than I thought it would. I like to think I let things wash over me usually, but this time I am not dealing very well.

I joked with my friend the other day that for lent I am giving up my home, my best friend/ ex boyfriend and my job. It's stressful, even if I am excited about life post Dubai.

I actually had a lovely weekend, but a few little things piled on top of me.

This week I am going to take time to meditate. I neglect my meditating because I am a daydreamer. I now see that allowing your imagination to run riot through daydreaming is not a substitute for focused thought. I need to save my sanity with a little 'me time' every day, as cliched as it sounds. Even though I spend a lot of time alone, I don't allow myself to think; I go on Facebook, or I run, or read.

This week I am going to be focused. When stress if giving you such a big physical signal then you can't ignore it. Two knock-out migraines in two weeks is enough of a sign that I am taking more on than my simple brain can manage!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bare Feet

Being barefoot is one of my favourite simple pleasures. Others include the sunshine on my skin, falling asleep on the beach and people watching. I really, really like doing all these things at once.

Walking barefoot is just lovely. It makes me feel rooted to the earth, and more mindful about where I am and what I’m doing. Not only this, but the feeling of the ground on your feet is wonderful. Wearing shoes is the equivalent to wearing gloves all the time. It dulls the senses and puts a physical barrier between you and what you are doing.

The feet have so many nerve endings that walking along soft sand, or dewy grass or (my favourite) smooth cobbles are really sensual experiences. It really makes me happy. I remember the first time I realised how incredible it was, I was in Corfu walking over some really smooth cobbles of a fort. Since then, I try and go barefoot as often as possible.

I never wear my shoes at work unless I am going into the toilets (as well as being more comfortable, it means I can sit in half lotus at my desk), and I love to take them off when I go for a walk. In fact, I often leave the house for work and then have to come back because I have forgotten my shoes.

If you haven’t already, you should try it. You just have to be a bit more mindful of where you put your feet. Going barefoot also makes you more aware of the rubbish people put on the ground. It makes me so angry to see broken bottles on the beach, or chewing gum on the pavements.

Go bare foot today, wherever you live. Even the pavement and wet mud feel great on your sensory-starved feet.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Feeling Pumped

I have a sneaky suspicion that I might be gaining muscle. My weight has been the same for a while, but my clothes seem looser, people keep commenting on how skinny I am and I feel like I am a bit more... err, solid – especially in the few hours after a work out. Right now my core and calves feel pretty rock solid. Okay... not that rock solid.

Just an aside before I go on – why is it that people who are skinnier than me that tell me I should stop losing weight? They put on concerned faces and say ‘you don’t need to lose any more weight! Seriously – I can see your ribs.” I won’t pretend I don’t find it flattering – I really love it – but, please. I am a UK size 10 on top and a size 10-12 on my bottom. I am not going to waste away just yet. I eat very well and exercise moderately. There’s not too much to worry about, I don’t think. But, it’s ALWAYS women who weigh about the same as a pencil that tell me this. Weird.

Anyway, so I suspect I am gaining muscle. I can even start to see the beginnings of a six pack, and to check I wasn’t going mad, I showed my friend, T. He said he could kind of see it too. I’m not aiming for Mark Wahlberg kind of abs, but a nice Evangeline Lilly figure would be BRILLIANT. Though I think I’m too pear-shaped for that kind of look.

I’m stuck on a plateau again at the moment. I cannot seem to get below 60kg EVER. I flit between 61kg and 63kg no matter what I do. I thought once you started to develop muscles, the fat burned off faster? I suppose I should use a tape measure for more accurate measurements than scales, maybe then I would see a change?

I am getting impatient. Hmmpph.

Being Boring

My blog seems to be a bit same-y at the moment. It’s all ‘I ran 3.5km then I ate rubbish for dinner.’ It must be very tedious for you, but I have two bits of good news:

It’s made me realise exactly where I go wrong in my health routine, and so will encourage me to step out of a rut – and the blog should get a bit more exciting in turn.
I will be leaving the country soon, so the blog is bound to get more interesting as my life turns upside down.

