From green to white, overnight

From green to white, overnight

I know why yesterday was a weird day, but it’s all white now. Badoom tish!

Well, whadiyaknow?!

Yesterday’s strange, pressured feeling all makes sense. The snow express has delivered again – from green to white, overnight! And at 9.41am, it’s still snowing quite heavily.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

January 10: Jogging in the forest can be dangerous

Not bad weather here today, so finally had the chance to go jogging (or shuffling as I like to call it) in the forest near our house – my first shuffle of the year.

The view to my right when I run up the lollypop stick, heading into the forest

The view to my right when I run up the lollypop stick, heading into the forest

This 4km path is like a lollypop – I run up the very long stick, around the left perimeter in a sweet little loop, and then back down the stick again to home. It’s a pleasant mix of wide road and trail running, surrounded by farming fields, and it’s also reasonably flat.

It looks dark in there! Will I be in for a surprise?

It looks dark in there! Will there be a surprise?

I like running on the dirt path more than the beginning of the ‘stick’, which is a mix of gravel and bitumen sections. The bitumen part goes past one of my favourite working farms, which usually has cows you can pat. Sorry, I was so into the run, I forgot to take a photo of the calves. Next time.

On the left turn, once in the forest proper, the mood was lovely. Didn’t have any music today but that was no great loss. (I use the MapMyRun App on my phone to track the distance and split times and normally run with tunes, but today it wouldn’t play anything). It was peaceful.

A wonderful place to run. Got to keep on eye out for all the tree roots though

A wonderful place to run. Got to keep on eye out for all the tree roots on the path though

The second kilometre was flat and a bit muddy, but very doable and pretty.

There's a few of these bird houses scattered through this forest

There’s a few of these bird houses scattered through this forest

After 2.7km, I picked my way carefully through more mud and I could smell the finish line. I had this lollypop loop licked … but the trail had the last laugh. Timber!! I was really starting to shuffle along at this stage, clipped a rock in the path, and went down knees and hands first. After walking for a while to catch my breath and stop laughing, I arrived home after 31 minutes. Maybe without the walking (and falling), I would have finished in about 28 minutes. So that’s something to aim for next time. And lifting of the feet, oh yes, that’s something to aim for too.

Over she goes! Lucky I was wearing long pants, so no grot in there luckily

Over she goes! Lucky I was wearing long pants – no forest dirt in there

Mentally Fit with Online Courses

Inadvertently (or subconsciously), the idea for this blog has been brewing for a while – longer than I actually realised.

On Monday, January 12, I start the first of two free massive-open-online courses (MOOCs), offered from a university in the USA (it’s actually in The Netherlands), called “Introduction to Nutrition – Food for Health”. It runs for 8 weeks and here is the course blurb – “NUTR101x is a general nutrition course that addresses the relation between nutrition and human health with a focus on overnutrition.”

I found the course months ago on, and this website came into my world through the blog Anna from And Then We Saved put together a list of places to get a free online education and kindly offered it up to her readers. Here is her post. Thanks, Anna, for the inspiration! Without you, I may never have found out about this.

Nutrition isn’t something I’ve ever thought of studying, I really had no interest in it before. But for some reason, now, I’m very keen to understand what powers us through the day. If you would like to read more information about the course you can find it here.

The second course I’ll be doing, starting February 25, is another edX course called “Body101 – The Body Matters”. It focuses on exercise and what it does to your body. Here’s the official blurb – “This course examines the benefits of physical activity, how to prevent injuries, and what to do when injuries occur. The course will include content from leading international experts in multiple fields related to the science of exercise.”

You can sign up for it here, too, if you like …

It’s time to get my brain working again and these two courses fit very nicely into my fitfor15in15 challenge. I haven’t worked in Switzerland since moving here just over three years ago. The first 18 months were spent learning German and doing the B2 Level exam. For the past 18 months, I’ve been a bit rudderless – uninspired, wasting time and reading loads of other people’s blogs but never quite managing to find the enthusiasm to start anything of my own.

I’m not allowed to work here because there are no international work agreements between Switzerland and Australia. Non-EU (European Union) people have to wait five years before they can apply for a working visa. There is a possible work option to start work before the five years is up, but it’s incredibly hard to prove – that I would be the only person in the EU capable of doing a particular job. The hiring company would have to go through months of red tape with immigration in order to make it a reality, and that’s a huge deterrent! Television is where I have worked in the past, and there are many EU television professionals who would be chosen before me.

