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.

fitfor15in15

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

February 6: Less active than planned

Well, today’s grand plans went out the (train) window! Yesterday, I wrote about doing that morning yoga routine again, but forgot a very important point … I was catching an early train to Lausanne to see Cooper dance in the Prix de Lausanne!

So there was no time for exercise this morning. Leo dropped me at the train station around 7.30am for my first excursion to Lausanne, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, on the Lake of Geneva. The train trip from Bern takes one hour and six minutes. It’s hard to believe I haven’t been here before!

The irony of Nicole (who’s been there for a week) being my tour guide wasn’t lost on either of us.

The city itself is lovely, but it was so cold we didn’t spend a huge amount of time being sightseers. We went to Musee cantonal des Beaux-Arts as well, and I really enjoyed many paintings from Felix Vallotton. Our favourite was this mooing cow by Eugene Burnand. The (painted) light on the animal was so clear and amazing.

We then made a mad dash to the auditorium and watched the selections for tomorrow’s finals – only 20 dancers will make it through. Some amazing young talent in that line up, and hopefully Cooper will be chosen. If not, he danced beautifully and will hopefully be snapped up by a dance school or academy.

So my 15 minutes of exercise was done too late tonight, in the office, doing squats and lunges and general movements, using my beloved chickpea tins. My aunt Julie said they should contain hummus by now!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

January 29: Fondue + exercise = bad idea

It rained all day today so we stayed indoors, watched tennis and High Fidelity, cooked this awesome spinach and feta pie, and generally mooched around.

Then dinner struck. Fondue. Cheese. Bread. Potatoes. Sore belly.

Exercise tonight was going to be abs-focused, but I quickly had to change that plan and make it all about the legs and arms – my tummy was just too full.

I did some crunches (wrong!) then a variety of leg exercises lying on both sides, tricep dips on my desk, push ups with bent knees and some squats using the chickpea tins (ohh, those tins and I have made some history).

And that, I’m (happily) afraid, is that. Fifteen minutes. fitfor151in15 strikes again. My arms and legs are definitely feeling the benefits (during yesterday’s and this morning’s stretching, I could hardly touch the floor, my hammies were so tight), but my stomach? Who knows?! It’s full of melted cheese!

How’s your fitness plan coming along? Do you feel different?

Nicole and Cooper leave tomorrow morning, and it will be strange having everything so quiet again after so many good laughs. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to go to Lausanne next week to see him dance in the Prix de Lausanne (ballet) competition. Maybe it will inspire me to take a class? Ha!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

January 17: Bad weather + no motivation = 15 minutes again

Beautiful snow and the desire to be lazy kept us indoors today. I printed a handful of pictures for the hanging photo mobile Christmas present from Gabby, read a little bit and watched some episodes of Inspector Montalbano and Grand Designs.

This morning’s meditation was a bit different – because the office was noisy (with whirring computers doing updates), I sat on the bed near the window. After about five minutes, it was impossible to keep my eyes closed, knowing how wonderful it looked outside. So I sat in contemplation, wide-eyed, listening to the music, watching the flakes float steadily down. It was pretty heavenly.

It’s okay to change it up, don’t you think, when something so mesmerising and calming is happening around you?

But yet again, this lazy phase means it’s after 11pm and I still haven’t done my 15 minutes. I need to form a weekend habit to exercise before noon. This is becoming a bit silly.

So excuse me again, while I get stuck into some sit ups and so on …

Well, I think that’s going to hurt tomorrow! I thought I’d try for 15 minutes of sit ups … after two minutes of full sit ups, holding the tins, I checked the stopwatch. Then again at three minutes. So I called it quits after five minutes. Then I did eight minutes of leg exercises (four different exercises, for one minute each, lying on my right, then left, side), one minute of bent knee push ups, then one minute of arm exercises with the tins.

I promise I’ll mix it up a bit more in the next few days, for your (and my) sanity!

Speaking of mixing it up, I thought you might like to read some articles I found interesting this past week from a variety of sources – friends posting things on social media, websites I read and so on.

1. Aussie scientists may have a new fat-burning solution

2. Why exercise doesn’t always help you lose weight

3. Optimistic people have healthier hearts

4. Otters derailing conversations – something humorous to break up these health stories!

5. Zero Waste Home’s one year of waste – I read this blog regularly. Bea is an amazing, focussed woman!

Wishing you all a wonderful remainder of the weekend.

January 16: Feeling the pressure

Strange things were afoot today. I met with Pastora and Iva at Kanjana’s house, and all of us were nearly comatose at the lunch table. For a normally rambunctious lot, we had no energy, felt weird and accident prone – so we blamed it on the weather.

I’m no expert on thermometers or barometers, but there was something going on today that threw us all off kilter – kind of like mango season in Australia’s tropics, when everyone goes a little bit kurr-ayyzzzzie. But in our case, we just went zzzzzz.

The morning started fine – I had to check the timer on my phone twice to make sure I hadn’t set the wrong program for the 10 minutes of meditation, because it felt like it was over and done with in five. That was a wonder.

My stretches still twang in all the right places, and I’m positive my elbows are getting closer to the ground. I even buckled my belt one notch tighter, but maybe that’s because my jeans need a wash. And I swear I bounded my way to the bus stop.

Then hours later, we (and I feel like I’m not speaking out of turn by grouping us all in this malarky) were flatter than pancakes. As soon as I came home, I went kurr-ayyzzzzie – in my pyjamas on the couch.

It’s nearly 11pm and I haven’t done my 15 minutes of actual exercise for today. I could cheat and say walking to and from the bus counts, but I consider that to be everyday life stuff. I have this notion in my head that fitfor15in15 has to be at least 15 minutes of specific exercise per day, so excuse me while I keep this blog post open for 15 minutes and get down.

So there you have it. The chick pea tins came to my rescue again for a good arm workout as I did a variation of squats and lunges. Then some ab work, such as plank (20 seconds! Hopeless!) and sit ups, plus push ups (still on my knees) and boxing moves. I wonder if this is going to wake me up or if I’ll be out for the count as soon as my head hits the pillow … in, oh, 15 seconds.

Can you remember a time when the weather wreaked havoc on your head, rather than on your house? They say it’s going to snow tomorrow, so maybe that has contributed to a very strange day.

Hope today’s not one of those days for you. I hope it’s wonderful.

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.