Mondays with Matthew: Hello Kuwait

Posted by Matthew Lodge

embassy

Spend a few minutes at Kuwait airport and you are reminded that people are coming and going every day. Families returning from holiday, business travellers heading off, air crew stopping over. Amongst all these you may occasionally spot the new arrivals, and I don’t mean those visiting for a few days, but those who have arrived to make Kuwait their home. Maybe for a year or two, maybe for longer. At the end of August, amidst the hustle and bustle of the airport, my family and I arrived in Kuwait. For my wife and kids this was the first time they’ve been here, but Kuwait is now home, and will be for the next 4 years.

I want to start a conversation with you so let me start by telling you what my own reactions have been.

Kuwaitis are welcoming, open and friendly. Irrespective of any conservative traditions and social customs, Kuwait feels modern, vibrant and dynamic. As you drive into town from the airport, you also get an immediate sense of Kuwait being quite westernised. Fast food outlets light up the roadsides. Cars are big, the roads are wide. This is a land of comfort, consumerism and confidence. Kuwait is not shy. Kuwait has money, and more importantly Kuwait has oil.

But that initial, essentially superficial, impression is just that – superficial. As British Ambassador, moving into a house that claims to be the oldest continually-occupied residential building in Kuwait, I am reminded every day about the history. Kuwait’s history. Our shared history.

Firstly, the house itself – the notes left for me explain how the British architect was brought from Bushehr and the funding approved by the Government in India. Then there’s this sepia photograph on the wall showing the Residence of the “Political Agent”, constructed in 1935-6, taken in 1951 when the gates opened onto the beach and there was no Gulf Road. More recently, I am also reminded of the wonderful 50/20 celebrations that took place in 2001 – half a century since independence from Great Britain, two decades since the liberation – followed in 2012 by the State Visit of His Highness The Amir.

But it’s about more than official commemorations or grand occasions. For many Kuwaitis London and the UK is their home away from home, many more have studied there, and Kuwait sends more visitors to the UK each year than any other GCC country. So when it comes to my plans and hopes as the new British Ambassador, I remember that there is a huge amount already there between our two countries. Kuwait and Britain are, and will always be, connected – in every sense.

Before coming here, we had heard a lot about the country and the people, and during the last eight weeks we’ve learned a little more. One thing, which I perhaps knew already, is that as an Ambassador you enjoy a very privileged existence. Everyone is always very polite and courteous, but if you really want to understand how people feel (rather than just hear what they think you want to hear) then you have to work hard to get out, meet people and listen.

My goal is to do precisely that. I want to listen to you. I’d like you to tell me what you think I need to hear. So tell me, is the Kuwait I am seeing the same as the one you recognise?
In any case, thank you Kuwait for welcoming me. It’s good to be here

Post by Matthew Lodge
British Ambassador to Kuwait
Instagram: @HMAMatthewLodge Twitter: @HMAMatthewLodge


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Quick Ramadan Workout

Posted by Amy Freeman

Post by Amy Freeman

As we approach the middle of Ramadan, energy levels start to drop as energy reserves are getting low. I always say to my clients that training during Ramadan should be a time for maintenance and active recovery. It’s not the time to go for PB’s or peak in a training cycle. I’m also very aware that it can be hard for people to get to the gym as often as they did due to chaotic traffic, family obligations and other commitments.

So this week I wanted to put up a full body weight, circuit style workout you can do at home or at your own convenience. This should be completed one exercise directly after another with as little rest as possible between exercises but with a 2-4min rest between rounds.

Complete 10-15 repetitions of everything and 3-5 rounds:

Push-ups
Squat Jumps
Tricep Push-ups
Forward Stepping Alternating Lunges
Alternating Plyometric Lunges
Burpees
30 to 60 Seconds Abdominal Plank

Remember although we want your heart rate to be high, take it at your own pace, listen to your body and rest as needed.

Ramadan Mubarak,
Happy Training Kuwait

Post by Amy Freeman, a Strength and Conditioning Coach from New Zealand and currently a Personal Trainer at Inspire Pure Fitness in Kuwait.


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Where does motivation come from?

