24 Dec 2013

Have yourself a merry little christmas

Woke up after seven this morning. Not my favourite thing to do on a day off work. I woke up because I was having a nightmare. I was watching an ice hockey game and the players got seriously injured and there was blood everywhere. Happy times. Wonder where that weird dream came from, but very glad it was just a dream and I won't go into detail about it because it was quite horrific. I'm pretty sure nothing as terrible usually happens during an ice hockey game (hopefully never ever). Not something you want to wake up to on a happy day like this. Sorry for sharing and enough about that!

Today is Christmas Eve! Now watching Finnish television where children are calling Father Christmas and singing to him. And in between they show cartoons and such. At the moment it's Postman Pat. (fun fact of the day: I was called Postman Pat for years at school) In just a little while we'll be at my parents' eating rice porridge for Christmas Eve brunch. Lovely times!

In the evening I'm sure there'll be more lovely food, Christmas Eve dinner at my parents'. I'm very much looking forward to the first Christmas with the cutest baby in the world, my nephew. And presents, there'll of course be presents! I was wrapping gifts until after midnight last night, until my back hurt so much. Hope everyone likes their presents, I love giving gifts I think will be appreciated.

Now I better start getting ready so I won't have to eat Christmas porridge in my pyjamas. Unfortunately I won't be wearing my new red dress. Reason: it doesn't exists. I went shopping yesterday in the hope of finding the perfect red dress on sale, but I didn't even find an imperfect not-red dress that wasn't on sale that I wanted to buy. I guess my no shopping mode continues (which is a good thing). I'm sure one of my old dresses or skirts will do just as fine.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Waiting for Christmas presents?

Our Christmas tree is very small, red and made of metal but it has Hello Kitty in it!

Snowglobe collection

12 Dec 2013

Planking in the rain - challenge update

On holiday in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife at the moment and the rain just keeps pouring down outside. Rain, rain, rain and more rain. And then some more. The not so great holiday weather started on Tuesday with strong winds and continued with thunder storms and pouring rain yesterday. It's supposed to continue all day today too.

Lucky for us, this part of the island seems to be spared of the worst weather. Based on what we've seen on the news there's been bad flooding and closed roads elsewhere. This of course also means we're pretty much stuck here so our back up plans for bad weather - take the bus somewhere else, doesn't help us. We don't mind so much though, we had great weather a couple of days. And we've done lots of things even though we've relaxed most of the time.

However, what I was going to write about was not the trip, might do another post on that later, but a small update on the fitness challenges I set myself at the start of the month. I kind of changed one of them completely, but (so far) have followed the other one to the T.

I've been a good girl and done my planking every day, apart from the rest days, and following the plan without too much hassle. Today is day 12 of the challenge which means I'm supposed to plank for 90 seconds. I think that is my all time record so let's see how it goes. Yesterday I did start to feel it getting quite hard when I did 80 seconds.

It was the day when I hit 60 seconds that I started to feel how impossible this challenge might be for me. I'm thinking I just don't have the muscle mass it requires to plank for much longer. I won't give up yet though! If at some point (very soon I'm afraid) I feel I've reach my maximum I'll just stay at that level until I'm ready to continue. I'm doing a couple of planks a day. Yesterday I did 40 seconds, 80 seconds, 40 seconds. With pauses in between obviously.

I decided to lose the Blogilates-challenge this month. I'll follow it another month instead. What I started doing instead, a couple days into the month, but will try to catch up, was another 30 day challenge. This one was mentioned by Fairy G on her blog. She said she had started doing it so I thought it would suit this month's challenge much better than the Blogilates on.

The challenge is 30 Day Little Black Dress Challenge and contains very basic body weight exercises. So an absolutely perfect challenge to do when on the go and not sure about internet connection availability and similar things. This month is not a normal month with the trip and Christmas so this suits me better now.

picture from Pinterest
The name of the challenge is (very!) silly if you ask me, but the exercises are quite good and you can easily modify the level depending on your own fitness level. On that same site there is a 30 Day Plank Challenge too. That one is a bit different from the one I'm following. I think this one might actually be better, since you stay at the same level a couple of days before going up. In the one I'm following the time is increased every day.

