Green Smoothies

Now that I’ve been using my Tribest blender for a few weeks, I wanted to show what my prep setup looks like. I’m still testing out different mixes, but it’s possible for me to prepare four smoothies ahead of time at once.

Each cup contained a mix of:

  • Frozen apricots
  • Frozen raspberries
  • Frozen cranberries
  • Fresh spinach
  • Chopped almonds

I’m fine putting my frozen fruit in the night before, but even doing it on a Sunday evening was fine. If the apricots are still frozen, they don’t blend very well and honestly I don’t like my smoothies to be too cold during the colder months. I’m already cold enough when I get out of my warm bed to get to the gym. Brrr!

To finish the smoothie, I use a separate small jar to grind up some fresh flax seed and then I add that and some milk or water to my smoothie mix and blend.

On weekends, I make smoothies for Kay as well, usually with some of our weekend juice. We only buy juice on the weekend, so it’s usually a treat, but I definitely think it makes the smoothies tastier sometimes. Here we were celebrating Valentine’s Day with some of Kay’s homemade gluten free chocolate buns! (NOM).

I mainly stick to milk or water during the week for the extra protein from the milk and to avoid too much sugar from the juice, but mostly it’s because we are not in the habit of buying juice for use during the week.

With this setup, I prepare my flax seed to be ground the night before. In the morning I give the flax seed a quick pulse before grabbing a smoothie cup from the fridge. The whole process of blending and drinking takes about five minutes. I try to pack a protein, vitamins and iron from the spinach in so that I’m not too hungry before my post-workout snack at work.

If you drink smoothies, how much prep do you do the night before?

Guided Husky Walk in Muotathal

A while back I headed in the direction of Luzern for the weekend for a friend’s hen do. On a Saturday in February, we headed to the Hüttenhotel Husky-Lodge in Muotathal to learn how huskies are cared for and to go on a guided snowshoe walk with them.

The dogs were SO sweet and I left the trip wanting to bring one home with me!

We learned that they are so friendly and tame. If you do not hurt them, they will not hurt you. Belly rubs were much appreciated!

We split the hike with one dog per two persons and unknown to me and my partner, we picked the alpha dog of the pack. She always wanted to be at the verrry front of the trail!

Although we didn’t ride on a sled with the dogs, it was very interesting to experience walking with them. I already have experience snowshoe walking with Kay and with the dogs, it was a whole different experience!

The dogs with blue eyes were male and the ones with brown eyes were female. They had some Siberian huskies and some Swedish kinds… I forget all the different types, but they said they sometimes trade dogs to keep the genes healthier in breeding.My partner had the dog most of the way up and the dog was really pulling her. My friend could barely control the dog even walking. It was a bit funny seeing the dog surge forward.We switched shortly before our summit and the dogs really do help alleviate the energy required for uphill climbs! But on the reverse… it can be quite disastrous going downhill if you are not in control of your dog!

I have an OK time leading dogs and I seemed to be better about holding our dog back than my partner. Maybe part of it helped that I was speaking to my dog in Swiss-German, unlike most of the English colleagues around me. It was hilarious to hear them try and say “Stop, slow, slower!!” to the dogs with no reaction.

She might be peeing during our break, but she was still cute. 🙂

I really had to be careful on the way down to take slow and steady steps and make sure that when she would pull ahead, she would not set me off balance, toppling me over.

Overall, the walk was much more enjoyable with the dogs. They helped pull you up, down and forward on the long stretches. You could really feel the difference in energy exhausted on the flat stretches.

The weather was not the greatest, but it didn’t rain or snow, and at the end of the day we saw a bit of blue sky and some mountains in the distance. All in all, not a bad day!

We ended the evening back at the lodge with a fondue dinner. I had risotto and lamb to keep gluten free and we all enjoyed a well-deserved glass of wine!

Gluten-free Year One

Well here we are, one year later.

When people I haven’t seen for a long time asked me how I have been doing, it’s hard to hide the truth: It was a tough year. It was a depressing year.