Hence, I had to drag myself out of these idle doldrums somehow. I’ve always been a keen student learner, so I figured doing a free online course or two could be the way to go. What do you think? I have no idea of their quality or what’s expected from me, but it’s worth a shot.

Have you ever done an online course before, and did you like it? Was it harder than you thought it would be?

January 9: 30 minutes on the little step machine

Well, today I can feel my stomach muscles, thanks to yesterday’s workout! Wowsers. Imagine how sore I’d be if I’d been able to do all the sit ups – and properly!

Outdoor plans went “out the window” with the wind and rain. Here’s a picture … “out the window”. The wind was coming from the north (the photo looks south), and it was cccoooold.

Strong, cold winds and rain prevented the planned walk/jog in the forest

Strong, cold winds and rain prevented the planned walk/jog in the forest

So I settled on dragging out the small stepper I bought about three years ago, when I first arrived in Switzerland, to keep me *ahem* fit. Yes, I used it a handful of times and then it was relegated to the shed. Until today.

Crazily, I thought I’d watch a whole movie while working out – I lasted 30 minutes, and it had nothing to do with the film’s quality. It was an Austrian number from 1955 called “Drei Männer im Schnee”, which deals with mistaken identities. I’ve read the book (in German, hurrah!) and thought it would be a bit of fun. Maybe I’ll watch another 30 minutes on the stepper next week if the weather is bad.

The little stepper who could ...

The little stepper that could …

Yes, that is a sweat trail on my t-shirt after 30 minutes

Yes, that is a sweat trail on my t-shirt after 30 minutes

My arms were feeling a bit sore today too, but I grabbed my beloved chick pea tins to give them another workout. Flabby arms are two things I am really conscious about. In our family, we call them “toodles”, because when we wave goodbye, our arms continue to wobble long after we’ve gone. It’s like they don’t want to stop saying bye.

It’s been a strange day. What with the wind and finishing this damned book, I was in a thoroughly horrid frame of mind. The exercise and silly movie have made me feel much “lighter”, so to speak.

Have you ever had a disagreeable reaction to a book? I felt as disgusted as Bradley Cooper’s character in “Silver Linings Playbook” when he hurled that book out the window! I didn’t fancy breaking the glass here though.

Wishing you a great day.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

What a load of bollocks!

What a load of bollocks!

The first half of this book was okay, an interesting theme with some interesting, albeit unlikeable, characters.

The second half was a travesty. I got to page 395 (of 482) before a shouted “THIS IS B**LSH*T” to the empty room. Waiting so long to say that, and keeping it so clean, showed some serious restraint.

I read to the end, but wow, what a major disappointment. The book was terrible. Illogical. Implausible. Sick. And it ended so abruptly it was as if the author wanted to be rid of the book as much as I did.

Such a letdown, as I had really enjoyed The Time Traveler’s Wife all those years ago.

Sigh. Onwards and upwards.

This book shouldn’t be categorised in the Mentally Fit section, because it has contributed to me being mentally UNfit, but it’s a book I’ve read in 2015 and therefore has to be categorised somewhere.


January 8: 25 minutes of strength exercises

Remember how I wrote I have no upper body strength? Today I now know I have no core strength either! Argh!

I’ve signed up for a free week of workouts from an Australian training guru who I only just read about a few days ago. Her name is Kayla Itsines and you can find her website here. The transformations section is very inspiring, but I have no desire to be as ripped as some of those girls. Including her exercises will help mix up my daily workout options. Thanks Kayla!

Four minutes of random-off-the-top-of-my head warm-up exercises to Mando Diao’s “Dance with Somebody” (click here to hear it) and then it was straight into circuit one, which is split into three workout sections – legs, arms and abs – with four exercises in each section.

I was happy doing the leg exercises, with minimal problems. My favourite tracks were on shuffle, the exercises felt good – ALL was good in the world. The chick pea tins were again my weights, and the ladder to our bedroom was the step up bench.

The ladder to our bedroom and office has now become an important part of my home exercise routine!

The ladder to our bedroom and office has now become an important part of my home exercise routine!

Then it was time for arms. I did the burpees but I must have looked like a four-legged octopus, my limbs flailing around everywhere. Next time I’ll focus more on control. Burpees have never been my thing, so I was just happy to get the 10 done and move on (plus there’s the low ceiling to limit my enthusiasm!) Push ups were on my knees (my goal is to do them with straight legs), tricep dips using the ladder again, and then plank, which I managed for the required 30 seconds. And one little drop of sweat landed on the yoga mat. Score!

