April 25: P.S.P.P.S … Lest We Forget

Anzac Day has become a very emotional day for southern hemisphere members of the Allies from World War I. On April 25, 1915, young boys and men from Australia and New Zealand landed on the beaches at Gallipoli in Turkey. It was Australia’s first time at war and some say it was the making of our country.

With the Anzacs trapped on the beaches and low lying areas thanks to an almost insurmountable cliff face, the Turkish soldiers defended their land from higher ground. What was supposed to last only weeks went on for months. The heat, lack of clean water and then winter took their toll and the Allied troops retreated, with both sides suffering huge casualties and loss of life.

Today marks the contributions of Australian Forces in all wars since The Great War as well. Around the world, ceremonies were held – dawn services, a minutes silence, The Last Post, military bands and more. We were able to watch the BBC’s coverage of the Queen laying the first wreath at the Cenotaph. On the lighter side, Two Up is played in pubs around Australia.

I always struggle with the “how” of writing about Anzac Day. Here’s what I posted last year on Facebook. I think it best sums up my feelings.

Anzac Day is a sacred day in our lives – one that fills us with wonder and generally renders us speechless. I never know what to write on Anzac Day … about what went before in order for us to live the lives we have now. How different it could, or would, have been. We are the lucky ones. We put on a coat when we’re cold, open the cupboard when hungry and laugh with our friends at the pub. The men on the frontline had no such luxuries and what we take for granted hits hard on days like today. A minute’s silence and standing in awe during The Last Post are the smallest tokens of our appreciation and respect. To those who gave it all and the loved ones they left behind, Lest We Forget.

We had a quiet day, watching the ceremonies and soaking up that sombre history. Later on, we also finished the second season of the French police/crime series Braquo. I’m not sure I’m a great fan and am looking forward to watching something different – something other than a crime series perhaps?!

I’ve been thinking about today’s exercise routine for a while, and how I would call it P.S.P.P.S – push-ups, side plank, plank, sit-ups. So for 15 minutes, while watching TV with too much chocolate cake in my belly, I did all these exercises. Not a recommended time to workout but I do recommend the cake! (I didn’t make the icing – watching my waistline, you know).

Push-ups are becoming easier (yay!). The side plank ones had the dropped hip part from Thursday’s exercise routine and the rest were as you would expect. I haven’t been doing plank much lately (maybe I just haven’t wanted to see my belly hanging!) and could hardly even manage a minute on my toes before having to go to my knees. Time to get back on that bandwagon.

Even though it’s a double postscript, P.S.P.P.S could be something you’d like to add as a stand-alone workout or to the end of any routine? Not a bad afterthought really.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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I don’t have any poppy photos at hand to commemorate Anzac Day, so here are some beautiful cherry blossoms

March 5: fitfor15in15’s 43 for 43

I love a bit of a play on numbers so today, for my 43rd birthday, I’m going to do 43 various exercises for 43 seconds each! This, my friends, is the silliness I’ve been gearing up for over the past few days. Sorry if it’s a disappointment!

A few months ago, if someone had asked if I even knew 43 different exercises, I would have struggled. But now, thanks to all the different fitness videos from the past two months, I had a ball choosing which ones I wanted to do. Decisions were made on the fly, so it probably doesn’t flow very well, but I didn’t want to do all arms first and then all legs etc; the focus changes regularly.

Here’s a table of what I did and how many repetitions (in brackets) I could manage within the 43 second time frame set aside for each exercise:

  1. Normal crunches – lying on the back and small pulses up (26)
  2. Crunches to the left – with the left arm low, bending to touch outside of left foot (24)
  3. Crunches to the right – with the right arm low, bending to touch outside of right foot (25)
  4. Star jumps (43)
  5. Standing bent knees to alternate elbow (40)
  6. Standing like a star, touch right hand to left foot, straight legged, stand straight, alternate (17)
  7. Deep squats – legs and feet together, squat deep then up to standing position (19)
  8. Deep squats – feet hip width apart, toes out, squat deep to standing (17)
  9. Angel wings – holding weights, standing tall, move arms straight up and down in arc (18)
  10. Straight arm dead lifts – straight arms in front of body, lift to eye level and back down (17)
  11. Bicep curls with tins – bending at elbows, arms close to body (28)
  12. Tricep curls with tins – arms bent backwards, bending at elbows, forward and back (29)
  13. Left jab with tin – left foot forward in boxer pose, sharp, quick punches (54)
  14. Right cross with tin – still with left foot forward, twist through the oblique on extension (43)
  15. Right jab with tin – right foot forward in boxer pose, sharp, quick punches (54)
  16. Left cross with tin – still with right foot forward, twist through the oblique on extension (43)
  17. Skipping with single feet
  18. Skipping with feet together, more like a jump
  19. Forward lunges on both sides (forgot to count)
  20. Backwards lunges on both sides (14)
  21. Right side lunges – taking right foot wide and sinking low, from centre stance (16)
  22. Left side lunges – from centre standing position, place foot wide to left, then back (16)
  23. Plank
  24. Swimming – lying on stomach, slightly lift arms and legs, beating alternately
  25. Back bow – like swimming pose, but lift arms and legs all at same time (23)
  26. Calf raises – using a door frame, sink low and raise to tip-toe
  27. Pulse squats – sink low with legs together, at lowest point start small pulses (46)
  28. Pulse squats – sink low with legs wide apart, toes facing out, at lowest point pulse (56)
  29. Push-ups on knees (22)
  30. Standing butterfly swim with tins – in a squat position, push hands out, sweep back (22)
  31. Wide squat and low punches with tins – back bent, punch opposite hand to foot (forgot!)
  32. Straight leg toe tap – using tins, straight leg march, opposite hand to foot (33)
  33. Mountain climbers (MC) normal – alternate foot tap (not jumping) (45)
  34. MC right – tapping right foot lightly to floor, close to elbow (12 on toes, 12 on knees)
  35. MC left – tapping left foot lightly (12 on toes, 15 on knees)
  36. Rowing balance V pose – balancing on bum, arms come back like a rower as legs go out (21)
  37. Back baby bend – lying on back, with legs bent, knees to side, reach arms through and curl (23)
  38. Standing upper cuts with tins – upper cut boxer punches, nice and fast
  39. Shoulder press with tins – reach both arms over head, elbows come back to shoulder height (22)
  40. Camel pose pulses – sitting high on knees, lean back and pulse to stretch quads (30)
  41. Butt kickers – running on spot as fast as you can with feet trying to touch your bum
  42. Hook punches – standing in loose squat, elbows shoulder height, swing arms round
  43. Burpees (11)

