Monthly Archives: April 2013

Pushing Barriers to Reach Mile 26

So in light of all that’s happening back home with the latest tragedy at the Boston Marathon, maybe a post about running isn’t timely. Or maybe it is. I’m really not sure, but either way, marathons have been on my mind a lot. As has Boston.

My marathon frame of mind is usually just, “I could never do that” or “I don’t think I’d ever want to do that,” but I do have to wonder how many other marathoners once thought that in their lives? It would seem more than a few came out of that conversation on the other end, given that the world’s biggest races around the world have turn outs of 10-15-20,000 people. And those aren’t all the same people at every race, which means there are quite a hell of a lot of marathoners in the world these days.

Twenty six miles. That is just about insane as far as my usual 3-mile body can process. And 3-miles is after I’ve built up for a week or two. Then it becomes my norm and I slowly push my body forward to reach 4 and then maybe 5 miles, never quite reaching a full 6.

Finally reached 4 miles (and a little extra)!

Finally reached 4 miles (and a little extra)!

What is it that stands between me finally reaching 4 miles again (after probably a good 6 months of 2-3 milers) and a marathoner reaching their 26th mile? Is it the pure adrenaline of the moment? Is it discipline? Is it complete control over your mind and body?

I have to wonder if at this stage I am a “I could never do that” kind of person, but perhaps in a few years time I might be a “What a great run, on to the next!” kind of person.

What helps you push through your barriers to get to the next level? Have you ever run a marathon? Or even a half?

Hi, I’m Amanda. And I’m a Sugar Addict.

This is how I feel most days.

This is how I feel most days.

One of the most difficult things I’ve tried to do is break free from my sugar addiction. It’s a daunting task I’ve attempted to undertake on a couple of occasions – and only met with limited success. A few months ago A and I agreed to cut sugar out of our diets. It was a difficult first couple of days, however once I realized how much more energy I had it was an easy habit to keep. My goal was short-term, only enough to help what I thought were some skin problems due to sugar intake and to fix my energy levels, (read, gray skies got me down,) and so after two weeks of feeling proud I had been successful, I let sugar slip its way back into my heart once again.

So here I am again, once again on the ledge of “to sugar or not to sugar” and my mind is saying, “no more sugar!” and my heart is saying, “please just one more piece of marzipan!” So which is it – tears of marzipan or a straight road to fitness?

Anyone willing to join me in a 15 day sugar challenge? What if we up that to 30? Who’s in?

No More Excuses

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So after weeks, well a couple months really, of not finding the motivation or time or energy, or [please insert other lame excuse here] to make it to the gym, I’ve finally been on a pretty good exercise stint. I’m back to my 3-milers, though they are still very difficult, I must admit. And I’m on the weight machines again.

Truth be told, I have been preparing for the next time I see my trainer and know she will show me no mercy for having been lazy for two months! Given that this showdown will take place today at lunchtime, I feel like I have done the most I could to prepare, given the circumstances.

So from today forward I have a new motto, no more excuses. It’s time to start taking my fitness and health seriously again. Spring is just around the corner (well, except for the rest of the northern hemisphere where spring sprang a few weeks ago!) and I have a number of exciting things coming up over the next few months, (weddings, a trip back home, beach vacations, etc). All of which are more than enough reason to get my priorities in order earlier rather than putting them off any longer.

As a good friend of mine often says, “start today” or more specifically “A year from now you’ll wish you started exercising today.” and it pretty much hits the point home! Time to get started on those goals now or I have no one else to blame but me if I don’t reach them!

Starting Again – Getting Fit

So I made it back to the gym at last. It seems that I keep doing this. Going to the gym and then taking a week or two off, then going back again. And when I say “going to the gym” I mean 1 day. ONE. DAY. (You read it right!) What the hell is one day a week, or one day every two weeks going to do for my body – aside from confuse it!

