Bikram Yoga – 90 minutes of death

They say you should change your routine up to improve your bodily function. I have tried pretty much everything to get rid of my crazy headaches and stress, so I thought I’d try bikram yoga as well.
Can’t hurt, right? Well, it’s been two weeks, and 7 sessions – and I’m still not a convinced yoga person. In fact, I actually hate doing it already in the first pose. 90 minutes become a very long time when you don’t like what you’re doing.
For those who don’t know, bikram yoga is 26 strict yoga poses, performed twice and held for a period of time, in a 40 degree room, over 90 minutes. Its selling points promise better sleep, a happier mentality, less recovery after injuries and a toned body, as well as improved physical and mental health. It is also suggested that it may lower blood pressure, reduce depression, and strengthen the immune system – all while detoxing your system and helping you lose weight and increase flexibility.

Just like any other type of exercise, pretty much.

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So they tell you that the 2nd, 3rd and 4th session will be way easier than the 1st session. Not too sure about that. I still struggle. I actually think I struggle more now that I know what I’ve got coming up. But I’ve said I’m going to give it a month – because apparently you become a completely new person after a month of practising bikram yoga. They just forget to mention how bloody hard it is, and how dizzy you get if you do one of the early morning classes.
If you want to be someone you’ve never been, you have to do something you’ve never done, they say. So here I am. Stepping outside the comfort zone again.
You know you’re inflexible when the old lady in a swimming suit in front of you can touch the floor bending over, and you can’t. I knew I had no flexibility, but I didn’t think it was THAT bad. Hamstrings – on fire. Lower back – stiff as a pole. Calves – cramping.
Oh, and the best thing? When they tell you to HOLD OFF drinking your water until the water break. Sorry abnormally flexible lady in lululemon clothes, if my body asks for water, it gets water.

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They like to tell you how you can burn around 1000 calories during one session, however – if you do intense exercise for 90 minutes in any way, form or shape, you can easily burn that amount of calories either way. And as much as bikram yoga challenges the body, each session is the same, meaning that your body will adapt. You might get really good at practising bikram yoga poses, but the shock your body got in the initial period of doing it, will wear off.

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Studies have shown that the raised temperature in the room, and the set structure of the poses can assist in stimulating glands that improve the T-cell function, i.e, the proper functioning of the immune system, which is great, however the excess sweating can also bring high risk outcomes with it – if you are not careful.

Ask me again once my month of practising this torture type of exercise is up, and I’ll answer whether my silky baby soft skin result is worth 90 minutes of hatred. For now, I believe it is a good detox for periods of time, but not the first choice of exercise people should resolve to.

Oh, and if you think you have sweated the most you’ve ever sweated it your life – you haven’t until you’ve tried bikram yoga. You sweat in places you didn’t think could sweat.

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The different phases of exercise

I haven’t always enjoyed exercise. Always been active, yes, but let’s just realize that it took solid work to get to the point of wanting to exercise.

Everyone else is doing it

Growing up I did figure skating (and attempted a rather poor soccer career – only went for the post-training ice-cream), but when my knee set a stopper to that, I had to start doing something else. Bring on the spin class, pilates and the 20 minute jogs around the block.

I did spin classes every friday after school because all my friends were doing it, and I absolutely hated it. Had to catch the bus back home, and to get to the bus, I had to walk past the grocery store. What did they have in the grocery store? 5 chocolate bars for $4. Did I eat all of them on the way home? Yes.

Signed up to do pilates every thursday night with my friends. Had to walk past a candy-shop on the way there, bought an entire bag of candy to eat in the car home, ’cause pilates burns sooooo many calories.

Then I decided I was going to become a runner. I used to tell the boys living around my house that I was going to go for a run. “Yeah riiight,” they’d slam in my face. So of course, I had to go. Turns out, running was really hard, and keeping a consistent pace so that it would look like I was running when I went past their house was really hard. I also had to go past their house on the way back, so I had to make it look like I had gone very far, and had to be gone for a while. Did they ever really notice that I was out running? No.

