Monday, 13 January 2014

Back to Reality

I flew in this morning on the horrible London to Nigeria flight, getting in at 6am, only to find there was nobody waiting for me at the airport. I had to wait for two hours before I was picked up. Sigh.

While I was in the UK, I had bought exciting goodies - a pair of headphones, a weighing machine, a pair of 5kg weights and a travel yoga mat. Exciting! Except - my headphones didn't arrive before my flight and I had to leave my weights at the airport. I hadn't realised you couldn't take weights as hand luggage and so it was the choice of abandoning my brand new weights or paying £140 to check them in. Guess which I chose? 

Let's just say that there is someone who walked past the airport Starbucks last night who is now very lucky.

Despite that setback, I'm feeling quite positive and ready to go. My colleague is running a yoga class after work on Wednesday (she's a qualified yoga teacher) and I have the timetable details for the dance studio saved. I'm going to go check it out tomorrow and sign up for a number of sessions. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

2014 Goals and Plans

Not really resolutions but more of a roadmap of what I want to do and be this year.


  • explore the country and the continent
  • find out and do all there is to do in the city in which I live
  • scuba dive at least once


  • join the dance studio down the road from my house and start dance classes
  • find classes and learn a martial art
  • start running again - goal is 10km
  • start swimming again - goal is 1 mile
  • cook nutritious meals and eat healthily
  • start the morning with yoga and core exercises


  • complete most of my MSc (only 1 module and the dissertation will be left for 2015!)
  • meditate regularly
  • learn Hausa (one of the languages of the country in which I live)
  • maintain and form relationships
  • continue writing
  • remain involved in activism (somehow)

  • take driving lessons and learn to drive
  • figure out my next step after my work contract runs out in November 2014
  • continue to save money
Most of all, I want to break free of the work rut in which I found myself in 2013. 

I love my job but it needs to be just one part of my life, not the whole extent of what I do. In 2014, I will become better at saying no and will stop stepping in (quite so much) to cover for my colleagues. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

This is a New Year's Day Post

What can I say? I did not do enough of what I should have done last year and I need to reboot and reassess to make sure that it happens this year. So here I am, back again.


How annoyingly and frustratingly predictable.

I had a look and I know this blog is really patchy and inconsistent but I realised that I started it back in 2008 - that is five years ago. I just went back and read through the archives. It's amazing being confronted and reminded by the 25 year old me. She had such an amazing time and life - and she continues to do so still, now that she's turned the corner into 30.

2013 was a really important year for me. 

I welcomed the New Year in India with a two minute silence commemorating all the women who have experienced and continue to experience violence. It was one of the most moving and powerful experiences I have ever had - to be surrounded by so many likeminded Indian women, men and children in silence as the fireworks went off all around us. 

I then took the bus to Goa and spent wonderful days swimming and drifting in the ocean and hiking along the coast, during which time I vowed that I would make a change before my 30th birthday. I promised myself that I would start looking for work as soon as I returned home, with a view of finally leaving the country and finding a job overseas. London was only supposed to be for a year but I ended up spending five years there - kept by a mixture of friendships, amazing work opportunities, familiarity and the joys of living in one of the world's best cities. I could easily see the rest of my life stretching out before me in London, pretty much the same as it was then and decided 2013 was the year to grab the chance for change and spontaneity and excitement.

That promise was fulfilled much earlier than expected. I was offered a really great job in February (back in West Africa even) and ended up leaving London in June. 

Last year was really difficult for me, so much more challenging than I ever imagined. I packed up my home, finished up my job that I adored and gave it to someone else, said goodbye to my friends that I loved and whom I had created as family around me and moved continents from Europe to Africa. 

I moved to a country where I had no family, no friends, no home and no clue. 

It took me 5 months after I arrived to find and move into a flat - so over half of my 2013 was spent staying in some form of temporary accommodation. 

