Tech and Games for Non-Geeks

I’ve gotten myself a Fitbit! Why? Really, it’s the boyfriend’s fault. Have I mentioned how he loves his tech toys? Not in a million years would I have guessed I’d be living in an apartment with a television that big. Or even a television at all. I always do everything with my laptop and my phone. That’s the only tech I need. I never buy anything new until one of those two falls apart completely because I don’t like spending money on that stuff. But now the boyfriend has all this fun tech that he gets so enthusiastic about and it’s so contagious!

For example: I now watch him play Playstation games. Let me tell you, I am not a gamer and don’t think I’ll ever be one, but watching those story games is just like watching a super long movie and playing a board game at the same time. It’s something really fun to do together if you also happen to have a partner with a much higher level of ‘geekiness’ (which I use in a very loving way) then you have yourself. I for example really enjoyed Firewatch, about a ranger in a national park where someone disappeared, and some weird stuff happens. I also weirdly enjoy Hitman, because it’s kinda like an interactive Bond movie. You go to different places like Bangkok, where you get a target and a bunch of information, and you spend your game trying to find ways to get to your target without being caught and all that. Great fun! I tried playing it myself once but man, those controls are tricky to use! It’s much more fun having the boyfriend do the hard work while I just watch and make suggestions. And that way he gets to do his thing and play games, and I get to do my thing, which at that point is sitting on the couch and figuring out stuff, think riddles like in escape rooms and all that.

Also, he now has this super fancy super fast gaming computer (which he got under the pretence of needing a faster computer for editing his videos, as of course, he’s a bit of a vlogger) with some really fun simulator games. (This is when I found out that name The Sims comes from the fact that it’s a simulator game 😉 ) Once in a while, I enjoy a good Cities Skylines marathon. (It’s kinda like a new Sim Cities, but better apparently.)

I even didn’t let my old phone fall into pieces before I got a new one! Well, new one. My phone was starting to get slow and it didn’t really have much space for all the apps I like using (most of them recommended to me by the boyfriend, of course), so naturally the boyfriend had another phone lying around that I now get to use, an LG G3. Bigger, faster, newer. It does the trick 😉

And my latest addition: a Fitbit sports watch and activity tracker! The boyfriend somehow managed to get a free upgrade from his dad’s old broken Fitbit, and ever since he’s been super conscious about his physical health. We’ve always tried to be healthy, go for walks and runs and eat decent food, but only to the point where we enjoy it. We’re definitely not fitness freaks and still love our pizza and chocolate, but we’ve found it does help us to be happy if we’re healthy. And now, we’re really trying to change our lifestyle for the better!

This Fitbit also has a great app where you can have a little energising social network. The boyfriend’s been doing these challenges with his colleagues to see who gets the most steps and all that, and it really makes him get out and about more. For me, I always enjoy going for a run but I never really know if I’m making any progress, because I always end up running longer and longer but never really any faster it seems. Also, rather than just training on cardio, I should really try to burn some fat if I want my general fitness (which isn’t bad at this point really) to get any better. I’m overweight, so the best thing for me to do is train on a slightly lower heart rate until I have a more healthy weight. And then, my general fitness should start improving like a rocket. But obviously, apart from checkin my level of ‘red face’ in the windows of the houses I run passed, I have no idea how hard I’m actually training. So finally, now, my brand new Fitbit Surge tells me all I need to know! It tells me my heart rate, how fast I’m running, and on top of all that it also does the daily activity tracking and it’s super user friendly app totally let’s me keep on top of my health, which so far, I’m really enjoying.

Whether I’m enjoying it because it’s a fun tech toy and the idea of being active is sort of game-ified or I’m just enjoying being more active, at this point I don’t think it matters. All I know is that I feel healthier, happier, and I hope I’ll keep enjoying it like I am now.

So even for people generally suspicious of tech who might think, just like I did, that ‘you don’t need any of this stuff to be who you want to be, or to be happy’, I say true. But it definitely a lot more fun to have than I expected 😉

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From Post-Travel-Life to Work-Life

I have so much fun stuff to tell you but simply no time to do so!

I finished another book I wanted to review. Isabel Allende’s Japanese Lover. Not her best, but easy read.

I watched my first live comedy show ever. Nina Conti. Hi-la-ri-ous. One and a half hours of non-stop laughter.

We got our scooter fixed and now that it’s summer, it’s really nice to take it for a romantic spin with the boyfriend.

We went to England last weekend to visit the boyfriend’s family and watched Coldplay in Manchester while we were there. Holy Cow it was more than spectacular! Loved every minute of it.

I’m trying to take care of the garden as good as I can, the mint and horseradishes are doing quite well, everything else needs more looking after.

The gym has been a bit on the down-low but I keep trying. I’m also going running again, when I don’t have enough time for a full work-out.

