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Gym Time: back for more

Now you might think why go back to the gym? Yes, I’m still running at my slow turtle pace, but it was time for more. And how will I keep gym-motivated the second time around?

Well, I’m bringing a special person this time, my boyfriend. So, we will do it partly together and partly apart. Last Sunday was our first go at it. We did some weights and squats and I went off to do cardio. He went on with deadlifting. I honestly still don’t really understand what it means, but as long as he’s happy, I’m cool with it.

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And how did I feel after doing weights for the first time in months? I can tell you that how I move can’t be called walking anymore. It’s looks more like waddling. Colleagues even asked if I was ok, because it looked like I was in pain. And I was in pain! But.. the good kind. At least I know what I did is effecting my body.

So, now we need to keep going. My boyfriend said that I will need to kick his ass for at least the first two weeks. Apparently after that he will drag me to the gym. I guess we’ll have to see how it turns out. But since we’re committing to the gym together we can hold each other accountable.

Perhaps that is what we need sometimes. Someone that can motivate you when you’re feeling lazy or out of it. Someone to confront you with the promises you made to yourself. And someone to remind you of your goals. Of course you can have a heart to heart with the mirror, but you might not want to tell yourself to stop being a slacker. Therefore you should tell others about your goal so they can support you.

Another thing needed to reach your goal is a good plan. So the first step is to have a clear goal. Do you want to get fit or work on your endurance? Maybe even lose some weight? Be very specific in what you want to accomplish and even visualize it.

Once you have a clear goal the second step is to create your plan. How will you reach your goal? For example part of my plan is that I’m going running twice a week and going to the gym twice a week. Even better would be to pick specific days on when you want to do what. Write it in your calendar and you’ll feel more obliged to stick to your plans. But I’m still working on the details of my plan too. And remember to share your plan and goal with someone else.

Something that I personally find very important is to keep it all fun. Even though I make a plan and have a specific goal, it needs to be fun. That’s why exercising together on some days can make it more enjoyable. When I stop having fun at working out, my motivation dries out too. So whatever makes you laugh while doing squats, I would say, go for it. Enjoy!

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Sweet dreams

Do you have these lively, colorful dreams? Everything you processed during the day gets transmitted to your dreams? Well if you do it can be a blessing and a burden. At least it is in my case. So what do I experience after saying sweet dreams?

Sometimes I have these lovely stories displayed in my head. I wake up with a smile on my face and feel super rested. Often however it is the complete opposite. When opening my eyes I remember up to five different dreams which are many times nightmares instead and I’m exhausted.

You might wonder, why exhausted? Well it seems my brain doesn’t stop thinking. At some point in my dream I realize it is indeed a dream and my mind starts trying to change the situation. So after a night of either waking up from nightmares or from analyzing and changing dreams I feel tired. Really tired.

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And I’ve tried so many things to change this. First of all I don’t experience a lot of stress, which can be the cause of nightmares, but I have them anyway. Second, I don’t watch television right before sleeping which could be another cause. Also I don’t have trouble falling asleep, just sleeping quietly without my brain doing overtime.

So what do I do to somewhat improve the situation? And what can I recommend? Well, as I mentioned try not to watch television right before going to bed. In my case it is better to avoid any kind of input of new information. So no texting, calling or heavy conversations. Rather a walk with my dogs, having a tea (be careful it’s one that helps you sleep) or a relaxing shower.

Some kind of smells can help too. For example you can put a lavender plant in your bedroom. I tried that option as well, because I do find lavender to be relaxing. It is unfortunate though I’m not so good with plants. To be honest, I’m horrible with plants. I love them, but I just can’t keep them alive. So the ones in bedroom didn’t make it either.

Another option that could or should work is to do some yoga at night. You can use some meditation music while doing it to help you relax. This isn’t part of my night time routine yet, but maybe I can convince my boyfriend we have to start doing this.

In case you have the same troubles as I have, then perhaps these tips can help you too. I still need to find the ultimate solution to my lively dreams keeping me from having a proper night of rest. When I do find it and I have a perfect nighttime routine I will let you know. Until then you might find me falling asleep at any time of the day. Or I’ll just start having siestas again.

My relaxing morning routine

Sometimes I wonder what people do in the morning. How does their day start? When I tell people I wake up about an hour and a half before I leave for work, some seem shocked. Why that early? Well, because I can’t hurry.. I need to relax, but I have a lot to do before I go. So how does my morning routine look like?

Well, first of all why do I have a morning routine? I mean I could simply wake up, get dressed and leave, right? But that doesn’t work for me. Not only because I have dogs, but also before I had them, I needed a bit more ‘me’-time before I faced the world.

In my early working days I was a bit more rushed in the morning. In the end that meant I felt rushed all day long. You might think that if you sleep longer and hurry to get to work, you’ll be more rested. Because you slept longer right? The opposite is true though. Sleeping longer and then rushing takes away all the relaxedness you felt before. So that routine had to change.