Posted by Amy Freeman

motivation

Post by Amy Freeman

Someone asked me the other day, how long have you been exercising? I said, ‘well since I can remember I have loved being active. When I was around 10 years old I started going to classes at the gym sporadically but then at around 13 I started going to the gym regularly (that was in the days when minimum age wasn’t enforced much).

In fact I used to pester my parents so much to go that my dad would get me a gym membership for my birthday or at Xmas. I would come home from school, deliver leaflets around the neighborhood (my after school job) and then beg my mum to drive me over the other side of town to the fitness center.

My client was shocked and asked ‘What made you love it so much at that age?’ This question really made me think… and think… and think.

Finally after much deliberation I found the answer was really simple. ‘Because I wanted to be like my dad’.

He was my idol. He never ever pressured me to exercise or workout but I wanted to be as fit as he was. He had run marathons, he was a really good swimmer and generally just really fit. I remember one day venturing out on my first run aged around 11 (not really knowing what a marathon meant or that it was a specific distance) and I called him straight after and said ‘Dad I just ran a marathon!’. In actual fact I had just run around the 5km block that he helped me map out.

I also recall the school triathlon, I entered when I was maybe 9 and he helped me train for it. I remember looking for him in the crowd as I crossed the finish line and I ran and literally fell into his arms totally exhausted. He made me love sport because there was never anything negative attached to it and never any pressure or expectation and that meant I always felt like I was achieving something great.

To this day there is only positive emotions and memories that come from my sporting and exercise experiences. It’s probably why when there have been challenges in my life it’s the thing I turn to for comfort. I guess that’s why I love my job so much and wju I want to help other people experience that.

I tell this story because all to often people come in and they will openly admit they hate working out, or they hate the gym and after I got asked those questions by my client, I can’t help but think, do they hate the gym because it has negative meaning to them beyond just working out?

For example, some people start gyming because they are depressed and hate how they look so the gym represents those feelings related to low self esteem.

Or for some people the gym represents all the failed attempts to get in shape.

Or the gym and working out represents pain and feeling weak.

Does lasting and true motivation come from something bigger and more profound than just doing it for yourself?

I think it does. The human mind is a complex thing and I think that to believe that we are capable of achieving greatness in fitness goals (or really any life goal for that matter), without the belief of doing it for something greater, without the help of something greater than yourself isn’t enough.

Athletes are refreshing to talk to at times because they think of their body as a machine and a tool for doing a chosen task. When I asked an athlete what gets them excited about their sport the answer was ‘when I visualize the crowd cheering me on and the people and kids I’m inspiring it motivates me to bring my best’.

Or on a smaller scale I know a lady that runs marathons and she said that when she is 10km out from the finish line and in agony she visualizes her children cheering her on and that gives her the push she needs.

What if the gym represented part of what you do to stay healthy, happy and fit for your family or for a sport and you took the vanity out of it? I know it sounds crazy because most people have a goal when they join the gym and it’s usually ‘I wanna lose weight’, ‘it’s my wedding in 3 months’ etc etc. These kind of goals cause you to exert pressure on yourself and rather than being present in each workout and enjoying it, all you want is to get your goal and maybe workout again when you have another goal. So your weight and fitness goes up and down and so does your self esteem.

To illustrate this I have a client that has been one of the most successful weightloss/fatloss candidates I’ve ever trained. When I asked her what makes her so dedicated and determined her answer was refreshingly simple and went something like this:

‘Because I want my kids to know that being heathy is important and they are so impressed when they see how strong I have gotten.’

And you know what, this client always turns up with a smile and a positive attitude every day and has never missed a training session.

Happy Training Kuwait.

Post by Amy Freeman, a Strength and Conditioning Coach from New Zealand and currently a Personal Trainer at Inspire Pure Fitness in Kuwait.

Photo by Edie**


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Toxicity and Results: Why dieting and exercising in Kuwait just isn’t cutting it

Posted by Amy Freeman

plasticbottle

This is something that myself, my clients and I’m sure most people reading this will relate to. You eat well, you exercise at least 3 times per week, sometimes you may even use a trainer, but no matter how hard you train and how clean your diet is, getting those desired results you are working so hard for is so damn hard.

