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 8: The good, the bad and the joyous

Just a short post today – it’s late and I’m ready for bed!

We had a lovely brunch at Sandra and Tom’s house this morning, and I enjoyed pouring over their new house plans. They begin building in April/May. For a while in my mid-teens, I entertained the idea of being an architect, until a cousin’s husband (who is an architect) asked me how much I enjoyed physics, with regards to acoustics and so on. There ended my architectural dreams. The science forces were not strong in this one.

Back home, we hunkered down on the couches to watch the second-last show in our 26-episode set of “Inspector Montalbano” (I’m going to be so sad when it’s finished – we’ll probably have to go back to the beginning and start again, as a weekend won’t be the same without him!) and then ruined the satisfied mood by watching Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “comeback” movie, “The Last Stand”. In an unsuccessful attempt to make it end faster, I did 20 minutes on the step machine with the baked bean tins. My arms feel good, but are still pretty flabby.

So that was Sunday, February 8. This week, it’s time to get stuck back into studying the nutrition course I’ve been neglecting – there’s a lot of catching up to do. I’d like to find two more workouts to add to my morning routine, and read more! Also I’ll write a review of Marie Kondo’s book, which now makes me look at everything and ask “Does it spark joy?” This little beanie, which was on a fruit juice bottle a few weeks ago, now lives on my computer, and every time I look at it I smile. It definitely sparks joy, and may need a friend or two. The beauty of minimalism – isn’t it all in the eye of the eggholder? *groan*

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Seeing this little chap every day really gives me a boost

What’s sparking joy for you at the moment?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 4: Tomorrow, I’ll be sore!

Yes, that headline rhymes on purpose 🙂

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 it 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.

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Love the layers of snow on the pool edge

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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 30 #2: Stepping out to the tennis

My first ‘workout’ this morning didn’t quite cut the mustard, so I went downstairs and happily donned a new pair of sneakers bought the previous week. The only other sneakers I own were/are still covered in mud and looking pretty grotty from running in the forest. So using some of my Christmas present money from Leo, I splashed out on a half-price pair of sneakers that will never leave the house! No more jumping around barefoot.

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New sneakers good. Urgh.

Stan and Novak were into the second set of the Australian Open semi-final by the time I stood on the little step machine, so with baked bean tins in hand (we ate one of the kidney bean tins in a chilli last weekend!), I cheered them on for 30 minutes. Heart was definitely pumping at the end, but not because of the result. Poor Stan.

Tomorrow marks one month of blogging. It’s been fun making an exercise habit, with you as my witness. I was thinking about tackling the nutrition/food part of this fitfor15in15 project in February, but I think that’s too soon. I’ll slowly phase out bad things throughout the month of February and then start with conviction in March. Eating chocolate will still be on the cards, but maybe I’ll forgo the cheese and beer. Did I just say beer? I must be delusional.

Wishing you a wonderful day, again.

January 20: Indulging an embarrassing passion

I have a secret … a confession … it’s a little bit embarrassing. My partner knows about it, and he’s not happy. He can’t stand it. Well, not it … but her. Her name is Marple … Miss Jane Marple … and every now and then I enjoy watching her on television, solving crimes from the early to mid-1900s in England. Leo would rather eat snails.

So today, as the snow bucketed down all morning …

Snow on clothesline

Quite a difference in 20 hours, from yesterday’s clothesline photo

… fitfor15in15 hunkered down in the lounge room, on the little manual step machine thingy, with a tin of red kidney beans in each hand (chickpeas were upstairs!), engrossed in another Agatha Christie whodunit for one hour. Those 60 minutes passed very quickly, and I worked up a good sweat, then watched the remainder of Ordeal by Innocence from the comfort of the couch.

Ooh I love a good murder mystery, and apparently this was one of Aggie’s two personal favourites. It was disappointing to read the version on tele differed quite a lot to her original book (Miss Marple wasn’t even in it!), so I’ll be searching for that when at the library next.

Have you ever been miffed by adaptations of books for the big or small screens? Sometimes I wonder why they even bothered keeping the book’s title, because the endings, or characters, or plot – anything! – when changed, made it a completely different story.