But, so far I haven’t changed my routine or moved out of the country, so as expected I will tell you about my runs since we last spoke.

Yesterday I did a 3.5km run, and today I did a 3.5km run followed by a 3.5km walk – which I plan to repeat tonight.

I haven’t done anything else on my goals list, but I’ve now only got 5.5km left to run (and I have tonight and tomorrow to do it.)

So, after work this evening, I will go for another quick run and then for drink with my friend N. We are heading to Okku for some kind of launch, but really we are just shamelessly going for the free champagne and the jellyfish.

I have eaten in this restaurant before and it’s a bit weird for my palate (probably great if you eat fish, though), so I think I will avoid the canap├ęs. This leaves me with a problem. I haven’t eaten lunch yet because I haven’t had time, and I won’t have time for dinner either. It means that I will have to snack all the way through today to make sure I keep my metabolism going and that I don’t let the champagne go to my head.

Maybe it would be a good idea to let the champagne go to my head so that I at least have a livelier blog tomorrow? Actually – the weekend should be good. I am off to stay in a five star hotel in the middle of the desert for a girly evening, and I am going blonde. I can’t wait!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Natural Highs

It’s taken months and months of exercise, but now I get a post-exercise high every time I work out. I used to only get it occasionally – usually after a great ashtanga yoga session, but now I get it almost every time.

I’d heard about this elusive feeling, but I thought it was just something sporty-types like to say to make them sound less boring. It was just never something that really happened for me.

I think the reason I didn’t used to get it is because I used to just feel ill and in pain after a work out. Now I am getting to know my body and its limits so I know how to push myself out of my comfort zone just enough that I feel terrible when I finish, but then really, really amazing afterwards.

I’ve just been for my lunch run and I decided that what with being hungover and all, I wouldn’t try for a personal best today, so I just went for an easy jog. I stepped up the pace halfway through, and then a bit more at the end and I managed it in 21.13, which I think until yesterday would have been a PB, in fact. I guess my fitness is definitely improving!

Every morning on the bus after I have had a swim, and every afternoon after I have had a run, I feel as though I am wrapped up in a warm, fuzzy blanket. It’s such a good feeling. It might even be better than actually being wrapped up in a warm fuzzy blanket.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Goals and Gluttony

It’s been a couple of days since my last entry, so I’ll get you up to speed.

My weekly goals are going okay – so far I have swum 150 lengths (which was the goal I set for the week), have run 10.5km (so I have 12.5km left to run), have done an hour and 15minutes of yoga (so I have 3 hours 45 minutes left) and have done no strength training or planks, so I have 2 hours and 10 sets respectively.

I suppose that’s made a fairly big dent into the goals, but I only have three days, including today to finish it. I find these goals really motivating, so I might set them for myself every week. Next week I will know that I can manage more swimming, as 150 lengths was so easy to achieve. The goals also highlight what I’m missing out on in my training. I always say I want to gain strength, but I haven’t done any strength training yet – and I keep putting it off. My friend lives in a building with a gym, so I think I will pay that a visit this week. I will ask her nicely if I can abuse her facilities.

The reason I am a bit behind in some goals is that I have been naughty. I have had two nights of slobbing. Last night I went out for lots of drinks with my friend, and the night before I watched rubbish films and ate pizza with another friend, as we lay on the sofa. The thing I always use to justify nights like this is that I’m not on a diet or following a fitness ‘regime’. I am trying to follow a healthy way of life that I can continue for the rest of my life. It has to have room for midweek drinks and for lazy sofa nights or I just won’t stick to it. I don’t want to be an athlete, I just want to be fit and healthy, and it’s perfectly possible to do that with the occasional indulgence. Does this sound like I am trying to convince you or myself?!

