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Journey to healthy habits #2 – Learning to fail and picking up the pieces

I am sitting on my balcony, feeling very disappointed – another weekend is over. Another lazy weekend – I have missed out on cooking delicious lunch for myself nor did I get some fresh dust on my running shoes.

Thankfully I have a glas of homemade elderflower syrup to keep me company. So, based on this fact, I cannot be as lazy and unproductive as I let myself believe. Since I have conciously started working on my healthy habits last year, I have probably had more bad days than the good once. You might say, I am not fully comitted to the case – and I would probably not argue with you. Nevertheless, I have made some effort to implement healthy habits into my life. The only problem is, to stick to those plans 100% of time. So, the biggest battle I have been fighing for last nine months was learning how to fail your plan and despite that find will to go on.

There are days, or sometimes even few weeks, when I do not feel motivated to go out, neither cook for myself. So, I end up in front of a screen, watching some cheesy movies while haribos keep me company. Sometimes its chocholate – other days pringles. And the longer the period lasts, the harder is it to get back on the track. I put on the weight and it makes it harder to run. I spiral down, I skip core training, do not strech. Even a thought of next training is exhausting because I know, it will suck big times. It will be hard, so I rather stay in bed. I pity myself and look for comfort in chocolate, again. At this point, I am pretty close to rock bottom. Unfortunatelly, I have already been there too often to start fresh. However, I am not smart enough to learn from it either.

So, I have been in this vicious circle for as long as I can remember. What a shame I do not remember my childhood days – I used to be so badass [in a good way]. Sometimes I look at pictures and try to remember what it felt like to acctually run uphill. Then, after the dark period is over, there come some good days, e.g. last September, when I finished the Ring of Steel [here] and I am so proud of myself. It seems for a little while that I am on the right path. Then, I get comfortable, which is on the borderline with lazy. Sooner than I can imagine, I slip up and end up angry with the world under bett sheets among chocolate.

Despite how it might look, I am making progress. I am learning how to deal with failure. I have recently realised that if I ever learn to master that, I will be more than halfway in. So, I have resently accepted the fact that I will fail regurarly and I started working on my comebacks. There are some points, which work for me.

  1. Start immediately. I used to cry myself into sleep with thought, I will do better tomorrow. Yet, that was a mistake. It was not different in the morgning. There was no lunch prepared in the fridge and I used to suffer big times if I try to go for a run, etc. So instead of getting 10-12 hours of useless sleep (I only need like 8 hours of good sleep) hoping the world will be magically a better place next day, I get on it right away.
  2. I begin with a simple step – food. I know, its crazy. However, if I want to train, I have to fuel properly. So, I would get into kitchen and prepare some meals, snacks including nice desserts. Food is neither the punishment, nor reward. This used to be my biggest mistake. Sometimes, I would try to punish myself by not eating sweets and snacking only veggies in order to get better. So I would end up with less than 1000 Cal a day and you can imagine, what would happen to your body after few days like that. I was “starving”  myself and was more likely to fail even sooner. So, to avoid that, I start a recovery phase with preparing a balanced meal for the next few days. So, that it makes easier for me to function when I am eating good food.
  3. On the first day of recovery, I would only go for a walk – nothing hard. Again, it is not helping, if I punish myself with muscle pain on the first training. It sure is not motivating for the next day. Additionally, I would do some core straightening moves, again, just enough to feel a bit stronger and good about myself.
  4. Then I would gradually add more load and keep up the good diet.

Unfortunatelly, I have not figured out the fifth step yet – how to find a balanced daily routine? There might come a small distraction my way and I am off – e.g. long hours at work, social event (read party/date weekend), rainy weather or sore throat, etc. So I get lazy like this weekend, and am ready to go back to the step one..

All in all, as I learnt to pick up pieces, the fear of failing is not so excrutiating anymore and I do not torment myself. I rather accept the failure as a part of process, which makes it a whole lot easier. This way, I do not have to start fresh for the millonth time, because I am seriously lacking motivation to go down that road again and again. I have realised, a sudden magical change into the perfect version of myself overnight will not happen – there is no amount of new notebooks or lists which could make that happen. I can only try to slowly implement the healthy habits into my current messy life with occasional hickups on the way. Nevertheless, today is another one of recovery starts. I have put veggies into oven (with lot of cheese in between), it might be done by the time I upload this article. This way, I can go to sleep and be sure tomorrow will be a better day.

Review of 2016.

