April 17: Morning yoga, new yoga and sounds against silence

The day is so grey it’s felt like dusk all morning. If it wasn’t for the lawnmower noise from the neighbour’s property, my brain would be saying it’s time to get ready for bed.

So to wake myself up, I did my morning routine (yesterday was the first time I’d done the 15 minutes in two weeks. Two weeks! Holidays threw me out, and then I was out of the habit – back now) and went straight into Sadie Nardini’s 30 Min Morning Wake Up Yoga Flow, which I’ve done a few times before. You can find the video here.

I do enjoy Sadie’s workouts, but lately, I’ve really noticed how much she talks. She talks and talks and sometimes that’s great, but I find it frustrating when she says “Here we’ll take five breaths while we blah blah blah blah (30 seconds worth) … Ok now for the five breaths.” I’ve done 10 already. For me, this really interrupts the whole flow of the routine. Some poses we’re in for longer while things are explained and some poses are done quickly. I need to learn it off by heart so I don’t have to rely on the video.

With the idea of finding something with a better flow, I went searching and came across Dagmar Spremberg from Soft Music & Yoga – YogaYak. From just watching parts of it quickly (didn’t have time to do another routine!) it looks like a peaceful yet energetic yoga routine with just the right amount of talking and a constant, calming flow. Being on a beach with melodic music at the start and end also makes it appealing.

It’s a little longer than Sadie’s but that’s because you lie quietly at the end listening to the music. Ok! I think I may have found my new favourite yoga workout. Can’t wait to try it. There are others in the YogaYak series as well, including Hatha and Vinyasa routines. You could start with the beginners series and move through the routines. Here is the YogaYak website where they have plenty of options. As per usual, I have no affiliation with any of the links I post, just putting them out there for us all.

While searching their site, I found 11 hours of Tibetan bowl sounds for meditation purposes. What a resource! You could paint to this, or write, or read. It’s great for people with tinnitus because we focus on the ringing in our ears when there’s silence, and before too long that becomes overwhelming. This is ‘music’ without being a distraction. I might even start writing more (long-form stuff) thanks to this. I had no idea these videos were out there. Maybe you’d prefer to listen to the ocean? Or listen to birds in a garden? (I found one bird highly repetitive and irritating, so this is not the background noise for me!)

Using two tabs on my computer, I was able to play the Tibetan bowls with the ocean sounds at the same time. That’s also a lovely combination. I could write all day with that softly in the background. Hearing all these sounds makes me realise how much time I spend in silence. Not good. So … Yahoo! What a find!

  • Physically Fit: 30 Min Morning Yoga with Sadie
  • Mentally Fit: Finding the new sound recordings and yoga routine; meeting Pastora
  • Nutritionally Fit: A non-fasting day today but I’ll be good
  • Minimalism: Finally wearing the trench coat I hauled from storage at mum’s. Will I love it?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

March 29: 20-minute yoga workout and food dilemmas

What a lazy day it was! The wind was howling, it rained non-stop and the low-hanging clouds made it feel like it was dusk all day. It was hard to separate my arse from the couch. So I didn’t try much.

Now, it’s late and I need to exercise. Sadie Nardini comes to the rescue (again! Search for her name in the search tool on the blog and you’ll see some of her other workouts) with a 20 minute Booty Booster Flow. Seeing as mine had been flat all day, I figured it could do with a boost. Shake that booty.

Can someone else please do this and let me know if you sweated as much as I did? Maybe our heating is up too high? I had to strip off my socks, then my leggings, and then my t-shirt in order to get through this. How strange! Hopefully my arse will be awake tomorrow. But thanks again Sadie, for another good workout. (I did have to cut her short though, because for the first time, her constant talking really, really did my head in. I’m sure it’s because it’s late. I think.)

I’ve also been thinking about my diet, and by diet I don’t mean lettuce leaves and air but what I currently eat. The idea of changing my nutrition, which isn’t all that bad I don’t think, has always been part of the fitfor15in15 plan. But as I’ve mentioned before, things are slowly being changed in order to not be overwhelmed and fail everything at once.

After three months of daily workouts, an exercise habit has been formed. Once again, before the start of a new month, I think about when is the right time to tackle the nutrition side of things. It’s time to really start thinking about cutting out the crap. Even just for a short amount of time – say one, two or even three months.

