March 17: Sweat, but no beers, on St Patrick’s Day

Lucky

Totally forgot it was St Patrick’s Day until I saw Facebook photos of my friend Elisa all decked out in green, having a beer. Happy St Patrick’s Day to all the Irish, those who wish they were Irish and those out celebrating tonight who wake up with an Irish tomorrow.

Yesterday I went on a mission to “have a look” for some hand weights. swissrose, who writes a blog about life in Switzerland (and has an excellent A-Z of all things Swiss you should check out), cleverly suggested I could look at the local second-hand store, or Brocki, for hand weights. Unfortunately I read her post too late!

Silly me ended up buying the first decent 1kg pair I saw. They weren’t as expensive as I thought they’d be plus they have handles, which means I can hold two in one hand when I need a tougher workout. The idea of returning them and searching at the Brocki went through my mind for quite a while, but then I used the KonMari Method and realised these babies actually spark joy and will stay.

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Out with the old … they’ve done their time and will be a delicious meal soon …

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… and in with the new. Two 1kg weights with handles. How posh!

In order to give them their first workout as part of my St Patrick’s Day celebrations, I went straight to Fitness Blender and Kelli for something hard. And I found it. Brutal even. The Brutal Fat Burning HIIT + Dynamic Total Body Strength Training – FP Blend Workout (phew, that’s a mouthful I dare anyone to attempt after five pints of green Guinness).

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Some may say this is taking St Patrick’s Day celebrations one step too far

Kelli’s 28-minute workout requires just hand weights and a mat for some floor work. And it made me sweat, especially the HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sections which were burpees (yucko!) and crisscross thigh-slap jumps. They’re harder to do than to say, if that’s possible (especially when you’re in a confined space).

I’m really glad I finally bit the bullet and bought some proper hand weights. Hopefully the 1kg weight is enough to do some damage, I mean make a difference. To be sure, to be sure, tomorrow I’ll be sore.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

March 15: An easy workout and the end of the Bluths

Following yesterday’s long walk, I thought I’d focus on core and arm exercises tonight. The trusty chickpea tins were put to good use again, in a variety of strength exercises and punches. I did 15 exercises for a minute each, including normal and side to side crunches, push ups and plank. A minute of plank! It’s a miracle!

My sister very kindly sent me money for my birthday to buy hand weights. She said she didn’t mind if the money was spent on something else, so I’m in two minds – buy weights or put the money towards our next holiday. She was very generous! Buying them means more stuff in the house; I’ll check out what’s on offer and let you know if I upgrade. But never fear! The chickpeas will live to tell another story either way – as my trusty assistants or a hummus dip.

Today, we finished the Arrested Development television series, starring Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett and Michael Cera. Some of the episodes were comedic gold, some were a bit rubbish, but, overall, watching 68 episodes of the Bluth family’s escapades was a worthy time investment. The way the stories all tied together was incredibly clever, and Gob’s chicken dance will stay with me for a while. I can definitely vouch for it adding to my mental fitness in 2015.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

March 11: 15 minutes with the tins … and gardening

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Sums up today perfectly. Thanks Charles.

Very happy to not pull up too sore after yesterday’s walk into Bern. Iva called me out on the time it took – we were underway for six hours, but I didn’t count the three pauses, so she’s right. We walked from 9am-3pm (but only five hours of that was actual walking).

My arms were sore last night from The 7-Minute Workout which was a nice surprise. There were a few sets of push ups and planks which really did the job.

Today was a busy day but at the end I only had time for 15 minutes of various exercises with the chickpea tins. I did manage to do several hours worth of gardening around our house though, preparing the soil for future plants. Cleaned up lots of leaves as well, and finally (finally!) changed the kitchen window/entrance decoration.

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Before the clean up …

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… and after. Much better. My favourite succulent died off a lot but it was great to see new greenery

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Leaves almost gone!

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No more weeds!

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Clean(ish) edges!