The beauty of each New Year to me is looking back and evaluating, maybe making new plans for the coming year. Last year, I hoped to have a better one than 2015 and looking at the charts, I can be proud of myself. I have improved. I might not have been hitting a lot of PRs but I have finally managed to incorporate sport into my mundane Mondays [1].

 

GENERAL

As I have mentioned before, I was able to train more regularly than last year. I have recorded 165 activities on strava.com. So you can say, I did something three days a week! If we compare 2015 and 2016 in terms of elapsed time, I have only trained for 86% amount from last year. Yet, it was spread into more units – 165 vs. 136 the year before. So, you can say, I did more shorter units this year, apprx. 40min each day..

The overall distance numbers are looking brighter as well, check out the charts below.

CYCLING

cycling

…cycling about 108% of last years distance. [2] It would be about 36.5k and 103min weekly. If I take the fact under consideration that I only bought a new bike in July, I was riding about 70k in 200min weekly during the time, I acctually had a bike. What is more, if I keep up the trend, I will be able to hit 5000k next year!

RUNNING

running …significant improvement in running, about 145% of last years distance! [2] In average it makes 14.4k and 127min weekly. The altitude is even more impressive, 19,920m! It might be not a lot for those guys who acctually live in mountains but I have to travel some distance to get to those parts and only during weekends and holidays. So, I think I did well.

MONTHLY REVIEW

Putting things into a monthly perspective and including all kind of excercise looks more interesting – at least to me.

 

These graphics clearly show that March and June were the laziest months of the year! March could be explained easily, I was finalising my master thesis and it got my undivided attention. Concearning June, I have no valid excuse. FYI, June 2015 was also very poor – the mystery continues. On the other hand, September was great even this year and what is more, I have been training regularly two days out of three since then.

The average number for time spent training (excluding months June and September from the statistics) would be 19.8 hours in a month. (19.4 hours in 2015). My optimal training plan would imply 35-40 hours, so I have completed only 50% of my plan, just like in 2015. Yet, I have acctually managed to fullfill the plan, even it was only in September and October, a big improvement to the last year (I only managed to do 70-80% during busiest months). Another positive thought is that I have managed to do more kilometers in less hours than last year – hopefully, I am getting faster :-). So, let´s step it up next year!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017!

 

[1] Yes, I am a big fan of waitbutwhy. If you do not know it yet, make sure to google it 🙂

[2] Graphics were exported from Strava.com, using StravistiX extention for Chrome. It adds plenty helpful information and it is free.

Journey to healthy habits #1 – Counting Calories

Since I have become a real person, I have decided to start working on becoming a healty person as well. It is a working progress thing which is still going on, yet I have decided to share few toughts on the way as I am not sure how long will it take.

 

There are two major groups of people in this world.

A) those who think counting calories is ridiculous thing to do

B) those who are acctually counting them every day

Hypothetically, there should be a third group as well. It would include those few people who rely on their guts to know how much they are supposed to eat and live in balance without making conscious and obvious efforts to do so. I think everyone dreams to join their team but it is a long and complicated journey. As my guts are driven by Nutella and my instincts on eating healthy do not exist, I have recently started an experiment. I have been logging in all consumed calories throughout the day. I know what you think – I must be desperate. However, let me share few outcomes with you first and then judge me.

 

I use to be the the person laughing at the “cliché counters” and refused to join in. Nevertheless, I have lately had several conversations with different people whose opinions matter to me reagrading the topic of healty eating habits and knowing mine sucks, I have decided to do somethign about it. For starters, I am not great at keeping notes. I would buy a beautiful notebook to document things, e.g. to write a food diary. Yet, it would get tossed into the corner withing few days. Using modern technology, e.g. a food app was not crowned with success either. My problem is, I lack consistency. So, I have decided to comit to an experiment for three weeks – two weeks seemed too short to gain any results, one month seemed just undoable for me.  The aim was, to log down food I have consumed – simple overview without doing any evaluation at first. I think it was a very crucial step to do. Just eat like you usually would and understand how it looks like from a perspective of nutritional numbers. Do not make any changes yet – it is a piece of advice I did not stick to before. It is also a reason, why all my previous attemts shipwrecked. As soon as you start writing things down, you tend to make things look better – you would either start eating healtier in overnight or cheat and give up soon. Only a super hero would manage the first one. I know, each book recommends starting a food diary/counting calories to help you make smarter choices but who says, where your mistakes lie? Am I simply eating too many calories or am I eating the wrong kinds? I was lucky enough to grow up to see an example when eating chocolate and staying fit works along. So I assumed, based on my shallow observations, I just needed to do more sport to balance things out. Yet, again ist not as simple as it looks. How much is more? Do I have to something every day or is occasional hike on wekends enough? So even if you decide to lose weight by training more (it was always my aim to do so) you still have to count calories to know your Input.. I was perfectly aware of my Output, I do have a smartphone which is tracking my daily activities and I also own a sport watch as well. It is easy to do the calcualtion after an intense workout – patting yourself on shoulder after you just burnt 2500 Cal on a long ride, you believe you are entitled to refuel this with five chocolate bars. Because thats what the math says. I have been living like this for years and it would work somehow – sometimes I was not just metaphorically speaking about those five bars of chocolate. Nevertheless, I always knew deep down, it will not be enough to reach the goals in the end and a change is inevitable.