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It took a while before I found the best way to start my day. I don’t mean the best way for everyone, but for me. After visiting Bali and seeing a Guru, yes I said Guru, I received advise that I had to follow up. The Guru told me I should mediate every morning. So since then I do. I must admit I lost my way for a while, but got the hang of it again. Does it work? Actually it does. I start my day feeling very at ease.

So you’ve waiting long enough. How is my daily morning routine? Well, I usually get up around 5:30 AM. The first thing I do after waking up is either walking the dogs or starting my yoga. My boyfriend is spoiling me lately and walks the dogs every morning. The second thing though is always yoga. First a few ‘Sun Salutations’, then a mix of other yoga exercises and then it’s time for the meditation part.

After a short meditation, the time various each day, and saying a mantra that ‘today will be a great day’ I get to the next step. Shower time it is and then getting dressed, doing my hair and make up. When I’m about ready to leave, I don’t leave just yet.

My boyfriends wakes up and we drink a coffee together. You wonder how I drink my coffee? Well, thanks for asking. I have some black coffee with a drop of coconut oil, some honey, soy milk and some cinnamon to finish it off. And my boyfriend? He doesn’t like my special coffee mix that much, so it’s black coffee for him.

And is this entire routine worth it to get up so early? It totally is! Like I said before, when I rushed in the morning, I felt rushed all day long. Now I take a bit more time for myself before I face work, strangers in the train and all of that fuss and I feel so much better.

It takes me about an hour and a half to do all of it and sleeping in doesn’t compare to the happiness my routine brings me.

So I can definitely recommend to save some time for yourself in the morning. Even if it’s only fifteen extra minutes to read the paper, wander around, drink a coffee or to just take your time. Trust me, you’ll feel the difference.

Getting back on track

Do you know the feeling? That after a while life gets in the way? You try so hard, but for some reason you miss a workout and then you skip another. And on top of it you have a dinner and fail your healthy diet. So how do you get back on track?

First of all, it’s ok if this sometimes happen. We all have moments that we fall of the “healthy” wagon once in a while. What important is, is to accept that and see how you can get back on it. Don’t give up when you failed once or even twice. Don’t think that now there’s no point to try. Because every step in the direction of a healthy lifestyle is the right one.

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So it happend to me too. As you might I’ve seen I enjoyed the snow in Austria. Eating healthy was quite a challenge there and it was due to two things. The first thing was that there weren’t that many healthy options. The second challenge was seeing my family binge on french fries, Austrian pancakes, hot chocolate and more yummy things. So, so did I. Well a bit.

You might think ok so once you’re back, you start eating healthy again? Yes, that was the plan and then I went away for work and stayed in an hotel. For two days long we were offered cookies, chocolate and even pizza. Yes, there was a bowl of fruit too. One that hardly anyone touched.

Why not choose the good things when that option was there? I can think of many excuses like the fact that I was really tired and craved more food, the bad things, but really the choice was mine. Nobody forced me to take a slice of pizza or a handful of cookies. But once you fall of the wagon it seems to take so much more effort to get back on the right one.

How to get back on track then? Remind yourself why you were exercising and eating right in the first place. Why were you running when you used to hate this? Set your goal again and break it into steps so it becomes a plan. Perhaps even share your plan so you feel someone can hold you accountable.

My plan is again to go running three times a week. I also promise to myself to eat an healthy oatmeal breakfast, have an apple with cinnamon as a snack and have vegetables and fish for lunch. Dinner then will be similar but smaller and of course I’ll do yoga every morning and walk my doggies. When I break it into these steps it suddenly doesn’t seem like such a big effort anymore. There’s no obstacle, but you, getting in your way. So let’s get to it. Will you join me?

My escape to Winter Wonderland

Family holidays can be a lot of fun. It can also mean a lot of chaos. Going skiing with mine was definitely both. But despite the chaos sometimes we need a little escape. Normally I would say to the summer sun, but this time it was to a snowy landscape. And how did it go?

Well it always starts with a long road trip. Ok for some of you it might not seem long, but including the traffic jams it took us about 13 hours to go from the Netherlands to Austria. Remember that for Dutch people this is super long, because we can cross our country about 4 times within that time frame. Maybe even more. But the ride also has its charm. At least on the way going there it does. On the way back I’m just tired and want to be home asap.

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During this “very” long ride we had to stop several times. Obviously to get gas, but also to feed the babies and my nephews. Remember my brother and sister are only 7 months old? So now you can imagine where the chaos starts. But they’re also very cute and getting cuter every day. After everyone, except the children, had their shot of coffee we continued the journey.

When finally arriving in Austria, this is where many Dutch people go skiing, we were offered their specialty. Obstler. A fruity shot of alcohol. It’s quite strong and not really my cup of tea, but traditions right? Ok, I won’t fool you, I politely passed this time. And almost every time before that time. Maybe next time I’ll make up for it. Or not.. we’ll see.

