Adventure Time, Fitness

The Road To Spartan

September 24, 2016
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Four weeks from now Oman will host it’s first ever Spartan obstacle race. This is a big deal for the fitness community in Oman and I am so excited that every part of my fitness training, nutrition and sleep is geared towards this event – When my husband told me to get a hobby I’m sure that he didn’t expect me to be exhausted and asleep every night by 9.30pm.

Fitness posts can be tricky, they either inspire you to want to get your lycra on and move your butt OR they can be a massive turn off sending you deeper under the duvet. This post is about positive energy, motivation and beliving in yourself. Who doesn’t want a little bit of that in their lives?!


What is a ‘Spartan’ race?
It is a series of tough obstacles and physical challenges set out over varying distance and difficulty levels. Originating in America it is now held in many more countries around the world. Gruelling challenges include running through different terrains, climbing 8ft walls, swinging high across monkey bars whilst getting very muddy and sweaty at the same time.

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I am by no means an athlete. Like, seriously, I sweat, struggle and complain like every other human.

I’ll rewind a little… My journey began 14 months ago when my husband signed me up for a personal trainer. Yep, he really did that. At the time I was angry and embarrassed that he felt that I needed that but in hindsight I can see that it was the kick in the ass that I needed. I was heavy, unfit, slow and really lacked body confidence.

Fast forward to the present day and whilst I am no Olympian my body is fitter, stronger and healthier than it has ever been. Along the way something clicked in my head giving me a different outlook on life. I no longer strive to be “skinny”, I strive to be strong and healthy.

Why do you want to do a Spartan? Two years ago a friend was set to compete in an obstacle race and asked me to join. Even though it sounded like amazing fun I was frustrated at myself for not being able to keep up with that level of fitness. So when I heard that Spartan is coming to the city where I live there really is no excuse, it’s like a sign from above that I need to get my act together and conquer this!

To compete in a challenge on a Spartan level it requires a higher physical fitness level than I have previously been training so it was time to step it up a gear…or ten…

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How frequently and how hard you train for an event like this is totally up to you.
Whilst I am realistic that I won’t finish in the top rankings of my age group, for me it’s not about that. I plan to do the best I can for my own body and push myself to the finish without feeling like I have let myself down because I didn’t prepare or try.

With only a few weeks remaining my training is a mixture of weight training in the gym, running outdoors on different terrains and attending Spartan obstacle training classes.
My biggest struggle so far, both mentally and physically, is getting outdoors and building up the endurance to run and keep going. Running feels like it just doesn’t come naturally to me and I really having to dig deep for the motivation to keep the pace without stopping.

To sign up for the race visit the official Spartan website. Or if you just fancy joining a free Spartan workout training session it will be held every Friday morning at 9am on the run up to the event, check our the Spartan Arabia Facebook page here for more details.

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The moral of the story is that your body can do so much more than your mind lets you believe! Whether it’s a Spartan race, signing up for a new gym class or even just getting out and going for a run – Get your trainers on, try your best and have fun!

Go get ’em tiger, I believe in you!

Heather x

Ps- Keep up to date on my social media pages for more Spartan fitness and random life stuff.

Adventure Time

The Kilimanjaro Adventure

August 6, 2016
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Returning home to ‘normal’ life after an adventure as life changing as Kilimanjaro was never going to be easy. Physically and emotionally it was one heck of a trip and coming back down to earth hit me with a thud. The whole experience was so surreal but how do I convey to people just how awesome it was?!

From start to finish it exceeded all my expectations, it pushed my body to the most extreme limits and gave me experiences that will stay with me for life – I couldn’t ask for much more than that.

Asides from seeing a new part of the world and climbing one of the Seven Summits, What made the trip such an enjoyable experience was the dynamic between our whole team, not just the climbers paying to be there but also with the support team looking after us on the mountain. Being surrounded by fun and positive energy gives you strength to carry on even at the lowest points.

Amr and Julie joined Sarah and I to form “Team Raha”, Swahili for ‘happy’ which fit us all perfectly. We had never met before and they didn’t know each other either. For complete strangers it was amazing that we gelled together in a team by the time we had even reached the camp on day one.

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Our support team on the mountain totalled 15 people from guides to porters, cooks and… well I’m still not sure what everyone did but they did it so well. They were an amazing group of guys who looked after everything we needed and entertained us along the way. I have a huge respect for these guys!

