Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Day of Reckoning

Okay, so I've come to the end of my 8 month program and it is time to assess my successes and failures.

I have succeeded to some degree in modifying my eating, water in take and exercising habits and I am grateful for that. I see though that I find it extremely difficult to maintain momentum. This of course is not some great discovery. It's what people struggling with losing weight run aground on all the time.

I am pleased that I have lost weight and cm on my body. I tend to see greater changes in the way my clothes fit than on the scale. I am disappointed though that my inconsistency meant that I spent more time stalled or backtracking than losing.

27th August

30th April

Total Lost

Weight - 90kgs.

Weight - 79.8

10.2 kgs

Bust - 112cm

Bust - 106cm

6 cm

Waist - 95cm

Waist - 86cm

9 cm

Hips - 113cm

Hips - 107cm

6 cm

Photos of my body are always hard for me to look at. Too much reality!!! I don't see much difference between the before and after and that is very disappointing. I mean ... I guess I look a little less like an overstuffed blown up doll ready to bust out of her skin now but only a little. :(

Yesterday, I saw an adult woman in the supermarket whose thighs were smaller than my arms. How is that POSSIBLE??? I wanted to take a picture of her thighs or just walk up to her and ask if she would mind if I measured the circumference of her thighs just to compare them to my freakishly large arms, but I had neither a camera nor a tape measure and she probably would have had me arrested for harassment or something anyway ... and I wouldn't blame her a bit.

The Present
I've learnt a lot over the pasts 8 months and I hope to apply some of that knowledge over the next 8 months as I try to achieve my goal of losing 24.8 kgs and achieve my goal weight of 55kgs. I am going to continue my focus on eating well, exercising, increasing my water intake and I'm going to add some vitamins supplements like flax meal and a few other things to support my body a little more.

Thanks for all your wonderful comments about the photos. I'll be posting my last batch of photos soon. Takes a long time to condense and edit.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Day 2

Sorry I haven't been able to post over the last few days. Things have been a little hectic.

Anyway, my food has been good and so has my exercise. I walked 4.40miles/7 kilometers yesterday and 6.23miles/10 kilometers today. My water hasn't been as good but I'll make sure I drink enough today.

Well, here are some pictures of Tunisian landscapes, as promised. They are way too many but ....If you want to get a better view of something just click on the photo.

Tunisia has miles of coastline that flanks the Mediterranean sea. These photos are from various points along that coastline.

The two largest cities in Tunisia are Tunis (the capital) and the southern town Sfax. There are many mid-sized cities and many many small towns. Every large and mid-sized city is divided into two major areas: an old area called a Medina and a new city called a Nouvelle Ville.

A Medina is a walled city with large doors at each corner or side of the medina. They were built by the Arabs during their colonisation of Northern Africa as far back as the 9th century as protection from attack. The medina contains many narrow and maze like streets, tightly packed houses, palaces, mosques, market places etc. everything found in a city generally.This photo shows the medina wall on the left and homes on the right. The streets within a medina are normally very narrow and the homes very tightly packed.
Souks are shopping areas within the medinas. They are very interesting but very intense experiences as merchants compete so vigorously for one's attention that their behaviour borders on harrassment.

This photo of Sfax is an example of what the nouvelle villes look like. Nouvelle villes were built by the French when they colonised Tunisia in the 19th century.


The Northwest of Tunisia is very verdant and green. Reminded me a lot of England with it's soft rolling hills and fertile plains. This area is strongly agricultural.

This large flat topped mountain called Jugurtha's table found in the Central area of Tunisia. It got it's name from a local king who used it as a base during a 7 year battle against the invading Romans around 115 BC. It's sheer impregnable walls make it a natural fortress.
The only way up once you reach the base are by some precarious rough steps hacked into the side of the cliff. These allow you to climb to the top of the table. It was hell getting up them and I can't imagine how a whole village managed to live at the top for years. The hills of Algeria as viewed from the top of Jurgurtha's table.

Ruins of a village built at the top of Jugurtha's table.


One of the many mosques on the island of Djerba, located just off the South east coast of Tunisia. Djerba was featured in The Odyseey as the Land of the Lotus Eaters. It's also where the story of Ali Baba and his 40 wives originated.


The landscape of southern Tunisia is incredible dry, rocky and generally inhospitable. Considering this, it was amazing to see villages like this one perched on the hillsides.

The village of Chenini was carved into the stone of this mountain.

Door to one of the homes.
View from Chenini. One of the areas where Star Wars was filmed.

Terraced agriculture

Duiret is another town where the buildings are carved into the mountain.

View from the top of Duiret. No matter how poor the village, there's always a pristine white mosque.


Palmeries are incredibly wet and fertile areas found in the middle of the arid south. Many herbs, spices, vegetable and fruit trees thrive under the palm trees. Apart from dates which are harvested in August, Palm trees produce a juice called palm juice from April until ... We were fortunate enough to taste it. It's like nectar from the Gods.

Olive trees also grow in great abundance in the south. They seem to be able to grow under the harshest of conditions.


These beautiful buildings are called Ksour(plural) Ksar (singular). They were used for storing a village's grain supply.

