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 25: P.S.P.P.S … Lest We Forget

Anzac Day has become a very emotional day for southern hemisphere members of the Allies from World War I. On April 25, 1915, young boys and men from Australia and New Zealand landed on the beaches at Gallipoli in Turkey. It was Australia’s first time at war and some say it was the making of our country.

With the Anzacs trapped on the beaches and low lying areas thanks to an almost insurmountable cliff face, the Turkish soldiers defended their land from higher ground. What was supposed to last only weeks went on for months. The heat, lack of clean water and then winter took their toll and the Allied troops retreated, with both sides suffering huge casualties and loss of life.

Today marks the contributions of Australian Forces in all wars since The Great War as well. Around the world, ceremonies were held – dawn services, a minutes silence, The Last Post, military bands and more. We were able to watch the BBC’s coverage of the Queen laying the first wreath at the Cenotaph. On the lighter side, Two Up is played in pubs around Australia.

I always struggle with the “how” of writing about Anzac Day. Here’s what I posted last year on Facebook. I think it best sums up my feelings.

Anzac Day is a sacred day in our lives – one that fills us with wonder and generally renders us speechless. I never know what to write on Anzac Day … about what went before in order for us to live the lives we have now. How different it could, or would, have been. We are the lucky ones. We put on a coat when we’re cold, open the cupboard when hungry and laugh with our friends at the pub. The men on the frontline had no such luxuries and what we take for granted hits hard on days like today. A minute’s silence and standing in awe during The Last Post are the smallest tokens of our appreciation and respect. To those who gave it all and the loved ones they left behind, Lest We Forget.

We had a quiet day, watching the ceremonies and soaking up that sombre history. Later on, we also finished the second season of the French police/crime series Braquo. I’m not sure I’m a great fan and am looking forward to watching something different – something other than a crime series perhaps?!

I’ve been thinking about today’s exercise routine for a while, and how I would call it P.S.P.P.S – push-ups, side plank, plank, sit-ups. So for 15 minutes, while watching TV with too much chocolate cake in my belly, I did all these exercises. Not a recommended time to workout but I do recommend the cake! (I didn’t make the icing – watching my waistline, you know).

Push-ups are becoming easier (yay!). The side plank ones had the dropped hip part from Thursday’s exercise routine and the rest were as you would expect. I haven’t been doing plank much lately (maybe I just haven’t wanted to see my belly hanging!) and could hardly even manage a minute on my toes before having to go to my knees. Time to get back on that bandwagon.

Even though it’s a double postscript, P.S.P.P.S could be something you’d like to add as a stand-alone workout or to the end of any routine? Not a bad afterthought really.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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I don’t have any poppy photos at hand to commemorate Anzac Day, so here are some beautiful cherry blossoms

April 23: Tough ab workout and flexibility

For today’s exercise, I thought I’d search for something different from somewhere different, but I knew it had to be stomach-centric. When I plank, I’m gobsmacked at the pudding that hangs from that area! When the fitness instructors plank, their bellies stay flat and taught. How is it so?! I can’t even ‘blame’ having kids on this excess! So that’s a new goal for the end of fitfor15in15 – to plank without the pudding.

Thanks to the Internet, ask and you generally shall receive. I liked the name of this – Get Fit Fast Ab Workout – 15 minutes of pain – and ignoring the physique of the totally ripped bloke without a shirt, thought I was up for it.

Ahh, no … nowhere near up for it. Apart from it feeling a bit militarised, with the host, Adam Harper, barking at his buddies, “Don’t you give up on me!” *cringe* it would be a brilliant workout for someone who has the fitness levels of, say, Adam Harper and his buddies.

Wowsers it was tough. I couldn’t do any of the exercises properly, or for the entire duration, apart from the side plank hip lower one. I’ve learnt some new exercises though and will try adding them into any homemade routines. The last one, touching your ankles through bent, spread legs, may become a regular. (I really had to giggle at the end of the show, when the host plugs his company’s t-shirts. If they’re so good, shouldn’t he be wearing one?!)

A lot of the raised-leg exercises hurt my lower back, so I did them with bent knees. I realise this made them much easier, but I’m not an advocate of pushing through the pain, yo. Especially when it’s yo back, yo. Overall, I’m not proud of my efforts in that workout, but it’s something to do again and refer back to, in order to keep improving. It’s motivation to plank without the pudding! Plank without the pudding! (A new mantra?!)