I do not even cover all the fingers of one hand when I try to count the number of friends that I have in the city in which I live. It turns out that it is really so much more difficult to make friends at 29 than it was at 18, 20, 22 or 24, the ages I was previous times I have moved city and country. It is also so much harder when you're well into adulthood,  have a proper job and are surrounded by colleagues who are in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s than when you were a student. I should have known this already but I completely underestimated how impossible it is to get people to spend time with you when everyone has families that they need to take care of and an already well established circle of friends and they don't necessarily need any more thank you very much.

It is also really difficult to keep in touch with friends and family when you live in a country where the internet connection is *challenging*. We may be living in an increasingly interconnected world but the strength of that connection looks threadbare when your Skype call cuts out 5 times in 7 minutes. 

Work is the highpoint of my life. My job is intensely challenging and frustrating (tears of frustration challenging sometimes) but I love it and I love (most of) the people with whom I work. 

My goal in 2014 is to have life outside work. And (surely it goes without saying) I also plan to become a whole lot fitter and healthier.

I feel that the hard part is now somewhat behind me. I have a place to live and three (getting to be close) friends. 

Roll on 2014 - I have a good feeling.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Reflections and Realisations - 2010, 2011 and 2012

In 2012, my priorities will be finding a place to live (my landlord is selling the place so I'm currently homeless and sleeping on friend's sofas) and getting fit and healthy. After doing so well in 2008 and 2009 (losing 18kg or 40lb and going from size 20 to size 16 trousers), I completely lost it in 2010 and 2011. I'm now not very proud to say that I weight exactly what I weighed when I started back in 2008 - a whole two years of effort wiped out and another four years older. Sigh.

So, I've spent the past few days being reflective as to the reasons why.

1) Taking a *short* break in 2010.

With all of this progress, I thought I could take a break. I'd been to my cousin's wedding (the one who was a model) in December 2008, then was due a trip to São Tomé and Príncipe for work (gorgeous) in February so, knowing from past experience that there is no healthy food for vegetarians in much of Africa, I thought, why don't I take a mini break and wait until I come back? I should have known what would happen - a short break turned into loss of habits that had kept me on track before and I had completely popped out of the zone.

2) Life in 2011.

I've blogged before about how hard it was to fit in exercise, food planning and blogging - all the things I need to stay on track. It became undoable afterwards. I spent 2011 focusing on work - I doing job applications and in May started a new job. It's totally fab with a lot more responsibility (I head up the organisation - yey!) but it has meant that I've spent the last 8 months pretty much working most of the hours of the day. It has not been uncommon to find me at my desk come midnight or 1am, I spend my weekends doing catch-up reading and I can't remember the last time I took the night bus home after a night out rather than after a(nother) late night in the office. [I long for the days when 2am on a nightbus on a Tuesday night was a sign of drinks after work getting out of hand rather than I can't believe it's 2am and I'm walking to the bus stop from the office.] Not only has this meant that I've found finding gym time rather hard and that lunch and dinner happens to be whatever I can pick up around work but also that I now don't have a place to live even though our landlord gave us 3 months (!) notice because I just didn't have time to find a roof over my head.

3) Bad Experiences.

I didn't blog about it at the time because I didn't think it had any bearing on my weight loss but, in retrospect, I can trace everything that happened afterwards to this. A couple of years ago, I had an evening work dinner. Someone I really like(d) at work had a work trip for a few months coming up and I had decided that this was going to be my night to make a move. So, I spent all night with R - drinking, eating, dancing. We were buying each other drinks the whole night and having a generally all around flirtatious time. Anyway, I had had a lot to drink - we each had one pint and a cocktail beforehand, were drinking copiously from the wine bottles on the table and then bought two bottles of wine just for us. I know. And on a Thursday night with work the next day too... Fastforward to the end of the night. It's 3am and I'm still in West London where the party was and I live in the East - meaning two night buses home. To cut a long story short, I fell asleep on the second one (partly due to tiredness and partly due to alcohol) and woke up way past my stop in a very dodgy part of London. There were no other women around - just what felt like gangs of men all coming up and hitting on me. I didn't feel safe enough waiting at bus stops so I started walking home (luckily I had changed from my heels to flat shoes so I could walk really quickly) - to be followed by groups of men. Just as I left one group behind, another one would surround me. One group of men even started discussing what they would do to me in great detail. I've never been so scared.

