Friday, April 29, 2016

90 Days Challenge by Mark Lauren - Fourth week


Wow, I am on day 30 today, so one third of the Challenge is over. I cannot actually remember what I did before that. The challenge does not take up all day, merely 60 minutes per week till now, but it still somehow is deep in your head all the time. Your nutrition, the planned workouts and last but not least, the sore muscles remind you of the challenge you are on.

The facebook group has been a great support and motivation for me. There are people who do the challenge in all kinds of stages and levels, so you have a lot of experience in one place, where you can ask questions and also post motivations. To me it is always great to see how fit people can get within this time if they eat according to the plan.

I still do not eat according to it. From time to time cake still finds it way into my mouth. My protein intake is much higher though than before the challenge. I eat cooked eggs, fish and creamcheese or Greek joghurt with banana and strawberries on a regular basis.

Before blending

A few days ago we spent a lazy evening watching documentaries on Netflix and stumbled upon the great „Sick, fat and nearly dead“. A guy from Australia travels the US for 60 days and all he eats is juiced fruit and veggies. He loses a lot of weight and feels exhilarated, telling everyone about juicing. I watched it and felt like buying a juicer immediately and putting kale into it. And you know what? We bought a blender and are making green smoothies. My first one is sitting in front of me right now, Orange, apple and spinach. It tasted really great. Looks a bit odd, though. Or looks very healthy.

After Blending - Very Green
Our new Blender: Very practical, you mix your smoothie in your cup

The challenge has reached a major step, because from this week on, I will do four instead of three workouts. Yesterday was officially the first „two-workouts-in-a-row-day“ and it sucked. No workout has been as annoying and hard as this week's Opus. I sometimes even paused during the active phases, because I just couldn't do it. Sweat was running down my face, my chest, my belly. I had to shower immediately and wash my clothes the minute the workout was over. (I hate sweat) But I was really happy that I have done it even though I didn't feel like it all day.

If you look closely. You can even see a bit of mucsles in my belly and arm, which is motivating me to eat better and keep up the work.

Emerging Muscles - So proud :)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

90 days challenge by Mark Lauren - Third week

Paradise Beach offers a great view on Düsseldorf's tv tower

It is day 23 of the challenge and I am quite happy with it. During the last days it somehow felt as if nothing was changing anymore and my lower belly seemed to stick out just as before... But:
I measured myself, just like on every other "evaluation"-day and I am still getting slimmer in the waist. This is a big aim for me, because I tend to have a more "straight" figure and adore people with hourglass shapes. My chest and waist measures are quite ok, it is just the waist - and the upper arms - I would love to reduce. I am really glad I measured myself, because it can be a great motivator to see the progress in the numbers, if you cannot really "feel" it. And on the scale not much has changed, but then again muscles are heavier than fat, so, that doesn't count anyway.

1st week:                                         2nd week:                                   3rd week:

Breast: 92 cm                                  Breast: 88 cm                            Breast: 90 cm
Waist:  75 cm                                  Waist:  72 cm                             Waist:   71 cm              
Hips:   93 cm                                   Hips:   93 cm                             Hips:     91 cm
right upper arm: 27 cm                    Arm:   26 cm                             Arm:     26 cm

I guess the breast measurements change within the cycle, so they have not much to do with the challenge. But my waist and hips have been reduced quite a lot within two weeks, which feels great! Yay!

Not pretty. Workouts arent't pretty I guess.

Eval is a training you do every week to measure which fitness level you have reached. There are three and till now I have only trained on level two, but today Eval told me that I am ready to start with trainings on level three. Knowing that tomorrow's workout is going to be "Tyrant" is a little bit intimidating, but I will try my very best. Uff

Next level, here I come. (I know, all those loose pieces of paper! Some people write all their results into notebooks. But that's how I am.)