What is great about the two challenges I'm now following is that they go very well together, and I do them at the same time.

I'm now on day 6 of the "little black dress" (seriously, I like the name less every time I write it) challenge and have been doing about 15 - 30 minutes of the exercises each day. Including a short warm up and cool down. The only exercise I have trouble doing so far is the tricep dips. My triceps are very weak and then I have even weaker wrists. So when I do them it hurts my wrists. I might have to do some alternative tricep exercise. Yesterday's 15 I had to do 3 x 5 reps instead of all 15 in one go. Usually I've done 2 - 4 reps of each exercise on the list. The only exception being the tricep dips.

I've also done other exercises than the ones on "today's menu". Like yesterday when I was so bad at the tricep dips I did push ups, squats and lunges as well.

Still not being able to do proper push ups, but I'm getting there! I can now go almost halfway down. Probably sounds like very little, but some time ago I couldn't even bend my arms at all when trying to do proper push ups. I've tried to do a push up challenge once, but my wrists started hurting so much that I had to stop. Maybe if I can learn to do proper push ups, and therefore don't have to do as many, it'll help my wrists too.

Anyway, I just had breakfast and soon it's time for today's exercises! 90 second plank in the plank challenge and cardio exercises in the little black dress challenge, jumping jacks, burpees and mountain climbers. Sounds like fun! And then perhaps out for a walk in the rain to refresh myself.

1 Dec 2013

Protein blueberry muffins

Sometimes after working out I have a protein shake or smoothie. Not very often, but every now and then. Usually just mix milk, banana and protein powder. Very nice basic shakes. Recently I bought this protein powder that you can also use for baking, not just making shakes and today I tried it for the first time. As usual I had no idea what I was doing and just experimented and invented some kind of recipe. It was along the lines of the pomelo disaster muffins I did last month. Luckily tasted at least twenty times better though. This time I understood to use things that normally do go in a muffin - blueberries.

They turned okayish, not the best muffins ever, but they tasted nice enough after my work out when I was hungry. I would give them maybe even give them as much as three out of five stars. Next time I will again make some adjustments and see if it helps. Of course I could always just follow someone else's recipe...

Here are the ingredients I used:

2 eggs
1 banana
1 dl margarine
4 tablespoons honey
1 dl milk

I first mixed the eggs and then the rest of the wet ingredients together.

1 teaspoon vanilla powder
0,5 dl wheat bran
1 dl rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 dl wheat flour
1,5 dl protein powder
pinch of salt

I mixed all the dry ingredients together and then poured them into the wet ingredients and quickly mixed it all together

2 dl frozen blueberries

lastly I mixed in the blueberries

This made 12 medium sized muffins and I baked them for 20 minutes in 200°C

 Mr A. said he was going to count how much protein one muffin has so I'm waiting for the results. 

I would've wanted them to have been a little bit sweeter. Next time I think I will use two bananas instead of one. And the honey I used wasn't regular honey, it was honey mixed with buckthorn so it isn't as sweet as normal honey. 

New month, new challenges

So since the challenges worked so well last month, might as well do it again, right? And if I write the challenge here I pretty much have to do it. Would be embarrassing not to. I was thinking I could do something else than a fitness challenge, but couldn't think of anything I wanted to do so fitness it is.

I have decided on two challenges. One is short and won't take up much of my time, but will probably be very challenging after a couple of days: a plank challenge! And the other one is a more versatile challenge that I thought I can change and pick and mix a bit more, depending on what other program I have: following the Blogilates calendar this month.

30 day plank challenge, picture and plan from here.

About the plank challenge. It's the 30 day challenge where you supposedly do 5 min of planking at the end of the month. I have very high doubts about this since the most I've managed in the past is about 90 seconds. That was last year, when I was in better shape than now and did the plank quite often. But hey, I'll never know if I don't try it. It certainly looks intimidating. So before I dig in all the Christmas food on Christmas Eve I'm supposed to plank for 3,5 minutes? Yeah, that's gonna happen. But then again, who knows. It might not be 3,5 minutes but it might be 2! Even that would be really great progress.