Happy part of the I kept on walking and made it home okay. The bad part is how I felt that night and the days afterwards. I kept getting harassed by men (perhaps I just started noticing it) on the streets and on public transport. One guy even followed me home from the library. And, even though, as a badge wearing feminist, I know that rape, sexual assault and harassment has nothing to do with attractiveness but rather is about exertion of male power, I subconsciously started to equate what was happening to me with the weight I was losing. All of this also brought back memories of growing up and how I would keep getting hassled by old* men in public spaces. I blamed myself and my body for this - most particularly my over developed breasts (D cup at the age of 13). Now, I wonder how much of my gaining of weight during my teens was due to trying to stop making that happen.** I need to stop letting the fear of being attacked or harassed stop me from being healthy. I'm starting to think that perhaps I need to talk all of this through with somebody.

*30 is old to a girl of 13 so I have no idea how old they actually were.
**Check out Susie Orbach's Fat is a Feminist Issue is you haven't already

I know I've said this many times before, but it's time to get serious now. I want all this weight gone and to be fit and healthy by my 30th birthday. I've got 1 1/2 years left. I've spent my teens and my 20s overweight and unfit - I refuse to spend my 30s like this too.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


I had such an amazing workout last night - an hour of body combat, followed by a 45min spin class, then weights then 15 mins on the treadmill doing a mixture of walking and running. That's around 1,500 calories in 3 1/2 hours. At a few times during the evening I felt physically sick (but pushed on through). The spin class was the best one I've ever been to - could barely speak afterwards. Combat and spin were taken by the same instructor who is ace. I think I might be in love with him. ;-)

There is no way I can put in 3 hour workouts every day but I'm going to look ahead at my diary and keep at least two evenings/ weekend mornings/ afternoons free for an intense workout interspersed with shorter 1 hour workouts. Tonight, I have a RPM class followed by dinner at a friend's house. Tomorrow, I will go to body combat then have an evening meeting.

What I need to do is make time for the gym and figure out how to slot it into my existing life as well.

Monday, 3 October 2011


I have 9 1/2 weeks or 66 days before I go home. I know that you shouldn't have unrealistic targets that you just can't keep but I want to be at least the weight I was the last time I went home (December 2010) and preferably the weight I was when I went home before that (December 2009). That would mean losing 5kg or 13kg respectively. In 9 1/2 weeks, if I go to the gym, eat soup, salad and fruit, hopefully somewhere between those two is achievable?

At the ripe old age (!) of 28, I'm the oldest of my family still to be married. I have no idea what has happened over the last few years, but one by one they've fallen (some happily, some unhappily) leaving me alone to face the onslaught of well-meaning aunties/ grandmothers etc who love me and want to see me married and settled. I need to look good so they don't pity me and think the reason in saying no is because I can't get anyone. Then there are all the comparisons with my gorgeous model-like cousins of course...

Monday, 7 March 2011

How many restarts will it take?

So, I'm back (again). Hopefully this time will be more permanent and sustained than before.

I really don't understand why this is so difficult. I remember so clearly the months where it was routine and bordering on effortless. Then, a break in the routine of two weeks was all it took. I came back from working in a place where I had no access to a gym and very little options in vegetarian food (omlettes, bread and pizza, seriously, that was it) and it all fell apart. I kept thinking, I've done so well that I can take a mini break then start again. The rest of the weekend became the next week, became until the end of the month, which became now, pretty much a year later. My weighing machine is out of battery (of course) so I'm not sure but I think I'm now back to where I started. Sigh.

I went out dancing on Saturday night, dreamt of running Sat morning, and then, yesterday, I rebooted again. A breakfast of blackberries was followed by a great two hours in the gym and a post workout meal of 2 boiled eggs and toast. I did have a couple of slices of pizza and garlic bread with my housemate in the evening, finished off with blueberries, but believe me, it's a lot better than I've been doing lately.

Anyway, the sun is shining, I have a bag full of healthy food at my feet on the tube and my walking boots on. I'm starting again, and this time I WILL see it through.

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