July 1: Back on the horse

From the beginning, I’ve always said JUST 15 minutes a day. The simplicity of fitfor15in15 originally focused on doing just 15 minutes of exercise a day. Then I fell out of love with that idea for some reason – my motivation went south.

Some goals had been reached, I felt better and fitter, and then I just stopped caring. I think half of that hard work over the first four months of the year was lost in just a few weeks. So, it’s time to re-start the engines, jump back on the horse, re-join the circus … however you’d like to describe it! And it will be slowly slowly.

Have you thought about what you’d like to achieve in the next six months? I’d like to get moving again, get back into doing my stretches and go for more runs in the forest. I’d love to run 10km by the end of the year. Not in a race, just on a nice forest trail. And I’d like to return to the workout/exercise videos that I really enjoyed at the height of my fixation!

It’s 27 degrees inside the house (with windows and doors open!) at 10.30pm – now’s as good a time as any to start again, right?!?! I’m about to do 15 minutes of stretches and lunges with the hand weights. This is going to be interesting (and sweaty)! I thought about going back to January 1 and re-doing everything from the beginning, in the same order, but it’s too late to go walking now!

My friend Leonie and her kids Maya and Sebastian came over for a swim this afternoon. It was 26.5 degrees Celsius in the water. The Aare river is already 20 degrees too, and with the warm weather predicted for the next week, it may even reach about 22 degrees – not bad for a river coming directly from the Bernese Alps. Could the pool reach 30?!

We had a great afternoon and not one photo to show for it. I really enjoy Leonie’s company and not just because she’s a fellow Aussie. Lotti and Fritz joined us in the shade of the tent as well. Lotti told me Rene is back in hospital – they think he had a little stroke a few days ago, so he’s staying in for observation. I really hope he’s going to be ok. The doctors are worried a bigger stroke might follow.

On that sombre note, I’ll sign off … wishing you a wonderful day.

May 21: Running around without raising a sweat

Today was an on-the-go kind of day – I should have worn my running shoes!

My phone died this morning (Leo says from overuse – can’t argue) so I borrowed the neighbours’ car to go to a nearby shopping centre with a phone store, hoping they could fix it. No luck – it’s been sent away for a week, like a naughty kid suspended from school – but at least I have my old phone to use in the meantime.

This is one time I’m glad I haven’t been a minimalist and gotten rid of the old phone as soon as the new one arrived. The old one feels like a brick in comparison, and the photo quality will be pretty average, but I’m contactable, which feels more important than it should be. I’ll carry my compact camera around in case I see Betsy and friends again.

Amazing things, cars. I even managed to do a grocery shop AND go to the nursery for more plants and soil. I wasn’t going to put planter boxes on the upstairs balcony but hey, I needed geraniums. It wouldn’t be a Swiss house without geraniums. I was trying to avoid conforming, because it seems like it’s compulsory to have planter boxes overflowing with red geraniums in Switzerland … so I chose pink ones instead. Still a rebel.

Couldn’t plant them this afternoon because it was raining so much, but hopefully I’ll do it on Saturday … if the weather gets any better. It was five degrees Celsius this morning, and 10 degrees at 3pm. Come back spring, we miss you already.

I really, really, really have lost my exercising mojo. I feel worn out, and I look it too, but really, I’m not worn out, I’m just being lazy. Which is a shame because the fitfor15in15 six-month mark isn’t too far away and I want to look and feel my best. (I blame the mammoth book, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, that I’m still reading. What a sorry sack that whole story is at the moment – it’s leaching into every pore).

So, banishing the book and with the halfway mark as my motivation, I’m off to do 15 minutes of squats with hand weights, push ups, sit ups, lunges and all that kind of malarkey.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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Here’s Betsy’s hairy Scottish cousin, Beryl, who lives in the north of Switzerland

April 28: Triple-A treat

Today’s workout is a Triple-A treat. A triple treat of As.

15 minutes of arms, abs and arse (or as the Americans say, ass, the Germans say, hintern, the French say, derriere, and the British say, bottom).