Well for the last 2.5 years I have been in Kuwait, I have noticed something that, at first, baffled me. The first 6 months I was in Kuwait I gained 6kg. I was exercising more than I ever did back in New Zealand and very cautious with my eating habits but no matter what I did I couldn’t shift this weight (and I’m a midget at 5ft3.5 so 6kg is very noticeable)

Then something strange happened. I went on vacation and came back lighter and leaner. Now, I can assure you right now; I wasn’t on vacation eating celery sticks and lettuce leaves that’s for sure. So what happened?

After becoming Bio Signature Practitioner almost 2 years ago, all these questions started to get answered.

After asking my coach on Bio Signature (who has trained Olympic Athletes and has over 20 years experience). He said to me ‘Where do you live?’ I said ‘Kuwait’. He said ‘KUWAIT! Hmmm, I’ve been asked to go do courses in the Middle East and turned them down because of how toxic it is, that’s your culprit right there’.

He then went on to explain to me that with so much toxicity entering the body, the pathways for nutrients and hormones get blocked by toxicity bonds that attach to fat cells which causes stubborn fat, like cellulite, that is hard to break down.

This also result’s in low Testosterone levels and a healthy amount of Testosterone is important for reducing body fat in both female and male and is absolutely imperative for male health and wellbeing.

After hearing this I started to notice things in Kuwait that backed up his claims:

1- I started to notice how many males in Kuwait have female body types. Such as, bigger hips and legs and smaller upper-bodies. Low Testosterone right there.

2- Low Testosterone in men causes a lower sperm count. Men with a lower sperm count are more likely to father girls. There are a significantly larger proportion of Females in Kuwait than Males. Last I was told the ratio of females to males here is 4:1.

3- Most people drink out of plastic bottles, which have Pseudo Estrogens, which act as female hormones when they enter our body.

4- Almost every Bio Signature I have done on men and woman in Kuwait has shown their first priority (highest reading) as their Hamstring (at the top of the back of the leg). The Estrogen Sight of the body.

healtylifestyle

So how can you rectify this?

1- Include weight training in your gym routine, everyone and anyone needs a healthy amount of Testosterone, even the ladies. Low Testosterone=High Body Fat.

2- Drink your water from glass bottles and drink at least 2L per day. Say ‘NO’ to plastic.

3- Eat your greens. Veges have antioxidant’s that help break the bonds of the toxins so you can break down the fat.

4- Take supplements that help your body detoxify. Below is what I suggest and I’ve also included the link from where you can purchase them if you choose.

The Poliquin Supplements in my opinion are the best in the world hands down, I love them, my clients love them and for me that’s a home run. (No I’m not affiliated with them I just love their products)

1- Zinc PX: Zinc is an essential mineral that helps with all functions of the body. It has been said if you are deficient in Zinc you are deficient in everything. Fatloss, healthy immune system, healthy Testosterone levels and detoxification are all assisted by Zinc.

2- Multi Intense (with Iron for woman): essential for us here in Kuwait as our fresh produce is rarely local so lacks nutrients making it impossible for us to get our daily-required vitamins and minerals. More Antioxidants= less Toxins
Multi Intense (without Iron for men)- Same as the above minus the Iron as men usually cover this in their diet and can cause liver damage with too much.

3- Uber Mag Px: Magnesium is similar to Zinc, as it assists with many functions of the human body including detoxification, better quality sleep, stable mood, muscle recovery and growth, healthy Testosterone levels, cardiovascular health and brain function.

4- Fish Oil EPA-DHA 720: Assists in detoxification, the increase in healthy fats helps with counteracting bad fats from fast food (they cause toxicity), helps with brain function and fat loss.

This is a topic that I’m really passionate about because whether or not you have fitness goals, this will impact you in some way and even if you don’t implement all the changes I have mentioned, even implementing 1 or 2 things means you are one step closer to a more healthy, less toxic body.

Post by Amy Freeman, a Strength and Conditioning Coach from New Zealand and currently a Personal Trainer at Inspire Pure Fitness in Kuwait.


