The minimalist game

Time after time, I’ve told myself that ‘today I get into minimalism for real!!!’. It’s safe to say I’ve never followed though with that. I just came back from an amazing semester abroad, and what bothered me about traveling home was how much stuff I was bringing with me from Bath and how much stuff I had back at home.

I like to think that I have somewhat of an insight into my messy brain that I know what kind of environments I thrive in – the kinds that are airy and with less stuff. It’s not just the mess of having stuff everywhere, t’s the thought of waking up in the morning not knowing what to wear because I have to many ‘meh’ pieces of clothing, not finding the stuff I need because I have too much stuff I don’t need, and the constant anxiety of ‘what if I need to get away quickly and I can’t take all my stuff with me’.

beige and black chair in front of white desk
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As I was trying to put away stuff from my suitcases it came to me that this is a perfect opportunity to start getting rid of stuff and keeping the things I need and that brings me actual joy. Hopefully, I’ll get to do my masters in the UK next year, therefore I’m only gonna stay here in Norway for another year. I need to cut my belongings down so I’ll be able to bring it all with me in two suitcases.

Since I’m also trying to reduce my waste this is also a great way to make sure I only bring in ethical and less-waste friendly items into my life.

To kick myself in the butt I’ll be trying to stick with the minimalist game where you have 30 days to get rid of stuff. On day one you get rid of one item, day two you get rid of two items and so on. But since I just came home from my exchange and have a lot of stuff already I’ll be doing it the other way. 30 items the first day, 29 the second and so on until I have one item to get rid of on the last day.

I’ll be posting what I’m getting rid of (donating or throwing away) a few times a week (fingers crossed) to give you all feedback!

If you wanna join or are already in the process of getting rid of excess stuff please leave a comment and tell me how you are dealing with it! I’m all game for good advice!

 

Have a great day!

Motivation Monday: Intermittent Fasting

I have this feeling many people are thinking the way I used to think when I started to read up on fitness and nutrition;

fasting is unhealthy and will break down muscle tissue after just a couple of hours.

This thinking is just factually wrong. Though, it might not be for everyone, there are several health benefits to intermittent fasting, and I’m about to tell you some.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is when you eat your daily intake within a certain amounts of hours. The time you give yourself to eat is called your ‘eating window’. As humans we naturally have fasting periods. We don’t eat when we sleep, meaning one’s fasting period will be the hours we sleep, and the hours before and after sleep we stop or start eating. Most people who don’t use IF mostly stick to something similar to a 12:12 fast, meaning they fast (sleep and don’t eat) for 12 hours and consume their daily intake withing the 12 remaining hours of the day. This way of eating might leave 2-4 hours between each meal.

IF means you decrease the amount of hours in your eating window and increase your fasting time. The most common one is 16:8 where you don’t eat for 16 hours (6-10 of these you sleep) and eat your daily intake during the remaining 8 hours. Many use this eating pattern as a way to lose weight since eating your daily intake within 8 hours can make it seem like more, than spreading it across 12 hours. But it also has several health benefits for those just looking to get healthier, or it might just work better for your lifestyle in general – the best way of eating is the one you can stick to for it to become a daily routine, while enjoyable.

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How I use intermittent fasting and why?

I first started IF during my last year of school before the navy, at the age of 18. I’d never been big on breakfast and would always feel nauseous after eating ‘too early’. Since I didn’t feel hungry in the morning naturally I had no issues waiting until around 12-13 in the day to start eating. After a while I could feel my concentration get stronger in the mornings before eating and I stopped snacking as much as I used to because I could eat bigger meals during the day and therefore not feel hungry, especially during the evenings.

During my time in the navy I mostly did shift work so it would be natural to wait to eat until later in the day when my shifts spanned from 11 pm to 8 am.

Today I follow the 16:8 IF, having my first meal at 12-13 and stop eating at 20-21. Usually I will drink black coffee and water during the fast as I’m not at the level of needing supplements during my fast (BCAA and others) at the moment.

What does the science say?