Years ago, I did the Liver Cleansing Diet and felt quite healthy. By the end of three months, I even craved an apple instead of a chocolate bar as an afternoon snack. Unheard of for me! Now I’m thinking about encorporating some of those elements and additional things like smoothies and nuts and … oh it’s all so overwhelming!

Generally we eat quiet well (Leo jokes that he’s gained every gram of fat I’ve lost in the past three months) but it’s the snacks and treats which are the killers. Chips, chocolate, biscuits, pastries … mainly anything sweet and delicious. They’re not part of the everyday, but they’re definitely around a bit too much. It’s a constant battle against a sweet tooth.

Do you think it’s a good idea to try some sort of diet? Some kind of plan? I’m a bit loathe to do that, because buying new ingredients and making new meals every night is a bit overwhelming and tedious for me. I have a tendency to want to do things by the book or not at all, but the thought of all that time in the kitchen … ugh … I should be more positive about it, right?! Once again, I’ll keep thinking about it for a while longer. But I think the time has come to make a decision/change. Let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter!

Here are some photos from my trip to meet Claudia in Bern on Wednesday, that I said I’d post when the internet worked again.

And please stop by tomorrow when you can read the next guest contributor installment, from Sal Book, who has a lovely story about her change of heart from being a ‘never never’ to a ‘let’s do this’ exerciser.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

March 18: 30 minutes of “Badass” Yoga

Local kids have turned a very dull grey wall ...

Local kids have turned a very dull grey wall …

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… into a lovely floral work of art …

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… but what a shame it’s all going to wash away when it rains! This is on my walk to the bus.

Exercising in the afternoon can be a good thing. Your body’s warmed up and you’ve moved around enough to feel a bit looser and ready. But it can also mean you get caught out by the afternoon slump, when the thought of a workout just seems like one step too far.

That’s how I felt when I came home from the city this afternoon. I’d already walked to and from the bus, then around the city, and I was struggling to get my brain into ‘exercise mode’. Who to turn to? Sadie Nardini of course! She’s becoming a go-to favourite. I found her Yoga Body Workout: Sadie’s Badass 30 Minute Yoga Flow: Energy and it sounded worth a shot.

This is one of at least three Badass workouts she’s posted on YouTube, and come on, with a name like that, who wouldn’t want to be a Badass and do some Badass yoga?! You can also try her Badass Detox and Weight Loss workouts, which also run for about 30 minutes. I might have a go at those two in the coming weeks.

For the Energy workout, you’ll need a yoga block or something to put under your back at the end. I dislike it when a workout suddenly uses a piece of equipment you haven’t been prepped about! I don’t own a block, but used a hardish cushion and, despite not being great, it was enough to prop up my back.

Finding my balance was a bit of an issue in this workout, which I think would be best suited to intermediate or advanced students. But don’t let that put you off! It’s still a great workout, especially if you have tight hips, as there are a few exercises which give them a deep stretch while sitting. I really enjoyed those exercises and hope the benefits are long-lasting.

If you know your balance is a bit rubbish, you can keep a chair nearby to hold onto. Luckily, our ceiling in the lounge room (well, all over the house actually!) is very low, so when I felt wobbly I could grab a beam. There’s no shame in having to put your foot down, literally not metaphorically, when doing yoga. Hopefully, towards the end of the year, my balance will have improved (it can’t get much worse I don’t think!) and I can hold positions longer, without getting my wobble on.

It’s now a few hours after the workout, and I do feel better than I did when arriving home. Another case of a workout living up to its name! The backs of my legs feel tight, as if they’ve done something other than walking, and my arms feel energised too.

Speaking of legs, here’s a random thought I feel like throwing at you today … I have a dent on the side of my right leg, near the top of the calf on the outside, from crossing it over my left. It’s there all the time … this is not a good sign … time to stop crossing my legs!

Following the weekend in Strasbourg and the internet meltdown last Saturday night, I haven’t had the chance for a while to post a list of stories and links I’ve enjoyed, so today seems like as good a day as any to get these out there. I hope they are a cause for inspiration, motivation, consternation or celebration.

1. Every day, I read, and enjoy, a creative lifestyle blog called The Private Life of a Girl. The author, Sophie, recently shared an incredibly moving podcast she’d heard with her readers. If you have a spare 25 minutes and the chance to sit somewhere familiar, quiet and comfortable, I encourage you to listen to Diane’s secret.

