Doing things with others…

Myself and a couple of friends from work are having a competition to see who can lose the most fat by Christmas. This is particularly motivating for me as my best friend is getting married in 6 weeks and being maid of honour I want to look good!

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There are 3 women and 1 man taking part in this challenge, the guy is a big rugby player, however has the least body fat out of all of us! Obviously, men should have less so this is to be expected. All of us are relatively active and eat well most of the time. I am actually the ‘fattest’ of us all with 23.9% body fat. To be honest myself and the women doing the challenge just wanted to lose a bit of body fat and weren’t too fussed about winning. However, the guy has such a competitive streak that he is taking it very seriously!

This however has really motivated me. I have now made sure I’m keeping to 1460 calories per day and for the first time I’m really tracking my macros. So at the moment I am trying to stick to 40% protein, 30% carbs and 30% fat. I am struggling a little to make up 40% of my diet with protein, but I’m persevering.

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I may shift the percentages slightly, but it’s made me think losing fat is actually pretty simple. We are all different but it is basic science that output must exceed input to create a calorie deficit. I am aiming for a deficit of 500 calories a day and ensuring that I include weight training in my exercise programme at least 2-3 times a week so that I am building muscle. As the more muscle, I have the more fat I will burn.

build muscle burn fat

However, although I said it may be simple, it is not easy. With people at work bringing in chocolate biscuits and other treats, having to drink 1-2 protein shakes a day to ensure I have the right amount in my diet (I actually don’t like the taste at all) and living in Dubai being able to order in pretty much any type of cuisine to your door at any time of day!

I have 4 weeks left until we do the final measurements, during this time I am going to try to be as disciplined as I can be and let’s hope it pays off! So, to go back to the title, if I had done this just with the motivation of looking good for my best friend’s wedding, yes I may have lost a bit of body fat, however competing against others, especially when the others are competitive, it has really motivated me. Motivating me to challenge myself further in terms of being more meticulous with my diet.

So, if you’re planning on doing something, whether it’s a 5k run, losing a bit of body fat or even being able to do a full push up, find some friends to do it with. It’ll be more fun and will most likely get you better results!

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Looking after my body…

In the past I have been a little silly with not listening to my body and probably training when I should have, not really caring about what I’m putting in my body in terms of food, or simply surviving off a diet of 1000 calories and thinking I was being ‘healthy’.

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Most ridiculous thing ever! But yet when I was younger I was buying into shit like this!

However, now I am making sure that I have around 1400-1500 calories a day and ensuring that I am getting my ratio of macros correct, fuelling my body efficiently for the activities I am doing (those calories are normally higher too, they are that low at the moment as I am trying to lose fat). In addition to this I am also taking supplements, such as multivitamins, immune boosting vitamins, probiotics and magnesium. I also go to bed by around 9.30 most nights (such a grandma!!) as I often get up running at 5am before work. So why is it that I am doing all these things and still managing to get ill!! Not just a sniffle either, I have literally had to take 3 days off work and have not been able to do any form of exercise in a whole week! It has pained me and there is only so much Netflix I can watch!

sick

I guess I can’t really do anything but just wait for it to pass, but it really has driven me mad that I cannot work out and also I can’t believe how weak I feel. The other day I walked to the doctors, which is like 10 minutes away, to get there I had to walk up a flight of stairs and when I got to the top I felt so tired, I checked my heart rate on my watch and it was 145 bpm! This is normally my heart rate when I am out running.

Today, 6 days into this bug I am starting to feel slightly more human and needed to get out so went for a 9 km walk around the marina in Dubai. Still feeling very weak and it took me a while! I guess I just need to accept the fact that no matter how much we look after our bodies we can still get ill. So I just need to get on with it and hopefully will be feeling better soon. As I get older and more knowledgable I feel I make less stupid decisions, for example even 2/3 years ago as soon as I was feeling like 75% better I would be straight in the gym training as hard as I was previously which would delay me getting better (these were probably the lesser of the stupid decisions I made- but no need to get into them!!)