  • IF might fight against chronic disease: Many studies suggest IF can trigger an increased production of growth hormones and neurogenesis in the brain it might help fight against chronic illnesses and aging.
  • Increased concentration: The increased neurogenesis in the brain might also boost your concentration levels.
  • It might keep you fuller, longer: A lot of people think smaller, more frequent meals will keep you fuller through the day. Some never studies has shown that 3 meals a day vs. 6 meals a day can lead to a greater feeling of fullness. One of the reasons for this is because of the higher levels of protein each meal would have if you eat 3 times a day vs. 6 times a day, and protein makes one feel fuller, longer.
  • Possible weight loss: When you are giving your body constant nutrition it can use that nutrition as fuel through the day. If you’re going many hours of the day fasting there is a potential your body will need to use your fat stores as energy until you have your feeding window. With the chance of increased feeling of fullness a calorie deficit might be easier to stick to, which will then result in a weight loss. IF is not a diet and will not result in weight loss unless you are in a calorie deficit.
  • It might turn on fat-burning genes: Some studies show that IF potentially can increase the activity of genes that increase fat oxidation; burning of fat. This can put you in a greater deficit despite not increasing your food intake or increasing your energy usage.
  • Might aid against emotional eating: Since you can feel fuller, longer IF might help aid against emotional eating or boredom snacking.

There is a lot of good reasons to try out IF, but you also have to make sure you reach your daily calorie intake that you need. Some might misuse it as a way to under eat, which will have very negative effects on the body during the long-run.

The most important thing to take into consideration is if it’s something you could do in the long term and would still enjoy. Some people like to have several meals, or just a few but with several hours between them – and if that works for you, then you should continue to do so!

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Veganism: Why You Need to Supplement

*Keep in mind that I have no qualifications in nutrition or any similar subjects, this is just knowledge I’ve gained from 5 years of veganism*

This is a subject I see a lot of vegans don’t want to speak about: Supplementing.

A lot of vegans are experts in advocating for veganism as the healthiest diet one can have, while simultaneously ignoring the part about supplementation, or even worse; talking against it.

Let me get one thing right, veganism is a wonderful way to eat and live – you get the opportunity to eat delicious, nutritious and filling food while doing the least harm as one can. But you need to make sure you’re not harming yourself in the process.

Many vegan products does not naturally contain high levels of some vital nutrients; plant milk, cereals and other products like this has been fortified with these vital vitamins – and if you’re the kind of vegan I was during some of my veganism you won’t be eating enough of those fortified products.

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Nutrients to keep an eye on & why:

  • Vitamin B12: If there is one vitamin I want you to keep a strict eye on it’s B12. B12 is made by bacteria that live inside animals. To get a vegan version of B12 one ‘farms’ the bacteria and gather the vitamin from that. A lack of vitamin B12 can cause severe tiredness, pins and needles in limbs, increased symptoms of mental illness, muscle weakness and deterioration of cognitive functions. Vitamin B12 is a ‘common’ vitamin to be lacking in no matter if you’re plant based or not – absorption is complex and decreases with age. 
  • Vitamin D: Contributes to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphate, which then keeps the mineralization of bone, muscle contraction, nerve conduction and cellular functions normal. Both WHO and NCBI acknowledges that vitamin D deficiency is a global problem and people especially living in northern countries should supplement in the months containing the letter ‘R’ because the sun is not enough a those times of the year.
  • Calcium: Plays a vital role for strong bones and recovery after exercise. If your vitamin D levels are low it will be harder to absorb calcium. Although calcium is found in a lot of green and leafy vegetables a vegan diet is not always synonymous with a diet heavy in  green, leafy vegetables.
  • Omega-3 fatty acid: Important for cell membranes and receptors, hormone production, cardiovascular, brain, joint, eye and skin health. Fats like walnuts, chia & flax seeds re good sources but might not convert it as well into DHA and EPA.
  • Iron: Improves growth and development of the body, in addition to making hemoglobin and myoglobin. Loads of vegan foods contains iron but they often contain anti-nutrients which hinders absorption.
  • Zinc: Important for immune system, cell growth, healing and breaking down carbs. Loads of plants contain zinc but there are some concerns around phytates which often is bound to plants. Phytic acids can bind minerals before absorption which makes it harder to absorb zinc and iron despite consuming adequate amounts in theory.
  • Iodine: Helps in the production of thyroid hormones, which keeps cells and metabolism healthy. It’s most easily found in dairy and iodine salt.
  • Selenium: Contributes to a healthy immune system and cells – it is found in some plants but the amounts depend on the selenium in the soil.