I eat well 80 per cent of the time, so the other 20 per cent I can eat a pizza with minimal guilt. I’m a girl, so there will always be a little bit of guilt when I eat a cheesy deep pan pizza…

Other than the goals and gluttony, I have achieved another personal best in my lunchtime 3.5km run. Yesterday I nearly died, but I managed to complete it in 20 minutes and 7 seconds. I am so pleased – it’s much quicker than before. I was talking to a friend about it last night, and even though it is a rubbish time, he was very encouraging. I told him that when I first started trying to be sporty about nine months ago, that I had to walk a lot of the 3.5km and could only complete it in about 27 minutes. Well, I soon got that down, but it’s only in the past few weeks I have managed to get it to less than 23 minutes. He said I should do a 5km run and aim to do it in 25 minutes, because then you are well on the way to doing a 10km run in an hour – which would be amazing for me. I think I will do a 5km run tonight to see just how far off that I am. I imagine I will be ridiculously far off that – but we’ll see!

I’m going to do a run at lunch today too. I feel a little bit hungover from last night, so I’m going to take it easy. After yesterday’s run, I felt like I was going to be sick, but – as my friend from last night said – if you think you’re going to puke after exercise, but you don’t, then you know you’ve done your best. It’s probably not a great philosophy, though.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Good Day

It's day two of my detox, and It's going well. I'm eating lots, but my tummy is flatter and I am weighing less already. I'm sure it's just water-weight, but a detox is a nice kick-start.

Today I have done 40 lengths of the pool, a 3.5km run and a 1hour 15minute yoga session. My usual teacher is on a yoga retreat in Goa, so we had a replacement. It was a HARD class! She tried to help me do a head stand, but I still don't feel ready- mentally or physically. I chickened out when I got my first leg up, and then I immediately regretted missing out on this one-on-one attention. Anyway, I had finished all this by 12.15pm. I got back to the flat and my flat mates were just getting up. I felt a bit sad- I am an early to bed, earlyish to rise type. They had been clubbing the night before. I had been on Facebook. Still, I was glad to be active today.

I've also spent a lot of time on the beach today. I only had a factor 6, which is terrible for a pasty white girl, but it seemed to do the trick. I guess my skin is used to the sunshine now. Still- MUST buy a higher factor for next weekend.

It's 5.50pm now, so there is still plenty of time to fit in some more exercise. I think it's too cold for the pool now (plus, I try to limit my pool time or I end up getting very hard on myself - I used to do 200 lengths a night which would take me three hours. Anything less seemed like a failure), so I might go for a light jog down Jumeirah Beach Residence (where I live) and back. Or I might strap some ankle and wrist weights on and go for a power walk instead.

The idea of the 10k run isn't very appealing now. I think I will pretend I never mentioned I was considering it, no matter how vaguely.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Back on the Health Wagon

It's the weekend here. I have just come in from meeting my friend for a long, lazy lunch and immediately done one of my favourite things; taking off all uncomfortable clothes - jeans, bras with underwires etc, and swapeed them for loose, yogini clothes so that I can sit in half lotus and type in comfort. Is there any nicer feeling after a long day?

I'm detoxing. It's just a weekend mini-detox,and it's not hardcore, but I would like to kickstart my weightloss again. Miraculously, I weigh about the same as I did before I started these dinner reviews, butI want to get below 60kg, so I need to get to work.

Today I had oats and rice milk for brekkie, tabbouleh,pistachio and date salad for lunch and pumpkin salad for dinner. I have drunk two green teas, a hot water lemon and honey, a veggie juice, a triple berry juice and water. I am falling into the familiar detox trap of not eating enough protein, so I am going to munch on some mixed nuts now. Tomorrow I will have a few tofu and fruit smoothies.

