April 21 #2: Walking from the city and gardening

Call off the search dogs! I’m alive!

I mentioned I’d write again after walking from the city, but that idea went out the exhaustion window. It took two hours to walk home (which was a nice surprise as I thought it would be longer) and when I arrived, Rene was finishing repairs on the ride-on lawnmower in preparation to do the garden. So yep, you guessed it, I dumped my backpack on the bench outside our house, and walked straight over to him to help. Thank goodness for leaf blowers and ride-on mowers! Three hours later, I flopped on the couch (after a shower of course!) and after another three hours, I was asleep on the couch. I stumbled up the ladder into bed.

Part of the plan to walk home was so I could stop at a new animal shelter to ask about volunteering. I’d seen a picture of it in a free local magazine so was keen to see if I could be put to good use. Searching in the forest where I thought it would be, I asked a woman with a very funky short grey crop hairdo, who was walking her dog, if she knew where it was. “It hasn’t been built yet,” she said. “Maybe next year.”

Serves me right for not being fluent in German! I’d completely misread the article and thought the place had opened already. What makes the story even more bizarre (aside from my silliness) is the woman who I spoke to, well, her husband is involved with trying to get the shelter built. How about that for a fluke? Of all the people to ask, Heidi was the best person possible. She was very knowledgeable about the whole procedure and said some residents across the river are against it being built, because they’re worried about the noise travelling. If all goes to plan, the shelter could be finished by the end of summer next year.

Anyway, here are the photos from yesterday’s walk:

And here’s the finished garden. My arms were shaking from using the leaf blower to clear all the leaves (the leaves! the leaves!) out of the garden beds and off the concrete areas. (Rene is a stickler for dead-leaf decimation. I follow his orders.) Then I jumped on the mower to finish with this:

fitfor15in15

Look at that freshly mown grass!

fitfor15in15

Look at that leaf-free garden!

fitfor15in15

Look at that ball-crazy dog called Boy!

fitfor15in15

Look at those flags in the wind (and look at the lovely grass too)!

  • Physically Fit: Two-hour walk from the city to home; using the leaf blower (damn heavy thing!)
  • Mentally Fit: Meeting Leonie for lunch, walking, beginning French crime show “Braquo”
  • Nutritionally Fit: Smoothies, salads and strawberries
  • Minimalism: Fail – could have used a broom instead of the leaf blower. I’d still be in the garden though …

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 21: A lovely surprise

fitfor15in15

Thank you, Karie!

Don’t you just love surprises?!

Karie, who lives in Singapore, sent me a postcard which arrived today! It’s put an extra spring in my step – so much so that I’ve decided to walk home from the city this afternoon. It takes about three hours, I think, and I’ll stop at an animal shelter directly on the path to see if I can register as a volunteer.

Yesterday, on my fasting day, I had a coconut water, fresh strawberry and raspberry smoothie. It was so delicious, I made another one today with quinoa rice milk, banana, strawberries and raspberries, and some vanilla protein powder. Loving these smoothie breakfasts!

The yellow tulip from the end of yesterday’s post is in full bloom today. I hope it lasts in the wind! Thinking of everyone in coastal New South Wales and Sydney who’ve been battered by that crazy weather, which has killed three people, cut power, brought down trees and eroded the beaches. Mother nature at her worst. Such a shock.

I’ll write more this afternoon when I’m home from the walk.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 20: 5km run, walk, run, shuffle, walk, run … argh!

fitfor15in15

The first tulips of the season from the self-pick farm. The stems were quite short but I wanted some colour

Today was a beautiful day and the wind was cool and strong – not enough to stop me going for a run. Well, that’s what I thought as I was leaving the house!

