The Accumulator Fitness Plan

I`m not usually that big on book reviews, but I just cannot resist praising The Accumulator, which I discovered while looking for inspiration on getting fit at home.

The concept is dual (diet and exercise), slow (ie not at all overwhelming) and promises to be very effective: Over 30 days (You can do that!!), you adopt one good (eating related) habit and one physical exercise (2 levels of difficulty to chose from, no equipment needed for either). It`s only two double pages to read every day, and the exercises take a minute each (the programme asks for duration rather than repetitions).

Each excercise is repeated the next day in addition to adopting a new one, so on Day 1, you will be expected to excercise for 1 minute only, which will increase by just one minute a day until you are excercising for 26 minutes on Day 30 (there is 4 rest days) – so do-able that I literally started the minute I finished the brief chapter for Day one – I just got up and did my squats before sitting down again and reading on – while being effective enough for me to feel really sore already on what`s Day 4.

All does not end after 30 days: you can increase the intensity of your excercises to a Difficulty Level 2, or you can increase the duration, while re-reading and re-interating a piece of dietary advice every day… Those are all mainly commen sense, but I don`t think a brief reminder in this respect has ever hurt anyone.

Price: just the £12.99 for the book. No special excercise equipment, fancy foods or diet supplements needed.

Everybody can do that, those short of time, breath or money 🙂 Absolute gem!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just Sold my First Photograph!!

imageimageYes – indeed: about a year or so after I started to really get into my photography (and sporadically publish them in various places online), someone has now paid money to get a license for my … smartphone photo of jellybeans…

Right now, I`m feeling really proud and accomplished, and I don`t care that I`m only getting a tiny cut, but the sheer fact that someone just paid at least £50.oo for my photo, my creativity, my… artwork, feels just amazing!!

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I remember the story of that picture well.

I took it during my first face-to-face tutorial with the Open University, which took place in a hotel near Haymarket Train Station in Edinburgh last February. On our tables were, besides pen, paper and water, jelly beans. The young latecomer who sat beside me laughed as, before even eating a single one of them, I grabbed my smartphone (a Samsung Galaxy S 6 Edge) and photographed them from all angles. That`s when she decided she needed to get to know me, because she likes wacky people. We ended up going to the bus together, and on the journey home, I applied various filters to the best pic and uploaded it to both Instagram and EyeEm.

It was in May when I got an automated email from EyeEm saying that the photo had been selected for their Premium Collection, to be put up for sale on Getty Images. At the time, me and another friend were researching opportunities for selling photos online, and I found that most of those rather “big” sites have rather strict guidelines regarding quality. I never found mine on their site, and then forgot about it, although looked again a few months later, and it was there, beside two photos of my Siamese cat. (In fact, I had 8 pictures altogether selected for Premium Collection, but only those three published).

Anyway, on Tuesday, I got an email saying I sold it!!

The same night, I went to the birthday party of my wonderful Greek friend Mary, who sat beside me when I took the photograph! And she remembers it well, as it was the day we met and the reason she wanted to get to know me.

Aw, I`m happy, and dying to know who bought it and what for…

Lisbon Part IV: Random Impressions

Another old door and some interesting graffiti. I need to finally write about Porto and the graffiti we found over there…

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More Tram no 28 – its so iconic, I just can`t stop photographing it. I`m forever waiting for my best shot ever…

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Got photobombed when I tried a selfie with it. Seeing that they celebrated Carnival (although nothing as big as at home!) totally put me in the mood, and I felt silly enough to just walk into a shop and walk this huge pink bow to walk about with (insert: what became of it now…)

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Chestnuts in the street and sardinhas in shops (NB: The ones which were confiscated have arrived yesterday!! Exactly two weeks after the airport post box was supposed to have been emptied, I was getting really concerned that it got lost!!)

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Arcades at the main promenades and a beautiful display in front of an Italian restaurant. Sardinha Road.

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Brazilian band playing at the beach.