Below is the link to a video I made documenting our trip, sometimes that is easier to show in video and pictures than using words alone. Grab a cuppa, get comfortable and enjoy!

Team Raha

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“Why Kilimanjaro?” This is a question that I have been asked so many times since signing up for something so ambitious. It’s not the most obvious holiday choice for the mother of a toddler. The simplest answer – it is a challenge that I had seen on TV many years ago and always thought “wow, imagine being able to do that” and after dedicating the past year to changing my lifestyle to become more active, stronger and healthier I realised that maybe I could do this. I made it my focus and my training goal and went for it full throttle. Realistically I would never have signed up for it if Sarah wasn’t interested, right from the initial idea it was great to have her there to go through everything together and to support and motivate each other.

Above is the simple answer, below is the more complicated answer and maybe not something that everyone will understand…
Since my son was born 2.5 years ago I have LOVED being his Mum but at times it can be smothering, you loose a part of yourself as you dedicate it to raising this tiny human to be the best that they can be. For me, I felt like I had lost my spark. I was boring. Something was needed in life to make me feel like ‘me’ again and have something to talk about other than play dates and diapers. Naturally my husband thinks my passion for disappearing off into the hills means that I’m crazy but he quietly supports my ambitions and lets me get on with it.

As documented in the video, during the summit attempt it was a real fight with both my mind and body to get myself to the summit of Kilimanjaro. I felt like everything was against me that night.

Physically I couldn’t have carried on without our guide, Tammy, he was the most amazing help as he did everything he could to help me keep going. Slumped on the edge of a rock hardly able to hold up the weight of my own head my body was shutting down. Tammy fed me energy snacks and water into my mouth when I couldn’t even lift my own arms to do it myself. He wiped the freezing tears from my face and forced my arms to move keeping the blood flowing to the extremities. I’m so thankful that he didn’t give up on me.

After the horrendous struggle of climbing 7 hours higher and higher into the night sky the tiny sliver of golden sunrise on the horizon was a game changer for me. I just knew that things would improve as soon as the sun rose because we could see where we were going and the temperature would rise, through the hike it was MINUS 25 degrees Celsius with a wind chill of minus 40 – no one told us the temperature until we had returned to the foot of the mountain, even now it blows my mind just how cold it was. That tiny golden strip in the distance was my light at the end of the tunnel and from that I took warmth, energy and hope. I’ve never been so happy to see the sun and I swear I will never take it for granted again!

The statistic is that only 66% of climbers who attempt Kilimanjaro will make it to the summit. I was determined not to fail and kept pushing forward.

Everyone had their own struggles that night but at 7.50am all four of us in the group reached the amazing Uhuru Peak, the highest point of Mount Kilimanjaro. WE DID IT!
In the most surreal situation running on only adrenaline we hugged and posed for a couple of pictures at the summit before we are advised it’s time to head back down to lower elevation where there will be more oxygen.

As quick as that, it was over!

Cue the headaches, nausea, stomach problems, exhaustion, hallucinations – From the weird to the disgusting it seems that anything is possible at this altitude.

As the saying goes, “what goes up, must come down” – What none of the websites and forums mention is that after climbing almost 8 hours through the hardest night of your life you then have to continue around 8 hours walking more that day on the steep decline passing by the camp from the night before and keep going. You have to draw every single bit of energy and positive attitude you can to keep your legs moving back down to the last camp.

Upon arriving home the affects of altitude and exhaustion lingered for around 2-3 weeks both physically and mentally, longer than I had expected, before we could feel somewhat “normal” and strong again.

Despite the hard times, exhaustion, illness and the effects of altitude the whole experience of Kilimanjaro was amazing! It was worth every hour of training and every penny spent.

Now the question we are being asked “So, What’s next?” That is a very good question. At present I don’t have any plans on such a grand scale, instead I plan to continue with my fitness goals and challenge myself in the upcoming Spartan and Tough Mudder events.

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Thank you to the amazing people who sent love, support and encouragement for the trip. And a big hello to all those who laughed and didn’t think I could do it, you were my biggest motivation to keep going and prove you wrong. Keep watching, there is so much more to come!

And finally…. The biggest, fattest, HUGE thank you goes to my adventure buddy and fitness inspiration, Sarah, for being the best travel companion and ray of sunshine even on the hardest days. You kept me going and made this trip so memorable, even though you ended up so poorly with a wild fever and I was scared you would be quarantined. No joke.

