The gyms in Brazil are surprisingly modern in technology and equipment. Maybe it's not so surprising, since working out is serious business in Brazil. There are three gyms (that I know of) just in our small neighborhood. Being the accustomed-to-cold-weather person that I am, I joined the gym with air conditioning. Many people have split condensers in their homes - typically in the main bedroom or the living room. But electricity here is very expensive, so most stores (grocery stores not included) don't have air conditioning. Two of the three gyms in my neighborhood don't have air conditioning, either. I'm a sweaty person, so I need air conditioning while I'm working out.
I haven't continuously worked out since having my daughter four and a half years ago. I used to work out a few times a week because the military allowed us time to do so each day. I tend to be a size 12-14 regardless of how much I weigh or what shape I'm in, but I like to be strong. I haven't felt strong since my daughter was born. Now that both kids are in school, my work schedule has evened out, and life has settled down a bit, I realized that I didn't have any excuse not to hit the gym. I've also noticed that at 33, my metabolism has slowed down, it's harder to lose weight, and it's harder to gain muscle. It's really important to me to get in shape now because it's not going to get any easier. It's also important to me because dementia runs in my family and studies show that exercise is the number one factor in preventing dementia.
I'm incredibly impressed with my gym. In Brazil, personal trainers wander around the gym and are available to demonstrate machines, help with form, and even provide a routine. While you do share the trainer with everyone in the gym, I've never felt like I didn't have my trainer's personal attention. Today, I was amazed when he set me up with the virtual training system. In the middle of the gym, there's a computer system with two monitors. My trainer entered my code, configured some information, chose a plan for me, and showed me how to work the whole thing. Each day, I can simply enter my code and a workout plan is created for me. A little receipt machine prints out my plan. Each plan has a list of exercises, how many reps I should do for each, and the appropriate weight for each. If you're not sure what the exercise is, you can ask the trainer OR you can enter the exercise's code in the computer and the second monitor will display an example of someone doing the dang thing! blew. my. mind. I mean it's so simple and it makes so much sense, but I've never seen that before. This is a huge plus for Brazil and exactly what I need to get back in shape.
Hi! I'm alive! It's been about seven months since I last posted, but life just got in the way. I intended this blog to be a place to document our life in Brazil and give advice to other expats. When we went to Alcobaça two weeks ago, I looked though the pictures from our last trip there and realized I really need to add some more posts. It was so fun to look through the old pictures and see how much has changed since then. I need to catch the blog up on our life, so that we can continue to look back on our time here. And so..
In September 2018 we went to Porto Seguro in the state of Bahia for the first time. It was by far my favorite trip! When we travel, we usually stay with family, which means we're all cramped together or sleeping on an air mattress in a kitchen, on a roof, wherever there is space. In Porto Seguro, we got all fancy and stayed at a resort. It was a very last minute trip because Farley's friend Luis and his family were going and told us about the resort deal about a week before we went. We ended up joining them and my brother-in-law Douglas, sister-in-law Maiara, and niece Julia joined us.
The resort was awesome. If you're earning dollars and spending reais, traveling in Brazil can be very cheap. We stayed at the resort for a week and it was less than $300. We stayed in basically a two bedroom apartment that had a full kitchen and two baths. In the courtyard of the resort was a large pool and a smaller pool for kids. We only had to cross the road to get to the beach. Since we were a little north of the "party resorts," the traffic was minimal, and the speed limit was about 15 mph (25 kph), so crossing wasn't an issue. The resort also had a beautiful covered patio with an open air kitchen, churrasquiera, television, and bathroom. While we always have access to a kitchen when staying with family, I really appreciated the full kitchen in our apartment because we were able to have breakfast at the resort, lunch on the beach, and dinner back at the resort every day. Most days we ate breakfast (coffee and bread) while everyone got ready, spent most of the day at the beach, then returned to the resort for dinner - thanks to the pool and kid pool, we could keep swimming or switch off watching the kids while someone cooked.
Like everywhere in Brazil, there were venders walking up and down the beach selling corn, ice cream, coconut water, fried green bananas (amazing), and various merchandise. There was a very cool sand bar that was exposed during low tide. We were able to walk out on it and get pretty far our into the ocean, while still being on sand. There was also a commons-of-sorts right off the beach. There were artisan venders of every variety. Maicon and I particularly enjoyed the store that taught us about the history of chocolate making in the area and provided samples from cocoa nib to finished product. We bought a bunch of sample bars to try out the different flavors. They all had cocoa nibs in them, which was pretty cool, since I love bitter chocolate.