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Now I will be taking it easy, easing my way back into it and fuelling my body effectively soI can get back to where I was. Guess what I’m trying to say in a very round about way is listen to your body, treat it well, it may not always reward you, but it’s the only one you have, so you need to be patient before going 100% again.

Throw away the scales!

Ok, so my title may be a little dramatic, but I honestly feel like I need a break from the scales. I am a little ridiculous with weighing myself, like I weigh myself probably 4/5 times a day. Sometimes its purely through curiosity, for example if I’m going to the toilet, I may weigh myself before and after just to see how much I can offload! I know, I’m a little disgusting, but do find myself curious about these things!

Anyway, getting a little off the point, lately all I have been doing when I’ve been getting on the scale is beating myself up. I am eating a well balanced diet (80% of the time, well maybe 70%, if I’m completely honest!), have given up alcohol and have been working out 7-9 times a week, so therefore you’d expect some kind of change on the scale right?

Nope nothing!!!! Well perhaps a kilo or so in a month, so gets me thinking why am I busting my arse at the gym or out running, when there is not much difference on the scale? I think this is a common thought lots of women have and maybe some men too. However, if I actually take a step away from the scale and think about other changes that have happened.

  • Feel so much fitter- have started introducing sprint training into my morning runs, which was torture at first but feel like I’m getting stronger all the time. Also in my f45 circuit classes, I can do push ups without collapsing after 5!
  • My stomach appears to be flatter- which is a problem area for me, so this is a big winIMG_6715
  • My arms are more toned- if any of you have read my previous posts, you will know I have a thing about my arms
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  • I feel like I have more energy
  • I am sleeping better, used to wake up around 3/4 times a night, now its around 1

 

So actually, if I look at all those positives and stop beating myself up about the number on the scale, I am much likely to continue to be motivated and keep going. Rather than stepping on the scale and feeling disheartened time after time. Don’t do it to yourself!

And a final thing, I know you will have seen this a million times, but needs to be said again…

fat-VS-muscle

 

So stop beating yourself up, think about how amazing your body actually is, fuel it, move it and be patient for results.

Turquoise Brunch Review, Rixos Premium JBR, Dubai

My initial feelings when my cousin suggested to going to this brunch, were let’s say a little lukewarm. Solely for the reason of it being brand new, so I was doubtful of how lively the place would be. With experiencing the all-inclusive Rixos in RAK, where the food was not really very impressive for somewhere calling itself a 5 star hotel. Therefore, I was a little tentative about what the quality of the food would be like.

I am very pleased to say that I was completely mistaken! The brunch, although half full (only it’s 3rd week) was thoroughly enjoyable and I will definitely be going back. At a reasonable price of 290 (nonalcoholic) or 390 AED (alcoholic), I am certain that the place will fill up soon enough.

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Dennis- one of the cocktail waiters, makes a very good cocktail and was always smiling!

The drinks

We were taken to our table and quickly offered cocktails, which were presented really well, on a tray with some kind of liquid nitrogen, that myself and my cousin showed perhaps too much enthusiasm over, we were like 5 year olds! The cocktail had gin, prosecco and an elderflower syrup, topped with a square of Turkish delight, it tasted lovely. The only bad thing was that the glasses were decorated with what I think was bits of icing sugar, which made my hands a little sticky- but that’s just me being a bit picky!

Throughout the brunch there were many different types of cocktails brought to the table, with my favourite being a fancy gin and tonic, I can’t remember exactly what was in it, however they did have sage leaves that they had burnt in the top, which gave it a really nice aroma.

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Can’t remember what this was called, but tasted a little like an orangey sambuca!

 

The package also include prosecco in the 390 AED price, therefore ticks a big box for me!

The music/ambience

Throughout the brunch there was live music, with a man playing the guitar and singing, providing really nice background music. There were also some two other performers, one of which was dressed as a chef and another as a waiter, who both came over to our table and began arguing, which initially we thought was real! However, they then both got out microphones and broke into a really good rendition of Haven’t met you yet’ by Michael Buble. This was a really nice touch as it brought a different level to the entertainment, as the 2 singers were moving around and interacting with the guests.