After last Monday’s effort, where I felt I could run my best time on the 4km track, I started off on the 5km loop and within 800m had an ice-cream headache. Mine comes inside my ears and it feels like both ear drums will explode. The wind was cool and fierce and before I knew it, I had to walk. That’s the first time I’ve ever had to walk this year. Couldn’t even manage a shuffle in some parts. I’ve been told it could be because I’m dehydrated but I thought I had that covered today. 😦

While it was disappointing, and slow, it was still good to be outdoors, taking in all this:

fitfor15in15

Leaving our property and heading into the woods

fitfor15in15

I stopped running about here. Windy!

fitfor15in15

Nice view of the Alps

fitfor15in15

Soon this will all be yellow rape seed

fitfor15in15

Clouds and sunshine … and wind!

fitfor15in15

Even walked most of the downhill

fitfor15in15

Empty animal houses on the homeward stretch

fitfor15in15

The cows were back in the sunshine at my favourite property

fitfor15in15

The Alps and cows again

fitfor15in15

A study in cow

I spent a lot of time on the computer today, listening to the Tibetan bells and ocean sounds, setting up a Google+ account for fitfor15in15. I wonder if it will be worth the trouble?! My friend Kate from The Outdoor Diaries helped out. Thanks Kate!

  • Physically Fit: 5km walk/run
  • Mentally Fit: Setting up Google+ for the blog. It still needs a lot of work and I need to learn more!
  • Nutritionally Fit: Third fasting day on the 5:2 Diet – 500 calories
  • Minimalism: Avoiding the Icebreaker website. I love their gear!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

fitfor15in15

I didn’t plant this tulip in my garden! The wind must have brought it here

fitfor15in15

Same goes for these two!

April 19: Walking around the Schwarzsee

No, no, not the Black Sea, the Black Lake! The Schwarzsee is about an hour’s drive south of Bern and today was my first visit there. Very pretty, still some snow up high and a crazy dragon.

We followed the Witches Walk (Häxewääg) around the lake for about 90 minutes, stopping to take lots of photos. Unfortunately most of the ones with the snow-capped mountains were taken into the sun, so they didn’t turn out so well on my phone, sorry.

But it was wonderful to be outdoors after binge-watching “The Killing” for too many hours yesterday. We only binge-watched the start of season four for a few hours tonight. 🙂 Enough to make me forget I hadn’t written the blog today!

Here’s a little tour of the Schwarzsee:

  • Physically Fit: 90-minute walk around the Schwarzsee
  • Mentally Fit: Being outdoors; planning our next holiday; watching more of “The Killing”(!)
  • Nutritionally Fit: Coconut water & fresh fruit smoothie; steak and three veg!
  • Minimalism: Making a mushroom, shallot and bacon steak sauce off the top of my head, from scratch, no recipe required. Not really a great minimalism example, but something I’m proud of!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 18: Squats and binging

Doesn’t the word binging look like bing-ing and not binge-ing? Ahh, how I love the English language.

Well, we’ve done a lot of binging today – I made Anzac biscuits using molasses instead of golden syrup, and instead of being biscuits they all melted together to form a giant slab. But it still tastes ok. Here is the story of the Anzac biscuit, with a recipe from legendary chef Margaret Fulton, from the ABC website.

And we binged all afternoon on season three of “The Killing”, which I am happy to say is now finished. Only six episodes of season four left to go for this program. It’s been good, ok, sometimes brilliant, sometimes funny, but sometimes I have had no sympathy for the lead character, Sarah, at all and if I don’t have any feeling for them then sometimes it’s hard to really get involved. Peter Sarsgaard played an incredible role in season three – he stole the show and I really enjoyed watching him.

Today’s exercise was pretty basic – squats, lunges and some push-ups for 15 minutes, in front of the tv. My friend Karie, the runner, recently mentioned she was proud of her arms, and they were in good shape. I asked for advice. “Push-ups, push-ups and more push-ups,” she said. I’m going to add push-ups into every routine!

  • Physically Fit: 15 minutes of squats, lunges, push-ups etc
  • Mentally Fit: Finishing season three of “The Killing”
  • Nutritionally Fit: Ate too many home-made Anzac biscuits
  • Minimalism: No contribution

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 17: Morning yoga, new yoga and sounds against silence

The day is so grey it’s felt like dusk all morning. If it wasn’t for the lawnmower noise from the neighbour’s property, my brain would be saying it’s time to get ready for bed.

So to wake myself up, I did my morning routine (yesterday was the first time I’d done the 15 minutes in two weeks. Two weeks! Holidays threw me out, and then I was out of the habit – back now) and went straight into Sadie Nardini’s 30 Min Morning Wake Up Yoga Flow, which I’ve done a few times before. You can find the video here.

