May 2: Getting back on the bandwagon

It’s been wild weather here for a few days, and Leo is at work attending to some flooding on his building site. What a pain that’s going to be – sourcing pumps and people on a Saturday.

This afternoon, we’re going to the BEA, which is Bern’s agricultural exhibition, kind of like the Royal Shows in Australia and the UK and, I imagine, State Fairs in America.

There’ll be cows, horses, tractors, and wursts on the grill. (That Oxford comma was very important, otherwise it would sound like the animals and tractors would also be on the grill!)

We’re going with Pastora and Leo, Sandra and Tom and Iva, whose husband Marko is away for work, so it will be a hectic afternoon of German. Good for my mental fitness. Maybe some beers will be consumed later on. Not so good for my physical fitness.

I feel like I’ve fallen off the sweaty exercise bandwagon a bit lately but was very pleased when I stood on Liliane’s scales yesterday – two kilos lighter than last month’s ‘weigh-in’ (when I clean their house, I use their scales!). I don’t trust scales much, and definitely don’t feel the need to own any, but I do feel slimmer (and stronger!). Maybe the 5:2 Diet is working for me?

Speaking of the 5:2 Diet, I only did the 500 calorie day once (Monday) last week. I’ll do two again next week. And speaking of weigh-ins, the Mayweather v Pacquiao fight is tomorrow morning Swiss time (at about 6am they say). It starts very late tonight in America. I wonder if it will be a fizzer? I look forward to reading all about it and watching the highlights.

In order to boost my cardio fitness a bit, I did Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Workout Level 2 again (the last time was March 2). I should have done Level 3 but I was in a bit of a hurry and didn’t want to search for something.

She really makes you sweat, ol’ Jillian, which is why I keep coming back to her workouts, along with the duo from Fitness Blender. This time, I actually did most of the walking to plank and push-up exercises on my toes, not on my knees. Hallelujah! My arms are hurting quite a bit too, because of that and various lifts with weights that were tough. Yahoo! Overall, I find it a great 25-minute workout.

  • Physically Fit: Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Workout Level 2
  • Mentally Fit: Going to the BEA with friends
  • Nutritionally Fit: Back to two days per week on the 5:2 Diet next week
  • Minimalism: Loving my stretchy black and white Marimekko dress I bought in Melbourne with Gabby. Today I’m tucking it up to wear as a top with jeans – love clothes that serve more than one purpose!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

March 2: Exercise to boost your mood

Does the weather affect your mood? Do you skip to the beach when it’s sunny or feel like crying when it rains? Do you crack the SADs in cold weather or dread an allergy onslaught in spring? Does the wind make you wicked?

What a strange phenomenon the weather is. It’s raining here today, wild weather in fact, and I feel like bawling. The wind is so strong it’s blown small bits of stuff from inside the roof onto my pillow. (We live in a very old house.)

I did a bit of research on how much the weather can affect our moods and, of course, there’s no outright yes or no for everyone because we’re all different. There are, however, some who feel it more than others. Here’s an interesting article from a psychological perspective and another about bad weather making a bad mood worse.

Seems I’m in a bad mood today! (That exclamation mark was added through gritted teeth.) So … how to turn that frown upside down? With a bit of exercise perhaps?

There are hundreds of articles about exercise improving your mood (examples here, here and here), so even if I wasn’t committed to doing at least 15 minutes a day this year, hopefully I would have looked to exercise as a great get-out-of-the-doldrums solution. Hopefully! *gritted teeth*

After thinking who would lift my spirits the most, it was a contest between Daniel and Kelli from Fitness Blender and Jillian Michaels. It’s been a while since I’ve done a workout with Jillian, and this is the reason I went with her 30 Day Shred Workout Level 2.

I really didn’t want to exercise today. Really, really, really didn’t want to. Listening to the crazy weather made me want to stay in bed, and I did until quite late. But at least I finished a book – reading has been very neglected of late.

Jumping around with Jillian – actually, no, that’s an alliteration over-exaggeration as there was hardly any jumping at all – moving with Jillian for 25 minutes (as the house walls shook and the flagpole bent like a branch too) has boosted my mood.