The food

I have left this section till last as I wanted to leave the best till last. It is rare to find a brunch in this price range that offers such good food and drink. Turkish is not a type of cuisine that I eat often, however there are many things that I would go back to this brunch for!

  1. The fish stand- there were so many different types of seafood that you could choose to get grilled and brought to your table. We ordered calamari, lobster and octopus, with the octopus being my personal favourite. To the side of this there was also a sushi stand, with a vast range of different pieces of sushi.
  2. The meat stand- this was similar to the fish stand. So many types of meat and kebabs that you could order to be cooked and brought to your table. We ordered the pistachi kebab, the adana kebab and the striploin steak. I completely fell in love with the pistachi kebab- want to return to this brunch just for this!
  3. The cheese stand- Again, a selection of turkish and Mediterranean cheese that were brought to your table. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. Personally, I love manchego cheese, which they didn’t have, however they had so much selection I didn’t feel cheated!IMG_1404
  4. Desserts- I’m much more of a savoury person that desert, however I must say I was impressed with the array of desserts. My personal favourite was the pistachio baklava, they had so many different deserts, there was literally everything, from chocolate fountains, cheesecake, baklava to meringue.

There were also all the usual stations you get at brunch, bread (I generally avoid, as I don’t want to fill up on carby food), hot food, salads etc.

 

Overall, I think this brunch has everything, good drinks, excellent food, great entertainment. Try it out!

2 Months holiday is too long…

I know lots of people would absolutely love a 2 month holiday! As a teacher in the UAE, this year due to the Islamic calendar we have ended up having the longest holiday I have ever had in my working life. I have been off work for 2 months, I have travelled round Cambodia and Vietnam for a month and then have been around England visiting people, to Ibiza for a hen party and to the lake district for my sister’s wedding.

 

Which was supposed to be my inspiration to be slim with beautifully toned arms. What can I say? I failed drastically! Obviously, I have still fit into my dress, but my arms are far from toned and I don’t know why but they get this funny bit that sticks out at the side! I’ve always had that which is why I usually try and make an effort to keep my arms toned.

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I am kind of making excuses here but it has been really hard to exercise and eat well at home. I have in fact put on 3 kilos since getting back! I believe this is for the following reasons.

 

  1. No routine
  2. No gym membership
  3. Shitty weather in England so don’t want to run in the rain

british weather4. Catching up with people, you sound like a twat if you say oh sorry I can’t eat this or won’t drink this

diet5. Eating things that I can’t get abroad/in Dubai (like my dad’s garlic pizza)

6. Italian family- who’s way of showing love is by feeding you!

italian family

7. Hen do in Ibiza- how would I be healthy there???

alcohol and pizza

 

 

Number 4 I find particularly hard, to be honest it’s something I have got better at, saying no or making a sensible choice. With trying to save money this year in addition to keeping healthy it is something I need to get better at!

I am now back in the UAE and have been sorting my life out. However, have a really bad head with cutting down my carbs. I have been eating healthy for 5 days and feel like it has been a lifetime, but definitely feel better already (apart from the bad head) for getting back on track.

So now I am back to work, back into routine, living in my own home and also about to be certified as a personal trainer, I have no excuse right??!!

We shall see. At least I will be able to empathise with clients about trying to keep on track with healthy habits. Will keep you posted.

Getting back on the wagon…

Despite my best efforts, well maybe not efforts, lets say intentions, I actually did very little exercise whilst travelling Cambodia and Vietnam. Think all of my exercise consisted of:

  • 2 Cambodian Kick boxing classes
  • 2, 3k runs (barely worth going out!)
  • 1, 10.5km trek
  • 2 hours climbing
  • 1 hour kayaking

In 1 month that is pretty shocking for me considering I usually workout 5/6 times a week. However, I’m not going to beat myself up about it too much, as I had a great time!