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Biodiversity: Not Just a Myth

Posted by John Peaveler

This story begins with an honest truth: A summer survey of Kuwait’s public access desert would reveal a landscape comprised primarily of farm animals, garbage, and earth (sand, dirt, and dust). A careful eye would notice some plants, but very few, very small, and nearly dead. I’m talking about those areas outside of the city, where urban civilization ends and nature begins. The obvious reason for the lack of plant life is that we live in a desert. We get very little precipitation. Plants need water. Sand is the natural substrate of the desert. These factors combined equal a quasi-moonscape, right? If you’ve made these conclusions, you are, I’m happy to say, mistaken, and it is my goal in writing this to amaze you with the beauty of Kuwait and encourage everyone to do better for the sake of our natural heritage.

The images of giant drifting sand dunes and storms that swallow up entire houses that so many of us associate with the word desert simply do not represent Kuwait. Our ecosystem is harsh: it’s hot, it’s dry, it’s wind-swept, it’s dusty, but most importantly, it is positively teeming with life. Actually, it SHOULD be positively teeming with life, but for the most part, it isn’t. It would be teeming with life if nature were allowed to take its course. Instead, we see the results of decades of under regulated grazing, off-road driving, and winter camping. It seems grim, I know. I’m here to tell you there is hope. More than that: there is life out there, just waiting for a safe place to live.

Enter the Abdaliya Nature Project.

The Abdaliya Nature Project was conceived in late 2010 by Kuwait Oil Company employees with a particular interest in seeing the restoration of Kuwait’s desert. These employees, acknowledging their role to utilize petroleum resources while protecting Kuwait’s natural environment, took the initiative to preserve an area of desert approximately 1.5 million square meters in size. Prior to reutilization as a nature project, this area was in the public domain and was being used for winter camping. Winter camping in Kuwait, while originally nothing more than a traditional way to enjoy the cool winter months has become so invasive and destructive that the desert ecosystem cannot compete with the concrete, garbage, tires, and other pollution dumped annually upon the spring abandonment of the campsites.

The project began with months of clearing garbage and debris left behind by more than a decade of camping. The most common forms of waste removed included water tanks, concrete blocks, concrete septic tanks, car tires, food and beverage containers, and materials used for shade. With a clean slate to work with, the next steps included constructing access roads and water pipelines followed by the planting of nearly 40,000 seedlings and saplings. Why not simply let the plants return on their own? The answer is diversity. While the “if you build it they will come” model is less costly and much more simple, the result is an imbalance of species. Much like a farmer’s field left empty and consumed by weeds, bare desert in Kuwait will result in a few species taking over the entire ecosystem, thus absorbing nutrients and precipitation and excluding other plants. From the very beginning Abdaliya was planted with a diverse group of native species.

Replanting commenced in early 2011. In less than a year, the Abdaliya Nature Project transformed a barren and utterly destroyed wasteland patch of desert into a unique and incredibly beneficial oasis of flora and fauna. During this period, K’S PATH has proudly been working with KOC on this project doing clean up, wildlife monitoring, anti-poaching, feral dog management, and more. Even in this relatively short period, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of birds, lizards, snakes, rodents, and insects in the project, none of whom were introduced. Our goal for the next two years is to introduce fox and hedgehogs to the area as we continue to strive toward a natural, balanced, and well-managed ecosystem. KOC is also planning to build an education center at the site so that we can begin to spread this message of diversity and protection for Kuwait’s future. The fact is that it will take all of us working together to protect Kuwait’s natural heritage for future generations.

If you participate in winter camping or drive off-road, please consider the implication of your actions. Properly dispose of your waste, remove everything you bring into the desert, and stick to established driving tracks.