So I starting counting. I have installed the MyFitnessPal (read  more here) app on my phone, as I liked the idea of Input – Output equasion for each day. What is more, it is compatible with Strava.com I use to track my sport activities (which works with my Suunto watch 🙂 ) it was super easy for me to join in, and even if you do not understand a word from previous sentence, you can always add the activities manually. It is simple and I would highly recommend doing so. You can log in the walked distance after running errands in the city, etc. Adding food is also quite easy, you either scan the barcode or add it manually, again. If you prepare your meal yourself, you can just scan the ingredients while cooking or you put in some more effort and calculate the final numbers for the meal as well. That is, what I tried to do as I have my problems cooking meals by following recipes and the main point of the experiment was to find out what I usually eat – not to introduce new meals to my plan. So, following recipes from the forum was not an option for me. It would have been a huge change plus I like my cousine.. There was no point to cook strange meals for threee weeks just to return to the old habits in the end. Of course, I keep my mind open for new suggestions but I usually alter them in the end to put my own note on it.. It was my only rule I set up, I am not eating anything because someone says is healthy. So, I ended up creating a spreadsheet to calculate the final nutrition values of meals I have cooked. (I will upload them to the food section over time).

 

OUTCOMES

  • I have to say, it was fun. For the first time I enjoyed writing a food diary. It was very time consuming, so be prepared to invest some long hours if you decide to conduct a similiar experiment of your own.
  • You can be hungry even if you have eaten a lot (speaking in language of Calories).
  • I have realised how uneducated I am about nutrition, I have no idea what acctually those numbers on the packaging mean. It is far more complicated than just simple calories counting.
  • Within three weeks, I have had my ups and downs. Of course, I have indulged in chocolate – I am only human. However, I now understand why it happend and how to get it under control.
  • I did not take the fun out of eating and cooking, yet I will be rethinking my choices in the future – especially when it comes to the chocolate granola (I am not eating those 1200 Cal for breakfast anymore when spending a day in office chair!)
  • Those three weekes were just a beginning and I might not have become smarter but I know, what knowledge am I lacking.
  • It was a very good experience, seeing my “intuitive” choices in a different light. Some important discoveries have been made regarding what I have considered to be healthy but it acctuallly is just a nasty food packed with empty calories.
  • I am ready to start optimising.

Horryfied by some choices I have made and discovering new friends in the fridge, I have collected some good quality data. Now, the next step will be evaluating and introducing few changes. Occasional slip-ups are allowed and to make the process sustainable, it is important, to make it fun as well – so including a lot of experimenting in the kitchen and learning a great deal about nutrition are in order. In the mean time, stay tuned for updates and some delicious recipes – starting with soups, my new dinner BFFs.

Weekend in the hay – Secrets Festival, Berlin

It has been quite a summer. I have so many drafts open, I might need the whole winter to finsh them all for you guys. Nevertheless, I have decided to share at least some of the activities of mine..

You might get the clue from my previous posts, I am a musically challenged person. I like music but I cannot read note sheets, neither do I play any instruments. What is more, when it comes to my playlist on iPod – it is a very unique thing, yet so mainstream. There are some no-gos for me, e.g. hard stuff and german rap. Otherwise, I am very open to any nice song and then I usually comit to it, my roomates could tell you stories about one-song-loops going on in my bedroom for a whole week. This, a rather strange habit of mine, is also a reason why I do not have any favourite interprets and I have not been to many concents so far either.