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Vegan sources:

  • Vitamin B12: Nutritional yeast (make sure it’s the fortified kind), fortified plant milk, yoghurt, cereal, cheese and other processed (and fortified) plant products and marmite.
  • Vitamin D: Fortified plant milk, yoghurt, cereal, cheese and other processed (and fortified) plant products, mushrooms (smaller amounts). Sunlight is also a source but it’s often not enough for your daily need – in addition to it not being enough too much (which is not much at all) exposure can and will damage your skin. Don’t be dumb, use sunscreen and get into the shade when the sun is at it’s highest.
  • Calcium: Fortified plant milk, yoghurt, cereal, cheese and other processed (and fortified) plant products, leafy greens, almonds, figs and chia seeds. But do remember that your calcium intake depends on your vitamin D intake!
  • Omega-3 fatty acid: Fortified plant milk, yoghurt, cereal, cheese and other processed (and fortified) plant products, chia-, flax-, and hemp seeds, leafy greens. You can find DHA and EPA in algal oil and alge.
  • Iron: Fortified plant milk, yoghurt, cereal, cheese and other processed (and fortified) plant products, beans, legumes, spinach and other leafy greens and linseed.
  • Zinc: Fortified plant milk, yoghurt, cereal, cheese and other processed (and fortified) plant products, pumpkin- and sunflower seeds, spinach, cacao, beans, legumes, cashews and avocado.
  • Iodine:  Iodised salt, whole grains and seaweed.
  • Selenium: Brazil nuts, mushrooms, oats, whole grains and sunflower seeds.

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How to know if you are consuming enough:

I’ve done four things to make sure I get enough of these nutrients:

  1. I went to the doctor and got my blood tested – I was experiencing extreme tiredness, symptoms of depression and pins and needles: Turns out I was low in vitamin D and I was so low in vitamin B12 that I needed shots in my butt cheek – you do not want that, trust me.
  2. I track my food a couple of times a week or month in cronometer.com – here I am able to see my levels for all of these nutrients and if I’m getting adequate levels. I don’t need to do this every day because I generally eat most of the same foods during the week.
  3. I check in with myself to see how I’m feeling – have I been more tired or feeling ill than usual the last couple of weeks without a good explanation?
  4. I supplement! There is no way without it! Fortified foods are also supplementing! But I know that I do not eat enough fortified foods as I’m not too much into mock meats and plant yogurts/milks (but I do drink my milk with coffee – coffee contains anti-nutrients which hinders absorption of iron and other nutrients). So I take a multivitamin every day to make sure I’m getting what I need.

Most vegans and even non-vegans should supplement many of these nutrients because of what we eat in 2018! You want to thrive, not just be generally ok!

I hope this will make it easier for all of you, despite what type of diet – and I hope this openness will make it easier for new vegans to not fall into the ‘new vegan mistakes’ as I once did. Remember that veganism is such an amazing diet, but it still needs to be done properly and safely as any other diet.

Have you ever experienced nutrient deficiency? Do you supplement? How are you managing your diet and making sure you get enough of what you need?

Sources:

Motivation Monday: Why I Love Hill Sprints

When I was at my fittest, 1 year to 6 months before joining the navy (yes I was fitter before the navy than when in the navy) I had one ‘trick’ that increased my overall fitness several levels higher with only a couple of rounds a week: Hill Sprints.

I know, I know. Hill sprints can seem like a scary thing. Not only does it involve sprinting, but also hills. But trust me, this is a secret weapon I wish more people tried out.

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How I use hill sprints

I got my eyes on hill sprints when I was about 17-18 years old. I was training for my first (and so far only) half marathon and my recruitment in the navy. At the time I would easily get bored with longer runs and couldn’t always find the motivation. After stumbling over an article about hill sprints I decided that I should give it a go.  After the first session I was hooked. As I got closer and closer to my half marathon I was doing 2-3 sessions of hill sprints with 1-2 days in-between, 1 3-5km trail run and one longer run from 8-15 km long. My times improved every week without having to run miles after miles to get ready.

If you are working out for fat-loss (let’s be real, a lot of us do) I can also confirm that my baby abs started to show after a couple of weeks too.

Incorporating hill sprints into my routine gave me more time for other things since I wasn’t spending 1h+ on longer runs during the week and after a while I was craving the feeling of giving my all in a short session – knowing it would end soon.

When the day finally came I finished my 21km half marathon in about 2 hours and 15 minutes – which I am well proud of since I’m not the kind of person ‘made’ for long distance.

What does the science say?

  • Reduced risk of repetitive stress: Hill sprints shouldn’t take long and you don’t need many sessions a week to see results if you keep a high intensity. Steady-state cardio like running can in some cases cause injuries in form of repetitive stress – shin splints are a common sign of repetitive stress.
  • Hill sprints are anabolic: Anabolic exercises build muscle and hill sprints require you to use a lot of strength both in your lower body to get yourself up the hill, but also your core to keep you stable and upright, and arms to pump. Steady-state cardio increases your levels of cortisol because you need to do it longer. Increased levels of cortisol puts stress on your body which decreases your insulin sensitivity. Excessive cardio also makes the body lose body weight (both muscle and fat) to continue the cardio easier.
  • It’s a form of HIIT: Hill sprints are a great way of getting in your weekly High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT is entirely individual which means you’ll get results no matter what your ‘high intensity’ is. As long as you’re making sure you do it at such a hard level where you cannot keep a conversation you will see results in your anaerobic and aerobic levels.
  • It takes less time: If you’re the type who cannot find the motivation to do 30-60 min of cardio during your weekly cardio sessions you might want to look into hill sprints. Hill sprints can give you similar results in less time if you remember to keep the intensity high.