For more pictures click [Here]

Post by John Peaveler
Managing Director
Kuwait Society for the Protection of Animals and Their Habitat (K’S PATH)


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Green Turtle Rescue 2012

Posted by John Peaveler

Green Turtle Rescue 2012 from John Peaveler

Last week we were called out to the Chevron camp at Al Zour to help with a turtle found on the beach. A resident had found the turtle exhausted on the beach with fishing string wrapped around its flipper. We arrived very quickly as we had been working in the Chevron area all day. Since we have no experience with sea turtles, we went to the experts. First we paid a visit to Dr. Jill at Royal Animal Hospital. She gave the turtle a good prognosis since there was good movement, nothing broken, and just some minor bruising and swelling. An injection of antibiotics and a topical antibiotic were the only treatments and we were out the door in 20 minutes headed to our final stop: the Scientific Center in Salmiya. Those folks were amazing. They opened their doors late, took the turtle in, and gave me a behind the scenes tour of their tanks. They have an entire area dedicated to rehabilitation. The last clip in the video is from their green turtle rehab tank where you can see several healthy turtles ready for release. The Scientific Center will be doing all of the really hard work on this one. We are just happy we could help. Many thanks to everyone involved in helping this turtle get a new lease on life.

As always, please ‘like’ our Facebook page. Our sponsors want to see the support of our community. Your ‘likes’ save lives.

Post by John Peaveler
Managing Director
Kuwait Society for the Protection of Animals and Their Habitat (K’S PATH)


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Saluki Rescue

Posted by John Peaveler

Saluki Rescue September 2012 from John Peaveler

Whenever we are asked to help with a population of dogs that is disturbing a residence, business, or ministry, the first thing we do is an assessment. A couple of weeks ago a Colonel with the Kuwait MOD contacted me looking for a humane solution for a pack of dogs at the Al Rawtain military complex in northern Kuwait. Fortunately, we were already operating near the Iraqi border handling a half-dozen dog and snake complaints in KOC areas. So it was, so to say, on my way. An assessment of a dog population at a remote military camp is fairly straightforward. First, we wake up all the dogs and make sure we get a pretty accurate count. We use a working dog for this, or several hours of foot and vehicle patrol while distributing canned dog food. During the assessment, we are counting, but we are also prioritizing. Seriously injured dogs get the highest priority, then sick dogs, then pregnant mothers, then nursing mothers, then puppies and adolescents (if weaned and abandoned), then friendly adults, and then feral adults. Crazily enough, there are actually even more categories that may move a dog up or down the list, such as an omega dog (picked on by all others), a dog that is friendly or semi-friendly with a caretaker who opts for surgical sterilization, animals that are obviously escaped or abandoned pets, and more. Long story short, we have to gather information as quickly as possible to come up with an action plan that utilizes our limited resources in a way that benefits the greatest number of animals. At Al Rawtain, that meant a morning of following the working dog around sheds full of tanks and armored fighting vehicles, around the perimeter, and out the gate. That was how we found Sheba.

Sheba was the only dog out of more than 20 that didn’t get up to either bark at or investigate my working dog and myself. That set off alarm bells in my head. She didn’t get up, because she couldn’t walk; the bones were sticking out of her front leg. And the injury wasn’t new. It was at least a week old, swollen, and horribly infected. We didn’t need a vet in the field to know that what she needed was emergency surgery to remove the leg. We administered a light dose of anesthesia to prevent pain during transport, and rushed her into surgery at the Royal Animal Hospital. The video tells most of the rest of this story, but Sheba’s story isn’t over yet. Her physical wounds have healed. Now she must overcome her mild fear of people and learn how to balance on three legs.

Sheba needs a home. Interested? Email me via john@kspath.org

And don’t forget to ‘Like’ our Facebook page: K’S PATH

Post by John Peaveler
Managing Director
Kuwait Society for the Protection of Animals and Their Habitat (K’S PATH)


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Commentary: Horse Neglect

Posted by John Peaveler


[Vimeo]

Working for K’S PATH can be a bit of a roller coaster. I have days when I absolutely love my job, and days I could really live without. One of the worst scenes we regularly encounter is that of neglected horses. I use the word neglected, because they are rarely abandoned until survival is almost impossible. Instead, they are kept, often without shade, food or water for most of the day. They are denied adequate if any veterinary care, and their condition gets worse day by day until the inevitable end finally arrives. The ‘lucky’ horses die where they live. In the worst cases, someone makes a prognosis of hopelessness, and the animal is left in the desert to die without any possible chance of survival; a practice referred to as ‘turning it’s fate over to God.’ With a small sanctuary full of donkeys and horses, and monthly expenses pushing 700KD, K’S PATH has few options to accommodate new horses. The obvious solution is to prevent the animal from being neglected in the first place. We try talking to the owner as politely as we possibly can.