I've also gone for a 3.5km run on the beach and swum 40 lengths in the pool. It's 7.30pm and I am losing inclination, but before it goes entirely, I plan to do a few weights and a bit of yoga too.
I have an exercise schedule for the week, and I find this helps me focus. Basically, I plan what I want to do, but I don't give myself daily goals, because sometimes life gets in the way of a daily goal. So, my goals for this week are:

Run 23km
Swim 150 lengths
Yoga x 5 hours
Strength training x 2 hours
Plank for one minute x 10

I work it out based on what I already do, and then I add a bit more on to that, so it should be manageable. We'll see. Tomorrow is the weekend,so it's the best chance I have at making a really big dent into these goals. I am vaguely considering running 10k tomorrow. Vaguely considering.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hanu's Competitive Yoga

I am just about to do some yoga in my bedroom. I have a little yoga corner full of books and incense and beautiful things to make me feel nice. I'm going to run through an Ashtanga routine and then focus on specific asanas to open up my hips, because...

I have a small problem. I am competitive in yoga. This is against everything yoga is, but unfortunately it's a nasty little trait I have. So, tonight I am working on my Hanumanasana. After all, I am Hanu. I should be able to get into my own asana. Nearly there, but still require the bricks.

If you have read my past posts, you will know that if/ when I have my own yoga practice, I wanted to call it Hanu Yoga, but that name is already taken. How about Hanu's Competitive Yoga, then? I think it would go down about as well as Bikram Choudhury does with traditional yogis.

I am going to try and let go of the competitiveness. Just as soon as I am the best in my class.

These are my confessions

I just ate two slices of chocolate mousse cake from Paul. Will start being good right now. I’m off for a green tea. Do the antioxidants in a green tea cancel out the sugary hazelnut base of the cake?

Also, I skipped my run and swim today. Just call me a rebel.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool

Oh, for the love of god. It appears that I am a public crier.

Nope. Not a town crier, a public one. A crazy lady who cries in public.

Apparently, I can’t really do subtle, or hiding my feelings, or playing it cool. I felt a bit silly about that last night (crying in a restaurant to a boy will do that to you), but today I feel okay. I know my faults, but I don’t think that really giving things you love and are passionate about your all is a bad thing. Even if you do just end up making an idiot of yourself in public.

I get through a lot of mascara this way.

If you put as much of yourself into something as you can and it still doesn’t work, then you can’t feel too bad about it.

That’s how I feel about everything I want. I always put myself completely into relationships, my yoga, my writing and my hopes for traveling more. I am totally absorbed by these things, and so even if I turn out to be hopeless, then I know that I tried my best.

I don’t care if I’m 26; I am emotional and I am going to quote some lyrics. ‘At least I try to jump in fire, and if I burn at least I tried’. That’s as emo as I’m going to get on you today.

So, I am going to make this weekend a lovely weekend of self-improvement and motivation. I have a massive list of things to do as I prepare to leave the country. They involve:

Selling my bed
Arranging for my stuff to be shipped to the UK
Selling a whole heap more stuff – books, clothes etc
Trying to figure out how I can afford a flight home, a TEFL course and shipping of my belongings as well as my rent.

Oh god. I’m stressed again now! Hopefully I have a little room on my credit cards for things like these. I’m not thinking about what happens if I don’t. Two years in Dubai and not a penny saved. Whoops.

Okay, that’s it with mushy posts for a while. I am putting it in a box. Let’s get back to dharma and dinner from now on.

Here Comes The Sun

I have my last dinner review tonight, which is good. Then I can focus on losing this weight (perhaps another 9kg), getting better at yoga and taking my mind off my imminent upheaval by running more. Who says you can’t run away from your problems?!

I am looking forward to tomorrow as well, because I am still wildly hormonal. I’m not sure what’s happened this month, but my usual anger has been replaced with a really morose mood. Or it might be that I have seven features to write by Sunday – that’s always a depressing thought.

Tomorrow I’m going to swim, run, do yoga, eat well and listen to Here Comes The Sun. Nobody can be sad when they listen to that song, it’s a fact.

