Carnival Chronicles: the crew has landed!

February 24, 2014
My best friend and her two friends from London just landed in Barbados for a few days of sun & sea before we head off to Trinidad on Thursday. Poor J is outnumbered, though he doesn't seem to mind that much...Carnival countdown is on!

Carnival Chronicles: Confessions of a fitness newbie

February 20, 2014

As you can tell, I'm getting really excited about Trinidad Carnival! 

It's the running theme on this blog this week and I have a lot of posts lined up. 

I've had a tough time trying to figure out the angle I'm going to take when writing about my Carnival health kick though, since it's quite a personal experience about my body and I felt quite vulnerable sharing some of these details. I'll admit that I've rewritten and edited this post quite a bit before publishing it because I didn't want it to be 'too much' or 'too blase' but I figure honesty is the best policy when it comes to blogging, so here goes.

I was prompted to write this post after my Mum quarrelled with me the other day about the pretty drastic measures I've been taking to prepare for Carnival. She pointed out that it's a very shallow frame of mind to be in because it's all about looking good. Let me start off by saying, I whole heatedly accept that dieting for Carnival is shallow, plain and simple. Every one of us wants to look fit and ready on the road and I have no shame in admitting that. As I mentioned before however, this is also about FEELING good on the road, and for me that entails getting my ass in the gym. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for my curves and certainly don't want to look like a white broomstick, but rolls and cellulite aren't my thing and I plan to solve those 'problems' as best I can before hitting the road. This  diet is about a lot more than getting fit for the road though.

I have always been extremely clumsy and uncoordinated. People joke about this stuff all of the time, but I'm an actual hazard to myself and those around me. As a result, I avoided most sports and physical exercise as a kid and I detested running and working out because I was so terrible at it. 

I've also always taken for granted the fact that I was slim. I ate and drank everything my heart desired with little consequence until I was 25. While my friends were complaining about "Freshers 15" I was actually losing weight by the week at Leeds University and continued to binge drink. It was only after two years of scoffing cheese in the Dam, that I noticed that I wasn't fitting into my clothes anymore and my body wasn't what it used to be. I didn't take a hint and adjust my diet to suit though and continued to gorge as though I was my skinny 15 year old self. I happily ignored my housekeepers' warnings that I was "getting a fat face" when I came home for Christmas. I also started drinking beer for the first time in Amsterdam and justified my daily consumption with a 40 minute bike ride to and from school which was more cardio than I had ever done in my life. I was unfit and didn't even care because I didn't want to be one of those people who was obsessed with their weight.

Moving back to Barbados just over a year ago changed that mentality pretty quickly, and it's due to a combination of factors. 

Firstly, I started dating a guy who was really fit and healthy. The more we hung out and cooked together, the more his healthy habits started to rub off on me. I realized that I didn't need to throw a handful of cheese on everything and that things could still taste good without a dollop of mayonnaise. 

Secondly, I started noticing how unhappy I felt when I was in a bikini, surrounded by fit friends who had a good relationship with the gym. We spend A LOT of time on the beach in bikinis and I started to feel like a lazy slob. I was focussing on how gross I felt rather than enjoying a beautiful day at the beach with friends. I needed to stop wasting my energy on those negative thoughts and channel them somewhere else. 

Thirdly, starting a company forced me to re think my daily habits and to tune in to the benefits of a healthy lifestyle on productivity and success. I know this sounds incredibly cheesy and obvious, but I never paid it the attention it deserved until I started looking at the most common traits shared by some of my role models. Most of them have a routine that they've followed for years and fitness was part of that routine. It struck me that those successful entrepreneurs treat health as a lifestyle and wholeheartedly embrace healthy living by ensuring that here's a good balance: they work smarter, not necessarily harder. 

Finally, I realised that the excuses I had used for so many years ( which included but were not limited to: "I have terrible knees", "I'm not a runner", "I'm too clumsy","I don't have time to work out" - Plus MANY more!) weren't going to cut it any longer and I needed to get over it. I needed to start somewhere, no matter how slow and painful it was going to be (Little did I realise how painful it would be!)

As a pretty bossy person, I don't enjoy being pushed or told what to do in the gym, ESPECIALLY when it's something I'm not good at. But having friends who just ignore my stubbornness and encourage me to keep going was exactly what I needed. At first I felt demotivated when I couldn't work as hard as the fit gym rats next to me but I soon got over that. Ain't no shame in picking up a 5lb weight and doing some kick as curls with it, once I was doing them well. I cried A LOT and threw many tantrums along the way, but I'm starting to get the hang of it (by that I mean working out, not behaving like a stroppy child).

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I feel the need to give a clear picture of what a huge lifestyle change this has been for me since deciding to get 'Skinny for Trini.' This isn't just about looking good on the road; it's about constructing new habitual actions and recognising the power of habit. For the first time in my life I'm consistently working out, I'm making healthier food choices and I can last more than a minute on the treadmill.

 Going to Carnival has given me a clear deadline, and being fitter by then is one of my first goals. After that, I will continue to work out and set myself more goals (perhaps Kadooment) because I'm not letting this hard work go to waste. It's been incredibly hard and REALLY annoying at times but I'm slowly seeing results and feeling better about myself. Having a boyfriend who cooks amazing, healthy meals and a group of friends to work out with every day has helped me tremendously but there are still so many challenges to kick-starting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I'm a results oriented person, so waiting to see a noticeable difference was really testing my patience. Why couldn't I see abs pop up after a hard week in the gym? I'm also SO tempted by bad food and often can't be bothered to go work out when I'm caught up in something. Programming these lifestyle changes into habits has proven to be extremely challenging...How the hell was I going to keep this up?