Now I’m back, well not to normal routine, as I’m back in England and still have a month of summer holidays left before I got back to Dubai to start a new term. I am going to try my best whilst in England to get back on track! Though I do have 2 hen dos and 2 weddings so will have to just be super strict in-between.

Since I have been back (less than 24 hours) I have done 2 6km runs. Yesterday I did have chocolate (5 mini bars!!), however from today I am really determined with my diet. My sister is getting married on the 17th August, so this will be keeping me focused.

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Will be writing about my progress!

 

Eating my way around Kampot

Kampot is a lazy town, set upon a river in the south of Cambodia. It’s chilled out, relaxed atmosphere seems to have drawn a lot of westerners to settle here. Whilst in Kampot we ate so much good food! Some Khmer and some western. Therefore, in this post rather than just talk through what I did, I’m going to talk through where I ate! 

Pepe and the Viking 

This is a hostel and cafe. We ate there a couple of times and enjoyed the sandwiches, particularly the goats cheese with bacon, caramelised onion and cashew nuts.


The food was reasonably priced and there are seats in an outdoor area which overlook the river.

Night market

On our first night we walked to the night market where we got a beef noodle soup. The Khmer people who worked there did speak any English but were very welcoming and accommodating- they seem overjoyed when we left a one dollar tip. The soup tasted delicious, however the beef in the soup was extremely fatty, I couldn’t eat it but the taste of the soup and the noodles was lovely.


This food cost 6000 riels, which is the equivalent of 1.5 dollars- absolute bargain! 

Rusty keyhole 

This place is famous for their ribs and they did not disappoint. We got a stack of ribs with mashed potato and coleslaw. The ribs were coated in a BBQ sauce which was delicious.


This plate, which fed both of us cost 7 dollars- which again was pretty good value. Again, this had seating outside which overlooked the river.

Max’s Italian 

In one of the night markets we met an Italian man who was selling fried ice cream. We asked him where the best place was to eat pizza in town and he recommended Max’s. 


With being half Italian I have high standards of Italian food- this pizza was pretty good. It had a very thin crust and the mozzarella was good. However, I don’t quite think it was the best in town. 

Divino Italian 

This was my favourite Italian in Kampot. It was a small family run restaurant which had a really nice feel to it and authentic food. We ate there a couple of times trying a mixed antipasto, pasta and pizza.


It was reasonably priced for western food. The pizza divino was the best pizza I had in Kampot- it was topped with parma ham, chopped tomatoes and Parmesan. Definitely worth a visit if going to Kampot.

Rikitikitavi

This place had a complete mixture of Khmer and western food. However, we went more for happy hour drinks at sunset, which were $4 buy one get one free. We did have some appetisers with our drinks.


We had chicken satay skewers and Khon Khmer fresh spring rolls. The food here was ok, but quite a bit more expensive than other places.

Bakery

I can’t remember the name of the place and we went there almost every day! It was a bakery on the corner just down from our hostel, old town and across the road from Rusty Keyhole. We had breakfasts there and also they did very good brownies with ice cream! 


Sometimes we ate in here and other times we just got things to take away. Definitely worth a stop off- just wish I remembered the actually name of the place!! 

The final place I’m going to mention isn’t a place in Kampot but in Kep which is about 30/40 minutes away. Kep is famous for its crab and has a massive crab statue to celebrate this. Therefore when we went we felt like we had to sample the crab!

Magic Crab, Kep

The seafood was so fresh here, when you walked in they had a tank with crabs in it. I have eaten crab before but have never seen crabs like these ones, they had blue tips.


To eat we shared 2 dishes, crabmeat cooked with green peppercorn and BBQ prawns.


Both of these dishes were so good, you could tell the seafood was so fresh. We had a pretty good view on to the sea from where we were sitting. We could actually see some of the locals fishing crabs in the sea.

I ended up staying in Kampot for 6 days and feel like I ate so well there! Need to start exercising a little more as I feel the lazy ambience in the town of Kampot affected my motivation! 