Also, Thursday is the last day of the week in Dubai, so that means I will automatically be happy anyway.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I want April to be over, and February hasn’t even ended yet.

I’ve recently (well, kinda recently) had a break-up, and the boy in question is leaving the country in April. I’m beyond devastated, even though I can see now that we aren’t meant to be. We get on really well, but unfortunately all the big things that matter are wrong. For instance, I am chasing something in Asia (haven’t figured out what!), and he wants to go back to his own country in Europe. There are lots of other things - big things that can’t be ironed out, and in fact, we haven’t even tried to which I think speaks volumes. But, at the same time, I feel sick as April approaches.

In the past, my approach has been to exercise and change my hair colour. I’m true to form with both of these again, but I am also going to throw myself into Asia and never, ever look back. I just need to get there ASAP. I think April will be spent at home, getting myself together and May will be when I fling myself into my new life. I can’t wait. I hate goodbyes and the sick-to-your-stomach heartbreak, but if you’re too busy working out currency conversions and wondering where you can catch a taxi into your new work place, it’s easier to get on with things.

Roll on May.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Starting From Scratch

Last night was a wake-up call. My yoga teacher told me on Saturday that I hyper extend my arms, which means I don’t hold my weight properly in some yoga asanas. Instead, I just lock my arms or legs out and let the joints take it. It’s not good and could explain why my arms are still so pathetically weedy after months of intense practice. So, last night I added a microbend to my arms and legs. Wow. That made things pretty difficult. In fact, it was really hard. Especially this pose (which is super easy if you lock your arms and super hard if you don’t)….

It felt like a bit of a set back when I felt like I was doing so well in yoga. I suppose that it’s the same with anything – you think you’re mastering something and then you find out that there is so much more to master than you first realised. I guess I am getting somewhere, but there is still a long way to go before I can consider signing up for teacher training.

On the plus side, I woke up today a lot lighter. I’m nearly at the weight I was at before the dinner reviews, so I guess it must have just been a bit of water retention. Too much info? Anyway, I feel less of a hippo today and more like a woman.

This morning I had a swim – 40 lengths in my pool, and at lunch I am planning a run, then I was considering a bit of beach yoga tonight. I did some the other day for a laugh when I was with my ex on the beach the other night. I was dressed for dinner, so it wasn’t ideal for a spot of ashtanga (getting into lotus in skinny jeans is impossible), but it was lovely. So, I think tonight I will take my yoga mat to the beach for a bit of a session. It sounds nice, doesn’t it?

I am reading a book about Tibet at the moment. So far, it’s lovely.

I reserve complete judgement until the end because, for instance, I liked Eat Pray Love when I first started reading it. At the end I felt the polar opposite of zen. If you haven’t read it, don’t.

Running is Beastly

It turns out hippos can run. They can run about 30km an hour, apparently. This is faster than man.

[Please forgive me for directing you to the bloody awful Daily Mail, but this is funny]

So, this also goes to explain why I just beat my personal best 3.5km running time. I even had to stop at one point to massage my calves. I completed it in 21 minutes and 59 seconds. A full one minute one second less than my best time a week ago. Not bad going (even though it's still a terrible time).

Tomorrow I am going to run another fartlek session to see if that will help me improve some more. Fartlek makes me feel like I am going to die, though.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Not A Happy Hippo

I feel like a blimp today. I weighed myself and I weigh the same as a blimp too. I hope it’s because I just came on my period, and not entirely down to the fact I have eaten and drunk myself into airship proportions.

In an attempt to remedy last night’s binge, I got up at 6am for a swim. Not an easy feat when you’re on your first day of your period. Anyway, I got up, headed out into the cold Dubai morning (I wore a coat for the first time today), and found the pool was being cleaned. This is good, of course, but when you have hauled yourself out of bed 40 minutes earlier than you would have otherwise, it’s kind of annoying.