Some history to note about Porto Seguro - it was the first landing place of Portuguese navigators (hence all the colonial/native statues). It seems like a weird thing to celebrate, since Portugal basically decimated Brazil's resources, oppressed the natives, and brought over slaves from Africa, but I guess history is history? Anyway, the history of Porto Seguro is rich and long - much too long for this post.
One VERY IMPORTANT NOTE about traveling with children in Brazil - they don't fuck around. When we got to the resort, we were surprised to find out that we needed to show IDs for all the kids to prove they were ours, etc. Thankfully I had my foreigner's ID and the kids' Brazilian IDs (everyone in Brazil has an ID, even infants). However, since we had our nephew with us, we didn't have his ID. The resort allowed us to get the documents from my sister-in-law (and her documents) via Whatsapp and then email the documents to the resort's reception. We also experienced this when traveling via train in Brazil - all IDs must be present. When we traveled to Vitoria with our nephew, his mother accompanied us to the train station to give permission to the officials. Obviously if you're traveling with your own kids, this is a lot easier, but we jokingly say our nephew is our second son because he's always with us. A little more difficult when traveling with kids that are not your own..
Hopefully our next vacation will be to return to Porto Seguro because there was so much to do, we could barely do any of it in a week. However, I did get a mystery rash on my chest our last day there. It was SO itchy and burned. I have no idea what the reaction was to, but it made for a painful ride home with the seatbelt directly on it. Overall, my favorite vacation so far. We have about 2.5 more years here in Brazil (that's the current plan), so time is quickly running out for vacations. I can't recommend Porto Seguro enough. It has an area for younger vacationers who want to party, family-friendly areas, a rich history, environmental interests - something for everyone.
I used to have the most beautiful eyebrows, but as a product of the 90s and someone who's getting older (hello greys!), my eyebrows had thinned out quite a bit. I live in the land of plastic surgery, so I thought heyyyy, why not start with one of the most common cosmetic procedures I see - eyebrow tattoos! Microblading is fine and all, but go big or go home, right?
Obviously, I'm no stranger to tattoos. I have a giant sugar skull on my forearm. My siblings' names on my left wrist. The name of my favorite football team on my hip (more or less a blob now, thanks kids). AND a giant ass chest piece that says "memento vivere" - see? There's a theme. So, I thought my pain tolerance for tattoos was pretty high. Admittedly, the eyebrow tattoos were the most painful by far and I just wanted to die the whole way through. I can only comment to the procedure in Brazil because I've never had it done in the States, but here they use a single needle and basically line the entire eyebrow. No shading. The entire thing is filled in by lines. And not microblading lines - it's full on fucking coverage via lines. Phew. I don't know about anyone else, but I much prefer getting shaded by four needles than lined by one.
My first artist moved to Portugal before I could have a touch up, combined with my extra dry skin (remember - not all tattoos are permanent; eyebrow tattoos fall into this category), meant I needed my eyebrows re-done the following year. I would have been fine not having them re-done, but I had the time and money, so I chose to take that extra step. In preparation, I brought some Numb Master creme from the US. Thankfully though, my second artist used anesthesia anyway! So I had a double dose of anesthesia for my second eyebrow tattoo and again when I returned to my second artist for a touch up. (You should always go back to your artist after a month or longer - once the skin has healed - for a touch up. That way they can fill in any missed areas). It still hurt like hell, but the pain was tolerable. Akin to a regular tattoo. The more fat and muscle tissue under the skin, the less the pain.
Overall, I am super, super happy with my eyebrow tattoos and I'll definitely be touching them up throughout time. The great thing is that because they aren't permanent for most people, you can eventually change the shape or thickness. They used some type of golden ratio calculation and a ruler to design my eyebrows, and I think they fit my face perfectly. So at this point, I'm not interested in following the fashion of eyebrows as much as I am having eyebrows that fit me well.
Eventually, I'd like to get the "mommy makeover" here - breast lift and tummy tuck. Quick growth spurts with my baby bellies and two c-sections have left me with that unsightly "pooch" that exercise and diet just won't seem to eliminate. And breastfeeding two kids.. well I'm sure you can imagine. The size is right, but gravity is my enemy. Of course I'll share that information if the time comes.
For the record, everything I do in the name of beauty, I do for myself and no one else. I am an advocate of cosmetic and beauty procedures in so much that it is done to make yourself happy. If you change yourself for someone else, you're changing yourself for the wrong reason. <3