Finally, abs … no problem, right? The bike exercise was fine and bent leg jackknifes weren’t pretty but still achievable (my back kept making fart noises on the mat when I moved my legs up and down. Oh the hilarity!)

Onto the last two exercises – two varieties of sit ups. I thought I’d do the full (regular) sit ups first and then the raised leg sit ups, seeing as I was in the correct position on the mat already. After 10 attempted full sit ups, I had to put my feet under the couch to finish the last 10. And the raised leg variety? Forgedaboudit. I tried. I really did. In the end, I just did little pulse sit ups to finish off the routine. Maybe my lower back is weak as well?

I’ve learnt something about myself that I thought wasn’t an issue at all. I can’t do a bl**dy full sit up. I’m totally shocked! Gone are my (unprofessional!) pole dancing days, when my stomach muscles were rock solid. My current flabby tummy is hiding some horrible truths, but that’s what this fitfor15in15 challenge is all about – to get back in shape so I can be in a good place as the years roll on.

It will be good to include this workout, which took about 20 minutes in total, and Kayla’s second circuit into my program over the coming weeks and months. Variety is really important to me. I couldn’t imagine doing the same thing every week, let alone every day!

Have you been shocked by something lately that’s inspired you to take action? I now know I need to take ab work more seriously. I’ll be searching for more circuits and ideas. Maybe Kayla’s program could work for you? (I have no affiliation with her whatsoever, just throwing information out there that could help you on your fitfor15in15 way!)

Wishing you a great day.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Reese Witherspoon will play Cheryl Strayed in the upcoming movie for Wild

Reese Witherspoon will play Cheryl Strayed in the upcoming movie for Wild

If you don’t know me so well, you may not know I’m an avid walker. I’ve done a lot of day walks in Switzerland plus I’ve walked Der Weg der Schweiz (2014), Hadrians Wall in England (2014), from Bingen to Koblenz on the Rhine in Germany (2013), the middle section of the Swiss Camino (2012) and it all started back in 2011 when I walked 900km on The Camino Frances in Spain. I met my partner on that walk too!

So when I heard a new movie was being made about a woman who went on a three-month walk in America, it was time to find the non-fiction book.

It’s my first book for 2015, and it made me want to sling on my backpack and go walking again.

Cheryl does it pretty hard though – she’s packed the kitchen sink, has massive problems with her feet (oh I can relate!) and sleeps in a tent most nights (whereas I had the luxury of sleeping in a bed every night – not always a great one, but at least a bed). She meets some fun people, soaks up the views, and generally has a great time despite her minimal budget and some hairy situations.

Highly recommended for an easy, inspirational read.

It will be interesting to see Reese Witherspoon play Cheryl in the upcoming movie.

January 7: Exercise video in the lounge room

Today was tough. I didn’t want to get out of bed, and had no inspiration at all … ridiculously lazy … waa waa waa. The sun was shining in a cloudless sky! What more do you want, slacker?!

Maybe my threshold for something new is one week? I’ve read it takes 21 days to form a habit. It’s day seven and I could feel myself returning to my old ways of thinking – What’s the point? Enjoy life as you are! Who wants to be an exercise junkie? I’m happy with the way I am. You need extra fat in winter and so on and so on … Some days really are a mental challenge.

So what if I have absolutely no upper body strength and everything creaks and cracks when I exercise? Who cares about the clothes that don’t fit, the spare tyre and those wobbly bits? Well, actually I’m not so worried about the wobbly bits. I’m worried a sedentary lifestyle is going to be hard to change the older I get, and that my body will set into a premature rigor mortis. I don’t want simple things like tying up my shoelaces to become a massive issue. I don’t want to be old before my time. I used to pride myself on how flexible I was, doing the splits etc, and kinda thought it would always be that way.

Ahh, wrong. Now I strain to touch my toes with straight legs and have issues with my left wrist (weird bone in the joint, no strength for years), left shoulder (skiing fall in 2012, crunches when raised), left knee (snapped cruciate ligament skiing in 1996, which still aches in cold weather) and right foot (yay, finally something on the right! A fractured bone in 1999). All these things still cause problems, and I feel them when I exercise like I did today.

I did a Jillian Michaels workout for just under 30 minutes. It’s the Level 1 class of her 30-Day Shred series. Click here if you want to see the video. I’d never done this ‘class’ before (I did some of her yoga videos on YouTube last year) and there were push ups *gasp* and squats with weighted arm raises *groan*. Everything that makes my left side go ouch. To top it off, I twinged something in my left ankle doing the skipping on the concrete terrace a few days ago. What a sorry sack I am – can you grasp my mood today?!

