March 13: Lots of tripping doing 30 minutes skipping

Another Friday the 13th rolls along and, thankfully, I’ve stayed out of trouble again.

After yesterday’s run, I thought I’d keep the pace high by doing 30 minutes of skipping on the terrace. It’s going to take me years to master the art, but jumping around in this stop-start way is the only way to learn (check out the video from my previous skipping day to see how it can be done by an expert!).

It’s really noticeable that when my concentration’s gone I can only manage a few rotations before snagging my foot on the rope. But when I focus on something in the distance, with my head and neck at the right angle, then it can be a good few minutes before anything goes wrong.

Previously, I’ve only ever done 15 minutes of skipping, but knew it was time to go harder. I stopped after 15 to kick the football with my neighbour’s daughter for a few minutes in the sun, then resumed the final 15. That little break probably helped a lot.

Happily, I can report there’s less tummy bounce happening these days. Well, one would hope so after 10 weeks of daily exercise! It’s been an amazing experience and I’m so glad I’ve stuck with it.

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Worked up a bit of a sweat!

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Bit misty, but thankfully not as windy as yesterday

Today has been a day of study. I had to let go of one of the online courses – the nutrition one – because I fell too far behind, but I hope to pick it up again in summer, because I find the topic very interesting (and luckily it’s free!). So now my full attention is with the Body Matters course, which is all about exercise and how it … um, well … affects your body, believe it or not.

One of the lecturers, Dr Steven Blair, stated inactivity and low fitness are the major public health problems of the 20th century. Dr Blair (and others) say 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise – such as walking – is required per week in order to maintain a healthy fitness level. Or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise. Of course, nutrition is important too. He said too many people have a positive caloric balance on too many days – ie we’re consuming more than we’re burning. Factors include increases in sedentary jobs and transport options. We sit more at work and can be delivered closer to the door. He also has the scientific proof that you can still be overweight and fit, and that your fitness level is much more important than your fatness level.

I won’t rabbit on too much, other than to say it’s been a very productive day and I’m looking forward to catching up on the rest of the course (I’m about two weeks behind already!). All good stuff for being mentally and physically fit in 2105.

Also, if you missed it, here’s another little post from today about woodpeckers.

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.

January 24: Bedtime yoga

After yesterday’s four-hour cleaning effort followed by a boozy, cheesy dinner, I felt pretty average this morning!! My morning routine was done at midday, so that gives you an indication of how I was faring.

The whole day seemed sluggish. Mundane things like grocery shopping, doing the laundry and more vacuuming, this time at our house, preceded an afternoon on the couch eating Leo’s yummy chilli and watching crappy TV. I thought about using the step machine at some stages during the evening, but grabbed another piece of chocolate and pulled the blanket higher.

I haven’t changed my diet at all. This is something to address in the coming months (not that it’s terribly terrible), because there was no way everything could be done at once – I would have been a disaster. So I’m still drinking beer and eating dessert and having the odd bowl of chips/crisps and so on. Once the exercise habit is a habit, then I’ll look at the quantity and quality of what fuels me day to day. That’s also part of the course I’m currently enrolled in (my studies have been neglected this week. The lecturer said 40,000 people have enrolled in this MOOC, so I better pull up my socks!).

During the week, I read this simple but effective article about a woman who committed to doing 15 minutes of yoga per day for a month. Her outcome was encouraging and has also made me more inquisitive about yoga. Maybe I’ll add 15 minutes of yoga to my morning routine? 10 minutes of meditation, five minutes of stretching, and then 15 minutes of yoga … it could be possible. And then I’d do a minimum of 15 minutes of sweatier fitfor15in15 exercises later in the day … Hmmmm … It’s something to think about (but I’m worried about overcommitting myself time-wise).

The author, Grete DeAngelo, lightly touched on something I have been meaning to write about for a while. How the day could almost become a collection of 15 minute blocks; of 15 minute habits. Once you form one habit, it becomes easier to form another. Because when I think about how much I can achieve in 15 minutes with exercise, it almost becomes a game, a challenge, to start thinking of what else can be done in 15 minute blocks. It’s addictive!