I signed up for a trainer a couple months ago and things were going pretty well, (although I’m still not totally convinced her end goal was not to kill me,) and I made each appointment religiously. That is, until I was traveling for work. Then it became 1 week prior to the trip that I couldn’t work out because I had too much to do to get ready, then 3 weeks of traveling, 2 weeks of jetlag and overall misery, 1 long weekend away, and here we are. Full of excuses and feeling a little round in the middle.

So yesterday I vowed to myself to get back on track. Back to running, weights, exercise, eating well and just general healthy and well being. I’m tired of feeling sluggish and low on energy. I want to feel great, or at least proud of myself, everytime I look in the mirror and know I am doing everything I can to take care of myself and my body.

Even though it’s dark and gray (and snowing) here in April, (what the hell, Berlin?!) I know that Spring isn’t so far away and I want to be prepared for when my legs come out of my heavy jeans and thermal leggings to show off their pale glory. I’m convinced it’ll be any day now – so better get a “head start” while I still can!

How do you keep up your motivation to stay fit?

Time to Try Again

Time to Try Again

Motivation that Wanes in Winter Grays

Inspiration comes and goes and two things affect it more than anything for me, at least at the moment. 1) My travel/work schedule and 2) the weather. What are the things affected by my lack of inspiration? Well this list can go on and on – from simply styling my hair or putting careful thought into my outfit for the day, to getting enough motivation to hit the gym a few times a week (or at least more than once a week!) to having the motivation and enthusiasm I always want to feel when writing my blog.

Lately I’ve been on the go quite a bit. I was traveling for work for 3 weeks between February and March and came back only to leave again for a long weekend in Stockholm. I’m back in Berlin, but not for long, as a number of upcoming trips will keep pulling me away time and again. And it has to be said that the weather in Berlin this winter has been nothing short of brutal. Endless months of gray skies take their toll on a person’s mind and energy. It’s hard to keep motivation when the weather never clears and every morning is as gray as every evening.

Endless Gray

Is there light at the end of the gray?

So where do I get hit the most? With my ability to get off my butt and get to the gym for that “I feel great!” feeling. It simply does not come when everytime I look out the window and think, “I’d rather be curled up on the couch under a cozy blanket with a book”.  Add a bit of travel messing up your schedule to the mix and you’ve got yourself a pretty good excuse to not work out and to stay away from the gym!

So today, as I sit at my desk debating if it’s time to leave the office, but secretly wanting to stay just a little bit longer to have a good enough excuse not to make it to the gym once again, (well I had to work late, it was impossible to find the time!) I know in my heart it’s time to get back.

While spring may not have come yet (my god, it’s already April! Give us a break on the bleak, gray skies and chance of snow!) it is just around the corner and I, for one, want to be prepared!

Anyone have any good tips for how to keep up the motivation even when the weather’s getting you down? How to you fight through the laziness and weariness to keep fit?

Lunch and Graveyards

A day or two into my trip (which was only 3.5 days, after all,) when scouring for another delicious meal option before hitting the recoletta cemetary and the Sunday Feria, I came across Tea Connection, which I had never heard of before, (but seriously wish they would import to Berlin!) I was staying in Recoleta and planning to hit the Sunday Feria later in the afternoon, so I decided to stop in to one of the few locations near my apartment and enjoy some more healthy grub.

First order of the day – fresh juice! I simply cannot get enough tropical flavors, (and yes, I know BsAs is not tropical, but they seem to have much better access to the good stuff than those of us stuck in the northern tundra!) So I placed my order for juice and yet another inventive and delicious salad. The trend was catching on! Lo and behold, my food arrived and I had my very own bottle of juice!

It’s like they knew everthing I wanted before I even had to ask! Even down to the healthy bowl of breadsticks – ha.

My own bottleajuice!

My own bottleajuice!

So I chowed down, regretfully too full to have a tea, (but knowing I needed to save my resources for the lattes and ice creams to come later in the day when my legs were too tired to carry me,) and wandered my way over to the cemetary for what I always remember to be my favorite Feria in all of South America! Every Sunday the park in front of Eva Peron’s eternal home is cluttered with street vendors offering all variety of goods from leather bags to hand knitted scarves, paintings, pottery, jewelry, stones, and knick knacks a plenty. And on the sunny and warm days the grass is filled with people sipping mate and catching up with friends, often with some kind of live music to accompany their afternoon.