2. A new study shows Mozart mends minds.

3. Can you imagine being this flexible and strong? These amazing urban gymnasts are incredibly fit, in a way I could never be (and I feel confident saying never in this case!)

4. Two women do an intense martial arts display. My jaw is still on the floor.

5. Here are some food myths that have been proved incorrect, such as eat small meals throughout the day, full-fat dairy products are bad for you and so on.

6. A wonderful story of community members who learned sign language to surprise a deaf resident. It’s a commercial, but a lovely true story!

7. An article about exercising at different times of the day and what to eat afterwards.

8. And last but not least, these two visual comedians gave me many large and hearty chuckles.

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The first tulip leaves are sprouting at the self-pick, honesty-box flower farm. It won’t be long before we have hand-picked flowers at home, yahoo!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

March 3: 30 minutes of Yoga Cross Training

A few days ago, I did Sadie Nardini’s yoga cross training for arms, and this evening, after Leo banished me to the lounge room to prepare something secret upstairs, I thought I’d try her yoga cross training routine for legs.

I really like her style – she’s sassy, fun and a rock chick at heart. She also happens to be incredibly flexible! When she bends her leg out to the side it’s totally in line with her body. I look like a dog weeing on a tree – half cocked. But I just can’t get my leg any higher. Something to aim for (pardon the pun) for sure. It was an enjoyable workout and hopefully I’ll feel it tomorrow.

Leo needed more time to make or wrap whatever he was working on (it’s my birthday in two days and on Friday we’re driving three hours north to Strasbourg in France for a long weekend, yahoo!) so I figured why not sweat a bit more by doing Sadie’s core workout as well? She filmed all three videos (arms, legs, core) at the same time, so you could effectively combine them for a tough 50-55 minute full-body workout. For me, doing the two videos back to back was a great 30-minute diversion from trying to guess what Leo’s up to.

Yesterday, my sister called with the good news that she and mum will visit us in October for four days. It’s a long way to come from Brisbane for such a short time, but they have to be in Athens on October 31 to catch a cruise ship to Singapore! What a trip! I wonder … if I can be as flexible as Sadie in seven months, could I stowaway in a suitcase? Now that’s something to aim for!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 28: Yoga Cross Training arm workout

My stomach muscles are sore today from the previous two days, so I switched focus to my other ‘problem’ area by giving my arms a solid workout with this video from yoga instructor Sadie Nardini. I’ve mentioned her a few times before and really enjoy her style. This is the first time I’ve done this video. She also has workouts for core and legs if you fancy having a look at those (I may end up linking to them next week, so if you’re patient, I’ll do the searching for you soon enough!).

This wasn’t a normal yoga routine, rather what Nardini calls yoga ‘crosstrain’, with the main difference being the moves were done a little faster than normal yoga. And I have a major announcement to make … drumroll … I’ve replaced my two chickpea tin cans (Shock! No way! “They’ve been with you from the start!” I hear you say!) with two 1.5 litre bottles of water. I’m half expecting them to explode over the top of the computer because I squeeze them so hard. Maybe they’re not the best workout equipment because they’re quite hard to hold, but I need to ‘up the weight’ to do some serious damage on the chub!

Overall, once again, this was a workout that did what I expected and taught me some new moves and stretches as well (the forward lunge on the knee with the foot turned out and leaning in was a great inner thigh and hamstring stretch). It runs for over 26 minutes, but the actual workout part is about 24 minutes long. As much as I enjoy doing the videos, I’m really looking forward to going for a run soon. Come back sunny weather, please? Soon? Have I caught the running bug? Could I become a runner? I do like the outdoors aspect of it, definitely. Only time will tell!

We had a great day today, with my first trip to a famous Swiss biscuit factory called Kambly. It took an hour to drive there and I was a bit surprised we couldn’t actually tour the factory – I was fully expecting to put on white coats, hair nets and plastic covers over our shoes so we could walk around the factory floor. Instead, we could only watch a video of the production process, a live macaroon maker and taste all their biscuits and buy them cheaper in the factory shop.

After we sampled ourselves sick, we decided on a few packets for us and some as gifts. Yummy, buttery, chocolatey biscuity goodness. They are not part of the nutritionally fit plan for 2015, I know, but as mentioned before, I haven’t changed my diet too much yet. Baby steps, baby steps. For now, I’ll continue to enjoy those naughty treats that come around once in a while …

Oh alright, alright … I have to confess I’ve been naughty two days in a row. Leo brought home custard doughnuts/donuts yesterday as a treat for doing all that cleaning and it was impossible to say no! So next week I have to be better. Damn, did we really buy all those biscuits? Did I mention they were yummy, buttery, chocolatey, biscuity goodness?