Doing the workouts has always be the fun part of the challenge and I have do admit I didn't really pay much attention to the nutrition. This is definitely one of the reasons that my belly doesn't want to disappear. It has been incredibly hard for me to eat enough protein, as I have always been a carbohydrate-fat-junkie. But today, I really made an effort, I even bought Protein-muesli. My lunch was gyros, so only meat and for tonight I bought lentils for Indian lentil soup. According to my lifesum app I managed to reach my protein goal of more than 100 grams for the first time - like - ever! So proud! So, may the muscles come! (I just hope I will resist having something sweet for tonight. Mr Schön is away, to poker with his guy-friends and Lisek and me are home all alone.

The protein-muesli. Quite ok, but not as yummy as some other mueslis can be :)

The weather has been gorgeous today, warm and sunny. After a very busy conference yesterday, I took a day off and didn't do anything work-related, which was perfect. I took the dog out and we went to Paradise Beach, which really is a sandy beach just outside the harbour area of Düsseldorf. I can easily walk there from our flat, which is great on such a sunny day. (I have always wanted to write a post about all the things I love in Düsseldorf. The beach will definitely be part of it.) Lisek was hilarious. He got some sand into his eye I guess and he tried to get rid of all the sand in his face by rubbing - in the sand. (He would be successfull on grass, but, yes, with the rubbing in the sand the problem was, that the sand of course didn't come off.) And he loves the Rhinewater, walks in, and always dips his face in. I have never seen that in a dog. It is incredibly cute. I took a dog frisbee with me we have once gotten as a present. To make it short: It didn't pass the Lisek-test. Now it is a mrere ring of thick rope, which is also fine.

And now?
Isn't that pretty? Ten minutes from the city center. Düsseldorf, I love you!

Last weekend we spent some awesome days at the Niederrhein, a post about it with all the pictures I took will follow. Take care and think about doing the 90 days challenge, it is really great fun!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Beam me Up Scotty - One year of travelling with our camper van

Off we go...

It has been one year now since we bought our camper van we call Scotty. - You know why. (For a while we even thought of calling Lisek „Tchekhov“) The original plan was – and still is – to travel through Europe for half a year. Two friends of ours took off two weeks ago on a very similar journey. Before we bought the van I was a bit afraid that we might not use it so much and it would wear off some of it's novelty quickly. My grandmother thought we were crazy to buy a van like this. But all doubts have proven absolutely wrong. We love taking the van on trips over weekends. Only packing some clothes and off we go.

Spontaneous trips are somehow the best. When we only have the weekend we have to stay in our area, which made us appreciate how beautiful our county is. We have gone to see mountains, lakes, old volcanoes, meadows, rivers and intersting buildings, old ones, new ones; European bisons living in the „wild“ and some of the oldest and prettiest towns in our area we had no idea were so close by.

Beautiful town of Monschau

Just like teddybears fur

After we had decided to buy a van the decision to get a new dog was also as chances were that we would travel abroad less often with the van at hand. In which a dog might also help to get a better sense of security. Lisek is so welcoming of everybody that we cannot really feel safer, but people might think twice of robbing us if they can hear him barking inside the van. Lisek loves the trips we take with the car. As soon as the motor is running, he is lying down in between us and falling asleep. And we are off to another adventure. I cannot describe the feeling I have when we are on the road. We rarely plan ahead, most of the time we only knwo which are we want to visit and sometimes we checked out the parking lots fitting for our vehicle (although with a car as small as Scotty, we are allowed to park in most parking lots anyhow.)

This was taken at a lake in Netphen

We wander off, driving through beautiful landscapes, deciding to go where it looks prettiest. I can understand how this way of travelling might stress some people out. It can be fun to know where you are going to end up and looking forward to exactly this and that hotel, finca, etc. But to just live in the moment and do what you are feeling like is priceless. If you feel like having a nap, you stop and have a nap. If you feel like eating, you stop and cook something wonderful on your stove. By now I have even taken some showers in our van and it is lovely. To be so independent (we have solar energy, a fridge, so all we need from time to time is gas and new food.)