Kampot was one of my favourite places in Cambodia. If you are a foodie it is definitely worth a visit! 

Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia

Koh Rong Sanloem is one of the island off the south cost of Cambodia. There are 2 main islands, Koh Rong, which is the larger of the 2 and mor of a party island and then there is Koh Rong Sanloem which is more chilled out.

Altogether I spent 3 days on the island Koh Rong Sanloem, 2 days in m’pay bay and 1 in Saracen Bay. Both were enchanting in their own way. 

M’pay bay was at the north of the island and had many hostels along the beach, offering fairly cheap accommodation, we paid $12 a night for our bungalow with a fan and private bathroom. It was basi but was all we needed.


The sea was really nice in the sense that the water was really clear, however the beach itself was a bit dirty and unkept. I’m not sure whether this is because it was theoff  season or whether it is always like that, however it was not very inviting! 



Despite that there was an unpolished charm about the place and we had some really nice food here. There are a couple of places where anything off the menu costs $2, so great it you are trying to be thrifty! 

Our favourite place was probably Babbaganus which was a Turkish place which was on the pier. It was a very relaxed atmosphere with small tables and cushions to sit on, where you could here the sea lapping against the pier below. This place had a range of breakfasts, sandwiches and main meals.


We also ate at a place called Bong’s, we had breakfast there one morning and burgers for dinner another night. The staff were really nice too and offered us pancakes just because they were making some for themselves. 


In terms of things to do on the island, I didn’t think there was that much. They do boat trips around the island where you can snorkle and we got a kayak one day and explored a near by bay. 


For me this side of the island was a little too chilled out and although I enjoy relaxing, I just felt it didn’t have the nicest beach that I could chill out on. Therefore after 2 nights we ended up going to the other side of the island.

Saracen Bay is a beautiful 3km stretch of beach on the east side of the island. The sand is white and the water really clear. This side has less hostels and more resorts, making it more expensive. Having said that we did find somewhere for $15 dollars- however it was the worst place I have stayed in Cambodia! Despite having a mosquito net got bitten so many times, we had the weakest fan ever so that room was actually hotter inside that outside and the worst thing was the water. The water out of the shower and tap were brown and in the toilet it looked like Coca-Cola when you flushed it! It was honestly disgusting- I almost threw up everytime I flushed the toilet! Needless to say I didn’t actually shower when I was there! 

Apart from this I did enjoy Saracen Bay- the afternoon we were there it was beautiful, weather was great, I felt like I was in paradise! Then in the evening although it was east facing the sky was amazing at sunset. There was an orange glow to the sky, was incredible.


We had a BBQ fish platter for dinner that night which was nice but not too filling so we walked further along the beach and found a place which had pancakes for dessert! 


I did prefer this side of the island, however it was so much more expensive than the other side. We had planned on staying another night, however when we woke the next morning (after a horrible nights sleep in the oven room) the weather was pretty rubbish so we decided to move on.

I would recommend Koh Rong Sanloem if you like to chill out on a beach and do nothing! However, if you want a bit more hustle and bustle I would head to Koh Rong, where there is a bit more going on.

There are also no ATMs on the island so make sure you withdraw all the money you need before going! Between two of us we spent just under $250 dollars on the island, but we really like food, you could probably spend less! 

My experience of Siem Reap

After being underwhelmed by Phnom Penh, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Siem Reap. However, my initial impression of Cambodia was completely turned around by Siem Reap- I absolutely loved it. 

We arrived quite early in the morning after getting the night bus from Phnom Penh and went straight to the temples of Angkor. I have written a separate post about this- as I felt I would not do the place justice with a small mention! 



I really liked that there was something for everyone to do on the evenings. There was a night market which was really good! You could find t shirts, vests, elephant pants, hats, hammocks, basically anything you can think of! I got 2 small paintings which were $15 for both after a bit of bartering. 