Her story also sparked my desire tonight for a calming yoga routine before bed. I found this, and enjoyed it. It’s shot quite strangely – we’re looking at the man from behind and to the side, and he’s sitting a fair way away! Sometimes I had to look twice to work out what he was doing. But the exercises were just enough, the waves on the beach nice to listen to, and the rising moon pretty to see. Because this was the first time I’ve done this video, I had to keep checking my phone to understand his descriptions of some of the moves. If I do it again in the future, it will be more relaxing.

Here are some other things I enjoyed reading about this week:

Diagrams to help us understand some foods. This was very interesting, and helpful. As I said, I haven’t altered my diet at all yet. Baby steps, baby steps.

Technology is harming our brains. I think we all know this, but it’s an interesting read.

An interesting article about study and learning techniques. If you’re guilty of this, like me, it’s time to re-evaluate our methods!

A recipe for tumeric and ginger tea. Apparently it’s good for us. It sounds pretty delicious too. I’m trying to drink at least one (two-cup) pot of tea a day at the moment.

The Swiss finance industry caused a massive stir recently. If you can work out what it’s all about, can you please let me know? I’m still confused (was never good with money matters) but do know it means it will be more expensive for friends to visit us in Switzerland now. Sad face.

Wishing you a wonderful rest of the weekend.

Mentally Fit with Online Courses

Inadvertently (or subconsciously), the idea for this blog has been brewing for a while – longer than I actually realised.

On Monday, January 12, I start the first of two free massive-open-online courses (MOOCs), offered from a university in the USA (it’s actually in The Netherlands), called “Introduction to Nutrition – Food for Health”. It runs for 8 weeks and here is the course blurb – “NUTR101x is a general nutrition course that addresses the relation between nutrition and human health with a focus on overnutrition.”

I found the course months ago on www.edx.org, and this website came into my world through the blog http://www.andthenwesaved.com. Anna from And Then We Saved put together a list of places to get a free online education and kindly offered it up to her readers. Here is her post. Thanks, Anna, for the inspiration! Without you, I may never have found out about this.

Nutrition isn’t something I’ve ever thought of studying, I really had no interest in it before. But for some reason, now, I’m very keen to understand what powers us through the day. If you would like to read more information about the course you can find it here.

The second course I’ll be doing, starting February 25, is another edX course called “Body101 – The Body Matters”. It focuses on exercise and what it does to your body. Here’s the official blurb – “This course examines the benefits of physical activity, how to prevent injuries, and what to do when injuries occur. The course will include content from leading international experts in multiple fields related to the science of exercise.”

You can sign up for it here, too, if you like …

It’s time to get my brain working again and these two courses fit very nicely into my fitfor15in15 challenge. I haven’t worked in Switzerland since moving here just over three years ago. The first 18 months were spent learning German and doing the B2 Level exam. For the past 18 months, I’ve been a bit rudderless – uninspired, wasting time and reading loads of other people’s blogs but never quite managing to find the enthusiasm to start anything of my own.

I’m not allowed to work here because there are no international work agreements between Switzerland and Australia. Non-EU (European Union) people have to wait five years before they can apply for a working visa. There is a possible work option to start work before the five years is up, but it’s incredibly hard to prove – that I would be the only person in the EU capable of doing a particular job. The hiring company would have to go through months of red tape with immigration in order to make it a reality, and that’s a huge deterrent! Television is where I have worked in the past, and there are many EU television professionals who would be chosen before me.

Hence, I had to drag myself out of these idle doldrums somehow. I’ve always been a keen student learner, so I figured doing a free online course or two could be the way to go. What do you think? I have no idea of their quality or what’s expected from me, but it’s worth a shot.

Have you ever done an online course before, and did you like it? Was it harder than you thought it would be?