But mostly I’m super busy at work. I have abstracts to write, papers to rewrite, presentations to practise, posters to make, lectures to prepare for, meetings with the colleagues,… This has been going for over a month now, and I don’t think it’ll stop until late September. I have no more time to work on my research, but I’m giving it my all to try to put what I have researched so far out there to discuss with other researchers. It’s bloody hard work and I don’t feel like I’m going anywhere. But hopefully it’ll start paying off soon and I’ll get some interesting feedback and meet some people who are actually interested in my work.

Until then, I’ll keep living this Post-Travel-Life. I think I’ve got it handled now. The money is coming in, I’m actually working hard for it, I manage to fill my little free time with fun stuff and try not to let work overwhelm me. The good part: I have no time to dream about travels anymore. Not for now. I guess this is it. The next chapter has well and truly started. Work-Life, I’m finally ready for you.

How Happiness is Easy, Because it’s Possible

I am really quite happy. And I’ve been so for a while. And I’m planning to stay so for even longer.

I once read somewhere that happiness isn’t a destination, it’s the road trip there. I think I’m finally on the right track to whatever may be my destination.

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Basically, I can think of a thousand things I would like to change in my life. I’d like my body to be more healthy. I’d like to spend less time on watching crappy tv-shows and more time on other stuff (although I have to admit I’m not doing so bad there, the New Year’s Resolution is still going and still not a disaster). Like gardening and crafts and guitar and hiking and cooking. I’d like to have more money. Because I’d like to go traveling again. And also have some sort of financial security for when I’d get back. I don’t particularly love my job…

But I really am happy. You see, all those things are okay. I’m working on them. None of them are impossible. I’m going to the gym as much as I can and try to get back into an active lifestyle, also minding what I eat without going on a crazy diet. The tv time I have been working on for a while, and although I can still cut down more, I don’t think it’s as bad as it used to be and I don’t feel as frustrated anymore because the binging has gone down massively. I try to spend a lot of time in the garden because being outdoors makes me happy, and I love to take my time cooking when I get back from work. And now that summer is just behind the corner, hiking a few days a month shouldn’t be a problem. We have some wonderful friends that like to come out with us and it just gives us extra motivation to do so. The same goes for my crafts, for which I meet up with some friends to spend both quality time with each other and do something new.

The boyfriend and I both have a job now, and we are almost all sorted for the stuff we need in our apartment. (The only thing I still want is a freezer, he still wants a full computer set up, but I guess we can spread that out over the years?) So we really can start saving properly now. It’ll still be tricky to do everything we want, but at least I don’t feel like it’ll get us stuck. We’ve got options. The traveling might not happen straight away, but I know for sure one day we’ll be adventuring again. And I’m okay with it taking a few years.

Now, the job was always the tricky part. But I don’t mind it anymore. It’s tough. And I’m not doing so well. But the boyfriend is so insanely supportive that he gives me that last bit of motivation. Without that, I’d crash completely. But he keeps me going. He keeps me wanting to impress. My colleagues aren’t bad either. Not that we have great fun at work, but everyone is nice and it creates a very open work environment. Even though I don’t feel like I am doing a good job, once in a while I do get a compliment (today someone told me I got quite far really fast) and that’s just the best feeling and it makes me try harder again for a while. I still don’t think this job is it for me, but I’ve made peace with it and I think I found a way to keep going and keep happy. I even leave for work with a smile on  my face.

But really, that has nothing to do with work. That has everything to do with the boyfriend. Since he has a job, we get up at the same time in the morning and have some cuddles before we leave. He waves me goodbye out of the door. And I can’t help but smiling for the first half of the day. The second half of the day, I’m looking forward to being home again so more smiles it is.

Our lives are surprisingly uneventful, but I feel like I’ve got it all. We made our apartment into such a lovely home, with nice decorations on the walls and the cupboards, o many pillows for us to still fit on the couch, and little lights everywhere to liven up the place. Our garden is the perfect escape, even though it is far from private. We live in such a quiet neighbourhood we really can pretend it is our little piece of paradise. We talk about all sorts of rubbish all night and watch some youtube stuff together (lately I’ve become a big fan of Casey Neistat’s daily vlogs, you should check it out!) or I watch him play a playstation game and order him around 😉 Sometimes we go out for an evening walk, or we head down to the gym, or into town for a drink with friends, or he does his thing and I do mine.

I do still want to change a thousand things in my life, sometimes it makes me sad or frustrated. But only ever so briefly. What keeps me going is knowing that it’s possible. And I’m working on it. And in the meantime, I’ll just be happy. Because really, it’s easy now.

 

How Do You Get Healthy in a Healthy Way?

It has come this far, I think I would like to try the whole protein shake madness. Now, for me to say that is a big thing.