There are also lots of massage stalls at the nightmarket. One night we got a fish massage- one of the weirdest sensations ever- followed by a foot massage.

Fish massage and a beer only $3

There was pub street which is full of bars and small stalls selling cheap cocktails and blasting music to try and drain the music out from the next stall along- which would literally be 2 metres away!

There are quite a few things other than the temples to explore in Siem Reap. We also went to the war museum, where there were loads of tanks, weapons and armour from different battles in the region. I was quite lucky with Owen having been in the army, was like I had my own personal guide! There are however guides there who are free of charge, but will probably expect some kind of tip. We overheard one of them talking and actually regretted not getting a guide, as he had fought and seemed to have some interesting stories to tell. 


We also did an escape room, which obviously isn’t a Cambodian thing or anything but was really good fun! We did a prison break themed one and just managed to make it out of the room in time! Was quite difficult but they give you up to 4 clues if you need them.

For those who like to try more active things we went to Angkor fight club to do some kick boxing- the Khmer version of Muay Thai. This was really good fun- we did 2 classes on consecutive days. Was great for all levels- Owen had done quite a lot of Muay Thai in Thailand and I have done a little boxing but never any kick boxing. It was really good fun- definitely recommend this place as the coaches were really friendly and tailored the classes to meet everyone’s needs.


On our last day in Siem Reap a tuk tuk driving called Richard took us to see the floating village of Khampong Phluk. This place was amazing- so interesting to see how people live in these floating villages. We also stopped at a floating restaurant and had lunch- where Owen ate crocodile! I was boring and just had chicken but did try some of the crocodile and it was really chewy! 


We were also given the chance to drive the boat in the river after lunch which was good fun! 


After this the tuk tuk driver invited us back to his house for more food! We went to a market to buy meat, where we literally waited for a freshly killed duck to be delivered! It still had the claws on and everything! 


It was actually really nice to be invited into a house of a native and see how they live. I have found Cambodian people to be so friendly! We ate lok lak beef, a traditional Cambodian dish, which is Owens favourite- he’s eaten it almost every second day at least! We were also given a duck soup which still had the claws intact! I just had the soup- no meat!! And then we had duck grilled on the BBQ. 


So far Siem Reap has been my favourite place in Cambodia. There is so much to do and I love the hustle and bustle of the place at night. Definitely recommend visiting here! 

 Temples of Angkor

After having got the night bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and arriving at 5 am, we decided to go straight the the temples of Angkor. We hired a tuk tuk driver for the day, this cost $23, however he took us from the bus to a hotel to drop our bags, then drove us to each temple and waited for us there till the next one. So I think was worth the money! If you have more time you can walk around the temples, however we were pretty tired after not getting much sleep on the night bus. 

Going on a tangent here but have learned a vital life lesson since being here- never drink before going on the night bus- alcohol I mean- they have no toilets on them so you have to ask the bus if you need the loo and end up pissing on the side of the road! I didn’t want to venture too far from the bus either so think lots of the people on the bus will have seen my arse! 

Anyway back to the temples- they say sunrise is the best time to go, especially if you want an amazing photo of the sunrise with Angkor Wat in the background. Unfortunately when we got there it was abbot overcast so you couldn’t actually see the sunrise- however Angkor Wat was still pretty impressive! 


After spending a good few hours at Angkor Wat we were taken to some other temples, which weren’t quite as big but still really impressive.

We saw Bayon temple, which has loads of big faces on the walls of the temples. I really liked this one.

We also saw Ta Prohm- which is another famous temple- with the tree growing over the top of it. I also really liked this one, reminded me of something out of the woods in a Disney film. 


We also saw Angkor Thom- again this temple was amazing to see, however this one was not quite as preserved as some of the others.


Tickets for the temples cost $37 for one day or around $67 for 3 days.

One day was perfect for us, however those who want to take a bit more time and either walk or cycle from temple to temple could go for the 3 day option.

When visiting Cambodia a visit to the temples of Angkor should not be missed! I felt like I was standing in a postcard!