One thing I am proud of today is the realisation I’m becoming more flexible. Yesterday and this morning, I was able to touch my nose to my knees for the first time, albeit briefly, but that is a massive improvement from January. Sure it can be contributed to four months of moving, but I also think yoga is making a big difference. I’ve done two yoga classes, here and here, in the past week and I really think my hips are loosening up, which means I can bend further forward. Morning stretches, as part of my morning routine, will have also played a role.

Have you been doing something regularly and noticing an improvement? It’s such a nice boost, isn’t it?! Please, tell me about your successes.

  • Physically Fit: Get Fit Fast Ab Workout
  • Mentally Fit: Sitting in the sun for 10 minutes
  • Nutritionally Fit: Fourth day of fasting on the 5:2 Diet – 500 calories
  • Minimalism: Nothing today – other than minimal calorie intake 🙂

Wishing you a wonderful day. Here are some photos from my walk home yesterday evening after meeting Iva.

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The long way home

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The sun was a huge ball and created a wonderful sunset glow

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The sun sets on another day in Tulip Military School

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.

March 9: The 7-Minute Workout

Quite a while ago, my friend Melissa told me about The 7-Minute Workout, so finally I’ve put it to the test (for reasons explained further below).

I’ve downloaded the app to my phone as well. The internet version I’ve linked to above makes a beep during the 30 seconds you’re doing the exercise and then goes silent to let you know when to rest, which doesn’t happen on the app.

There’s a 10 second pause between each of the 12 exercises. Within the seven minutes you do star jumps, a wall sit, push ups, abdominal crunches, step-ups onto a chair, squats, tricep dips on a chair, plank, high knees running in place, lunges, push ups with rotations and side planks. You’ll need space to rest against a wall, a stable chair or ledge to step up onto, and a stable chair or desk to lean on for the tricep dips.

Doing this workout twice, followed by a minute of leg stretches, gives you a fast and effective fitfor15in15 workout. I’m glad I had it up my sleeve as a backup (thanks Melissa!) because it wasn’t the plan for today – I thought I’d go running, but my social nature caught me out.

My neighbour (and owner of all the land and buildings here) started the ride-on mower, for the first time since autumn, so I went outside to say hello. And before you know it, I had a broom in hand and was sweeping leaves our of nooks and crannies so he could suck them up with the mower! There’s been a lot of leaves about the place since the snow’s melted, so there was plenty to do. Two hours worth of it! But I’m glad it’s done, it looks much neater now and feels a bit more like spring.

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The grass looked brown from all the leaves covering it. Pretty much all gone (til the next big wind!)

The brooms we use here are so old school and would be perfect for witches. (They’re incredibly effective and make a great Harry Potter toy for visitors with kids!) Even the local councils still use this style of broom; a classic design that still holds its own.

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My trusty steed

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A simple and effective broom which looks the part too

So I’m back from my little holiday blogging break and will be writing daily again (until the next holiday perhaps?!). If you’d like to read about our weekend in Strasbourg, with a photo gallery, please click here.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

March 5: fitfor15in15’s 43 for 43

I love a bit of a play on numbers so today, for my 43rd birthday, I’m going to do 43 various exercises for 43 seconds each! This, my friends, is the silliness I’ve been gearing up for over the past few days. Sorry if it’s a disappointment!

A few months ago, if someone had asked if I even knew 43 different exercises, I would have struggled. But now, thanks to all the different fitness videos from the past two months, I had a ball choosing which ones I wanted to do. Decisions were made on the fly, so it probably doesn’t flow very well, but I didn’t want to do all arms first and then all legs etc; the focus changes regularly.