Yes, I’m one of those who leave the Christmas decorations up for too long. It looks so bare without anything, and the neighbours gave me two figurine sheep for my birthday, with Leo and Ange very neatly written on their bellies, so I had something to go in the space at last. I found some pussy willow in a pile of branch offcuts on the walk home from the bus yesterday, so pilfered them for the window too. When I was little, I used to stick the soft buds onto cards and draw tails on them so they became mice. Nice childhood memories. I’ve also added a small vase of them on my desk.

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The new window display

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Lovely soft things in a stark white vase

I’ve forgotten a thousand other things to write, but it’s late, so they’ll have to wait ’til tomorrow.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

March 4: Step, step, stepping out

A short post today, because I have something fun planned for tomorrow – silliness with a fitfor15in15 theme, encorporating my love of numbers. I hope you drop in again!

My neck and shoulders were a bit sore from yesterday’s workout, so I took it a bit easier by jumping on the step machine for 30 minutes and indulging my love of a murder mystery with another Miss Marple episode.

For the first 15 minutes, I used the tin cans in a variety of arm lifts and curls. Then for the second half, I did jabs, uppercuts and other boxing punches without the weights. It was enough to work up a decent sweat.

Then I ruined it all by eating three chocolate biscuits with a cup of tea while watching the rest of the show. Argh! They were constantly having tea and cake … it’s like I was brainwashed by their quaintness!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 28: Yoga Cross Training arm workout

My stomach muscles are sore today from the previous two days, so I switched focus to my other ‘problem’ area by giving my arms a solid workout with this video from yoga instructor Sadie Nardini. I’ve mentioned her a few times before and really enjoy her style. This is the first time I’ve done this video. She also has workouts for core and legs if you fancy having a look at those (I may end up linking to them next week, so if you’re patient, I’ll do the searching for you soon enough!).

This wasn’t a normal yoga routine, rather what Nardini calls yoga ‘crosstrain’, with the main difference being the moves were done a little faster than normal yoga. And I have a major announcement to make … drumroll … I’ve replaced my two chickpea tin cans (Shock! No way! “They’ve been with you from the start!” I hear you say!) with two 1.5 litre bottles of water. I’m half expecting them to explode over the top of the computer because I squeeze them so hard. Maybe they’re not the best workout equipment because they’re quite hard to hold, but I need to ‘up the weight’ to do some serious damage on the chub!

Overall, once again, this was a workout that did what I expected and taught me some new moves and stretches as well (the forward lunge on the knee with the foot turned out and leaning in was a great inner thigh and hamstring stretch). It runs for over 26 minutes, but the actual workout part is about 24 minutes long. As much as I enjoy doing the videos, I’m really looking forward to going for a run soon. Come back sunny weather, please? Soon? Have I caught the running bug? Could I become a runner? I do like the outdoors aspect of it, definitely. Only time will tell!

We had a great day today, with my first trip to a famous Swiss biscuit factory called Kambly. It took an hour to drive there and I was a bit surprised we couldn’t actually tour the factory – I was fully expecting to put on white coats, hair nets and plastic covers over our shoes so we could walk around the factory floor. Instead, we could only watch a video of the production process, a live macaroon maker and taste all their biscuits and buy them cheaper in the factory shop.

After we sampled ourselves sick, we decided on a few packets for us and some as gifts. Yummy, buttery, chocolatey biscuity goodness. They are not part of the nutritionally fit plan for 2015, I know, but as mentioned before, I haven’t changed my diet too much yet. Baby steps, baby steps. For now, I’ll continue to enjoy those naughty treats that come around once in a while …

Oh alright, alright … I have to confess I’ve been naughty two days in a row. Leo brought home custard doughnuts/donuts yesterday as a treat for doing all that cleaning and it was impossible to say no! So next week I have to be better. Damn, did we really buy all those biscuits? Did I mention they were yummy, buttery, chocolatey, biscuity goodness?

At home, we watched a replay of the Brit Music Awards and, boy, I felt for Madonna. What a professional, to get up and keep singing – she must have been in so much pain! I’m not going to put a link to it. She’s been all over the news. Poor Madge. On second throughts, I will add a link, because this lovely, funny story from The Guardian puts it all into a bit of perspective. She didn’t fall, she was pulled!

