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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fitness on the Road

If you are like me, missing workouts while traveling can really effect your weight and bug you mentally.  I've been working out for so long it feels like a natural part of my life. In fact, I've been trying to lose weight through exercise for over 20 years now - since the days of....

I loved that dang ribbon baton thing - Wish my workouts these days still involved a ribbon baton.

Mostly when I travel I try to make sure I am booked at a hotel with a gym since running outside in African cities is usually not a pleasant option. However, it's not always easy to find a hotel with a gym in some cities. So, this blog is about what I do if I don't have a gym AND actually about my home workouts right now since I don't belong to a gym in Nairobi anymore. The best thing about working out in your room or at home is you can wear your ugly work out clothes and not worry about it ;-)

1) I have invested in a nice library of work out DVDs.  Many of them you do not even need equipment for. Here's a list of my favorites:
  • Jilian Michaels 30 Day Shred
  • P90X series (I don't do the full program, I just use the DVDs to enhance my workout since minimal equipment is needed).  The YogaX, Kenpo, and Cardio DVDs are really good for hotel room work outs.
  • 20 Minute Windsor Pilates
  • Personal Training with Jackie Warner (You need hand weights)
2)  If I know I'm going somewhere with no gym, I bring my resistance bands. They are easy to pack and carry with you and you can find suggestions online for various workouts using the bands.
The type of resistance bands I use

3) Use of the internet.  I use the internet a TON for my work outs. There are loads of youtube videos that are like mini workouts that you can do at home or in a hotel room. I also make use of an Online Interval Timer that I found. It helps for doing bootcamp interval workouts.
My newest obsession is this eastern european muscle naughty chick named Zuzana that posts work out routines almost every day. Her American husband, Freddy, films her doing an intense bootcamp style work out and then she takes you through each move and motivates you to keep "bodyrocking".  She actually has a ton of fans and I do make fun of her, but I actually truly love her and her slutty workout outfits because in sort of gives me something to work towards. Visit her site - BodyRock TV.  Best of all it's free, her workouts are usually less than 20 minutes, and they are so hard they will make you beg for your mommy and a diaper change. Serg and I laugh every time I play her workouts cause she starts every video by saying "Hi botyrokas!".  Or at least that's how it sounds with the Czech accent.
This is BodyRocker Queen Zuzanna

4) Improvise.  You can usually create work out equipment with stuff laying around your house or hotel room. For example, the bodyrock work outs often use a big sandbag weight.  So, I was in the middle of no where in Senegal trying to get my work out in. I filled up a few empty 2 liter water bottles that I had and stuffed my backpack with them and it worked out perfectly. It was like 20 pounds of weight. I put the back pack on and did lunges and I used it to do dead lifts and bent over rows. It worked pretty well. Some of her work outs also call for a bosu ball. I don't have one but at my house I have a semi deflated soccer ball that I was able to use for push ups and other exercises. Here is an example of using stuff you have laying around as work out equipment:
Homemade pull up bar and bosu ball
I did squats over the rump of Ellie the Elephant

Okay, so now you have no excuses! Enjoy your workout - The sooner you start the sooner it will be over!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weight Loss Accountability Update

Today I actually have GOOD NEWS that I wanted to share! I dropped a few pounds while I was in Senegal! Senegal made it easy for me -  I did a lot of running since my hotel was on a great flattish beach side highway with awesome sidewalks and views of the ocean.
La Corniche offered a nice clean place to run in Dakar

It was also great for me that the city is big on physical fitness - EVERYONE jogs and does boot camp style drills along the beach in Dakar. It's mostly men out there trying to train for playing soccer on the beach. Literally hundreds of guys jogging all the time. You don't find that many places. In most African cities, like the one I'm in now, Kigali, if you go for a jog, people stare at you like you are an alien flying by in a UFO. Plus, as in Kigali..AND Nairobi, it's not so easy to find good running areas since places are often congested and full of cars and no sidewalks, etc. It's just not pleasant. Dakar was AWESOME for running.

So, between running around 25 miles per week, trying to eat a more primal style diet (low carb, no processed foods), and doing some body weight exercises in my room, I managed to lose around 6 pounds!  I was actually nervous to get back to Nairobi in fear that as soon as I fall back into my home routine and additional work travel, I would regain some of what I lost. Our gym membership expired and we are not renewing due to how expensive it it - AND like I said before, running outdoors is a challenge in Nairobi and the other countries I work in.  So far, I think I've done okay keeping it off..I may have gained back like 1 pound. I think that's expected considering I went from running a lot consistently to working out at home and very short runs in Nairobi. Here in Kigali, I have a great gym at the hotel I'm staying at - It's been great.  I even did a spinning class with like 6 Germans, a Nordic instructor and African music playing. Good stuff!