Here’s a table of what I did and how many repetitions (in brackets) I could manage within the 43 second time frame set aside for each exercise:

  1. Normal crunches – lying on the back and small pulses up (26)
  2. Crunches to the left – with the left arm low, bending to touch outside of left foot (24)
  3. Crunches to the right – with the right arm low, bending to touch outside of right foot (25)
  4. Star jumps (43)
  5. Standing bent knees to alternate elbow (40)
  6. Standing like a star, touch right hand to left foot, straight legged, stand straight, alternate (17)
  7. Deep squats – legs and feet together, squat deep then up to standing position (19)
  8. Deep squats – feet hip width apart, toes out, squat deep to standing (17)
  9. Angel wings – holding weights, standing tall, move arms straight up and down in arc (18)
  10. Straight arm dead lifts – straight arms in front of body, lift to eye level and back down (17)
  11. Bicep curls with tins – bending at elbows, arms close to body (28)
  12. Tricep curls with tins – arms bent backwards, bending at elbows, forward and back (29)
  13. Left jab with tin – left foot forward in boxer pose, sharp, quick punches (54)
  14. Right cross with tin – still with left foot forward, twist through the oblique on extension (43)
  15. Right jab with tin – right foot forward in boxer pose, sharp, quick punches (54)
  16. Left cross with tin – still with right foot forward, twist through the oblique on extension (43)
  17. Skipping with single feet
  18. Skipping with feet together, more like a jump
  19. Forward lunges on both sides (forgot to count)
  20. Backwards lunges on both sides (14)
  21. Right side lunges – taking right foot wide and sinking low, from centre stance (16)
  22. Left side lunges – from centre standing position, place foot wide to left, then back (16)
  23. Plank
  24. Swimming – lying on stomach, slightly lift arms and legs, beating alternately
  25. Back bow – like swimming pose, but lift arms and legs all at same time (23)
  26. Calf raises – using a door frame, sink low and raise to tip-toe
  27. Pulse squats – sink low with legs together, at lowest point start small pulses (46)
  28. Pulse squats – sink low with legs wide apart, toes facing out, at lowest point pulse (56)
  29. Push-ups on knees (22)
  30. Standing butterfly swim with tins – in a squat position, push hands out, sweep back (22)
  31. Wide squat and low punches with tins – back bent, punch opposite hand to foot (forgot!)
  32. Straight leg toe tap – using tins, straight leg march, opposite hand to foot (33)
  33. Mountain climbers (MC) normal – alternate foot tap (not jumping) (45)
  34. MC right – tapping right foot lightly to floor, close to elbow (12 on toes, 12 on knees)
  35. MC left – tapping left foot lightly (12 on toes, 15 on knees)
  36. Rowing balance V pose – balancing on bum, arms come back like a rower as legs go out (21)
  37. Back baby bend – lying on back, with legs bent, knees to side, reach arms through and curl (23)
  38. Standing upper cuts with tins – upper cut boxer punches, nice and fast
  39. Shoulder press with tins – reach both arms over head, elbows come back to shoulder height (22)
  40. Camel pose pulses – sitting high on knees, lean back and pulse to stretch quads (30)
  41. Butt kickers – running on spot as fast as you can with feet trying to touch your bum
  42. Hook punches – standing in loose squat, elbows shoulder height, swing arms round
  43. Burpees (11)

Yep I saved the best for last. I hate burpees! If you don’t know how to do them have a look here. I didn’t do the push up in her version, just the legs out and in and jumping up.

I’m really pleased I managed the entire plank on my feet and didn’t sink to my knees. This means my core is getting stronger!

So that’s my birthday fitfor15in15 for you! It’s been a great day so far – Leo served prosecco and cake as breakfast in bed, then I spent a few hours responding to emails and messages which was great (my family and most of my friends are in Australia, so the time difference meant they’d messaged me while I was asleep) and now it’s time to get ready for dinner. We’re going to a fancy steak restaurant in the city, where I’m sure I’ll have a few beers and maybe a glass of red as well. And maybe cake … but probably not (never say never!) because I’ll be full from dinner … and as I must keep reminding myself, I’ve already had cake today!

And before you go, please check out fitfor15in15s fourth guest contributor post from outdoor enthusiast Kate Lehmann. Kate thought she’d never stop being a hiker, but a new challenge came along and has been grabbed with both hands, literally.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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Leo bringing the cake upstairs for breakfast

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I took it from the angle that switched the numbers! Ha! Not sure why, I don’t mind being 43!

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Another wonderful bunch of flowers from Leo. Love the colours!

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Feeling sweaty but good!

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 … 😉

Wishing you a wonderful day.