Wishing you a wonderful rest of the weekend.

And here are the links to some articles I found interesting this past week:

Bea from zerowastehome shared what’s in her wardrobe with us … now she’s a minimalist. Could you be like Bea? I’m trying to wheedle my stack down and would love to carry it all in a carry-on!

Someone made an amazing underground greenhouse to grow food all year round. Brilliant.

An article about foods that make us smarter … what? No doughnuts/donuts?

Do you have an anger issue? Here are some tips from a radio interview discussing how to react differently to stop a potential heart attack.

The gymnastic flips this guy can do are just amazing. What a skill. How fitfor15in15 fit must he be?!

February 21: 20-minute arm workout

What a difference a day makes! The sunny times yesterday have now returned to snow.

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The beautiful spring weather of yesterday …

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… and back to winter today

I feel sorry for the poor people involved in the Fasnacht Parade today … what a disappointment! Yesterday, half of Bern would have lined the streets to see the floats and enjoy the bands and elaborate costumes. Today, people will be more inclined to lie on the couch! It’s been snowing since 10am – big, fat snow flakes for six hours so far – and all the greenery is white again.

Hard to believe I was jogging through the forest 24 hours ago. My legs are feeling pretty good, so maybe I need to stretch myself to 5km next time? My arms still feel a bit sore from Tuesday’s workout, so I thought maybe I’d capitalise on that and give just the arms a flogging today. It’s no secret – I want toned arms! These days some women dream of having “Michelle Obama arms”. When I was in high school, we wanted “Madonna arms”. Over 20 years later, I’m toning down the expectations, knowing how much genetics plays a part in all of this, and toning up what I’ve got.

This 8 min 23 sec video, from a ballet studio in Brooklyn, focuses on the arms, shoulders and back with six exercises. Make sure you grab some weights first – I used the trusty chickpea tins. Once you learn how to do each exercise, you can press pause on the video to complete each set of repetitions, before moving on to the next exercise.

For the exercises using single arms, I did two sets of 16 repetitions each side, so they took longer. For the exercises where both arms moved at the same time, I just did two sets of 16. By doing this, the workout totalled 20 minutes, and my arms are shaking as I type! I had to modify some of the exercises (and do one on my knees), because the ceiling in the office is so low.

The instructor uses quite a few ballet terms, so if, like me, you’ve never done a ballet class before, prepare for an education!

Last night we went to dinner with the neighbours Liliane and Rene, and their friends Lotti and Fritz. We spend a lot of time with these guys, especially outside by the pool in summer, along with another couple Eve and Paul.

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From l to r: Rene, Fritz, Lotti, Liliane, me and Leo. Rene looks very small here – he’s actually very tall!

Because we don’t cook a lot of meat at home, I had an amazing steak with salad … and fries 🙂 Yes, I still haven’t completely changed my diet, and at the moment, that doesn’t concern me at all. Doughnuts/donuts are no longer on Saturday’s shopping list, but I’ll still go to town when I … well … go to town!

So, that’s it for today. I hope you’re enjoying the weather, wherever you are! (Those in North America and Canada may not be so excited by what’s happening around them.) And keep an eye out next week for fitfor15in15’s next guest blogger, Karie Parker, who is preparing for her third marathon.

Wishing you a wonderful rest of the weekend.

And as usual, on Saturdays, I like to post some articles and videos I’ve enjoyed this week. Hope you like them too:

Austin Raye is a very fit man. This short video shows his flipping talents. Thanks for bringing him to our attention Rachel!

An enjoyable article and interview with American television presenter Dan Harris about meditation, from the guys behind The Minimalists.

For art lovers out there, this is a book about bark. The pictures are not as dry as the subject matter sounds (badoom tish). Totally beautiful. Thank you Jocelyn, for the link.

This story about cycling, and the rise in popularity of cycling tours, made me feel nostalgic for my trek down the west coast of America in 1999.

And this is just silly! A robot hat has been made in Japan to feed runners tomatoes. John, you are responsible for filling our minds with such craziness.