She does a series of exercises which involve both arms and legs (tin cans needed. I was feeling so unmotivated beforehand I couldn’t even be bothered filling the large water bottles, my new weights of choice) and there’s quite a few performed in the plank position. If you have dodgy wrists or shoulders, let alone a weak core, these can be tough. But there’s always the option to drop to your knees and dream of the day when you can stay up the whole time. I dream of that day! *no gritting here*

So, readers, hopefully when you’re not feeling the best, or something’s got you down – weather-related or not – you’ll still think of the fitfor15in15 mantra of doing something, anything, to get the blood flowing and the brain focused on moving, rather than what put you in the bad mood in the first place. I think it’s worked. Maybe a bit of baking now would kick it up a notch? Hmmm … there’s always those biscuits from the Kambly factory … πŸ˜‰

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 23: The need for cardio

After running on Friday, I wanted to recreate that enjoyable whole body moving feeling today. Saturday’s arm workout and Sunday’s walk were nice, but now that Leo’s not around to laugh at me, I mean, now that it’s the start of a new week, it’s time to sweat! It’s raining outside, so that was my perfect excuse to look for a cardio workout video on the internet. There are so many, it’s a matter of knowing what you do and don’t like.

Initially I searched for Billy Blanks, on the suggestion of my friend Sandra, as he does Tae Bo routines, some focusing on cardio. But I quickly worked out what I don’t like about his workouts – the back-up athletes’ incessant counting did my head in just previewing these videos. Close to an hour of that stuff? No thanks. If you can handle listening to people count from one to eight non-f’ing-stop then, please, check out his Bootcamp Cardio Sculpt, his Bootcamp Cardio Inferno or this older cardio workout. They look like great workouts but I just couldn’t subject myself to that noise. Maybe I’ll try doing one of the classes next week, with the sound down. Maybe.

I ended up going with a 30-minute fat burning cardio workout from Bollywood actress Bipasha Basu. It’s the first time I’ve done one of her Good Health 24/7 videos and I was struck by how much she looks like Angelina Jolie with her hair up. Incredible!

At the beginning, the workout seemed quite tame (neck and ankle turns in the warm-up and so on) but when the proper workout started, my goodness, Basu and her team had me moving! The music was a bit techno-ish, but with the sound down you can still follow her dubbed instructions (it seems exercising and talking at the same time, a la Jillian Michaels, is not her thing).

There’s a water break which is needed, but other than that it’s go go go, with marching in between exercises to let you catch your breath. You don’t need any equipment, except maybe a mat for the push up exercises, but you will need a bit of space as there are forwards and backwards jumps and walking lunges.

Now that the routine is finished, and beads of sweat are still trickling from my forehead, one question needs to be answered. How did Basu not sweat?! Was her studio air-conditioned? Did she have someone pat her down between takes? She was a vision of concentration and perfection the entire time!

Speaking of concentration, do you think you’d have what it takes to run a marathon? I’ll sign off now and leave you with my second guest contributor, Karie Parker, who in less than five years has gone from being an occasional treadmill jogger to a marathon runner. Take it away Karie!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

p.s While watching the last Inspector Montalbano episode yesterday (sob sob!) it felt like two earthquakes rocked our neighbourhood. The whole ground and front side of the house shook with the impact. Hours later, once we could be bothered to move off the couches, we saw what it was – the new snow from Saturday on top of the old snow became too heavy, and three quarters of it slid off the roof in two thunderous movements. It’s incredible how such a small amount of snow shook the house so much and made such a racket.

fitfor15in15

New snow on old snow became too heavy for our roof – nearly all of it was dumped on our doorstep. What a noise!

February 4: Tomorrow, I’ll be sore!

Yes, that headline rhymes on purpose πŸ™‚

Wowee, I found a good workout today! My friend Sandra and I were talking yesterday about Jillian Michaels, who’s very popular in America and has also been one of the trainers on The Biggest Loser USA.

I’ve done two of her workouts previously, on January 7 and January 19, and they took roughly 30 minutes each. Today’s workout, “Banish Fat Boost Metabolism Complete Workout”, was about 54 minutes of solid movement and I worked up the ‘best’ sweat I’ve had since beginning fitfor15in15. (No photos. Not pretty.)

These women are machines! If you can ignore the terrible, repetitive warm-up music, the rest of the soundtrack is pretty inoffensive … or maybe all my creaking, crunching and cracking and Jillian’s instructions filled my head. The workout is intense! Every circuit is done twice, which is good because for the first circuit you’re pretty much making sure you’re doing some of the exercises correctly.