If you are trying to increase your general fitness level, become faster and/or lose fat I highly recommend you try a couple of hill sprints before you decide to incorporate it into your schedule or not.

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Have you tried hill sprints – love it, hate it or neutral?

 

Sources:

Sunday goals for week 16

After 3 weeks off during Easter I’m ready for a reset and get into hustle mode again! One of the things I want to do to get back on my productive feet is to write weekly goal posts. Just a little list of my goals for the coming week and why, to keep myself accountable and hopefully inspire you to set some goals yourself!

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  • Drink 2L of water every day: I used to drink loads of water and I still drink my fair amount – yet I’d really like to get up to the 2L daily since that’s when I feel the best and because I’m working out 5-6 times a week and need the hydration.
  • Wake up at 6 am and still get 7-8h of sleep: I’ve been craving some morning time now that the sun is rising earlier and earlier. I think waking up earlier than the others in the house will give me some me-time and set the mood for a calm and stress-free day.
  • Stick to my meal plan: I spend way to much money on random snacks because I don’t want to make food – this can’t continue! If I want to have a healthy vegan diet while still saving I need to stick to my weekly meal plans!
  • Work at least 2-3 hours daily with uni work: I don’t spend a lot of time at uni – about 10 or so hours a week. This leaves me with loads of time where I could do my uni work, but I decide to do other non-productive things instead. This needs to end and starting with 2-3 hours daily will be a huge improvement
  • Start a 30 day challenge: I want to learn new things about the world and myself. I want to adapt positive habits and a healthier mindset. I’ve therefore found a 30 day challenge (link) to help me do this and I’m really excited to give you guys weekly reports on how it’s working!

 

Do you have any short-term or long-term goals you’d like to share with me?

Studying abroad: Spring semester packing

 One late evening January 3rd this year (2018) I was frantically jumping on my suitcase to get it to close. I was going on an exchange trip with the Erasmus program and I was terrified of not bringing with me enough stuff.  I had packet one large suitcase, one large duffel bag and a medium sized backpack.

Now, after 4 months and a trip back home during Easter I realize that I probably over packed and could have saved myself a lot of stress. So I thought I’d make a post for all you other students thinking of studying abroad during your studies.

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Some clarifications:

  • I am in a long distance relationship, meaning I fly a lot. This has given me a silver membership with SAS which gives me an extra luggage to check in with every trip in addition to the one luggage I pay for on my ticket. Keep in mind that an extra luggage will probably cost more money. I’ve made the main list for 1 suitcase and a larger carry-on and an additional list if you have more room/an extra suitcase.
  • My stay was only for the spring semester in the UK, if you are going somewhere for a longer duration or somewhere hotter/colder – keep that in mind!

Jackets:

  • One larger and warmer jacket for January until March/April
  • One coat for milder days
  • Raincoat
  • A light jacket: denim/bomber*

Top:

  • 4 T-shirts
  • 3 Tank tops
  • 4 Knit/warmer sweaters
  • 4 lighter sweaters
  • 2 cardigans
  • 1 hoodie

Bottom:

  • 4 Trousers (this depends on if you like jeans or other types of trousers the best)
  • 2 Sweatpants/leggings/yoga pants for lazy days
  • 2 shorts*
  • 2 skirts

Dresses:

  • 2 Casual dresses (increase/decrease depending on how much you wear casual dresses)

Dressing up:

  • 3 Outfits for going out you enjoy and can mix and match
  • 1 Dinner/formal outfit (just in case)

Workout clothes:

  • As many sports bras/tops/trousers as days you workout
  • 1 Pair gym shoes

Underwear:

  • Underwear and socks for 2 weeks
  • Warm leggings and socks for the colder months
  • 1 Swimming costume*

Shoes:

  • 1 Pair sneakers
  • 1 Pair ballerina shoes
  • 1 Pair hiking/winter boots
  • 1 Pair heeled boots
  • 1 Pair going out heels
  • 1 Pair sandals*
  • 1 Pair rain boots**

Other wearables:

  • 1 Scarf
  • 1 Beanie
  • 1 Pair of gloves
  • 1 Pair sunglasses
  • 2 Purses
  • 2 Tote bags

Toiletries***:

  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Shower gel
  • Deoderant
  • Bodylotion
  • Face creams
  • Make up
  • Hairbrush
  • Raizors
  • Perfume
  • Nail polish/remover
  • Face wash
  • Tweezers
  • Hairproducts
  • All kinds of medication you have a prescription on (medicine, birth control, etc)****

Electronics:

  • 2 Adapters if the country you’re traveling to has a different plug than yours
  • 1 Phone charger
  • CAMERA/charger(you’ll regret not bringing it if you have one)

For your room*****:

  • 1 Large towel
  • 1 Medium towel
  • 1 Face towel
  • 1 Set of bedding
  • Hangers
  • 1 Blanket
  • 1 Fork
  • 1 Knife
  • 1 Spoon
  • 1 Bowl
  • Teddy bear if you want to bring something for homesickness

Carry-on:

  • 1 Book
  • 1 Phone charger
  • 1 Adapter
  • 1 Water bottle
  • Portable charger/s
  • Your laptop/charger
  • Exchange documents
  • Travel insurance
  • Credit cards******

Handbag:

  • Passport
  • Plane ticket
  • Phone
  • Headphones
  • Wallet
  • Non-passport ID
  • List of your exchange uni information (cell number and contact person)
  • Local emergency currency

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*If you are visiting home before the weather becomes warmer you can switch out your warmer clothes with this and not bring it all at once.

**Recommended if you’re going somewhere rainy and don’t have water resistance boots.

***I recommend you take with you what you have at home so not to waste it because you can buy all that at your exchange country.

****Make sure you collect the amount of prescription medication you need for your whole stay and documents to validate your usage of them if needed.

*****Some unis have deals where you can order room/bathroom/kitchen packages that will be in your room at your arrival – do some research to see if it will be worth it.

******I recommend bringing an extra credit card for another account or the same to store in your room in case you lose your wallet at some point. That way you don’t have to go days(maybe weeks) without cash because you need to wait for your new one.

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I hope this will help all of you who are going on exchange, and of course I hope you have a good trip!

Let me know if you’re going on exchange and if you use the list! And if you’ve already been on exchange and disagree/agree I’d love to hear your opinion!

Getting enough sleep

I’ve always been the type to function fine on little sleep. Give me 4 hours and I’ll be alright. But that’s the thing, I’ll be ‘alright’. For years now I’ve been sleeping around 4-6 hours a night and thinking this was the best it could get.

Then I read a post from Healthline – 10 Reasons Why Good Sleep Is Important. And I realized that something had to be done. I needed to work on my sleep schedule. So, that’s what I’ve been doing the last month, and I’ve gone from an average of under 6 hours per night to 8 hours this week!

This is the average I had with my Fitbit Alta HR, which tracks my sleep and the quality of my sleep, the last three months. In February and the first half of March I got 4-6 hours of sleep every night.

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After changing my schedule before bed time I now have an average of 7 hours per night. The average dropped for this month because of the first half, but the last half I’m closer to 8 hours per night!

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What I did:

1. Set your time of going to bed half an hour earlier every 2 days

I realized quickly that if I was used to going to bed at 2 am, the chances of falling asleep at 11:30 pm was very slim. So I decided to set the times of going to bed back half an hour every 2 days. So by 10 days I went from 2 am to 11:30 pm.

2.  Set a goal for when to wake up

Make sure that it’s a time that will give you the amount of rest you want. I wanted 8 hours of sleep so I made sure that I would wake up at 7:30-8 am since I wanted to go to bed at 11:30-12:00. Even if you don’t go to bed at your set time, make sure you wake up at your time so you’ll fall asleep as normal.

3. Cut the usual last cup of caffeine

I usually had a cup of coffee around 8 pm. I used to think that caffeine didn’t have a huge affect on me since I drink so much of it during the day. But it might have an affect even though you don’t notice it in energy levels. I’ve now switched the last cup of coffee with some caffeine-free tea, and it’s now a part of my evening routine.

4. Build a schedule

Usually I’d wash my face quickly, brush my teeth and lie in bed for about an hour with my phone before turning the lights off. Now I’ve come to realize that if I keep a proper schedule then my body and mind will know it’s time to wind down and get ready for sleep. Now I drink my night-time tea, carry out a set skin routine, brush my teeth and read for an hour with my phone on ‘do not disturb’.

 

I think the most important thing is to set your goals and try to stick with them the best you can. I’ve experienced huge differences in my energy levels and concentration after getting more sleep, and I’ll work hard to keep it as it is now.

 

Hope this can inspire some of you night owls to try to sleep a bit more and hopefully feel a bit better in your every days!

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