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I want to impress

Moved away to do the IB diploma, met people who went to the gym wearing LEGGINGS. Up until then I had been wearing big Manchester United t-shirts and sweatpants. I thought leggings was extremely weird. But then peer pressure got me, and I (that be my parents) invested in a pair of leggings that I used to wear, aiming to burn 100 calories on the treadmill followed by 30 minutes of ab-exercises and maybe a bicep curl or two.

Squats with a medicine-ball in the back left me sore for an entire week, but the trainer I had told me doing them 3 times  a week would make me look hot. Potentially also did a group class of yoga. Made sure I looked reasonably good going to the gym, wore makeup, brushed my hair. You know. Spent a fair amount of time staring at the fit guys a couple of years above me training in the same gym. Followed up the MASSIVE GYM SESSION by either baking a cake, or buying cake at school. Still attempted going for runs past hot guys’s house, or said yes to going for runs with my ATHLETE friends – always a bad idea.

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Fanatic

Moved back home to have a gap year. Still oblivious to the fact that diet plays a huge role in losing weight, and nibbled on candy and cakes at work, despite eating fairly healthy meals. Got a car, joined the local gym. They had a list up saying who had been to the gym the most each month, and I made it my goal to get my name up there.

Was still a big fan of numerous ab-exercises, but slowly got the interest in compound exercises using more than one muscle group at once. Read somewhere that intervals were the way to burn fat, and started running them every other day. This is also when I got interested in split-programs. It took a few months, and my name was up on the list. Still obsessed with wanting to look hot, I decided I wanted to be on the top of that list, i.e being the one with the most visits. Christmas came around, and guess who’s name was first? Yeah that was mine. Big mistake, because now I had to keep it up there. Pretty much went to the gym every day, however despite getting stronger/fitter, my diet was out of whack and I had no idea what I was doing. Spent most of my weekends being stupidly drunk in a club.

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New conditions

Moving to Australia was a big step in my life, and I was determined to keep my fitness level up. Let’s just say that I spent the first 3 weeks being drunk and eating crap food, and when I went for my first run it almost killed me. Probably spent most of my first year here swimming in alcohol, to be honest. I did still exercise as much as I could, but the focus was still on looking good. Joined a new gym full of massive bodybuilder guys, tried to impress them and voilá, tore something in my lower back (that is still affecting my exercise today massively, lesson learnt). After a bit of money thrown at the physio, I decided I was sick of feeling shit about my own body.

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Lifestyle-change

And here we go, my favourite part of the journey. I changed my diet, was still obsessed with going to the gym, but started noticing how different the body reacted to various types of good and bad food. It’s been a struggle, and what really started with yet another quest to impress someone has now turned into my career.

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I used to laugh at those people saying exercise gave them more energy. I would even argue, “but you are exhausted after exercise, it drains you.” But now I understand. Exercise gets you through the week, it gives you something to focus on when you are tired, and it gives you motivation to master something new. I still hate spin-classes, but I’m open to trying one. Having worked my ass off trying to make a living as well as studying full-time, exercising hasn’t always been easy to fit in, or even been a thing I’ve wanted to do. But I’ve still maintained 6 sessions a week.

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And now that I’m done studying and spend some time in an office, in front of a computer? My back KILLS. No wonder office-rats out there have back problems! But guess what, I leave the office, drive to the gym (or park), thinking about how my back aches and how I really only want to go to bed, but then I get to the gym, start exercising, and the back pain is gone. Exercise has become something that I need to keep my body going, it clears my mind, and I ALWAYS feel better after. Even if I don’t come home drenched in sweat.

I use food to nourish my body. So that it can live a 15-hour working day. So that it can recover after a gym session. So that I can get up at 5 every morning and not wear makeup, because my skin still looks fine. So that my body can recover quicker when I’m going to need another knee surgery. It’s no longer all about looking good, it’s about feeling good. And I really hope you all get to experience that one day. Exercise and nutrition is medicine, start healing your body the right way.

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Ps. Sorry that it’s been an entire semester. Turns out that working 3 jobs and finishing your last semester of your degree takes up a bit of time.