The Berbers (original inhabitants of Tunisia) discovered that if they built their homes underground, they could stay cool during the periods of intense heat. These homes are called troglodyte homes. Again one of them was used in the filming of Star Wars. I think you can understand why.


Yikees!!! A sandstorm. Guess we were bound to experience one of these considering how much wind and sand there was around.

Chott is the word for lakes that stay dry through the hot season, but have some water in the winter. Chott el Jerid is largest of these kinds of lakes. Here James is a small speck in the vast river bed. Aparrently, this is another location where Star Wars was shot ... it's supposed to be where Luke contemplated the two moons .. James being a Star Wars fan wanted to re-enact the moment.


The Oasis town of Douz is knows as the Door to the Desert. When you leave here your heading for the Sahara.

Dunes reclaiming an ancient fort

On the road to the Oasis Ksar Ghilane

Contrary to popular belief most of the Sahara is not lovely sand dunes. Most of it is flat scrubby driness as below.

but when you get to the dunes, a fabulous reward ...

The sand is as fine as silk and when you try to hold it in your hand, it slips away like water. It even forms pattens like water ripples

This is a desert cafe ...

The Oasis has a great natural hot spring which comes in handy after a long day on a camel.

King of the Desert

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Day 5

One of the things I like most about travelling, is meeting new people, spending time with them and learning about their lives. This is easier in some places than others.

I found Tunisians among the warmest, most open and hospitable people I've ever met, and being fluent in French allowed us to communicate with them beyond the superficials.

Here are just a few of the people we spent time with who really made our trip special:

We met Noureddine, Kalthoum & Amenallah on our first day in Tunis, after we asked them the name of a beautiful building we were standing in front of. This lead to an extensive conversation after which they invited us to have dinner at their house. We exchanged contact details and promised to call when we returned to Tunis towards the end of our trip.

Noureddine is an electrical technician and Kalthoum a teacher. They cooked a delicious dinner of Tunisian dishes for us - Couscous, fish, salad, olives and fatima's fingers. Afterwards the men enjoyed the hookah and talked politics, while Kalthoum and I sipped a delicious mint tea and talked about our lives.


We ate at this little hole in the wall restaurant a couple of nights when in the town of El Kef. Monsieur Chebi is the cook and Madame Chebi the hostess. They have been running this restaurant for over 20 years and are just the sweetest couple. They took a real liking to me for some reason and our meals turned into 20 course (I exaggerate) affairs of free food. I tried to explain that I was on a diet but they wouldn't hear of it, so every time Madame turned away, I would dump a little of my food at a time onto James's plate. Madame Chebi made sure we left the restaurant each time with a bag of oranges which ended up lasted us the entire trip.


We met this lovely couple also in the town of El Kef. They live in Tunis but were on a mini-vacation. Laila is Tunisian and runs her own export and import business and Khalid is a Syrian diplomat. They were staying in the same hotel we were staying in and we met at the reception desk where we were both enquiring about dinner in the hotel's restaurant.

When we were told the restaurant was closed, Khalid immediately turned to James and I and said warmly that since we were both in the same boat i.e. hungry and looking for a dinner, we should go looking for a restaurant together. We were a little surprised but accepted and got into their car and went off to find a restaurant. As it turns out it was a holiday and most restaurants in the town were closed, but Laila found us a lovely restaurant with delicious food and then they insisted on paid the bill.

We had breakfast together the next morning and Laila bought me this traditional Berber trinket:

We met up with them when we got back to Tunis and Laila took us to the airport.


We met Neila in a cooperative where women learn various crafts. She has just graduated from college with a degree in finance and is learning to embroidery while looking for a full time job. She was quite fascinating and I had a good chat with her after which she asked James and I over to her house for dinner. We were leaving her town that afternoon so we had to decline. We did exchange contact details however so we've been staying in touch.


Two little kids who followed us half way up Jugurtha's table, real little mountain goats.


I met Sonia on our last day in Tunis. She runs the most gorgeous little boutique which sell really wonderful hand crafted jewelry and art pieces. I wish I'd had more time to chat with her, but I did buy this ring:


We only stopped in Douz for a couple of hours and while James went off to find something to eat I explored the town. I spent quite a long time chatting to Mohamed and his mother Fatima in their store. Fatima is a third generation carpet weaver and makes the most beautiful carpets. Here she is sitting on the floor of her shop adding finishing touches to one of her carpets.


Ibrahim and his wife Sula are from Niger, but are now living in Tunisia. Ibrahim is a Professor of Physics and Sula a housewife. She speaks 4 languages and he speaks 6 languages including Arabic, French and English. Not bad eh? I'm in the middle.


Every morning Mohammed wakes up at 5am to bake (or maybe I should say fry) bread for the camp. He is one of the group of Nomadic tribes that have now settled in this Oasis in the Sahara.


Our desert guide Mohtar

Had a great day. Had 2.3 ltrs of H2O and walked 8kilometers/5miles.

1 apple
160 g yogurt
120 g milk

60 g cheese
240 g salad
1 tbls dressing

120 g tofu
120 g beets
360 g salad
3 tbls dressing