Along with the beautiful nature to see, the memorable aspects of our trips are the people we meet. I am not a big fan of the typical camper couple, I imagine them to be too conservative and square. People with a van however, I am usually quite happy to get to know. One day in the Sauerland – an area with beautiful mountains practically „around the corner“ from Düsseldorf, where some areas actually look more like pictures of Canada than Germany – I wanted to visit an ecological farm, which they had plenty of there, and who offer sometimes vacation for kids. I am technically not a kid anymore but I still love animals and pets, so we went to a nice looking farm on the top of a hill and just rang the farmer's doorbell. He was welcoming us and showed us a place we could park overnight – free of charge. The next day he even invited us on a tour of the farm and gave us two litres of the freshest milk. Mmh, really good :) (The whole experience is overshadowed by one of the worst hangovers of all times that made me travel back home with a bucket on my lap... ) check here for an impression of the Sauerland

view from our bed

The chef is busy in the kitchen

Next weekend we might go to visit the area where I grew up in, the Niederrhein. One thing is for sure, we will not find any mountains there. (When I was little we called the bridge over the autobahn we had to pass on the way to town „the mountain“, which might give you a good idea of how flat this area is. We have this saying that you can see today who is going to visit the day after tomorrow...

Nonetheless lakes and beautiful meadows and forests make up for the lack of mountains. I am looking forward to discover the area of my childhood in a whole new light. Here you can find more information.

All year Christmas shop in Monschau

First holiday with Lisek


Scotty at Night

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

90 days challenge by Mark Lauren - Second Week

Hey folks,

how have you been? The last week was my second week in the 90 days challenge. It doesn't sound like a long time but I already wonder, what I have done all the time without the workouts. I feel almost addicted to them, the rest days are kind of boring to me. On some of them I have done some Yoga to feel like I have done at leas something.

My Eval workout showed me that I am fit enough to train on Level two now, which made the upcoming workouts - fittingly called Tyrant and Hammer - all the more challenging. But I managed. The only problem occured with the last unit in Hammer, as my right thigh muscle cramped. Maybe I have to spend some more time with the warm-up in the future.

Today it is Eval time again and I will try to do the Eval level two. That will be fine I hope. During the first week the sore muscles were almost killing me, but that got better soon. I still feel my workouts the next day, but I am not so sore anymore that I cannot move. Already I can see changes on my body happen, especially on my arms, and - surprisingly - on my waist.

I measured again today and some things have already changed a bit:

The numbers last week and this week:

Breast: 92 cm - 90 cm
Waist: 75 cm - 72 cm
Hips: 92 cm - 92 cm
Right Upper Arm: 27 cm - 26 cm

I could definitely tell that my waist seems a bit more firm. But I guess 3 cm is a bit much, measuring is not very accurate here I guess. But I am definitely making progress and this motivates me.

My only problem so gar is my nutrition. I have been better at eating more during the day, having breakfast and everything, but I didn't keep my hands away from the chocolate. (hello? again?) I am succeeding at eating more protein, which has been a challenge for me as I am a carb person through and through. I am managing though and getting used to it. Mark Lauren also tells us to drink only water, which is not such a big problem for me, as

So let's see what the next week brings me. So far I can totally recommend the challenge, it is a lot of fun and makes you feel like you accomplished something every day!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sugar Fasting – Recap and 90 days challenge by Mark Lauren - First week