Foodie talks

That incredibly sad moment when you grab the wrong lunch box in the fridge. This

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was meant to be cauliflower-crust pizza. Yes, I was very sad.

Prepare yourself for a little bit of a food ramble. My life is hectic, I swear every hour of my day is booked, and I have now had to skip a day of uni to be able to catch up with uni assignments – oh the irony.

Anyway, when life is so hectic that you pass out at 9.15 on a Saturday night, all you can do is cherish your body (yes, pun intended). I may not have the time to cook healthy food for hours each day, so I make sure that I stock up on fresh produce, lean protein and fruit when I actually have some spare time. The dishes created might not have a name, come from a recipe or even be remotely exciting. But it is healthy, it provides my body with energy, and most importantly – it never EVER comes from a can, a box, a frozen package or a fast-food place. Cook your own food, know what you eat – stay healthy. It is as simple as that.

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Try reading the label of a can of iced tea, should only contain tea and water/ice cubes – guaranteed that the list of ingredients exceeds that, and it will be packed with sugar. What about a box of pre-made guacamole? For sure more than just avocado, lime, garlic and coriander. Or a can of tomato soup? High in sodium, high in sugar, high in preservatives – and very low in nutritional value and vitamins. Making your own soup takes about 10 minutes, search the internet, suck it up – and do it.

I normally never buy bread or crisp bread, but for the occasion of a tapas-night, I had to. Spent 30 minutes reading labels, trying to find a gluten-free bread with as little ingredients as possible, and boy was I surprised – the manufacturers add so much crap to bread! Most of us have tried baking our own bread, and we all know that there is no need to add apple juice or preservative A, B and C, to make a healthy bread. Just keep in mind that the food might not be healthy, just because it is labeled gluten-free, sugar-free and fat-free. Something else has usually been used to substitute those ingredients.

It is also fully possible to have a completely healthy girl’s night in (okay maybe ignore the chips and the crackers, remember; no one is telling you that you have to eat the bad food on the table).

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Because I very rarely eat carbs like quinoa, rice, couscous, and bread, this night may have made me look slightly pregnant

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On the note of preservatives. I’ve been testing pre-workouts due to my lack of energy in the gym. Bad idea. Pre-workouts are often added ingredients that no one should ever put in their bodies. Pre-workouts are, in fact, banned in Norway. (And so is any candy that is coloured blue, but that is another story). Let me demonstrate

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These pictures don’t even justify what happened to me, or what I looked like. Already in the car (10 minutes after I drank it), I told my boyfriend that my heart was hurting, and I kept scratching my skin. Got to the gym, looked in the mirror, and my skin was covered in massive red patches, and I was all flustered and dizzy. Also had pins and needles in pretty much every limb of my body. Even though it made me look like this at the end of my workout

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And let me burn this many calories

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I just don’t think it was worth it. No more pre-workout for this little Norwegian.

I’ve had a few days where I’ve either forgotten to bring dinner to work, or been too lazy

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The important thing is to note that this does not happen often, I dare say that 3 out of 4 weeks are close to perfect when it comes to my food.

I am a blog-nerd, and I’ve been reading health and fitness blogs for years, but it is not until I realized that the food and suggestions that they posted to their blog was what they ate all the time, that I understood how I could change my own lifestyle. I can’t remember the last time I ate ‘normal’ pasta, pizza or burgers, or the last time I had anything canned (as in meals, I use canned tomatoes, beans etc) because that’s just no longer a part of who I am.

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I went to Yong Green Food on Brunswick St this weekend, and had this healthy little gem

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No bad ingredients, no allergens. Happy Marita. Everything on their menu is healthy (and cheap), so I suggest anyone who has the chance heads there ASAP.

I often get asked about protein bars, supplements, protein shakes etc. My only advice is; buy the ones with as little ingredients and sugar as possible. Nothing that the supermarket sells! The only protein bar I can personally approve of is the Quest bars (you can get them from iherb.com, or a couple of health food stores in Melbourne), as they never leave me bloated or feeling sick. But remember, this is still a chocolate. 200 calories – about 20 minutes on the treadmill. If you are trying to lose weight, consider where you want to get those 200 calories from, what’s going to fill you up the most?

