February 20: A 4km run through the forest

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Sandra ready for her run. Alas we weren’t running together, only in spirit!

After seeing this photo my friend Sandra sent me this morning, I was inspired to go for a run/jog/shuffle too. The weather is amazing – all the windows are open in the house to let the fresh air in, and our jackets are hanging on the clothesline getting an airing. Sandra stepped it up a notch and ran 8km, whereas I settled on my usual 4km track. Maybe when I’m fitter, we’ll go running together?

Seems like quite a few people had the same idea to enjoy the outdoors; I came across three couples and one man out for a stroll. So sweet, seeing the oldies holding hands as they walk in the sunshine. If they’d been eating ice creams on a bench together, I probably would have burst into tears (not sure why, but that gets me every time).

Unfortunately, the icy sections in the forest still haven’t melted. I felt a bit foolish tiptoeing through the dangerous parts (it must look hilarious from a distance) so ended up walking quite a lot, for fear of doing another learner-on-roller-skates impression. Pushing off with the back foot was always the slipperiest part.

And, of course, taking photos slowed me down! I found it hard to get into any kind of rhythm but still managed the 4km in 29 minutes 32 seconds. That’ll do me I say! My third fitfor15in15 run of the year. One bad thing though – as I set off, I realised not one drop of water had passed my lips this morning. I’m making up for it now, guzzling a few litres … in a ladylike manner.

Listening to all the birds and the snow melting has filled me with the joys of spring. It’s supposed to snow again tomorrow and early next week, but today, you wouldn’t believe those weather predictions could come true. Are the seasons changing where you are? I’m feeling for all my Australian friends on the north and east coasts at the moment, suffering in the cyclones. Hope the damages aren’t too bad.

And for something totally different, the sleepy capital city of Switzerland, Bern, came alive yesterday afternoon, thanks to the visiting fans from the Everton Football Club. Their team played Young Boys last night (yes, the football team from Bern is called Young Boys; so odd) in the Europa League and in order to prepare themselves for the match, thousands of fans took over the city. Drinking beer.

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Not sure how they got up there to hang those banners, as I think it’s an office! But they did!

I was meeting my friend Pastora in our favourite bar and we ended up having a hilarious afternoon talking to some of the more refined fans from England’s north – all totally out of the ordinary and very good for the soul. (It was a sad result for Bern and a good one for Everton: 1-4.)

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Pastora with the afternoon’s entertainment – the Everton lads!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 11: 15 minutes of squats and sit ups and … chocolate

As part of Monday’s celebration, Leo bought me a 500gram bag of my favourite chocolate – M&M Peanuts. They’ll be finished tomorrow. Oops. This was NOT part of the fitfor15in15 plan … but gosh, they’re a whole world of yum for me.

Must. Stop. Eating. M&M Peanuts (tomorrow … when the bag is finished). I know I’m addicted, despite not feeling all that great after eating them. Sugar overdose, perhaps? The idea of that crunch gets me all excited, but now, gorged, the thought of half a kilo of chocolate in mah belly is not so cool. No more good news please. I can’t handle the treats.

I spent this morning in the city and then had a lovely lunch at my friend Claudia’s. She cooked a three-course lunch so I didn’t feel like dinner … but still managed to fit in a lot of those coloured balls. 😦

Because I was all juiced up on the little suckers, I did the minimum 15 minutes tonight – squats, lunges, sit ups and knees up with the tin cans going all over the place (in specific movements, not willy nilly) while watching the series Arrested Development. (We’re a little late to the party on this one and have just started watching season one.) But, sorry, back to the exercise …

While shifting my weight from one leg to the other in a side-to-side movement, I could actually feel the muscle above-and-to-the-right of my left knee, and above-and-to-the-left of my right knee. I’m sure they have proper names. But for now, let’s just call them WOW 1 and WOW 2. There are actual muscles there! They moved. Real muscles. Not fake. Gob-smacking, jaw-dropping get-out-of-town real muscles. I haven’t felt the muscles there since The Camino in 2011.

It’s amazing how doing 15 minutes at the moment doesn’t feel hard enough. Maybe exerting myself can be my new addiction? Must up the ante tomorrow … or maybe Friday … when all the nuts are gone.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

Oh, and here are some photos from today …

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Taken about 8.45am, on my walk to the bus

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It might be too hard to see, but on this little cleaning cart is a witch broom, just like in Harry Potter. They still use these stick brooms to clean the streets here

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A quick stroll along the Aare river in Bern

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Using English expressions is sometimes considered cool. The play on words with Aare/Are is part of a safety campaign for swimming in the glacial river, which runs very fast in summer when all the snow has made its way down from the mountains

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I think I may have found a good set of stairs to jog up. Looking up to the final part …

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… and looking back down to where I’d come from. A potential killer workout

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Walking across the Aare back into town. I’d been at a meeting in the building under the bridge, which was an old brewery. Sadly, no beers there now, just lots of fitness classes!

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Walking the road home. It’s amazing how quickly the snow has melted, after just two sunny days

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Icy fields

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And finally, the view that greeted me from home

January 27: HIIT me with your rhythm sticks!

High-Intensity Interval Training. Never heard of it before. No, that’s not a question, missing its mark. That’s a statement. I’d never heard of HIIT until starting fitfor15in15. Like I’ve said, I’m soooo not in the loop with fitness.

Tonight, after a wonderful day and afternoon walking around the old town of Bern (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) with Nicole and Cooper, my first attempt on HIIT was made, thanks to the two women behind Tone It Up. And it was good. I should have done it in the loungeroom, as the workout needs a solid, non-moveable object to sit on, and the office chair was way too wriggly. So before you attempt it, set yourself up somewhere near a couch or stable chair.

It starts off easily enough, getting the body warm, and then 15 minutes later I was huffing and puffing, and that was without doing the exercises exactly the way they described. I didn’t have the stamina! There was one move where you touch your foot with the opposite hand and then push yourself up with the hand on the ground. I think it was called a crab move, or something, and it was impossible for me. Another goal added to the list.

Doing something different every day is becoming really enjoyable. My thighs still felt a bit sore from yesterday’s workout, and all the walking on cobblestones and concrete today probably didn’t help. But I’m glad I didn’t just come home and say, “Oh I’ve walked enough today, I won’t do the workout.” The habit has been formed and I don’t really feel the need to motivate or push myself to do it, because I’m finding exercise enjoyable. What, me?!

Now to master that crab move!

And here are some photos of Nicole and Cooper, the Aare River in the city, and the Bärengraben, where the bears live (yes, three bears live in the middle of the city in an enclosure, opened in 2009, right on the river). They’re currently sleeping somewhere nice and warm and will come out of hibernation in spring.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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Nicole and Cooper

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Looking at the Aare river and Mattequartier, one of the first inhabited areas of the city

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The bears live along the river and have their own swimming pool