Wednesday, April 15

(My Fitness Journey) What I have learnt so far!

Hi Friends,

I thought I would take the time to share some information about my personal fitness journey of late.

I have posted a few posts in the past about my journey and wanted to update, share and encourage anyone out there who is just starting out, or ready to give up!  Well my first piece of advice would be: Do not give up!!

This was last Summer with Trainer Winston, I had just done a run and one of his killer weight routines...since then Winston is no longer at my Gym, but we have a fabulous new Instructor who motivates and pushes!  Cut to today and I am still enjoying all the workouts and more.

A little about me and fitness.  I have always loved exercise since I was very young in school, but was more of a swimmer and tennis player than someone who played netball or ran.  I can recall from early years (I am talking early teens!) dieting, not because I had to, but only as everyone else was in my class.  So my body image from an early age was not a good one, as all I did back then was compare myself to the tiniest, skinniest people around me.  Back in the 80's when we were all teens and younger, in Jamaica, it was all about how "skinny" you could be, and how good one looked in a swimsuit on the weekend.  What pressure.  Sometimes I look back and ask myself where on earth did that all come from?

Cut to my college years in Bermuda, and that was a time I gained the standard "freshman 15" and maybe even a few more in the years I was attending hotel management school.  That was due to bad eating habits, not being able to cook healthy, and just eating out of stress and nerves really.  By my mid twenties, having met and married Chris by then, I started to learn more about healthy eating habits and exercising again because I loved it.  I must say, what helped was having a hubby who was also into healthy eating and exercise.  It also was a huge advantage having a hubby who was also my exercise partner.  We would find new trails to power walk and run through every weekend, and then go home and do a weights routine.  That is when the weight I gained in college and after melted off and never came a five pound gain now and then over the years.

My thirties...that was a continued path of exercise and healthy eating, sometimes even taking it to another level and losing too much weight at times.  One thing I should point out is that I am short (5 ft 2 inches) and so when I mention gaining 15 pounds or more in college, on me that was alot.  This was also the time in my life that I became a strict Vegetarian, it lasted about six years.

And now let's talk about the 40's.  It's been an on and off again love affair with fitness until two years ago when I decided one day that this is the time in my life that I want to not only look my best, but feel my best!  If not now, when?  And I made a commitment to myself that I would no longer be about my motto "skinny fat."  Many people have been asking about that term, and for those of you who do not know, that terms pretty much sums up a look of "skinny" without any muscle tone, or look of fitness.  It is a look that extreme dieting or sometimes even underweight people can have.  For me, skinny fat meant - no more skinny but still feeling flabby, no more "not feeling confident in a bikini."

And so two years ago I joined the most fabulous gym here in Ocho Rios, and happened upon one of the most life changing experiences of my entire fitness journey to date.  Cut to today - April 2015, and I can say that I am still very much in the process, loving it more and more, understanding the balance, and as a result of this -  have gained alot more muscle, and on top of that, am loving lifting weights and will continue upon that path. Overall, I have realised that for me, it is all about creating the balance which is the mix of exercise that keeps me fit and trim today.  It has nothing to do with dieting, only cleaner eating and a healthy fitness outlook.

Here are some of my own tips I have learnt along the way, and that have helped me 100% and will continue to to share with you whether you are just starting, or thinking of it, or in the process:

 - Do not compare your beginning with someone's else's end or journey!!  That is the very worse thing you could ever do to yourself.  When joining a gym, you have to realise that there are going to be people around you who have been exercising for years and years.  Make them be your motivation for determination and success.  Watch their schedules and realise that it is because they are going to the gym and working out regularly, why they look the way they do.

 - Keep a log of your fitness journey either on an App or book.  If you are in this to lose weight first, then you can apply your goal here.  Write down your daily intake of food, and give yourself weekly goals.  For fitness goals, I have a fitbook which I just love to fill in after each workout.  The fitbook is very affordable and sold from their website (linked above.)  While I love an App, I love to write down just as much.  Another App I use alot for workout goals from day to day is Runtastic, which I just love and think is one of the best fitness apps out there.

 - Music is my world.  I cannot exercise without music.  I honestly do not know how anyone can! Now obviously this is the case for most people, but I have found in my journey some peeps who just do not need music to exercise.  For me, music makes me more motivated to keep going, and to reach higher.  For personal runs and weight training, I use RockMyRun which is a brand new App on the market.  I am obsessed with the fact that the playlists are abundant, and of all genres.  I am impressed that you can actually choose to have your playlist go with the beat of your workout!  Try it now - you can download it for iphone and android.