Despite these facts, I have wanted to attend a festival for some time now. I have been hearing about how great those weekends are and how much fun people have there etc. But never got invited. Who knows why 🙂 So, I when a dear friend ofmine asked me whether I would accompany her, Iwas very excited. We have survived a research project in Italy for one month in one hotel room, this would be another small adventure. Plus, we have not had a girls time since she has become a mom! I had little idea what are we going to attend, I fully trusted her taste (yes, she has one!). It was very spontaneous decision, I cleared my scedule and hopped on the train to Berlin. To he honest, I have struggled when packing and threw onto the pile even my large water wheel and frisbee as well – who knows. The rest was pretty basic – I was surprised how many packing lists could I find online and some of them were helpfull as well.

To my relief, it was not crowded at all. Secrets Festival 2016 [1] was just the right fit for me. We had a great weekend, listening to live music. Even the electro dance party on Saturday evening was acctually live 🙂 However, we spent the rest of weekend on the beach – it took place directly at Kiekebiusch See [3], covered in hay and sand, drinking beer and enjoying the songwriters songs. They were so many street musicans playing there, I really loved it. You can check out the names for yourself in the program [2].

..it would be a shame not to end this post with my new favourite song, so here we go:  Katie O’Connor – Wishing well [link on Youtube]. Let the one-song-loop-party begin! :))

 

[1] official site here

[2] link to the progam and artists here

[3] Kiekebusch See, Berlin N 52.353917,  E 13.537958  here

 

GALLERY

Enjoying the springtime.

I have a little confession to make, I been very lazy lately – if you are in a similiar mood, you might want to check out my favourite song for these days: Couch potato by Shortstraw [link here]. So, I have decided to at least grab a camera today and go for a short walk in the fields. Afterall, I do not want to miss out the most colourful time of year, plus I have bought myself a real camera. I have got lucky and the sun was out so I hope you will get at least an essence of my little adventure today.

GALLERY

New Regular Topics coming soon..

I have recently stumpled upon a blog [link here] and I really liked the foodie friday posts. What a great idea. It has got me thinking, I am very casual about writing posts – I am missing regularity and if I ever come up with a story, it is very random. I also find it very difficult to compose an article on a topic I have written about before as I am afraid you might get bored by it. However, people obviously do not get bored by certain topics. My articles on (white and dark) chocholate granola is a living proof [link here and here].They were quite similiar to me but I have got a positive feedback on both – I did not expect that to be honest. Foodie articles get never old :). So, I have got inspired and have decided to take a more systematical approach to writing. I will definitely keep you updated on my current favourites – trails, music, recipes and some work stuff as well.

So stay tuned for more, we will start very soon!

Breaking into real world

You might have noticed I have been working on my master thesis [more on the topic here] and the next logical step would be looking for a job. I am kind of lucky, I could skip that part as I have recieved an offer before I have got to the point of sending out applications – good score, right? Long story short, I have entered a student design competition last June. I have been quite happy with my contribution and so was the jury [more about the project here] and then, at the award reception, I have met my future boss. He was looking for an young architect fresh out of school to work on housing projects of similiar volumes. He runs a familly business, among others also a construction company located in Brandenburg [1]. I have been intrigued by this offer and have took a meeting with him. The point is, I have started my first real job on the 1st February and moved to a very small town (ca. 4.000 inhabitants) in eastern Germany. I have been working before – tutoring since my second year and I have had some other jobs in research as well. Hence, I have never had to leave the university bubble until now. I have spent last five years in Germany, yet I was not acctually living there. It has got better when I moved out of dorms but I was still meeting only students. Looking back, I seemed to have very strange priorities and problems. As the most students, I did not  worry about buying matching furniture or having set of nice pots to cook in, anything clean worked just fine. I think this attitude is very reasonable – you have a limited budget, plus you care only about passing the classes and having fun. Yeah, I have been in that bubble for last five years. However, I think it is time to grow up for good, set up a saving account and buy those matching curtains. I will be earning good money, and have plenty of free time – maybe. I think going to work is not as time consuming as studies, you get at leas the weekends off. Therefore, it is an improvement comparing to my scedules when being to school, I have basically spent seven days either in classes or in studio. So, I have not had a free weekend in a long time.. and if I were to add the number of my pyjama lazy days in a year, I will certainly not go over the 25 (which is number of my vacation days in a year, and I did not include the state holidays!). I admit, it gets harder when you have kids but I am not even in a serious relationship yet. So, I will have the absolute freedom for the first time in my life. The strangest thing of all is, I am already looking for that boring life of an adult. After five years of rollercoasting, I was happy to dive into a routine – scedule regular workouts, plan my meals in advance and sleep properly. I was very excited and glad to abandon my college life (and have not regreted it yet).