At home, we watched a replay of the Brit Music Awards and, boy, I felt for Madonna. What a professional, to get up and keep singing – she must have been in so much pain! I’m not going to put a link to it. She’s been all over the news. Poor Madge. On second throughts, I will add a link, because this lovely, funny story from The Guardian puts it all into a bit of perspective. She didn’t fall, she was pulled!

Wishing you a wonderful rest of the weekend.

And here are the links to some articles I found interesting this past week:

Bea from zerowastehome shared what’s in her wardrobe with us … now she’s a minimalist. Could you be like Bea? I’m trying to wheedle my stack down and would love to carry it all in a carry-on!

Someone made an amazing underground greenhouse to grow food all year round. Brilliant.

An article about foods that make us smarter … what? No doughnuts/donuts?

Do you have an anger issue? Here are some tips from a radio interview discussing how to react differently to stop a potential heart attack.

The gymnastic flips this guy can do are just amazing. What a skill. How fitfor15in15 fit must he be?!

February 25: Yoga v Pilates

Reading this article on the greatist website this morning got my mind working … (by the way, greatist.com is an exercise website with a catchy name, not my misspelled personal endorsement! If you want to find out more about their philosophy click here.)

What exactly is the difference between yoga and Pilates? Which one is better? Show me a novice exerciser who hasn’t asked these questions!

The article explains the origins of both formats, which is interesting in itself. Pilates uses a capital ‘P’ because it’s the founder’s surname. I didn’t know that. If I’ve written it with a lower case ‘p’ on this blog before I shall go through and amend all mentions … in another lifetime.

The crux of the ‘argument’ between yoga and Pilates basically boils down to personal preference and the article’s final sentence … “Yoga’s the go-to choice for stress relief and a mind-body workout … while Pilates is typically better for strictly strengthening muscle.”

Not one to count on a single story as a source of information, the search continued for my yoga versus Pilates debate. It’s endless!

From bodyandsoul.com.au this article concludes, “If recovery from injury or strengthening weak joints is a priority, Pilates is probably going to give you optimum benefits … If, however, your aim is to take a break from everyday stresses and refocus, yoga is probably more likely to be your activity of choice.”

From the Victorian Government’s website, this very in-depth comparison contained a lot of new and relevant information with handy bullet points: “In Pilates, your muscles are never worked to exhaustion, so there is no sweating or straining, just intense concentration … The health benefits of regular yoga practice may include lowering blood pressure, improved posture and circulation, and a sense of wellbeing.”

This article from active.com highlights five key differences and to finish off, this Oprah magazine article does a good comparison between heart health, weight loss, body strength and flexibility, and bonus benefits.

There’s so much more information out there, but if you’ve asked yourself ‘what’s the difference?’ before, hopefully you now have a better idea of which one you might prefer. But you don’t really have to choose between the two – mix them together, if you’re so inclined, for a healthy mind and body.

So, obviously, today I’ve either chosen to do a yoga workout or a Pilates workout, right?! (I wish I could be cheeky and say wrong!) Yes, I’ve gone with yoga. I need to calm the head a bit. My plan to include yoga on Mondays as part of my morning routine hasn’t quite happened yet. On the strength of the only other Sadie Nardini yoga workout I’ve done (I still love it; click here to read more and find that workout), I chose her 20 minute yoga workout for weight loss and fat burning.

It’s actually only about 17 minutes long, but she encourages you to lie on your back for a few minutes at the end, to centre yourself before you jump up and resume your day. This workout has similar moves to the previous one, but is shorter and not quite as tough, so if you’re looking for a gentle but still challenging routine, this could be the right one for you.

I do feel calmer … even if that DAMN CAT is still running around in our ROOF! Ahem … calm … calmer … calmest …

Wishing you a wonderful day.

February 7: No kicks from kickboxing

Adding yoga to my morning routine today has really boosted my energy levels (and appetite!). I did 15 minutes of meditation this morning, upping it for the first time from the normal 10, then five minutes of stretching. Straight after that, I did the fantastic morning yoga routine from Sadie Nardini from Thursday’s workout. But instead of making this my workout for today, I’ve stuck with the plan to make it part of my morning routine, and will do it every Monday morning from now on. What a way to start the week!