 - Fitness Pals.  I cannot say enough about this point.  By fitness pals, I mean having friends who are on the same journey and can help motivate you and vice versa.  I created a whatsapp group for the peeps in my gym who attend the same classes and have the same goals.  It has really helped me along the way, especially those days that you think you just may not make it, and someone says on the chat, "get the heck out and let's do a Zumba class!" or "why don't we go for an early Saturday morning run?" - this has to be the one area that has helped me so much in my journey. (Thank you my dedicated gym peeps: Tricia, Sabrina, Andy, Lucy, Ricky and Sienna for being there, and motivating!)

 - Make friends with the personal trainer at the Gym.  And by friends, I mean, get to know them by talking about your fitness goals.  Make no bones about it, they will look out for you and make sure you are doing what you have to do!  I have a wonderful Instructor now at the Gym who even coaches me one on one when I am doing a weights routine.  He will also ensure when he is doing his classes that I am pushing myself where I need to be.  What a motivation!  Last Summer I went to a gym in Florida throughout the summer months when I was there and all the pertinent Fitness Trainers got to know me, my goals and what I was looking for.  I really like that personal touch.  (I must send a shout out to Dwayne to thank him for helping me stay motivated since I got back to the Gym after having chik v! Last week he had us doing 600 abs, we are working up to 1,000, wish me luck!)

 - Clean eating really, really helps.  This point.  Oh boy.  I can tell you that you can be someone who works out six times in the gym, mixing cardio, running, step, yoga, Pilates, anything and everything...but you may wonder why you are not seeing the results of the hard work you are putting in.  On a very general level, (as I am not a Personal Trainer, but just from experience...) I can safely say it could be due to your eating habits.  Check the sugar, check the amount of carbs you are consuming from week to week, check your macros, and make sure you have a balance of protein, healthy fat and a clean repertoire of food each day.  And I can also safely say that alcohol can cause those last pounds to stay on and not that intake on the weekend!

Via Pinterest

 - Lifting weights has done wonders for my body:  For awhile there, all I heard was "are you crazy, how can you be lifting, or even want to lift weights as a woman?" the responses I still get are amazing as I wonder why so many people say something that is simply not true.  I never expected to see the results I am seeing so quickly.  I am not training to be in a bikini or body fitness competition, I simply incorporate weight training into my weekly routine. Lifting will not make you big.  I am talking to women here.  Lifting weights helps to tone, build muscle and makes you leaner than anything.  If you are not trying out for a major body building contest and therefore do not need to be lifting over 100 pounds, you can rest assured that you are not going to get big!!  Keep in mind too, that lifting weights can burn calories when you are at rest, the more muscle you build, the better!

Via Pinterest 

 - If you are getting bored with your workouts, change the routine!  Yes, I used to hear this alot but in the last two years boy has it done wonders when I decide to change and mix up the routine from week to week.  Sometimes I will do more cardio than weights.  My perfect workout per week is five to six with one full rest day...however most weeks it ends up being five workout days.  I would love to try to commit to six, but in all honesty it does not end up happening most weeks. That is okay with me.  Some weeks I try for three cardio blasts and two runs/weight, or the opposite.  By cardio blasts, it could be circuit training, boot camp, zumba, sprint hill running...or step.  On a rest day, it is still great to try to do something low impact like Pilates or even a power walk.

 - At home exercise really has helped in times when I could not or cannot get to the Gym.  When I was sick with the mosquito borne virus, chik v for two and half months last year, (!!) I did no exercise as it was simply way too painful to move any joint in my body.  I came down with it in mid November and got back to the gym the last week of January.  However from the beginning of January to the end, I decided to try to build myself back by doing low impact at home workouts.  A good friend told me all about Fitness Blender.  If you have not heard about this website, check it out it really is the best!  There are hundreds of workouts from low to HIIT to yoga and mat Pilates.   I also love this site for when I simply could not get to the Gym and needed a quick, go to workout.

 - Become part of an online Fitness Group.  This really helps me too.  It is a way for me to check out what others are doing, help motivate them...and share any tips.  There are many fitness groups online and on Facebook. It is also a way for me to find out about new fitness Apps, protein powders, nutrition bars, the best running shoes out there, etc!!  Another component to this is to follow fitness gurus and peeps on Instagram...the best thing about this is when they post workout routines or videos.  You can save the videos through Instasave on your phone and use them later.