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Favourite flavors; white chocolate raspberry, double choc chunk brownie and cookies and cream.

My client, Julijana, has started mocking the ‘just do your repetitions’ face that I give all my clients when they don’t want to do what I’m telling them to

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As if you wouldn’t do another set of squats to that face.

I’ve also made a Facebook page for this blog to make it easier to keep up with posts and motivation for you guys 🙂

Should you not be sick of my endless writing yet, have a look at my article about Personal Training here.

The awkward moment when your girlfriend eats as much as you do

Yeah, it happens. A typical Sunday morning in my life; “I’ll have the veggie breakfast with gluten free bread.. Oh, and can I have an extra side of avocado and bacon?” Then the boyfriend will follow up with a casual “yeah I’ll have the same”.
I always choose the vegetarian breakfast and add either an extra egg or chorizo/bacon (not healthy, I know), because the vegetarian breakfast always comes with the most interesting sides.
If anyone was under the impression that I don’t eat, try again. The other day my boyfriend even said I had to practice portion control… Yeah I don’t think so.
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I’m pretty much always on my feet, and I will eat accordingly. So should everyone else, if all you do is sit still – don’t eat half your kitchen for dinner, plan your bigger meals for after your workout, and Jesus Christ please go for a walk now and then.

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I was so happy with myself for smashing out over 400 calories doing cardio this week, until I bought the boyfriend a Polar Loop (it’s genius, everyone should have one, it counts your steps, calories etc), and watched how he burnt over 1000 calories doing a chest workout. No wonder guys eat all the time.

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Went for a run last weekend, fell over, and pulled a quad-muscle. It sucked, and I therefore decided to rest for a week. Learning to listen to the body, rather than pushing it. Resting does not mean sitting on the couch for a week, but rather resting actively by going for walks and getting some cardio done.

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Anyway, my newest obsession is chia pudding. Chia seeds are high in fibre, protein, omega-3 and omega-6, and probably the only superfood I will ever buy into (spirulina is literally the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth). 100g of chia seeds, a can of coconut milk, raw cocoa, cinnamon and raw honey. Mix and put it in the fridge for 30 min.

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And lastly, a little update on what goes on at work these days.

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Yeah, my life is pretty damn cool.

New Year, New You?

You know you’ve been out of Norway a bit too long when you have to Google translate things from English to Norwegian when writing articles for your dad…

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Anyway. Happy New Year my dear little fitness freaks (and stalkers), a New Year – a new you, isn’t that what we all try to tell ourselves? I personally believe, that all you need is a new morning, to change whatever you’re not happy with, but now that we actually have 12 fresh months ahead of us, we might as well make the best of them, right?

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I’ve had a blast in Sydney, and whatever slight definition of abs I had before I left, is now gone. HOWEVER, I’m not crying. I know that all it will take is another two weeks of doing what I love to do, to get back to where I was before Christmas.Food has been left in charge of the hosts, but I have tried to keep some balance in there (if you ignore my day-long eating parties from Christmas Eve to..eh New Years Eve) and I’ve pretty much had oats and eggs every day, I’ve also aimed for my daily portions of fruit and chosen water, coconut water or a freshly squeezed juice (beetroot, apple, carrot, celery and ginger – get in me) over soda and wine (particularly after I discovered that Diet Coke contains the same chemical as that used to clean garbage bins..).

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There has been time for the occasional workout too, but I’ve spent plenty of time soaking the sun and laughing with my crazy fellow Norwegians. We should all remember that what matters is what you do for the rest of the year, not necessarily what you do for Christmas.

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As a result of putting my body through a lot of stress before Christmas, I have pretty much been sick ever since I left for Sydney. Eating food with sugar has for sure not helped my recovery, so I’ve said that there will be no cheats until I feel like myself again. This might, however, has happened yesterday when I was all by myself and very bored …..