It’s just a happy and peaceful place to be. And lucky for me I found just what I was looking for!

Tree of Life

Tree of Life

I spent a lot of time looking for a Tree of Life that I loved over the years, and never quite found one. So as I passed by this man’s stand who had created this piece of work personally, I told him how beautiful it was and continued on my way. Only to realize a few minutes walk away that, wait – what was I thinking, it was perfect! So I quickly walked back and tried it on, along with 4 or 5 other beautiful pieces of jewelry he had on display, and made my selection carefully.

After a successful morning I decided to treat myself to a mid-afternoon capuccino and a snack. I wandered away from the park in the direction of my apartment and stumbled upon a quiet cafe with white trimmings – L’Avant Garde. A nicely designed place to catch a break. I saw someone munching on some type of yogurt parfait and decided it was a healthy enough alternative to all the ice cream I’d been eating, so I opted in.

Capuccino and a Parfait

Capuccino and a Parfait

Another afternoon complete, and it was off to the pool to catch some of those rays my poor pale skin had been so severely deprived of!

Buenos Aires Lunch Style

After a 14 hour flight from Frankfurt to Buenos Aires (not including the previous travel time from Berlin to Frankfurt,) arriving in Buenos Aires only to discover they do actually now charge American citizens a “reciprocity tax” of $160 dollars (i.e. a “visa” to enter the country,) and an hour drive to my apartment from the airport, I was exhausted. I debated never leaving the apartment, ever, and just staying put to sleep away the day. But then I remembered, I was in Buenos Aires!

So I ingested some caffeine (Excedrin people, nothing strange here!) to knock out my headache, put on a new, cute summer dress I acquired in Berlin, and hit the streets. The minute I stepped outside into the sunshine and busy streets of BsAs (Buenos Aires), I couldn’t hold back my smile. I felt like skipping along the roads and shouting that I had made it!

For a girl who loves to shop and doesn’t often get to do it (it’s a non-profit world I’m in these days,) Buenos Aires is heaven. Fashion and style abound, and for the less noble (like myself) the leather is simply gorgeous. You cannot hold back from drooling over purses, shoes, and jackets galore.

So to me, a perfect day in Buenos Aires consists of wandering the streets of Palermo, popping into shops to my heart’s content, stopping for a mid-morning espresso or fresh squeezed juice, wandering some more, and finding a delicious place to hole away for mealtime. That is one thing there is absolutely no shortage of in BsAs – food! And it is the best you could possibly imagine. Fresh ingredients, crisp salads, delicious pastries, mouth watering steaks – and not to mention the more exotic choices which have found their way into BsAs kitchens such as Japanese or Moroccan.

I managed to find my way into a few new restaurants that have popped up in the last few years since I was here. On my first day I was lucky enough to stumble upon B-Blue Deli & Natural Bar where I delightfully realized my mango juice would be served my favorite way – freshly squeezed and oversized! Accompanied by a side of carrots and some healthy dip I couldn’t quite identify, but was delicious all the same.

Fresh Squeezed Mango Juice!

Fresh Squeezed Mango Juice!

Knowing I was in for a few weeks of eating meat almost exclusively, (Paraguay does not have quite as prevalent a vegetable market in local restaurants as one would think given their extensive agriculture,) I eagerly ordered a salad. And once again, I was wide eyed at the largess of the bowl put in front of me. After two years living in Germany, I have yet to find a place that does salads right by me, and by right, of course, I mean like this!

Salad Deliciousness!

Salad Deliciousness!

Mixed greens, avocados, almonds, tomatoes, and some type of honey vinaigrette – muah! Perfection. Knowing I had plenty of steak ahead to fill my days and nights, I relished this fresh and healthy delight, (and took note of the ingredients with a promise to replicate the same at home!) And this was the beginning of my quest for yummy delights throughout the city.

Warmth, sunshine, and delicious food – indeed I had arrive in my beloved BsAs!