I do enjoy Sadie’s workouts, but lately, I’ve really noticed how much she talks. She talks and talks and sometimes that’s great, but I find it frustrating when she says “Here we’ll take five breaths while we blah blah blah blah (30 seconds worth) … Ok now for the five breaths.” I’ve done 10 already. For me, this really interrupts the whole flow of the routine. Some poses we’re in for longer while things are explained and some poses are done quickly. I need to learn it off by heart so I don’t have to rely on the video.

With the idea of finding something with a better flow, I went searching and came across Dagmar Spremberg from Soft Music & Yoga – YogaYak. From just watching parts of it quickly (didn’t have time to do another routine!) it looks like a peaceful yet energetic yoga routine with just the right amount of talking and a constant, calming flow. Being on a beach with melodic music at the start and end also makes it appealing.

It’s a little longer than Sadie’s but that’s because you lie quietly at the end listening to the music. Ok! I think I may have found my new favourite yoga workout. Can’t wait to try it. There are others in the YogaYak series as well, including Hatha and Vinyasa routines. You could start with the beginners series and move through the routines. Here is the YogaYak website where they have plenty of options. As per usual, I have no affiliation with any of the links I post, just putting them out there for us all.

While searching their site, I found 11 hours of Tibetan bowl sounds for meditation purposes. What a resource! You could paint to this, or write, or read. It’s great for people with tinnitus because we focus on the ringing in our ears when there’s silence, and before too long that becomes overwhelming. This is ‘music’ without being a distraction. I might even start writing more (long-form stuff) thanks to this. I had no idea these videos were out there. Maybe you’d prefer to listen to the ocean? Or listen to birds in a garden? (I found one bird highly repetitive and irritating, so this is not the background noise for me!)

Using two tabs on my computer, I was able to play the Tibetan bowls with the ocean sounds at the same time. That’s also a lovely combination. I could write all day with that softly in the background. Hearing all these sounds makes me realise how much time I spend in silence. Not good. So … Yahoo! What a find!

  • Physically Fit: 30 Min Morning Yoga with Sadie
  • Mentally Fit: Finding the new sound recordings and yoga routine; meeting Pastora
  • Nutritionally Fit: A non-fasting day today but I’ll be good
  • Minimalism: Finally wearing the trench coat I hauled from storage at mum’s. Will I love it?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 16: Skipping, a nice surprise and day two of fasting on the 5:2 Diet

While outside this afternoon, putting seed into the bird feeder, I heard the sound of alphorns from a neighbouring village wafting on the breeze. I love the sound of those horns – it’s so melodic and calming. Swissrose, are you often surprised by such sweet sounds too?

To make the most of it, I abandoned my plans to do yoga and grabbed my skipping rope for 15 minutes. Luckily, the constant (and sometimes sporadic!) thwack on the concrete terrace didn’t drown out their songs. A huge falcon was circling over the forest as well, so right now, after listening, exercising and nature spotting, I feel very relaxed.

A day with no plans meant a day of fasting. After the success of the first fast day on Monday, where I almost gave myself lockjaw eating a massive salad, I knew today was going to be more than achievable. So here’s how I broke down the 500 calories allowed on the 5:2 Diet:

  • Breakfast: 100g natural yoghurt with 5g goji berries – 64 and 16 calories
  • Lunch: 63g boiled egg – 102 calories
  • Snack: 104g kiwi fruit – 63 calories
  • Dinner: Stir fry thingy: 54g carrot – 22 calories, 214g zucchini – 36 calories, 50g bacon – 157 calories, tspn olive oil – 40 calories
  • Grand total: 500 calories exactly

By not having Monday’s glass of milk with protein powder, there was room to make a more appealing dinner. But I’ve promised I won’t waffle on too much about the 5:2 Diet, so here endeth my talk of food.

It’s been a day spent on the computer. I wrote another book review, sent a job application and sorted out my iPad’s detachable keyboard, so I now know what the function, alt and command keys actually do. And no, I didn’t find the exclamation mark. (Oh no, I hear you say!) I did find an upside down exclamation mark and a lot of Greek-looking symbols so I think this keyboard isn’t set up for English typing! Not to worry! (Can you tell I’m using my normal computer?! … !!!)