Squats, lunges, push-ups, plank …

Feel the need to write a poem but can’t think of a line to go next …

Ok, here goes …

 

Squats, lunges, push-ups, plank

While they’re being done, your mind goes blank

All you want to do is improve your rank

When they’re all finished, your body says thank … you.

 

If I had a job, I wouldn’t quit it, don’t worry!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

April 4: 15 minutes of weighted squats and lunges

The quote at the top of this new blog I follow made me smirk. It really is true! And after three months of constant exercise and ignoring my diet, it’s now time to make some changes, because I’ve just been driving in the mud with a clean car, so to speak, while forming this good habit.

So, I’m going to become my own worst nightmare and be a foodie for say, oh, two months. As in, I’ll actually start to care about what goes in. Well, maybe not this weekend as it’s Easter, but I’ll start next week, when we’re on holiday … Yeah right, ok, I’ll start the week after. Honest like. Monday April 13 is the day it all begins.

Today was a very low-key exercise day with just 15 minutes of various squats and lunges with the hand weights, because tomorrow we go on an Easter egg hunt! Yesterday, Pastora and her husband Leo came to our house to paint Easter eggs, and then today both Leos hid them in a secret forest (not near our house).

Making the eggs was a test of patience but lots of fun. We searched the nearby woods for leaves and flowers to make some patterns on the eggs and used the dry outer shells of onions to make the colour – some turned out much better than others, but overall we’ve very happy with our Easter art!

Wishing you a wonderful day. Hope the bunny made it to your door.

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Leo holding our bag of goodies – leaves and twigs and flowers and grasses – to decorate the eggs

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Lovely moss in the forest

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Me trying to blend in to my environment

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Leo preparing the stockings at the work table. The stockings kept the plant material on the egg for the cooking and dying process

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Cutting the stockings away to reveal the patterned egg

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This one turned out well!

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After a few hours work, we had 40 eggs

April 3: Minimalism, mindfulness and living intentionally

Judy mentioned the buzz word “mindfulness” in a comment on March 30 and it got me wondering, what exactly is it? Can we put a finger on what makes someone mindful? For me, mindfulness means being present in, and making the most of, the moment. It’s a huge part of being mentally fit. Adding just 10 minutes of meditation each day to my morning routine has helped me with awareness and honing my thoughts. It may not mean the to-do list gets done faster (or written for that matter!) but I do feel more centred and focussed when needed.

There are many great blogs and websites promoting mindfulness in its many forms and I tend to gravitate towards the ones about living, and being happy, with less. Recently I came across this great site www.paris-to-go.com from Ariana Schwarz. I think I binge-read almost everything within a few days.

Part of me would love to be as extreme as she is with her wardrobe, with about 40 items in total, but when I look at the clothes I have, I love them (thanks to Marie Kondo’s method of asking “Does it spark joy?”) and couldn’t imagine parting with so much.

But then I do a 180 again and think how liberating it would be to have everything I own fit into my backpack, and then I flip again and think of all the current variety which allows me to be a chameleon. And as much as I’d love to live with just a few pieces, I love being able to change my look.

Other great blogs and websites I enjoy – about being mindful of our environment, our resources, our consumption, our health, our finances – are listed below. This is in no way a definitive list – there must be so many more out there, but these are the ones I look at regularly.

Living intentionally/Minimalism:

The Tiny House Movement/Living Small:

Conscious consumerism:

Minimalist Fashion:

Travelling Light:

Financial goals:

These are all saved on my phone as my favourites, and wow, when I look at them all lined up like that, I now know where all my time goes every day! Ha! Not everyone posts regularly, so I should set up a system where I get an email when something new comes in, rather than checking on the sites all the time.

So there you have my reading list to do with minimalism, living with less so you appreciate more, living mindfully and trying to make as little impact as possible. I hope it leads you to new resources and ideas if you’re also on an intentional living journey.

Exercise today was 15 minutes on the step machine with the hand weights. I’d just had a shower and slathered myself in moisturiser (I know, all wrong!) and, boy, did I sweat! Leo was cooking tortilla too, so the heat from the kitchen added a few degrees to our warm little house and sweaty little me. It’s still horribly cool, windy and rainy outside.