When it came to all the jumping moves, I ended up just going with her beginner’s recommendation of squats for the second pass of each circuit. Jumping and coordination were beyond me in the final 10 minutes. As were the full planks. I was on my knees. Begging it to stop.

But I TOTALLY recommend this workout. You don’t need any weights, just a mat for the floor exercises and a full glass of water (how can these three trainers not drink any water in 50 minutes?! Phew!)

Exercising this afternoon really changed the day. When I woke up this morning, I was flat. It was a low day, a slow day, a shallow day, a hollow day. I couldn’t even be bothered to get out of bed to do my morning routine. I did itΒ in bed. How slack is that? It was cold … I was cold … and I felt old.

But I (figuratively) slapped myself a bit and prepared to leave the house for my lunch appointment with a former German teacher, Claudia. Not surprisingly, forcing myself to shower, get dressed, put on some make up, walk to the bus (oh my, was that walk cold!) and talk German and English for three hours really lifted me up. Thanks Claudia!

And on the walk home from the bus, I was positively gagging to start exercising, and not only because the Siberian wind (well it was coming from the north east, so it has to be from Siberia, right?!) had frozen me through. I was keen to move, and sweat … and, ok, feel warm. That’s why I chose something I haven’t done before, and something more than 30 minutes long.

And you know why I think I felt so bad this morning? I couldn’t work it out, but then I thought about what I’d eaten in the past two days – Monday night pesto pasta, Tuesday morning muesli with natural yoghurt and Tuesday dinner leftover pasta … ahhh, not one piece of fruit or a vegetable in sight! All processed foods. I’m no expert but I think that very much had something to do with why I felt so bad this morning. Plus, I probably didn’t drink enough water yesterday …

So the better nutrition plan is gaining legs. And speaking of legs, I need to go rest mine!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

fitfor15in15

Love the layers of snow on the pool edge

fitfor15in15

This is the road to our house. It was a bit tricky walking on this today, but still better than the shortcut in shin-deep snow. Boy it was cold walking between these frozen fields

January 19: A day of silence

Today was a day of silence. I went outside to go to the laundry room and was so astonished I stopped in my tracks – no tractors in the fields, no cars or machinery noise coming from the council workshop nearby, no wind. It was the right moment. After a while though, I realised it wasn’t actually silent. I could hear snow clumps falling off trees in the forest and water trickling from the gutter. And then it started to snow. Today was another day to feel very happy about where we live.

Snow covered clothes line

Needless to say I didn’t hang the washing on this line

Solar lights in snow

I don’t think the solar lights will be working tonight

So with a clear head it was time to exercise! I ummed and ahhed about what to do and decided on another YouTube workout. When I saw Jillian Michaels’ Six-week Six-pack Abs Workout Level 1, I had to try it, knowing how weak my abs are. But what? Once again, I couldn’t get the volume to work (occasionally we have this problem when watching things off the internet on our television), so I did the workout in silence. Well, not complete silence, because there was plenty of my huffing and puffing. Despite ‘missing out’ on all the motivational talk (maybe that’s a blessing?!) and the odd instruction, it was doable without the sound.

Michaels performs the classes with two other women, who give beginners and advanced examples while she does the intermediate. Again, I couldn’t do all the beginner’s exercises. These gals are very fit! But I worked up a serious sweat, and feel good. It goes for about 35 minutes including warm-up and cool down.

Do you have a collection of fitness DVDs or internet workouts you’ve been neglecting? I just go with whatever takes my fancy, and doubt I would or could follow a six-week daily course. That seems too regimented – for me fitfor15in15 is all about variety.

Speaking of variety, how are these for some eggs! My friend Kanjana, who we visited for lunch on Friday, works at an egg factory in Bern, and gave some special eggs to Pastora, Iva and I. I’ve never seen eggs so big! And they are double yolkers! So here’s my lunch today.

Double yolk eggs

Lunch of champions! Great egg-laying skills from some very large hens

Big egg

They weigh over 100 grams. We received a carton of 10 – so far five have been doubles, and one a very large single

As an aside, the Germans and Swiss Germans call men’s testicles eggs, whereas we call them balls. Chuckle chuckle. Sorry, did I just put you off your breakfast?! πŸ™‚

Wishing you a wonderful day.