How the April Challenge is about to become my year long challenge

I talked about “cruise weight” and my April challenge to take it off. In the past 25 days I’ve been working out, swimming, watching my food intake and keeping a record of everything.  I’ve lost two pounds. I lost two pounds in the first week. I weigh in regularly and I’ve still only lost two pounds. Clearly I need to do more…or eat less.

I’ve also been monitoring my blood pressure, which hasn’t been a problem in the past. After three weeks of regular exercise and moderate eating, my blood pressure is high. This can’t be happening!

Who am I kidding? The cruise weight is gone and my clothes still don’t fit like they used to. The truth is that I gained about ten pounds in the first year we lived here, before we even went on a cruise.

Technically, I’ve gained 15 pounds, but that wouldn’t be a fair assessment. I unintentionally lost five pounds in the 2 or 3 months before we moved. I gained that all back in California eating gourmet meals and drinking too much. It was an unwinding and recovery period before we got on with our lives.

Those ten additional pounds came after living here, despite a routine that includes a daily swim and yoga.

Since it took a year to gain the ten pounds, I can’t really expect to lose it all in a month. That’s why my April challenge is going to become my “Spring challenge”. If I’m not successful, it’s going to be a year-long challenge and to be quite honest, a lifestyle change. My current level of eating and activity appears to be fine for maintenance. If only I could get to the weight I want to maintain!

I guess for starters, I could cut down on the wine with dinner, or the happy hour cocktails. I’m also hoping that as the iguanas become more active in the summer months, my regular sprints down to the pool to chase them away will help burn off some “retirement weight”.

My other challenge, in addition to getting fit and losing ten pounds, is to write a weekly report about my progress, or lack thereof, in hope that it will motivate me!


Market Madness

Today was a market day here. The market at Camana Bay is advertised to run from noon to 8 pm. Any time we’ve arrived at noon or later, we are sadly disappointed, because the best of the produce is long gone! The only exception is one of the mango stands. Charlie has to set up another fruit stand in Grand Harbour before making his way to Camana Bay to set up in the thick of things.

There are days when we really don’t want to be at the market in the “thick of things”. The first time we went, I thought I’d never seen so many strollers. I had to fight my way through the nannies to get some good Japanese eggplants. If you want the variety of local greens; spinach, arugula, callaloo and lettuce; you need a combination of polite assertiveness and patience. People are polite and patient here. I haven’t really seen some of the aggressive pushing and shoving that we’ve seen on other islands, which shall not be named here.

Sometimes I’ll buy a bag of fresh greens without even knowing what it is. The market greens stay fresh so much longer than anything we can buy in the grocery store. Today I bought four different bags of greens from two different vendors, just because I could.

I finally bought some local bananas and plantains. When we buy bananas here we buy them green. By the time we get home they are ripe. I’m kidding, but it’s only a slight exaggeration.

We didn’t see as many strollers today, but there were a few wee babies. This island seems to have a large number of young families. Instead, today, there was a professional photographer with a very large camera. I tried to stay out of the way. I wasn’t looking my best!

So it turned out that our strategy to go to the market a bit earlier, but not too early, paid off. I didn’t buy any eggplants today, though, as I thought I’d give my husband a break from my eggplant obsession. I’ve been trying different types of eggplant and a few different recipes. My new project will be to try eggplant recipes from around the world!

Today was about salad greens and mangoes. It was also about trying to stay cool. Since the rainy weather has stopped, we’ve had temperatures around 30 Celsius and 75 to 85 percent humidity. So, even though I can’t really stay cool, I am trying to stay relatively dry. My face was dripping by the time we left the market. I blasted the Amigo‘s air conditioning to the maximum for the ride home. I know, it could be hotter, or worse, it could be cold outside!

In addition to the humidity, we have huge waves. I guess we are into the hurricane season, so maybe everything is just a bit steamier and more volatile. We watched the waves come right up over the beach at the nearby shopping corner, known to locals as the four-way. Even in our air conditioned home I couldn’t cool off. I finally went for a swim,( in the pool, not in the wildly rough sea)which seemed to do the trick. I’m still hoping for some calmer days to get my sea swim fix.

As for the market purchases, the variety of greens and the local baby cucumbers made a nice salad for our supper. There is a different flavour to everything here. The spinach is stronger tasting and thicker. The arugula is large and has quite a bite. The tomatoes have a thicker peel. I haven’t tried the local bananas yet, but I bet they’ll taste different, too.

Then we have the mangoes. Enough said.





Mango Tango: The joy of mango season in Cayman

We love mangoes! In my family I am probably the least affected by the sight, smell and taste of a mango, but even I get excited at a display of mangoes at the market. I can’t imagine anyone taking full advantage of the mango season as we do.

The first time we came here, twelve years ago, we stopped at a mango stand along Seven Mile Beach. The Mango Man made a comment about eating the mango in the sea. Ever since then, my Husband wanted to eat a mango in the sea. A few years ago, on his birthday, he didn’t need a cake or a dinner out or presents. He ate a mango in the sea.

One of my favourite book titles ever is An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof. As it turns out, the book is also very entertaining, but the title is what inspired me to give it to my husband for Christmas one year. This past week, we had an embarrassment of mangoes after a trip to our favourite fruit stand and another to the Farmer’s Market.

We seldom eat our mangoes in the sea. We usually eat them over the sink or over a plate or a paper towel. This is mango season and we are blessed with riches! There are too many varieties to recognize and mention. The mangoes we are eating are all local and somehow, the people who sell us the mangoes can tell them all apart. There is the Carrie, the Nam Doc, the Nelson, the Keitt, the Fairchild, the Springfell and the Julie. I’m not sure I’m spelling them all correctly, but I challenge you to find all of these in the supermarket in North America.

I just read in the local paper, that this is a bumper year for mangoes! This, in contrast to last year when it was a rather dismal mango season. I’m sure my husband was joking when he said we might have to find another place to live, but if this season had been similar to last, I wouldn’t count on staying here for long.

If you’ve never eaten a fresh mango,(and by fresh I mean you are in the country where it was grown), do yourself a favour and come to Cayman during mango season.

Sometimes the mango is maligned by those who think the sugar content is too high. They are a fruit, after all, and that’s what makes them so sweet. To stay away from a particular fruit because of their sugar content means giving up all the other nutrition benefits they have to offer. A single mango, according to USDA tables, is 135 Calories and provides almost a third of the Vitamin A requirement for one day and almost all your vitamin C! It also provides 4 grams of fibre and it’s delicious!

I would  venture to say that this mango season is having a very positive effect on our quality of life.