February 12: A minimal 15-minute workout

Something odd/off/unwanted decided to make a home in my stomach tonight, so I’m not going to write much. My fitfor15in15 minimum effort involved the little stepper machine … for, surprise surprise, just 15 minutes. I didn’t even have the strength to hold the tins.

Then I ate another handful of M&M Peanuts and now I’m off to bed.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

(Don’t blame the chocolate! I’ll be fine tomorrow – and I’ll do a proper workout!)

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Another wonderful sunrise, followed by a clear and sunny day

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The snow on our roof and around the pool edge is going … going …

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A free range chook on my walk to the bus

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I’m still interested in buying a bike – maybe an electric one so I can ride into the city?

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And the sun sets on another day. Taken from behind the garage

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Looks like pink frosting on a white cake

February 6: Less active than planned

Well, today’s grand plans went out the (train) window! Yesterday, I wrote about doing that morning yoga routine again, but forgot a very important point … I was catching an early train to Lausanne to see Cooper dance in the Prix de Lausanne!

So there was no time for exercise this morning. Leo dropped me at the train station around 7.30am for my first excursion to Lausanne, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, on the Lake of Geneva. The train trip from Bern takes one hour and six minutes. It’s hard to believe I haven’t been here before!

The irony of Nicole (who’s been there for a week) being my tour guide wasn’t lost on either of us.

The city itself is lovely, but it was so cold we didn’t spend a huge amount of time being sightseers. We went to Musee cantonal des Beaux-Arts as well, and I really enjoyed many paintings from Felix Vallotton. Our favourite was this mooing cow by Eugene Burnand. The (painted) light on the animal was so clear and amazing.

We then made a mad dash to the auditorium and watched the selections for tomorrow’s finals – only 20 dancers will make it through. Some amazing young talent in that line up, and hopefully Cooper will be chosen. If not, he danced beautifully and will hopefully be snapped up by a dance school or academy.

So my 15 minutes of exercise was done too late tonight, in the office, doing squats and lunges and general movements, using my beloved chickpea tins. My aunt Julie said they should contain hummus by now!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 1: 15 minutes of strength exercises

Once again, I’ve left it too late in the day to exercise properly. I’m finding it hard on the weekends to do exercise!

While we were watching the men’s Australian Open tennis final this morning, the weather was gorgeous.

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Blue skies!

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Everything looks amazing in this kind of light

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Love the white trees

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And the white telephone wires! Our little house is looking good!

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Probably not the right footwear!

When we were ready to do something, it was snowing and yuck.

So I made the most of the afternoon doing something fun, which I’ll tell you more about tomorrow.

Tonight, I did 15 minutes of strength exercises in the office, as before – squats and lunges with the tin cans etc – and this time I threw in the occasional salute to the sun. My butt is feeling quite sore from the previous days’ exercises too. Yippee!

The weather’s supposed to be horrifically cold over the next few days, so I apologise in advance for my own prediction – an onslaught of blog posts to keep me occupied!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

January 28: Tourists for the day

Done and dusted. Another great day is almost over. It all started with a beautiful sunrise and substantial breakfast in Bern, then a train ride, lunch and walk around Luzern (Lucerne in English, Luzern in German), then a drink in Bern and dinner at home.

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A beautiful clear day greeted us this morning

Alps cloudy

Despite being cloudy, the Alps were clear and bright

Lake of Luzern (Lucerne)

Lovely scenes on the Lake of Luzern (Lucerne)

Pilatus

Snow, the lake and Mt Pilatus (I think!)

Sunset birds

Sunset over the lake, seen by us and a few birds

Kornhaus

We celebrated with a drink at the Kornhauskeller bar in Bern

It’s now 10.33pm and I’ve just finished my 15 minutes of random exercises in the study/office with the chickpea tins. My arms were moving the whole time – punches, lifts, stretching behind, reaching over, pushing down. They’ve had a good workout.

My legs were doing squats or lunges, side to side stretches, heels or knees up … anything that required effort. Again it’s all been done late at night, which I have to sort out, but I’ll go to bed knowing I’ve achieved, even just a little.

Wishing you a wonderful day.