June 26: Feast or famish

Sorry I didn’t post this yesterday … busy having fun again!

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This is the photo I mentioned previously where the tractor driver stopped. I thought he was going to get mad at me for taking a photo, but he just wanted to talk about the good weather!

I’ve been forgetting/don’t have time in the mornings to make my breakfasts for the I Quit Sugar program, so for the past week I’ve been making do with a tub of natural yoghurt and a small sunflower seed bread roll on my walk to work.

At CHF2 from the supermarket, it’s not too hard on the wallet but it’s lacking in thrills. So tonight, after a good morning putting together an inventory of karate clothes at work with Pastora, and a few quick beers together at Cafe Pyrennes afterwards (fast becoming our Friday ‘welcome to the weekend’ ritual!), I was really, really looking forward to dinner with our neighbours and their friends at a nice restaurant in another village 10 minutes drive away.

A juicy steak promised plenty of song and dance but wasn’t all that entertaining – this time the Angus beef came from the property of one of the members of the Swiss band Yello (they had some big hits in the 90s, including Oh Yeah). Not really a smash hit this time ’round, despite plenty of veg to make it a feast, so our last meal there remains my favourite.

After dinner, Eve, Paul, Lotti and Fritz came back to sit around the pool with Liliane, Rene, Leo and I in the beautiful twilight (would be amazing to go walking in that light), and the men demolished (and yes, I am using this term with confidence) a bottle of Montenegro that Leo’s dad gave him for his birthday. We’re glad it’s gone! We don’t really drink hard spirits or liqueur at home, and the shelf in the lounge room is full. Maybe by putting the bottles on display, people think we enjoy it and they’re encouraged to buy more. Unfortunately, we don’t have anywhere else to store them, apart from the cellar. Hmm … there’s a thought! 🙂

One thing I’ve really missed with consuming less sugar these past three weeks is a glass of elderberry cordial. They love it here (it’s called Holunderbluten syrup). Feeling adventurous? You can make your own cordial here, if you have access to a tree, or if that’s not quite your style, how about elderflower wine?! Hic!

So my 30-Day challenge plant name for you today is the elder (Sambucus). We have many trees growing around the property, but I’ve never made the syrup!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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The Aare river running through Bern. I cross this bridge to go to work

April 7-10: The Alsace Region – updated with photos

I’m back! We came home this afternoon after a great four-day/three-night adventure in the Alsace Region on the border of France and Germany.

Sorry for the absence, but as mentioned before, I find it hard to write while on exploring holidays. And we did a lot of exploring! I’ll write more about it over the next few days. (I’ve decided to just do this one post with photos.)

How are you feeling? I’m feeling mentally and physically fit, but definitely not nutritionally! We ate a lot of yummy/bad things while away and my body’s ready to attack healthier food from Monday.

And now? We’re off to dinner to celebrate Rene’s birthday (our neighbour). More meat and potatoes I’m sure!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 15: Day two of the Fitness Blender Challenge

Last night, we had a great Valentine’s Day dinner with friends Pastora and Leo at this lovely restaurant on the Aare river in Bern. My suspicions were confirmed! I thought we might be dining out with them! We ate and drank too much – definitely not part of the Fitness Blender Challenge – but hey, it’s all about balance.

The back of my legs were really sore today, because of yesterday’s workout, so I struggled with squats and anything requiring a straight leg. Day two, at 44 minutes, was four minutes shorter than day one and didn’t feeeeeeel quite as tough (well, I didn’t sweat as much!), but that’s probably because I had to do the beginner’s suggestions thanks to my legs aching so much. No doubt, they’ll be like this tomorrow too.