 - Cute gear helps.  Ha, this one is motivating for me...I love a nice workout outfit and happened upon Fabletics last year.  A fellow blogger wrote a post about it and I was very impressed with her gear.  You literally become a member and with points earned each month, you can purchase custom chosen outfits depending on what you like.  Each month you are given suggestions that may fit your profile.  

A Fabletics running outfit, one of my faves.

On this note I also love having a nice gym bag, but I wanted a bag that did not look like the standard "gym bag."  I searched and found this lovely bag from Vera Bradley.  It is really fab as it fits the mat on the outside, and has partitions inside to fit your bottle and so much more.  This is the exact one I have (it is also carry on compliant and can easily be used for an overnight bag.)  You can grab one here:

 - Do not beat yourself up!!  Yes, this is my last point.  If you have noticed, this post is not about my weight now as I do not want to instill comparisons.  It is about my journey from being "Skinny fat" to "healthy slim" - or fit.  My journey continues and will continue.  I try to have realistic goals from week to week but I also try to push myself when it comes to doing more and more (run another mile, jump a little higher in class, do those extra 100 abs....get up and run a few miles on a Saturday morning) it is always going to be more challenges for me, as that is how I stay motivated.  However I am not someone to say "what works in my kitchen is going to work for you."  You have to find your comfort zone (or not!), you have to analyze your eating habits and make it all work.  I feel to stay motivated is the biggest challenge in any fitness journey, but it gets easier. The more you go, the more you do, the more positive results that you see, is the MORE YOU WILL WANT TO DO. Just keep at it, and DON'T GIVE UP!

Tuesday, April 14

(Fab Cocktails) Rajay's Top Three!

Hi Friends,'s been a bit quiet here on the Blog, and it is time to catch up again!  It has been a busy year just trying to balance it all.  The Blog takes a back seat every now and then as I am really the only writer and it can be quite challenging with so many things happening at once.  A new Tour Company, PR for a hotel...and on and on it goes!  Such is life, and I cannot complain.

I thought I would share some fab cocktails from a very talented Server over at Jamaica Inn.  I have shared some of his wonderful cocktail recipes here before and on the Jamaica Inn Blog, so please check over there from time to time to see them.

The theme of these cocktails I am sharing today is "Blackwell Rum" - Rajay from Jamaica Inn has given us three really awesome drink recipes that you can try at home:

A Jamaica Inn Rum Punch:
(serving up for one)

 4 ounces of Blackwell Rum
 1 ounce of lime juice
3 ounces of Pineapple juice
1/2 ounce syrup or grenadine
2 dashes of Bitters
Shake with ice in Cocktail Shaker and serve in a small cocktail glass.

 Rajay showing guests how to make the cocktails on the beach!

A Jamaica Inn Soursop Daiquiri 
(serving up for one)

2 ounces of Blackwell Rum
4 ounces of Soursop Juice
2 ounces of lime juice
1 ounce of syrup or grenadine
Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice, serve up in a martini glass!

A Fabulous Rum Swizzle
(serving up for one)

2 ounces of Blackwell Rum
1 ounce of syrup or grenadine
1/2 ounce lime juice
2 ounces of Pineapple Juice
1/2 ounce of Amaretto
Mix with ice, serve in a hurricane or high-ball glass - Rajay used sugar cane as a garnish.

If you are looking to book a vakay at the chic and beautiful boutique hotel - Jamaica Inn, have a look at the Special Offers running for Summer.  Also stay tuned for another fabulous Yoga & Wellness Retreat to take place in September at The Inn.  More coming up on the Blog soon.

We hope to see you all soon in Jamaica!

Wednesday, February 25

Random Acts of Kindness & Other Thoughts

Hello Friends!

I hope you are well well.

As we approach the third month of the year already, I thought I would share some thoughts and experiences on Random Acts of Kindness, which to me - is one of the most important acts we can carry out in our daily lives.  