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Funnily, they were already playing there when we last visited in November.  The weather was particularly lovely then, and the band so good we bought the CD. I`ve got it in my car and should get it out again tomorrow…

… for summer is just around the corner… lol…

 

 

Lisbon 26-28 February 2017 – Part I

Yes, it`s totally worth going for only two days. With the inbound flight landing at 10.35am and the outbound flight leaving at 3pm, you`ll get a full 48 hours of fun. There`s a metro station right next to the airport, and we arrived in Chiado/Bairro Alto just about mid day, where we easily found our Air B&B accommodation within less than 10 minutes walk.

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Ascensor da Bica – one of the most featured items in town, but I find it easy to see why…

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Half way down, where you see the black and white cars, there is a little square and Bar Bica, where we enjoyed those drinks and the risotto featured on my twitter page.

I was surprised to see signs of carnival, which is really important at home (Rhineland in Germany) but so non existent where I live now (Scotland) that I almost forget about it.

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First walk, rather refreshed with a glass of Sangria inside. The sky isn`t quite as blue as it was the last few times (November was like a Scottish summer!!), but we still discover charming little things which we don`t remember seeing before:

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Other things are rather comfortingly familiar and didn`t have my lense on them for the first time, but those are the sights for which I love this city so much…

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To me, the whole place is a piece of art which never ceases to inspire me!

Just walking through this beautiful place and observing its people and their homes, I could even formulate the answer to one of the most annoying comments I received in a while (which left me speechless at the time), but needless to say, the topic was never revisited, which left me ever so slightly frustrated :-/

The quiet little square in the Alfama where we stayed for our first three visits. I always feel a bit sad when I go there, thinking I should still be looking out to that from my window, but prices for accommodation vary, and those places were just too expensive.  There always seem to be more cats than people on this square, and the maire has built them little hutches to encourage them to stay and keep the rats away. I`m sure I photographed this guy before:

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My latest thing is videoing, but please bear with the beginner…

A Study of my Drink (A Blog about Photography)

I have a confession to make: I`m a serial offender for ordering my food and drinks for their looks, so I can photograph and, if I find them particularly appealing, post them on social media.

The prices in certain places used to annoy me, but ever since I started photographing, I have become more lenient, considering all the added value I`m getting.

Worst thing (apart from dealing with the impatience of fellow diners) is usually to determine which ones of all those many shots of the same thing are actually any good. The following are 10 out of 29 shots of the same white sangria I enjoyed in our favourite wine bar in Lisbon at the weekend – Bar Bica half way through, and with a stunning view onto, the very famous and much photographed Ascensor da Bica (and with free WiFi seducing you to post the first picture right away, which, of course, I did :-))

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All photos were made on an Iphone 7 Plus (with the background blurring portrait mode, which was a major selling point) and, apart from Chrome and said Portrait Mode, not edited.

Feedback would be much appreciated – while I do think I progressed in both technicque and composition, I often seem to have no idea of what a good photo is. (It always amazes me on Instagram how people like the pics I was not sure about and almost ignore thoe ones I`m particularly pleased with).

Lifestyle Month: on Body Image

I can relate such a lot to this brilliant post! I, too, was a chubby child, teenager and young adult. I managed to lose and regain this extra weight several times, but in my own eyes, I was never thin enough (even when I stopped menstruating).

It was only when I got big again that I could see what I had, and I would grieve every single time because I hadn`t appreciated it more. I promised myself that if I ever lost weight again I would believe the numbers (which we give so much importance to when we want them smaller!!) and enjoy my body. (Today, I`m actually convinced that that mindset of never being slim enough was part of my yoyo-dieting issue: Because I still saw myself as fat, I never stopped starving and, equally, had nothing to lose when I started binge eating again…)

Eventually, I managed to lose weight again, and I`ve kept it off for 6 years now. And I think that`s a lot about acceptance. I can now accept that I`m a good weight, and this motivates me to take care of it. Neither do I want to starve to lose more, so I no longer binge eat. I wish I had known this at 20, but I`m glad I`ve learnt it at all.