But back to today … My arms feel sore, my legs and bum a bit tight. Overall it wasn’t too stressful … just like walking in the woods, but warmer … and with tin cans … and Miss Marple being all inquisitive and clever.

The idea behind fitfor15in15 is to do a minimum of 15 minutes exercise per day. For me, that means specific exercise, and not what you’d do in your normal day, such as walking to the bus, doing the gardening, or cleaning the house and so on. Making time for 15 minutes every day forms a habit, one that is hard to talk yourself out of.

If you set a goal to exercise every day, you can’t slack off occasionally and say, “Oh, it’s too cold/I’m too tired/there’s not enough time, I’ll exercise tomorrow.” That’s why I’ve chosen a MINIMUM of 15 minutes per day. Some days you feel like doing more, or have time to do more, and some days you don’t. And on the days you don’t, those little 15 minutes of knee lifts or squats or sit ups or twists – whatever takes your 15-minute fancy – keep the habit going, keep you motivated, and keep you moving.

In 2014, I became quite sloth-like. I was beginning to believe I’d been one in a former life. If it required moving, I’d get it over and done with as quickly as possible and then flop back on the couch. Inactivity was the norm, and that became scary. I’d never been a lazy person before – always on the go and happy to be that way. So for three weeks now, I’ve been moving, and am reaping the benefits already – I had to run the last 100m for the bus today, and made it.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Tomorrow is January 21. I think I’m a convert. And while some days will be good ones, like today with 60 minutes, I know some days I’ll be struggling with 15. But that’s alright, don’t you think? Recognising the struggle will make the ‘victory’ so much sweeter.

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Walking to the bus on the road – the snow’s too deep to take the shortcut through the fields

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Both beanie and jacket hood required today!

January 15: Dance like no one’s watching

Yesterday, my friend Jackie suggested I should add “Dance like no one’s watching” into my fitfor15in15 regime. It was such a brilliant idea, I did it today.

But which songs to choose? There’s so many that make me want to dance like a maniac. Half the fun was making the playlist this morning, and putting them in a cool order (and one that would give me a few seconds to catch my breath when needed!) for my workout this afternoon.

Finally, I settled on 10 songs totalling 40 minutes. Dancing (ESPECIALLY when no one is watching) is a serious business. I haven’t danced this hard since Phil and Ellie’s wedding in London on December 21. (She’s touring in the UK this year – go and watch her be funny!) And now that I think of it, maybe that’s where I injured the ball of my left foot?! Hmmm …

With this, as inspiration, out my window …

Sunset in the forest

Sunset in the forest

… I tried to channel Christopher Walken, then put my head down, arms out and bum up, non-stop for 40 minutes.

Here’s my playlist, with YouTube links. I’m not clever enough to embed a playlist for you, sorry. First up is a warm-up song, then eight great tracks, and my fave as the warm down …

Dance with Somebody – Mando Diao

Can We Go Wrong – Hesta Prynn

The Great Escape – We Are Scientists

Punching In a Dream – The Naked and Famous

Jailbreak – AC/DC

Atomic – Blondie

Lonely Boy – The Black Keys … Mum, if you’re going to watch one video, make it this one. I think you’ll like it!

Zero – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

My Delirium – Ladyhawke

Map of the Problematique – Muse

By the time Jailbreak was finished, and what with all my air drumming, I was really sweating and had to fold my shirt up to cool down. Our house is so well heated it felt like a bikram yoga studio. Luckily we live rural and no one walks past our windows, otherwise they would have been treated to the sight of my crème brûlée belly doing it’s own thing as I jumped around.

Leo came home with two songs to go, and promptly went outside to look at something far more attractive …

Sunset on the Alps

Sunset on the Alps

Thanks for a great exercise suggestion, Jac – it’s definitely been one of my most fun workouts and I can’t wait to do it again. By the end, I looked like this …

Dance with nobody: I'm glad I didn't make the playlist any longer!

After dancing with nobody: I’m glad I didn’t make the playlist any longer!

Which songs would you put into your Dance Like No One’s Watching playlist?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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.

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.

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.