Monday, 30 November 2015

Just keep running

I am not the best runner, but I feel with a sport like running, there is no need to be the best…unless you have aspirations of becoming an olympic sprinter. Sure my posture and stride could probably do with a professional review, but it’s an activity that doesn't discriminate on the basis of ability. Everyone can run, it’s just a matter of finding your style, your speed and your stride. 

And as someone who despises competitive sports and group exercise, mainly because I don’t have a competitive personality, in running, I feel like I have found my comfort zone when it comes to exercise. 

I took an executive decisions a few months ago, right around the time i turned the grand old age of 27, that i needed to review my diet and exercise regime. My relationship with food is a whole other story, but when it comes to exercise, I had become way to sedentary. With summer, and the 46 zillion degree temperatures encroaching, it probably wasn't the best time to be starting alfresco exercise but lets face it, start with the worst and it only gets better. 

But I have deduced from a series of conversations with myself, that the best way to get me engaged in exercise is to take me outside, and refer to it as activity rather than exercise. The interesting thing is, in London I never craved to be outside like I do here in Dubai. But the lifestyle here affords you the luxury of living life outside and that’s the part of my expat life that I relish everyday. I wake up and look forward to the beautiful weather, the opportunity to swim outside, walk along the marina, enjoy eating on a terrace without the need for a cardigan. And be able to run outside, feel the air and have a direction, rather than engaging in a monotonous process on a treadmill. I would rather run outside as the sun sets and drink enough to water to at least attempt to combat the dehydration that inevitably occurs when running outside in 30 + degrees and extreme humidity, than run with the harsh wait and winter rain, that usually arrives in August in England, lashing my face. 

It turns out that running in the evenings when the temperature still hovers around 35 and the humidity sits heavy in the air like a blanket, is my kind of a challenge and I won’t be defeated by it. Throughout the summer, I have persisted to run outside, with the exception of maybe 2/3 weeks when going outside to run would have been a death sentence. Sure ending a run along the marina in those conditions, inevitably means I look like a puffy, not to mention sweaty, tomato and I certainly keep the security guards in my building amused as I bound through reception. But the inner satisfaction i get from taking on the Marina Walk is worth all the redness! 

I am making a real conscious effort to move, especially now the weather is what I can only describe as heavenly for November. I certainly feel the benefits both in my physical and mental wellbeing, of generally being more active. Part of my push on this quest was having the pleasure of getting to know some pretty cool and hugely inspirational dudes who have taken the simple concept of movement and ramped it up a notch with rewards from some of the coolest companies in Dubai. I mean come on…. give me a free Taqado Burrito for simply moving more and il be your biggest advocate. 

Styck App is my iPhones most loved application and i find myself checking it a regular intervals to see how many steps i have racked up. And while I'm not competitive with others, it seems Styck app has brought out my need to compete with myself, encouraging me to move more tomorrow, to add another day of 7,000 plus steps to my streak. Or maybe its just the free burrito spurring me on. 

It’s such a simple thing, being able to monitor my movement so effortlessly and hold myself accountable but it works.

Whether it is that free burrito, the accomplishment i feel in myself or the notion that I'm not getting any younger and my body needs to be more of a temple, I am more active and healthy in Dubai than i have been ever in my life. Which given the  sheer amount of amazing food options in Dubai and my inability to resist, is somewhat of a miracle! 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Island Life

Cyprus: a small island on the outskirts of Europe that boasts a unique and privileged geographical location, a rich history and a deeply rooted culture, and the place I called home for three years. 
Cyprus as an island gave me a lot, not least a beautiful bronzed, year round glow thanks to the endless hours of sunshine and delicious Mediterranean weather on offer. But it also gave me a family and afforded me the sort of friendships that never die, even when you depart the confines of the island. 

It taught me about the history and conflict and intense background that has made it the place it is today. And it gave me knowledge; I learnt the language, the culture and the cooking. But for me one of the most interesting things about the island is it's rich history and I don't mean the rise and fall of Ayia Napa as the 20-somethings party destination of choice. And while I have heard first hand accounts of the conflict Cyprus was engulfed in, I never really understood the severity of it. 

So when I returned this summer for 2 weeks of Mediterranean sun and relaxation, I decided on a pretty relevant choice of reading. The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop tells the story of the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974 and aside from being a brilliantly written piece of literature, it makes the historical elements of the countries background, digestible. 

It's all to easy to forget the history of a place, a person or a relationship. I look at granny, sitting under the vine leaves in the shade, in the garden of her house that she moved into when she fled her home in 1974 and I never really understood the events that she had lived through. 

I take in every inch of the landscape from the light blue sky to the dusty terrain, the lush green mountains and the deep blue ocean. I make sure I appreciate every word of Greek spoken to me and I make a conscious effort to scour my brain for the correct pronunciation of the Greek words I still remember. I immerse myself in the culture around me and capture every expression of the people I miss on a daily basis.

Now I soak up every moment of my time on the island and think how lucky we are to enjoy it so carelessly.