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See, things don’t always go my way either. I did my first run of 2014 in Sydney, and it was bloody hard, I had to stop several times and my heart rate was abnormally high considering that I was running very slowly. I forced through a leg session Friday morning and even though I increased all my weights, I actually threw up before I left the gym because I had pushed my body too hard. Still sore from that leg session by the way. On Saturdays I always pick whatever exercises I like the most and do them without too much structure, and it’s usually fun, however this Saturday was a struggle and I left the gym drowned in sweat. New week, great start, I thought to myself this wonderful Monday morning. 30 minutes of 4×4 intervals, 15 minutes of core-exercises and 15 minutes of foam rolling later…

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HELL, is all I have to say. This is brutal. But I still do it. I love doing it. And I can’t wait to get back to where I was. Motivation is what gets you going, habit is what keeps you going. Make it a lifestyle, guys – all it takes is 4% of your day.

Days of our lives

Or my life, at least. Thought I’d give you a little look into what my oh so glamorous life looks like these days, simply to prove my point of how easy it is to exercise and eat right if you prioritize it.

This picture pretty much sums up my predicted future.

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But let’s talk about right now. Planning is the key. I always make sure I buy enough vegetables and fruit, this is what last Sunday’s shopping looked like. (I also got eggs, and I’ve got turkey, chicken and fish in the freezer).

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I’ve been starting my day at 5.15 to either go to boot camp or to the gym, looking feisty and fresh as I do so well. Week 7 of boot camp was hell, and my body felt so heavy, I was worried it was gonna stop moving at one point.

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I’m then typically in a hurry and have about 45 minutes to do all that necessary girl stuff before I have to leave the house again. Breakfast at 7.30 (usually eaten whilst putting make up on or packing food for the rest of the day) – porridge of rolled oats, water and cinnamon, topped with a banana, peanut butter and whatever else I can find in the kitchen, a boiled egg, and omega-3 and magnesium pills swallowed with water. Oh, and some green tea – if I have time.

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After a couple of hours at PTA Global, I’m hungry again, and it’s snack-time. My go-to-snack these days have been cookies made by mixing an egg, pb2, almond milk and a ripe banana with oats, coconut, almonds, a couple of vanilla stevia drops and chopped figs and nuts. And I’ve gone carrot-crazy, pretty sure I eat about 5 a day, if not more.

Followed by more information about the world of exercise comes lunch. This week has been full of salads as I roasted sweet potato, normal potato, pumpkin and carrot and a couple of chicken breasts in the oven to keep in the fridge when quick fixes for food was needed. Never a meal without dessert, I always keep fruit nearby.

IMG_5165That lunch box was topped with spinach, avocado, mango and cucumber after the picture was taken.

At PTA Global we do a lot of exercise throughout the day (duh, it’s personal training, can’t demonstrate or learn without moving the body), which requires a little bit more energy for the body to make it to the afternoon gym session. Coconut water (the ones without added sugar of course) and another piece of fruit has been my thing the past week.

Considering that I’m already wearing workout clothes (and if I’m not too tired to function from the morning session), I travel directly to the gym again. Push through a sweaty cardio session, and straight home for dinner.

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A sweaty Marita means a hungry Marita, and the tuna-crust pizza I tried the other week has for sure become one of my favourite dishes. Try mixing a bit of curry powder in the pizza base. No tuna flavour, guaranteed.

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After a bit of showering and stalking people online, I do of course need dessert (yes, again), and a protein smoothie is never wrong. Frozen blueberries, banana, protein powder, almond milk, cinnamon and coconut – can never go wrong with all of that in one mix.

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I also make sure I drink about 3L of water a day.

Rather than my 9 usual gym sessions this week, I ‘only’ did 7. By the end of friday my body felt like a heavy bag of sand, and I figured there was no point pushing it beyond that. I also shortened down my evening cardio sessions, and sadly missed going to body balance. My leg session on friday before my fitness instructor practical assessment was, however, magnificent. I haven’t done a high-rep leg day in ages, and it was good to be reminded that light weight and many repetitions kills too – I’m still sore.

Oh, and I’ve had a few dinners looking like this ..