I have always been of the opinion that you should eat and sport in such a way that your body can handle it without extra help. For sports, this means that I used to refuse taking extra supplements, like magnesium to stop your muscles from cramping. My philosophy was: if I eat the correct way, my body will tell me how much sports is good for me. Therefore cramps meant either less sports or more varied food. Likewise for the food: if I sport the correct way, my body (and my scales) will show me when to cut down on the food. And that’s where it has been going wrong for a while now, as I have told you many times before.

My body is far from ideal. And it’s getting worse. Even us bigger girls that like to eat have a limit. And I’m afraid I have more than reached mine, at 73.5kgs and a BMI of 27.3, which makes me officially overweight. So I have been trying to go to the gym as often as I can, and I’m actually making some really good progress on the fitness side! My cardio is going better and better and I can feel myself getting stronger. But the scales are still as dissappointed as ever. I even had to start taking magnesium pills as a normal diet does not provide me with enough to keep the cramps away. But I guess it’s healthier to take some supplements than it would be to gain even more weight?

I’m also really trying with the food. I really don’t want to go on a diet, but I just try to be healthy and eat less. For breakfast I have yoghurt and muesli, or I would have some porridge with jam. For lunch I try making nice salads (today’s one had lettuce, beetroot, feta cheese, chick peas and grilled peppers, well tasty) or I buy soup at work. For dinner I only eat one serve (if it is really really tasty I still fall for seconds) and for snacks, I have bananas or apples or grapes, or just a little piece of cake to stop myself from going mental. Like I said, I do NOT want to diet, but I don’t mind making myself a few new healthier habits. I even cut down on the wine in the evening. Only in the weekends from now on. Sigh.

But it’s not enough. The weight keeps worrying me and it is making me unhappy like it never has before. I have never been this heavy before. I don’t mean to be skinny, but I just wonder how, after nearly 5 years of staying below my 70kgs limit (still being overweight, but not feeling bad about it), I have managed to fail. So I’m looking for extra tips and tricks. And if I already gave in to the magnesium supplements, I guess maybe some other supplements could be next, like a protein shake after the gym?

I wish I could just be healthy and happy, but even though I think I really am living a healthy life, I do not have a healthy body. Being overweight brings with it risks to heart diseases, and might have something to do with my bad back and feet too. I would love to hear some of your advice on how to get healthier in a healthy way!

 

 

Holiday at Home – Day 3

Damnit I can’t believe it’s already Thursday evening! I could’ve started with the holiday experiments last Friday evening, no idea why I didn’t. Instead I only started Tuesday. But I’m loving it.

I’m still keeping at the gym challenge. Went again this morning, didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I’d been making massive progress but today I didn’t really seem to be doing any better at all. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. I’ve got some running planned.

I finally managed to plant the hedge by the way! I’ve been wanting to do this ever since we moved in last July. And now it’s done! It was a bit of a rushed job as the sky looked like it was gonna unleash its full-blown April wrath on us, and I didn’t want my new plants to blow or rain away. But by the time I was finished, the sun even came out! So I also planted some more veggies: spinach and leek, so exciting! The hedge doesn’t look like much yet, just some branches here and there. But they have loads of buds so it looks promising. I’m really curious to see it grow and hope it’ll soon be all bushy and green 🙂

Now today I also had some cleaning planned. Blah, boring, but always so nice to have it done. The bathroom looks as new. I took everything out, ev-er-y-thing, and cleaned from the ceiling to the walls to the floors, and scrubbed down the shower. And it smells so nice!

No special cooking done today, I just made some appetisers to eat in our backroom in the sun with a nice glass of white wine (olives, salami, and crackers with paté), and for food I threw together some grilled naan bread with goat cheese, bacon and green beans. So easy and fast to make, and so amazingly tasty.

So now, as always: couch time! Tomorrow, there will be  gym, more cleaning (the kitchen and oven, ow dear) and that’s it. I might head in to town to run some errands, or I might not… We’ll see. And in the evening: Irish Pub with friends. Bring it on!

Holiday at Home – Day 2

I am totally getting everything I can out of my week of no work. This morning I went to the gym again. I have to say, this idea of had of going to the gym every day, I’m slightly regretting it. It’s a lot tougher than I’d thought. I used to have a super active lifestyle when I was still a waitress. On my feet at work all day, and in my free time to the gym with my bodybuilder friends. I could eat whatever I wanted and had never felt stronger and fitter. Yes, those days seem to be long behind me and harder to get back to than I had hoped. I’m still making good progress at the gym though, I think if I could keep it up I really could get back to my fittest self. But once work starts again, no more time for daily gym sessions unfortunately. So I’ll try to stick out this week and see how far I get. I wonder if I’ll feel a difference!

