Feature Story

FITNESS & HEALTH 101 Of the Idiot, By the Idiot and For One Idiot, like such ONLY!

kleo desert quips

Part 3

Walkie, Walkie, Talkie, Talkie.

SO what if a work out in the gym does not really suit me? There are other activities I could actually do to lose weight and/or become fit and stay healthy and do it with passion and perseverance.

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As I was contemplating on my next fitness adventure, it struck me…I enjoy walking! When we were in Dubai during the 90’s, I used to brisk walk with my lovely sister-in-law, Anna. We’d meet after work and walk around the Garhoud area for at least an hour. We would be back home in time to send the kids off to bed.

The starting point of our walk was always my place, the route was determined according to our moods and our many talks. I can say that we both enjoyed walking and talking that we sometimes forgot where we were. Dubai was booming at the time and there were massive construction everywhere. When we got too engrossed with our talks, we used to end up in these construction sites with only the way we came from to go out. Anna used to say, “Sister, I fear we might end up as fertilizer if we don’t walk faster out of this area!” Or something like, “Sister, when we get raped and murdered here, how long you think before they (referring to our families) find us?” Then we’d laugh our fears away and continue walking.

Then my family shifted to the capital, Abu Dhabi. My brother and sister-in-law’s once or twice a month visit gave way to us continuing the brisk walks and engaging talks, albeit intermittently. We loved it so much that we used to walk to the Marina Mall and back. There was even a time, we asked the rest of the family to go home in the car and the two of us went on walking, and this was after shopping for at least 3-5 hours! We went a little farther one time, reaching the port area with massive oil tankers and ships. We were so lost, but we didn’t once lose a bit in our walking tempo except when we had to decide whether to jump into the water to go back to our house which we could see from a distance across the water from where we were standing or we could retrace our steps if we could, despite our sweat soaked jogging suits and sport shoes looking much like the “healthy buffs” that we were or not really. We arrived home safely at 3 AM to our relieved families who worried much about our whereabouts. I can’t help but smile when I think about my walks (and talks) with my sister-in-law.

Now that I am without company to walk here in Fujairah, I have my routine and my 2 chosen routes that my family’s aware of. I walk for about an hour in the mornings after I drop my kids to school. I found out that walking in the mornings is better for me because if and when I plan doing it in the night when the kids are at home, they remain as plans. I never managed to get out for my fitness walks once I cross that limiting threshold of the house. My household chores beckon for my undivided attention.

It’s a good thing that I happen to own a phone with a built-in app that tracks one’s fitness activities like walking, jogging, running, etc. It also keeps records pertaining to health related matters like blood pressure, diet, water consumption, weight records, etc. Thanks to my gadget googly-eyed son who was kind enough to inform me that such a thing exists in my phone. Patiently, the boy taught his rather aging, half-interested mother how to bring the said app into play which became extremely essential in the quest for fitness and health in these hot and arid climes.

The app keeps tracks of the routes I go to and have been to, the steps I make and have taken; the number of hours, my speed, my fitness goals, targets achieved and the calories burnt. There’s even a female voice in the app that announces these info and even encourages me by saying, “2.5 km completed, .5 km more, you can do it!” But it’s not my sister-in-law! So the routinary walks are as such, they become so boring sometimes. I try to find things to think of while walking to encourage myself for the next day. I have an earphone stuck to an ear for music, the other hanging and jangling across my chest as I make my paces. This is to enable the other ear to hear if someone or something approaches from behind. Fujairah is mountainous, you see, I walk in paved but secluded areas. I don’t like the crowd along the more familiar walk paths in the Corniche area or the beach fronts. I had to try these paths though when I had to give up one of my regular circuits because a foot long thin snake crossed my path! I jumped and screamed but could not stop my legs from doing my steps. Then I found I could not go back to walk in the same area, just too horrified to do so. I have this strange feeling, the snake abandoned that area too in fear of experiencing my shrieks again when I almost stepped on it!

As I said, I tried walking in the more crowded areas of the Corniche. Just once was enough. On the night that I did, I found a couple of ladies I know along the way, had to stop for what I thought were just “Hellos”. I was still catching my breath as I was in the midst of my timed walk. They went on and on talking and I ended up pausing my timer and to an invitation to a coffee morning… I don’t do coffee, nor do I like sitting pretending to like one thinking about things I should be doing somewhere else.

The other place where I used to walk is the guest parking area of one of the shaikhs (Arab ruler/leader). It is the size of about 2 football fields with 4 helipads. It’s ideal for walking and quite safe too but I discontinued spending my walks there because it is too close to major thoroughfares and I couldn’t stand the thought of deeply inhaling carbon monoxide and other vehicular fumes whilst attempting ideal health for myself.

Despite what seemed like me running out of places to walk for health and fitness, I was determined to go on walking with my phone app on and my music in my ear. A brand new treadmill was acquired and placed in one of the rooms of the house previously occupied by my eldest son who had gone off to college. More boring than walking out in the open I must say but serves the purpose. Well, that was until my orthopedic doctor dropped a bomb on me. “Lumbar Herniated Disc”, a common condition but needs immediate care that includes not putting pressure on my lower back brought about by common activities like walking. With my daily walks halted, I sit (at an angle) staring at the treadmill before me, now covered with delicate pieces of clothing I cannot put in the washer/dryer.

Realization: It is really more fun and a lot safer to walk with company, better with a person you like or love a lot. That doesn’t mean though that you can’t do it solo; how about plan your day while walking, your tasks, your plans, even think of the past that sometimes bring you to smile or giggle. I like meditating as I walk; it’s exhilarating to commune with the Creator when surrounded by the amazing work of His hands.

Kleo Hernandez-Kannangara
Kleo has a Communication Arts degree from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines which she earned in 1986. She lives in the United Arab Emirates and is married to a Sri Lankan. She has four children, all of whom were born at the UAE. She describes her self as a “stay-at-home mom” who’s always on the road doing errands for everyone, and an “inspirational’ writer which according to her means "I write when inspired by a person, place or event."

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