It has been almost two weeks of work and I hold my head still up. I am constantly learning new things – it is kind of ovewhelming but I am getting the hang of it! I have had the first meeting with building authorities, they are not as scary as I imagined :). Everything is so real, I have had already two site visits – it is a housing project, redesigning an old villa. Very charming view, I would definitely want to move in! You can check out first impressions in the gallery attached below. What is more, I have spent last weekend at the Baumesse [building fair] in Chemnitz. I loved it there, and if you are a student, I would definitely recommend visiting these things – you will see plenty of interesting products there. If you are kind of hands-on-learner, it is a perfect opportunity to get in touch with the construciton world. They have so many samples there, it was very exciting.

Anyway, the working class has to do the dishes now, then some core training and get the eight hours of beauty sleep, so have a nice evening and stay tuned for more updates.

 

[1] Brandenburg is the flatest area in Germany, the land around Berlin.

 

GALLERY

Homemade Granola 2.0

After finishing the last bite of my chocolate granola, I have to stock up. I have decided to go for a white version this time, something more colourful and lighter. Basically, it is the same as the chocolate version – check out the last post here. However, we will throw in something new.

INGEDIENTS

  • 500g oat flakes
  • 200g dried cranberry
  • 100g coconut rasper
  • 200g white chocolate
  • 100ml water
  • ca. 35ml oil (sunflower)
  • 1package of vanilla sugar
  • cinnamon
  • black pepper
  • salt

One more time in a visual form:

granola recipe white

HOW TO

We will start the same way as last time. First, you want to boil the water and mix in the chopped chocolate and oil. Keep steering, add all spices – cinnamon, black pepper, vanilla sugar, and salt as well. Put the rest of the ingredients into another bowl and mix them together, pour over the prepared sauce. If you think the mass is too dry, try knead it with your hands. It is a weird initial feeling, I agree, but it is very effective and at last fun as well. When you finish playing with the raw granola, spread it on a baking tray and put into oven for 45min at 110-130°C. I have not mentioned it last time but I have split the mass into two halves and baked them seperately to make sure my granola will be crispy at the end. Maybe it would work even all at once, I just do not want to take any chances :-).

 

For my surprise, the outcome was very different comparing to the last time. Going light on chocolate made the granola more crispy and definitely lighter. What is more, I have been very impressed by how big the cranberries grew in the oven. Yeah, the baking makes such a difference. The granola is much better than some dried fruits mixed into your muesli. I think, I am adicted and I am already looking forward the third version, I might go with something nutty next time!

Yumm.

Frozen and Foggy

Those who follow me on Instagram (@runningarchitect) have already seen a little preview of the coming post on Saturday. Here comes the story behind.

I have ben resting at the begining of last week and my legs felt very fresh but I was also feeling very lazy. The weather was not helping either, the world behind the glas looked very hostile. Nevertheless, we have planned an exciting new route which had to be explored. So I have put on some warmer clothes as it was about 20k in cold and outside was a thin layer of fresh powder waiting for us. Sipping on mom´s hot soup in the evening, I was already convinced that the trip turned out great. On our way, we have conquered the central point of Slovakia [1]. I have to say, it is one of my favourite places to go for a hike. The top of the hill is quite exposed, a crag. I am always excited when I get a chance to scramble for a bit. There was even a some kind of a great view waiting for us on the top of the hill. Although you could not see in the distance, the picture of forest disappearing right in front of your eyes was enchanting as well. I have completely lost the sence of wider space in that thick fog. There was only this very small, yet limitless world around me. Now and here. I admit, it can be frustrating if you are lost but even then you could embrace the possibility of this strange freedom, running into unknown. The best part was, the whole run was accelerated and it felt like flying through. You know, if you only see the tip of your nose, even a slow pace seems to be an unbelievably fast tempo. What is more, the trees were plastered with snow and frost and it looked like the frozen kingdom. You can check out few pictures in the gallery attached below.

All in all, I am very glad I have found the strenght to get off that couch! It is usually so that things we are not very enthusiastic about tend to turn out much better than we would have anticipated at the beginning. So, just put on some shoes and go explore.

 

You can download the GPX-file here.

[1] Hrb with its altiture 1.254,7 meters above sea level. Or at least, that is what Wikipedia says 🙂

 

GALLERY

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