Jamaica Scenes, and Stuff.

Hi Friends,

If you have never been to Jamaica, I strongly encourage to think about it. “BrandJamaica” or rather #brandJamaica is so strong right now, more than ever. And I mean to visit Jamaica and enjoy our culture, beautiful beaches, food, music and people is something you have to write on that list if you have never made it happen.

While all inclusive resorts with everything you need at your fingertips is really a lovely way to relax and let your hair down for a week, I hope you are able to come back and see some more of what Jamaica has to offer on your next visit. I hope you try to experience the “authentic” Jamaica that delves a little deeper into the history and culture of my beautiful country. Get out the hotel and do some wonderful and fun tour of the country, eat in the community nearby to your hotel or villa, and get to meet some people along the way. You won’t regret it.  There is so much more to us, than just a beautiful beach!

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View from my gorgeous room at Strawberry Hill, Irish Town  – Jamaica is not just about the beach!

In the last six months I have been very fortunate to be able to re-discover my own island in the sun, via hosting press trips and Journalists and seeing places and new “haunts” that I have never been to, and vow to keep going back to. I am so happy to share some of these scenes with you.

Coffee Country

The Blue Mountains of Jamaica is one of the most beautiful locations on the island. It is hard to imagine you are still in Jamaica when you are up there. The smell of pine, the cool air and the vegetation all becomes completely new.  Strawberry Hill, part of Island Outpost, is located in Irish Town and about 3,100 feet up.

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The view of the Infinity pool overlooking the hills and capital city of Kingston from Strawberry Hill. Photo courtesy of Island Outpost.

Go much further up to explore the Coffee Houses and Farms, and to to hear more about the production of the best coffee in the world. You will see all the coffee plants literally on the side of the mountain as far as the eye can see. A visit to David Twyman’s Estate is a treat to see how the very best coffee in the world is grown and roasted, as well as if you have an “innings” to check out Clifton Mount (Coffee Traders Farm and old Plantation House) with Jamaica Tour Society.

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Up at 5,100 feet in the Blue Mountains, where the best coffee grows, as far as the eye can see is coffee plants!  It is very cool up here so far up, you will need a sweater or a scarf.  Wear comfortable shoes.

Places to stop by…

Try Eits Cafe when you visit the Blue Mountains, short for “Europe in the Summer” – such a cool stop for a meal. They are open for breakfast and lunch up to 6:00 p.m. and have an organic garden where the fresh arugula and lettuce is grown for the famous salads (try  the shrimp pesto salad, the dressing is to die for good) – the “green goddess” salad dressing is so good people will travel from Kingston on a Sunday to order a salad and the famous ‘barrel roasted chicken’ or one of their other divine dishes.

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Have one (or more!) of the EITS Mojitos, with the mint just picked from the garden, and definitely just make sure you take a few hours to sit and enjoy the view, the music, the people — it is really an eclectic and lovely setting. The owners are lovely people willing to sit and chat about anything.

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EITS Cafe’s Famous Bar Menu – the Mojitos are amazingly good!

Kingston and Kingston Tours

Kingston is the capital of Jamaica and many people tend to shy away from the city thinking it is riddled with crime and bad news. However over the years Kingston has gotten a bad rap. It is a metropolitan, fun place to visit especially when you want to learn more about our culture, music, art community and food. If you link up with a really great tour guide like Jamaica Tour Society, or Vibzen, you will be able to customise the type of fun tour you would like to experience – it could be a strictly “music” tour – or a combo of music and foodie, mixed in with culture, you get it!

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In Downtown Kingston at Coronation Market, the largest and oldest produce market in the Caribbean. A really diverse and “raw” experience. This little Bar is located at the outside perimeter of the Market.   That is LyndaLee peeking out the window who owns Jamaica Tour Society and offers custom Kingston and Blue Mountain Tours (see her link above for more information.)

In Kingston, you can have various tours set up, and we did a combo of Downtown and an “other” interesting finds…we started at Devon House for the famous and most yummy Jamaican patties and coconut water…Devon House also has the best ice cream in Jamaica, which you need to have (I wish I could tell you more, but I literally have to be disciplined on these trips – food wise…lol or my Trainer will hold me accountable 🙂 )

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Devon House for the first stop on our Kingston “Tour” – for Jamaican patties, so DELISH – you can get lobster, shrimp, chicken, callaloo or even curried goat patties.