And then the next day the snow fun starts. It might seem unbelievable, but my partner in crime skiing was my grandfather. My grandfather who’s turning 80 next week! And he’s still skiing amazingly! He’s also an expert in the beer drinking part during our breaks. My favorite however is the hot chocolate with whipped cream. And of course enjoying the winter sun.

For my nephew, who’s 4 years old, it was the first time taking skiing lessons and that was not his cup of tea. He cried every day in class, the poor thing, even though he said he also liked it. When I tried to teach him my skills he said the class was more fun. I don’t know if that means I’m a horrible teacher or he just wanted an excuse to quite skiing. But he killed it at his competition, well he tried. He actually crashed into a rubber pole, but came in third anyhow and even got a medal.

So how was skiing with the family? Or any holiday? Like I said and you might imagine a lot of people talking at the same time, eating too much, some drinking too much, laughing, arguing and having fun. So yes it was good, but I do need a break now recovering from my snowy break with them.

Ready for take off?

How do you prepare for a trip? Because there’s nothing better than going on a vacation right? Knowing that you can spend an amount of days doing whatever you want with whoever you want? But before taking off a little preparation is usually needed.

I’d love to say I’m one of those people who’s super prepared for any vacation. But unfortunately I’m not. Or perhaps it’s not unfortunate, because I don’t stress about it either. When I left for Spain, and I’m talking about me moving to Spain, I didn’t even think of buying a dictionary. Ok maybe that would’ve been helpful, but in the end I just bought it upon arrival. So no worries there.

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Some of my friends and family are really good at planning trips. To be more specific the planning of packing for a trip. I’m lucky if I think of doing my laundry on time so I can bring my favorite clothes. But my beloved friends and family make whole ‘to do’ lists and a ‘what to pack’ lists. I sometimes do that, but usually when all the packing is almost done and I just want to check if I have the most important items.

And what do I do when I forgot something? Oh well yeah, then I’ll sort it out once I realize I forgot it. The strange thing is that packing my purse for work is way more important to me than packing a suitcase. And I never need all the extra things I put in that purse. Now that I mention it, that is something to think about. Maybe I’m just way more relaxed when I have my time off. Perhaps it’s a good idea to go on more holidays.

So anyway, I feel there are two groups of people when it comes to preparing for a vacation. There are people who prepare on time, make the ‘to do’ lists, get a schedule and have everything up and running a week before leaving. And then there are the ones who do it last minute, who seem to not have a care in the world and might even be considered lazy.  So which one is better? Being ready for take off way before actually taking off or packing your suitcase while heading out?

Now would it be helpful to find a compromise in planning and not planning the things you need? I think that when you start stressing over something that is supposed to be relaxing, you took a wrong turn. On the other hand sometimes it might be more efficient and in the end relaxing if you finish your packing a bit earlier. Because what I didn’t admit in the beginning is that I’m usually still packing until the night before I leave. I then don’t sleep enough and start my holidays a bit tired. Or very tired. Oh well, at least I’ll have a week or so to sleep in and relax.

A helping hand

Doesn’t it feel good to help someone? Even though sometimes or often it might seem like a big effort. At times it might even seem that there’s nothing in it for you. But that’s also not the point, right?

When I was about sixteen I would pass through a senior home a lot. The senior home had a shortcut to go from the supermarket to my home. It was like a little alley but then right through the home. One day passing through I saw this elderly lady sitting in her wheelchair. She was just sitting there in the aisle to the left of the alley, in front of the apartments. She wasn’t moving forward and it was an odd place to take a break.

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So I glanced at her and kept walking, but then I felt bad. What if she couldn’t move forward on her own? Or if she simply had trouble doing it? So I made a wish. “Please let someone come and help her.” While I took another step towards the door I realized something. There was someone there to help the woman. I was there.

I could’ve easily gone home and let my sixteen year old brain forget about her, but it wasn’t right. If I was already there and this woman needed help, why shouldn’t I at least offer it? Sometimes I feel I might butt in too much, but if someone doesn’t want my help they can just say no. But that didn’t happen here, the elderly woman gladly accepted my help.

I helped her to get to her apartment and she asked if I could visit more often. That one action was the beginning of a two year friendship. We would go for walks, do groceries and drink hot chocolate in the cafeteria. Of course this was with a side of gossip about the other residents. It was a good thing they all couldn’t hear so well, because she didn’t hold back.

We would meet up almost every week until she passed away. I never thought that particular day when I was sixteen was the start of something so nice. Now I still try to help when a situation presents itself, even though I realize my help is not always wanted. And what’s in it for me? Well like I said, that is not the point. But if I have to choose something, then it’s the satisfaction that you can brighten someone’s day, even if it’s just a little.