Mentally Fit with Online Courses

Inadvertently (or subconsciously), the idea for this blog has been brewing for a while – longer than I actually realised.

On Monday, January 12, I start the first of two free massive-open-online courses (MOOCs), offered from a university in the USA (it’s actually in The Netherlands), called “Introduction to Nutrition – Food for Health”. It runs for 8 weeks and here is the course blurb – “NUTR101x is a general nutrition course that addresses the relation between nutrition and human health with a focus on overnutrition.”

I found the course months ago on, and this website came into my world through the blog Anna from And Then We Saved put together a list of places to get a free online education and kindly offered it up to her readers. Here is her post. Thanks, Anna, for the inspiration! Without you, I may never have found out about this.

Nutrition isn’t something I’ve ever thought of studying, I really had no interest in it before. But for some reason, now, I’m very keen to understand what powers us through the day. If you would like to read more information about the course you can find it here.

The second course I’ll be doing, starting February 25, is another edX course called “Body101 – The Body Matters”. It focuses on exercise and what it does to your body. Here’s the official blurb – “This course examines the benefits of physical activity, how to prevent injuries, and what to do when injuries occur. The course will include content from leading international experts in multiple fields related to the science of exercise.”

You can sign up for it here, too, if you like …

It’s time to get my brain working again and these two courses fit very nicely into my fitfor15in15 challenge. I haven’t worked in Switzerland since moving here just over three years ago. The first 18 months were spent learning German and doing the B2 Level exam. For the past 18 months, I’ve been a bit rudderless – uninspired, wasting time and reading loads of other people’s blogs but never quite managing to find the enthusiasm to start anything of my own.

I’m not allowed to work here because there are no international work agreements between Switzerland and Australia. Non-EU (European Union) people have to wait five years before they can apply for a working visa. There is a possible work option to start work before the five years is up, but it’s incredibly hard to prove – that I would be the only person in the EU capable of doing a particular job. The hiring company would have to go through months of red tape with immigration in order to make it a reality, and that’s a huge deterrent! Television is where I have worked in the past, and there are many EU television professionals who would be chosen before me.

Hence, I had to drag myself out of these idle doldrums somehow. I’ve always been a keen student learner, so I figured doing a free online course or two could be the way to go. What do you think? I have no idea of their quality or what’s expected from me, but it’s worth a shot.

Have you ever done an online course before, and did you like it? Was it harder than you thought it would be?

January 9: 30 minutes on the little step machine

Well, today I can feel my stomach muscles, thanks to yesterday’s workout! Wowsers. Imagine how sore I’d be if I’d been able to do all the sit ups – and properly!

Outdoor plans went “out the window” with the wind and rain. Here’s a picture … “out the window”. The wind was coming from the north (the photo looks south), and it was cccoooold.

Strong, cold winds and rain prevented the planned walk/jog in the forest

Strong, cold winds and rain prevented the planned walk/jog in the forest

So I settled on dragging out the small stepper I bought about three years ago, when I first arrived in Switzerland, to keep me *ahem* fit. Yes, I used it a handful of times and then it was relegated to the shed. Until today.

Crazily, I thought I’d watch a whole movie while working out – I lasted 30 minutes, and it had nothing to do with the film’s quality. It was an Austrian number from 1955 called “Drei Männer im Schnee”, which deals with mistaken identities. I’ve read the book (in German, hurrah!) and thought it would be a bit of fun. Maybe I’ll watch another 30 minutes on the stepper next week if the weather is bad.

The little stepper who could ...

The little stepper that could …

Yes, that is a sweat trail on my t-shirt after 30 minutes

Yes, that is a sweat trail on my t-shirt after 30 minutes

My arms were feeling a bit sore today too, but I grabbed my beloved chick pea tins to give them another workout. Flabby arms are two things I am really conscious about. In our family, we call them “toodles”, because when we wave goodbye, our arms continue to wobble long after we’ve gone. It’s like they don’t want to stop saying bye.

It’s been a strange day. What with the wind and finishing this damned book, I was in a thoroughly horrid frame of mind. The exercise and silly movie have made me feel much “lighter”, so to speak.

Have you ever had a disagreeable reaction to a book? I felt as disgusted as Bradley Cooper’s character in “Silver Linings Playbook” when he hurled that book out the window! I didn’t fancy breaking the glass here though.

Wishing you a great day.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

What a load of bollocks!

What a load of bollocks!

The first half of this book was okay, an interesting theme with some interesting, albeit unlikeable, characters.

The second half was a travesty. I got to page 395 (of 482) before a shouted “THIS IS B**LSH*T” to the empty room. Waiting so long to say that, and keeping it so clean, showed some serious restraint.

I read to the end, but wow, what a major disappointment. The book was terrible. Illogical. Implausible. Sick. And it ended so abruptly it was as if the author wanted to be rid of the book as much as I did.

Such a letdown, as I had really enjoyed The Time Traveler’s Wife all those years ago.

Sigh. Onwards and upwards.

This book shouldn’t be categorised in the Mentally Fit section, because it has contributed to me being mentally UNfit, but it’s a book I’ve read in 2015 and therefore has to be categorised somewhere.