…And then headed to Downtown, where we checked out Paint Jamaica at Fleet Street – a street that has massive painted murals on the walls done by the children who live in the area, as a community project that continues. We then went to LifeYard, run by true Rastafarians who are taking the time to harvest an organic garden right in the middle of two buildings on Fleet Street…so interesting! They will also let you sample some of their wellness natural juices (very yummy.) We visited Nick Davies who is a huge pioneer in his own right – making the most divine dark chocolate with cocoa beans grown right here in Jamaica. That’s right, we make chocolate too! And right after that we visited the famous Coronation Market.

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An example of a painted mural on a wall on Fleet Street – “Paint Jamaica.”

None of this is considered luxury or anything you would find on your typical vacation here in Jamaica, but it is certainly worth doing if you want to find out more and delve a little deeper into our rich culture and heritage. Having a wonderful guide like LyndaLee is an asset and the way to go too. She will give you a run-down on the history and culture of each stop and the communities.

Next time you are in Jamaica, go a little deeper, discover more, learn about our Music – the history of reggae, stop off at the Bob Marley Museum…taste some real “ital fare” — go up to the Blue Mountains and see how the most famous coffee in the world is grown….pick up a bag of the best coffee while you are there…visit an Art Gallery in Kingston – we have so much more to do than just sit on a beach (which is all good too!) – however there is so much more to discover.

Love, Neenie xo


Fitness – What I love.

Hello Friends,

While I work today on my second installment of “From Shy to the Stage” – I thought I would give a run-down on the products I am obsessed about fitness and health wise.

This is NOT a sponsored post. It is stuff I share from time to time, and did so on my last Blog.

Fitness Gear

I love, love these resistance bands from Amazon.com for that workout where you need to challenge yourself more, with dumbbells, or just using on their own. I carry these with me in my Gym Bag at all times.

Speaking of Gym Bags, I love all the bags from Fitmark Bags. I love this Company as I have bought many bags from them and shaker cups and they are all of high quality at a good price, and there is always a sale. In fact use code: NEENIE15 to get a further 15% off at checkout!

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This Transporter Tote is super special as it is a Gym Bag + Meal Prep Bag, for you serious fitness peeps.

This is something I have in my gym bag for the times I need to use it on the smith machine or a heavy barbell. Your neck and shoulders will thank you – it is the best squat pad I have found. I like using my own.

I recently ordered these sports bras from Amazon. A pack of three and a great buy.

I would go cray in the gym if I did not have my music. These bluetooth headphones are comfy and have a fabulous sound, plus they are not costly.

I always love wearing these Converse slip on “chukkies” for days of deadlifts and leg days, you just get so much more balance and better form. I have these in two pairs of white, black and high top white I love them SO much. Use them for your leg days!!

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Wear this for LEG days peeps. So your balance and ultimately your FORM is not compromised when doing squats, deadlifts and lunges even.

Supplements

I love using protein powder for post workout in a shake (with almond milk) as it helps to fuel those muscles and help with the repair of fibres, which ultimately lead to bigger muscles. I love chocolate flavours and have had alot of different brands over the past three years but I have to say that Optimum Nutrition, and NLA for Her in the chocolate eclair flavour are my two current faves. I love to make shakes with a small frozen banana, oats, almond milk, ice and a scoop of NLA for Her chocolate eclair when I really need a boost during the day. It is divine, try it!

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My fave protein powder right now in this YUMMY flavour. Helps you to really get your protein in for making those gainz ladies!

Let’s keep on track with Sups, I am also loving the same brand – NLA for Her in the Her Aminos – watermelon flavour. Now if you do not take Aminos and are working out hard with weights, you may want to re-consider why. Amino acids help hugely with building lean muscle, enhances muscle recovery, gives you that extra energy and even helps to cut fat. Take a scoop per day for that extra energy you need. I take mine before a workout, and continue to sip it with water in a shaker bottle during my workout especially a leg workout.  My “doms” are not too bad at all when I take this. Delayed onset muscle soreness can occur up to four days after a heavy compound muscle workout, so it is good to have something to sort of counter act that. Nothing wrong with a little pain after a workout, but sometimes it is just really dread after a heavy leg day.

Food

I love peanut butter. However when I stumbled across this Barney Butter almond butter (in smooth), I stopped eating peanut butter and have been ordering this one for about two years. In fact last year back stage at my Show in Jamaica, the girls were going crazy over it…we were eating it on rice cakes, (all we could really eat back stage, one of the joys of competing) – but this sure helped as the flavour is lovely and it is not made with palm oil.  I love it so much that I have an on-going subscription with Amazon monthly where I receive a bottle every month, perfffect!