In case you are interested - the "diet" I'm trying to stick to more or less is called Primal Blueprint Diet.  It's more of a lifestyle (annoying I know). But it's good and it makes sense.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Senegal Diaries

A month is enough time to start to understand a place....IF YOU SPEAK THE LANGUAGE AND DON'T WORK 15 HOUR DAYS.  So, needless to say, I spent most of my time in Senegal working and trying to communicate or trying not to have to communicate.  I spent a couple of my weekends traveling to field sites outside of the city and a couple weekends in Dakar.  Any free time I had in Dakar was devoted to jogging along the ocean drive or laying by the pool at the hotel.  However, you should know that there is a lot more to see in Senegal. I've done most of my sightseeing in previous trips so I didn't do any intense touristy stuff this time. But Senegal has a lot of historic places to visit.  For instance, Goree Island - a small island about 45 minutes away by ferry where slaves from around Africa were processed and held before transporting across the Atlantic. You see some really really sobering stuff there. I remember seeing a tunnel/doorway that opened to the steep cliffs and a huge drop to the ocean below. That is where the would throw the weak or disabled people out to die.  That really struck me. It's important to pay respect to those sites..but seeing it twice was too much for me. So I skipped it this time around and used my free time to relax.  Which was easy to do where I was staying - Have a look below - and yes, you will feel little pangs of hate for me because this place was pretty nice but I promise to balance it all out by showing you some photos of the crappy places I stayed when I was in the field, outside of Dakar. So, first the good:
I was first in a room like right across from where the band played EVERY NIGHT- so I did some mega complaining and got an exec suite with a wrap around balcony for half my stay there ;-))

You could get to said balcony from my bathroom or bedroom area. Nope, nothing to hate about this set up.

Breakfast Room
Chilling was pretty much my job on Sundays. I actually named my chair..that's it on the end.  Chairy. Creative, I know.
Sorry, back to my room - this was my bathroom. What you cannot see is the shower facing the ocean. I made myself take turns using the two sinks and the bathtub was my washing machine. I had clothes hang drying all over my balcony and room. I definitely downgraded their luxury status while I was there.
This was my second favorite part of the trip...#1 favorite being having a beach front hotel. It's MANGO!! What?! AFRICA?! They also had Benetton in this mall. AND it was attached to my hotel! It's like seeing double rainbows - that's how I felt then and I still get butterflies thinking of when I first walked in ;-)
Okay - so you've seen the GOOD....Now for the bad and the ugly.  I actually don't have many photos of the other places because it was depressing and I wasn't feeling inspired to take photos.But this is what I have for you:

Squatting toilets - The type I used during my days in the field. It may not look horrible to you but you didn't have to smell the stench of uncleaned urinal and get your pants all wet from the floor because some people have bad urine-squat coordination.  Not pleasant...oh and the flies sucked and there is no hand washing - I never go anywhere without baby wipes..just an Africa packing tip for you.

Okay here is the view of my little room in small town Senegal. The photo actually makes it look nice. But imagine Alcatraz, add a prayer rug, a TV that plays 1 Wolof speaking station, and one stinky stinky mini fridge that is growing moss inside. And this is actually really nice living conditions for where we were. So, in actuality I'm not complaining here, I'm just describing. I kept Sergio updated by sending him real time photos of where I was - he called the chair area "the hotel restaurant", which made me laugh.

And now for some other random photos that I snapped while being in Senegal:
Awkward arms-at-your-side photo of me and the office driver

Another Double Rainbow Moment for me- The sun was like a spot light in the ocean coming out of an otherwise dark and murky sky.

Monument De La Renaissance Africaine

Little Khalil Shop - We sell snacks, beverages, prayer rugs, incense, charcoal, and pirated DVDs

Very cool looking Mosque RIGHT on the beach

I love these Painted Fishing Boats -
Lastly.....the flight home:
7am - Breakfast.

This kid was traveling alone so I let him listen to my IPOD..then he destroyed my IPOD.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pret a Porter

Well I am just embarrassed.  I can only imagine how many times you have come here, looking for a new post only to find old news.  You're hooked aren't you? And I left you cold turkey....forgive and forget?

I'm writing to you from Kigali, Rwanda - on another work trip - and I finally have some time to myself to update you on my recent activities. Okay, so in the last episode, I was getting some clothes made in Senegal. It's been almost a month since I left there. Now, for my big REVEAL! Overall things turned out well. And if they didn't, you wont see the photos here - just that means my hips don't lie and i couldn't get the thing pulled on.




Exhibit C

So, what did you think??! Which one do you like/hate the most? And answer me this: where the HE-EL am I going to wear any of this? I mean the skirt okay..but the dresses? I  guess this is part of getting my groove back...wearing nice stuff for no reason.  Who's with  me?!