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Thinking of attempting Kilimanjaro? Do it! I have faith in you!

Lots of Love,

Heather x

Adventure Time

Kilimanjaro – Yellow Fever & Essentials

June 8, 2016
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Making plans is one of my favourite past times and this Kilimanjaro trip has been a lot of fun to plan- the endless lists, the research, the logistics and the never ending shopping but with only 3 weeks to go my excitement is being replaced with nerves and slight panic – it feels like this is getting serious.

This week we headed along to Al Noor medical centre in Muscat for a medical check up, yellow fever vaccination and anti malaria medication.

Meeting with Dr Latif and his nurse, Mary Lou, they put us at ease straight away as they carried out the medical checks. Dr Latif was also able to give us some great advice on how to stay in the best health during the climb.

We both can breathe a sigh of relief that we seem to be in good shape for the trip and have been given the green light from the Doctor.

Below is the video I created from vaccination day;

We also received an AMAZING and thoughtful care package from Forever Living containing a variety of very useful items like sun cream, SPF lip balms, protein bars and Bee Pollen tablets to boost energy, these have been an essential in my daily routine for the past year and a half.

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The product that I am most excited about is the Argi +, You may have heard of this product already as it’s raved about by athletes, sports coaches and health professionals.

“Argi promotes greater blood flow in the body meaning oxygen and nutrients can reach our tissues, muscles and organs; also, waste products like lactic acid are more efficiently removed.”

For us, the way the body processes oxygen will be fundamental as the higher the altitude the lower the oxygen percentage will drop making it hard to breathe normally.

Forever Living products can be ordered by contacting the amazing Judith on (+968) 9563 5393.

With all of the medications and a green light from the doctor it looks like we are on the right track. Now we just have to stay injury free…. not easy for either of us…

Have a great day!

Heather x

Adventure Time

Climbing Kilimanjaro – Training Preparation

June 3, 2016
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When attempting a huge physical challenge, like we are with Mount Kilimanjaro, your fitness is massively important to your success or failure. It’s in your best interests to be in good physical condition to give yourself a greater chance of achieving your goal and actually enjoying yourself whilst doing it.

Standing at 19,341 feet Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain in the world. This is no easy task and even typing that scares the crap out of me. We will be dealing with incredible altitudes and extreme climates which are going to take their toll on our bodies – Especially travelling from the heat and humidity of the Middle Eastern summer (around 48 degrees) to the snow and battering winds on the mountain top (around MINUS 20 degrees).

To put the height and altitude into perspective – my brother just completed an amazing sky dive jumping out of a plane at 13,000ft…. we are attempting to climb to that height and go even 6,431ft higher.

If I want to have a smidge of a chance of achieving my goal of reaching the summit then it’s time to get real and train this body hard. We have been working on stamina, endurance, cardio, balance and strength.

It’s been a really tough, tiring and sweaty few weeks but there is definite progress and we are both on a good track to be “mountain ready” in time.

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Below is the fun training video I put together to give you a glimpse into what is involved with our physical training so far;

It was a lot of fun making the video so I hope you enjoyed watching it.

Have a great day!

Heather x

PS- Click here for the link to our donations page if you want to help support our chosen charity, Omani Paws.

Adventure Time

Kilimanjaro – Kit Preparation

June 1, 2016
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The big climb is only a few weeks away and my kit bag is filling up with all sorts of fancy gear and thermal layers that I knew nothing about just a couple of months ago.

There is a new vlog showing my kit so far and a very Scottish accent;

For those who don’t know much about the area and wonder why we require so much kit; As we travel from basecamp up the mountain, hopefully reaching the summit, we will be travelling through 5 different climatic zones each with different weather and temperatures. From sweaty temperatures in the harsh sun to snow, ice and driving winds it’s going to be quite an experience.

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Everything in our kit bags has to see us through these massive changes in weather. This is an example of what I have planned for the journey;

Lower mountain slopes- The weather will be likely to be hot and sunny so light weight clothing like shorts, t-shirt and light layers will suffice but everything must be lightweight and sweat wicking. There is also a possibility of rain so we need light rain jackets, waterproof bag covers, spare clothes to stay dry and things like insect repellent.