Source here

So I am going to give a quick run-down of how kind acts can come back twice-fold and without expecting it, that we should just jump in and offer to help where needed when it is least expected.  In the last quarter of 2014, there were many people in Jamaica who came down with a mosquito borne virus, called "Chikungunya virus" or "chik V" shortened.  It is a debilitating virus that literally attacks the joints in the body, and you feel as if you are 100 years old to say the least.  You can barely walk, get out of bed or move around when the joints are swollen and in pain. I know this for a fact, as I came down with the same virus in November.  For almost three months and more, I have been suffering from this and it has taken about that amount of time to finally get back to feeling like the "old me" again, and almost back to a place of normal.  Now I can continue on and on about negative things, but I choose to stop right here and talk about the positive, and to say that if it were not for a very few people, I would have been very lost going through this.  A few lovely peeps (whether family or friends) who would check in on me daily by text, phone call or just to say hi.  The lovely lady who offered me fabulous Italian pasta's for lunch and dinner (I could not say yes very often as I was not exercising!) - and the one person who listened to my painful stories each day - I say thank you, you know who you are!  Of course my hubby was my main support, but I am referring here to random peeps.

The reason for this back story is because there was a time about a month before when a friend came down with the same virus, and I helped her wherever I could taking into consideration, that she lived alone.  Not for one second was I helping her to expect back the same help one day in any shape or form!  However, one month later when I came down with the same virus, this lovely lady came to my rescue like a nurturing mother, offering meals, calls and support constantly - I will never forget it as long as I live.

I absolutely love this quote from Princess Diana - it is so true! Source here.

Back to the general day to day random acts of kindness...we live in a time that busy thoughts, goals, errands, etc. can take us away from thinking about anything else.  That is what can sometimes cause the feeling of not wanting to help someone come to fruition.  It can happen to any of us at any given time.  I can only advise: do not give into the path of not helping, just think when you help someone you are giving joy.  You have no idea why this situation was put in your path, but the best course is to do what you can and with the best of intentions, without me you will be happy at the end of the day for so many reasons.

Source here.

There have been countless times in my life that I can look back on (just up to yesterday) where I feel as what I put out there has come back to me twice-fold. It could be small, but you know it's karma. One simple random act of kindness every single day can change the world -- negative, to positive.  Sad to happy.  It all balances out. 

Last Summer when I was frequenting Starbucks when in Florida, I had heard about people who pay for the person directly behind you in the line and while standing in a line one day I decided that sometimes when  I was in Starbucks I would do I started to pay for the person behind me at random times.  Later in the Summer I received an email that I had given Starby's so much business that I had earned enough points to apply for a gold card and get special treats and refills each day...I was floored and blown away, as I had not had any intention of paying more to get more, I did not even know about the Offer they were putting out there at the time. So now everytime I am away and at Starbucks, I am entitled to something free.  Wow.

It doesn't have to be big, it doesn't have to be life-changing but do remember that everyone is going through "something" - they may give you a happy, brave face each day and internally they are unhappy. If you know you can cheer them up, or help out when they need a favor, do it, trust me it works in a way that can only bring back goodness.  It could be that one comment on Facebook complementing someone on their new hairstyle, wishing them a happy birthday, or simply liking a post that could make that person's day. 

2015 means so much to me, but there are two important things I vowed to myself for this year: spiritual growth and continuing to build my fitness and health.  No one is perfect, and no one will ever be...and we cannot expect perfection from each other - but we can look to better ourselves and grow.  Taking on new ventures, passions, goals, dreams, only helps us to become stronger and happier each day.  

The constant critiquing of others, including friends only harps your own growth. Negative thoughts does no good for anyone. Selfishness cannot get us anywhere either. 

The circle of kindness and happiness should flow out and affect everyone we meet daily...I know I am trying my best to feel uplifted, renewed and happy no matter what life throws at me.  In my darkest times, I have turned to my faith - and that has helped me 100%, but I also look at what I can celebrate.  So I had 'chick v' for awhile and I could not exercise, or walk properly, but there are people out there who will never walk, never exercise and are happy.  My plight was nothing compared to people who have terminal disease.  My plight also helped me to see new opportunities and where I can grow and be better, it gave me time to focus and think about what I really want.  

Source here.

My goal is to continue on this course of happiness and kindness as much as I can. 

I want to thank those people who have helped me in their day to day acts of kindness and say to you, it is going to be two fold coming back to you, as you have been amazing, supportive and fabulous.  

One act of random kindness per day - let's do it!

Friday, February 20

{Cocktails} Try this: A Soursop Martini!

Hi Friends,

Hope you are faring well with the cold snap right the meantime it has also been a bit chilly here in Jamaica, and by "chilly" I do mean perhaps low to mid 70's so we are not doing too badly!

I have another lovely cocktail to share from Rajay over at Jamaica Inn - this is one of his own creations and what I love about this drink is that it is not sweet and very subtle.  