Yep I saved the best for last. I hate burpees! If you don’t know how to do them have a look here. I didn’t do the push up in her version, just the legs out and in and jumping up.

I’m really pleased I managed the entire plank on my feet and didn’t sink to my knees. This means my core is getting stronger!

So that’s my birthday fitfor15in15 for you! It’s been a great day so far – Leo served prosecco and cake as breakfast in bed, then I spent a few hours responding to emails and messages which was great (my family and most of my friends are in Australia, so the time difference meant they’d messaged me while I was asleep) and now it’s time to get ready for dinner. We’re going to a fancy steak restaurant in the city, where I’m sure I’ll have a few beers and maybe a glass of red as well. And maybe cake … but probably not (never say never!) because I’ll be full from dinner … and as I must keep reminding myself, I’ve already had cake today!

And before you go, please check out fitfor15in15s fourth guest contributor post from outdoor enthusiast Kate Lehmann. Kate thought she’d never stop being a hiker, but a new challenge came along and has been grabbed with both hands, literally.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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Leo bringing the cake upstairs for breakfast

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I took it from the angle that switched the numbers! Ha! Not sure why, I don’t mind being 43!

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Another wonderful bunch of flowers from Leo. Love the colours!

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Feeling sweaty but good!

February 27: Five hours of cleaning and 20 minutes of ab work

You read that headline right. Today, I cleaned the neighbour’s house for just over five hours. It shines. It’s spotless. Leo will be disappointed when he comes home because all that cleaning was done somewhere else! Ha!

My back aches a bit from the vacuum cleaner (they have a German Shepherd – lots of hair!) but unlike last month when I decided four hours of cleaning was enough exercise for one day, I wanted to do more.

As predicted, yesterday’s Pilates workout really gave my stomach muscles a hammering. I could feel them all day and cleaning the top of the shower gave them a good stretch. Luckily I haven’t sneezed yet; I think they’d yell “hello!”.

Because my abs feel good, and my tummy feels a little flatter, I thought I’d concentrate on core again with something new – this 20 minute advanced total abs workout from GymRa. I am officially nuts! I should heave read the comments on the video first – this is tough! My abs were cursing me after five minutes, but I made it to the end … and am a bit scared about what tomorrow will be like.

This could be a great addition to anyone’s weekly program. They suggest you do it three times a week on alternate days. You don’t need any equipment, just those abs … and arms and legs. The instructor Christine Khuri has an incredible six-pack stomach – majorly daunting, but impressive at the same time. She looks like someone who takes exercise very seriously.

The GymRa website has a free 30-day trial you might be interested in. You can create your own workouts by adding exercises to a video timeline which is pretty cool. I have no affiliation with this company whatsoever and am just providing this information in case you think it could be beneficial.

After yesterday’s glorious sunshine …

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The sun sets on a beautiful, sunny day

And a homemade treat, with help from Pastora …

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Yummy chicken and Spanish ham croquettes for dinner

It returned to a strange old dark’n’gloomy day today …

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Early morning snow

Speaking of strange, I did something strange today too – I had to pick up a rifle. It was heavy and freaked me out. I doubt it’s loaded, but it was sitting in the neighbour’s house and I had to clean the floor underneath it, so I picked it up … tentatively … and put it back down again straight away. In Switzerland, men from 19 years of age start compulsory military service, which continues until they’re 34. Everyone keeps their gun. So there are a lot of guns in Swiss houses. But, thankfully, minimal gun-related crimes.

On a much lighter note, here’s a field of poppies to give you something nice to think about. It was taken while walking the Camino in Spain, 2011.

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Ahh … that’s better …

Wishing you a wonderful day.