Barney Butter

I love this stuff SO much I use it in my oatmeal, shakes and on rice cakes, the macros are good, for the fats you need in a day.

If you are not a member of Thrive Market.com, then I urge you to become one, and soon!  You will get up to 60% off the retail prices on these products via this site paying an annual fee, but it is SO worth it.  I buy my Simply Organic spices and Kodiak cakes here. The spices are ahhhmazing and so worth it with the lower price.

 

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GIRRRL, (and gents!!) please get these if you have never tried them. A brilliant macros, and taste, PLUS protein is great. I love them before a heavy leg workout on a weekend.

That wraps up my things I love post, I will be posting each month a list of things I am loving fitness and health related. Stay tuned!

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy these tips, and make sure you go and order them, your life will be better. 🙂 well your Fitness life anyway.

Love, Neenie xo


From Shy to the STAGE – part one

Hello Friends,

When contemplating what my next Blog Post would be about, I immediately had a strong feeling that I should share my own life story in terms of weight issues, “fat shaming,” the way I used to look and judge myself and finally living on an island and never wanting to go to the beach because of my own “body issues.”

Getting on the “Starving to be beautiful train”

As long as I can remember and since High School I was always on a diet. At first I thought, wow this is so cool, I am copying the cool ladies (ones who were older) at school as they all seem to be on diets, and starving themselves, so it must be seriously in style. I never had a weight issue up to that point, I put it in my head that I did. I must have been about 105-108 pounds in all my teen years, and I looked very slim and healthy (looking back.)  However, I saw the girls with uniforms hanging off them, skirts falling off and collarbones sticking out – and I thought that was the way we were supposed to look in our teens. Everyone was trying to be “skinny” – one girl boasted that she ate one apple per day for two weeks and had lost ten pounds.  She seemed pretty skeletal looking to me….but again, it was ingrained in me from then that this is what the perfect woman must look like.

I was also watching my mother eat only salads, and the era of Miss Jamaica this and that, and Miss Jamaica Fashion Model, etc. whatever it was – they were all underweight, severely so – but I thought this was the picture society was telling us to look like. Emaciate yourself, and you will become someone. You will be beautiful. Men will love you.

And I fell in love with a very handsome man when I was 19, who loved my thin figure – so I kept thinking this is it, this is the epitome of beautiful.

Moving to Bermuda to study Hotel Management

I moved to Bermuda and started studying hotel management….and within six months, trying to fit in, study hard and missing my family – I put weight on. About 15 pounds. What they call the standard “Freshman15” – it just so happened the lovely ladies I was friendly with back then in Bermuda all had healthy figures – and they encouraged me eat normally, which included snacks, etc. I was not used to understanding what healthy was….I had no idea how to cook healthy and lived in with a family who ate frozen foods for dinner. So with that added stress came the snacking, eating bread etc. Another five pounds on my 5ft barely two inch frame.

By the first year in Bermuda I was now weighing about 132 pounds, but no one in Bermuda thought that was odd nor was I ever called “chubby” or even “fat.”  In fact I received alot of male attention constantly.

And back in Jamaica…

When I went back to Jamaica for the Summer vacation the following year — I experienced the first time I was “fat shamed” by a good, family friend a couple years older than I – a very attractive man who I had known since childhood. I went out one night to a night club with my handsome boyfriend and I was told that “I had gotten really fat” by this person and in front of many people. My whole world collapsed at that point and I wanted to go home.That led to me starving myself for the rest of the Summer and going back to Bermuda at about 120 pounds. To which I was told by all how thin I looked. I was so confused to put it lightly.

 

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I have been healthy at 125 pounds (like this pic) over the years and healthy at 102 pounds, the main thing is I am not dieting and have a healthy balance of macros, workouts and meals for my goals. This pic was 2013 when I was not weight training, just doing only cardio – nothing wrong with the weight, just was not as sculpted.

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This is 105 pounds my weight range now, – not much cardio (about 15-20 minutes each HIIT session four times per week // adding in much more weight training), and lots of balance of macros.  About where I am today, at this range I live a much more healthy life, I do not ever diet, I eat on the IIFYM (If it fits your macros) and train about five to six days per week.  Days off are SO important.

Another two years of college meant more weight gain. More vacations to Jamaica, more insults = more starving and you got the picture, each year I was going up and down by 15 pounds depending on where I was. Jamaica – 120 Bermuda, 135. What was wrong with this picture??

**In Part two: Meeting my hubby and finding the balance, and understanding what it takes to be healthy and fit..and not worried about what people think…to taking a walk on the stage.**