The other challenge will be to, for the first time ever, follow the calender for the month at the Blogilates fitness blog. I've been following the blog for quite a while and also done many of the exercise videos, but never followed the monthly calender. Since I also go to some exercise classes and we are going on that trip to Tenerife this month, I will probably be making lots of adjustments. I won't be following the meal plan either, just going to continue with my "trying to eat healthy most of the time"-regime I've had for a while now (and this I write after just having a chocolate chip cookie).

I'm starting to realise how my life has changed since I last was active on the blog. Now it's fitness this and healthier eating that, when it used to be all about cupcakes. I might have to do some baking though. Maybe another try at those breakfast muffins that were a disaster last time.

I do know that I only write in the blog on weekends now. Hopefully things will eventually calm down at work and I'll have energy to write during the week too. I keep getting random ideas during the week but then never manage to write anything down. And I'd love to do my nails more often too.

However, I won't stress over that, the blog is supposed to be something fun and something to help fight against the stress, not cause it. Something that does really help with the stress is the exercising. I forgot to mention it yesterday but The 30 Day Shred did amazing things at erasing stress. When I came home from work I was usually a bit of a mess, but when I did the shredding and even though it was tough and I was sweating like crazy, I felt the stress melt away at the same time. Too bad the effect didn't always last very long. Maybe the Blogilates videos and the planking will work even better? Fingers crossed!

30 Nov 2013

November challenges done, done and done

At the beginning of the month I decided on a couple of things. First of all I started doing Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred-exercise program, this I started on the last day of last month, but still. Second I was going to eat less or no meat for the month. And my third goal was to walk a lot more than I usually do.Today is the last day of this month and I must say I did pretty well on all three challenges.

I didn't do the 30 day shred every day and I didn't do all levels 10 times, I think I did level 1 and 2 about seven times and today was the fourth time I did level 3. I think I must've become stronger because level 3 doesn't feel as hard to do as the other levels. It is a challenge though and I have to modify some of the moves, mainly because my upper body isn't strong enough. For example push ups are still a huge challenge for me so knees in the floor it is. But I love that I start to feel I actually have some muscles. It is really the best prize I can get for this. To see the change in my body and that what I'm doing is working. Making me stronger and healthier day by day! I think I'll continue with level 3 for a couple of more times. Maybe I'll be able to do one real push up once I'm done!

The second challenge also went well. I did eat fish and seafood, not every day but a couple of times a week. So clearly not completely meatless, but still very much different from what I've normally eaten up til now. It wasn't at all difficult and even though I don't think I will go completely vegetarian, at least not yet, I will certainly continue along these lines; vegetables, egg and dairy products and seafood as the main ingredients and then perhaps some meat and chicken just every now and then.

Oh I forgot, I did eat meat last weekend. We were at Mr A.'s grand parents' 90.year birthday party and the food was meat with meat. I of course had some because it would've been rude not to. And it was very nice food too, and don't worry, there was potatoes and salad as well. A nice dinner party for the sweet couple.

Then to the walking challenge. I went out walking almost every day this month. I did have a couple of rest days and then last weekend there was the bears and wolves stopping me from walking. But I think I was quite good at taking the extra time and got company most days on my walks. I made a couple of long walks, 10 and 12 km, but usually it was about 3 - 6 km. I never logged my walk to and from work or walking to the closest supermarkets and other similar every day routines. So everything I logged was basically extra walking.

According to my gps I walked 143.22 km this month. That's an average of 4.8 km extra walking every day, also counting the rest days. Maybe not mind blowing, but I'm very pleased with myself for going out walking so much despite it being November. It's not exactly the best month in Finland for walking, weatherwise. Today it first rained and then everything froze so I had to half skate back home. I very much doubt I'll walk anywhere near as much in December, but I will definitely continue going out for walks. As long as it's not just ice on the pavements.

Now that those challenges are over and the best bits will continue as parts of my life I'll have to think of at least one new challenge for next month. I'll leave that for tomorrow though.

If anyone hasn't tried The 30 Day Shred and wants to give it a go, here's level 1:

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