“Do you feel better now that you cut gluten out?” they ask. No, not really.Even with a complete diet overhaul to fix my nutrient deficiencies from the celiac damage and exercising daily to improve my health, I have experienced more stomach pain and problems in the last year than I did the entire time I was stuffing my face with gluten every day.

I also spent a lot of time inexplicably hungry. I have never tried to lose weight, so I don’t know what dieting feels like. Do others also feel like their stomach is caving in and that they might pass out if they don’t eat something soon?

The truth is, I still do not know what I should be eating in order to feel full, satisfied and pain-free. My gliadin levels are normal again and I’m not experiencing my gluten-reactions, but my stomach is still all sorts of unhappy more often than I’d like.

There is this promise of magically feeling like a “new person” when you cut gluten out and while it feels slightly different, I don’t feel reenergised or reborn. I still feel broken and vulnerable, like there is still so much more for me to figure out in order to be a happy, healthy person.

Mentally, I felt much better after ridding gluten from our house, but I’ve almost entirely stopped eating out in Zurich, which is hard for some friends to understand. I anxiously research tons before trips and bring snacks so I always have safe food to eat. I am much less spontaneous regarding food and easily upset when food plans change.

Through the year I’ve gotten better with protein so that I don’t feel hungry all day long. At home, I’ve come a long way from a totally overwhelmed newbie. Cooking gluten-free at home is a breeze and I slowly started experimenting with more foods that I used to eat  gluten versions, like cake and pizza, for example.

(Breaded fish tacos with homemade corn tortillas)

Actually… that’s a lie, I haven’t really done a proper cake, only a cheesecake, but I am baking one tonight. 😉 It’s just taken this long to get to a place where I feel comfortable dealing with multiple types of flour and branching out into new baking territory.

Hopefully in another year I will feel better internally, but it’s also still depressing to go to the grocery knowing that half of the store is not applicable to me anymore. Even a year later, I am still depressed to shop for groceries alone and find myself looking at all the foods I cannot eat whenever Kay is not there. There are constant reminders of my former diet everywhere, from the bakery smells in the train station in the morning to the birthday and visitor cakes sitting across from my desk in the kitchenette at work.

I must also be conscious of whatever goes into my mouth whenever I’m not eating my own prepared food. It’s getting better, but it’s never going to be as good as when it wasn’t a problem. I think I will never stop wishing that it wasn’t a problem.

Why a skinny fat person chose to exercise

I’m one of those lucky people blessed with “skinny genes”. I’ve been 5’9″ since I was 13 and stopped exercising at 15 when my last high school gym requirement was completed. Even with more than a decade avoiding exercise, I’ve never weighed over 140lbs even when I was drinking Coke every day during my Swiss internship or when I survived university on Buckeye Donuts, sugary coffee and 20-30 energy drinks a week.

My “normal” range is somewhere between 135-140lbs, which I only check at the doctor annually and when I visit my parents. Kay and I don’t own a scale and I don’t intend on buying one. Scales just inspire me to weigh myself obsessively and stress why the number isn’t lower, even when I am a normal weight. Don’t need that negativity in my life!

(Circa 2009, about as pudgy as I get.)

I might have gotten a little softer and pudgier at the end of university and while I was a nanny here, but I never gained enough to require buying new clothes. And with the celiac diagnosis, somewhere along the way I mysteriously lost weight and dropped to 128lbs when I was diagnosed last year, so I really don’t need to worry about my weight.

So why does someone like me need to work out?

(On the Kalalau trail during our honeymoon in 2011)

When I first came to Zürich I had a lot of trouble going on hikes and climbing all the hills around the city really winded me. Like… gasping for breath at the top of stairs and stopping for breath on hikes every 20 minutes or so.

In 2009, I found the perfect flat to move to Zürich and Kay couldn’t believe I wanted to live on the fifth floor of a building with no lift. Neither could I… It tired me out every day climbing all those steps!

(On the Kalalau trail during our honeymoon in 2011)

Kay pressured me for years to exercise and I knew I should start at some point. It began to feel like a sinking, guilty feeling. We would go on hikes together and walk a lot, but I always said that I didn’t want to exercise and be really fit because at some point I would have kids and exercise would go by the wayside and I would lose all that hard work, like it was for nothing.

