Saturday, 6 June 2020

30 000 Healthy Steps

We are having a first rainy day after a long period of warmth and sun in Amsterdam. It is time to look back to last weeks and what happened to me personally. I have seen so much beauty during this challenging spring time and something has changed inside me. Even the most negative news, the shaken world situation or personal difficulties are not taking me down. All I see and feel is the wind of change that has helped me to realize that only I am responsible of my own growth as a person. I have to take the decisions that are good for me and it is my responsibility to draw my borders and decide how I react on challenging situations. That is all I can do. 

This simple clarity gave me the strength to do some personal changes. One of them is this idea of walking every day minimal 10 000 steps. I have downloaded an app on my phone to follow up my walking habits. Normally I cycle a lot for practical reasons, but by walking I have found the most inspiring corners of Amsterdam. Most of the times I do these walks with my husband and this is helping us to deal our difficulties as a couple. Talking is easier outside and we can listen each other better in other environment than home.

I share you some impressions from two different walks this week. During these walks we achieved about 30 000 steps in 2 days. I have missed the nature and green views more and more this year. We can't find the same peace and quiet rhythm here as we do every summer in Finland, but even near Amsterdam there are some nice areas where you can enjoy your time outside surrounded by the water views and green silhouettes. 

On monday we walked along the water from the canals of South Amsterdam and along the lake(het Nieuwe meer)towards to Amsterdamse Bos. The walk lasted almost 4 hours with a little snack break. We found an excellent boat connection to the other side of the Nieuwe meer and could spontaneously walk via "the woods of Amsterdam" back home. The boat trip was 1 Euro per person and you can take the bike on board. All the walks we have made are also nice to do by bike and for us it felt like being abroad in this Corona time. I find it very  interesting to explore our home town in this way. 

de Nieuwe Meer: you can see the boat route (Helena) as a white line crossing the water.

Breaking some habits

I have changed my eating and drinking patrons this spring. I never felt that alcohol is a big problem for me, but lately I just felt my system, my body doesn't want it any more. When I was younger I was going out every week with my friends and drinking alcohol was always part of it. We were dancing and drinking until late at night. During the last years we were more or less just drinking home: a glass of wine or maximum two with my husband. Otherwise we just had some drinks with our friends during the visits. 

One year ago I started to feel that I actually hate alcohol and how it makes me feel. It used to give me more energy and good spirits when enjoyed with a good company, but lately I just started to feel tired and it seemed to be just an old habit to relax with a glass of wine. But even a small amount of it destroyed my sleep and I got slow and my body seemed to be fighting against the chemical attack.

One day I felt I don't want to drink anymore regularly. I just did not miss it anymore. It did not help me to communicate better, it did not help me to find more joy in my life. I wanted to feel sharp and face every day the way it comes. Still I would drink a wine or a cocktail at the party or when we were invited for a dinner. But otherwise I would give my body and mind a rest, letting go the almost daily habit of wine and leave it to some social situations if I felt like it. The whole process that I am going through is to listen to what I feel and what my body needs. The change was very easy. I do not have any need to buy some wine or beer for normal days and my body says "thank you". During the last two months I only had some wine with the dinner when we went to visit our friends. I can enjoy it when it's just every now and once a month.

Cauliflower  beef going to oven with some spicy olive oil, chili and herb based mixture (25min, 180 celsius.)

Eating more vegetables.
I had a health check by the doctor about a month ago. I had felt tiredness for a longer time and woke up often during the night. It turned out that I have a lack of vitamin D and that my total cholesterol level is much higher than recommend. The high cholesterol runs in my family and I have to be careful with it. I have a normal weight, I do sports, I do not smoke, my blood pressure is normal and we cook quite healthy food. Still I have a high cholesterol. I will come back to this issue some other time, but I just want to remind it is important to do regular health checks after you turn 40. I would like to avoid the medication and make more healthy choices and avoid the stress.

I will attack to this problem by eating less animal fat and go and test my results again after the summer. I have cooked quite a long time low carb style. This diet includes a lot of vegetables, but also a lot of hard animal fat. I did no feel totally comfortable with it. I have started to follow more like a mediterranean style food philosophy: olive oil, peanuts, much vegetables,fruit and berries, sometimes fish and almost no meat. I left all the fetty creams, cappuccinos, butter and extra sugars etc. I feel better. The more colorful plate of food, the more happy I am. You have to be careful with all the trendy diets there are. Like me having a genetically high cholesterol, I really have to avoid hard fat, but still know that some plant based oils and margarines are not always good as well. Instead of butter I use olive oil. It is better really to learn to listen to your body and how it reacts to different foods. So I take the best parts of different ideas that are suitable for me. Everyone is different. 

Getting to know new places in Amsterdam. 
Because we had more time to be outside lately, we wanted make our horizons wider in our home town. This week we had our second walk around the Sloterplas. This lake in "nieuw West"(new west)is a beautiful spot for a longer walk (6km), for a swim at the sand beach or just having a picnic on many grass fields around the water in Sloterpark. A very peaceful route around the lake with nice views. You can cycle here easily from the centre or take a tram number 1 or 17 to direction "osdorp". It is worth to explore the city further than just staying in the centre. It gives the feeling of freedom to have more space and see people enjoying their time in these green living rooms of Amsterdam. This park is one of the biggest in Amsterdam and gives a real picture of the many faces of the City. At the moment this is my favorite route.

Many personal changes and dreams are in my mind right now. One of them is that I hope we are able to go to Finland this summer. Hopefully our flights will not be cancelled. I want to see my parents and my sister and enjoy the peace at the summer cottage by the lake. We will be quite isolated there and we will be careful. 

I am thankful that I have got rid of the unnecessary feeling of shame. I do not find it so difficult anymore to talk about my weaknesses or about my history or what I really want. I am getting closer to the courage and the honesty and trust more to this moment and the future. I have surprised myself that I can so easily let go some patterns and do some changes I want. 

Happy weekend!

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