Pastora and her husband Leandro (Leo and Leo in da house!) arrive soon for an afternoon and evening of painting hard boiled eggs, food, drinks and laughter. And all in German! Very much looking forward to that.

Wishing you a wonderful day. I hope you’re having fun with family and/or friends wherever you are.

March 25: 30 minutes on the step machine

Still no communications at our house, so this will be short, as I’m using my iPhone as a hot spot and dread how much that’s going to cost! But what can you do?! The cable company is coming tomorrow to fix things (hopefully!).

Without a cost-effective Internet (or television) connection, I haven’t been able to search for new workouts. Not happy about that! So today’s fitfor15in15 exercise was 30 minutes on the little step machine with hand weights, looking out the window at the birds in the feeder and listening to As You Wish, the audio book by actor Cary Elwes. The whole experience was totally charming and only slightly sweaty.

In the book, Elwes gives a behind-the-scenes account of his time working on The Princess Bride movie. Have you seen the movie? I think it’s a classic; it has everything! Humour, fighting, fencing, giants, true love, pirates, witches, betrayal … oh the list goes on! It really is one for all the family. And listening to Mr Elwes read his own musings is quite an ear-opening experience – he has one heck of a jolly plummy accent and whatnot, I say old chap!

I took some nice photos in the student quarter of Bern today (will post them when we have wi-fi again) before meeting Claudia for lunch. We had piiiizzzaaahh and it was delicious! Not so good nutritionally but very good for the soul.

Claudia, from Dresden, is one of my former German teachers and has lived in Bern for over 10 years. We’ve continued to meet once a week to talk German for about an hour and then English for about an hour to ‘maintain’ our foreign languages. She’s become a good friend and has been my lunchtime restaurant tour guide in the city too!

Leo’s suffering from shocking hayfever at the moment, poor thing. Birch trees, be damned! My turn comes with the grasses in May/June. Can’t wait for that …

Wishing you a wonderful day, and bring back my Internet please, Mr Fix-It Man!

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 16: 20 minutes with Billy Blanks … on mute

The need to jump around was strong today, so I thought a Billy Blanks workout might be perfect. As long as the sound was muted of course! I just do not understand how people can be so robotic and chant the numbers one to eight while exercising. It’s almost like they’re in a cult. I’m sure Billy’s fans would say it’s a wonderful fitness cult.

I’ve never done Billy’s Tae Bo before. My friend Sandra suggested him a while back (here’s a previous post with links to his longer cardio workouts) but when I saw how little time I had this afternoon I had to find something shorter.

Luckily, his 20 minute Body Shape workout popped up on YouTube and it was just right. Not much jumping around though, as the focus was on burning the arm muscles and that was fine by me! It’s still a problem area and I’ve just about had enough of the wobbly bits.

The 250g baked bean tins got a workout today, but I couldn’t help wondering how hard it would be to do these exercises, and how much more I would gain (or, in fact, lose!), if I had heavier weights. So I’m finally off to the city this afternoon to have a look at some hand weights. Just a look at this stage. If I buy them I’ll definitely try this Billy Blanks workout again, as some of the comments talked about how hard it was. I raised a slight sweat but my arms weren’t shaking at the end. Not good enough, me thinks!

My morning routine stays the same (unfortunately the time I do it varies quite a lot! I’m not quite springing out of bed at 6am when Leo’s alarm goes off) and I’m constantly surprised at how stiff I feel when first sitting on the floor to do the 10 minutes of meditation. Eventually my hips relax and it all feels quite nice.

Then I stretch out my legs for five minutes. At the beginning, the idea of resting my elbows on the floor is ludicrous – they’re almost a ruler’s length away from the ground when I first start stretching. Slowly, everything limbers up and just before the time’s up, I have my elbows on the floor, even just for a few seconds sometimes. Knowing this is the result, most days, keeps me motivated to hopefully be able to do the splits again. Will my 43-year-old hips let that happen?!

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.