>> ” I do these things not because I hate my body and want to change it, but because I love it, and want to take care of it.”
– is just *beautiful* and *so right*!!! I think that`s the difference for me, too!

Lifestyle Month: Wardrobe Boredom

As my longer term readers may remember, I was on a lengthy no-shopping mission last year. Nevertheless, I get bored, which is when I`m usually looking to adding a few items. After some generally unsuccessful visits to charity shops, I finally came up with the following two cheats:

1. Dyeing my old Clothes

Suitable for things which still fit and are in a good condition. Works best with natural fabrics which are light in colour – it is not recommended to dye an item lighter than it was originally, as you cannot anticipate the outcome (other than that it`ll not be as advertised).

Seams don`t always take the new colour, because they are synthethic – I like the contrast as in the red skirt below, which still has its original blue seams, but this may not always desired. Also, you may not always get exactly the colour you bought if it`s so different from the original colour (same item – was hoping for plum, but still ended up happy:-)).

The white blouse had become just a bit too grey over the years but was otherwise still in good condition, and dying it makes it feel and look like new again.

White items, which may have become a bit too grey (as the blouse pictured below) are great to dye, as they take on any colour really vibrantly.

I particularly like the fact that I`m not adding to or taking away from the size of my wardrobe, but still getting one new thing for each old one for about £5.99. I wish I could be motivated to change buttons, but right now, while writing this line, I think I may give this a go… watch this space…

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2. Design my own

I was looking for some more T-shirts but couldn`t find any at all that I liked. Eventually, I remembered this shop here: Their T-Shirts are so customisable I felt overwhelmed by choice (style and colour of T-Shirt, colour, font and direction of text, size of picture, border or not, where is the motif going to be placed and will there be something on the back and arms as well?), and it was a project which fitted in beautifully with my desire to start doing a bit more with my own photography. I even designed my own logo, which I placed on the back of each creation, between the shoulder blades.

For the highest available quality, I paid just over £20.oo each, they kept their colour, print and shape after a lot of wear, and apart from being unique, the Siamese cat T-Shirt especially is a great talking point – I feel properly proud to tell people that`s my own cat, and on the back, it actually says #catenvy underneath the logo.

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Airbrush apps and thoughts about beauty and perfection

Below, a fab post about a topic which I was wanting to write about, too, for some time.

It`s about apps which beautify your selfies, and about what they do not only to our own self esteem, if we cannot keep up with our own selfies or if they show you “imperfections” of your natural self, which you never cared about before.

I also think it raises expectations which are both unrealistic and dangerous. As Paleica writes, social media became so popular, because it was authentic. But is it still?

There was that rather catty remark from a colleague about a friend, whose facebook photos were always looking so  much better than her real self: “I saw her in the street last week, and she looks nothing like that!” My initial thoughts were to defend her – if you are really that plain, but once in a while, you get a really good photo of yourself, of course, you`ll want everybody to see it.

On thinking a bit deeper however, I don`t think it`s all that cute. The woman who saw her in the street was now, in other words, telling everyone she was an imposter. And imagine she was invited to a class reunion and felt she could not live up to her own selfies. Would she still go, or would she find an excuse? Even though we all know about the apps, we kind of expect each other, and ourselves, to look like that in real life.

What I often think is that there now seems to be an expectation that you photoshop yourself. Everyone can do it, the tools are for free – there is no “excuse”. If you don`t you stick out for being mediocre – not only don`t you look good enough, you also cannot possibly value yourself, otherwise you`d at least try. It`s the same phenomenon which has been raised numerous times in relation to cosmetic surgery. The sheer availability of it has raised standards for everyone.