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this long post!

Wedding Recovery | Island Diaries

February 16, 2014

I'm currently recovering from a beautiful wedding that I attended on last night. Ian and Julie are American friends of ours, both free spirits with huge hearts! They started the Slow Food Barbados and are making headlines with their progress at local schools.

A few weeks ago, I posted about the crazy Trinidad Carnival diet that I started at the beginning of this year and as we sipped elderflower champagne cocktails and nibbled on tuna tartar, I couldn't help but feel a bit guilty about ditching my diet for the night. And then I realised how crazy that was and ordered another glass of champagne. See, dieting is such a funny thing; I used to think that people who dieted were crazy, and then I started doing it myself. And here I was, 6 weeks into the most intense fitness routine I had ever experienced, and I was starting to think like one of those crazy people. I shook off these silly thoughts and even treated myself to teramisu, Crème brûlée and cupcakes for desert from Flindt at the end of the night. Yup, it was amazing and I quickly got over the #skinnyfortrini mentality. This was also thanks to the Mighty Gabby performing (a local hero), dancers dressed up in Kadooment costumes, an awesome Soca sesh, a photobooth and lots and lots of champagne.

A diet friendly Valentine's Dessert: Dark Chocolate Truffles with Orange Zest

February 15, 2014

As we approached Valentine's Day, J and I started looking up yummy, healthy dinner options instead of booking a table at a restaurant. Not only are Valentine's menus usually set (and pretty boring) but we were limited in what we could eat at this point because of our Carnival diet so we decided to try our own thing. I say we, but I left it up to J to surprise me with our menu for the night because he's much better at it than I am. 

I was expecting a simple meal with a glass of wine, but J went all out and blew me away. We had an Italian cold cuts plate to start, grilled lobster with basil garlic butter, baby spinach & baked parma ham salad, champagne and DESSERT! I hadn't eaten dessert in quite a while so I was super excited to bite into something chocolatey and sweet. These protein truffles were the bomdiggity! I wanted to share this recipe with you, though I do warn you that they may seem quite tame to the seasoned chocolatier. They're yummy without being TOO sweet and at 64 calories a pop, they're a guilt free pleasure :)

Valentine's Day Protein Truffles

Filling Ingredients

1/4 cup Chocolate Whey Protein Powder
2 tbsp Coconut Flour
1 heaping tbsp Cashew, Almond, Hazelnut, or Peanut Butter 
1/8 cup Cocoa Powder
1/4 cup Coconut or Almond Milk
1/2 tbsp Rum (We used Old Brigand)

Coating Ingredients

3-4 squares of 85% Dark Chocolate
Zest from one orange

  1. Mix all of the filling ingredients in a big bowl until your batter looks like fresh cow manure. Pay attention to the flavour of the batter and tweak to suit your tastes. If you like Nutella, for example, use hazelnut butter and a really chocolatey whey protein powder. We added crunchy peanut butter to the batter and that helped it become a bit more sticky.
  2. Once you achieve the right texture, shape the batter into small balls and set them on a plate. If your batter is too sticky to shape, you should add a bit more cocoa powder. If it's too dry or crumbly, add a bit more milk.
  3. Melt your dark chocolate by sticking the squares in a microwavable measuring cup
  4. When your dark chocolate has melted, dunk the balls in them. We made the mistake of sticking them back on to the same plate, which was a pain when removing them once they were frozen. The original recipe suggests a tray/plate covered in foil to make this easier.
  5. Finally, top your truffles with orange zest (or melted white chocolate, chopped nuts, chocolate flakes, or coconut flakes - go crazy!)

100 Happy Days

February 10, 2014
Recently I've been feeling too busy to blog. I swear I write this every 6 months or so, when I'm so behind on blogging that I start to feel overwhelmed. I tend to overthink my posts and photos, often feeling like I need to pay more attention to them before I consider them good enough to share. Luckily, the answer to my bloggy-rut came to me when I saw a friend of mine post about #100Happydays on Instagram. I took a closer look to see what the hashtag was about and figured it's exactly the kick in the butt I need to start posting and to stop overthinking.

I'd say I'm a very happy person and I think it's important to make a point of appreciating all that is great in my life on a daily basis. No matter how miserable or shitty my day has been, there's always something that makes me feel better, whether it's a yummy meal or sloppy kisses from a Labrador who's really excited to see you.

The 100 happy days challenge is about slowing down the pace and taking a snapshot of something that makes you happy every day for 100 days. Seems simple enough right? Yet, how often do we moan about what an awful day we've had? Or little time we have to do the things we enjoy? Unless you've had one of those truly "how could this get any worse" days, then I'd bet most of us have at least ONE thing we can be grateful for AND we have the time to stop and appreciate it.  Better yet, you can make someone else's day that much better by sharing your photo using the hashtag #100HappyDays on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. 

Super scientific studies have shown that showing gratuity leads to feeling happier, and happier people leads to a better world altogether. 
So let's all hold hands, sing Kumbaya and share the things that make us happy on social media. You can follow my #happylou hashtag on Instagram and Twitter for the next 100 days :)