Mid mountain- The temperature is starting to get colder and we have to start layering our clothes for maximum heat. The nights can drop below freezing so we have to stay warm to ensure a good sleep. Also as we move higher the sun is stronger so we need to be careful for sunburn.

High Mountain- On the higher mountain and leading to the summit the altitude is extremely high and the weather conditions are freezing with snow, ice and strong winds. We will require lots of different gear to conserve heat – thermals, base layers, down jackets, waterproof/windproof jacket and trousers, balaclava, hats, gloves. Handy other things to keep us going will be walking poles, music with headphones, lots of snacks – yay!

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There are many items of kit required for this and the expense mounts up quickly – you don’t want to cut corners on essentials like good quality, sturdy hiking boots. If you get the essentials wrong your time on the mountain could be miserable.

Keep up to date on all my social pages for more mountain preparation with just a few weeks to go.

Have a great day,

Heather x

Adventure Time, Expat Life

Kilimanjaro – 8 Weeks To Go

May 3, 2016
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There are only 8 weeks until myself and Sarah embark on our epic Kilimanjaro challenge and I feel like time is passing by a little too quickly. The climb will be here before we know it so it’s time to get focused with serious training and get these bootys mountain ready.

Physically we are both pretty fit and active but there are many things we have to improve on to give ourselves a better chance, we don’t want to go into this unprepared.
The main areas to improve will be leg & glute strength, cardiovascular endurance and stamina .

Outdoor training will be my priority for the next few weeks with tough hikes and walks before the summer heat here in Oman finally gets the better of me and I have to retreat to the air conditioned gym. The terrain I will be training on is uneven, loose, high step ups and on steep inclines. This is a great way to build up strength in your legs, ankles, improve balance and build endurance.

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All of this will be done wearing my back pack and hiking boots to break them both in.

My training plan for the next few weeks will be;
– Outdoor hike 2 times a week
– Strength training in the gym 2 times a week
– Kickboxing once a week
All of this combined with an active life and daily dog walks.

The fitness plan is fully underway but something else that is very important is buying the all important kit to take with us. Living in the hot, humid Middle East I do not own any cold weather gear at all, flip flops and summer dresses aren’t going to cut it when the temperatures on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro can fall to minus 20.
Unfortunately there aren’t many options of second hand gear here in Oman so have to purchase most of our stuff new from the limited shops here, Dubai or order from the UK. We knew it would be pricey but it is staggering how quickly the money disappears when looking for decent gear, maybe something to think about if you plan to embark on a similar challenge.

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We are raising some money along the way for a great organisation, If you feel generous and wish to donate you can find our Go Fund Me page right here – Thank you!

In the coming weeks if you see me around town or in the supermarket wearing snazzy hiking boots and a rucksack don’t be concerned for my fashion choices, I’m in training 🙂

Have a great day,

Heather x

Expat Life, Family Life

Jebel Sifah

April 20, 2016
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We always say that we need a family weekend away but due to work and commitments we never seem to get round to actually doing it. When Jebel Sifah invited us for a weekend at their resort I jumped at the chance.

Bags packed and ready to rock we hopped onboard the water taxi at Marina Bandar Rowda – yes a shuttle taxi on the water, how cool! This was Spencer’s first time on a boat and he was so excited!!

Due to my need to over pack luggage every single time I had to tell Colin that he wasn’t invited to join us on the boat, he was instructed to drive with the bags and meet us there. Sorry! As soon as I was on the boat I started to regret that decision as I panicked about handling a hectic toddler on a boat on my own… Thankfully someone was watching out for me that day and the noise of the boat, and wearing a life jacket, terrified Spencer enough to snuggle into his Mama and sat perfectly for the whole 45 minute journey to reach Sifah.

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Approaching the resort from the water rather than road is a fun novelty and a beautiful way to enjoy the amazing scenery of the area. Oman really is the most beautiful place to explore!

We checked into our lovely 2 bedroom apartment overlooking the peaceful marina. Having grown up around boats I feel immediately calmed as soon as I’m by the water, it’s like my happy place.

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Other than the amazing location nestled between the mountains and the famous Sifah beach the charm of the resort is that they have created a little town with everything you would need to relax and spend time there including a coffee shop, convenience store, clothes shop and a dive centre.

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Most of the weekend was spent around the pool with our little water baby. Making friends, running around and splashing made him a very happy little guy.