BTW, apparently, the selfie culture has significantly increased demand for facial surgery…

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Heute stelle ich euch eine App vor, die mich selbst sehr zwiegespalten hinterlässt. Auf der einen Seite finde ich sie genial, auf der anderen Seite aber “horrifying”. Warum stelle ich sie euch dann überhaupt vor? Weil ich selbst bis vor kurzem nicht wusste, dass es diese App gibt und ich denke, dass es nicht schadet, wenn man sich dessen bewusst ist, dass es heute kein Photoshop und ausgefeilte Retusche-Kenntnisse mehr braucht, um entweder das Beste aus sich rauszuholen oder im Kleinen und auf die Schnelle ein sehr unreales, halbwahres Bild von sich zu erschaffen.

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Jerusalem: Temple Dome (Dome of the Rock) and Dress Codess

Today, I`m going to show you the photos I took of the breathtaking, and very important, Dome of the Rock.

I don`t usually spend much time photographing things that have been snapped and seen million times before, but this monument was so amazing, I don` t think any picture will ever give it justice:

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Unfortunately, you cannot get in, but it is hard to imagine that it can be even more stunning than on the outside. The whole bottom bit seems of solid marble, an the top half has been designed from what must be millions of small mosaic plates, with some beautiful writing right under the roof.

The square around the dome is huge and inhabited by at least two cats, there is a mosque (which is in use, and which I could look into) and some nice views over the city, as it is indeed located on a rock.

One thing I found rather embarrassing was that I was asked to cover up. Of course, I checked in advance and felt that I looked quite acceptable in my long dress that also covered shoulder and upper arms, but I was taken aside as soon as I arrived and send to a “clothing station” where I was, for a small fee, appropriately kitted out with an even longer and thicker skirt and a shawl. My own skirt, I was told by the men who were very obvously there to enforce the dress codes, was not opaque enough and still revealed my legs. I never felt so naked as I did when I was walking the walk of shame to the clothing station, and that feeling stayed with me all day.

It didn` t take me long to discover that I felt safer in more fabric on me in this city. I didn` t bring anything too revealing, anyway, but on my first day, I was wearing a short skirt and felt everyone was looking at me. I once even made a u-turn, because I felt I had all eyes on me (although noone ever said anything apart from the men at the temple dome). When I was wearing more fabric, on the contrary, I felt very pleasantly invisible – I could go whereever I want, not draw any attention to myself and merrily enjoy my day without having to be mindful about who I was speaking to.

I` m very much someone who likes to feel the sun on her skin and get a tan when on holiday, but experiencing such an environment first hand made me appreciate a lot more why women may chose to dress in a way that does not draw any attention to their bodies. And, contrary to my preconceptions, I was not getting too hot either 🙂

 

Why are women so mean about other women`s weight?

I sometimes get the impression they totally relish it when another one puts on weight or otherwise doesn`t look good in this department. (I rarely hear this kind of talk about skin issues or bad hair days.)

Today, I overheard yet another conversation which was just plain nasty. She`s off sick from work, and everybody knows she isn`t ill, so noone who would evoke warm feelings in the first place. Someone asked about her, and someone else said no, she hasn`t spoken to her again, but she`s seen on Facebook that she is currently in Turkey, and there were photos of her sunning herself in a bikini. The moment she said “bikini” the whole focus shifted and became rather ugly.

A women at my old work lost more than half her weight and then put it back on. And some of the women were pleased about it. When I lost weight myself a year or so later, this woman was my inspiration for keeping it off. I don`t don`t want to gain weight again because it doesn`t conform to my beauty standards or would cause me health problems, it`s because I don`t want to make myself vulnerable to nasty comments. I could easily afford another few pounds, but I couldn`t deal with the sneering. I just don`t have enough confidence to be, leave alone become or regain, fat.

I don`t particularly like envy comments either, but I can deal with them because I can see them for what they are. But against fat shame, you`re utterly defenceless, at least in the short term and definitely when you are at an age where you probably have to work really hard to not get even bigger.

I think most women have or had body issues at some point in their lives, and this makes me even more puzzled if I encounter such behavior. I also know women who were big themselves, lost the weight – and with it all the tolerance and compassion they were so wanting for themselves.

Please could someone shed some light? I really want to understand, at least sort of…