The result is invariably the same: ‘you can’t tell me what to do with my horse.’ And they are right. Their ownership under Kuwait law is absolute, and it would take a brave legal team with no more prominent case to enact Kuwait’s limited cruelty laws. So we do our best. We give them water, and we buy them what food we can afford to give, because we’ve learned over time that when you can’t fix a problem, you can only do all you can, then move on to the next animal.

What do we need to solve this problem?
1. Legal help, in the form of an enforcement and prosecutorial team.
2. A properly sized, equipped, staffed, and funded sanctuary.
3. Education. This we do. Our message? Compassion and kindness.

You can find an equine success story [Here]

Post by John Peaveler
Managing Director
Kuwait Society for the Protection of Animals and Their Habitat


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Review: Borderlands 2

Posted by Patrick

We live in an age where releasing sequels is the norm because it’s more profitable and less risky than releasing a brand new original title. So, it should be no surprise that some sequels start to feel like expansion packs to the original game instead of a true sequel. They might add a little content here and there but end up using a very similar (or the same) graphics engine and avoid fixing what could have been wrong in the first game. The good developers learn their lessons and attempt to improve every facet of the game instead of rehashing the original. I was a huge fan of the first Borderlands since I felt that it stood out among the other shooters out there mostly for its role-playing elements, random loot, a great shooting mechanic, and stylistic visuals. Even though it did a lot of things right, I felt the game had a lot more potential. The world itself felt small, the towns felt dead, and although the enemy A.I. was decent, there weren’t many variations of enemies. Add to that it had a weak storyline and a brutally disappointing ending. So when a sequel was announced, I was hopeful that Gearbox Software would learn from their first outing and release a sequel that was even better than the original. I had high expectations and I can safely say that Gearbox Software are one of the good developers since they have delivered a solid sequel that improves nearly every aspect of the original, while expanding on the formula they set up in the first game.

The premise of the game is quite simple. The villain, named Jack, wants to open a vault that is said to be home of something powerful. With this power, Jack hopes to become the all-supreme leader of Pandora. The game doesn’t take time to push you into the action; you start off on a train headed to your destination when a “complication” arises.

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Review: Sleeping Dogs

Posted by Patrick

There was a time when open world games like Grand Theft Auto III were a big deal. Nowadays, it seems like there’s an open world game being released every year. There was also a time when open world games were flat 2D worlds like Super Metroid or The Legend of Zelda. Today, it’s vast and deep 3D landscapes with big cities (or deserts if we’re talking about the great Red Dead Redemption). The problem with most games that share this genre is that they’re automatically labeled a “GTA-clone”, so in order to be successful, the developer needs to create something unique or at least innovative. Sleeping Dogs might not be incredibly unique (a cop and gangster game set in Hong Kong), but it does take the GTA formula further by innovating it, making it its own.

Sleeping Dogs is played as an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective action-adventure game with role-playing elements. The player controls Wei Shen, a Chinese-American police officer, as he goes undercover to infiltrate the Sun On Yee Triad organization. – wikipedia

There were a bunch of things I really liked about Sleeping Dogs. One example that pops right into mind is that the game lets you cycle through your objectives without the need to pause or go to the map screen. To add to that, it’ll show you how to get to your objective and how far your destination is. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it helps with the pacing of the game. There’s no need to pause, go into a menu, and look through a big map. One thing that bugged me about GTA was that there was no reason to pay attention to traffic laws and pedestrians, but in Sleeping Dogs you lose points if you vandalize, steal or kill pedestrians while you’re on a mission. These points can help you level up and unlock more items and moves and they’re part of your overall mission score that gets uploaded and shared with your friends. That’s another thing the developers have added: the “Social Hub”. The Social Hub basically uploads your mission scores and other stats (longest wheelie for instance) and compares them to your friends who are also playing the game.

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