I waited. The pool men said they would be a few minutes. I waited some more. They cleaned a bit more. Then I got up and asked the guy if next time it was possible to clean the pool some time when it wasn’t meant to be open. He didn’t really understand. I went and caught the bus to work. I really pray this isn’t their routine now. It’s annoying. It seems like everything in Dubai is catered for people who don’t have jobs. Hmmmpph.

Now I’m about to go for my lunchtime run. I don’t want to because I feel like a hippo, and I don’t think hippos look great when they run. I might be wrong because rhino’s are massive, but they look pretty impressive when they run. What I actually want to do this lunchtime is fall asleep in a foetal position and maybe eat some chocolate bars. The only reason I’m not doing this is because it will be counter productive for the whole ‘stop looking like a blimp’ cause I’m working on right now.

I had honey on toast for breakfast and almonds for a snack, if you’re interested. For lunch I have bought nothing because I have been too lazy to shop for days. I will get a salad from the crappy garage-type-shop over the road after my run. I have yoga tonight, so I will nip to the shop after that for some healthy food. Shopping in your gym wear always makes for the healthiest shopping basket, I find.

The Difficult Transition From Disco Diva to Downward Dog

I’ve been a bit lax over the past few days. Partly because I have done nothing but eat fatty foods and drink toxic beverages since we last spoke. I will let the photos do the talking and then we shall say no more about it…

So, today I have my penultimate dinner review. To be honest, I want it to be over with so that I can start getting rid of the 2+kgs I have put on while doing it. I can already see the bulges appearing. My ex has a nice way of putting it. He saw a girl in a dress that was maybe a little too tight for her and he said that she ‘didn’t have the qualifications for it’. I feel like I certainly don’t have the qualifications for half of the outfits I have bought since I first started losing weight. It feels horrible to be gaining again. I never want to be chunky again.

In an attempt to limit tonight’s damage I had a very good lunch – fruit and a nut bar. It might seem small, but I munch on things all the time, so my metabolism should be raring to tackle tonight’s dinner. I also had a run at lunch, and I beat my personal best. My personal best is an appalling 23 minutes for 3.5km, if you remember, but today I got it down to 22 minutes and 14 seconds. I wasn’t trying to get a PB because I felt a bit lethargic today, but because it was a bit windy I felt like I wasn’t keeping pace as much as I normally do, so I guess that’s why I did better. I pushed my comfort zone without realising it.

Yesterday I felt terrible. I was hungover and disgusting. I missed my weekend beach run, but got up for my 11am ashtanga class. I was terrible, but I’m glad I went and sweated out a few toxins. Afterwards (literally straight afterwards) I had my first private yoga session booked. It was fun. I felt ropey still (tip: don’t book a private yoga class the day after a 12 hour drinking session), but I learnt a few tips for improving my chaturanga, downward dog and hopefully some tips that will help me to roll my pelvis, which I have real trouble doing. My yoga teacher couldn’t work out why.

She did tell me that I hyper-extend in my arms when I am in postures, which stops me from strengthening my arms. I always wondered why my arms never seemed to gain strength no matter how many times I do things – apparently it’s because I’m double jointed. Sometimes being ultra bendy isn’t a good thing in yoga after all. Who knew?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Onwards and Upwards

Yesterday Hanu (my zen alter ego – see ‘Who Is Hanu?’ post) deserted me completely. I finished work to catch a bus home, and after waiting twenty minutes for my bus, it arrived and promptly drove straight past me. I wasn’t amused to say the least. The bus driver knew it, all the cars driving past knew it, the men waiting in the bus shelter knew it (and averted their eyes to my stomping and yelling) and the bus call centre certainly knew it when I rang up to complain. Why did it bother me so much to miss my bus? Well, lateness on the way home seems to be a bit of a stress trigger for me. I suppose that since, with travel, I’m out of the house from at least 6.30am to 7pm (and have to be in bed by 10.30 – 11pm) then every minute of my own time is precious. I felt like the bus driver had ruined my evening. It was irrational and I hope it doesn’t happen again, but in an effort to not so much excuse my tantrum as explain it, I will say that I haven’t lost my temper for months (which – if you had seen me a year ago is a miracle), and I am influenced by my PMT at the moment.