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Look at this sweet little nugget..

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For adventure lovers like me there were plenty of water activities to partake in. Unfortunately for us Mother Nature didn’t want to cooperate with our thrill seeking plans on the water and the weather was too rough. We stuck to kayaking and jet skiis, with much hilarity it was still a great adventure.

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Thank you to Muriya and Jebel Sifah for a great weekend with family and friends!

Heather x

Adventure Time, Expat Life

The Secret Is Out – Kilimanjaro 2016

April 17, 2016
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The secret is out! Thank goodness, secrets are not my strong point!

In only 11 weeks from now I shall attempt the biggest challenge of my life so far, to climb the 19,341 feet to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

My partner in crime for this huge adventure is the lovely Sarah from ‘Sarah Chaplin personal training’ During our previous adventures we work well together so I’m excited to share this awesome journey with her.

Something I want to mention also is that every single thing in our trip is self funded – we are not asking for your donations to send us on a holiday. But… If you do feel generous to make a donation then we will ask that you make it towards the stray animals of Muscat. You can find our Go Fund Me page by clicking here.

The coming weeks are going to include intense physical training, long hikes to prepare and panicking about my cold weather gear. Living in Oman I haven’t seen snow since 2012, my body may be in for a shock. My husband has already threatened me with divorce if I mention “base layers” one more time.

Keep up to date with all our progress here on the blog, Facebook and Instagram also.

Thank you!

Heather x

Adventure Time, Expat Life

Exploring Fanja – Part Two

April 17, 2016
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When conjuring up adventure plans I often draw on old memories, blog posts or magazine articles for inspiration. Recently one of my friends requested a morning of photographic potential and exploration. Confidently I told her that I knew the perfect place that could deliver it all – Fanja!

You may remember last year I already Blogged about my first visit to the beautiful Fanja, click here to read, and now I’m back to guide another adventure addict.

(Also I like typing to word ‘Fanja’ a lot because it sounds funny when you say it, one of the main reasons I ever wanted to go there in the first place. So mature, I know..)

We headed into Wadi Fanja the day after recent rainfall and found it to be full of life, color and activity with workers milling around, the fresh stream rushing by, dragon flies buzzing around and a gentle breeze brushing past.

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We headed to explore the forts scattered around the hillsides, Although these attractions are not listed in the tour guides and sign posted it’s really interesting to explore and every time you find something worth stopping for it’s like a real treasure.

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I even found a part of Fanja that I hadn’t seen before amongst the abandoned buildings the canons on the hillsdie pointing outwards to protect the ancient town.

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If you haven’t ticked Fanja off on the adventure list yet I would highly recommend a visit.

Where should I explore next?

Heather x

Adventure Time, Expat Life

Kayak Adventures

March 22, 2016

It’s only mid March but already the temperature is gearing up for a blistering summer in Oman and restricting the choice of outdoor activities that are available. (Unless you like heatstroke and excessive perspiration?) Seeking new activities to keep me amused before the outdoor season is closed for summer I headed out on the water with my trusted adventure buddy, Lucy, to enjoy some kayaking.

I’ve only kayaked twice in my life before, the last time was not a success. Paddling in the open water further from shore than I was comfortable with and a squid jumped out from the water and onto the front of the kayak with a *thud*. Totally convinced that it was coming to get me I furiously paddled back to shore and vowed never again would I be in a kayak. That was a couple of years ago but these days I’m a little braver and more adventurous so I was ready to try again.

This beauty is bringing some glamour to the kayak world,

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We explored the bay and all the hidden alcoves in the rocks full of beautiful colourful fish swimming by and cheeky crabs clambering over the rocks to hide as we approached.

This kayaking is tiring, time for a quick siesta in the sunshine!

This was a great morning on the water with beautiful nature, marine life and a nice way to keep active. Thankfully I didn’t see any squid this time so it was a success 🙂

We rented these kayaks from the Oman Dive Centre (currently being rebranded as the ‘Muscat Hills Dive Centre’). It costs about 6 rials per kayak for 30 mins. This location has some amazing scenery and coast to explore but in terms of customer service I would not recommend.

Full photo credit to Lucy for this post, thank you, I turned up with a Go Pro and a flat battery.. Sigh.

Do you have any suggestions of different adventures and sports to try in Oman? I would love to hear them!

Heather x