Thursday, May 16, 2013

Winning at losing Weight

… is the plan for this summer. Mr. and Fräulein Schön have a plan to get in shape for summer and as everything is more fun with a little bit of competition we have a bet going on: whoever is in better shape by the end of June / middle of July (we should really set a date here, shouldn’t we?) has to pay for a weekend trip for two. The one who loses can suggest the place, but the other person has to be ok with it. So just going to Cologne from Düsseldorf does not work. Although… could also be nice.
So far, sorry honey, I think I am a little ahead of you. Although we still have not the desirable middle-of-May-weather, at least it is not freezing anymore and the days are significantly longer, so being more active, doing exercise is much easier than it was during the horrible winter. As I cannot torture my peers and colleagues with a grumpy and hungry me, I definitely cannot do much of a diet. So plan 1 is: less sweet stuff, but other than that: eat healthy, not less but exercising more than before.

I installed a very nice app on my phone, shape up. The green design is refreshing and instantly makes me think of health and sports. You enter your personal data, plus the aspired weight and the program will calculate how many calories you can eat per day in order to loose weight. I know that it can only be a rough guide, as every metabolism differs hugely from another, but still it is a great motivator. Entering what you ate doesn’t take long, as everything is either there in the program or you can search it in their database. A plus is also that you can see how much protein, carbs and fat you consumed and can thereby decide what is still missing in your nutrition. Sadly, vitamins are not on the list, which should also be given some consideration. Every exercising shall be entered as well, which rewards you with a reduction of your calories, or leaves you with more calories yet able to eat. To be fair, I only started a few days ago, but I am always so motivated to put some nice food or exercise in there and see the effect, it is amazing. I don’t know whether I lost any weight yet, but I definitely feel better already.

One of the exercises I have been doing lately is Zumba. We used to do a lot of running and I still like it a lot, but I have to admit that I am a bit of a clear-blue-sky runner and as there is so little of that lately I am very grateful for my Wii-Zumba. I also considered a gym, but as I have very irregular office hours, plus always a full schedule of free-time activities as well I decided to at least start with the Wii game. And what can I say, I love it! Me, who has never enjoyed videogames or computergames. But dancing in front of the tv, hoping that no neighbours will see you, because it might look really stupid, is a lot of fun and very exhausting. I always knew with my background of ballroom and Latin dancing I would enjoy Zumba for sure, but hey, it is not only fun, but an even better training than running. Cardio, muscles, fun! Plus, you definitely improve your dancing skills, handy in your free-time as well. I sometimes meet up with Eva-Melina to dance and I don’t need to tell you that this is even more fun. Although I will probably never have a body like the zumba-trainers, for the obvious reason that I am not a Zumba-trainer, I am already looking forward to the next training. 

I have never been someone that uses new media excessively, funny being a media scientist, which is why I came to blogging quite late, I guess I am a bit conservative when it comes to digital changes. Still, I love digital innovations when they have a positive effect in what I like to call the Real World. So I love that Maps on my phone help me find my way (necessarily a lot of times…), the Shape Up app, that helps me eating healthy, Zumba on the tv that makes me sweat so many times a week and many more. I will let you know about the weekend-trip I am going to win ;)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

books... the best way to forget about reality for a while

The joy of reading has almost always been with me and I deeply pity everyone who doesn't feel the magic of books. I might sound shallow, that they can take you anywhere you want, without even leaving you cozy bed / livingroom / hanging basket, whatever. But it is true.
Being able to read was a pretty early desire in my life, probably as my mom is a big reader, and I somehow managed to learn it by myself, by always asking which word meant what. Since then it has been a great journey with everything from Enid Blyton to the three investigators (apparently only big in Germany) to Agatha Christie (oh, how I enjoyed the Miss Marple novels) and Thomas Harris. You can see from this list that I have been a big crime-novel fan and am to this day. (Although I also enjoy autobiographies, travel-literature, historic stories and much more, I want to dedicate this blog entry to crime thrillers I have read and enjoyed during the last years.

During the years of my studies I always had to read so much for university, books piling up everywhere in my room and never enough time, that reading for fun was not as fun anymore. I still did it from time to time, but mostly while traveling (also not a lot of free time) and always with a bit of a bad conscience, as I should have been reading Niklas Luhmann instead of Stephen King or others.

My first action after the writing of my Masterthesis: buying a novel, sitting down in a cafe and reading for hours and I still know which novel it was:

The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett

For along time no novel had gripped me that hard, not letting go till the end of the last page. Beckett describes the single parts of Britain his David Hunter-novels take place with such an energy, I always feel like I was there, tasting the sea, smelling Dartmoor, listening to the rural speech. As I have traveled some of England I could of course go back in time and just memorize everything, but Beckett takes you to England and in one case, the U.S., no matter whether you have been there or not. Suspense to the end, with a more than Hollywood-worth ending, that is what Simon Becketts novels are for me. Due to the job of their main character (forensic anthropologist) the books might be too gory for the thin-skinned, but growing up watching The X-Files I guess I have been toughened when it comes to this. The other novels of the series are just as - if nor even more - awesome. I guess my favourite so far is "The Calling of the Grave", which was released in 2010. I hope there will be another novel soon. Does anyone know about it?

Coming from that X-Files, Enid Blyton and Miss Marple background, I seem to prefer detective-series (although this old-fashioned term does not seem too accurate for Simon Beckett and the following:)
Due to coincidence I started reading novels by Mo Hayder: 

Birdman by Mo Hayder

Gruesome in almost the same way as the David Hunter models, if not more so. Detective Jack Caffery reminds me as well of the lone wolf, David Hunter is, although Hunter is maybe more likeable from the beginning. Hayder is also less shocking due to her visual desciptions, but I would say more due to her pervert ideas, playing with the emotion of characters and readers alike. Like the above series, Mo Hayders' novels are not recommended for people of a too sensitive kind. Plus they differ from Beckett's novels in depicting more of straightforward police work as Caffery works as a DI. The beauty of England again, I seem to go for these, as also my reading-biography suggests. The South of England seems to be a very dangerous place...

A much more American approach to the term "thriller" you find in the following series, which is already quite old, but I just discovered it about a year ago (A few months before the movie came out, with one of the worst castings in cinema history, which is why I haven't watched it till this day. Movies based on novels is a tricky chapter itself, probably worth a blog on it's own.) The Jack Reacher series by Lee Child consist of stunning stories, well researched and always of breathtaking speech. It is almost impossible to stop reading the novels. Characters aren't depicted deeply and all in all it feels a bit like Fast Food, but sometimes this is just what you need. Usually Reacher would be too much of a superhero for me, but the stories are so cunning, surprising and well written that I do not care much about his strength, height, power, skills. 

Killing Floor by Lee Child

Start with "Killing Floor" if you are interested. It is the first one and it makes sense to do so. My favourite so far - though I haven't read them all - is "Die Trying" the second one.

I like blogs with the one or other reading recommendation. Especially if you read blogs and you happen to have the same taste as the author in many things like fashion, food, decoration, a.s.o. taking reading advice probably is not a bad idea. So I might share some other great novels I love. As I infected many people with watching Louis Theroux's docus and as I consider this a very good achievement, why not bring the joy of reading into lifes of others as well... Any recommendations?