Also, I’m lifting tin cans while the hosts, who were definitely feeling it, lift much heavier weights. A bit of me wishes I had heavier weights, as these arms need some serious toning, but at the same time, I’m pretty happy I still have full use of them right now. Maybe I’ll try a wine bottle in each hand tomorrow … and then resist the urge to open them afterwards,

In my hurry to get out the door yesterday, I forgot to add the collection of links to articles or things I’ve enjoyed reading during the week, so here they are …

In a continuing theme about accents, following last Saturday’s New York clip, here’s a tour of the British accents. Can you hear all the differences easily? If you’re from Great Britain, do you think the guy, who might be a professional voiceover artist, got them right?

Well, here’s something we should be proud of at fitfor15in15 – an article about doctors being urged to promote the “miracle cure” of regular exercise. We’re so regular we go every day! (Oops that came out wrong … of no, that didn’t make it any better either …)

I read a website, called The Private Life of a Girl, for little snippets of creative insight and blogging help and fashion … and … and … she posts daily so there’s always something! This one, about occasionally feeling directionless, was sweet.

Reading about the Food Babe this week was news to me, but apparently she’s big in America. Vani Hari is trying to get the chemicals and toxins taken out of packaging, among other things. Here’s an article from The Atlantic about her crusade.

And my friend Gabby sent me two interesting stories – one about what monks do in the modern world and an illustrated look at words in foreign languages that are hard to explain in English. Beautiful!

While reading all this and more, I failed to do any study or write the review for Marie Kondo’s book 😦 Slack! I’m onto it this week!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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

February 3: Rebecca-Louise Smith workouts

Don’t you love it when you find something that backs up your own way of thinking, just after you’ve thought it? My nutrition at the moment isn’t ideal, but during the month of February I want to wean myself off some (not all!) of the “bad” things and introduce other alternatives.

There are courses out there providing recipes and eating plans for 8-12 weeks, such as I Quit Sugar and Kayla Itsines (to name just two of many!), but at the moment, for me, they feel slightly overwhelming – just the THOUGHT of cooking all those new dishes every night saps me of energy! Cooking has never really been my thing (eating on the other hand is a totally different story!), so the pressure of learning another recipe, and going through the motions, every night gives me the shivers.

And then this morning, I read this article from Leo Babauta, who writes the very popular website zenhabits. He hit the nail on my head!!! Well, he hit the nail on the head of what I’ve been thinking about for the past few weeks. Jumping into something new is tough. We’re all gung-ho about it and enthusiastic, then reality kicks in. We falter, and then get mad at ourselves for faltering. And then give up, because, hey, we’ve faltered.

By keeping the expectations realistic, the flow and transition should be smoother. That’s why this site is fitfor15in15 – apart from being a catchy title, the idea behind it is very simple. Just 15 minutes of exercise a day. Some days you’ll want to do more, like me today, and some days you’ll struggle through the minimum, but by making it a regular, and achievable, habit, it’s not so tough; the thought of it isn’t draining.

So for nutrition, just like starting to exercise, I’m using the whole ’21-days to make a habit’ concept, and hopefully by the end of this month I’ll be less inclined to buy the not-so-healthy option and actively search for something better. Baby steps! (I’m going to miss those jam doughnuts …)

Now (mmm … doughnuts …), onto today’s exercise …

I felt like doing more today, something intense! Searching “tough exercise” on YouTube resulted in these two (and other) videos from Rebecca-Louise Smith, who appears to be a pilot as well as a fitness trainer.

First up, I did her Military Boot Camp Workout and then went straight into the 7 Best Ab Exercises, for a combined total of 25 minutes.

Even the realisation that I had to do burpees in the first video didn’t put me off! Ok, I may have groaned in disbelief, but incredibly, I did them (still with shabby form, I suspect) and it wasn’t too bad. And the planks at the end of the second video were tough. I went to my knees after about 10 seconds – all part of the process, I know, and something to aim higher for next time.

I’ll definitely keep a lookout for Smith’s videos again. On her website, she says being healthy requires 80% proper nutrition and 20% fitness – something I hadn’t read before. These words have provided another boost in this year-long campaign to look at what I can do better, to make me feel better.

Wishing you a great day. (It was a bit cold here, so that’s why I stayed indoors!)

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Chilly

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.