For giggles, I also looked at my stats for posts on fitfor15in15. By far the most popular story I’ve written is “The KonMari Method, with gusto!” Published on February 2, the story has been read every day without fail, and as of this afternoon, it’s been viewed 478 times. I have no idea how readers are being led to it, but I’m guessing most traffic comes from searching the internet for information about decluttering expert Marie Kondo and her KonMari Method (read my review of her book here).

Living with less is a very popular topic, which has been gaining momentum for years. And this month it cracked the bastion of buy buy buy consumerism – Vogue Magazine. I originally read the story of Prerna and Parag Gupta on LifeEdited.com and went to the Vogue website to read the whole story, here. All these kinds of stories make my eyes widen and my pulse race. I love hearing about people who’ve packed it all up and in, so to speak, to downsize, de-stress and hit the road.

Sometimes I wish I’d sold or given away all my things in Australia. They’re all currently stored in mum’s unit block, and I pay for the privilege of keeping memories. Every time I visit, I check to see it hasn’t flooded or isn’t infested with cockroaches and occasionally search for something I think I’ll need (like a trench coat, which I didn’t wear once this winter). I know, in the future, I’m going to wonder why I kept this stuff. I’m beginning to wonder about it now.

  • Physically Fit: Skipping for 15 minutes
  • Mentally Fit: Sorting out my iPad keyboard; applying for a job in Zurich; alphorns and the falcon
  • Nutritionally Fit: Fasting on the 5:2 Diet, 500 calories
  • Minimalism: Reading about Prerna and Parag Gupta; thinking about storage woes

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark

fitfor15in15

Some light reading

This is a book I possibly normally wouldn’t pick, but I went to a different library which had a smaller English selection. Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark, published in 2008, is an easy-to-read mystery about a woman searching for her missing brother.

Every year for 10 years, Carolyn MacKenzie and her mother receive a phone call on Mother’s Day from missing brother and son Charles, known as Mack. He says he is fine and not to worry. But they do worry, because Mack had everything going for him when he disappeared. Why did he go? This time, Carolyn decides she’s had enough of Mack’s games and goes on an elaborate and dangerous hunt.

She encounters people from his past, struggles with police who believe she should let sleeping dogs lie, and learns more about those close to her. When a young woman goes missing, the race is on to find out if the two cases are connected.

There’s a clever twist, just when you think you know what’s happened and ‘whodunnit’, and despite a schmaltzy ending, it was an entertaining story. I’ve never read any books by Mary Higgins Clark before, but the cover says she’s the queen of suspense and a bestseller.

I’m not sure I’ll actively seek out another of her books, even though I did enjoy this one in a “I need to read something easy” kind of way. It would be suitable to reach for before bed or to pass the time on holidays lying on the beach or rugged up by a fire.

To sum it up? I wasn’t blown away, but I was left feeling satisfied.

April 15: New 20-minute HIIT routine with a happy trainer

I chose today’s workout because of the trainer’s magical striped socks! How cool are they?! It’s called Burn 200 Calories in 20 Minutes (I don’t care so much about the calorie element) and it turned out to be no easy-peasy, candy-coloured workout. Sweat was dripping and I couldn’t do all the exercises properly.

The push up inch worm ones were especially tough and my balance was really out of whack on the lunge to knee lifts. Overall, I really enjoyed this workout and look forward to doing it again, and going deeper into those lunges. It’s a great beginners-intermediate HIIT routine and at the end, the instructor was also feeling exhausted, which is pretty cool – it shows she’s human! And she had an infectious fun outlook during the whole routine.

Right now, I’m in the library in Langgasse using the free wifi on my iPad. I still haven’t worked out where the exclamation mark is, so from now on you’ll be spared the excitement.

Part of my Christmas present from Leo was a membership at the Kornhaus Bibliotek (library) in Bern. I hadn’t been an active member of a library for years and it was strange how comforting it was to walk back through the compacted rows of books. Today’s the first time I’ve come in here to work *in inverted commas but I don’t know where they are on this tiny detachable keyboard either. And now I can’t find that star again to close the train of thought. The first one was a fluke. Grrr …

Do you have a library you regularly use? I’ve found books I’d normally never look for, which has its pros and cons of course. Not all of them have been winners. See the Books section in the top menu for book reviews. I’ll be adding another one tomorrow.