Ok, time to lift it a bit. The video was fun, I raised a sweat just doing the beginner-level exercises, and I feel great. I laughed about hitting my hands on the ceiling when doing the star jumps, and before I knew it, we were doing the warm down. How did that time just go so fast?

If you don’t feel like exercising, think about the habit you’re trying to form. Every day for a minimum of 15 minutes. The class really did fly by – I was done before I could stop whining and I’m happy I didn’t give in. Keep at it! Every little bit counts. Why not look up some other exercise videos on YouTube to have ready for a rainy day?

As a giggle, I’d like to show you our lounge room, so you can see how low the ceiling is. I have to do star jumps with my hands either side of the centre beam and there’s no chance of ever doing a clap at the top!

Wishing you a great day.

This is my hand stretched out in front. If I hold it straight up, I can lay it flat on the white ceiling while flat footed.

This is my hand stretched out in front. If I hold it straight up, I can lay it flat on the white ceiling while flat footed.

Wide lounge room

I push the coffee table into the dining area (where I’m standing), lay out my yoga mat (or a towel) and use tins of chick peas as my weights.

January 6: Walking to the Wohlensee

A 30 min walk to the Wohlensee for a picnic lunch, followed by a one hour walk home

A 30 minute walk to the Wohlensee for a picnic lunch, followed by a one hour walk home

It’s amazing how sunshine can lift my mood and affect my plans. Best intentions went out the window today!

I thought I would walk to Koniz (about 3 hours) to check out a second-hand bicycle store, because I’d like to buy a bike. After seeing how much of the walk would be in shade (where’s it about -2 degrees), I decided to make the most of the sunshine and stop after 30 minutes at the Wohlensee for a lunch break on the pontoon.

With my gloves under my bum for added warmth (TRUST me, not enough coverage), I munched on my cheese, tomato and salami sandwiches, some grapes and a triangle of Toblerone (hey, I’m in Switzerland – it’s not a lunch without cheese and/or chocolate!) and a handful of my last Chicos (an Australian lolly) while listening to the ducks and reading my book.

I love ducks. I think of ducks on a daily basis – how they waddle, how they’re always in pairs, how they’re so inquisitive but also nervous. There was an almost perfect line of them sleeping on the bank. One duck on the lake cracked me up with it’s hacking quack, which reminded me of how loud I laughed at my niece’s wedding when the best man started his speech with, “Melissa chose well for her first husband.” I don’t understand why no one else found that as funny as I did. 🙂

How's the serenity ...

How’s the serenity …

But I digress. After 30 minutes on the pontoon, I realised sitting on top of water for much longer probably wasn’t a great idea, even if it wasn’t frozen, so I resumed walking … on the sunny side of the lake for home. I couldn’t waste that sunshine and freeze in the shade! The bike will have to wait for another day.

The homeward track went through a small village, up a hill into the forest, and took an hour. I know that path well, and was pleased the firing range was quiet (the random shots put me on edge – not for fear of being hit, just for the noise!). It was good to come home and play around on the blog … and drink a warm tea and put my feet on the heater.

Because our house is in such a quiet and beautiful setting, I forget the lake is just a short walk away and tend to stay home when I want to relax. With my new mantra of fitfor15in15, I’m looking forward to making more visits there to read and watch the birdlife. It’s worth the effort.

Do you have a place you often forget is wonderful?

January 5: 15 minutes of skipping

The skipping rope, and the view

The skipping rope, and the view

Well this one was harder than I expected, and I knew it would be tough. Constant skipping for 15 minutes is strenuous when you’re unfit. I mixed it up between forwards skipping, backwards skipping, the one foot hop and change, two feet together etc etc. Maybe when I’m fitter, I’ll try the double spin jump now and then!

I just wanted to move around. My heart rate went up, and I sweated a bit, which is good considering it’s 4 degrees (Celsius) outside. But the sun was shining and I feel great.

I used a normal skipping rope, which has weighted handles, donned my best sports bra and sneakers, and enjoyed feeling my tummy bounce up and down. Never thought I’d ever say that! But at least it means I have stuff to lose and the only way is up! (In fitness levels, down in weight hopefully!)

You don’t need to go out and buy equipment, it’s all around you, but I had this skipping rope from previous attempts to get fit, and have now hung it near the front door, so it’s easy to see and grab when I need it.