Thank God it was Easter last weekend! It wasn’t that bad, but the great the whole sugar-fasting started, the more difficult it was during the last days of the fastening. Initially, I was really proud how well I managed to stay away from candy of every kind. After a while I ate chocolate from time to time, but only with alternative sweeteners and very mindful.
Once I went to see my grandma. She had made a cake for just the two of us and I told her that I had eaten no sugar since Ash Wednesday, but that I would make an exception for her cake. I could not have lived with disappointing her that way. As it was in the end still my decision to eat those two pieces of apple pie, I could deal with it. There are more important things than diets. It was interesting, how my body reacted to the sweet stuff. At first I was really happy and content and then on the way back home I got lost on the way to find a gas station and when I was finally in the station I was so tempted by the candy bars lying there in front of me, it was peculiar. My blood sugar had dropped apparently and especially in the stressful situation of driving in an unfamiliar neighbourhood, my brain cried for sugar. Interesting. And it felt oddly liberating to finally see and feel very consciously what sugar can do to our brains.
Last weekend we had an absolutely lazy chocolate evening, Mr. Schön and me. I went to the Kiosk and bought a whole bunch of caramelly, nutty chocolate. It was gorgeous to finally eat them again. And I had some nasty ways afterwards. But you know what? I do not feel bad about it. It was a time when I needed some chocolate and it is ok. I know I can fast again, I know I can quit sugar if I want to and that is fine.
Sports have basically not happened this year so far. I am doing some Yoga, sometimes I switch on the Wii for some Zumba, but we have not been running often and apart from the above mentioned, taking the dog for a walk is the most exercise I get. Until now. I am not a big fan of fitness studios and I am lazy, so even though I love swimming, packing my stuff, driving to the pool, changing, swimming, changing again, drying my hair, etc. is just TOO MUCH effort. Workouts have to be as efficient and as homebased as possible. Running is great, because you do not need much equipment and can basically start at your own door. But – here kicks the laziness in again – I am a sunny weather runner. When it is gorgeous outside, I often get motivated to run. If it isn’t (like most of the time in Western Germany) I do not.
A trend that fits my priorities is the whole “Be your own gym” movement, which is weight training without any equipment, but your own body / home. Strolling through a bookstore (one of my favourite leisure time activities of all times), I found a whole bunch of books that introduce workouts only using your own body weight that you can basically do everywhere. And as I like a challenge, I got the 90 days challenge for women by Mark Lauren. (Find it here on amazon. I don’t like the design of the book much, but you know the saying…

In the book you find a lot of explanations why HIT-High Intensity Training – works best for muscle growth and which kind of nutrition helps with the challenge. Mark Lauren is rather critical of cardio training like running, but I think a combination of both should be what makes us super healthy. A typical week in the 90 days challenge consists of three (later four) workouts in different levels of intensity. (So far level 1 is my friend). Between the days of workout there are days of recovery, where you can find tips for your general health, nutrition, well-being, and so on. They are easy to read, informative and a nice change if your body hurts from the brutal work-outs. Lauren used to be a trainer in the US military and the workouts are not easy. But very efficient. Saturday, after I had done the second training session, I was barely able to walk. The muscle pain was really bad. Sore muscles of course always give you feedback on how something is changing in your body and I was surprised at how sore my body got from a few lunges and push-ups. No training so far has taken more than 20 minutes, which is great, because even the hardest training goes by fast in 20 minutes. Today is one day of recovery, but I can already feel how tempted I am to do at least a little bit… I want to take before-pictures and maybe even measure my belly, arms, etc. because I have the feeling that this training can have a lot of effect. And don’t get me wrong, I like my body and I don’t have a weight problem, I just feel that everything could be just a little more toned. Especially my arms, they consist of pudding mostly. But you know what? Even after just five days, I can not only feel but see the effects on my body. My arms have already gotten a bit of a bump. Can you believe it? I had thought I wouldn’t see any effects before two weeks or so. I only just managed to take the "before" pictures or rather "after one week" pictures, but trust me, they count as before. You see that there is a lot of work to be done. I also took my measurements, as weight does not really count if you build u muscles, My measurements in the first week of the 90 days challenge are: 
Breast: 92cm
Waist: 75 cm
Hips: 92 cm
Right upper arm: 27 cm

The plan is to measure again from time to time and take new pictures with the same outfit in the same position to see progress. As mentioned above, even after only one week, I can see the effect in my arms and a bit also on my belly.

It feels really great to actively form the shape of your body and I think Mark Lauren is right when he says that the 90 days challenge can also tone your mind and make you more focused and happier in general. It feels as if that effect is already on it’s way. Let’s see how it goes, I will keep you posted.