I didn’t want to start for a time, quit and then be left with the larger appetite and have to readjust to eating smaller portions again, opening me up for weight gain. I didn’t want to gain muscles and be proud of them only to be sad when they melt away later.

When we moved into our home in 2013, we did the whole move by ourselves. Two days of moving things down 5 flights of stairs because we had no lift in the old flat. I was a little overzealous on the last day and I strained my back a little bit, but I thought it was fine.

(Our DIY way of carrying down boxes without a lift)

But a couple days later, we were moving a sofa in the new apartment and when I went to lift it up, I really pulled my back. I dropped the sofa in pain and Kay was mad because he didn’t understand that I had something really wrong to my back. For a few days, many movements made my sciatic nerve flare up in sudden, debilitating pain. Kay realized I was having real back problems when he found me on the bathroom floor crying in pain. It was a wake up call.

I had been having increasing back pain every day at work for months and knew we had a bad mattress and that my sitting all day at work is not good for my back. But it took the moving incident to frighten me enough to realize that if I don’t work to strengthen my back now, it might give out on me long term.

It turned out I had some extremely tight/unhappy gluteal muscles and after using massage therapy for a couple weeks, the pain went away, but I knew I had to get serious about my health.

I hadn’t been doing anything for my health really. I ate whatever I wanted and never exercised. How could that be healthy long-term?

(On the Kalalau trail during our honeymoon in 2011)

I knew that if I didn’t work exercising into my daily schedule as something that happens every day and is not optional, I would skip it in a heartbeat everyday. I wanted to make exercising a part of normal life in the hopes that if I get busy or if we ever have kids some day, that I will still find a way to exercise.

My goals were also pretty clear: I wanted to improve my general health, strengthen my back muscles and improve my endurance so that I can keep up with Kay better on hikes and outdoor activities. I wanted to learn to like running or at least not be in critical pain every time I attempted to run.

Being skinny doesn’t prevent one from being extremely out of shape and since my gym journey began, I have accepted that sitting for ten hours a day in an office is not good for anyone’s health, especially not mine.

That’s why this skinny fat girl decided to morph herself into a skinny muscular girl!

Travel 2015 Quick Trips

Coming back from a three week world trip in January to grey skies in Zurich is always a bit bleak, so we didn’t waste any time planning our first weekend trips for the year. It’s time to visit some new cities!

1. Madrid

(Photo from Flickr)

A design friend is visiting Spain from NYC for a week, so we’re heading over for a weekend to visit her, another mutual friend living in Spain and Kay’s brother who is also living there at the moment. I’ve already been to Madrid when I was hosting some broadcasting Brazilians there during the 2010 UEFA Champions League final, but I didn’t see quite as much of the city as I wanted with all the broadcasting commitments, so I’m looking forward to seeing some of the important sights.

Kay has never been to Madrid and it’s been awhile since we’ve seen his brother, so he is also looking forward to the visit.

 2. Oslo

(Photo from Flickr)

Kay received an email from Scandic hotels about his points and vaguely mentioned that we could go to Oslo for Easter. We’ve already been to Stockholm and Copenhagen, so it would be another country. Then we’ll have seen most of Scandinavia.

Kay was a little surprised when I started looking for flights immediately, but ultimately I booked because I found a great deal. Normally flights over Easter weekend are 400-500chf anywhere from Switzerland, but these were around 200, which is a pretty fair price.

 3. Munich

(Photo from Flickr)

I realised that it was over 100chf cheaper to fly back from Oslo with a stop in Munich and then I thought, why not do a layover? Munich is really close to Zurich, but for all the German cities I’ve been to, I have never visited it.

Instead of spending time in the Munich airport waiting for a transfer, we’ll stop there Easter morning and spend the day there before taking the train home on Easter Monday. Since I found some supersaver tickets from SBB, it only costs us an extra 24chf to take the train home a day later.

The best part about these quick trips is that we don’t need to take any holiday for them. We are still plotting out big trips this year, so it’s nice to save up the holidays until then with these mini-trips to look forward to.

Do you ever do weekend trips in your area?