Free libraries are popping up in unexpected places, but not everyone seems happy about them. A free library is a box on the corner with a “take me or swap me” sign on it. Would you like a free library in your area? Should they be allowed to be free? Here’s a story about them being banned and here’s a lovely story from Free Our Kids about one that is thriving.

I met Claudia for lunch today and stayed in the city to meet Sandra for a drink after she finishes work. The sun is outrageously glorious again – I’ll post photos when I get home tonight. Here are today’s photos:

  • Physically Fit: Today’s workout; walking to the bus
  • Mentally Fit: Meeting Claudia and Sandra; being in the library
  • Nutritionally Fit: A healthy day until this evening’s beers
  • Minimalism: Using the library for travel guidebooks and novels

Wishing you a wonderful day. Now … where’s that exclamation mark?

April 14: 15-minute workout with Tabata

fitfor15in15

Two days ago this tree was just in bud, and now look at it! It was humming with bees

This is a new workout I’ve found which involves Tabata. What on earth is Tabata? It’s a version of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and you can read more if you’re interested here and here.

Jessica Smith, whose workouts I have done previously here, here and here, put this 15-minute routine together for the shape.com website. I did it tonight before bed, which was probably a bit silly because now I’m a bit sweaty. I couldn’t do the plank/push-up thing on my feet – had to drop to my knees. And I still can’t really get my knees up to horizontal when jogging.

fitfor15in15

In December, I planted some bulbs and they’re starting to blossom. It’s a mixed collection of tulips and unknowns (to me!)

Doing fitfor15in15 has made me much more interested in my health. By looking for new routines for you and me, I occasionally stumble on some other interesting stuff too. Such as this:

Taiwanese research conducted over a 12-year period on more than 400,000 people found 15 minutes of exercise a day increased life expectancy by three years. Published in The Lancet in August 2011, Dr Chi-Pang Wen, lead author of the study, said, “The 30-minute a day for five or more days a week has been the golden rule for the last 15 years, but now we found even half that amount could be very beneficial. As we all feel, finding a slot of 15 minutes is much easier than finding a 30-minute slot in most days of the week.”

I hear you brother! (Sorry, we finished watching “The Killing” Season 2 (American version) tonight and the character Stephen Holder says brother, or bruvva, all the time. He’s in my head.) More people than I can possibly imagine are putting in their 15 minutes a day. In cases like this, it feels good to be part of a pack.

fitfor15in15

The tulips in the self-pick garden plot are starting to sprout!

fitfor15in15

This pink beauty was the best of the first blooms I saw

Yesterday’s dinner on the 5:2 Diet was huge – a massive salad in a bowl I would normally use for four people. I actually got bored of chewing – couldn’t finish it all! Without dressing it was a bit dry, but I plowed through as much as possible, before the whole thing just became a bit tedious. Leo finished his in record time. Maybe I didn’t have the energy to bother?! No, seriously, I felt fine and the first day of the 500 calorie plan was a success.

Today, I met my friend Leonie in the city on her lunch break and what did I order? A salad! The 5:2 Diet research did say people tend to eat healthier on the five days when you can eat whatever you want. I’m part of the pack again. But I did have fettuccine carbonara for dinner … and a chocolate rabbit ear for dessert. 🙂

If you’re thinking about doing the 5:2 Diet, this could also be a good resource for counting calories in food. Have a poke around the New Health Guide website. And there’s always Google, mentioned yesterday. But don’t worry, there’s no chance of this happening to me!

fitfor15in15

This yellow tree is in bloom in the big farmhouse garden

In an attempt to make me even more accountable, I’ve decided to add a new section at the bottom of every post. It will highlight things from the four main themes of fitfor15in15 that have happened that day.

  • Physically Fit: 15-minute workout
  • Mentally Fit: finished a book and finished season 2 of “The Killing”
  • Nutritionally Fit: Muesli, salad, pasta, chocolate, tea
  • Minimalism: bought a Diva Cup, at last, to cut down on waste. I hope it works/I like it
fitfor15in15

I’m trying to minimise what I throw away as a contribution to this

Wishing you a wonderful day.