When I got home, I went to my vinyasa yoga class, which was great. My sides are still nicely aching today. They feel pretty solid too, so I know I must have done some good. I certainly felt quite peaceful again afterwards. I’ve signed up to have private sessions now.

Today I went for my 40 lengths swim in the morning and attempted my first fartlek run. I know this will improve my fitness (because it was REALLY hard), but I was hoping it would improve my 23 minute best time (it’s a 3.5km run), too. However, because I was sprinting some of the track, I had to power walk a bit instead of jogging the entire way round, as I usually do. It was very tiring. I feel like I did the best I could, but at the end I found that my time was… 23 minutes. EXACTLY 23 minutes to the second. Typical. What a joke. Tomorrow I will bust a gut to step it up a bit. I want to get it to a reasonably respectable 20 minutes.

Tonight I have another dinner review. It’s Thai food at Thiptera in The Palace. It should be quite swanky.

My main excitement today though is that I am going to move to South Korea. The more I think about it, the more right it feels. Also, I’ve started to realise the ex thing would never happen. The fact that we will live across the other side of the world from each other was a hint. I’m a bit slow on the uptake, but now that I am excited about life away from Dubai, I see that I really need to be on my own now. It’s nice to have mentally moved on a bit. Today I feel at peace with my decisions. More than at peace – REALLY excited about changing everything in my life again. I think it’s what I will always do.

Monday, February 1, 2010


I just read something that said 'life is so simple to be happy'. I like that.

Korean Bodega. It's In My Favour.

On Thursday, I asked for a sign that I was doing the right thing to move my life to Asia with no real source of income. I wanted a lightening bolt moment, and I wanted it on the weekend. I don’t usually ask for things like that, but this uncertainly about the future has been going on too long.

So, I asked and I got. A few things happened. They weren’t lightening bolts, but instead lots of little jolts that finally shuffled me into a position that I feel very happy about.

Firstly, I have been mulling over whether or not it’s stupid to go with no certainly of a job. I know I can write, so I could freelance and I was hoping to secure a charity job while I was away. I spoke to my friend J on Skype and she pointed out that freelancing is very uncertain, sporadic money even at the best of times. She was also realistic about how difficult it can be to get into charity work. It’s competitive and I have no experience. Fine if I could afford to volunteer for a while, but with my debts, I can’t for very long.

So, I was mulling this over in the hairdressers (I had nearly five hours to get some good, hard thinking done) and it occurred to me I could be a teacher. Hardly a revolutionary idea for somebody who wants to bum around Asia, I know, but to me it was a fairly new consideration. I have a friend who does it in Japan, and I know another who did it in China. I have a journalism degree (the same as the friend in Japan), so it’s a definite possibility. Then, after the hairdressers I went for drinks when my friend N suggested the same thing.

So, the idea was going around in my head that that is what I should do. I Googled the idea, and South Korea kept coming up. It seemed ideal. It’s progressive, has a culture I would love to explore, is buzzing, safe, the job pays well for Korean standards and about 25 per cent of the population is Buddhist. Great! For the first time since my feet have been itching, an option has really, really grabbed me. This is it.

My main sign was at work, though. Whatever I thought was the worst thing that could happen – I was wrong. I found out today what the worst thing actually is – the promotion of one of my, let’s say, ‘hands on’ editors to become my Managing Editor. Basically, the buck would stop with her, and I don’t want to be here when she has that kind of power. She will be promoted at the end of March. So, mission ‘Teaching in South Korea’ begins.