If you are planning on a visit soon to Jamaica Inn, make sure you ask for one of these delightful soursop martini's - if not, try one at home:

 Jamaica Inn's Chalkboard in the Main Lobby and Bar where the daily cocktail changes daily.  This is Rajay's creation which is absolutely yum.
 A Soursop Martini with a twist of lime - and all that is needed is soursop juice, vodka, lime juice and a small amount of sweet syrup...
 Rajay uses the cocktail shaker to mix it up with a glass full of ice to ensure the cocktail is served very chilly (like the weather right now!)

Until the next time...

Thursday, January 29

{Health and Fitness}: A Hearty Salad Niḉoise!

Hello Friends!

I hope you are well faring well with the cold weather and storms if they are affecting you.  Maybe this is the perfect time to think about a vacation to a lovely tropical island in the sun.  As previously posted there are some wonderful Offers and Specials running in many hotels at this time, so a very good time to jump on them before they expire.

In the meantime, I thought I would share a healthy and hearty version of a Salad Niḉoise from Chef Maurice over at the beautiful Jamaica Inn.  

This is so easy to make and so good for you. This classic Niḉoise can be made with just plain white tuna from the can (which is how you usually see it done) or with fresh tuna (grilled or even lightly seared) mahi mahi and  salmon.  I added in to the menu, a wonderful Salmon Niḉoise at The Caves when I was the manager there and it received great reviews.

This French salad always has certain ingredients that can be interchanged depending on what you have on hand, it can be put together on a bed of lettuce or organic greens (or not), but it always has eggs, olives, green beans, anchovies and a classic vinaigrette.  Some restaurants I have been to use red peppers, shallots and artichoke hearts as additions, which is really divine too.

What I love about a Niḉoise is that not only is it good for you, it is filling.  So it's a great option for not just lunch but dinner too!  We have it on our lunch menu at Jamaica Inn so if you are planning a visit there, do remember to order it, you will not be disappointed.

This is the classic Jamaica Inn version. Chef Maurice used fresh tuna for this wonderful and hearty salad. The fresh tuna is grilled to perfection, no more than four minutes on each side (this is a tuna steak), but it is also marinated before hand. Chef whips up a fab marinade that includes: a clove (or two) of minced garlic, 1 small onion chopped finely, half an escallion chopped, a tablespoon of chopped fresh basil, salt and pepper and evoo (extra virgin olive oil.) Marinate for up to thirty minutes before grilling.

Build the salad starting with organic greens (lettuce, arugula, mixed greens) - one hard boiled egg halved, 6 black olives, 2 small tomatoes quartered, two small Irish potatoes (cooked and quartered), as well as half a cup of cooked green string beans.  Place the cooked Tuna steak on top with half a lemon. If you like anchovies, then you can add one anchovy to the top of the tuna.

For the Special Dressing courtesy of Chef Maurice (for one serving):

 - Equal parts of EVOO and Rice Wine Vinegar
 - 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
 - salt and pepper to taste
 - 1 garlic clove crushed
 - if you have fresh ginger on hand, a dash of ginger
 - Mix or shake in a mason jar.

How is your fitness and health journey for the year so far going?  I have gotten back to the gym after a two month hiatus after being ill, and now back on track.  As you all know working out is great but we have to take care that the nutrition part of it is adding up to our workouts.  All depending on your goals for fitness - whether you are just trying to maintain, build muscle or run a marathon - it all comes back to the "right foods."

If you are someone who is looking to get fit and healthy but not ready to get to the gym, then I have a perfect recommendation for a fab website with over 400 workouts (Pilates, Yoga, low impact cardio, to high, etc. etc.) - at Fitness Blender.  There is also a wonderful resource of information on eating healthy and even pages you can download and print to keep you on the right track each day as well as programs they offer for fitness and nutrition.

My goals for this year in terms of fitness (and I will be blogging more about this over the year) is to build muscle (lift more heavier weights and build up slowly!), so I can see the muscle definition form more and more. That for me involves more weight training coupled with a few cardio blasts per week.  I am all for it. I love to run and also would love to build up the mileage over time. This means for me in terms of nutrition (and not wanting or needing to lose weight) more protein in my diet from day to day...protein shakes are part of it and there is wealth of information on various products we can use to build muscle through not only working out but by a specific diet.  I am looking forward to another year of healthy living, and more yoga too!

This recipe is one of the recipes that I think are just fabulous if you are on a similar path, or just love salads!



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