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I guess I’m once again trying to prove that it doesn’t have to be difficult to stay healthy. No one has to go as crazy as me, but I know that I don’t like doing weights in the afternoon, so I’d rather pass out at 9 every night to be able to get up early and get my usual morning session out of the way. Yeah it’s been tiring, and yes it has required me to pre-pack my lunch the night before, but I feel so much better when I eat right and exercise.

Right around the corner from PTA Global, they have Prahran Health Foods, and that place is like heaven. They have everything! Even the wraps I’ve ordered my dad to send me all the way from Norway! I’m not an advocate of protein bars, but everyone keeps talking about the famous Quest bars, and I’ve never bothered ordering them from iHerb because you have to order like 12, and I’d sort of like to taste one and see what they are like before ordering an entire box, but I’ve never found one in Melbourne. Prahran Health Foods had pretty much every flavour, and I’ve gotta say, I’m impressed. I hate the whey protein taste, and I do in general not like protein bars, but the Quest bars actually taste nice. They are the best protein bars I’ve ever tried, and the ingredients are a lot better than that of what you’ll find in a normal supermarket. Having that said, I still think you should reach for a banana or another type of fruit when in need of energy. There’s a reason why they’re referred to as protein chocolates.

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Make time

So I realize that the last post hit a couple of nerves, Jesus – learn to not take me too seriously. It has been requested that I do one on the Australian girls too, but I’d prefer keeping myself safe, so we’ll just skip that.

Melbourne has for some reason decided to start summer properly now that I have to spend every day inside, and with summer comes ice-cream. Blend a frozen banana, mango and white nectarine with some almond milk. Freeze. Voilá!

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Started this morning by punching my PT in the face, and when I’m reminded of the hill-sprints he makes us do, I don’t even feel bad.

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You think you’re doing great running here, but as you get half way, your legs are so heavy they barely move.

I’ve started the final process of becoming a certified PT today, and the next two weeks are absolutely crazy. 5 AM wake-ups for my workouts, PT stuff all day, then back to the gym again or other social things/inspections for a new place to live. No excuses, right? Gotta admit I’m pretty exhausted after today, but it’s only two weeks, anyone can hang in there for two weeks.

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Having such limited time at home has made me have to food prep, and I’ve had to buy broccoli.. We all know how I got so fed up with broccoli last summer that I haven’t had it since. Well, it’s back. People were even jealous of my lunch today! Little Norwegian making an impression. My point is, cooking extra food when you’re making dinner isn’t hard – you’re cooking anyway, right? Throwing together a salad, or making overnight oats if you don’t have extra dinner to spare is even easier. And if you can’t be bothered cooking properly when you get home late, scrambled eggs with turkey and vegetables really does the trick. People often overcomplicate things, but there is no magic trick to eating and being healthy. You just have to do it. Keep it simple, stupid.

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I was thoroughly amazed by two things today.

1 – the guy teaching us has 3 jobs, he gets up at 5 every morning and gets home at 9 every night, yet he was ripped and bloody fit. Sure, he probably has a very clean diet, but muscles aren’t built without exercising, which means he MAKES TIME. If it is important enough, you will find a way. 20 minutes is better than nothing.

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2 – Several ‘old’ women were there (and by ‘old’, I mean older than me and with kids, aka in their early 40’s) to learn today, and god damn it, if I look that good when I’ve given birth to and raised three kids (or at all when I grow up), I will be extremely happy with my body. First of all, when they told me their age, I literally raised my eyebrows every time. Not to mention the fact that they all had this amazing glow and whatnot to them, it almost made me excited to once having to become a grown-up. Their skin, their energy, their amazing posture. No sign of 70% of the Australian population being overweight (true story, bro) in that room, that’s for sure. They do boot camp, pull-ups, run intervals etc etc, all on top of handling a family and their own career. Respect, much?

Also, should there be some guys out there in need of some inspo related a bit more than all this girly stuff, I can recommend this guy. We went to high school together, and yes, he does go hard in the gym.

Oh, and I should probably admit that I had 3 cheat-days last week. Yeah, I still feel sick.