Now, I’ve told you before that the reason I work out, is because I like to eat too much. I do Not want to go on a diet because it makes me more than sad. So now that I have time for daily gym sessions, I also have time for extensive cooking sessions. Today I was in the kitchen for four hours! I made samosas for the first time ever, from my new Indian cooking book. It was a lot of work, also because our kitchen is quite small and I had to be very inventive with where to put all the bowls and cutting boards and oven dishes. But the result was amazing. I made two different kinds: one was a veggie one, with beetroot (first time I ever cooked beetroot; even though I love eating it, I’ve never bothered to cook it myself) and feta cheese and of course a whole load of spices like cumin and coriander seeds, the other was with lamb mince and even more spices, like ginger and chilli flakes. I served it with a nice salad in which I put some of the left over ingredients, like the rest of the beetroot, the feta, and some spring onions. Definitely a succes.

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I also did some more gardening, even though the weather wasn’t on my side. It was quite cold, and very windy. I hope my seeds didn’t all blow away. I cleared the space on the side of the garden for the veggie garden of all weeds and sowed some silverbeet. I also want to plant horseradishes and rucola, but I’ll have to wait until May for those. I then started digging the little ditch to plant the hedge tomorrow. My goodness, I am still amazed at the volume of dirt that comes out of the ground! It’s like the soil quadruples once you shovel it out! Our garden is now full of boxes with dirt in them, which I can’t move anymore because they’re too heavy. I’m seriously wondering if I’ll be able to put all the dirt back once the plants are in the ground. Well weird. I also found a lot of potsherds, unfortunately none of them antique. Otherwise I could’ve opened a serious museum by now. Maybe even become rich. Oh well.

The boyfriend is now doing the dishes (such a hero) and I am finally sat down. I have to say, I am even more tired than I was yesterday! And so are my legs! But I’ll try to go to the gym again tomorrow. Then plant the hedge. And also do some cleaning. No rest for the wicked!

Holiday At Home – Day 1

So yesterday I told you about how spring has arrived, and all the fun stuff it makes me want to do. This week the campus is closed, so  literally can’t go to work. I could work from home, but I won’t. I think I’ll work a thousand times more efficient next week if I now take a proper break. And do all the stuff I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Starting today.

This morning I joined the boyfriend on his cycle to work and went to the gym. It actually went quite well! Ever since I had my break from the gym, I’ve been having a really hard time with cardio. My trainer told me that if I want to lose some weight (no, I am not on a diet but I would definitely not mind losing a few kilos), I should train between 60 and 70 percent of my maximal heart rate. Now, that is a lot lower than I have been training. And it’s been a real challenge to stay in that zone while on the cross-trainer (or elliptical, whatever you call it). I go a lot slower than I used to (I am now below 60 rotations per minutes, I used to be above 70), and I had to set the resistance level to zero. Oops. But this morning, I managed to have 65 rotations per minute and have the ideal heart rate for 45 minutes! Win!

After the gym I cycled to my brother’s to pick up the car that we share. I was going to drive to a garden centre a little bit out of town to buy some plants for a hedge (I think it’s called privet but I’m not sure, translation problem here). But the satnav let me down. 50 kms and an hour and a half later, I was back home and didn’t find any of the two garden centres I looked for. To say I was annoyed and angry would be an understatement. But nothing a cheese toastie and a cuppa can’t fix.

So after lunch, I called every garden centre I knew around town, and finally found one that not only I could find without the satnav, but they also sold the plant I was looking for. I’ve ordered it for Thursday.

I had two options then really. Stay home and sulk, or make use of the car before I had to bring it back. I picked the latter, so proud of myself! (My New Year’s resolution seems to working quite well nowadays, for those who were wondering.) So I did some shopping and went to a smaller garden centre to buy some fun stuff: a few rose plants, small lavender bushes, and two small red current bushes! After dropping the car back off at my brother’s, time to plant some stuff!

Our garden is tiny, but I really want to make it feel like our little oasis of peace. It’s surrounded by other apartments so it’s not exactly the kind of peace I was looking for, but the way it is now it already makes a world of difference in our busy lives. Below our bedroom window, I now have a row of roses. Next to it, some lavender that will hopefully keep the mosquitos out of the bedroom in summer. At the back of the garden there used to be overgrowth of a bush from the neighbours, but I completely cut it down and dug it out. That’s where I put the berries. Can’t wait for them to grow and make a weekly red current crumble! On the side of the garden I cleared up a space to plant some veggies. I’ll do that tomorrow. And the other side, that’s where we’ll put the hedge. It might not really make a lot of sense, but when it’s finished I’ll post a photo so you can see the result.

I finished the day off by cooking a massive serve of chilli, of which we ate way too much, and now we are happily relaxing on the couch. Relaxing turns out to be a lot more fun when you actually have something to relax from. This day had everything to become a massive disaster, but what a lovely day it was in the end!