I’m still looking for things to add to my morning routine, say on Wednesdays and Fridays, so if you see any other great 15-30 minute morning workouts, please let me know! And if I find any, I’ll let you know too, of course.

Figuring I was already in my exercise gear, I took a little break and then did my fitfor15in15 workout for today – a 25-minute kickboxing class I found through Net Fit using the digital box attached to our television. You can find it here on YouTube, if you’re interested in also trying it, but before you get too excited, like me, please keep reading.

Several hundred years ago, a friend Valli and I went to kickboxing classes after work once a week to bash out some frustration and feel fitter. After realising we didn’t enjoy kicking each other in the shins, we called it a day. But I’ve always liked the idea of kickboxing (with a bag) and can’t believe it’s taken me so long to think about adding it to fitfor15in15. Finding this routine made my heart flutter a bit. And then it started …

Instructor Becky gets 10 out of 10 for enthusiasm and technique, but the routine was – I feel so mean saying this – terribly boring. I really don’t want to write that, as Becky was totally into it, but the workout, the music and possibly her high-fiving enthusiasm had me smirking, groaning and rolling my eyes. This workout was not worthy of high-fives!

The urge to stop was strong, but I persevered, hoping it would get better. I hardly broke a sweat, despite doing the squats and punches as over-enthusiastically as Becky. Another bug-bear was the camera work, which occasionally missed the change of exercise while focussing on the back-up people, who, like the viewer, were also clueless as to what was going on. It all came across as very amateurish.

My search for another kickboxing workout with better music, some better exercises and a lot less cheese will continue. Everything I find/try can’t be a winner, so I shouldn’t be too disappointed, but this is the first one I’ve started without checking what happens (which I do when I watch workouts on my computer, to see if they hold my attention). Others have been vetoed and never attempted – I want to bring you the good stuff!

And on that note, I wish you a wonderful rest of the weekend (while I will probably be struck by lightning for being horrible about someone’s pride and joy).

Here are some articles, videos and images I found interesting this week:

Another article that came along at the right time, about food affecting our energy levels.

Don’t want to go to the gym? Here’s a simple article about getting fit without four walls.

Mum found this one! I like to dance, but have no style, unlike Bob Hope and James Cagney who look like they had a ball making this clip.

Something funny to watch for people who love New York, want to go to New York, have been to New York, or never want to go to New York. I love NY, accents and puppets too, so it’s a total laugh-out-loud winner.

And last but not least, I’ve been giggling for days about this picture. Thanks Shailesh!

February 5: Amazing morning yoga

Another winner found today! After jumping around so much yesterday, I searched for a 30-minute yoga routine and when I saw this video from instructor Sadie Nardini, called 30 Min Morning Wake Up Yoga Flow, I was sold. It’s morning here, and surely morning yoga would be nice … and calm … and relaxing … and … WRONG! It was a massive strength workout.

Wow, I think I may have found something to add to my morning routine. Currently I meditate for 10 minutes and stretch for five. But lately I’ve noticed I squirm and wriggle for at least the first few minutes of the meditation, and this morning, I was preoccupied with rubbing my knees so they would bend comfortably to a sitting position. Yesterday’s Banish Fat Boost Metabolism workout has left its mark – I’m not as sore as I thought I’d be, but I’m still feeling it.

When I’m settled into the meditation, and my spine is straight, my breathing calm and my wrists feel like they’re a part of my knees, I really feel like I’m in the zone …  and then the music stops and I ‘have to’ stop. So maybe tomorrow I’ll bump it up to 15 minutes of meditation and then go straight into this workout from Sadie (check out her website here).

Ooohhhh, it was tough. I am no yoga practitioner, or advocate really. But this was great. I felt my hips cramping. But then they stretch out. My shoulders, back and arms feel like I’ve been lifting weights. It was impossible to do all the exercises as well as she did, but it was totally worth the effort.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner. I’ll be doing this again – maybe tomorrow, so I can feel the benefits again. Then I’ll mix up my morning routine each day, and do this workout every, say, Friday. What do you think? It won’t be counted as part of my fitfor15in15 workouts, it will be counted as my morning routine.

Do you mix up your morning routine? Or does that defeat the purpose of it being called a routine?! What do you like doing in the morning?

Wishing you a wonderful day.